Plants are popping up all over

It was our second work week in the demo garden.  When we first arrived it appeared that it was still mostly daffodils and some tulips that had opened.  Boy, were we mistaken.  There is a lot that is starting to pop up all over the garden.  We continued our garden clean-up.  There was a lot we had not finished and some we left as cover in case it snowed again which was a good thing since it snowed two more feet.  We were anxious to see if there was any damage to the garden but everything seemed to come through just fine.  We had such nice weather before but today was very windy and we were bundled up more than last our last work day.  Here’s hoping that was our last snow.  It could still freeze until mid-May or so, but we’re hoping that the nice weather will be here to stay.

Here is what we found popping up all over:

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A bird used the Hawthorne bush for nesting:


Xeriscape Garden

The Xeriscape garden is coming along nicely.  It doesn’t look like much yet but for years nothing would grow there.  It’s right next to the street and parking lot and gets a lot of abuse when it snows and is surrounded by asphalt.  We pulled up all the old fabric and gravel that was there and we redid it and made it into a Xeriscape garden.  It only gets water from rain and the drip system so we only put plants that are drought resistant and have low watering needs.    We’re excited that these plants are coming back and are surviving.  We will continue to add to the garden but this is a great start and we’re excited that we’ve finally worked it and found some plants that will survive there.  This is what is popping up already in this garden.

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Herb Garden

There wasn’t much action in the herb garden today.  A lot was done the last work day and some of our herb plants were used at The Urban Homestead CMG Herb Booth at the Urban Homestead event.  Barbi, one of our demo garden volunteers helped with the booth which had 600+ people stop by to talk about herbs.

We continued our clean-up and of course there are always new weeds that need to be pulled.

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We were very satisfied after this work day.  The garden is cleaned-up and we’re ready to watch things grow.  We will continue to add plants and do regular maintenance (there is always a weed to be pulled) and always something to clean up.  We’ll start deadheading soon and it’s almost time to prune the roses.


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Gloria reported the garden was used for a rose pruning class by the Denver Rose Society.  Eight of our demo garden volunteers attended the demonstration.  The roses in our garden were used for the demonstration (minimal roses were used since it’s still a bit too early in the Douglas County area to prune roses due to the later freeze dates at this elevation).  We got kudos from the society and they were very impressed that ALL of our roses were correctly planted, we’ve never had any sucker shoots and we’ve done a great job of growing “rescue roses” (most of our roses are not new, they are roses that are on their last leg or can’t be sold and are donated to us).  In Colorado to protect the roses from the harsh winter cold the graft (bud union) of the rose is planted one to three inches under the top of the soil.  This also helps prevent sucker shoots from growing from under the graft or union bud.  For more information on selecting and planting roses in Colorado visit:

What’s popping up in your garden?

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Admiring our work and it’s time to get busy

The volunteers gathered in the garden for the first time this Spring.  The first thing we did was admire all the Daffodil and Tete-A-Tete bulbs we planted in the Fall.  We said we couldn’t wait until Spring and it’s here now!  We’re all ready to get in the garden, get our hands dirty, and rejuvenate our souls.

Planting Spring bulbs was the last thing we did before we ended our season last Fall.  They are popping up all over.  Other than a few green leaves popping out on some of the trees and bushes this was the only thing blooming right now.   Next work day we’re hoping to see all the tulips we planted.

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There were just a couple other of early bloomers.

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Our Japanese Lilac, we’re excited to say, is doing wonderfully.

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It’s that time of Spring to start cleaning up the garden.  We had a beautiful day.  It was warm and sunny.  Sometimes this time of year we’re bundled up in the cold so we were all excited to see the nice warm day.

Al and Barbi attended the herb garden.  It’s time to cut old stalks back and clean out leaves and other things that have blown in over the winter.  Al will assess what plants need to be replaced and make a list so they can be purchased and planted soon.


Everyone else started doing clean up in the other gardens.  It’s time to cut back old perennial stalks, clean up piles of leaves, start pulling those pesky weeds, clip off dead and broken branches, and cut back grasses.  It’s exciting to see the green starting to sprout from the base of our perennials.  We filled the dumpster full of weeds and trash, put some of the organic matter into our compost pile, and smoothed and rearranged some of the mulch.  Where there were tender shoots coming up, like our Peonies, we left some mulch over the top to protect them in case of more bad weather.  You just never know about the Springs in Colorado.  It could still freeze until May 20th where our garden is located so we keep that in mind.  We don’t prune our roses until May.  It could be more damaging to our roses if we prune them and get another freeze.  The garden is just now starting to wake up.

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We did maintenance in the Xeric garden.  Some of the rocks surrounding the Xeriscape garden got pushed around during snow storms over the winter.  We gathered the rocks from the garden and rearranged them and rescued some of the plants that had been relocated.  This coming Fall we will get some flags to mark the border of the garden since it’s directly against the parking lot.

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We gathered together after working to have a meeting where we threw around some ideas for what we would like to do in the garden this year.  A plan will need to be decided upon and written up so it can be presented for approval and funds.  Gloria and Sherrie, our wonderful leaders, will do that and as we go along throughout the season you’ll see what we’re doing next to improve or expand the garden!!

Our next work day we hope to see more Spring bulbs blooming.   A few days after our work day the weather unloaded about two feet of snow on the garden.  We’re hoping the other bulbs made it through the snow and we will still get some blooms.  It was a limb breaker so I hope our Lilac tree came through unharmed.   We will assess damage the next time we gather in the garden.  If you have perennials that are hardened off you can start to plant those any time.  Since we just had two feet of snow that sounds crazy but it’s time if the weather permits.

Happy Gardening in Colorado!!

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Bulb planting, putting the beds to bed, and waiting for Spring


It was a fine but sad day to end the season.  Warm and just right to plant our bulbs; scatter some seed, cut our herbs and make sure we’ve got mulch where we want it for the coming winter and say goodbye to our beautiful perennials and garden until Spring.

There’s not much left in bloom.  This is what the garden looks like this week.  There will still be a few things for our animal friends and plants that will give some interest in the winter:

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The weather has finally taken a small turn and it’s getting cooler.  It’s the perfect time to plant bulbs before the first snow arrives, which should be soon.

The volunteers gathered today and planted 400 bulbs  Tete-a-tete Daffodils, just right for the front of borders (a small variety); tulips, and larger daffodils.

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We planted some Tete-A-Tetes around the edge of the memorial garden and along some of the walks.  Since they are shorter they will be more visible along the pathways.  We planted some tulips of lighter shades to complement the rose garden along with some daffodils; and planted other tulips and daffodils everywhere.  We had one area where we cut back the Buffalo Berry that left a big open space so we have plenty of iris, tulips and daffodils in that area.  We planted bulbs in the lower garden and the upper garden.  We had 400 bulbs so we put them everywhere!!  We did not put any in the Xeriscape area as we didn’t think the bulbs went with the other plants and plans we have for that area.


Usually we plant Spring bulbs earlier but it has been so warm this year that we kept waiting.  It was still in the 80’s some days as late as two weeks ago so we waited until it was cooler.

We planted our bulbs according to the what the packaging told us.  When in doubt, read the package.  This works well for seeds and bulbs.  Colorado can be a little tricky for planting other things but seeds and bulbs can be planted according to the package,  The tulips and daffodils were planted 6 inches deep.  We all had our handy bulb planting tools but the best one was Al with an auger attachment for his drill.  Al was in demand all over the garden to dig the holes for our bulbs.  It takes less than a second to drill a nice hole for our bulbs and with 400 to plant it really speeded up our process.


A drill with an auger really speeds up the process

Remember to plant your bulbs tip up!

You can plant bulbs one hole at a time.  You can plant them in a row,  You can dig a big circle or trench and randomly put them in.  We planted most of ours in threes so we will have little patches of threes everywhere.  We had some paths where we planted them in a row up both sides of the path.  It just depends on what style you like and what you want it to look like.

Soil may need to be prepared for bulb planting.  Our garden beds have been worked enough that we were able to just drill a hole and plant.

Oh yeah, if you like garlic it’s time to plant now for a summer harvest.

For information on planting Spring blooming bulbs check here:


We also had some snapdragons that have gone to seed and stuck those in so they can drop and scatter their seed.  It’s a perfect time to gather your favorite perennial seeds and scatter them in areas where you would like to see them.  If it’s a new area turn the soil a bit and scatter the seed and dress the area with some organic compost.  Or just scatter them around in your garden and let nature take its course.



The herb garden still looks good with many plants still usable.  Unfortunately  we had our first hard frost and the basil froze but lots of other herbs still look excellent  It’s time to cut and dry them if you would like to save them.  Cut off the herbs and tie them in a bundle and hang them upside down to dry in a cool dry place like a basement or root cellar.  When they are dry you can crush them and put them in bottles or bag them for winter use.  A wooden drying rack works well to hang the bundles on so there is good air flow around them.

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Last blog we talked about doing the last weeding (is it every done?) for the season and spread wood mulch over parts of the garden where it had deteriorated.  It had been a couple of years since the garden was mulched.  Hopefully this load of mulch will last as long.  This will help to retain moisture, prevent erosion and keep some of the weeds down.

In preparing the garden for winter we thought about our animal friends.  We have lots of nice grass and thicket, bushes and trees and bird houses for our friends.  We left the rose hips and some of the seed heads for food and we have lots of rocks and some dishes out to provide water from rain or snow melt.  We also have someone who can watch and provide water when needed.

Well, we weeded, planted bulbs, planted some new plants and scattered some seed.  We cut back the plants we wanted to; left some with rose hips and seed heads for the animals and birds; we mulched and unhooked the hoses.  I think we’re ready for winter.


If you read back over the blogs you can see how much we accomplished this year!  One of the exciting things is the area where we started the Xeriscape garden.  Nothing has grown there before and we think we are successful in making that area look much better.  It took a lot of work pulling up the old fabric barrier, bringing in the pea gravel and rocks, and finding the right plants that we think will finally grow there.  It’s a great start and we can’t wait to add more next year.

We added more new plants than we can recall, pulled more weeds than we will remember, used our new compost pile for the first time, put in some new stepping stones, added the bird houses, whacked back some overgrown bushes, pulled out some volunteer bushes, and applied for several habitat certifications.  We had a blog that documents what is in bloom and when, and every work day in the garden with what we did in the garden, when we did it and how to do it.  Here’s a recap of some of the things we accomplished.

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Thanks to Gloria Macy and Sherrie Mitchell, our wonderful leaders, and the too many to mention great volunteers who make this project work.  We hope our garden is an inspiration and educational and helps you figure out what grows well here, how it grows and how to plant and take care of it.

What will we cook up for next year?  ooooo, maybe a new garden!

We just can’t wait until Spring!!


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It’s Autumn – or is it?

The nights have been very crisp lately, some nights in the 40’s.  The days however haven’t decided what they want to do.  We have had some 70’s, 80’s and some 90’s still popping up now and then.  We’re starting to realize our gardening season is almost over and it’s time to get the garden ready for winter.  It is a good time to plant now.  The days are still warm and there is still time for plants to take root.  It’s also a good time to plant bulbs.  It’s time to plant garlic so it will be ready to harvest next summer.

Here is what is going on in the garden this week:  Asters, Rudbeckia and Mums are in bloom now.  The sage is still nice looking.  Bushes are starting to get berries.  The herb garden is wonderful right now.  Basil anyone?

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The first sign of frost is just around the corner and it’s time to put the beds to bed so it’s time to prepare.  We will be receiving a load of mulch soon and will put some in the xeric bed and some at the southeast corner of the upper garden.

Jane brought us some plants from the CSU trial garden.  These are all new species so it will be fun to see how they fare in our garden.  The plants were removed to make way for the new CSU stadium – GO RAMS!!

The Memorial Garden is now complete.  Gloria schlepped back the roses and good news – the pesky sprinkler system that kept leaking has been attended to and the garden is complete.  Trenches were dug around the edge and it looks wonderful.  We used some of our compost from our compost pile.  Last year we started a compost pile and now we are reaping the rewards from every one bringing their food scraps and organic matter from the garden.

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Carolyn started a compost pile for the group late last year.  We use the three bin method.  If we put plant matter into the bin we cut it up in small pieces.  Food scraps are added in small pieces.  Items we stay away from are weeds, large wood pieces (larger than 1/4 inch around) and meat, oils and fat.  Wood takes a long time to break down, especially here in Colorado where it’s so dry.  We don’t want too much wood in our compost.  We transfer it from bin to bin.  The third bin has compost that is ready to use now.  To learn more about composting check out this link:

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Weeding continues.  It’s really been a bad year for weeds (or a good year for them depending on how you look at it).  The dedicated crew continues to dig, dig, dig.

The Hawthorne and Ninebarks were trimmed back and lots of the plants that are bloomed out were cut back.  We made sure we left a nice bit for our wildlife habitat.  Animals enjoy and live in many of the plants.  Swallowtail Butterflies like to use the dill to lay their eggs so we will leave the heads for them.  Birds love the rosehips so we leave the rosehips for them.  Some of the larger perennials we will leave a little taller for other wildlife to use for shelter.  Decide which plants you would like to leave to give your winter garden some interest.

It’s sad the season is starting to wind down and soon the cold winds and snow will be here.  We will enjoy the last bit of nice weather planting bulbs and perennials and mulching the garden to keep our plants protected from the cold and protecting the soil from erosion.  We hope to garden through the end of October so stay tuned to see what else happens this time of year.







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Garden Maintenance

When we arrived at the garden they were checking the watering system so it’s a good time to talk about how we water the garden.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day.  Not raining and not too hot.  After so much rain, and 90 degrees days it was perfect.  I believe it was in the 70’s.  It allowed us to have a nice long work day.

WE ARE AWARD WINNERS (well, our plants are)

Our very own Demo Garden plants won prizes at the Douglas County Fair.

The very beautiful Red Perilla from Al’s herb garden won BEST IN SHOW!!  Red Perilla is an edible plant and looks good and tastes great in salads.


One of our Denver Daisies won second place.  We won some ribbons and some cash.  WooHoo!!  Thanks to Elsa for choosing the plants and entering them at the fair.


Denver Daisy – this plant is a Rudbeckia that was created especially for Denver’s 150th anniversary a few years ago. It’s larger than most Rudbeckia. Seeds were passed out everywhere around Denver a year before the anniversary in hopes that the flowers would be everywhere. It is not a true perennial but does drop seed. If you’re lucky it may return from seed the next year.

This what is going on in the garden this week:

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Everyone was busy pulling weeds.  There have been a lot of them this year.  We had some new volunteers today and it was a great help.

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Dan, a new volunteer at the garden, planted up a bunch of anonymously donated plants.  There were quite a few this week.

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We had a Polar Joy Rose Tree donated and after 5 tries in our wonderful hard clay soil we finally found some soil soft enough to dig a hole big enough for it.  We’re hoping it will take off and the roots will grab hold.  It was planted near the bluebird house in the lower garden on the north side.


Sue pruned the wild cherry tree and Maureen hacked out a volunteer Common Ninebark and a Viburnum.  It really opened up the terrace garden.  They were not planted where they were growing and now you can see what was hiding in there.

Beth planted another rose in the Memorial Garden.  It is already blooming and is looking very nice.  Unfortunately as with many donated plants there was a reason they were donated.  Some of them had the wrong tags on them and we have a Tropicana which doesn’t go with our pink/rose colored theme.  We also have a pink rose where the white rose is supposed to be so next year we’ll give it another try and put another white one there.  It is looking lovely even though not all the roses have been planted yet.  There is a problem with one of the sprinkler heads so we’re waiting until that is fixed to put one of the roses in that Gloria has schlepped around each work day for the last four weeks.

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Sheila and Jill trimmed up the spirea that is by the water faucet  It’s always a fight to get under the bush to turn the water on.  It looks better and gives better access to the faucet


Watering the garden

Gloria, who has been around the garden for a long time and one of our leaders provided information on the water system.  It’s a complex system that was originally installed when the garden was first created.  At that time it is thought it was a drip system.  Over the years as new areas of the garden are developed the system has been added to and expanded to the new areas.  Now, it is a combination of micro spray heads and rotors.  There are many different types of plants and all need different watering needs so there are many zones in a garden this size and the schedule is complex.  Every visit to the garden, Gloria and Sherrie check the areas to make sure they are not too dry.  The extension folks keep a watch on it for us as well.  If they see a dry spot they make sure everything is working properly.  If they find a sprinkler not working they report it and they come take a look at it and fix it.  There are dry areas that need to be manually watered and also when sprinkler heads are not working, Gloria and Sherrie are often at the garden doing supplemental watering.  So it’s like any other garden.  Stick your finger in the soil.  If it’s damp then don’t water too much.  If it’s dry then water it.  If it just rained an inch and half then turn it off until you need it again.  We all know that a couple of days in the hot Colorado sun can wreak havoc on a garden if it’s not getting water.  Protect you hard work and your wonderful plants by manually checking to make sure the proper amount of water is getting on the garden.

When we add new plants supplemental water may be needed as new plants need water for at least a couple of weeks to establish a strong root system.  These plants need more water than the established plants so the only way to do that is to manually give them more water.   Even Xeric plants need more water at first to establish their roots even though later they may need much less water.  When we put in new plants we carefully figure out what the watering and light needs will be for that plant and put it in the proper area.

Remember, right plant, right place is a great amount of being a successful gardener.  Most problems in the garden are environmental.  Not enough water, too much water, not enough sun, too much sun, shade plant in the sun, sun plant in the shade.  A reminder that the tags that come with the plants aren’t always exact for Colorado.  We are a mile closer to the sun and those tags that come with plants are more general for all zones and areas of the country.  Some perennial plants in other states are annuals here.  Some plants that say full sun may be partial sun here because we are a mile closer to the sun.  If in doubt, check with your local garden center.  Another great resource is the Annual and Perennial Plant Guide from the Colorado Nursery Association available at most garden centers.  They also have one for trees, shrubs and grasses.  It’s a great guide that has great pictures for every plant and watering and light needs as well as other valuable information.

If you’re not sure if your zones are working or you wonder why some plants look better than others you can do the tuna can test.  Place tuna cans (or any small can, pet food can, whatever) around the garden and turn on your watering system.  Check the can after the system shuts off and see how much water is in the can.  You can quickly tell which areas are getting more water than others.  This is especially helpful when you have large dry patches of turf in your lawn or around the edges and you don’t know if that area is getting enough water.  If the can catches the proper amount of water you know you can look for some other problem.

click on the links to the right for the Douglas County Extension web page and the CSU Extension page for more Colorado/Rocky Mountian Region gardening help

We walked around to see if we have a water supply for wildlife from the watering system and we have many rocks on the ground and in the terrace wall that catch and hold the water.

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As always, another busy day in the garden.  What’s happening in your garden?



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It’s For the Birds

The Master Gardener volunteers were busy weeding, deadheading, and planting more donations; but the highlight was putting up some birdhouses.

Many of the perennials have bloomed out and now the Rudbeckia, Black Eyed Susans, daisies, Russian Sage and salvia are in full force.  Here is what is in bloom in the garden this week:

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The Memorial Garden we planted two weeks ago is in bloom already.  We will still be adding another rose or two in the garden but we’re please with how it is looking already.

Memorial Garden

Memorial Garden

Sherrie is our pruner.  She took care of some more dead branches.  Dead branches may be removed at any time of the year.  If it’s dead it doesn’t matter when you remove it.

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The entrance to the garden has a vining plant on the arbor.  It was going wild so Elsa took some plastic tape and tied it to the arbor.  This will train it to attach itself and wind through the arbor.


Two birdhouses were selected for the garden.  A bluebird house and a wren house.  Research was done on what type of birds would visit our garden.  We know there are bluebirds and we’re hoping that the wren house will attract wrens or other types of birds.  The birdhouses were positioned so they are visible to watch the birds but also far enough away from the trees and paths so as not to be disturbed.  Al, Barbi and Elsa put up the houses.  Al had a handheld auger and dug a hole and Barbi took a spade and enlarged the hole.  The pole was positioned and dry cement was added to the hole.  The cement was watered in.  Our garden is already a wonderful habitat for birds.  There are native plants, food and lots of cover.  Next we will be adding a water source for the birds.  The birdhouses are a wonderful addition to our garden and will add interest as well as provide a habitat for birds.  We hope to be enjoying watching the birds use the houses soon.

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We are researching how to get certified as a natural habitat.  If you would like to create a backyard habitat here are some resources to check out how:

Here are a couple of wildlife areas in Colorado if you would like to check out some birds:





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It’s Garlic Time

It was another nice day in the garden.  It got hot early.  By 10:00 it was nice working in the shade.  Beth planted the rest of the roses in the memorial garden and everyone else spread out and tended to the weeds.  There was so much activity last garden day there was minimal weeding.  This gave the weeds a chance to really take hold.  I’m sure at least a half dumpster full of weeds were pulled.

Jill, Barbi and Al were in the herb garden trimming it up and weeding it.  Jill dug up some garlic that was ready.  If you planted garlic in the fall it should be ready to harvest.  If the foliage is starting to turn brown you know it’s almost ready.

Before we talk about garlic, here’s what the garden looks like this week:

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How to plant and harvest garlic:


Select the bulbs and type of garlic you would like to plant.  There are three types of garlic:  softneck, hardneck and elephant.  There are over 700 varieties.  Find a good source for your garlic like a farmer’s market, or local garden center.  Garlic from the grocery store may grow but many are treated so you aren’t guaranteed they will grow and produce.  Bulbs usually start arriving late August so get your selection before they are all gone.  You will want to start planting them mid September or later.  Four to six weeks before frost.

Bogatyr – Garlic – harvest in summer

Hardnecks have the most flavor but have a shorter storage time.  You can tell it is a hardneck variety because the stem is very hard.  Hardnecks will also produce a scape which may be harvested and eaten just like the cloves  (See last week’s blog)  Al, our herb expert says you can fry the roots and eat them as well.

This is why most garlic you find in the grocery store are softnecks.  Softnecks have a milder flavor but you can store them for months.

Garlic is planted in the Fall and harvested in the Summer in Colorado.  Garlic should be planted a few weeks before the first frost is expected.  Garlic is hardy and most varieties love our cold weather and actually need that cold to harden off the bulb so it doesn’t rot.

Prepare your bed:  Amend your bed with some good organic compost so it will drain well and also to give it some nutrition.  Garlic likes to grow in the sun but partial sun would work as well.

Each garlic clove may be planted to produce its own garlic bulb.  Separate the cloves of the bulb.  Use the largest bulbs from the outside of the bulb to plant.  The smaller bulbs near the stem should be eaten and enjoyed.

Take the separated clove and plant it 2 to 3 inches deep, root down, about 4 inches apart (the pointy tip is the top).   (Some like to let the separated cloves dry for a couple of days before planting – your choice).  You may get some green sprouts that comes up but it’s ok.  It will produce more in the Spring.  When it starts to pop up in the Spring you can give it some food high in nitrogen.  A 5-10-10 (the first number is nitrogen) would be a good choice  It could be a powder bulb food or an organic liquid.  Check with your local garden store to find the correct food.  Garlic likes to be winter watered as well so if it’s been a dry winter make sure you give them a good watering at least once a month.


The garlic will be ready to harvest in the summer.  You can tell it’s ready when the foliage starts to turn brown.  Garlic can grow 2 to 3 feet high.  This will happen from the top of the foliage and continue toward the ground where the bulb is.  When about 3 quarters of the foliage is brown it should be almost ready to harvest.  When hardnecks get the scape you can cut those off to help the bulb to keep producing and then it will be approximately two more weeks to harvest.  If you want to check and see if the bulbs are ready you can take a pitchfork and carefully lift the soil and check the size of the bulb.  Just make sure you don’t poke the bulb with the pitchfork.

Garlic scapes may be used just like garlic

Garlic scapes may be used just like garlic

After digging up the bulbs they will need to dry for approximately two weeks before it’s ready to be used.  Knock off big clumps of dirt but don’t be too picky.  Hang the bulbs upside down (make bundles of up to 10 bulbs and tie with a string or piece of twine) in a dark, warm (60 to 65 degrees), dry space (like a basement or root cellar).  Make sure the air can circulate around the bulbs.  After two weeks cut off the roots, and stems and clean off the rest of the dirt and they are ready to eat!!  The purple varieties are very pretty.  If you grow softneck garlic you can braid the stems and hang them instead of cutting the stems off.


Hardneck – hanging to dry – these are small because it was a second year harvest but still will be tasty


Garlic should not be stored in the refrigerator.  Softnecks can be braided and hung in a bunch and last for a quite a few months.  Hardnecks have a shorter storage time.

Save some for planting in the fall and you will have a never ending supply of garlic.

Garlic is a perennial.  If you don’t harvest it, it will come up again the next year and every clove in the bulb will produce another clove.  You can still harvest it but the bulbs will look deformed because of growing so close together but it’s all good!!

For more information on planting garlic in Colorado here are a couple of great sources to watch and read from the CSU Extension and Planttalk.









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