Planning A Vegetable Garden

Planning a Vegetable Garden is the best part of the winter months. Rather than sulking indoors during the winter months, start imaging and planning your spring and summer garden. In January, the seed catalogs start arriving, and by February you should have picked out what you want to grow.  Creating a plan for your vegetable garden will make sure that everything you want to grow, you will have the available space and time. For a successful vegetable garden, you need a Garden Journal, Gardening Calendar, and finally a Visual Graph or Layout of your Gardening area.

Planning a Vegetable Garden


Garden Journal:

Once you have chosen your seeds, use your garden journal (you can print your own copy at the bottom of the blog) Garden Journalto track each vegetable/berry/fruit tree, etc. on their own page.  Fill in all the information for the particular seed, how to sow it, care for it, etc.. There is a section for companions/enemies which is very helpful when drawing a garden layout, areas to record pests, harvest info. for tacking if if was successful, and when the seeds were planted indoors or outdoors.  

  • Detailed Garden Journal



Next step in planning a vegetable garden is to create a calendar. First determine you average last frost of the Spring and average first frost of the Fall and input them … READ MORE...

Grow Your Own Mushrooms

You have heard of a yule log during the Holidays, but how about a mushroom log to grow your own mushrooms?  Grow Your Own Mushrooms

Every year your family asks you what you want for Christmas, why not ask for a mushroom log so you can grown your own mushrooms !   You can explain that mushroom logs allow you to easily grow mushrooms at home within a few months.   There are a few companies that sell tree logs that have been injected with mushroom spores.  The mushroom varieties have included shiitake, button, etc.

This is exactly what I asked of my mom for Christmas and to my surprise, on Christmas Day, I opened up a present and it was indeed a shiitake mushroom log!  I think it was my favorite present this year!

How to Care for Your Mushroom Log

When you get your mushroom log you must soak it for 24 hours.  It is VERY important to use spring or distilled water, or in my case…melted snow.    You can’t use tap water because it has chlorine that will kill the mushroom spores.  (Luckily for me, it had snowed the night before and so I went outside and collected snow and melted it down.)    Soak Mushroom Log for 24 HoursUse a large tub to soak your wood and be sure to weigh it down to keep it … READ MORE...

Winter Cover Crop for Raised Beds

Winter Cover Crop in Raised Garden BedsFall harvest has come and gone, but the gardening work is not over.  After the garden beds are cleaned up…it’s time to plant a winter cover crop in your raised beds.   Cover crops grow during the fall/winter months, and are tilled under during the late winter/early spring in preparation for late spring or summer plantings. A winter cover crop is excellent at replacing nutrients and organic matter back into the soil after each gardening season. 

In Colorado, Zone 5, the best winter cover crop is a combination of winter rye and vetch.  Vetch replaces lost nitrogen in the garden bed, where the winter rye is great at adding organic matter.

Many companies sell either winter rye OR vetch, but Urban Farmer, sells a rye/vetch combo!  I was very excited that I could get the benefits from both the vetch and rye.  I purchased the 5lb bag, but only sowed a little over half the bag (so I have bunch for next year).

Winter Rye & Vetch Combo

Fall Planting

Planting a Winter Cover Crop in a Raised Bed

After receiving your chosen cover crop in the mail or from your local store, it’s time to plant it.   Late October seems to be the ideal time in Colorado to plant your winter cover crop. 

Prepare your raised garden beds by removing (and composting) any vegetables that won’t remain through the winter. Sprinkle the winter … READ MORE...

How to Acquire Free Mulch

Free Mulch - COLORADO URBAN HOMESTEADERI live in an awesome town that has a tree & branch collection site.   You can drop off your tree clippings or branches, the city then takes them and turns it into mulch and has a huge pile for anyone to take. …for FREE.    Check your city’s website to see if they provide a free mulch service.

Free Mulch - COLORADO URBAN HOMESTEADERMulch makes great layers when filling in raised garden beds and to mulch around fruit trees and berry bushes.  When acquiring mulch, check to see if it is from Christmas Trees.  Many cities will mulch Christmas Trees too, but for your typical garden you want to STAY AWAY from Christmas tree mulch because it is too acidic.  Luckily our city separates the Christmas Tree mulch from the traditional stuff.


*Tip*  In order to not get our car quite as dirty, we purchased a Bagster – Dumpster in a Bag from Home Depot and used that to lay in the bottom of our van and fill it with mulch.  We figured that we would end up using it later for it’s intended purpose.



Using Crushed Egg Shells in the Garden

Using Crushed Egg Shells in your GardenSpring is around the corner and refrigerators will be filled with eggs.  Perhaps it is because your backyard chickens are beginning to lay more as the temperatures warm up, or perhaps eggs are on such a great sale at the grocery store that you are stocking up for Easter and Easter brunch.   Either way, you are going to end up with A LOT of egg shells this time of year.  Instead of throwing them out, crush them up and use the egg shells in your garden or feed to your chickens.

It is known that using calcium supplements in your garden is a great way to prevent blossom-end rot in tomatoes and can deter slugs and other unwanted pests.  Calcium supplements are also important for your chickens so that they can continue to lay eggs.

Egg shells are full of calcium and other minerals, so instead of Egg Shells in the Garden - COLORADO URBAN HOMESTEADERpurchasing calcium supplements, you can make my own.

How to Crush Many Egg Shells

1. Rinse off the egg shells and let dry for a day or two
2. Put into a food processor or blender and pulverize to a dustEgg Shells in the Garden - COLORADO URBAN HOMESTEADER
3. Dump into a Ziploc bag or other container to store
4. Use crushed egg shells

      * When transplanting tomatoes, dig a hole, pour 1 teaspoon of the egg shell/calcium dust, … READ MORE...