Planning for Our 2013 Garden

I am really not a winter person. If it were up to me I’d probably just skip the season entirely, but at the moment I live in Colorado so winter is very much a part of my life. This year, one of the things that’s been getting me through the cold (and recently very snowy) weather has been planning my 2013 garden.

This will only be my second year of gardening. Last year we had a small container garden out on our balcony. Late in the season we also planted a few crops in an outdoor plot in our apartment complex’s community garden (which I never got around to blogging about). Both enterprises were a success, so this year we plan to reprise our container garden and plant a whole season’s worth of crops in a plot in the community garden. I am so excited! I am still very much a gardening newbie, but it has been very fun trying things out and being rewarded with yummy food to eat.

What We’re Growing

Since last year we were moving right around the ideal time to start seeds indoors, we bought a lot of seedlings at the local hardware store. This year we are planning on growing everything from seed ourselves. We have purchased the following seeds from a local seed company:

  • Sweet basil
  • Stevia
  • Two varieties of bush beans
  • Two varieties of butter lettuce
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Orange bell peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Sweetie Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Spacing Plans

At the moment, my tentative plan is to use my balcony container garden for several basil plants plus at least two tomato plants and one pepper plant. The peppers, tomatoes, and basil did really well out there last year—I think because it’s south-facing and tends to become an intensely hot microclimate—so I’m hoping to reprise that success this year. I may also put the stevia on the balcony as well, as I’ve read that it’s a good container plant.

In the outdoor plot, I’ll grow the zucchini, bush beans, lettuce, and peas, plus extra tomatoes and peppers. In total I have about 33 square feet to work with, although it’s divided up somewhat strangely as whoever built the bed added a few dividers. I feel rather uncertain about how to space everything since it will be such a mish mash of different plants, but I figure I’ll just generally follow the spacing directions on the seed packets while cutting or adding space here or there to make everything fit. We shall see how it turns out! Honestly I feel like a lot of gaining gardening experience is just jumping in and seeing what ends up working, so I’m trying not to overanalyze things too much.


I’m following the planting guidelines for zone 5. (Technically I’m in zone 6A according to my zip code, but the guidelines are basically the same. If you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say “zones,” you can look up your own zone here.) Looking up planting dates for my region online just made me very confused, so I ended up checking out the same two regional gardening books that I found helpful last year: The Colorado Gardener’s Companion, by Jodi Torpey; and Month-by-Month Gardening in the Rocky Mountains, by John Cretti. The latter has a very handy chart listing all of the recommended planting/seed starting dates for Rocky Mountain gardeners in zone 5. Here are the relevant dates for what we’re planning on growing:

Variety Start Seeds Indoors Plant Outside
Bush Beans Sow directly in garden May 10
Lettuce March 15 April 15
Peas Sow directly in garden April 1
Peppers March 15 May 27
Tomatoes March 20 May 27
Basil April 1 May 27

As you can see, I get to start my first seedlings in just a few days. We’ll be growing them in our dining room underneath a grow light that we bought last summer. It hasn’t ever been used on seedlings, but it’s been keeping one of our old basil plants alive all winter so I assume it will work great…

Are you looking forward to gardening this year? What will you be growing? 


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6 Responses to Planning for Our 2013 Garden

  1. Meghan, Good luck in your endeavors! I'm a fan of worm bins, after starting one at a parks and rec class, and having castings for my indoor plants all winter long. It lives in my son's closet! I hope you have good soil, like my father leaves the lucky recipient of his community garden plots when he moves.
  2. jamie says:
    Hi Meghan! I am really looking forward to my 2013 garden also! I live in town, but have a decent size yard. I still feel like I need more space though with everything I want to plant! In the last few months my family has started eating organic and so I want to plant everything I can to save money. My 18 month old son and I (hopefully my husband too) will be starting the GAPS diet the beginning of April. I have been trying to prepare for this great adventure by making bone broth and trying out some fermented vegetables and kefir! I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog. I think it will be very helpful to me in the up and coming months! Good luck with your garden!
  3. Kelley Baker says:
    We just moved from an apartment to a little house with a yard. We're so excited to start a little vegetable garden! We haven't had one in years. We ordered our seeds from Baker Creek. Heirloom seeds and no GMOs! I hope you keep us updated with pictures from your garden:)
    • Ooh, yay for a yard! I am dying to have a yard someday...although sadly probably not for several years. For now I'm happy for my balcony--it's a huge upgrade over our last apartment, which had no outdoor space at all! And yes, I hope to do plenty of pictures !
  4. Mary says:
    Look into "square foot gardening". Planting close together. Depending how wide your beds are you may need no rows. Enjoy gardening. It's a life long love. Don't know about growing stevia. Don't know if you will get enough to be usable. Colorados shorter growing season can be tough. Have fun.

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