our 2020 garden
When we first decided to buy a home in Colorado, I had a dream of a back patio oasis. It would be filled with plants and provide a haven from the outside world. Justin and I decided that we would buy a townhome so that we would have “just” the right amount of yard. We had learned from our previous home owning experiences — back in Michigan — that neither of us like fussy yards that require a lot of upkeep.
We found the perfect home to have built for us that met all of our requirements. It’s a four bedroom, 3.5 bathroom interior townhome. Sitting at approximately 1800 square feet, it’s not our largest home nor is it the smallest home that we’ve ever lived in. It has the right amount of space for our tiny family though. The front yard is pretty small at about 20 by 20 feet and we have a 5 by 20 foot strip of grass that is required by the HOA. I’m a bit annoyed by the grass, but that’s for another day.
Our back patio lies between the house and the garage. It’s all of 14 by 20 feet. Not super big by any stretch. Unfortunately, I had to scrap my plans of an edible oasis for the time being because the vast majority of the patio is completely shaded all of the time. Not the best growing conditions for tomatoes or peppers — our favorite plants. I am planning on doing the research for a shade garden, but for the moment I had to rethink our patio plans.
But, I said this post was about our 2020 garden, which we do have.
When I realized that the front yard gets more than enough sunlight to support my dreams, I quickly put Justin to work to realize them. (You’ll notice that’s a theme around here. I have the dreams, he implements them.) The first thing I did was read through our HOA guidelines to assure that I wouldn’t be running afoul of any rules. Had there been a rule against raised garden beds, I would have started working towards changing. Thankfully, no such rule existed. Then I asked Justin to remove seven of the bushes that were part of the builder’s landscaping and had him assemble the two 3 by 3 feet raised beds that I had purchased.
Eighteen square feet of garden space seemed like the right amount for me to try my hand at Colorado gardening (which is notoriously difficult) and to test the waters with my neighbors. Plus, with a baby under a year old, I wasn’t exactly sure how much time I would be able to devote to my outdoor pursuits this year.
I bought four tomato plants, three jalapeño plants, and two bell pepper plants from an online garden center. I direct sowed zucchini and cucumber seeds in the bed with the trellis. I wasn’t initially planning on planting tomatoes with the cucumber and zucchini, but those two plants didn’t look like they were going to make it after being traumatized during shipping.
We’re about half way through the growing season and all of plants are well established and starting to produce fruit. One of the jalapeño plants did die, but that’s okay since the other two are doing so well. So far, I’ve harvested more zucchini than I know what to do with, about five cucumbers, enough jalapeños for our normal cooking and jalapeño jelly (one of Justin’s favorite things), bell peppers for our weekly uses, and almost enough tomatoes to make and can some pasta sauce. As the temperatures start to come down, I suspect that the tomato harvest will improve. And those two plants that I though would die? Evidently, I was so very wrong. Both have been producing tons of cherry tomatoes to Justin’s delight.
Our garden has become one of my favorite places. My nights I tell Justin, “I’m going to go hang out with my plants.” He knows that means that I’ll be back in twenty or so minutes after watering, pruning, harvesting, and having some alone time. It’s also one of the few times that I have a chance for adult interactions. Many of my neighbors stop by to chat with me about my plants, ask me questions about the garden, or simply tell me that they like what I’m doing. I’ve also noticed quite a few people stopping by on their walks just to check it out.
I’m pretty happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish with just 18 square feet of garden. Now that summer is coming to a close, I need to start thinking about our fall plants and next spring. I can hardly wait!