Early April, and we’ve seen dang near 60 degree F temperatures already. Must be time to get that garden started, right? (He said with a sly Teton Valley grin.)
I’ll admit that I have fallen victim to the early gardening bug after some warm spring days, and you know, replanting really isn’t so bad. Whether or not you get away with it has to do with more than the weather. A lot depends on what you’re planting and where you plant it. Indoors under a grow light or on a window sill is one thing. Out in a greenhouse is another. In the ground is still another. It’s probably a good idea to wait, at least until the snow is off the ground for that one. However, I will readily admit that I have been known to till up snow along with the soil. Muddy, muddy work.
Many long-time Teton Valley gardeners say they never plant anything in the ground until June. That will certainly increase your garden’s odds of survival. There’s always that one last cold snap of May before that first cold snap of June.
Truth is, there are no guaranteed frost-free months in Teton Valley. It’s vital to learn the right things to plant when. Hardy and fast-growing are the words you want to hear when you pick your crops. Listening to your neighbors is one way to find out the not-so-secret secrets of mountain gardening. Taking a class from a master gardener through the Extension Service is another. Trial and error works too, if the frustration doesn’t make you quit first. The best thing I ever did for my garden was to spend a season doing a work share on my local Community Supported Agriculture farm. They don’t all offer that opportunity anymore, but if you get the chance, take it. It won’t be easy; you might even use words like backbreaking, but what you gain will be golden.
There are ways to extend the growing season at both ends and protect most of your plants from the harsh mountain environment. Some plants are okay to start early indoors and then transplant into the ground later, while others do not like that arrangement one bit. And some plants will not ever want to live in the great outdoors, preferring to spend their lives in the greenhouse. And once you learn all about it and it all works out well for a few years, suddenly one year it won’t. That’s gardening in Teton Valley. And I didn’t even mention the critters that like your veggies just as much as you do.
But if you haven’t had the experience of growing a garden in Teton Valley and are thinking now might be a good time to get it started, think again, take your time, and learn more. It will make your mountain gardening experience much more enjoyable.