Homegrown: Garden 2015

It’s garden time again!

At our elevation (about 6,500 feet above sea level), Father’s Day is our cue to get our veggie and herb garden planted. That might seem late, but we’re still prone to the occasional overnight freeze until mid-June around here! John and I love eating food we’ve grown in our own backyard, and by this time, we’re definitely antsy to get started…especially since we only have until late September before the next freeze (sigh).

2015 will be our third year of gardening in Park City. There have been mistakes, adjustments, and lessons learned (remember our bolting lettuce?). We’ve incorporated our own compost into the garden (hooray!). We have some tried-and-true things we’ll continue to plant each year (tomatoes, hot peppers, squash, basil, thyme), a few items that no longer make the cut (dill and cilantro never survive), and some newcomers to the team (helloooo, kale!). Every year, we put in the work and hope for the best, and the first harvest is pure joy.

To begin, John does the dirty work: prepping the soil. The first year, when he built the garden boxes and their critter-cages, he dug into the hillside about 8-10 inches and tilled the earth, then added organic garden soil and compost into it (about 70% soil, 30% compost). Each year thereafter, he’ll pull up an rogue weeds, till the existing soil, and add compost to make up for any settling and to add fresh nutrients. After the veggies and herbs are in the ground, we put our own home compost around the base of each plant. It’s a lot of effort, removing the garden box tops, toting the bags of soil and compost up the hill, working the soil, and replacing the tops. (I like to take photos and admire my hardworking hubby without a shirt on.)

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One of my favorite days in early summer is Bring the Garden Home Day, when we stroll around our lovely local nursery, get inspired, and carefully select our plant babies. Park City Nursery is a mini-wonderland, colorful and enchanting, with super-friendly employees and funky garden eye-candy everywhere you look.

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Here’s our roster for 2015:

  • 4 types of tomatoes: We look for any that mature within 60 days!
  • 4 types of hot peppers: Serrano, habanero, chile de arbol, and 2 jalapeño
  • Cucumber
  • Yellow squash
  • Red sweet pepper
  • Two kinds of salad greens and Tuscan kale, from seed
  • Strawberry
  • Herbs: 2 basils, thyme, lavender, purple sage, mint, Italian parsley

We also have a happy rosemary plant that lives indoors and a tough potted chive plant that has survived two winters!

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After all of John’s work on prepping the soil, it sure doesn’t take long to get the plants in the ground. The view from the garden is lovely, and Cholula loves to roam and hunt the brush for critters (#ears). The hillside gets great sun, so we use the space in the garden boxes for the squash, cucumber, tomatoes, the hot peppers (except the feisty habanero, which we’re trying in a pot this year), the basil and thyme, and the lettuces.

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The garden uses soaker hoses for irrigation which are hooked up to our sprinkler system’s timer, and on super hot days, we use a thin white blanket over the cages for shade. But the boxes only have so much room in them (especially because the squash and cucumber vines get huge), so the rest of the gang lives in pretty pots on the patio. I love visiting them each morning with a sip of water, checking on their progress. Grow, little babies, grow!

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It won’t be long until I’m pausing my dinner prep to trot up to the garden, scissors and salad bowl in hand, to snip some greens and herbs for our meal. It happens daily during the height of summer- somehow the stuff we’ve grown ourselves just tastes better!

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But I think the most rewarding part of summer gardening in Park City is the day we pluck our first ripe tomato off of the vine. We were told time and time again that you can’t grow tomatoes up here (or shouldn’t bother, due to the short growing season). But we’ve done it!

And nothing beats a homegrown tomato. Am I right?

Stay tuned throughout the summer for garden updates, and follow me on Instagram to see photos (#garden2015)!

Do you garden at home? I’d love to know what you grow!

Check it outOur garden, from Year One


  1. Lookin’ good! Your garden is just starting up, and mine is starting to wind down with the mid-90’s heat. You are so right. Nothing like a home-grown tomato or cucumber. You are BRAVE for planting (eating?) habanero. Jalapeno is all the heat this girl can handle. Cheers, Amber!

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