Jackson, Wyoming is known for its beautiful mountains and unique rugged terrain great for outdoor sports, not so much for its fertile and crop friendly earth. The ground is rough and loamy and nearly impenetrable. So those desiring homegrown vegetables or herb growers better be determined! Let me tell you of my garden woes of last year.
Last year, I attempted to grow a few simple herbs and vegetables in my backyard. Being from Tennessee, tomatoes are no sweat to grow and harvest all summer! Nothing taste quite like a homegrown fresh off the vine juicy red tomato! After much digging and scraping to plant some perennials just a few inches in the ground, I realized this was far different from the soft limestone rich soil I was used to. So when I turned to my vegetables and herbs I decided to use pots! After two failed attempts at sprouting sturdy seedlings, I reluctantly bought some already rooted plants from the local garden store. When I asked the gardeners there for some advice they suggested I visit the grocery store for my fresh produce needs – Even the professional gardeners don’t have much faith in the act! I planted my tomatoes and rosemary (as it was already July these were about the only options left) in my nutrient rich soil filled pots and nurtured and cared from them, bringing them under my porch at night…unless I forgot. And forgot I did one night and the rosemary was toast…well frozen toast. My cherry tomato plant was still hanging on though and even had several small green fruits! The fruits turned yellow and a few even turned red, ready to pluck! I ate a handful of them right off the vine! But one night in August I again forgot to bring my tomato plant under shelter and it too froze and all the juicy little yellow, not quite ripe fruits with it. Heart broken and downtrodden, I gave up on gardening in Wyoming in the middle of August, the theoretically hottest month of the year, and visited the grocery store for ingredients for a fresh caprese salad.
But this year brings a new sense of determination and experience. Some words of advice I will share:
- plant in raised beds or large pots
- plants can still be frost bitten in the night on the loveliest of days
- south-facing gardens will ensure the maximum amount of sunlight
- invest in a simple green house
Even with these tips, I would suggest not depending on your garden to provide you with a full year’s worth of vegetables because you might go hungry. Its time to start planning for this summer – here we go again!