For many students and off-campus community members, the start of spring is the start of seeding season for home gardens.
The first step in starting a garden is to do some research on what to grow and when to grow, depending on what conditions certain plants require.
Claire Tortorelli, a CSU senior in forest biology, has been growing her own greens since she was little, not once hesitating to grow radishes, cilantro and basil in her dorm room at CSU.
According to Tortorelli, the best site she has used to help buffer her gardening knowledge is the CSU Extension page on Yard and Gardens.
“They have all sorts of interesting plant fact sheets that I have used for my plants at home and for my classes,” Torterilli said. “Everyone should learn to garden, because you can grow yourself something that will taste better than anything you can get at the store.”
The vegetable planting guide on the CSU extension page outlines which vegetables count as cool season vegetables, growing best at temperatures of 60°F to 80°F, and which vegetables are warm season, preferring weather temperatures between 70°F and 95°F.
In addition, the guide provides a chart that outlines the best spacing and planting depth for different crops, as well as average days until germination and harvest for each cool season and warm season vegetable.
General Manager at Jordan’s Floral Gardens Phil Phelan said the Zone 5- Seed Starting and Transplanting Guide for Northern Colorado, provided by the Home Grown Food Volunteer Group, is one of the most user-friendly information charts on when to seed that he has ever seen.
Phelan said the second major step of the gardening process is to go buy the seeds of choice and the appropriately sized containers and proper growing medium.
“Start with clean plastic pots and trays, not sterile, but clean enough to prevent disease spread,” Phelan said. “All pots and trays should have drainage, and watch your light and your temperature from a hot south window.”
According to Phelan, some of the easiest to grow and transplant are basil, tomatoes and leafy greens such as spinach and collard greens.
Phelan said the 8th Annual Seed Swap, where locals can trade seeds, get gardening materials and gather important gardening information and resources, will take place Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside of the Fort Collins Library.
“I think (gardening) gives you a spiritual lift,” Phelan said. “Knowing you started something, you have nurtured it, you know how its been cared for. …You form a closer bond to your garden.”
The third step of the gardening process is the transplant step, a make-it or break-it step that can determine the success of plants.
There is a process called hardening, in which a gardener gradually introduces indoor seedlings to the outdoors for a few hours a day until they are acclimated to the more harsh outdoor climate.
Kim Cumella, a CSU senior studying soil and crop sciences, is an experienced gardener, last year growing over 50 plants in her house.
“You have to adjust them slowly to sunlight and temperature out there because it is not as consistent as an indoor environment,” Cumella said. “Rainy and windy days make it difficult to adjust them. It was a little hard, no pun intended, to harden the plants.”
The final step in the gardening process is to harvest and enjoy the herbs and vegetables grown.
“Everyone should learn to garden because you can grow yourself something that will taste better than anything you can get at the store,” Tortorelli said.
Collegian Reporter Madison Brandt can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @Mademia_93.