It’s Time to Plant Your Summer Garden

Have you heard the suggestion to plant after Mother’s Day? That is because, generally speaking, mid-May is when the weather is consistently getting warmer. Most importantly, the likelihood of a freeze becomes much lower. While we can’t follow any moniker too strictly, we do know that this time of year is perfect for starting your home garden.

For many without the time and space to grow their own food, the farmers market is a perfect solution to getting locally-grown, fresh produce. But, if you do have the time and interest, planting a garden can result in an abundance of nutrient-dense food for months – with the added bonus of the satisfaction of knowing you grew it with your own two hands!

And while you may think that farmers want you to only buy from them, you will find that most small farmers encourage their community to be as connected to their food system as possible. And what is more connected than having your own hands in the dirt?

For this reason, most of the farmers at the Boulder and Longmont Farmers Markets sell plant starts throughout spring. This way, you get the plant when it is ready to go in the ground and farmers get some investment in their growing season before the true bounty of summer is harvested. Plus, you’ll know that the plants were given the same care and attention as all of their crops, versus those that are shipped to big chain stores.

Tomato start from Rocky Mountain Fresh, ready to be planted.

Here is some inspiration on what to plant this year:


Tomatoes have an endless possibility of variety, where to plant, and what you can do with them after harvesting. Consider what you will want to use them for when choosing between larger heirloom varieties, sauce tomatoes like San Marzanos, or cherry tomatoes perfect for snacking and salads. Tomatoes will grow in pots or in gardens and need lots of sunlight to produce the most fruit.


If you are planting tomatoes, you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not plant basil too. It is the perfect summer herb to finish a tomato, basil, mozzarella salad, add to cocktails, or make homemade pesto. Most herbs will even grow inside if you have a window that lets in a lot of sunshine!


Similar to tomatoes, peppers are exciting because there is a wide variety to choose from. In Colorado, peppers with shorter growing seasons do well, such as anaheim peppers, jalapeños,  and sweet bell peppers. Depending on what kind of peppers you choose to grow, you can plant them in pots or give them more space in the ground.

Bok Choy

Add something different to your garden with this delicious Chinese cabbage variety. Perfect for a stir fry or soup, bok choy can also be eaten raw. Such a versatile vegetable is ideal to have in your garden. Bok Choy is also a great example of produce that is harvested before it gets to the hottest part of summer, unlike tomatoes. The staggered harvest dates allow you to have abundance throughout the entire growing season.


These delicious, crunchy crops require slightly more space to grow than some of our other suggestions, but are so worth it. There are a few varieties that grow more compactly, so ensure you pick the right one for your space and desired use. Growing a crop that is easy to preserve – in this case as pickles – will assist your future self late in the season when you have exhausted all ways you can think of to eat them fresh.

Leafy green plant starts from Aspen Moon Farm.

At the end of the day, it is all about planting what you like to eat. If you don’t have a lot of space, choose the crops that can be grown in pots and continue purchasing things like squash and cucumbers from your local farmers. Plant variety and plan for what your harvests will look like throughout the growing season. The process can feel overwhelming, so you can always start small this year and allow your garden to grow over time.

Get all the gear you need to start planting this Mother’s Day weekend by visiting us at the farmers markets this week. Visit us on Wednesday or Saturday in Downtown Boulder, or on Saturday in Longmont.

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