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Updated: May 17, 2021

I asked gardeners from across Wyoming this simple question, “What is one thing you wished you knew before you started gardening?” Wow, these answers are amazing!


From beginner tips to some very common problems we all face here in Wyoming, you all shared some awesome ideas and insights for the beginner gardeners in Wyoming! I can’t wait to share more of this type of knowledge here at Red Ridge Farm. I reached out to all of the gardeners below for a short bio. I thought it would be nice to see the story behind the advice.



Wyoming Weather


This is the most common frustration for all growers in Wyoming. The weather is not tied to just the garden but all aspects of agriculture in Wyoming. Some of these gardeners have even shared pictures of how they overcame Wyoming’s wind!


Wyoming Wind


Jenette Emig from Cheyenne, Wyoming


“I have had a few gardens before here and I always struggled with sturdy trellises in this crazy Wyoming wind. I recently came across cattle panels and t posts for arches and trellises I will be testing it out this year. So far I am in love with the idea as I got them all put up before the snow.”





Colleen Schumacher


“My biggest challenge has been appropriate stakes for specific plants, and bean trellis and also have not liked the tomato tents I have used.”


Shirley Brookshier Cortez Liebenow


I started helping my Mom in the garden in Missouri as a toddler and have been gardening ever since. Even as a young single schoolteacher, I had a sizable garden. I moved to Colorado at 28 to continue teaching and learned new techniques for gardening there. But, after being widowed many years, I met a fellow gardener who moved me to Wyoming.



“Wish I had known what a short growing season Wyoming has because of the weather.”



Wyoming’s Severe Weather


Celena Shaffer Cornett


I've been gardening for close to 20 years. I've had a bit of everything over those years. Currently I'm using an eclectic mixture of ideas. We still till our garden but then top it off with compost that may not be completely cooked along the planting area like no till methods. I also heavily plant and inter plant those rows. For example currently I have radish and carrots planted together in double rows. The radish will be done long before the carrots need the space.

We also have a few raised beds. We have slowly started adding as our property has rock all along the fences. Our long term plan is for more raised beds.

I plant early knowing I may have to replant. I also have a normally good system for starting seeds in the house, a greenhouse, and a three season porch.


“I think being prepared for hail to ruin everything is a big one here. Last year we got hit with a bad hail storm after my garden was going amazing. While we didn't initially lose too many plants to it half our garden flooded. Everything suffered and our yields dropped. Be prepared to cover crops quickly or lose them.”



Garden Planning


A struggle for many Wyoming gardeners is knowing when to start seeds in and outdoors. Gardening requires planning and scheduling beyond the little boxes we draw on a piece of paper!


Starting Seeds


Amanda Munford from Sheridan, Wyoming


I'm honestly not overly knowledgeable, but I'm learning. I grew up in San Diego. My Dad was known to grow a handful of things in our suburban yard, which was considered weird at the time. I've been gardening for about 10 years. I relocated to Story 5 years ago and then to Sheridan 4 years ago. This past fall I completed the online portion of the Master Gardeners program and I'm working on the continuing education and volunteer hours. I've got a mix of gardening happening right now. The largest portion is a plain garden bed. There is also a small raised bed area. I also have items in Earthboxes and pots. I'm slowly getting control over my crazy yard.


“I have struggled with when to start seeds and when to plant outside. We have such a limited growing season than what I grew up with.”



Ruth Martin


I have been gardening for about thirty years. This is my first vegetable garden this year since I moved from Northern California in 2015. This year I put in a small raised bed for asparagus and the rest will be all in the ground.


“This is my first garden in Wyoming this year and I can't believe how short the growing season is. I am so anxious to get plants in the ground now that it is sunny and warm. I was told that I should not put seeds in the ground until May 31st. Also was told that there is a saying here that when the goose is gone you are safe to plant. I wish I knew more of when to start seeds indoors. I was also told that some people just bypass this and plant the seeds in the ground. I think that it would be such a time saver and I could harvest sooner if I put plants in the ground instead of seeds.”





Short Growing Season


Kymberly Brown from Big Horn, Wyoming


I've been gardening off and on all my life (30+) in ground beds. I have had a raised bed for the last 5 years. I am not a committed gardener as our style is generally to eat what we can out of the garden but rarely is there any after thought for what we produce as is evident by selling you all of my jars. It's generally a project I take on myself and have little contribution from my family members so I get easily overwhelmed. I did one of the community gardens about 10 years ago at Sagebrush in town. That was the year my mom died so once it was planted I had little opportunity to tend it because I was with her. My biggest challenge really is committing to a plan and sticking with it. Generally I want more than I have time for. That is why this year I committed to a salsa garden. Tomatoes, onions and peppers.


“When the gardening season actually begins. I ALWAYS fail to start seeds soon enough. Also that the garden bed does NOT have to be spotless and free from weeds.”



Wyoming Pest


All of us will have problems with pests in our gardening journey. Like weeds, but I was not expecting some of the following. Who knew!


Weeds


Heather Redbaugh from Sheridan, Wyoming


I’ve been gardening all my life basically. Both sets of grandparents kept gardens so I was raised with the appreciation of growing and preserving food. I have greenhouses, raised beds, 10-30” wide rows, square foot style, vertical and fruit orchard etc.



One thing I wish I knew before I started gardening? Mulch is just as important and good soil.


Jackie Kossert


I helped my Gram garden from about 5 years old then my Mom raised most of what we ate and lots of flowers, I started as soon as I had my own place, I can a lot of what I grow and have a few acres of just about anything that will grow in ZONE 4 , in ground and container.


“The plants or bushes that take over a garden and are impossible to get rid of”


Mice


Mark Widdison from Greybull, Wyoming


I was raised gardening, but after high school I wasn't in the position to have a garden till about 3 years ago. We just plant in the ground, but hopefully we can build a greenhouse within the next few years.



“Originally from Utah. Wish I was aware of how much field mice love my carrots!”





Gardening Fundamentals

All of our gardens begin with the fundamentals like soil, location, and gardening style.


Soil Health


Jennifer Brownrigg


I grew for 8 years in a traditional garden and the last 4 years permaculture/food forest style.


“Soil health and building soil when I first started the information for me from local people was plant and fertilize using miracle grow or something similar(no one in my sphere of influence gardened so I was at ground zero), the massive amount of garden myths that can trip people up, Permaculture practices and food forest I should have started it earlier in life, No till- I wasted a lot of time digging for basically zero benefit, Always double check garden advice some of it is very bad or doesn't apply to you and observing your land before you site anything”


Planting


Jennifer Rasp-Vaughn


I have been gardening for 3-4 years: using raised beds with square(ish) foot gardening technique.


I wish that I knew about companion gardening and crop rotation before starting. Also, wish I knew about tree roots versus ground barriers before having to dig up ALL of my raised beds; the barrier that I laid was NOT strong enough to battle the elm roots! It would have made bed prep much better this year!


Commonly Asked Question


We have an additional quote from a gardener from North Dakota. She gave us a great insight into some of the common questions asked by beginner gardeners in general. I love her insights!


Beginner Question


Julie Woodbury


I've been gardening my whole life; raised in a family of 12, our garden was an important source of food for our big family. I learned from my Grandma and Mom and now try to pass my knowledge to my students and my own grandchildren. I have a large in-ground garden with vegetables, herbs, annual flowers, and perennial fruits, a raised garden bed, and flowerbeds with perennial flowers and herbs. I'm also an Agriculture Education teacher and Master Gardener intern in ND.


I started gardening as a child, so these ideas are things I've been asked or seen new gardeners experience. And I'm from across the way in western ND.

What plants to start early indoors and which to just direct plant (and when!)

How/why to harden off

Should I grow veggies from seed I saved from store produce

Which veggies to save seed from and under what conditions. (Hybrids, cross pollination of cucurbits, etc)

How much room is needed for different crops

Perennials! Choosing locations and varieties that do well in my area

Pros and cons of various types of growing (in ground, raised beds, containers, straw bales, etc)






What do you say?


I would love to read your response to the question: “What's one thing I wish I knew before I started gardening.” Comment below.


We are all in this together, you don’t need to be from Wyoming to comment! We are here to help each other because you can help shape the future content of Red Ridge Farm!


Pray, Just Plant!

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