How to Make Gardening Easier

By Wilma Trujillo

CSU Extension Website

The rising cost of many basic food items, coupled with a general downturn in the economy, is enough to make the idea of growing your own food look appealing. For some, it can become a real necessity. Besides, homegrown vegetables simply taste better.

Gardening is an adventure complete with heat, rain, droughts, insects and diseases. The following are some steps on how to make that adventure a little less stressful.  These steps are not complicated, for the most part, and can be mastered with a little care and attention.

1. Improve Your Soil

The building block of your garden is your soil.  Loose, fertile, well-drained soil will make your gardening experience successful.  Test your soil every three to five years.  Soil tests cost about $ 25.  A basic soil test will tell you if you need to improve the nutrient level of your soil.  Place close attention to the soil pH.  The pH of the soil affects nutrient availability to the growing plants.  Most vegetables grow best in slightly acidic soils (pH 5.8 to 6.5). For more information on soil testing go to

2. Choose the best Locations

Choosing the best location for your garden is another important gardening task.  Most plants need at least six to eight hours of full sunlight for best growth.  Choose a site for your garden far away from trees and shrubs to avoid competition for light, water and nutrients. Select a site close to a water source.

3. Water Properly

Most vegetables need at least one inch of water per week.  Avoid watering during the hottest part of the day.  You will lose 50% of moisture applied through evaporation when watering between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Water at the base of the plant to avoid wetting the foliage.  Wetting the foliage during each watering is just inviting disease. Use soaker hoses instead of overhead sprinklers for watering. If you use overhead sprinklers, try to water early enough in the day to allow plants to dry before nightfall.

4. Plant Disease Resistant Varieties

The best way to control diseases is to plant disease resistant varieties. Avoid working in the garden when plants are wet. Diseases thrive in wet conditions. Proper spacing of plants will allow good air circulation around plants allowing them to dry quickly after watering or rain. Keeping plants fertilized and growing vigorously will help them to withstand disease problems.

5. Use Integrated Pest Management Techniques for Insect Control

Identify the insect before you use insecticides or any alternative treatment.  Avoid using insecticides in the garden. Your local Extension office will help you with insect identification and select the proper treatment and insecticide. Monitor your garden on a daily basis for insects. Insect populations can increase rapidly. Clean up your garden at the end of the growing season. Many insects will overwinter in debris left in the garden. For more information go to:

6. Start a Compost Pile

Composting is nature’s way of recycling and is the key to healthy soil and a healthy environment.  Compost helps garden and house plants grow by improving the fertility and moisture of your soil.

7. Use Mulches

Use mulches in your garden during the growing season and during the winter. Mulches conserve moisture, prevent weed growth and help to maintain even soil temperatures.  During the growing season put down a two to four inch layer of organic mulch around plants after the soil has warmed up in the spring. Organic mulches can be turned into the soil at the end of the growing season.

8. Do Some Research

Know your plants before you purchase them. Checking out the growing requirements (nutrients, light, water, and spacing) and potential insect and disease problems of plants before you purchase them can save you a lot of headaches down the line. Colorado State University Extension websites provide a wealth of gardening information:

9. Become a Master Gardener

Think about becoming a Colorado Master Gardener. Anyone can become a Master Gardener; you don’t need a degree in horticulture. You do, however, need to have a sincere desire to learn and deliver knowledge-based information about home gardening to foster successful gardening, have practical experience or knowledge of gardening, be able to communicate effectively and devote time to training sessions and volunteering. The knowledge you learn in the training sessions, from fellow Master Gardeners, and the practical experience you will receive from your volunteer efforts will make you a better gardener.  For more information on the Colorado Master Gardener Program go to:

10. Learn from Gardening Challenges

All gardens will have problems. Every growing season is different and brings a great number of challenges and successes. So get ready to enjoy another growing season with both its challenges and rewards.

For more information, contact your local Extension Office:  Baca County 719-523-6971, Bent County 719-456-0764, Cheyenne County 719-767-5716, Crowley County 719-267-5243, Kiowa County 719-438-5321, Otero County 719-254-7608, Prowers County 719-336-7734.  Or find us on the web at: Extension offers up-to-date, unbiased, research-based information to families in Southeast Colorado.   CSU Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.


County Extension Offices

Baca County

722 Colorado St.

Springfield, CO 81073


Bent County

1499 Amb. Thompson Blvd.

Las Animas, CO 81054


Cheyenne County

425 S. 7th W.

P. O. Box 395

Cheyenne Wells, CO 80810


Crowley County

603 North Main St.

Courthouse Annex

Ordway, CO 81063


Kiowa County

1305 Goff

P. O. Box 97

Eads, CO 81036


Otero County

411 N. 10th

P. O. Box 190

Rocky Ford, CO 81067


Prowers County

1001 S. Main

Lamar, CO 81052



Wilma Trujillo

Southeast Area Agronomist

Phone: (719) 336-7734


Filed Under: AgriculturecommunityEntertainmentHealthRecreation

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.