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So I originally posted on the 'southwest' forum hoping to find other high altitude/elevation gardeners. No luck..
I live in the san juan mountains of colorado.
Looks like these forums are used very little here on the RM board!
For other cool mountain folk out there, what varieties of vegetables have you had much
success with? Plants? etc.? Which cultivars? Let's share tips and advice!
Bantam and Smoke Signals corn, Brandywine tomatoes, Garlic, Potatoes, among others. The potatoes froze back last Spring, but I just cut off the frosted leaves and they all came back. Beautiful crop. 'Course the San Luis Valley IS potato country. :)
I am in Pueblo now, but when I was in North Dakota, I used Johnny's Select Seeds. They are based in Maine and they have some shorter season and cooler season stuff. I still use Johnny's, but they aren't my main source anymore.
Hi...I'm here in newly listed z6 and at 6800-6900ft just east of Elizabeth, (south and east of Denver 45 miles, which is 5200ft). I am into English Cottage style type gardening. I started here 5 or is it 6 years ago now. I'm on 5 acres that was nothing more than feild grasses, never been tilled ground. Has been a long go of it but one that has been very rewarding. My first border 40ft x 100ft, is now planted and have decided to claim other areas for my own...ok, I'm still working on that..lol. I'd say more than 90% of my garden has been started from seed.
I have been starting my seeds, both vegtable and perennials (see pix below). I am in the process of landscaping my backyard, which until late Oct. was nothing but wild feild grasses. So far I planted trees, shrubs and some perenns. til mid December when the long undies didn't even help...lol. Now, I'm starting mostly perennials and later annuals for this springs plantings...Have started 95 pots and so far 52 have sprouted...(only veggie is Tomato Chocolate Cherry (so far)).
It's amazing what can be grown here in the Rocky Mountain Region, but I sure would like to see some more in the way of moisture this season...like NOW...lol.
pix 5 is a section of my border from a few years ago...amazing what is packed into those tiny little seeds!!!!
I am in Grand Junction and zone 6...I would love to share thoughts and ideas with others at altitude...I am a cactophile for the most part but have a couple of perennial beds as well...makes for fun watering schedules. and only 650 sq. ft. of turf. The front yard is xeric with rock mulch and cactus/succulent beds (some still under construction). Will post pics as soon as I can..
I agree..Now I need some help .my Daughter and family live in northeast Colo Spgs and want to re-scape their north facing front yard with xeric (water wise) plants. They plan to build three tiers each about 3-4 feet deep and 6-10 inches higher than the lower tier. Small yard.
I know she would like a couple of roses...I suggested own-root small shrub type or low growers. She is willing to had water until established
I love cacti and succulents and have built her a nice bed in the back yard but she isn't sure she wants them in front.
at least not the lowest tier because of children and pets on the sidewalks. any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated and passed on to her.
First of all - soil soil soil!! As long as you are tearing up to terrace, improve your soil while you are at it. Take the extra time to make sure the bottom underground row of the retaining wall is done right - the strength and appearance of the whole wall depends on it. You need to put a sand or gravel drainage material directly behind the wall - especially important if the soil is clay. I have seen clay expand and bulge the whole wall out, it had to be redone before it collapses. Again, soil soil soil!
Next, I recommend any book written by a Colorado author with "Xeriscape" in the title, but especially "Xeriscape Colorado" by Ellefson and Winger. Great pictures for ideas and great plant lists. "High and Dry" by Nold is good, too, even if it doesn't have Xeriscape in the title.
Last - "North-facing" means Winter will be cold, shady, with retained snow closest to the house and at the base of each wall. Not a good place for cactus. Not a good place for desert southwest plants that are border-line hardy here and don't like their crowns wet. But mid-western prairie natives that like more winter that we usually get will do well here. Look for plants with Zone 4 hardiness, too - especially in your evergreen and woody plants. Zone 5 plants should do fine farther from the house and at the top (not base) of the wall.
First day of Spring is coming up. Check the shade line & angle at High Noon. Mid-winter it will be nearly doubled, Mid-summer it will be nearly gone. Assume anything that is in shade at the Equinox will need the winter cold and moisture tolerance mentioned above.
Yep, ladyj, I can relate. The temperature this morning was 18 degrees. I have many plants with their first leaves started and under the light and in front of a window. Some will go into the greehouse next month or first part of May, in the indoor hydroponics Dutch Buckets, or repotted in bigger pots to await going outside in June. With all the stuff they're putting in our air, now, (persistent contrails) I don't want to grow more than I have to, outside, due to the heavy metals in the air.
I want to see how long I can get a tomato vine to grow (I've heard up to 8 years or indefinitely). All of mine are indeterminates, so will have to provide sturdy support.
Can click on my name to see what flowers I grow (MY Have list), most of mine have been grown in z5.. have scads of goodies. One thing to remember is mulch...it can cut down on watering needs greatly.. Most of mine recieve about 1" of water each week... So far am up to 190 new pots of perenns for the season. Am beginng to pot on now and will end up with hundreds and hundreds of new perenns this season.
Pix is early last spring and only half of my 40ft X100ft border. Most of the babies this season are heading out to the backyard in May and June.
Personally, I grow Hollyhocks, Bluebells (they are wild, so I just kept watering them, and they multiplied), annuals zinnias are a favorite and remind me of my grandmother's gardens full of zinnias.
I will grow an annual dark red rudbeckia this year (bought the seeds last fall), and I love the purple and yellow rudbeckia because they're perrenials and tough. I want to also add some low ones on the outside of the planned flower beds. Oh, and Cosmos is a standard, now, here, they grow so easily and are so beautiful. I grow the multicolored mix of pink, darker pink, and white and I even put them through the hardship of transplanting to the outside next to a fence where they grew well, and then couldn't let go, lol, and transplanted into the greenhouse. They are some tough flowers. I wish they were perrenials, but they're worth having.
I will also grow some giant sunflowers that I didn't get to plant last year. That site is giving me more ideas, but the veggie garden is priority for me, so will add more as budget allows.
Zone 4 versus Zone 5: They don't have to all be Zone 4. Just the Woody plants that are going to be in that Shade-in-Winter-but-Sun-in-Summer zone AND I would avoid Desert plants that don't like their crowns wet in that Shade-snow-doesn't-melt Zone as well. With Evergreens, it isn't the winter shade and extra moisture - it is being exposed to cold DRY wind out of the north. Any that are going to be exposed to the wind need a little more cold and drought hardiness. Junipers are tough winter and summer, Colorado spruce are okay but probably get too big for a small yard, but Arborvitae are a bad idea for an exposed sight. Herbaceous perennials should be fine from Zone 5.
Yes, Slugs can climb. And I think Hostas like to spread their roots out. But I have heard of various things used as a border that slugs do not like to cross over. Maybe do a search for organic slug/snail control.
I see where RiverNymp started this thread but has not responded to any of your comments. Like she I pay little attention to this forum any more, but ocassionally check back to see if anything interesting has happened. My attempt to grow bean and corn seed from Johnny's didn't go well last spring. The Jade Green beans produced four plants from four successive plantings and the corn required just as many replantings. I had purchased the seed in bulk rather than packets so I changed my seed buying methods and varied my seed vendors this year.
I have such a short window for corn so I can only plant the 60 day varieties, and even then some ears don't make it. I plan on laying down black plastic sheeting to warm the soil before planting corn this season. I also plant a variety of pole beans along side the corn several weeks after the corn is planted.
Potatoes do really well here when planted around mid-May. Long day onions also do well, but I have to be careful to harvest these plants before the killer frosts hit which can be as early as late August.
Tomatoes are best grown in covered cages, however I do sprawl a variety of cherry tomatoes like Sun Gold which can be planted mid-June. There is a new trick which I have read about in Ed Hume's Seed Company library which I plan to try this season. Planting several tomato plants in the same hole causes the tomato plants to stress in their attempt to gain nutrients which causes the tomatoes to blossom and produce fruit earlier. At least according to Ed, this is something commercial growers are doing in California.
Some winter squash like Potamorin do well here as well. Acorn squash and melons are really iffy. Summer squash is excellent as well as most cucumbers if carefully transplanted.
I have six raised beds which are dug down several feet. I use old window covers and a bottom layer of fresh cow manure with straw mixed in for warmth. I will plant leaf lettuce, spinach, carrots and bunching onion seed this weekend in these beds. I also plant some kale, swiss chard, and boc choi in these raised beds.
Strawberries, grapes, raspberries and goose berries are my choices for berry crops. Blue berries would be nice, but more trouble than their worth here.
Zones don't mean much to me. Although Helena is called 4B, it doesn't compare with other 4's as far as I can tell. Living five minutes from the city in the center of the valley is completely different as well. We git a fraction of the rainfall and four times the wind velocity. Summers are very dry and irrigation is a must. I have been gardening here for ten years now and just recently have seen a few garden worms appearing. I verimcompost indoors and outdoors as well, so it is necessary to add the worms to the outdoor locations where I require worms such as holes dug for squash, tomatoes and peppers. I also use worms in the raised beds (a form of French intensive gardening). This season I plan on doing some no dig beds for broccoli, butter head lettuce, and romain lettuce transplants, and possibly some pumpkins and winter squash. I have a list of possibly twenty locally available materials which can be used to make these beds and in the garden as well. Making vermicompost for the garden, raised beds and no-dig (or lasagna) beds is how I like to do things. I recently found a new resource for some one year old cow manure as well as fresh cow manure with bedding hay mixed in. All you have to do is ask.
When I mention who I am and where I am located people never hesitate to offer me whatever materials I need. Farmer's will load my pickup and with what ever materials I require. I barter corn, green beans, etc., for chicken eggs as well for all kinds of compost materials. Now all I need is a source for daily and I can toss the check book,,,well almost.
It's nice to see at least some folks are on this forum. I check in occasionally to see what's up but usually it's quiet.
My altitude isn't as high as most of you(4300 ft)but my gardening still has some drawbacks here. It gets so hot and dry, I have most of the trouble you all do. I have to do a lot of research to find plants that will work. If a tag says 'Full Sun,' I have to know if it's UTAH full sun. You probably all know what I mean.
We've recently been re-zoned to 7b from 6a but I'm taking that with a grain of salt. 7b plants need to be of little or no cost to me before I'll give them a shot. I'll zone push only so far. ^_^
I'm looking forward to hearing comments from all of you.
It is zone 10 here in the summer according to a local nursery man. I guess that's why some plants which call for a long growing season actually do well here. But as you say kwanjin you must be selective about which plants you grow and irrigation is a must for large gardens. I have twenty risers on my garden alone which feed up to four rows each. I wouldn't be surprised if your zone and mine are very similar for several months during the summer, but without covers our growing season is only about 90 days. I have been reading articles about gardener's who save seed from their earliest and best plants which in a few years will develop into plants which are better acclimated to their particular region.
Here on Lookout Mtn (foothills above Denver, 7500' elevation) we have just been told that our water reserves are about 70% of what they should be. If there is no outdoor water use, the water board says, we may be OK, otherwise we'll be in serious trouble as our water rights are not "senior" enough! So with severe rationing on the way I am trying to plan what I will do. My small patch of fenced lawn is the obvious loser, but I can't imagine not having a few vegetables and flowers. Sigh. I already have seeds started too, mostly peppers, cherry tomatoes, and various flowering vines (scarlet runner bean, hyacinth bean vine, ornamental gourds). First step is to get a water barrel, even though those are illegal in most parts of Denver!
Nele, you can use lattice to keep out pets for a little area with south windows in your house set aside to grow plants indoors. I am moving toward the Dutch bucket system, currently have over 200 seedlings started and under a little 35 watt Sunland full spectrum flourescent light (the light has to be very close to the little seedlings). For now I'm just hand watering the seedlings which are in the blue solo plastic solo cups with holes in the bottom and the media I use is 50% vermiculite and 50% perlite. Some, are experimental with the half and half vermiculite/perlite and half soil from last year's raised bed. They're all doing very well, even the corn with the combination of sunlight from the windows and the flourescent grow light. For a fixture, I just attached the light to a long 2x4 and turned it upside down suspended from 2 cement blocks on either end of a door blank setting on more cement blocks. I will probably get another of the same light for the second level, as the door blank is already filled with plants! Good thing about those little lights (around $35 each) is you can daisy-chain them together and then just one plug in the wall outlet. It doesn't use much electricity, either. I also have a fan in there I run right after feeding them, with the window open, they get ample Co2 to grow well, and I feed them 2 teaspoons of the Foxfarm liquid hydroponics fertizer mixed with one gallon water in mornings and evenings. Growing inside seems your only worry-free option at this point. I hope we get more rain and snow in the high country.
DJ in the San Luis Valley
A variety of veggies, on this table and more corn, avocado trees, pineapple tree, tomatoes and green beans growing next to the windows with an aisle down the center of a 5 x 16' space (5x12 actual growing area). It's doable.
I apologize for not posting since I started the thread. Life has gotten a little rough, my significant other and I are dealing with cancer and so I've barely been on the website. However I have been busy starting all my seeds indoors. At least 20 variates of tomatoes, beets, radishes, turnips, herbs, and so much more.
I've really enjoyed reading everyones posts. I'm very new to alpine gardening. I lived my entire life (i'm 28) in Kansas City (Missouri side) where the soils are just naturally rich, the sun won't scortch your tomatoes and peppers, and there was always plenty of rain storms - all the time. I moved to the mountains three years ago after being accustomed to pain free gardening.. I now live at around 6 thousand feet at the foothills of the telluride region of colorado. I've found the sun obviously is not forgiving, and I keep netting up at all times of the day over my garden, which has produced jungle results. I completely agree about SOIL. I've had to import so much soil it's not even funny.. Last year I almost went broke over importing soil - but I felt it was worth it. The rewards of gardening are so wonderful for the soul..
I'm learning more all the time. I'll look forward to reading every one's tips and advice.
RN- I can identify with you and the soil situation. here in the Grand Valley the theme is AMEND>>>AMEND>>>AMEND (I used to line in suburban KC, Kansas side)
Horticulturally we shouldn't be able to grow anything here yet with pererverence and the blessing of water, we have beautiful orchards, vineyards and other agriculture. I have gone as xeric as I can step by step but still have to amend to get most everything to grow.
Sorry to here of your trials and tribulations..isn't it wonderful we have out gardens to imerse ourselves in ...
I am here. :)
I actually had to delete my last account because
I felt like I could no longer take part in certain forums due to a particular member (I will not use names)
who felt like she had to dis-credit me every chance she got. It just got old and it became impossible to even
post friendly posts (Ex: something as simple as "what is every one growing this 2013 season?"
without her getting all over my case.. Not a very friendly community in some parts of the website.
I just wanted to start fresh so I can post freely without this particular member going out of her way to
disqualify me from a conversation. If people can't share gardening advice in peace, what kind of community do you have? Oy vey...
I don't believe she goes on the rocky mountain threads so I should be safe
waving hello here and corresponding with you lovely gardeners. :) I'll just learn to not post on
any forum she takes part in. Not worth the negative tone she constantly sets.
LilyToes, so glad you didn't leave, and I sooo understand about the issue with that other person. I feel that way, too and post on the RM and strawbale ones because she's not there. Don't know if it's the same person, but nevertheless, don't need the negative. I would like to encourage you and your mate to look into Turmeric and Ginger (available at Organic India company in Boulder) and Dandelion leaves and roots for supplements. Those herbs, as well as other herbs and foods are remarkable, from the research I have read, in fighting cancers of all kinds. There's a lot of information out there. You will both be in my prayers. Milk Thistle is another one.
So happy to see others posting here again. It was at one time a very busy forum...years ago. There are so many responses that I am going to have to read them over a few days. Just wanted to say hello to everyone from Colorado Springs.
My Veggie garden is running very late this year. I finally got my two tomatoes out of pots and into the ground yesterday. But I think being pot-bound helped them a little - the both have a couple tiny little tomatoes on them - which is a little earlier than usual for me.
Rivernymph - best wishes to you and your significant other.