Where are all the garden folk?

Golden, CO

Wasn't this forum very active last year? Where is everyone? Maybe they're busy combatting drought, thrips, and borers like I am :-) Seriously, I have never had such problems with insects this year. Fellow at the hardware store yesterday told me they have had to re-order their wasp killing sprays several times this season (that's sad, thinking of all the bees that must be getting killed).

Still I have had some successes. A trumpet vine that has never bloomed in the 4 years I've been in this house, is magnificent this year.

Anyone else?

Glenwood Springs, CO(Zone 5b)

Welcome Nele!

I don't know where all the folks on your side of the hill went too.

My garden this year was a disaster! I didn't add a couple of inches of compost as mulch like I have in the past. Then early hard frosts, lack of snow cover over the Winter, early really warm weather then more hard frosts, drought.....:(

I am going to just rototill the two older flower beds and add a lot of acidified cotton boll compost and peat moss along with Dr. Earth fertilizer and start all over again.

The bright spot is that I have a lot of High Country Gardens gist cards and a big seed starting light table! :)


Golden, CO

Hey Sonny! What's your altitude? I'm on Lookout Mtn at about 7500. It's odd the things that are doing badly vs. good this year. My cherry tomatoes are off the charts, but some morning glories (which I usually can't keep under control) are languishing. I've never had my hackberry tree attacked by borers before. Lavendar starts are going gangbusters.

Where in the heck does one get "acidified cotton boll compost"? Must have to travel a long way to get here! --I don't really have enough fenced space to do big gardens (elk are such pests up here that everything has to be fenced), but a neighbor has camelids and I know some people come up to get loads of alpaca-poo for composting.

Thanks for the response. Maybe we can get some other high-altitude gardeners to chime in.


Monte Vista, CO(Zone 4a)

I couldn't plant until about the middle of June, so some things are stunted or behind schedule...they're starting to perk up, though, and grow. Spider mites are bad. The potatoes are doing great. I have three beds with different types. The corn is small but rigorous. I noticed a garden in town that has corn taller than mine though, and I even planted indoors and transplanted it. I'm growing in straw bales this year. It's the first time I've tried it.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I haven't tried straw bales, but I know someone who uses them. Eggplant is supposed to do especially well in straw bales.

My veggie garden went in late, garden and the plants in it are both smaller than usual, and the whole thing is a bit embarrassing for a Master Gardener. Flea beetles ate everything in the crucifer family, flowers and vegies.

Since we had an early dry warm spring, the fruit trees are having their best year so far. Everything set fruit - I had to thin out fruit on most of the trees. Picked my first ever nectarines today, a little under-ripe but still surprisingly good. New Cherry tree didn't make it (gophers?) but the new pear even set one little pear - which the squirrel bit off while still green. I'm having to put twice as much water as usual on the trees, though.

Too dry for for most bugs - butterfly and wasp numbers are both down. Hummingbirds are late and their numbers are down too, so far. Tumbleweeds are doing well again - what little rain we had was just enough to bring them back from the brink of death.

Golden, CO

Speaking of fruit trees, pollengarden, I've noticed that the wild berries around here (chokecherry, black and raspberry, hawthorn, plums) are doing amazingly well. There's a little ravine on a hiking trail near my house that I call "plum valley" because of all the trees. For the past 3 years, it's had some kind of fungus that caused all the plums to blacken and shrivel. This year, it's a bumper crop of big healthy fruit and very little evidence of the fungus.

Corn...wow. I grew it back in Virginia, but wouldn't even attempt it here! The fierce winds up here on Lookout would pollinate corn then smash it to the ground :-)

Glenwood Springs, CO(Zone 5b)


I am in Glenwood Springs on the western slope at 5800 feet.

The weeds are doing very well here and I plan to go harvest a couple of bags on Saturday morning. In September I plan to renovate the front flower beds.

The acidified cotton boll compost comes from north Texas. They don't have to use defoliants prior to harvesting because of hard freezes. I have a bunch of the cotton boll compost from prior years which is good because the drought down in Texas over the last couple of years has driven up prices in a big way.

I had big plans for landscapping this year but my savings for those projects was eaten up by medical bills related to a very unexpected heart attack on Jamuary first.

Fort Garland, CO(Zone 4b)

Hi Nele. We're out in the garden. Actually, this year also building a goat barn and 1/2 acre fence for our two new girls. We're just under 8,800 feet in the Sangre de Cristos. As others have said, some things in the garden are behind last year's growth, others ahead. Lots more potatoes (three varieties), more tomatoes (4 types), better squash, great spinach, lettuce, and even some okra! (it gets too cool at night for it up here to really flourish, but we had to try it). This year we've had disappointing kale and chard crops. I think we got a bad batch of seed from an ebay seller. Live and learn. The raspberry patch is exploding in size, but no berries yet. Strawberries did not come back. We've dug big holes filled with mostly peat and organic fertillizer for five blueberries, and they seem to be growing, although slowly. Our soil is too alkaline to plant them strait in the ground, even with acid ammendments. So it's still an experiment in progress. Lots of peas finally, since we locked the chickens back up in their good sized (+/- 1000 sq feet) yard. They found the peas climbing up the garden fence, and almost stripped them earlier in the year. We'd rather have the feathered friends fully free ranging, but the do alot of damage to all gardens. They stripped most of the leaves off the dwarf apples in the spring, and those are struggling to come back. The beasts taste most anything green- as in new growth. They did a number on young bachelor's buttons, sunflowers, and echinacea... and just about 3/4 of other early spring growth in the ornamental beds. So they're confined, and the next project is to expand their yard to about city lot size, so they can semi- free range. We have alot of blooms and small cukes and cantaloupes, so if they ripen before the cold, that will be a first. Fingers are crossed. All in all, the garden is doing well this year. I think the almost daily rain we've recieved for the last month or so has certainly helped. Good luck to all of you, I've got to go out and milk goats!

Spearfish, SD

From Spearfish, SD (Northern Black Hills offically zone 5 but not every year!) I also live on our Lookout Mt. about 4,000 ft. The city has started giving away compost so I have been amending flower beds and plan to do a major amount after the frost this fall. Being a farm kid from Nebraska I have started doing my vegetable gardening in livestock rubber maid tubs. They are availalbe from the local farm/ranch store and range from about 35 gal. up to 100 gal. in several different configurations. Not cheap but being an agingbabyboomer will outlast me! Had good luck with lettuce, radish, tomatoes, peppers, not so much with peas. Jury is still out on cucumbers and squash but looks good so far. I am experimenting with where to locate the tubs in the back yard taking into consideration wind, sun angles, AM sun, PM sun, and where they fit in the flower beds and scrubs. Interesting project so far, picked the idea from Epcot this past winter. We have been very lucky in Spearfish to get some local timely rain.

Glenwood Springs, CO(Zone 5b)

How big are the holes you dug for the blueberries? What varieties did you plant? I can get local peat moss by the truck load at ridiculously low prices and have toyed with the idea of growing some blueberries.

Monte Vista, CO(Zone 4a)

Petset, you're just across the Valley from me. I'm growing three varieties of potatoes, too, French Fingerlings, Sangres, and La Ratte. This is my first year for growing potatoes. Other than a mole or something chewing them off at the ground, they're doing pretty well. I planted them in April, but they're still quite small. I used to live on the old Bean place, a couple of miles south (on what used to be called Bean Lane) of Fort Garland, as a teenager. We always had a garden. I was the tiller of the soil (with a shovel) in an area by Sangre de Cristo Creek, but my mom planted. It was always "her" garden, lol. She had an amazingly green thumb.

Fort Garland, CO(Zone 4b)

Pewjumper, I used a whole 2.2 cu foot (compressed size) bag per plant as my gauge for the holes. I read somewhere here on Dave's garden that someone was planting blueberries directly in blocks of peat alone because of the low pH. Sounded logical to me, but I figured the plants might like some other garden nutrient, and I didn't want to have to water with fertilizer every time. I mixed a little existing soil, rotted goat manure, straw, compost, and regular ammendments like bonemeal etc. Our existing soil is sweeter than blueberries like, but they seem to be growing fine so far in the peat based medium, apx 3'x3'x2' deep for each. Also, every few waterings, I dilute some cider vinegar and each gets a five gallon bucket of that instead of just running the hose. I planted 'Jersey', 'Northblue', 'Duke', and 'Elliot. The duke is the only one that looks the slightest bit stressed.

Solace, our potatoes are looking great. we've turned straw over them twice so far, and they're growing through it again. If we get as many per plant as we did last year, we'll be good on organic potatoes for the winter since we planted more this season. Fingers crossed. The rest of the garden is doing pretty well. It's squash season big time, so lots of yummy recipes have been on the table. Zucchini fritters, zucchini bread, etc. Still getting loads of peas, and beans are just coming in. Tomatoes are still mostly green, but there are lots of them just turning. Second crop of spinach is just coming up, as the first crop is going to seed. More kale came up, as did the chard. I don't know why it was so slow this year, but we're glad we're getting some at least. Leeks are getting close, and we're enjoying garlic from our plot for the first time this year. There are some flowers and small raspberries, so we won't have to wait until next year like I thought. All in all, it's been a good garden this year. Happy mountain gardening to all.

Monte Vista, CO(Zone 4a)

Petset, great job! I wish my garden was taking off like that, but it was a slow start, here. I did harvest the Garlic a couple of days ago and they turned out big and beautiful. My first time growing garlic, I'm amazed. Tomatoes are blooming, squash blooms and then the blossoms just fall off. I think they need some balanced fertilizer. I'll probably have to go to the Green Spot in Alamosa to get some. I top dressed some things with compost. The green chile is chugging along in the hay bale, okra is a foot tall and producing little bitty okra pods...I started some more to go in the greenhouse, due to the ones in the bale being stunted (I think they didn't have light early enough, in the house). I'm bound and determined to grow Okra here. The Moon and Stars watermelons in the hothouse have their first true leaves and they have stars on them :) The avocado is over 8 feet tall now in the hothouse so I have to do SOMEthing with it, I have four others, a two-foot tall and three I started from seed that are about a foot to foot and a half tall now. My brocolli got eaten up by something, but I have more seeds and they should do well with the temps getting lower at night. I ordered a couple of apple trees, just four footers, and will be hardening them off and planting those this week, Lord willing. It's time to move the chicken coop to another area, so will be doing that, too. In addition to the radio stations, there's never an end to things needing to be done. Not enough daylight to get everything done, but it's always been that way for me. Oh, and the Hollyhock seeds from 2006 are coming up gangbusters in a new flower bed, so hopefully they'll get their little root systems going enough to get a headstart for next spring! Yay! Also planted some Harebells with them. The corn is about two feet tall in the bales (Reid's Yellow Dent and some multi-colored Heirloom popcorn in a bale seperate from the Reid's). No tassles yet, thank goodness. The beans and squash growing "Three Sisters" style in those bales are hanging in there, too, but no produce, yet. Petset, you're doing great with the fruits of your labor. Good job! and good job everyone, growing in this climate has its challenges!
1. Harebell
2. Heirloom popcorn in Three sisters Barley bale
3. Reid's Yellow Dent in Three Sisters barley bales with Market Beans and crookneck squash, left bale is Anaheim Chile
4. Bloomsdale Spinach growing in a plastic tub
5. Winchester thinks something is up (they were all supposed to be hens, but three of the 18 are now crowing in the morning. Winchester's the star, though). And no, I cannot eat the other two. They're Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds hens. Roosters are all Barred Rocks.

Thumbnail by Solace Thumbnail by Solace Thumbnail by Solace Thumbnail by Solace Thumbnail by Solace
Glenwood Springs, CO(Zone 5b)


Thanks for the info on the blueberries! Please keep us posted on how your garden grows! How much cider vinegar do you put in a five gallon bucket? I think I may plant some blueberries next year and get the orchard area and berry area done. Was planning to do it this year, had a bunch of money saved up, but I decided to celebrate New Years day with a heart attack instead. The Lord was with me as I drove to the hospital! All the money I saved went away. I want a nice little orchard with berries and other goodies, but it will take some heavy equipment and a lotta shovel work running it all through the strainer. The soil is the key and I dont want to take shortcuts.

Thanks for the info!


Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Nele - Be careful hiking your Plum valley. All that fruit attracts wildlife including Skunks and Bears.

Fort Garland, CO(Zone 4b)

Solace, sounds like your garden is doing pretty well too. It's wacky that some things do well one year, then not so well another. Our hollyhocks did very little this year after blooming pretty well last. I started some penstemon palmeri because it is supposed to be a drought resistant flowering perennial up here, but only three germinated, and still have two tiny leaves. So, some things do well and others not. All part of the joy of gardening. That you have growing avocados, even in a greenhouse, is great. I haven't tried that yet. Is your greenhouse heated? I'm going to plant okra in the greenhouse next year, because it likes warmer nights. We've gotten a handful of okra off of ours, but like yours, the plants are still only between a foot and 18" tall. I'll keep experimenting. It's strange that your squash blooms keep falling off. We're getting plenty of zucchini and calabacita, and have many spaghetti squashes on vine getting large. ...also butternuts are growing well but still small. Ruthie at Greenspot has a good choice of organic soil ammendments that might help your squash. She gets some of my money every year! Hoping the first frost waits until later in September this year, sine there are plenty of veggies getting close. I'm thinking about getting the 'floating row cover' material from Gardens Alive. They're running a special right now, and it might help protect the veggies for a couple more weeks this fall. I just had a backhoe up here for some other work, and dug level another +/- 600 feet area to expand the garden, so I'm getting some cover crops- buckwheat and hairy vetch to turn under in the plot anyway.

Pewjumper, for a five gallon bucket, I just dump three to four 'glugs' of cider vinegar. I guess I could be a bit more scientific about it and actually test pH, but.... The berries seem to be thriving. All have new leaves. Next time I mix, I'll test. Feel better.

Glenwood Springs, CO(Zone 5b)

Petset 77,

I will try three to four glugs in a five gallon bucket and measure the pH. Since I do water & wastewater treatment, I have all that equipment in my truck. Thanks for the tip! :)

Brownsville, CA

Hello Rocky Mtn gardeners, I've just renewed my subscription after a 2-3 yr absence because of "stuff"- health issues,etc, and the greatest thing to come of it was making a MAJOR move to CO last year (2/2011). I'm now in Chaffee Co, at the base of Mt. Princeton- 8100', zone 4!!!!! I sure could've used you gals' input last spring. Jean from NoCA

Monte Vista, CO(Zone 4a)

Hi, Jean. Welcome back!

There's a frost warning tonight for the San Luis Valley http://www.weather.com/weather/newscenter/alerts/nswxcategory/CO?from=news_alert_natl_states

My beds and bales are covered with sheets and blankets, but the squash had a few blackened leaves this morning, even so.

Brownsville, CA

Yep, I was out in the dark last night trying to wrap my tomatoes in blankets and this am was glad I did - had a thin sheet of ice on the bird bath!

Helena, MT

Jean, dito. We too had a very hard frost and I spent the day and into the night picking as many near ripe tomatoes as I could. Using a head lamp after dark I found lots of ripened tomatoes near the bases of the plants which had been missed during the day time. I use a painters tarp (14 ml opaic plastic which does a nice job of covering several sprawled rows.

My granddaughter (7 yrs) was helping a neighbor in Colorado Springs do the same thing the other night before their big frost. I have been attempting to educate her in fishing and gardening techniques and she is an absolute sponge. She is a whiz kid with computers, but apparently they don't teach much domestics in schools these days.

I sprawled my tomatoes this season instead of caging them and I was able to plant a lot more plants, however the production was only about fifty percent of what I would normally get from caged tomatoes. Never-the-less I was able to get a pretty fair production of the Stupice, Large Sungold Golden (op), and Sungold F1. Tried some larger tomatoes like Cherokee Purple which didn't pass green and will shortly become worm food. Our best luck with outdoor tomatoes in our climate (short.cool) is the smaller tomatoes. Comparatively speaking these smaller tomatoes are about equal in production to the larger ones anyway, so why bother.

I just read something in the Tomato forum about trenching around the base of the tomato plants to help them ripen sooner. Have never hear that one before. I typically trim back these plants in August removing all the smaller buds and flowers. This process never seemed to harm the tomatoes mentioned above, however it scalded some of the larger tomatoes which had started to ripen.

I am still searching for a slicer tomato which will probably need to be caged. My other problem with larger tomatoes is cracking. I know, cut back on the water, but that is difficult to do with my irrigation system. So if anyone has had some success with a larger tomato which will ripen in a short/cool season and not scald or crack I would really like to hear about it.

Monte Vista, CO(Zone 4a)

Don't want to cross-post, so here's the link to the greenhouse progress: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1279134/

Two of the little hens are now laying eggs!! :) It was 23 degrees here this morning and 40 in both the hoops. Not as warm as I want, but it's better than freezing, eh? Will try to get some pictures of the new hoop/greenhouse today and will post them in the linked forum thread, above.

Be well, and be blessed. Happy Sukkot for those of you who keep the holidays!


Glenwood Springs, CO(Zone 5b)

Welcome back Jean!

It is time for me to start rehabbing the front flower gardens. Does anyone have some favorite perrenials? If so what time of the year do they bloom? I already have the agastache, iris and coneflowers covered.


Brownsville, CA

Hello Sonny, When we were driving around Glenwood Springs last month (taking my sister on a CO Fall color tour) I was wondering if one of the beautiful gardens we saw might be yours! Tho I consider myself a real newcomer to Rocky Mtn gardening, perennials have been my passion for years and I would have to say that the geranium "Rozzanne" gets 5 stars. She survived our zone 4 winter and was still blooming two weeks ago. The critters don't bother her and her trailing habit and beautiful violet-blue color made a great "filler" amongst the columbines, coneflowers, iris (earlier) and veronicas and shasta daisies. I am especially interested in the Campanulas as a group and would like to hear of other folks' successes and failures. Jean (in Chaffee Co)

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