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Any other High Rockies gardeners out there?

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Any other High Rockies gardeners out there?

Post  Meg H on 4/15/2011, 6:13 pm

Greetings fellow Western Mountains and High Plains gardeners!

I am just beginning to undertake my first garden since childhood, but unlike the 'tropical' Southwestern Wisconsin zone of my childhood gardens, I now live in the High Rockies in an area with a mere 58 day growing season (Eek!)! I've recently started some seeds indoors that are thriving for the time being, and I'm also in the process of building an outdoor cold frame to extend the season a bit and provide some additional planting space, but I'd love to hear from seasoned gardening veterans who've had success keeping their plants alive through those surprise July snowstorms and August frosts!

Also, I'd love to grow some squash and pumpkins here, does anyone have any tricks or tips or know of any varieties that grow in a relatively short amount of time?

Meg H

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Re: Any other High Rockies gardeners out there?

Post  Old Hippie on 4/15/2011, 7:10 pm

Hi there. So glad you joined the forum. Short season gardening is always a challenge. I am across the Canadian/US border in Canada....central British Columbia and I have about 85 frost free days if I am lucky but that is almost three weeks more than you get. Our last frost here is anywhere between June 6 to the 12. First fall frost can be during the last week of Aug. On occasion, we do get those crazy freaky snow storms in summer too. Our altitude is not as high as yours but it does make a difference and then being further north makes a difference as well. One thing that does help here are the very long summer days. It is amazing how plants grow really fast during that time.

I have a cold frame and we are going to build a greenhouse this year hopefully. The cold frame helps quite a bit. I have stuff growing in there already that I planted last fall. Radishes and lettuce and onions. Last fall I tried making it into a hot bed using the old fashioned method of digging down and putting in a layer of manure for the heat. That didn't quite turn out as good as I had hoped for fall gardening but that is the reason I already have stuff in it now so it wasn't a total bust. My tomatoes I plant in a brick flower bed on the south side of the house. They love it there. In the spring and in the fall, I cover them faithfully and can keep them out there until the first week or two in October. I am trying to squeak out all the extra days that I can.

Take advantage of every area that gets the first bit of sun in spring and turn those areas into planting areas if at all possible. Read all you can about gardening with frost. There is a guy from Maine who has written a lot of books on the subject. I have another good one about frost called A Gardener's Guide to Frost. It is quite technical but helped me understand weather and frost a bit better.

Check out threads by Backyard Bird Gardener. He has made hoop houses that have really helped him extend his growing season. Any extra protection you can give your plants in the spring and fall will give you an extra couple of weeks at each end.

Thank you for joining us. Hopefully, you will find what you need here. We tend to be a friendly bunch. We love to laugh and joke around so hopefully you will not be bothered by that. If you can post pics we love that too.

Old Hippie
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Post  Meg H on 4/16/2011, 9:12 pm

Thanks for the tips, Gwynn!! I am definitely interested in reading some books on frost and cold climate gardening, so I'll check into the title you mentioned. I also met some local gardeners who have a lot of experience -- I'm so excited to be in communication with other gardening enthusiasts both near and far!
Meg H

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Re: Any other High Rockies gardeners out there?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/16/2011, 9:15 pm

Wow....58 days! What's your altitude?

Oh, and welcome aboard. I'm sure you will find some people soon in the regional forum once the planning starts up there. I've been up to Aspen and Snowmass in the summer before. It was beautiful. But, y'all can keep the snow. I'm a heat guy....Wink

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Re: Any other High Rockies gardeners out there?

Post  camprn on 4/16/2011, 9:20 pm


Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

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Re: Any other High Rockies gardeners out there?

Post  sirguru on 8/12/2011, 11:26 pm

hi... just getting started gardening after a long spell of hospitalization... square foot gardening looks like the way to go! didn't do it this year, wasn't prepared when i finally had a place to garden... so i am planning for next year.

58 days? ouch... i am about 5000 feet up in the rockies... thought *I* had a short season...


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Re: Any other High Rockies gardeners out there?

Post  Goosegirl on 8/13/2011, 7:20 am

Welcome to the group Sirguru! Lots of us have gardening 'challenges' with either our season length, Sci-Fi bugs, heat or lack of, etc. We even have a thread for venting about what went wrong! Head on over to the Welcome Mat and introduce yourself and tell your story!

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Colorado Springs

Post  sadears on 3/6/2012, 11:34 pm

6500 ft.

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Gardening in Montana

Post  Darci on 4/15/2012, 6:34 pm

Hi All...I haven't gardened in YEARS and I'm just finishing building my square foot garden boxes, PVC frames, etc. I'm scrambling to get it done so I can start planting my cool weather crops. We also are putting up an 8 foot deer fence.

We are at 5,500 feet and my warm weather crops are going to be a bit of a challenge. I know at 4500 feet, you can plant tomato plants outside on May 15th here if you have a wall of water to place them in.

I also have cantelope seeds that are supposed to grow in my area but I won't be taking any chances and will be using the PVC hoops covered with plastic.

I'm also planting by the moon phases...figure I need all the extra help I can get.

Later I can post a list of seeds that a long time gardener uses for high altitude planting. He says get seeds that are less than 60 days!!

This is going to be the ultimate experiment!!! I am making 20 4X4 beds but only starting with 6 this year and adding more next year.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else is doing!! and a greenhouse would be the way to go.....Smile Dreaming.............

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Re: Any other High Rockies gardeners out there?

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