Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Logistics of High-Altitude Gardening

I've been biding my time, waiting patiently since March to add my own commentary to the increasing number of bloggers going green-thumbed this year.

You may be thinking, "Wow, you sure are getting a late start... what's the hold up?"  Well, this is the holdup:

My poor garden, along with 6 inches of snow, on May 11th.  We had 4 more light snows after this. 

Now, at last, most (not all!) danger of snow is past now, and it's actually warm enough to take the kids out to play in the yard while I work.  The aspens just started getting leaves in the last few days.

Things are warming up and getting busy!  Today, I finished (for now) the "greenhouse" cover my husband built to put over my 8x4 raised bed square-foot garden.  The intent of this cover is to enable me to grow "warm" season vegetables (like tomatoes, corn, maybe bell peppers) in my "cool" season climate.  This is the first attempt of its kind for us, so we will see how it goes.

I am using the Square Foot Gardening method popularized by Mel Bartholemew for both my warm and cool season gardens this year.  Since I have to buy (or compost my own) any dirt I plan to garden in, I can't afford to waste space or soil.  Square Foot Gardening seems like the most efficient use of both.  You are technically supposed to have your square feet marked off with something more permanent than string, but hey, we are really cheap around here.

 The photo above shows my 6 bought tomato starts (my attempt at starting them from seed indoors was unsuccessful... I accidentally left them out overnight and they got snowed on).  I still need to hunt down a bell pepper plant and some seed potatoes, and I'll be set.  The rest of the garden is being started from seed.

As usual, the radishes are the first seedlings to appear.

In addition to the covered bed, we've added a new 4x4 raised bed this year.  We got some leftover manufactured garden bed pieces from my parents, and we are taking advantage of them!  Since we have to protect the garden from deer, rabbits, and, especially, the dog, I needed a way to cover it before planting.  I am working on a better method for when the plants get taller, but this old gate I found is working really well for now!  I love that it swings on the hinges and I can just open it up when I want to work in the garden.


  1. Ohhh, radishes! Radishes and chives are such a lovely reminder that even in high altitude summer WILL come. We are waiting for things to take root that we started inside and are sooo anxious. It is pretty hard to wait, isn't it? HAD to comment, just thinking about your garden!

  2. Way to be resourceful. That greenhouse structure looks pretty good as well. The things I take advantage of, having tons of tomatoes each year. I really hope your get success with your new garden attempts!

  3. I've been in the same boat this season -you can watch the slideshow of the garden here: - snow, snow, more snow, late frost - sigh! Maybe from here on out I'll have a phenomenal growing season, if I can just finish getting everything in the ground. BTW, I just found you on Facebook and added you to my page favorites.

    Good luck in the garden!

  4. Where did you get the greenhouse tent? We live in a high altitude where warm weather doesn't last long enough for tomatoes to ripen. Would love build a cover for all the warm season veggies too. We are doing Square Foot Gardening too! We are just starting out, but I learned from another source, who used the square foot gardening to teach people in third world countries to grow thier own food, that you can use 100% compost to grow your veggies. People in third world countries can't afford to buy dirt and/or are not able to find the mix needed. We are missionaries in Honduras and want to teach this to the locals! Hope it goes well for you guys! Thank you for linking up at Simple Lives Thursday!

  5. Melissa, it is so hard to wait! Radishes are the best though - they are so encouraging!

    Thanks for the encouragement, Amanda! I slightly envy your gardening abilities!

    Laurie, it's been a crazy season so far, hasn't it? I look forward to commiserating with your slideshow! :)

    Marillyn, we built the greenhouse tent with some lengths of PVC pipe, fasteners, and a big roll of plastic that I think was left in our house after it was painted by the previous tenants. We hope to grow tomatoes as well! I hadn't heard about growing in 100% compost, but it sure makes sense. What a fantastic opportunity to help the locals get started with square foot gardening! That's one of my favorite things about it - it can be used anywhere!

  6. Danielle - have you visited Marillyn's blog? Really neat stuff! That sounds like another great project.

    Tomatoes love rich ground. It's so nice that you can use the plastic and PVC. I have to use heavy stuff like old patio and shower doors so it doesn't blow away. I finally got my potatoes and some more peas in yesterday. I'm not sure how they'll do, as the temps have gone from 50s to 80s. (What happened to the 60s and 70s?) Such a crazy growing season!

    Thanks for linking up to the Living Well Blog Hop. Looking forward to having you join in next week.

  7. Laurie, I have visited her blog - wow! what a story! Good luck with your potatoes and peas in this crazy weather - hope the wild temperature swings aren't harmful.


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