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Mile High Gardening: A Love Story

Posted 8/22/2012 by Aspen Rent-All.
Filed under: Gardening

Gardening in ColoradoGreen-fingered newcomers to Colorado often arrive in trepidation, concerned with the unique challenges that high-elevation gardening can present.

Well, let’s start with the positives. Here are the vegetables that can grow at high elevation:

Carrots, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Radishes, Lettuce, Beets, Beans, Spinach…..

And there are more as well. But it’s not going to be easy and gardening at this elevation means throwing out almost everything you know about gardening at a traditional elevation and thinking a little differently.

Tips for gardening in Colorado

Watch the clock!

Traditionally, you begin your planting between April and May, but in the mountains of Colorado, we plant on June 1st and plan for a later harvest.

So obviously, our window of opportunity is much shorter.

Plant vegetables that have a 90-day or less growth cycle. You can also plant root vegetables that ready in 120 days.

Your savior and sage for all of your tips on gardening in Colorado is the seed store. There are many varieties of seed sold in the state that are fast growing and ready for the cold. There are even certain varieties of tomatoes that can mature in less than 60 days.

Gardening at high evelationThe following varieties of tomato can mature in 90 day or less:

  • Russian Heirloom
  • Abraham Lincoln Heirloom
  • Orange Blossom
  • Health Kick Hybrid
  • Alaskan Fancy

Hand Pollination

It is a common complaint of tomato growers here in Colorado that once the flowers of the tomato plant dry up, the plant stops growing and the bloom drops off. Well, the solution is hand pollination.

Because there are almost no bees at high altitude, you have to do the bee’s work yourself. All you have to do is touch each flower gently several times and this will remedy the problem.

There are other unique solutions to this problem as well.

One gardener actually uses a tuning fork set for middle C. This mimics the vibrations of a bumblebee’s wings and tricks the flowers into opening all the way.

You can also blow on the flowers, use an electric toothbrush to vibrate the flowers or a paintbrush to brush the center portion of the flower.

Raise your beds

Vegetables need lots of nutrients that are unfortunately lacking in mountain soil. With raised beds, you can easily amend the soil and help the vegetables get what they so desperately need.

growing peas in coloradoHere is a list of vegetables that will have a greater chance of success in the elevation of Colorado:

  • Carrots: 90 days
  • Peas: 60 days
  • Cucumbers: 90 days
  • Radishes: 30 days
  • Spinach: 50-90 days
  • Beets: 50-70 days
  • Tomatoes: 60-90 days


Be sure to visit back soon for a special blog on growing tomatoes in the state of Colorado. See you all soon!

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