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Old 06-06-2012, 12:43 PM
 
136 posts, read 217,739 times
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What does well here?

We moved from Boise and are really missing our strawberry patch. Our prolific raspberry canes must be in the boom/fruit stage. Also, we just used our last jar of home-canned tomatoes. It wasn't a huge garden, but it was productive.

I'm just wondering if it's worth while to have enough yard to garden here. Please chime in with the things you know do well here. I'm interested in edibles, mostly. We're renting in Congress Park right now and I can't imagine many of these places get enough sun, considering all the shade and the shorter growing season. Is it dependent upon exposure? Do cane berries do well here or is it too dry? Do you end up losing lots of peppers and tomatoes to frost in the fall?

TIA~
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Old 06-06-2012, 01:50 PM
 
Location: Castle Rock
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I think you might need to adapt your knowledge of gardening to Colorado and learn about our soil and weather. I'm a 5th generation Denver native and my family has always grown their own fruits and vegetables with great success. Most things do quite well here, actually! I think you just need to learn about how to garden here.

We currently have a large, healthy strawberry patch in our yard right now (I'm in southeast Denver) and an abundant cherry tree down the street from us (the sweet kind, not the pie kind, too). Tomatoes do just fine here, we've always grown them. Pumpkins, green beans, lettuce (which can be started very early in the season and even yield a second crop), cucumbers, and carrots and other roots do very well. Admittedly, berries need to be pampered to do well here, but it's totally do-able. We also keep bees, and that alone is known to help farms increase their yield up to 60% when they have hives on their land. Consider keeping bees if you want even more success. Urban beekeeping is great for the city.

Tomatoes do best here when they're started indoors.
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Old 06-06-2012, 01:57 PM
 
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I'm from Jersey. You plant stuff there and the maintenance is minimal. I don't get the wildly huge tomato plants I'd get back there. But I'm trying out growing in a topsy turvy this year. I've got like 6 tomato plants and a few pepper plants. We'll see what happens.

Here, gardening is very intensive compared to back home. Lots of watering and fertilizing and monitoring. I think you can make it "worth it" - but there's a lot of trial and error. I recommend raised beds and container gardening. The ground here just purely sucks for growing.
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Old 06-06-2012, 03:03 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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We have had a garden almost every year we've been in this house, 23 years now. One year we were doing some major renovations to the yard (moving an above ground pool, etc) and we didn't have a garden. It just didn't seem right.

I agree with the other two. It's more work here. You have to water. In the summer of 2002, we had some pretty severe water restrictions here in Louisville and didn't get much of a crop. There have been one or two cool summers that we didn't get a great yield. Last year, we had good yields on tomatoes, green beans, pumpkins, potatoes, carrots, and ornamental corn. We still have beans in the freezer from last year, even as the new ones are growing in the garden. We have given up on sweet corn. There are several roadside stands here in Boulder County where we can buy it, and also at the Louisville Farmer's Market. This year, we are trying popcorn.

The thing with the sun is that it shines almost every day here, and for many hours. "Full sun" means six hours of sun. Practically everything in our yard gets that much.
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Old 06-06-2012, 03:38 PM
 
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i've been growing for 3 seasons and it definitely is a learning process (coming from east coast), but from our tiny plot I get more letucce, cucumbers and zucchini than we can possibly eat. In fact, we ditched our CSA in favor of homegrown produce. The sun is so strong here, that even our north facing yard with houses close together does very well. The short growing season and cool nights are a bit tough on tomatoes. We usually end up with more green tomatoes than ripes ones but they make great jam

We get tons of rasberries and strawberries. Fruit trees do surprisingly well (less bugs and diseases so we don't have to spray) unless there is a late frost.

Here's a tip-
Grow lettuce under a tree so that in the early cool spring it will get plenty of sun and then during the hot summer the shade will keep it from bolting.
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Old 06-06-2012, 03:43 PM
 
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this is a great website detailing the particular challenges of growing in the front range- Denver Master Gardener, Gardening and Horticulture
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Old 06-06-2012, 03:46 PM
 
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Couldn't imagine living in the Front Range ... Denver area ... and being without a home vegetable garden.

Root vege's do well, tomatoes do well, onions, leeks, cucmbers, peppers, peas, lettuces, herbs, corn, potatoes ... with a short zone 4 season, best to investigate the varieties that will produce in a limited time frame from last frost to end of season. Tunnel greenhouse structures can help extend your season, wall's o'water can help get many plants established and keep soil warm to start them off.

Check with the local extension office for their suggestions. Soil types vary widely around the region, so you'll need to test to discover what you've got.

Water is a valuable resource, so you'll do best to conserve with drip irrigation systems. I use them on timers to minimize the hassles, and use drip tape rather than tubing with nozzles.
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:16 PM
 
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Don't want to duplicate the others so will just add asparagus, chives and cantaloupe as things that do well here.
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:43 PM
 
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Those are very encouraging comments. Thanks!

A question about microclimates.....Any problems or issues to consider in the older, heavily shaded neighborhoods in central Denver? I know "full sun" in parts of Boise, if taken literally, would be too much in more open places because the heat was so intense. Plants would burn up unless you gave them much more water. And yet there were other parts of town full of shady trees where fungus was a real problem, and getting peppers and tomatoes to ripen on the vine was quite an endeavor. For those of you with good yields, what is your microclimate like? Are you gardening in literal "full sun?" Of course I'm thinking of crops like tomatoes, not bolt-prone crops like greens.

We've grown our own tomatoes long enough that I forgot how poorly store-bought tomatoes compare. When do the local farmer's start selling good tomatoes here? July?
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:47 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by insahmniak View Post
Those are very encouraging comments. Thanks!

A question about microclimates.....Any problems or issues to consider in the older, heavily shaded neighborhoods in central Denver? I know "full sun" in parts of Boise, if taken literally, would be too much in more open places because the heat was so intense. Plants would burn up unless you gave them much more water. And yet there were other parts of town full of shady trees where fungus was a real problem, and getting peppers and tomatoes to ripen on the vine was quite an endeavor. For those of you with good yields, what is your microclimate like? Are you gardening in literal "full sun?" Of course I'm thinking of crops like tomatoes, not bolt-prone crops like greens.

We've grown our own tomatoes long enough that I forgot how poorly store-bought tomatoes compare. When do the local farmer's start selling good tomatoes here? July?
Yes, some tomatoes are available in July. August is really the best month. September can get cold, and even snow. Even in a "normal" September the nights start getting cooler.
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