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Old 01-08-2009, 09:54 PM
 
619 posts, read 1,956,154 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyomiles View Post
mczabe, the soil is alkiline rather than acidic. It is dry, high mountain desert so need to irrigate. Soils are generaly sandy loam so need to add compost. My wife is from Jersey and she says I still haven't raised a jersey tomato!
Now that is a worthy quest indeed!
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Old 01-08-2009, 11:31 PM
 
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You might want to check out the CSU extension pages, which have numerous articles on gardening on Colorado. Colorado State University Extension - Insect Publications Online, Alphabetic Order

The extreme dryness, large diurnal temperature variation, and early/late freezes are problematic. Some plants really want to have warm summer night temperatures, and the cold night temperatures here stress them out. I have a garden in a particularly cold area of Boulder, we had a freeze in the middle of June the other year, and usually get freezes and sometimes snow starting in September. The best year I've had so far was the Year of Hail, which featured a warm dry May that allowed the plants to get off to a fast start so they could recover from the big midsummer hailstorm. This year was really bad - May was cold, and then it didn't rain for two months (plus I had huge insect problems). Once it rained in mid August, things started to grow well again, but the season was almost over - I got my first zucchini in September.

Anyway, you might want to look into some local companies that sell seeds that are adapted to this region. When buying seed, I try to chose seeds that are bolt-resistant and can handle temperature swings.

Oh, and expect extreme evaporation. Mulching the bed with straw was very helpful in retaining moisture in my plot, so I only had to water every other day.
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Old 01-08-2009, 11:35 PM
 
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Mulching is good; anything works.

Compost is as always great as is a strong turnover. I aim for the ability to punch up to my elbow before I plant; and you plant earlier here than you might in other areas with the neccessary precautions when temperatures dip.

If you hide your lettuce and spinach in the shade of larger plants you can have a fresh crop all season.

Fingers crossed that my rhyzomed seattle blackberries finally take off this year like the weed they are.
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Old 01-09-2009, 12:10 AM
 
619 posts, read 1,956,154 times
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Up to your elbows??? Yowza! A man and his tiller, eh?

Does the evaporation factor mean that raised beds are a no-no? I've been a square-foot girl for several years now, and was kinda hoping go that route again...but now I'm wondering if that's just asking for trouble here...

off to check out the extension link. (and thanks for the tip on adapted seeds - apparently I need to figure out what on earth a bolt-resistant seed is exactly )
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Old 01-09-2009, 07:50 AM
 
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Plants that are stressed can have a tendency to go straight for flowering, bypassing the leafy stage. This is a problem for things like lettuce, cabbage, cilantro, etc. Some plants like cold weather and bolt when it gets too warm, others don't like cold temperatures and can bolt if it was cold at night when the plant was a seedling. Since temperatures here tend to go straight from freezing at night in May to 90s during the day in June, bolting can be an issue. I grow asian brassicas that have a strong tendency to bolt and need extra care in this climate, so I look for the varietars that are resistant to bolting.

There isn't really a period of coolish daytime temperatures (like 60s) with non-freezing night temperatures, the way you get in the spring and fall on the east coast. Once summer breaks, nighttime temperatures drop off and stress or kill tender plants. The summer temperature plateau here is roughly mid June to mid August, when it is reliably warm to hot during the day and not freezing at night. Before and after the summer period, there is more variability in temperatures.

Some other people in the community gardens where I have my plot have raised beds, and do just fine. Just realize that it is extremely dry and sunny - much less rainfall than on the east coast, and relative humidities less than 20% are very common (even down to single digits).
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:55 PM
 
Location: Colorado
269 posts, read 1,141,210 times
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We put in a raised bed last year and had a fairly good crop. Tomatoes, eggplant & peppers did great! My cilantro bolted, so that was out. I got a big pot of basil from Harlequin's in Boulder and it did great.
I need to diversify a bit... maybe some zucchini & squash this year. Peas sound good too!
I'm excited now... can't wait for Spring!
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:00 PM
 
619 posts, read 1,956,154 times
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Was it a special type of basil? I would think that would be a very "bolty" crop. BTW, my east coast mom was horrified that I didn't know what bolting meant.

I was at the Tattered Cover this afternoon and read in a gardening book that raised beds can be a good idea, since the soil here can be so tricky. With raised beds, you can build the soil from scratch and avoid some of the inherent difficulties.

It also said Colorado gardeners should always plant zucchini and green beans so they can count on something from the garden!
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Old 01-09-2009, 09:23 PM
 
303 posts, read 1,416,119 times
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I had horrible zucchini the past two years - the previous year, it was gigantic even after being hailed on. Maybe the hail put the fear of death into it.... Two years ago , the zucchini plant just stayed very small and only gave me two zucchinis, although some gourd plants and pumpkin were fine. This year, hordes of earwigs ate all my squash back to stumps, and then ate the replacement leaves.

Peas can be tricky because they don't like it hot, so you need them to mature early. Probably not a problem for people working in their yards, but at my community garden, the water isn't turned on until mid to late spring, and it is hard to start the peas early enough. I just grow snow peas, and cut and eat the tender shoots instead of waiting for peas. Snow pea shoots are expensive and hard to find (Pacific Ocean Mart has them sometimes), but very tasty - I like them better than the pea pods.

There are slow-bolt cilantro varietars out there. Basil isn't much of a problem, you just pinch off the flower tips before they bloom and it keeps growing. Basil hates cold, though, so you need to wait until it is good and hot to plant.
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Old 01-10-2009, 08:40 PM
 
Location: Denver
195 posts, read 727,189 times
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Default A link

I had a friend tell me about Denver Urban Gardens. Might help you:

Denver Urban Gardens (http://dug.org/home.asp - broken link)
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Old 01-10-2009, 08:48 PM
 
Location: Denver
195 posts, read 727,189 times
Reputation: 88
Default container gardening?

Has anyone had any success with veggies in container gardening? I'm starting my first garden this year....
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