Growing your own vegetables can be a very satisfying and rewarding experience yet not everyone lives in the most ideal conditions. No matter if you are a novice or new to vegetable gardening in Colorado.
This guide should get you off on the right foot, and make sure you get the best from the efforts you have put in.
The growing season in Colorado can be much different and much shorter compared to other areas. There is so much variance the state has nine different zones. Each of these can have a better-growing performance for your veggies than others and can make high altitude vegetable gardening a challenge.
For every 1000 feet above sea level, the temperature can drop by around 3.5 degrees. There is also the exception of valleys where the temperature can drop even more at night.
Before you start planning and planting, you should be aware of which of the nine zones you reside in; these can be found on the “Plant Hardiness Zone Map.” This can be used as part of your Colorado vegetable planting guide. When looking for seeds or plants, there are specific ones that are labeled as suitable growers for your zone or cold tolerant.
Apart from the local Colorado climate, the weather has a significant impact on your vegetables and can bring with it some unique challenges.
Vegetable gardening in this high altitude means you will be dealing with low humidity, sunlight which is intense and weather changes that are almost instantaneous.
A good example being Denver which does have many hot summer days. They can have changes in their weather where the temperature drops enough that it can affect your veggies growing. Conditions can also change from extremely wet to very dry as well as hailstorms toward the end of summer which are capable of wiping out high altitude vegetables as
they are close to harvesting.
To be safe and make sure your plants are protected, you can invest in row covers; tunnels, windbreaks, and shade cloths.
When you have found the ideal times to grow and how long the growing season will last for. You will come to understand, what the best vegetables to grow in Colorado are that you can produce with an element of success.
At this point, you should make a list of your intended plants for that season and take into consideration the space you will need.
If you have the opportunity to plant early, you can plant some of the many cool-weather veggies and then warm weather veggies later once these have been harvested.
Although you might be thinking you are limited to what vegetables you can grow, there are quite a few, yet they fall into “Cool season” or “Warm season” vegetables.
Frost free soil is when most plants will begin growing at their best. This is why it is essential to know your first and last frost dates.
Once you have prepared your soil in the spring, you have to pay attention for the last frost day, and anywhere it is written will be just an approximate date.
As a guide, in Colorado, the last frost date can be in the last two weeks of May, and the first frost date can be in the middle of September, or if you are at high altitude, it could be as early as early August.
It is worth knowing which vegetables are hardy against frost and which ones will suffer. Here are some basic guides that show which vegetables are frost tolerant, and which are not:
These vegetables are good to plant in fall, spring and early spring gardens.
• Brussels sprouts
• English Peas
These can handle light frosts and are useful to plant in spring and fall gardens.
• Swiss Chard
These vegetables require temperatures of between 65 to 90 degrees to enable the following vegetables to grow good crops in late spring and summer gardens.
• Southern Peas
• Summer Squash
• Sweet potatoes
If you have space in your home, it is possible to start some of your seeds indoors to give them a head start.
Some veggies do thrive better when sown directly into the soil where they grow, so checking your packets is the best way to find where you can gain by germination inside or planting directly into your garden.
Cold weather vegetables actually prefer to be planted directly into your soil, and some taste better from growing in the cold.
As with any garden, it is advisable to prepare your garden before you are ready to plant your vegetables. In Colorado, this can mean choosing a location as much as preparing the soil.
As you have more challenges than regular gardeners, it may be worth starting smaller rather than being over your head and becoming overwhelmed.
One other thing to consider when starting a vegetable garden in Colorado is the wildlife that will make a meal of your vegetables. In specific areas, there may be deer so these will require extra precautions.
Due to the high altitude water evaporates faster, this can mean your vegetables may require watering more often depending on the weather. A useful guide is if the top inch of soil is dry your plants need watering. There is one way to help prevent your soil drying faster. A healthy layer of mulch around your plants will help to retain moisture for longer.
It should also be noted, if you are using raised beds as a means of growing, these will require more frequent growing as the soil can drain much quicker than in regular soil.
When you have chosen the areas for your vegetable garden, the soil has to be prepared. The following tips will help prime your soil ready for planting.
Remove all vegetation and weeds
Till the soil until it is loose. You can either use a dedicated machine or do this by hand.
At the time of tilling and all the weeds have been removed, it is time to add compost or other organic matter. This adds many nutrients back into the soil in preparation. A useful guide is one inch to every four inches of soil.
Colorado soils can be high in alkaline and resemble clay; you might have to amend your soil with more organic matter to counteract this and lower the pH. Ideally, the pH should be around 7.
Much of this is down to personal preference, yet there are advantages of using a raised bed than planting directly into the earth. The soil in raised beds heats up quicker and allows you to plant your seeds that little bit earlier.
As a result of earlier planting, your vegetables can have longer to reach maturity. This is a great benefit if you know you will have a shorter growing season than other areas.
Another great benefit of having raised beds is you can eliminate the need of having to adjust the pH of your soil. You can fill the raised beds from the start with good quality soil and organic material.
The one downside of a raised bed is the extra cost of construction and excellent quality earth. Many Colorado gardeners mix them both and use raised beds for warm-weather vegetables and the ground for the cold weather vegetables.
Due to the weather in Colorado, your growing season can be cut by weeks and in a worst case scenario up to months. There are a few tips apart from starting your seeds indoors for some vegetables that can help to extend your growing season:
Cover your soil with black plastic and/or mulch to help keep it warm. Make sure the black plastic has been perforated to help with irrigation.
Use raised beds as a way to increase the soil temperature earlier in the year.
The frost tolerant vegetables can be planted earlier as long as the soil is soft enough for roots to grow.
Cool weather crops should be planted at the first opportune moment. This will need you to pay attention to the local weather for your region.
By being creative and using old clean milk jugs, plastic cartons or plastic bags you can help to prevent frost damage. If you can spare the expense, you can also purchase frost blankets or row covers/ tunnels to help protect your vegetables.
Hoop tunnels, cold frames, or a greenhouse make for convenient long-term solutions. Although they have a more substantial up-front investment, they can help to add months onto the Colorado growing season for your spring or fall vegetable gardens.
• Sunny areas are the best as many plants require 6-8 hours per day minimum, and many warm weather veggies can benefit from more hours of sunlight.
• If possible, the areas should be close to your home so tending to your garden and watering your vegetables will become easier.
• When you are growing warm season crops. The most temperate spot should be saved for these which is south facing.
Much advice is given, and it can seem in some cases, it is a lot of effort for the risk of having failed crops. This does not have to be the case, and with a good understanding of the Colorado climate and the weather patterns, you can be on your way to some healthy vegetables.
There is one advantage of how to plant a garden at these altitudes. You will have more success with your cool season vegetables compared to warm season vegetables. The good thing is, you might have more abundant crops and a better taste when you grow at these high Colorado altitudes.
Much of what is here is quite general, and to take the best advantage of your growing season length, even if you can extend it by a month at either end.
Stick to the cool season vegetables rather than attempting and finding you have been failed by the weather. There are more than enough plants that are semi-hardy and highly tolerant to frost to keep the most avid gardener busy throughout the growing seasons.
Once you have decided on this, the major problem is how you wish to grow. Planting directly into the soil can be ideal, yet the aesthetics of your vegetable garden is precisely that. If you want something a little more pleasing to the eye, and more comfortable to work with. Raised beds can be the ideal solutions.
These divide your garden, and you will have dedicated pathways leading in between all of the beds. If you see the need for protecting your plants, you can get quite creative in making plastic covers for your raised beds.
This can help with both protecting your plants, yet they can improve the growing conditions. There are many ideas on the internet regarding designs, and many end up like miniature greenhouses.
No matter what the altitude you live at, or the growing zone you find yourself living in. There are more than enough solutions you can incorporate to make the best use of your land.
Your local garden center will have most of the information you require to make the best decisions. When it comes to your vegetables, choose the ones that are tolerant to frost and grow fast.
With minimum effort and a little thought, you can reap the harvests while breathing is that fresh air. Exercise and healthy eating have never been such fun or such a challenge.
If you’ve been losing sleep over how to make your lawn green, never fear – there are some simple things you can do. You don’t need to be out there slaving away with a pair of scissors individually trimming each blade of grass.
And you don’t need to be secretly spraying your lawn with green spray paint in the dead of night to fool the neighbors.
It’s all about doing the right thing at the right time and keeping on top of what needs doing. It’s all well and good fertilizing and mowing your lawn (and these things need doing). But, if you aren’t doing it at the optimal time, you will end up doing more work than you need to.
If you plan and sort out a fertilizing schedule, you will be well on your way to a lush green lawn. Start fertilizing your lawn as soon as possible in the spring, and keep on top of it throughout the summer months and into the autumn. Mark on the calendar when you should be fertilizing your lawn (this should be around very six weeks).
Don’t forget to keep your grass well-watered. We all remember we need to water plants, but often the grass gets overlooked.
Keeping it watered will help keep it nice and green and luscious looking. Be careful not to over-water the grass though, make sure you allow the grass time to dry before watering it again. Waterlogging the lawn that can be just as damaging as not watering it enough, so water little and often.
If your lawn is free from moss and weeds, it is going to be in better condition. Moss and weeds take valuable nutrients away from your grass as they grow and they stop your grass from looking lush.
Make sure you use a good weed-killer to combat pesky weeds (a couple of times a year will be enough). The best time to get rid weeds is in the spring once they have germinated.
Moss likes a shady lawn, so if you can increase the amount of light getting to your lawn, this is a good option. If you can cut back some trees and shrubs to let more sunlight onto your grass, you should notice a difference of moss.
Not allowing enough air to get to your lawn can mean the soil is compacted and cannot let water in or out. This can result in poor growth rate and an unhealthy looking lawn.
To fight against this problem, you can aerate the lawn by using a lawn spiker or you can use a fork if it is a small area. This allows air in, and you can then water the lawn and get better results. Also, moss loves moisture and moisture are always present where soil lacks aeration.
If you are going to struggle to keep on top of this yourself, a service provider such as Spring Green lawn care will be able to help you out. So, no more nightmares over how to have a lush green lawn!
When you are fertilizing your lawn, make sure you read the instructions on the back of your fertilizer. Lots of granular and slow release formulas will require water to get them started. This may dictate when you fertilize your lawn.
If you are applying fertilizer yourself at home, the best way to do this is by using a spreader. A spreader allows for even application, and you can control the rate of the release of fertilizer. Spread half your fertilizer from one end of your lawn to the other.
Then spread the other half at right angles to your first spread; this helps get even coverage.
There are a few “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to the best time of day to fertilize your lawn. It’s best not to fertilize your lawn when the weather is sweltering and sunny.
High heat can cause the grass to dry out completely, and the fertilizer may burn your grass. The hottest part of the day is midday when the sun is high in the sky, so the best time of day to fertilize your lawn is in the afternoon.
To maintain a healthy and attractive looking lawn you will need to think about a lawn fertilizing schedule. If you don’t fertilize enough, your grass might be thin and lacking in color. If you fertilize too much, your grass may be patchy in areas where you have applied too much fertilizer. Your grass may also be more susceptible to damage from disease or insects.
Maintaining a fertilizing schedule will mean you can get enough fertilizer on in the season.
Over-fertilizing your lawn will mean the grass will grow very quickly and you will need to mow your lawn much more frequently. The trick is to find the balance between fertilizing and mowing.
You should first feed your lawn in the spring; your grass is about to start growing, and the temperatures are increasing.
Fertilizing a lawn in spring will kick start growth, and you will be on your way to a healthy lawn. If you are prone to late frost in your area, try your best to fertilize after the final frost. Frost can damage the grass once you have fertilized and encouraged new growth.
About four weeks after your first application of fertilizer, you should apply again. Then, throughout summer you should continue to fertilize your lawn every six to eight weeks. Five applications should take you through to autumn, and you should finish fertilizing your lawn around October.
After fertilizing your lawn, make sure you water the granules into the grass. If you don’t do this, the next time you mow your lawn you will disturb the fertilizer.
Set your mower to a taller cutting length to as not to undo all the hard work you have done fertilizing your lawn! The best rated lawn mowers will allow you to adjust cutting height.
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