High-Altitude Cold-Climate Gardening

As the snow flies outside my mind begins to go to gardening.  Even though our last frost isn’t until early June, we actually start gardening in March with indoor seed starting, so January and February are usually my garden planning months.

While it looks like this outside:

I am dreaming about and planning this:

We face many challenges gardening in the high-altitude (above 7,500 feet) Rocky Mountains including:

  • steep, rocky terrain
  • rocky soil – decomposed granite that wont retain moisture, is low in nutrients, and doesn’t hold heat, plus ample amounts of pine needles constantly falling, adding too much acidity to the soil
  • wildlife – especially deer and elk, bears, rabbits, gophers, raccoons, chipmunks, voles, and other rodents
  • very short growing season (about 77 days frost to frost)
  • cold, windy, dry climate – summer days average 70sF and summer nights drop into 40sF with low humidity

But over the many years we have been gardening here we have learned a lot of tricks to make our garden successful.  Last year our garden boasted over 490 lbs of produce harvested from about 500 square feet of plantable garden space.

So as we plan our garden for this spring I would like to share a series with you on how we have made our garden so successful in the high-altitude Rocky Mountains.


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