The July monsoons are officially here. It has rained at least two or three days this last week and at least once each day this weekend. What does this mean for the garden? I didn’t have to water much! The greenhouse veggies needed water, but the outside garden is doing great. The peas in the walls o’ water are flowering. The roses are settling in nicely from the transplant last weekend and have actually put on new leaves.

I got insecticidal soap and drenched the peppers and eggplant in the greenhouse this weekend. I will probably have to make another application, but I hope I put a serious dent in the aphid population. The beans, tomatoes and eggplants in the greenhouse have flowers on them as well, so I hope they will set fruit soon. I will fertilize the tomatoes next weekend to make sure they have enough food for fruit production. Last weekend I harvested a bunch of basil to dry down and it looks like next weekend I’ll have to harvest again. It is doing fabulously well in the greenhouse.

The iris got planted this weekend, which will be a nice show of flowers next year. The lupine that was feasted on by critters is really making a nice comeback. I hope the lupines flower this year. It will be a nice addition to the garden.

The potatoes are producing nice vegetation and I am seeing little flower buds on some of them. I’m hoping to have a great crop this year. The garlic seems to be doing well, but it has not produced scapes yet, so I think they are a little behind this year.

The peony that I planted on the west side of the house has bloomed! Yay! I planted this peony 3 years ago and had forgotten what color the blossoms were supposed to be. They are a beautiful ruby color.

Peony bloom close-up

Peony bloom close-up

Peony blooms

Peony blooms

I think I will have to use the grass herbicide again. I was told that smooth brome can be a bugger to get rid of, so that might happen next weekend. The first application may have set it back a bit, but it hasn’t totally killed the grassy weeds yet.

Lastly, the Rufous hummingbirds have finally arrived and are battling it out with the Broad-tailed hummingbirds for space on the feeder. I always assumed we had Ruby Throated hummingbirds, but doing a bit of research for the links, Ruby Throated hummingbirds are east of the Mississippi. They don’t migrate this far west in the summer. The Broad-Tailed hummingbirds are the ones that migrate to the Central Rockies. They look pretty similar to the Ruby Throated hummingbirds. Either way, they are just amazing to watch.

Have a great week and happy gardening!

I should title this Weeding 101. I spent most of the weekend weeding one section of the big garden so that I could transplant all the surviving roses into one area where they will get regular water. I’ve been threatening to do this for a couple of years now, but this weekend, it’s finally done. I started on weeding on Saturday, finished Sunday and got the roses transplanted. The mulch and iris planting will have to wait until next weekend. Pulling weeds is challenging work!

Starting weeding where I left off on Saturday

Starting weeding where I left off on Saturday

Finished weeding!

Finished weeding!

Roses are transplanted and watered in.

Roses are transplanted and watered in.

These roses are what has survived the EarthKind Rose Trial from several years ago. Based on the tags I found when I was transplanting, there are 3 George Vancouver, 3 John Davis and 1 William Baffin still surviving. There are also 4 others that had no tags so I will have to check my plot plan and see if I can figure out which ones they are.

There are also iris blooming. Down along the Front Range, the iris are already spent and folks are dividing for next year. Up here, they bloom about a month or so later than down in Fort Collins or Denver.

Large clump blooming in the big garden

Large clump blooming in the big garden

Yellow iris by the greenhouse

Yellow iris by the greenhouse

The lupine that was mostly stems a couple of weeks ago is starting to rebound and produce new leaves. I don’t know if it will flower this year or not. The peony on the west side of the house still has its flower buds. I hope it blooms in the next couple of weeks. And last, but not least……the greenhouse. have some serious aphid issues. I will be getting some insecticidal soap this week to try and combat the buggers. They are on peppers and eggplant. I really need to get them under control so they don’t infest my tomatoes too.

Hope everyone had a nice 4th of July!

The Big Guns

Well…….I did it. I got out the big guns yesterday and used a grass selective herbicide on the smooth brome in my garden. It will take about 10 days to 2 weeks to start seeing results, but I am hopeful. I got up early to spray and it’s a good thing, there was no wind yesterday morning. That doesn’t happen very often but it was perfect timing yesterday. I didn’t do anything else in the garden yesterday because I wanted the herbicide to dry before I went back out.

So, out I went this morning and I am hopeful once again. The potatoes are recovering from the freeze last week and are putting out new growth. They got hilled up again this weekend, which will be the last time this season. Now I just need to keep up the watering.

Frosted potatoes slowly recovering

Frosted potatoes slowly recovering

The cabbage and aspabroc that I put walls o’ water around last weekend are doing much better. Out of six plants, five of them have put on new leaves. They’re trying to make it. The peas are going gangbusters with the walls around them. Nothing is nibbling on them and the soil is staying moist so they have really jumped up.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are trellised and are doing great. I have 4 pepper plants that were loaded with aphids this morning, but I washed most of them off the plant with water and crushed a lot of them. I hope they don’t find their way back on to the plants.

Something is eating my lupine. I thought they were deer resistant, but I don’t think this is deer damage. This lupine has been there for about 3 or 4 years and was starting to look fabulous. Don’t know if it will survive this.

My bearded iris have nice flower buds and should be blooming in the next week or so. Looking forward to seeing the colors.

My next big project is to do something about the ground squirrels. They are out of control. They are now digging into my greenhouse, not just out in the big garden. Hopefully all the containers in the greenhouse are high enough off the ground to deter the little ^&^%^&$$%(*@#@#’s. I’m hoping that once the grassy weeds are gone and they don’t have the vegetation cover, they will move out of the garden to someplace else. We’ll see. As always, one can only hope.

……..that mountain gardening brings me to the point of frustration. I was hoping to get through this season without having to use my walls o’ water….for ANY of my plants. But today, I got them out again. Last weekend I planted some cabbage and aspabroc seedlings a friend had given me, thinking they would be fairly cold hardy and could withstand the cool temps at night. I was wrong! Last Sunday we had a freeze event that toasted some of the leaves, the intense sun up here burned leaves on a couple of them and now something is feasting on them. So in an effort to save what little plant material is left, I got out the walls o’ water and put them around the upside down tomato cages that I set over the plants. All this in an effort to provide a bit of warmth to the soil and the plants, protect them from the hellatious winds we are having up here and provide protection from predation. I also put walls o’ water around my pea seedlings. They seem to be doing ok with the cool weather, but I did notice something has been nibbling at them. I would really like to harvest some peas this year.

Another frustration is the weed situation. Every time I think I am making a little headway in digging them out, we get rain or snow and they flourish. I think I am going to have to resort to some grass selective herbicide to combat the smooth brome that has become one of the MOST noxious weeds in my garden. A grass selective herbicide won’t hurt my broadleaf plants, but I will have to be careful around my bearded iris, garlic and remaining daffodil leaves. I’ve hesitated to use herbicides, but this grass keeps finding its way into my garden via very strong rhizomatous roots and prolific seedheads and it is so hard to keep ahead of it.

Which brings me to my last frustration of the day…….frost! We had a frost event last night. I watered my potatoes yesterday and most all of them had sprouted. The ones that had sprouted last weekend, I hilled up again and they had pushed their way through the soil. The other spuds that had not sprouted last weekend were just starting to nose up this weekend. I went out again this morning to water and noticed the potato leaves looked water-soaked and were a much darker color. Guess what? Frost! It did get cool yesterday afternoon but I didn’t think that it was going to frost. I should know better. I’ve lived in the mountains now for 12 years. But I am still surprised by weather events. Hopefully the potatoes have enough energy to put out some more leaves. I did notice that under the darkened leaves were some leaves that were protected, so I’m hoping they will thrive.

All that being said, you may ask why do I continue to garden up here? Simple…..I like to grow plants. Nothing tastes quite like freshly harvested vegetables from your own garden. And it is a challenge, but I’m going to keep trying.

The last time I posted, I was lamenting the amount of snow we had had and that I had to wait to plant potatoes. This past weekend was time for inspection because our weather has been, to say the least, weird. On May 23rd, after the big potato planting weekend, we had massive thunderstorms rolling through the area that produced large marble-sized hail. There was also a funnel cloud spotted in the area so we were under a tornado warning (very unusual for Red Feather Lakes). Who would have thought that this could happen in the mountains at 8600 feet elevation? Well, the funnel cloud was a reality. As we discovered later, there was a massive blowdown of trees by Bellaire Lake and the Bellaire Lake Campground, caused either by tornado or a micro-burst. According to KUNC radio, there were about a thousand trees that were uprooted. The Forest Service said the more trees may come down as the soil is saturated and unstable.

Which leads me to the inspection of my garden. The greenhouse withstood all this weather but some of my plants did not fare so well. The garlic had some leaf damage. The onion sets I had planted the previous weekend, also had some leaf damage as well as leaf shredding of some of the bearded iris. The potatoes were in good shape because they had not produced any leaves above the soil so they were protected. The daffodil flowers took a big hit as the hail knocked off most of the petals.

But the rain did have benefits. It was good for carrot, parsnip and beet seed germination. Almost all the seed has germinated, which means I’ll be thinning the seedlings out in a few weeks so there will be room for the rest to grow to a nice size. My orange mint did not sustain any damage, of course. Mint is one of the toughest plants I have ever grown. I think it will survive anything! My pea seedlings were so small that the hail did not damage them and the added moisture actually help encourage them. Now I just hope the ground squirrels, pocket gophers and chipmunks don’t find them.

I also planted most of my tomato, pepper, eggplant and basil seedlings in the greenhouse. I’m hoping for a nice crop this year from the greenhouse. I’m really trying not to cram too many plants in there so I get a decent harvest. That’s one thing that I really have to watch……I want a lot of produce, so I think more plants is better, when in actuality, less plants will produce more because I can take better of them and they have room to grow.

Last weekend we got almost 3 FEET of snow, starting Saturday evening and lasting through Monday morning. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen in the garden this weekend, but so far, it’s been good. The majority of the snow has melted, except on the north sides of buildings and really shaded areas. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to plant anything, either. But, the carrot seeds are starting to germinate, I saw one beet seedling poking up out of the soil, and no parsnip seed germination yet.

However, today was the day that the potatoes got planted, though. All 13 varieties. This year, I decided to do this a bit differently in that I chose mostly early to mid-season potatoes. The early season are 60-80 days to maturity, the mid-season are 80-100 days to maturity and I have one long season variety that matures in 100-130 days. I suspect that most of the potatoes I planted will be at the high end of their respective maturity range, just because we are at such a high elevation and we have about 90 frost-free days up here. All the potatoes that I planted had sprouts on them and I covered them with a generous amount of soil so they have a chance of poking their leaves out even if we get colder temps at night. I used the tubes to plant in that I tried last year. With the rodent population and other critter herbivory, I think this is definitely the way to get a good harvest.

The early season varieties are Masquerade, Red Pontiac, Early Ohio, Red Gold, and Purple Viking. The mid-season are Yellow Finn, Kennebec, Alby’s Gold, Colorado Rose, Sangre, Marris Piper and Desiree. The only long season variety that I planted is Nicola. All of the potatoes, except Masquerade, came from http://www.potatogarden.com/. The store link will tell you what is available, while the catalog link will provide information on how long to maturity as well as notes on taste, etc.

I’m looking forward to another successful potato season. I just wish I could figure out how to store some of them (not PVP protected varieties, however) over the winter to be able to use as seed for next year. I think the garage gets too cold to store over the winter, but I might try that just to see what happens.

I know it has been quite a while since I have posted anything here, so I figured that an update from the mountain was warranted. I was hoping to plant potatoes this weekend, however, the forecast is calling for a winter storm warning starting about 6 p.m. or so tonight and also forecasting low temps in the 20’s for the next few days. So I am going to hold off planting so my seed potatoes don’t freeze. And I’ll try to get them planted next weekend.

I’m changing things up this year. The past few years I have tried to grow tomatoes outside and last year had decent success for 8600 feet elevation. But this year, I think I will do tomatoes in the greenhouse only and am trying to grow cool season veggies outside. Three weekends ago, I planted pea, broccoli, chives, Chinese cabbage and Chinese mustard seeds in the area previously occupied by tomatoes. I diligently watered and covered them with the frost cloth (supported by the upside down tomato cages) in the hopes they would germinate. The tomato cages are serving dual purposes. The will hopefully support the peas as they climb and they are also supporting the frost cloth so it doesn’t lay on the seeds.

The following weekend I arrived home and discovered the toll the hellatious winds had taken on my frost cloth and tomato cages. All the tomato cages were blown over, the frost cloth laying on the ground and a ground squirrel running for its burrow. Not a good start to the weekend. I was very disillusioned. But as a gardener, never say never. And as my husband says, you can’t rush the season up here.

The same weekend I planted pea, etc. seeds, I also planted parsnip, carrot and beet seeds in three of the tubes that I used last year to grow potatoes. I am also making more cages/tubes for potatoes and other veggies as these seem to work really well, especially if I use chicken wire under the tubes so the ground squirrels and voles can’t tunnel up under and into the tubes to eat the veggies.

Last weekend, I changed out the soaker hoses, replaced some of the hose fittings and started watering again. I left the frost cloth off the seeds since rain was predicted for this week. And, indeed, this week there was a nice bit of rain that watered the seeds and this weekend I see one variety of peas are starting to sprout as well as the Chinese mustard and Chinese cabbage. The garlic that I planted last fall is finally starting to nose up out of the ground. The shoots are about 3-4 inches tall. I’m encouraged!! There is progress in the garden.

I’m also getting the greenhouse ready for the warm season plants. Since the soil temperatures and even the air temps don’t get warm enough for warm season crops, I grow them in the greenhouse. I hope to have a fabulous crop of pepper varieties this year. I want to try my hand at canning salsa this year.

I’m pretty sure I won’t get anything else done in the garden this weekend with the storm coming in, so I will take the opportunity to make some comfort food for dinner tonight. Once I get the potatoes planted, I’ll post an update on the varieties.


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