I knew I was taunting Mother Nature this week when I purchased potting soil so I could plant potatoes this weekend. I volunteered to trial 2 varieties from the San Luis Valley Research Station Potato Breeding Program and wanted to get them started since the potatoes were sprouting. My plan: to use 10 gallon grow bags, with one potato or piece per bag so there would be plenty of room for tubers to form. This morning when I woke up, it was foggy with just a bit of mist.
Since it was foggy, I decided to start this process in the garage. I figured I could fill the grow bags with potting soil, plant the potatoes, water and then carry the grow bags out to the garden. It was misty rain, not real cold, so this could be a good plan. I got the first variety planted, labeled and moved out to the garden. This is where the extreme gardening part comes in. First, I had to get the potting soil out of my car and because I watered the grow bags in the garage and carried them out, this turned out to be my weightlifting exercises for the day. Walking back and forth from the garage to the garden gave me my steps for the day. Plus all the bending to fill the grow bags with potting soil worked my lower back and hamstrings.
After this first variety was set out, I took a little break. By the time I got back to planting the second variety of potatoes, it was hailing with thunder. So it looked like there was a little bit of snow on the ground.
I have muck boots so it wasn’t that bad. I figured that by the time the hail was finished, I would have the rest of the grow bags filled with potting soil and the potatoes planted. Never let it be said that mountain gardening is easy. By the time I was ready to bring the second variety out to the garden, it looked like this:
It had stopped hailing and started snowing. Big, wet flakes. I finished moving the grow bags out to the garden……..why stop now, just because there is a little snow? I got out the frost cloth and took that out to cover the bags so they won’t freeze. I checked the forecast for the next two weeks and the daytime temps are supposed to be in the 50’s and 60’s and the nighttime temps won’t get below 32F so the potatoes should be protected. But this is what happens when trying to rush the gardening season up here. Finally, this is what the potatoes look like covered in the frost cloth:
As I write this, it is still snowing and there is about an inch or so accumulation on the garage roof. Yes, mountain gardening is not for the faint of heart. It is an extreme sport!
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So it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. I figure I had better get caught up. Last year’s potatoes were harvested early due to the fact that the ground squirrels or chipmunks figured out how to climb up the potato cages and get inside to eat the growing tubers. I had a few carrots to harvest and not many tomatoes from the greenhouse. But this is another year and another gardening season begins.
I had my first chance this past weekend to get out into the garden to survey what Mother Nature had wrought this winter. The big snows have melted except in the shaded parts so it was easy to check out the garden. The voles have been very active this year. I planted the majority of my garlic last fall in a different area of the garden and it looks like the voles have made a lot of trips through that area. I hope they didn’t eat too many of the cloves that were planted. I did not see any little green sprouts coming up in that area. I have another smaller area with garlic and they have sprouted and are coming up nicely. No vole damage in that area.
I weeded in the walls o’ water and around them (in the big garden) so I could get the peas planted, which I did. And that was great, because last night we had another 2-3 inches of snow. The peas will be well watered and I hope they sprout soon. After I finished that project, I moved over to the greenhouse to check things out.
This was the view that caught my eye as I headed to the greenhouse. There were several plexiglass pieces blown out of the greenhouse by the wind. This picture shows the largest piece from the east side. There were two other smaller pieces, one from the roof and one from the south side of the greenhouse that were also blown out. The dead aspen fell at the edge of the potato cages, with just some minor crunching of the top of the hardware cloth cages. The poor lupines under the plexiglass managed to survive and were growing very nicely. I hope that they survive this spring snow now that they are not protected by the glass.
On the positive side, the daffodils by the greenhouse are almost ready to bloom. The daffodils planted in the large garden are emerging and should bloom around the end of May. It appears that most of the roses survived the winter as did the bearded iris. Most of the lupines up by the greenhouse have nice leaves. It’s spring, and I hope the weekends stay nice so I can continue to get things cleaned up. I’m hopeful………again.
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I have one word for my garden this weekend…….discouraging! We had so much rain/snow in May that the weeds (thistle, grasses) are taking over. I’ve just identified two of my nemeses, can anyone guess the other one? Critters! The little darling’s (she says sarcastically). So what happened this week?
Well, the ground squirrels or chipmunks have managed to dig into my greenhouse and have proceeded to strip one pot of chard, two separate pots of basil seedlings and have munched on at least one tomato plant. They are also nibbling at my greens (mesclun mix, microgreens). I’m not really sure what to do about them, other than fill the holes back in to make it harder for them to get in the greenhouse.
Last weekend, I was so happy as my lupines were producing flower stalks and getting ready to show their colors. This week, they looked like this:
I don’t know whether it’s the ground squirrels or deer that have managed to chew their way through all the flower heads on my lupine. I only hope they will produce more. The flowers are really pretty.
I weeded some of the large perennial garden today and planted Liatris and Hosta. The thistle and grasses were taking over so it was time to pull them out of there. I guess I’m the perennial optimist. I keep weeding and planting and am hopeful that plants will survive.
There are good things about the garden this week. Some of the iris are finally blooming and looking fabulous. My peony came back in great shape and has flower buds. The geraniums I planted in pots on the deck a couple of weeks ago are blooming. The potatoes are going gangbusters. The Purple Viking potatoes I planted a month ago are really tall! I planted the potatoes in stages, so they are not all at the same growth stage, but they are looking great! The carrots have germinated and are starting to get bigger. The garlic are all up and doing well, although they haven’t produced scapes yet. That will probably happen in the next week or so. The peas in the walls o’ water are coming on. It looks like they may flower soon and then we’ll have peas. I think all of my roses that I replanted last year are coming back. Hopefully, they’ll produce some flowers. I’m also hopeful that with all the lush grass around, the deer will leave my garden alone and not try to eat all my plants.
I guess there is more good than bad happening in the garden this week, so that makes me happy. I think now it’s time for a margarita!
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Well, The weather has finally warmed up a bit from the May snowstorms and rains so I finally got all of my potatoes planted. I put together 6 more tubes/cages so I would be able to plant all of them. I planted the first variety a month ago, then it got cold for a weekend, I went to visit my mom and sister over Memorial weekend so finally last weekend, I was able to get my gardening on. I wanted to clean out an area that was on the east side of the greenhouse to put the new tubes. Digging up all that grass was tough!! But I got it all out, chicken wire laid on the ground (to keep the ground squirrels from digging into the tubes from underneath) and tubes staked in and wrapped. Then I put mulch on top of the exposed chicken wire. Wrapping the tubes in plastic helps keep the soil from drying out and, as I have discovered, makes a slick surface so small critters can’t climb the wire of the hardware cloth tubes.
The grassy area that needed to be cleaned.
End of day 1 digging grass
I must admit that I am an over-achiever when it comes to potatoes. I planted 19 varieties total this year. That’s really too many. Next year, I’m scaling back on the potatoes (she says now). But if you are a gardener like me, you just want to try them all. Most of the potatoes I planted are considered short season, meaning they can be harvested in 60-80 days. That’s just about right for this elevation since I figure we have an average of 90 frost free days a year. Once they are ready, I can leave them in the tubes even after frost (but not freeze) which will help set the skins for storage.
In other veggie news…….this year, I did plant carrot seeds in three of the tubes (not with the potatoes) and they are starting to germinate. My parsnips overwintered, but I am not sure how they will taste. They might be rather bitter. I harvested the first round of greens from the greenhouse today and those will go in the salad for dinner. My peas that are planted in the walls o’ water are growing well. They have not been discovered by critters. And all my garlic is finally up. I’m looking forward to scapes on the garlic soon……..they are wonderful in stir-fry dishes.
Next weekend I’ll plant the tomatoes and herbs that I’ve started. Those will go in the greenhouse. I changed up my tomato varieties a bit this year, using determinate and cold-hardy/short season varieties. I have several different varieties of basil, which will help make marvelous marinara in September. I also want to try some broccoli rabe, rapini and a purple broccoli, but I have to figure out where to plant it. I’m glad the weather is (mostly) nice enough to be able to get out into the garden now.
Posted in Greenhouse, Herbs, mulch, potatoes, tomatoes, vegetables, weeds | Tagged high elevation gardening, Potato, seed potatoes | Leave a Comment »
I posted last month on the unusually warm weather we were having up here. I also mentioned that we needed a few nice, wet spring snowstorms since the winter has been kind of dry. Well, I got my wish. Except, it was all in one storm. Two weeks ago we had a snowstorm that dumped about 3 feet or more of wet, heavy spring snow. In some places there is still over a foot of snow on the ground. It’s great for the garden, but not so great when you have to shovel all that wet stuff. And now, today, there is thunder with a 60% chance of rain. It’s definitely spring in Colorado…….if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change.
I did make it out to the greenhouse to check on the greens I planted 3 weeks ago. I planted some butter lettuce, microgreens, mesclun mix and chard in the containers in the greenhouse. They were just a bit drought stressed, but they seem to be doing well. And some of the peas that I planted outside in the walls o’ water are finally sprouting. They’ve been protected from the coldest temps, which is good. I also have some parsnips seeds/seedlings that held over from last summer and they are starting to grow as well. I can’t tell if the daffodils and lupines are in good shape, they are still covered in snow.
Looks like it will be a couple of weeks before I can do much else out in the garden. I need to wait for the snow to melt, the soil to dry out a bit so I don’t compact it when walking through the garden. Looks like I’ll have time to make some more potato cages and get ready for when I can get out to plant.
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The last couple of weekends up here have been unusually warm for this time of year. In fact, I think this is the warmest I have seen it this early since we’ve lived up at this elevation. Last weekend I cleaned up all the pots on the deck so I could put out some annuals later this spring. I tried to go out in the garden, but it was too wet to do anything. This weekend, I figured it was time to get out and inspect the garden to see if the soil had dried a bit and what, if anything, I could do. Turns out…..quite a bit for March.
I cleaned out the greenhouse, getting it ready to move new plants in in a couple of months. I need to get out today and repair the plexiglass that broke out over the winter. Luckily, the pieces that came off, came off in one piece and did not break up, so they are reusable.
I noticed the lupines and daffodils around the greenhouse are starting to come up. I think it’s a bit early for them, so hopefully we won’t get any really bad storms. The bearded iris are starting to nose up as well. I hope they do well since the deer discovered them last year and ate the leaves. I thought that they were mostly deer-proof, but apparently not much is totally deer-proof up here.
In the big garden, the iris are starting to come up. The garlic that I planted last fall is starting to show a few stems here and there. I cleaned out the pea stems from last year and actually planted new peas in the walls o’ water. The soil is not frozen anywhere in the garden which is most unusual for this time of year. I also got some daffodil bulbs last November but it was too late to plant them out in the garden at that time so I overwintered them in the garage. They got a good chilling period so when I planted them out yesterday, they were starting to produce stems and should produce some nice flowers in about a month or so.
I still hope we get some nice spring snows up here. The added moisture will help, otherwise it will be a really long spring/summer up here. And I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. We’ll have to wait and see.
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This weekend, I harvested my garlic. I turned the water off to the bed that they were in last weekend so the soil would start to dry a bit and I could get the garlic out of the ground. The German Brown garlic was very prolific, but produced the smallest bulbs. The Nootka Rose didn’t produce as much but the bulbs were bigger than the German Browns. The biggest bulbs were from the Island Rocambole, Siberian and Bzenc. They are now curing in the garage for the next week or two and then it will be time to snip the greens off and get them into storage.
Complete Garlic Harvest
I need to start looing at garlic to plant for next year. I’ll need to plant about the first week of September in order to get a decent harvest next year. Maybe I’ll get some different varieties to try this year.
I harvested a couple of tubes of potatoes this weekend. Neither of them had a label, so I figured I would go ahead and pull those and see what they are. Looks like they might be Desiree and Nicola. One tube was a light redskin potato and the other was a white skin. I think this weekend will be the last big drink the rest of the potatoes are getting. I need to let the tubers size up and the foliage dieback so I figure I should be able to harvest the rest of the potatoes in about 2-3 weeks, provided we don’t get much more rain up here.
I finally got the apple trees planted. They are a cold hardy rootstock, but I don’t know what the fruit will taste like. These are just little whips so it will be several years before they even think about flowering. They need a few weeks in the ground before it starts getting cold up here. I hope they survive. My goal is to graft other varieties onto this particular rootstock once this rootstock gets established.
And last, but not least, I put mulch on the roses and irises that I transplanted a month or so ago. I actually have a flower on one of the roses and with consistent watering after transplanting, they are putting on new growth. I need to start thinking about cutting back on the water in order to let them harden off for the winter. I really would like them to survive.
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