Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

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.  foggy start 5.7.16

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.  first group of potatoes 5.7.16This 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. hail 5.7.16

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:  all potatoes out with snow 5.7.16

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:  potatoes covered with frost cloth 5.7.16

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 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 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.

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