WHAT GROWS HERE AND WHAT DOES NOT
This will now be my 3rd year gardening at 9,000 feet. After some trial and error, I’ve chosen only to grow the things that will grow well in the outdoor garden, and use my limited greenhouse space in the summer for a few favorites while saving some room for early fall planting there. Some of the vegetables that grow very well have not been my favorites (kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, rutabagas) but since they do grow well here and are good for us I’m learning to like them more and cook them in new ways.
Our last frost date in spring to the first frost date in the fall is about 92 days. I carefully select only the varieties that boast the shortest maturity period. Nothing grows as fast as promised. If the seed packet indicates 60 days, in most cases it will be 80-100. For example, I planted Masai Hericots Verts bush beans with a maturity range of 58 days. I harvested them about 88 days after planting. Often, seed varieties boast that they are well-suited for northern climates. I’d thought that those would also work well in high altitudes, but no. We do not get as many sunshine hours in the day as do northern areas in the summer. I believe that this, in addition to our cool nights, slows down the growth of many plants.
Here is a list of what grows well and what does not.
WHAT GROWS WELL OUTDOORS
- broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, bok choy & all brassicas
- lettuce, spinach, chard and a variety of other greens to be eaten fresh or sauteed
- root vegetables such as beets, rutabagas, turnips, radishes and carrots
- herbs such as parsley, cilantro, thyme, sage, oregano, dill
WHAT GROWS SO-SO (I do still grow these outdoors, but they’re not the best)
- onions (they don’t get big and the season is too short & cool for them to bulb well, but after a successful experiment last year I’m giving them another try)
- summer squash (they need covering early on when it’s cold, and help with pollination)
- winter squash (So far I’ve had only one variety that actually produced squash, Gold Nugget, and it did not taste good. I’m determined to get some winter squash to grow based on the success of some other local gardeners, so I am trying two new varieties this year.)
- bush beans (a smaller yield than in warmer climates, but they are suitable)
- celery (got some thin celery last year, am trying one more time)
WHAT I PROBABLY WON’T ATTEMPT OUTDOORS AGAIN
- tomatoes or peppers (they just began to ripen when the fall frosts began, even though they were faithfully covered each night)
- corn (tried an Alaskan variety bred for short, cool seasons, but it did not produce)
- dry beans (it froze before I had a chance to harvest these)
- cauliflower (grew very spindly, did not make a good head)
WHAT I GROW IN THE SUMMER GREENHOUSE
- winter squash – still on trial one more time outdoors