How to start growing veggies at altitude
Here in Nederland, if you’re growing outside, it is wise to grow vegetables and herbs that have no more than a 90-day season. We recommend planting high-altitude, pollinator-friendly, non-GMO, certified organic seeds. We recommend the following seed companies: Botanical Interests, Seeds Trust, Seed Savers, BBB Seeds. When planting, follow the package directions carefully. Keep an eye on the germination process. Some seeds can rot if the soil remains too wet and cold, or they can bake in hot conditions. Store left-over seeds in a cool, dry place where they may remain viable for years.
Vegetables & herbs Successfully Grown at 8,230′ Elevation
- Swiss Chard
- Snow Peas
Successfully grown in a Greenhouse, Hoop House, or Inside
To get a jump on the growing season, grow “starts” indoors from seeds. You can do this in small plastic pods. Use good soil and be sure there is adequate warmth and light. Wait for the starts to grow to 3-4 inches. You want them to look vibrant. At that point you can “harden” them off by taking them outside for short periods of time before planting them in the ground. Keep an eye on them. At first, keep them outside for only two hours a day. Then gradually increase the time they are outside. By all means, bring them inside at night if there is a threat of frost.
Use healthy soil. You can amend local soil with nutrient-rich organic compost, mushroom compost, worm castings or cured manure. We recommend non-till farming methods in order to nurture a healthy soil ecology. The healthier the soil, the less water is required.
At this elevation, we suggest planting outside between the new moon and full moon in June. Some varieties of greens, including arugula, mustard greens, spinach and kale, can be planted and harvested up to three times per year. Grow in a hoop house or greenhouse, if possible. This will lengthen the growing season, slow evaporation, and protect against hail, wind, and harsh sunlight.
To protect against voles, attach strong wire mesh to the bottom of your 12 inch high (or more) raised bed to prevent access from below. To protect your garden against dogs or browsing deer, circle your growing area with fencing. Pinwheels and other kinetic devices may help against birds.
Other vegetables, herbs, grains, and fruits can be grown as well (currants, apples, quinoa, barley, carrots, turnips, cabbage, beets, borage, etc.). A big part of the fun of growing is discovering what different crops you can successfully grow. Every year we try to grow something new just to see how we do with it.