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How To Grow a Organic Garden in High Elevation

Growing your own vegetables is an exceptionally rewarding experience that likewise pays you back with fresh food! To get the finest outcomes and to decrease disappointment, you must understand how to garden for your place. Whether you’re a beginner garden enthusiast or just brand-new to gardening in Colorado, this guide will help you get the most from your efforts.
Gardening is Fun
Gardening in Colorado
Colorado Gardening Rewards

How to Get going with Your Colorado Garden

Understand Your Colorado Growing Season

When planning a Colorado garden, the regional climate and how it impacts the growing season is one of the primary things to keep in mind. The state includes a variety of microclimates and 9 different growing zones, which suggests specific plants may grow well in some parts of the state and not in others.

While there are distinctions, the majority of Colorado has a much shorter growing season as compared to warmer, lower altitude locations. The typical elevation throughout the state is 6,800 feet above water level, and for every single 1000 feet acquired, the temperature drops around 3.5 degrees. Gardeners at lower elevations get the benefit of a warmer, longer growing season and will have the ability to grow more types of vegetables. There are exceptions though, such as in valleys, which are frequently chillier than hillside places due to the sinking of cool night air.

With all that in mind, it is very important to understand where your garden falls on the Plant Hardiness Zone Map, and in basic, you will have the most success if you grow plants that are labeled as growing well in your particular zone.

Garden Beets
Peppers Doing Well in Colorado Garden
Colorado Garden Plant After May 15th

Understand the Weather condition

As soon as you have a concept of your environment and growing zone, you must also recognize that Colorado weather condition provides a distinct set of challenges that you’ll need to contend with if you want your garden to prosper. Gardening in a high altitude, mountainous area implies you’ll be dealing with reasonably low humidity, high intensity sunlight, and in some cases quick and severe weather changes. For example, even Denver, which is understood for hot summer days, can still experience cool spells within the growing season that may interrupt plant development. In addition, conditions can vary from being really dry to extremely damp, and hail storms near completion of summertime can damage plants simply as they’re nearing the harvest date.

When growing in this area, you ought to remain vigilant about checking the weather condition and safeguard plants accordingly. It can be extremely rewarding to invest in things like row covers, hoop tunnels, shade cloth, and wind breaks, as they can help protect your plants against severe or rapidly altering weather.

Late April Snowfall

Late April Snowfall

Late snow in Colorado is all too common. Do not push the start date, it’s not worth it and you’ll have plenty of time in the fall to harvest.

Decide What Plants to Grow

When you have actually identified your growing season and comprehend how the local weather might affect things, you’ll have a more practical idea of what plants you can grow successfully in your location. With that in mind, make a list of all the vegetables you want to grow for the specific season, taking into consideration the space you’ll have in the garden. If you’re starting in the early spring, you can grow some cool-weather plants in the beginning of the season and put out some warm-weather veggies soon after.

Heirloom Seeds
Strawberries do well in Colorado
Pre Grown Plant Makes Things Easy

About 80% of the plants you see in this garden were grown using seeds from They specialize in seeds that are cold-tolerant, short-season ranges, perfect for our high-altitude Colorado garden. And not only that, but they use treasure seeds and information on seed conserving so you can preserve your favorite garden ranges year after year. SeedsTrust Rainbow Blend Carrots ( as you can see from the picture below). Below are a few of the most popular cool and warm-season crops that can grow well in Colorado

Rainbow Blend Carrots in our High-Altitude Colorado GardenCool-Season Crops in Colorado.


  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Chard
  • Cabbage
  • Parsnips
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Leeks
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Warm-Season Crops in Colorado


  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Corn
  • Squash
  • Melons
  • Eggplant
  • Prepare a Garden Site

You must start preparing your garden well before it’s in fact time to start growing vegetables. Start with a few plants that you can easily deal with, so you can get an idea of what you’re capable of managing and how things grow in your area.

In our place in the foothills (6,000 ft) we have a great deal of deer. A routine garden wouldn’t cut it, we needed walls. Here’s a take a look at our structure process for a deer-proof garden.

Keeping The Deer Out

Picking the Garden Spot
Getting Your Garden Started
Digging the Holes
Preparing the Garden Walls
Further Colorado Garden Preparation
Raised Garden Bed Materials
Raised Bed Garden
Dig Deep to Keep Bunnies Out
Wrapping Welded Wire to Keep Deer Out

Garden in Colorado

They’re charming however they’ll consume all your tough work.

Tips on Selecting an Excellent Garden Area

Keep the Deer Out Gardening

Select a website that gets at least 6 to 8 hour of sun daily (numerous warm-season vegetables love even more hours of sunshine).

  • Choose a location near your house for hassle-free tending and watering.
  • If growing warm-season crops, select the hottest area on the property (typically on the south side or near your house, which radiates heat).
  • Garden Soil Preperation
Mulch Helps to Retain Water
Garden Sunflowers
High Elevation Gardening

As soon as you have your site picked, you’ll require to get the soil all set for planting by doing the following:

Collect any lawn or plants within the website.

  • Till the soil to loosen it (this can be done by hand or with a maker).
  • While tilling, add in organic matter or garden compost which will enhance the soil and provide nutrients for the veggies. A basic guideline for adding compost or natural product is to integrate 1 inch of it for each 4 inches of soil.
  • Much of Colorado has alkaline, clay soils, so it’s likely that you’ll require to amend your soil with a great offer of raw material to both loosen it and to lower the pH. The majority of vegetables choose a pH in between 6.5 and 7, and natural matter is great at lowering the pH, particularly over time.

Choose In Between Raised Beds or an In-Ground Garden

Selecting in between raised beds versus growing in-ground is mainly a matter of personal preference. This one advantage can make all the distinction if you’re in a location with a much shorter than typical growing season.

Another advantage of utilizing a raised bed in Colorado is that you do not need to compete with potentially bad, clay-filled soil. You merely fill the beds with the optimum amount of dirt and natural material from the start and enjoy loose, oxygenated soil without worrying about extensive tilling or changes.

The significant disadvantage of utilizing raised beds is that they can be costly to both fill and build with soil. In contrast, you might in theory clear a location in your lawn and include homemade garden compost to it with virtually no cost.

Early Garden Growth
Gardening in Colorado

An excellent compromise is to utilize raised beds for your warm-weather veggies and plant your cool-season crops straight in the ground, considering that they’re more tolerant to cold soil.

When Do I Plant My Colorado Garden?

The majority of vegetables grow best on frost-free soil, so among the first things every garden enthusiast ought to know is the very first and last frost dates for their area. Simply put, on what date in the spring does frost stop revealing up on the ground and on what date in the fall does it reappear. Naturally, these dates are always an approximation and are various throughout the state, however in the majority of Colorado, the last frost date falls somewhere in between May 15th and 30th and the first frost date is around September 15th however can get here in early August for some locations in greater elevations (above 7,500 feet).

For spring gardens, you can plant some kinds of cold sturdy veggies a few weeks before the last frost date, however warm-season crops need to just go outside after all threat of frost has passed. There are many online sources for discovering your last and very first frost date, so make sure to bear in mind of those times when preparing your garden, and read seed packages to discover when it’s safe to put a specific plant exterior.

Frost-Hardy Veggies (Good & & Bad).

High Elevation Gardening
Late April Snow

Here’s a fast guide to some of the most and least frost-hardy vegetables. Use it as a basic standard when deciding when to plant what veggies:.

Really Frost Hardy.

( good for early spring, spring, and fall gardens).


  • Lettuce.
  • Collards.
  • Spinach.
  • Mustard.
  • Turnips.
  • Radish.
  • Cabbage.
  • English Peas.
  • Broccoli.
  • Brussels sprouts.
  • Parsley.
  • Semi-frost hardy.

( can handle light frosts, helpful for spring and fall gardens).


  • Swiss chard.
  • Celery.
  • Carrot.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Potatoes.
  • Lettuce.
  • Not Frost-Hardy.

( need temps of 65 to 90 degrees to grow, great for high spring and summertime gardens).


  • Peppers.
  • Eggplant.
  • Beans.
  • Cucumbers.
  • Corn.
  • Summer season Squash.
  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Melons.
  • Pumpkins.
  • Southern Peas.
  • Eggplant.
  • Plant Within & & Plant Early.

Where to Start Seeds (inside or outdoors).

Preparing Plants for Colorado Garden
Prepare Your Garden Inside

The majority of packages will list all the most important info you require to know for growing the plant, such where to start the seed, when to plant, how much light it needs, etc

. In Colorado, it can be a clever concept to start warm season crops inside (about 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost) to ensure they get a long enough growing time. Kale, collards, mustards, and other greens are among the most tolerant to cold weather condition (they even taste sweeter in the cold), so you can feel comfy sowing those straight outdoors early in the growing season.

How to Extend Your Colorado Growing Season.

Cooler weather condition and late frosts in parts of Colorado can cut weeks or months off the growing season. In addition to starting some seeds indoors, you can counteract this and extend your growing season by utilizing one or more of these ideas:.

Fun Snack Garden Peas
Colorado Garden Growth
Tomatos and Zucchini

Cover the soil with black plastic and/or mulch to assist keep it warm.

  • Usage raised beds.
  • Plant frost-tolerant veggies early.
  • Plant cool-weather crops as soon as soil temperature levels enable.
  • If there’s a chance of late frost, secure plants by covering them. These items have greater upfront costs, but can include months to both your spring and fall growing seasons.
  • Last Tips for Growing Vegetables in Colorado.
  • 1. Usage mulch around the plants.

Due to the fact that the environment is thin at high altitudes, water evaporates faster. A layer of mulch around the plants can help keep moisture in and avoid the soil from drying out as fast.

Getting Children to Help in the Garden
Garden Rewards
Gardening Rewards

2. Search for fast growing varieties of plants.

The days to collect information on numerous seed packets is checked in warmer, lower elevation conditions and might not be completely precise for your place. Select seeds types with the least days to harvest.

3. Search for ranges explained as cold-tolerant..

Inspect seed packets for attributes like cold tolerant, reputable in cool weather, productive, or vigorous. These must have the best possibility of making it through any unseasonable cold-spells and should reach maturity within the growing season.

In general, mountain gardens will have the very best luck with cool season crops and might even have a harvest that goes beyond gardens at lower elevations. Successful gardening is largely about welcoming what is understood to grow well in your area and not trying to require plants that are more matched to different environments.

Gardeners at lower elevations get the advantage of a warmer, longer growing season and will be able to grow more types of veggies. Even Denver, which is known for hot summer days, can still experience cool spells within the growing season that may disrupt plant advancement. When you’ve determined your growing season and understand how the regional weather might influence things, you’ll have a more sensible concept of what plants you can grow successfully in your area. If you’re starting in the early spring, you can grow some cool-weather plants in the beginning of the season and put out some warm-weather veggies soon after.

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