Colorado has some of the most unique weather in the country. Pine Daisy House sits on the south side of a high altitude sloping ridge at 7300 feet of elevation. We average about 9 feet of snow each season with a garden zone of 4b/5a. We live on an almost completely treed lot with little areas that get full sun.
After years of talking about it, Mr. PDH and I are going to attempt a kitchen garden. I have scoured the internet, instagram, and facebook for help and ideas. I have found some great resources and I’ve loved sitting snuggled under the blanket with a hot drink, dreaming and making plans!
Colorado Garden Plan
The bulk of our plan centers around maximizing the area we have that is exposed to our great Colorado sunshine. We plan to either purchase or build two elevated raised beds (think raised bed on stilts) and some large containers to place in two areas. They’ll be placed on two large decks, one is south facing and the other west facing. One bed will go on the full sun deck with a couple barrels, and the other will go on the west facing for the partial sun.
Colorado and Mother Nature
With frost dates that are essentially June 1-October 1 we need to trick mother nature. Enter PVC pipe, and opaque garden plastic. We’ll build two low tunnels (or hoop houses) fitted to the elevated beds. We aren’t sure if we’ll mount them to wood frames with a hinge or secure them to the top of the beds somehow. Our teenager is our epic problem solver, so I may just buy him the supplies and say, “Go for it!” Seeds will be started inside toward the end of March and with the help of the tunnel we hope to put things in the ground by mid May. Confirming this information is my current topic of research. So if you have any definitive information please let me know in the comments!
Colorado Pine Trees and Soil
There are too many trees to count on our acre of forest so I’m not going to attempt to amend the soil. I’ve spent the last three summers working in vain to grow some ground cover and ornamental flowers to no affect. The pine tree needles can be acidic to the soil and the tree roots tend to drain out the nutrients. The elevated bed idea allows us to accomplish two things. First, we can totally control our soil and move or cover it to prevent tree foliage from interfering with its content. Next, raising the bed off the ground will give us the chance to warm up the soil quicker for early spring planting.
My Colorado Kitchen Garden Plan
Mr. PDH and I went back and forth and ultimately decided that we need to start simple and small this year. We are already biting off a chunk as we are creating two completely separate watering spaces to manage. Like most of our state, we consistently have watering limitations placed on our area each summer. Conserving water, and maximizing the rain we do get will be very important. One leafy green, one or two herbs, four veggies, one or two legumes, one berry, and one melon are currently on the plan. The expense of the beds, barrels, soil, hoses, drip systems, low tunnels, and then the actual seeds and plants themselves, will be enough for our pocketbooks to handle. Two of my co-workers are excellent local gardeners, we might seed swap with a neighbor, and we’ve got a great nursery and garden shop a few miles away.
February is already here and it’s so much fun researching and learning how to tackle this gardening project. Colorado is beautiful, rugged and majestic. I love it and wouldn’t trade where we live for anything. The winter of 2018 has been full of fun anticipation with what the year holds. Follow Pine Daisy House on instagram for daily updates about the goings on at home and in the garden.