Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Add to My MSN

Mountain Gardening And The Challenges

8/31/2012 1:12:24 PM

Tags: Garden boxes, short growing season, growing challenges., Bruce McElmurray

zuchinni 005

When it comes to asking questions about high altitude vegetable gardening, I am not the person to ask.  Attached are two photos of how I garden in raised boxes that are fully enclosed on all sides with ½” hardware screen. I should have used ¼” hardware screen.  Somehow the field mice still get through the half inch screen and nibble at my zucchini.  We have become used to sharing our zucchini with the mice but most people like them as they appear in the grocery store.  Not ours; they resemble pock marked zucchini of the tiny variety.  We have several holes in the ground around the raised garden boxes where ground squirrels tunnel under the boxes but the most they can get at  is the tender ends of the roots that grow below the wire screen.  If they keep that up I expect one day my raised boxes will go to submerged boxes.  They will just sink down in the ground.  

Between the ground squirrels, short growing season and limited water we are thankful for what we get.  Spinach and lettuce grow well at this altitude so we usually harvest two plantings due to their being fast growing.  We try to stagger planting so they don‘t all reach maturity at the same time. Sometimes we actually end up with more than we can eat in daily salads and have to freeze the remainder for later use.  
This time of year the nights are cool, rain is infrequent, and the days are warm so growing slows down considerably.  It was 40 degrees this morning when I woke up and will get to the low 70's later today. The zucchini may not ripen enough to harvest because of the short growing season.  Every gardener has their individual challenges but high altitude gardening spinach 004presents abnormal challenges.  Our mice grow fat and we harvest what is left for ourselves.  I keep hoping that they get so fat they can’t outrun the various raptors we have here, but they can get those little legs going pretty fast.  

We have a sizable raspberry patch but the chipmunks and ground squirrels end up with most of the fruit right along with the currents and the gooseberries.  If we get enough to have on one bowl of corn flakes that is what we consider a good year. Rhubarb is our strongest crop and we usually enjoy several nice pies each year.  

Our harvest is usually ongoing throughout the summer but if we get one good continuous harvest we consider ourselves fortunate.  We have seen bear standing on top of the garden boxes trying to figure out if it is worth while to rip them open or not.  The top of a couple of my garden boxes sag pretty good and I’ve had to replace staples to hold the screen in place. We have ruled out hiring 24 hour guards, digging a moat infested with alligators and laying a mine field.  If the field mice don’t get most of our crop, the occasional hail storms can do considerable damage.  We love fresh-grown vegetables and relish what we do get to eat ourselves.  Each year at this time I say to myself this is the last year, but then next winter when the seed catalogs start to arrive I forget that promise to myself.  Gardening at high altitude clearly has unique challenges but persistence pays a few dividends.  I have come to envy those photos of large zucchini, abundant lettuce and spinach and have come to the realization that just is not possible where we live.  If it is, I don’t have the answers to success yet.  

 
For more on mountain living and Bruce and Carol McElmurray go to: http://www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com   

 

 

 



Related Content

Country Style Strawberry Shortcake

Traditional, Country Style Strawberry Shortcake.

Abundance

Every natural environment is beautiful in ways we cannot imagine. We must preserve natural beauty fo...

No-Tool Raised Beds Get Gardens Started Quickly

For anyone who has ever wanted to build a raised garden bed, but didn't have the tools, know-how, ti...

Idealistically, Unrealistically

We could feed every hungry person tomorrow but we haven’t collectively decided to do so. In my beaut...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.