Raspberries At 9,759 Foot Elevation

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
article image

In my earlier post on wild strawberries I had no idea that we would be in a seasonal drought.  Our area has been in a total fire ban due to extreme dryness and wind since the snow has melted up until now.  From initial indications the strawberry patch appeared as if it would be an excellent year for the tasty berries.  We ended up with two strawberries each for the entire season.  Maybe next year will be better but I have heard next year may be the same way so the forecast is not looking good. 

Now it is time for raspberries.  What a different story they are this year from the wild strawberries.  We have had two nice steady rainstorms in the past month and because I planted the raspberries right next to the house where the rain comes off the roof and waters the bushes we have an abundance of raspberries.  When I first planted the nursery plants I planted 6 of them.  Two lived, which at our elevation is actually quite good.  Those two have grown into a full size patch and are now producing very well as the  photo shows.  I planted 4 nursery grown rhubarb plants this year and two managed to live.  We are much closer to the sun than most people and I can protect the vegetables with a sun screen to help them grow, but not the other plants like the raspberry which grow pretty high, so only the most hearty survive.  

Gardening at high elevation (9,750′) has it own unique set of challenges.  First, you never know what will grow this high, and second if it will withstand the direct sunlight.  Also, we have many critters like chipmunks, voles, mice, ground and tree squirrels, not to mention many species of birds.  Thus far, we have shared our raspberries about 50/50,  with the ground squirrels and chipmunks.  I planted gooseberry and current bushes nearby to distract the little critters, and that has worked to a degree but not completely. (we don’t use the currents or gooseberries)  The larger animals have not bothered the garden because it is right next to the house and I’m sure our dogs are a big help in keeping them away from the house.  

Vegetables are in enclosed garden boxes to protect them.  Because of the drought we have had to water them daily, and therefore have been enjoying fresh salad on a daily basis.  Leaf vegetables grow well at our altitude but anything with a growing period longer than 60 days is very iffy.  I’m hoping the two tubs of potatoes will produce this year, but it is getting down to 50 degrees at night so they may not grow to full size. The cucumber plants have not shown signs of any production yet and past efforts have all failed, however,  being the stubborn person I am, I keep trying different ways.  

In the meantime we will enjoy our raspberries on our cereal in the morning and be happy with the fact that we at least have them and the rhubarb.  We ended up with several rhubarb pies this year.  Nothing better than a fresh made rhubarb pie if you ask me. 

To see more on high mountain living go to our personal blog site at:  www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com