Wednesday, June 09, 2010

High Altitude Gardening, part 1

It's June 9th, and my garden looks like this:

Even worse, I didn't take a picture of all the weeds, which I've been laboring mightily to clear out today. The soil is quite poor, but I'm too cheap to buy more top soil right now, so I'm just working with what I've got: a hoe, some gardening gloves, and a little muscle (probably a little more after today).

I've been semi-consciously ignoring my weeds. I've loved gardening in the past, but last year in January we moved to a new home, located conveniently for cool summers at 6300 feet. Not so convenient for gardening, as the growing season is chopped off about a month or so on each end. Last year's endeavors were a waste. My one hope was for my herbs, but I planted them before we were into full summer and discovered too late that they weren't near any sprinkler system. Luckily I have very hearty thyme, curly parsley, and strawberries that love it here, whether they've been loved or not. I'm a big fan of thyme, so this is pleasing. My garden spot that I cleared from a few bushes, lava rocks, and lots of weeds ended up being the wettest spot in the yard, and it was a wet spring. Nothing lived.

I'm not giving up. In fact, I was excited to plant my spring seeds (peas, in the pod and to be podded, and lettuce) early on. We'd lent our hoe out, though I didn't know it, and I just had a hand cultivator, so I didn't do much with the soil. I just pulled a few weeds and made a quick row, then my kids helped me add the seeds to the ground, cover them, and water them. That was April 14, give or take a couple of days. It snowed within 2 days, so the seeds didn't come up.

And then it warmed up for a fews, but then it snowed again. The pattern kept repeating, and we finally got our last bout of snow (I hope?) two weeks ago. About six inches. They melted very quickly.

My seeds never came up, so I knew I'd eventually just replant them. Only I was wrong! They came up this week – two months after I planted them! I found them today when I was weeding. How is it that the weeds had grown so quickly and so tall when my little seeds were just sprouting? Ah, I know, that is the life of the weed. In any case, I was thrilled.

However, I looked at the sky and noticed I had 10 or 15 minutes left before it rained, so I quickly finished hoeing the weeds then raked them away. I stuffed them into a garbage bag just as the first drops were falling on my back.

Then my kids gathered on the front porch with the neighbors to enjoy the cool wind and the rain. With blankets and creamsicles. Listening to Taylor Swift.
Why am I posting about gardening? Well, it's my food blog, and my garden contributes to my food, and I think this growing season may turn out to be a bit frustrating. I may need an outlet for venting, so I'm just preparing y'all.

Tomorrow, I'm going to finally post a full how-to on sourdough bread. I'm guessing the post won't be short. Here's my teaser:
Yes, those are my real hands, and no, I'm not a paid hand model. Thanks for asking!


Heidi said...

I don't garden, Andrew does and he is excellent at it. He has an amazing green thumb.

Seth said...

I do medium altitude gardening. Actually I haven't read your post yet, but I wanted to comment and let you know that I'm excited you're blogging again! Looking forward to many more posts!

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

What I find works for depleted soil is to mix in a bunch of dried cow poop and also blood n bone. Of course you have to have loosened up the soil to do that... The other thing is you can grow all those you mentioned in pots. Half cow poop and half potting mix with a scoop of blood n bone. Grows pretty much anything!

Interesting planting down here. My peas just sprouted --it's early winter here! And you can get 3 or 4 years out of a chilli plant! You wouldn't believe the winter haul I'll have soon of really hot (close to habenero hot) chillis!

I imagine I'd have just as much to learn about high altitude gardening as I did have to learn about Southern Hemisphere gardening!

Anyways, mix a bunch of dried cow poop and blood n bone in your depleted soil, it's great for growing anything.

Oh, I can get the dried cow poop by the 30 litre bag here, the blood n bone mix is usually sold in a 10 litre bag. I'm sure the garden centers there should have something like that.