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August 3, 2011

Using my 10 x 12 hobby greenhouse, I do my best to garden at least a little from our high-altitude home in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Living at 8,200 feet above sea level, with such a short growing season, growing vegetables isn’t easy.

best dog blog, champion of my heart, high-altitude gardening photo
We pick fresh salads every night. Leafy greens? Those I can grow.


best dog blog, champion of my heart, zucchini photo
I'm the only person I know who struggles to grow zucchini. The greenhouse means having to pollinate by hand, and if you don't to it right, the first day the female blossom opens, you've failed from the get-go. So far, we've only had 1 female blossom open at the same time as 1 male blossom.


best dog blog, champion of my heart, garden photo
The top tier bed features (front to back) peppers, kale, spinach, lettuce. All doing great. The bottom tier (not shown) has some pathetic green beans, tiny ochra, and tiny squash plants that likely won't produce much if at all.


best dog blog, champion of my heart, tomato plant picture
We had a few tomatoes ripen early. Now, we're hoping all the green ones ripen up before first frost.
best dog blog, champion of my heart, straw bale gardening
I got the idea about using staw bales as planting beds from Attainable Sustainable. It didn't work well for me. These are 2-month old squash. Teeny tiny.

I felt better when Attainable Sustainable posted about straw bale gardening failure there too, and we’re talking Hawaii … entirely different (and I’d argue better) climate.

Do tell … how is your garden doing this year?

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. You’re having a much better year than us. Granted, our stuff is growing, but something keeps eating it. We believe it’s a possum. He doesn’t seem to have an appetite for cucumbers, though.. we’ve got plenty of those that have been left untouched.

  2. Wow, Roxanne! I am at the same elevation as you, and my garden pales by comparison. It’s an outdoor raised bed garden, and I only attempt easy stuff like greens, radishes, and carrots. I am very jealous of the greenhouse!!!

    I saw that you “liked” my comment to the CTR mtb racer. Maybe you remember that story from my blog? It was the start of K’s toe saga… (by absolutely no fault of that mtb rider). He was such a nice guy (and so gentle with K) that I hope that I’ve found him and can cheer for him in the race!

    1. The greenhouse makes all the difference, KB. We bought it used from a family member, so it wasn’t crazy expensive. I’m SO thankful to have it.

      Yes, I saw your note on FB. I hope that’s the same guy. did I ever tell you that my (former) sister-in-law set the women’s running record for the Colorado Trail? She got a little delirious for a while running that far every day at altitude, but she ran the whole thing years ago.

  3. I had an avid tomato gardner tell me that if you pick all the green tomatoes and bring them in before the first frost, they will ripen in the house. It seemed to work the year that I tried it.

    I really like your top tier planter. What did you use for the base underneath the garden soil?

      1. Thank you, that would be great. It looks like a really good gardening system.

        This year, I’m just using containers (pots), but it would be nice to have a larger area. And I need to keep it high enough so that the dogs don’t pee on everything.

  4. Laughing at the zucchini problem (just a little!!), but hand pollination would make that more difficult. Or you know … almost impossible.

    Tomatoes are starting to come in for me … the little ones (grape tomatoes this year) are allll over the place. Still waiting for the bigger ones.

    The one time I tried to grow lettuce didn’t work out well. Well, not for me. But every little bunny in the neighborhood was sure glad!

    1. Laugh away, Jess … The first year we had all male blossoms. Not a single female. The next couple years, we had both sexes, but the squashes would grow a bit and fail. This is really my first one that I pollinated right, I guess, because it grew well. I’ve had 3-4 others fail this year … because we had no “mature” male blossoms when the female ones were ready. See … it happens in nature too, not just in human relationships (smirk).

      We had some rogue lettuce last year (outside the greenhouse). I must have bushed my hands off outside with seeds on them. But, our local bunnies didn’t eat it. Very strange.

  5. Nice! That green pepper looks lovely. Sigh, it’s a challenge to grow anything up here. I miss my veggies and perennial flower gardens back east, it’s all container gardening now. Two teeny tomatoes are ripening and we do very well with hot peppers. My consumptive thai basil somehow came back from the brink and is now flourishing!

    1. Thanks @ Ruby’s Raiser … I bought the pepper and tomato plants already quite big and with blooms and/or items growing. There is just no way with our short growing season to get there from seed. So, that pepper was already formed when I bought the plant. When I thought it was big enough to eat, we picked it. :o)

  6. Great job Roxanne! I failed miserably at growing anything at 8500 ft. I must admit I am loving my lower altitude garden this year. Tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, peppers, basil, thai basil, chives, oregano. All doing well despite some holes from the hail.

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