High-Altitude Gardening | Mountain West Farm Bureau

Overcoming the Challenges of High-Altitude Gardening

Gardening in high altitudes carries with it its own challenges. It is possible, however, to grow the garden of your dreams in high altitudes.


Planting, nurturing, and harvesting your own fruits and vegetables can be quite the task. Each species of plant requires something a little different: a little more sun for this one, a cage around this one, marigolds to deter the rabbits. Gardening in high altitudes carries with it its own challenges. (Exactly when is that last frost of the season, after which you're supposed to plant those tender tomatoes?) It is possible, however, to grow the garden of your dreams in high altitudes. There are just a few things you need to consider:

First, do your research.

There are many things to take into consideration when gardening in any region, but here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What is your specific area's climate like? Can you find the average date for the last frost of the season?
  • How acidic is your soil?
  • What kind of climate and soil do your little sprouts need?
  • Is it possible to start the seedlings inside for a longer period of time, waiting out that final frost of the season?
  • Are there little critters lurking about who can't wait to chow down on those sprouts you've meticulously cared for? What can you do to prevent them from eating your garden?
  • When do you need to plant your garden? (Visit Garden.org for advice on when to plant your specific plants of choice! They'll give you the average dates for when to start your seedlings inside, when to transplant them outside, the amount of time specific plants need, and more!)

Simply taking a few minutes to research what you need to get started seriously increases your chances of success when gardening in high altitudes.

Second, understand how much time you've got.

Since the summers in high altitude locations tend to be shorter, that means the growing season can be shorter, too. Even if you plant after the last frost and have a perfect summer, if your plants haven't matured before the first frost hits it will likely kill them. (For example, in Southeastern Wyoming the frost-free growing season averages around 81 days: June 13-September 2. If your summer fruits require longer than that to produce, you may need to start them inside a few weeks early to protect them from a late frost.)

Third, be patient.

As many regular gardeners will tell you, not every year produces the perfect harvest. Some years can really be a dud, while others leave you with so many zucchini you end up giving them away as gifts. Whatever your experience may be, don't give up! A less-than-fruitful garden this year teaches you how to prepare better for next year. So keep your chin up; your thumb will be plenty green in no time!

Source: Garden.org

In good health,

Your friends at Mountain West

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