Winter Squash at High Altitude

Cranberry Squash diffuseAs I pulled up the driveway and into the garage, I noticed a large object in a plastic grocery bag, nestled against the front door. Upon inspection, I realized it was a Kabocha squash. What was it doing on my doorstep? My first guess proved correct—our elderly neighbor, a former master gardener, had grown it and was showing off his gardening prowess by sharing his harvest with us.

I was quite impressed. We live at an altitude of about 7,000 feet and long-season veggies don’t have time to mature during our short growing season. Still, the evidence was right in front of me. Somehow, Oscar had managed to grow a (very delicious) Kabocha squash. I was determined to do likewise.

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Don’t Shock Your Plants

shocked bean plantAfter waiting your turn for the shower, you finally get your chance. You turn on the water, adjust the temperature, and step under the warm spray… which suddenly turns freezing cold as the hot water heater runs out of water. Yikes!

We don’t enjoy a sudden dousing of icy water. Neither do our plants. They may not look startled (how does a bean plant look startled?), but the cold water abruptly chills the soil and slows their growth. Since our growing season here in Colorado is often too short to begin wth, pouring cold water on our plants is to be avoided.

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Sky-High Pumpkins

ian-with-pumpkin-2010-10-31Cinderella rode to the ball in one. Peter kept his wife in another. At Halloween, we carve them into jack-o-lanterns. Today, we make pies* out of them.

Besides all that, pumpkins are nutritious (lots of Vitamin A, potassium, and fiber), delicious, and just plain fun. It’s not surprising, then, that I get so many questions on how to grow them.

Living at 7,000 feet as I do, pumpkins aren’t a sure bet in my veggie plot. Gardeners at the other end of town, 1,000 feet lower, are able to produce enough pumpkins to make them commercially successful. Here, I have to baby them along and hope for a long growing season.

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