Quandary talks Summit County planting | SummitDaily.com

Quandary talks Summit County planting

The planting season is very short in Summit County, and not all types of flowers or plants will thrivel at high altitude. Columbines, lupines and Oriental poppies tend to do well, however.
Jessica Smith / jsmith@summitdaily.com |

I’m beginning to develop spring fever. I would like to have a garden this year. What fruits, vegetables and flowers grow at this altitude?

— Green Thumb

Spring does seem to have sprung, but you might want to rein yourself in a bit. As anyone who’s been here at least a year knows, we still very well might get another heavy snowstorm before the sunshine really stays. A conversation with members of the Summit County Gardening Club was very enlightening as to what you can expect for your growing days. Basically, enjoy them while they’re here. Summit’s growing season lasts only 30 days and is rather fickle about which plants will and won’t survive.

Variety is a little on the limited side at this altitude, but wildflowers like columbines, lupines and Oriental poppies all do well. If you need more information about which plants will flourish, check with any of Summit’s five local nurseries or the Colorado State University Extension Service for a full list of hardy plants.

As soon as the ground is soft enough and free of snow, start digging into your soil and adding nutrients. Good additives include alfalfa pellets, which you can get at pet supply stores, and compost. For your composting needs you are welcome to make your own mixture or purchase some at the landfill. Fertilizers might also be helpful.

Don’t think that if you take the time to do all of this once you’re done. Each year your ground needs to be provided for and shown some tender love and care to make sure it reciprocates.

Once you’ve put in all the work, you can actually start planting outside; unfortunately, that won’t be until around Father’s Day. Trying to get ahead of the curve just means you are going to lose a lot of soldiers and spend a lot of time at Lowes replacing your fallen friends.

Now for the saddest part of your story — and the happiest of mine. Once all of your tasty veggies and fragrant flowers peek out of the soil, there are plenty of animals willing to enjoy the feast.

Some people purchase products that are pretty effective against deer and rabbits, but have a high amount of chemicals, and do you really want to do that to us sweet little woodland creatures? You might also try using urine to scent around your garden and scare off some critters. (I don’t mean your urine, though; try something else in the predator chain.)

Then there are the voles. Watch out for those jerks; they give the rest of us a bad name and pop up in droves everywhere. If you have a hound with a nose for the ground, you might be able to pick off a few and terrify the others, but again this is only so effective. Old Quandary has also heard of using a garden hose and car exhaust to do your dirty work, but then you must live with what you’ve done.

Whatever you do, Terry with the Garden Club stresses patience and keeping your expectations low.

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