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How To Grow a Thriving Greenhouse In Colorado Climate (High Altitude Weather Gardening)

Gardening can be an extremely satisfying and rewarding activity, but what should you do when the weather conditions where you live aren’t ideal for gardening?

Failed crops aren’t fun, especially after you’ve put in time, effort and investment in a greenhouse.

To help you be successful with growing in your greenhouse despite Colorado climate and weather patterns, we’ve gathered a few ideas and tips from our customers. Hopefully, preparedness will catapult you to grow a thriving greenhouse in Colorado weather!

But first, let’s understand these challenges and how to overcome them:

1. Shorter Growing Season

Colorado has nine zones for growing because each zone differs in planting duration. The first thing you should identify is where you’re zoned. You can find out by googling “Plant Hardiness Zone Map in Colorado”. 

When looking for seeds or plants, there are specific ones that are labelled as suitable growers for your zone or cold tolerant.

One of our customers, Jami Hoekstra, purchased a Planta greenhouse to tackle this challenge: “Our growing season is short, sometimes only five weeks with no frost or snow so we hope to increase that”.

colorado growing map

 

2. Temperature

Colorado climate has a high altitude which means you will be dealing with low humidity, strong sunlight and instantaneous weather changes.

For every 1000 feet above sea level, the temperature can drop by around 3.5 degrees. There’s the exception of valleys where the temperature can drop even more at night.

Let’s take Denver as an example. It has plenty of hot summer days, however, the temperature can drop suddenly enough to affect your crops. Weather conditions can also change from very wet to extremely dry as well as hailstorms toward the end of summer which is enough for destroying high altitude vegetables that are close to harvesting.

“At 9,000 feet in central Colorado, there is no such thing as humidity. Yet, the greenhouse is tight and warms up in the day. We hope to grow more warm-weather crops like cucumbers and tomatoes and green beans.”

 

When you grow food in a greenhouse - the greenhouse serves as a protective shield against harsh weather conditions, and as a creator of humidity (which is essential for some crops).

Tips for Extending your Colorado Growing Season

  • To keep your soil warm, cover it with black plastic and/or mulch and make sure the black plastic has been perforated to help with irrigation.

  • To increase the soil temperature earlier in the year use raised beds.

  • Vegetables that are resistant to frost can be planted earlier as long as the soil is soft enough for roots to grow. Examples of veggies that are very tolerant to frost:
      • Broccoli
      • Brussels sprouts
      • Cabbage
      • Collards
      • English Peas
      • Kale
      • Lettuce
      • Mustard
      • Parsley
      • Radish
      • Spinach
      • Turnips
    • Plant cold-weather vegetables as soon as possible (according to the local weather for your region). Examples of cold weather veggies are:

      • Beets
      • Broccoli
      • Brussels sprouts
      • Cabbage
      • Carrots
      • Cauliflower
      • Chard
      • Kale
      • Leeks
      • Lettuce
      • Onions
      • Parsley
      • Parsnips
      • Peas
      • Potatoes
      • Radishes
      • Spinach
      • Turnips

    • To prevent frost damage, use old clean milk jugs, plastic cartons or plastic bags. You can also purchase frost blankets or row covers/ tunnels to help protect your vegetables.

    • If you’re into gardening for the long-term - hoop tunnels, cold frames, or a greenhouse can be great solutions. Yes, you’ll have to spend some money up-front, however, these will add months to the Colorado growing season for your spring or fall vegetable gardens.

     

    Ready to invest in a greenhouse to extend the growing season in Colorado weather? Check out Planta’s greenhouses

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