Cold Tolerant Planting

If you’re itching to get a start on the garden season, why not start now?

No matter what zone you fall under, seasons in Colorado are about as unpredictable as it gets. There are, however, plenty of frost-resistant vegetables that you can easily get going with minimal resources, and some of them even prefer a colder upbringing over the hours of spring and summer warmth that can make them bolt and compromise their flavor.

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We carry a full line of cold-hardy plant seeds from brands like: BBB, Lake Valley Seed Co, Renee’s Garden, and more!

Cold Tolerant Planting

As with any gardening endeavor, start with the soil.

Make sure the plot you want to grow in, whether it’s a raised bed or area of tilled ground, is healthy. If you’re not sure of your soil’s status, it probably needs work. Typically, healthful soil is dark in color but light in texture, so if necessary, add compost and/or manure to the native soil so you have a workable foundation of at least 6 inches of soil depth (8 to 12 inches is better–the more room you give the roots to expand, the bigger the plant will proportionally grow on top).

 After the soil is ready, it’s time to think about planting. Check out our Boulder-area outdoor planting guide for the best times to start seeds inside, as well as when to move root stock and transplants outside.
Leafy greens like spinach, lettuces, cabbage, kale and chard can be planted outside in the soil directly as seeds after March 15th, and probably sooner if under a cold frame (see below).  The seeds sprout quickly and the plants have quick growth cycles, so you’ll be enjoying fresh, crisp, flavorful salads sooner than you can believe!

March 15th also marks the date where root plants like garlic, onion sets, strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries and potatoes are safe to go outside (if you’d like to try potatoes this year, but don’t have a lot of space, check out this great potato tower design that lets you grow hundreds of pounds of spuds in 4-square-feet!)

Kale

We know, you either love it or you hate it.

 If you love it, you’ll be happy to know that this vitamin-packed superfood thrives in lower temperatures. If you’re not too fond of its flavor, check out this great article featuring inland gardeners from throughout the country (one is from Fort Collins) and their favorite 10 vegetables that are more cold-hardy than kale.

Cold Frames

ColdFrame_Sq

A PVC cold frame, easily built from every day hardware items.

Cold frames use the greenhouse effect to create a stable micro climate for plants to grow regardless of the fluctuating temperatures outside. And what’s better, you can build your own frame out of hardware parts!

Frames are great to keep plants safe during cold snaps and cloudy days, but remember to take them off or to leave a flap open for ventilation when it warms up, or the greenhouse effect could actually work against your plants and fry them during the day.

Of course, if you have any questions about your late winter and early spring plantings, you can always ask a Green Vest.