Cool season vegetables grow well here as well as short season ones.  These are the some of the vegetables that I have successfully grown in my Pine, CO garden:

1.  Lettuce.  All types of lettuce grow well in a high altitude garden. I grow my lettuce shaded by taller vegetables.  I mulch the lettuce with either grass clippings (hard to come by here as I have no grass to mow!) or old straw and water the plants at least once a week.  I always start my lettuce indoors and set out plants.  I have placed the seed directly in the garden but have not been able to get plants started this way.  The following table shows the lettuce varieties that I grow:

Type Variety Description
Head Ithaca small heads of the iceberg type
Head Crisphead larger heads of the iceberg type
   Romaine  Paris Island nice wide leaves
   Romaine  Green Towers taller with a nice taste
Boston Buttercrunch tender heads
Boston Elaine another tender variety
Boston Sangria a red butterhead variety
Leaf Salad Bowl rosettes of nice, green leaves
Leaf Red Sails grows circular and has a nice red color
Leaf Red Fire grows circular also but slightly bitter taste
Leaf Slobolt grows well in hot conditions

2.  Spinach and Swiss Chard  I have had excellent spinach and swiss chard from my garden.  The spinach varieties that I grow are: Savory, Tyee, Melody, and Winter Bloomsdale.  The swiss chard varieties that I grow are:  Fordhook Giant and Ruby Red.   I plant the seed directly in the garden in long rows spaced about 8 inches apart.  The seed is difficult to germinate and I have tried various methods including:

  • Putting the seed in the soil and watering every day.  The sun tends to dry the ground out every afternoon no matter how much I water and the germination is spotty.
  • Covering the seed beds with boards.  The boards hold the moisture in the ground and shade the soil.  This method works well but takes a lot of boards.   The boards must be checked every day for germination.  Eventually, the boards rotted and I needed another method.
  • Covering the seed beds with a loose mulch such as old straw and watering every day.  This works well as the mulch shades the soil, keeping it cooler, and holds in the moisture.  I am careful, however, to not mulch too heavily or the germinating plants won't be able to push through the mulch.
I have grown other types of greens successfully such as kale, mustard greens, and collards but I much prefer the spinach and swiss chard.

3.  Peas.  I grow three types of peas:  Oregon Giant, a snow pea, Sugar Ann, a sugar snap pea, and Lincoln, a regular pea.  I first put up a four foot high wire fence and then plant the seeds in 6 inch wide rows on either side of the fence, scattering the seeds evenly through the wide rows.  The wide rows allow me to have more plants per fence then a single row of seed, I get a larger harvest from the same space, and the plants shade each other better this way.

4.  Cole Crops.  Most years, cole crops do well but, in very hot, dry summers, these crops suffer no matter how much I water them.  I always start the plants indoors.  I mulch the cole beds either with straw or black plastic.  One year I grew the cabbage under remay and, while I had the largest heads ever, I also had so many aphids that the crop was uneatable.  Since then, I don't cover the plants.  The following table shows the type and varieties of cole vegetables that I grow:

Type Variety Description
head cabbage Polar Green grows well
head cabbage Bravo a hybrid variety
head cabbage Heads Up big heads
cone head cabbage Early Jersey Wakefield nice flavor
red cabbage Cardinal good red color
chinese cabbage Kasumi napa type with nice shape and flavor
chinese cabbage Jade Pagoda tall and slender with wide ribs
broccoli Green Comet big heads
broccoli Emperor very green color
Cauliflower Snow Crown very early
Cauliflower Imperial large heads

5.  Potatoes.  I usually have two large beds of potatoes and have grown the same varieties for years.  I save some potatoes from the prior year, cut up the larger ones and keep the small ones whole, and place the seed potatoes directly into the garden.  I mulch the beds heavily with straw right after planting the potatoes.  The biggest problem I have growing potatoes is the soil pH.  Potatoes need an acid soil and my soil is very alkaline.  I add sulphur to the potato beds prior to planting.  However, I still have a problem with scab, small raised areas on the skin of the potatoes.  This affects only the appearance of the potato and not the taste or keeping qualities.  I purchased my first potatoes from a local supplier and don't know the varieties as they were labeled red, white, yellow and baking.  Since then, I have also grown Red Dale, Yukon Gold, Kennebec, and Frontier Russet.

These are just some of the vegetables that I grow.  I save my purchased seed packets and use the seeds for many years as most seed stays viable in the cool, dry air of Colorado.  Therefore, some of the varieties that I mentioned above may not be available any longer.

For more information about my vegetable garden, including images and more tips, click here.