How does your garden grow?

Northwest Colorado weather provides interesting challenges for cultivators


There's a joke among the gardeners in Moffat County that goes something like this:
When is the only time you lock your car in Craig?
In August, so you don't find it full of zucchini.
With the climate in Northwest Colorado allowing only for a short growing period -- approximately 90 days -- the vegetables that grow well in Moffat County tend to be short-season crops like herbs and root vegetables, hence a surplus of plants like zucchini in August.
"A whole lot of things grow here if you look hard enough," said Sandy Baird, who has earned master gardener certification and is active in the local farmer's market. "It's just not anything real exotic."
Northwest Colorado is classified by the United States Department of Agriculture as Zone III for growing, with Zone I being the hardest place to grow because of cold climate. The Zone III classification is based on an average annual minimum temperature range of -40 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit
"There are places classified warmer in Canada," Baird said.
Local gardener Ervin St. Louis said some of his larger crops tend to be cucumbers, squash, beats and onions -- all plants that grow in the warmth of the ground or near the ground.
"Anything that grows in the ground does a good job here," he said. "But there are ways to get other plants started."
With spring showers starting to pop up, St. Louis tends to the plants he is growing inside. He has tomatoes, peppers and egg plants growing inside and is waiting for the weather to be suitable to transplant them outside.
"I'm sitting here waiting for the weather to turn," he said. "It's a guessing game at times in this part of the country."
A suggestion St. Louis had that has worked well for him is to put plastic on top of the garden, which keeps weeds out and the soil's moisture and heat in.
St. Louis said he occasionally is able to grow some fruit, but it depends on if he can figure out the frost patterns.
"We missed having fruit by one frost last year," he said. "It seems like I'm never going to be right when it comes to predicting weather."
Baird said that the Craig/Moffat County Public Library usually has several publications that suggest what and when to grow in Northwest Colorado.

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