Friday, March 22, 2013

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back – Gardening at 8000' with a Zen Attitude by Tina Ligon

With every drop, the surface is different
Gardening anywhere is a dynamic operation but it really seems to be so at higher elevations in Colorado. I am going to share some of my trials and tribulations of mountain gardening. For example, I put a fence around my raised beds about 3 feet from the edges to allow for easier movement for me and to keep my dogs out of the beds. That worked really well for about two years. But last summer a chipmunk realized he could get into the garden area and not be bothered by the dog. Now I have seen that a rabbit has also made this discovery and is feeling much more at ease in the garden area. So it will be back to the design drawing board. I think I will be moving toward a movable barrier that will go right on the beds. Not so convenient for me but should keep the critters at bay and the dog will love being right next to my feet when I am working there. He loves peas and kale, so maybe he can help guard them in exchange for a few to eat.
The garden fence

Here is example two. Last spring I noticed that there was an area at the end of a bed that seemed to slow to take off compared to the rest of the bed. I tested theories of soil conditions, water, etc. I came to the conclusion that it just seemed colder. I watched that area this past winter and sure enough there is a prevailing wind from the northwest that just streams right across that area. This year I am going to try a small barrier fence in that corner and see if I deflect the air around the area.

Of course there are the pocket gophers that just keep becoming more pervasive. I had an extended period of years that I did not have a problem at all. The plants and bulbs started disappearing about 4 years ago and the ankle twisting sink holes and tunnels were appearing. My yard had been put on the dining guide. So far I have used their industrious digging to my advantage and am replanting an area that was primarily smooth brome (Bromus inermis) to other plant material. It currently is a sparse cover crop but the gophers don’t seem to like it as well. I am not fond of smooth brome but the pocket gophers do seem to like it, I will use that to my advantage. Now if I could train them to take out the cheat grass (Bromus tectorum L.).

Attempt at a cover crop
I could go on with other examples but my point is change is here to stay. I have decided to accept change as a good thing. I will never have the yard that will be on the garden tour but I will keep observing what nature is doing, what thrives, what doesn’t work and keep trying to work with it instead of resisting. For me gardening is about being outside and getting my hands in the soil and getting up close and personal with what is happening in my yard. If I manage to get something to eat then that is a bonus.

No comments:

Post a Comment