Magazine article Sunset

How to Make the Most of a Short Season

Magazine article Sunset

How to Make the Most of a Short Season

Article excerpt

The secret: Proven winners planted in the right place at the right time

Late springs, short summers with cool nights, and early frosts are among the contraints mountain-region gardeners face when growing flowers and vegetables. If you live in such areas-- from Boise to Denver-you can meet these challenges and get the most out of your summer garden by following these tips.

Select a proper site

Most annual flowers thrive in borders and island beds that get full sun, or in containers. For flowering perennials, an east-facing site with morning sun is ideal. For a vegetable bed, choose a south-facing site that gets full sun all day. In windy areas, plant near boulders and walls to provide protection.

Amend the soil

If you're growing introduced plants, including flowers and vegetables, add organic amendments to the soil to support healthy growth (mountain soils are typically shallow and rocky). Digging in plenty of compost, peat moss, or well-composted manure helps the soil retain moisture and air.

Choose the right plants

These plants have proved themselves in mountain gardens.

ANNUAL FLOWERS. Calendula, cleome, cosmos, gazania, geranium, impatiens (for shade), marigold (Tagetes), nicotiana, petunia, snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), sunflower (Helianthus), sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), 'Victoria' salvia, zinnia. FLOWERING PERENNIALS, Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), blanket flower (Gaillardia grandiflora), bleeding heart (Dicentra), catmint (Nepeta faassenii), columbine (Aquilegia), creeping phlox (P. stolonifera), daylily (Hemerocallis), delphinium, dianthus, hollyhock (biennial and perennial types), ice plant (many genera), Maltese cross (Lychttis chalcedonica), penstemon, Shasta daisy (Chrysanthemum maximum), snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum), thrift (Armenia maritima), yarrow (Achillea).

SHORT-SEASON VEGETABLES. Breeders have developed plants that mature in two months or less. Seed companies based in mountain states report success with the following early-bearing varieties. Bush green beans: 'Earliserve', 'Provider', 'Venture'.

Corn: 'Candy Mountain', 'Earlivee', 'Early Sunglow', 'Kandy Kwik', 'Yukon Chief'. Cucumbers: 'Northern Pickling', 'Sweet Success' (slicer). …

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