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Tilling the Glacial Till, un-till . . .

10 years ago

We just keep swinging back into cool weather here near 49 degrees North. It must be quite a contrast to further south.

Lovely day, yesterday and today looks great! Then, we are right back to highs in the mid-60's, lows well down in the 40's! Wind. There have only been 4 days out of the last 30 when the average daily temperature has been above 65o. Sub-normal 20 out of 30 days.

I have just been reflecting on my cultivation tasks that were all finished over a month ago. People may be surprised that I use a spading fork to cultivate a fairly large garden. I didn't use it on the new addition - the tractor guy tilled that for us. But, I like using the spading fork and in the garden where I've been scratching around for the last 17 years, the soil is so loose that I don't even need to step on it to sink the fork to the full 11" of the tines.

This isn't true where I have just gotten the ground into beds in another garden. It is some time-consuming work. I figure that in my worse ground, it takes me a full minute for every square foot I cover . . . It'll get better in another year or 2.

Okay, so I finished with all that spading over a month ago. I know people who are just setting out warm-season plants here! No, I mean the 15th of June not sometime in April (Heaven Forbid)!

My peppers and eggplants have suffered beyond all measure from being in the garden for the last couple of weeks. The zinnias look like something went thru and beat the daylights out of each one of them! The tall marigolds that I wanted to try this year are purple. No, I mean top to bottom - there's no purple marigold flower that I know of.

So, you see. Working out there in the garden 8 or 10 weeks ago and finishing all those tasks after about a month, kept me out of mischief. I guess that's a positive.

Oh hey, I've had lots of cool-season greens: mustard, lettuce, bok choy, choy sum, spinach, green onions . . .


Comments (21)

  • 10 years ago

    Just thought that if you have a moment to sit down on a Sunday and cool your heels . . . you might like to click on the little gardener guy and .

    . . listen to some Ray Charles.


  • 10 years ago

    Oh my!
    Lows in the 40s?
    Are you sure you're not in Canada?
    Is it still snowing? Do you have any leaves on your trees?
    I picture "frozen tundra", like here, but above timberline.

    Here is a link that might be useful:

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    I agree with jonfrum....But...tractors are not ruining the soil, In order for a farm to pay for itself we need the 110 bushels to an acre to make profits , that will not happen if we have weeds and dont spray or fertilizer. USA will not have the cheap food and meat prices compared to the rest of the world if we didnt make 4 passes a year. Kimmers saying that we are ruining the enviroment has taken the UN wealth redistobution scheme and swallowed it hook line and sinker. Im glad that we Canadians like the Russians and Chineese have opted out of the Kyoto accord because we realize this CO2 propoganda is a joke. The earth has been cooling over the past sixteen years and if you want to rock back and forth on your fork or urinate on your organic garden to find some nitrogen have at for me I use a roto tiller peat moss and granular fertilizer and have soil and gardens that I can be proud of.
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  • 10 years ago

    No, no frozen tundra here, b2alicia.

    It is just the infuriating influence of the North Pacific Ocean. Always a cool start to the growing season and more so, the last few years. 300 miles from salt water, across a desert and over high mountains - it just won't leave us be!

    I had intended to move to Canada at some point when I first came here. My grandfather was Canadian but we ended up where Grandmother grew up instead of in Hope, BC. That's okay - I really wouldn't want to live any further north.

    The glacial till is what was swept out of the mountains by Ice Age floods. I snapped a picture of the soil in one garden bed today. It is a shot of a 3/4 inch red-root pigweed that has bloomed & is setting seeds. How can a garden be protected from weeds when they behave like that??! I mean, the seed leaves are the largest leaves on the plant but the darn thing is going to seed. Elsewhere, others are reproducing before I can get them pulled . . .

    Anyway, it gives you an idea of what I am tilling every spring and what amounts to my garden soil. I have gardens in more than 1 location and some of the ground is a little better.


  • 10 years ago


    What were you doing .

    . . on that mountain?!


  • 10 years ago

    Lots of folks go "doing" on that mountain, Digit! Highest paved road in North America, and the "doing" is pretty much limited to sight seeing!

    Denver's out there somewhere behind that sign!

    A little way below the summit!

    Echo Lake is at the beginning of the Mt. Evans road--at only 10,600'!

    " takes me a full minute for every square foot I cover . . . It'll get better in another year or 2."

    It takes me more like 5 minutes a square foot! Good exercise--or something! And after 9 years it's just barely starting to get better! Some day!!!

    Sorry to hear about your cold weather! Wouldn't it be nice if we could average out your too cold weather and our too HOT weather!?? And, boy, would I ever love to have some of the "excessive" precip Missouri and some other places have been getting! Feast or famine!


  • 10 years ago

    10,600'?! Too, high!

    My introduction to Colorado's high country was on the Old Monarch Pass above 11,000 feet. I was coming out of fairly high country but it was obvious that something was wrong with me when we stopped there for a picnic on a warm summer day. I couldn't eat . . . I felt much better once I got down off that hill and spent several weeks in CO, doing fine.

    My garden is at a lower elevation than anywhere in CO - at 2,000 feet almost exactly. I've always gardened about this level altho' I was at about 2,500 feet for awhile - Too high! No, no altitude sickness out there it was just a place where frost could come during any month! It didn't freeze in mid-summer while I was there but my choices for garden varieties were so limited that it was a relief to move to a lower location.

    Marmots! I like to use flora and fauna for comparison of climate. Wikipedia says that your marmots are above 6,500 feet and they can be a very troublesome pest in my gardens at 2,000 feet. I understand that they run all the way down to sea level in Alaska! However, storm clouds and blue skies are more a part of climate than are marmots . . . .


  • 10 years ago

    Um, what happens when your garden tiller meets that glacial till?

    So in June we've gone from daytime highs in the 70's then shooting up to the mid-90's, then now back down to the low-mid 80's. Night times are still in the 40's. The *standard* 50 F swing around here.

    So the 2013 pea crop development came to a screeching halt with the high temps - out there picking them now. Dismal harvest - it just got too hot too quickly.

  • 10 years ago

    The tiller has forward and reverse direction tines. It almost never breaks a sheer pin in forward. However, it is just scuffling along at a walk in that gear.

    With it in reverse, the soil surface is kind of pulverized. It crawls and shear pins & rocks fly! Neither gear provides for any depth but I can kill weeds in the paths fairly well in reverse.

    The new addition was turned over by the tractor guy. He didn't get any great depth, turned up some boulders and broke the depth setting on his tiller. The ground had the sprinklers running on it for 24 hours before he got there. It's okay. Nothing in beds over there and I'll use the rototiller to kill the weeds, which have just begun to show up. Hopefully, I can get to it often enuf that they don't start to get ahead of me and I have to run those tines in reverse. It will do a good weed-killing job but at a crawl and endanger life and limb.

    My early peas look pretty good this year. Their sprouting must have benefited from some warm May weather. There is just now a flower or 2 on them so they are probably benefiting from the continuing cool to have grown a little before flowering. The later bed looks like something is kind of wrong. I'll get a trellis over those later this week and maybe that will encourage them to do some growing also.


  • 10 years ago

    Hmm, Steve,
    That photo you show of the rocks by your house looks JUST like the terrain up at the summit of Mt. Evans.

    People who live in Denver love to go up to mountain summits.
    It's just the thing to do.

    Here is a link that might be useful:

  • 10 years ago

    We have had about the same weather as you. It froze on Friday night. Now I hope that is the end until September but you never know.... Finally got the tomatoes and peppers in last week. I don't think I have ever been that late. But I knew I didn't have to rush them this year because I don't do Farmers Market anymore and I lost a bunch of tomatoes and peppers to aphids. Then put them out and the flea beetles attacked! I ended up buying 5 tomato plants and have space for at least 3 more in the hoop house but decided forget it. I had row covers and wow on beans, squash and covered the corn with leaves and things don't look too bad but they are forecasting thunderstorms later this week so will see. I do have blossoms on some peas and most of the potatoes now. Been picking a grocery bag of lettuce for the past month once a week for the Senior Center and some for friends and should have another couple of weeks depending on how warm it gets. Picked 4 grocery bags of mountain spinach for the Senior Center and told them I would do it again the first week of July. I could do it now but the next 2 weeks are crazy and it takes some time to pick, sort and wash that much.

  • 10 years ago

    So Margaret,

    Your potatoes were beginning to flower and there was frost?

    I'm happy not to live at a higher elevation. If it came down to being able to grow evergreens and not much more - I'd be losing a very big part of my agenda for life. Good thing to have a hoop house.


  • 10 years ago

    The high temperature here this afternoon will be 57of,

    Sandpoint Idaho will have a high of 55o,

    Palouse Washington will enjoy an afternoon high of 54o

    In northwest Montana, your temperatures will be in the 30's Friday and Saturday morning. By then, Stanley Idaho will have had 2 mornings in the 20's. There is even a chance of snow. But, that's Stanley . . .

    So, let's go ahead and watch Stanley over the next few days, okay?! This should update:

    yeah, i know, stanley idaho is about as high as a fair number of colorado towns.

  • 10 years ago

    I'm normally a lurker here but wanted to comment that, for the first time in 20 years, my gardens may not produce anything. The weather has been so chilly that I put off planting any of the warm weather plants until 3 weeks ago. I still only have seed leaves on the cukes. There is no seedling that is over 2 inches tall except for the peas and it was 33 degrees last night! My veg. garden is 25 x25 and I'm seriously considering putting up a hoop house to cover it all next year!

  • 10 years ago

    It isn't so bad in Stanley this morning altho', I guess 35o was the low and the WS says it will be cooler the next 2 days.

    The thermometer didn't make it above 55o here yesterday and there is rain with 25mph gusts this morning. I just went outside to see if there was snow falling with the rain but, no, it is just larger drops blowing off the trees . . .

    Tomorrow is summer in Caribou County just like up here for us, mla2ofus. I am always hoping for more warmth in May and June but it didn't happen again this year.

    I bet your elevation is pretty high but my early planting of peas were looking okay when I put another set of strings on them this week. The greens should soldier thru. The eggplant and peppers must think that this is pure torture. . . .

    One hoop house is still up but the construction-grade film won't be able to take it much longer. About 3 months is all I can expect from it and, that's okay. Here is an idea, think about 2 hoop houses instead of one for that much ground. Or, build it out of something a little stouter than mine. Maybe not the film but the frame.

    I have 1/2" pvc pipe for one and 3/4" pipe for the other. One has no frame on the ground but both have framed windows and doors. They are both really protected from the wind by fences and surrounding buildings. The only real problems I've had is with the weight of late snow storms.

    The cool-season plants have been fine in the open garden for the last few weeks. It is always great to get some of those things started early in the hoop house. It is the warm-season plants that suffer year after year from the late-spring wind and cold. But, that's all going to change after tomorrow! Right?!


  • 10 years ago

    It was 31 degrees night before last and frost on the ground. Guess I'm lucky the vegetable plants are so small and close to the ground as the frost didn't seem to bother them. Just nipped a few bean leaves.
    Oh, it is 5800 feet elevation here and the weather is pretty unpredictable. 2 hoop house's would be perfect as the garden is split right down the middle with a 4 foot pathway.

  • 10 years ago

    I have volunteer pole beans again this year! Usually, I am not so negligent about harvesting the beans but I allowed a bunch to dry for chili and had them in a 3 Sisters garden -- that's my only excuse . . .

    Anyway, for the first times that I can remember, they have come up on their own the last 2 years. There were 2 frosts after they were above ground. I had the sprinklers on but that was all - the beans are fine and still growing. I need to get teepees out there almost immediately! Beans I planted are not nearly so far along.

    Mla2ofus, I am afraid that your home has been even colder than Stanley! Wikipedia says that Stanley is at 6,253 ft.

    We had records set around here for cool afternoon highs and daily rainfalls. Not quite here, tho'. The nearest airport had 1.33" over 48hrs and is getting more right now! The high was only 48o yesterday! The WS missed on that one, too. It is all supposed to be warming now. I am so looking forward to that.


  • 10 years ago

    Here comes . .

    . the record heat . .

    . from the south. Yikes!!!


  • 10 years ago

    Be careful what you ask for......


  • 10 years ago

    Went from 50-70 day time and 32-42 at night to 90-100 and 50s at night in one week. They are talking 100 for the next couple of days. Radishes and spinach went to seed and some of the beets also. The rest of the garden is staring to grow instead of just sitting there. I wanted summer but not that great jump all at once. Picked some snow peas and a few strawberries this week. Wonder how fast the lettuce will give up now that it warmed up? Our altitude here is only 3,500 compared to some of the 7,000 feet in Colorado but we have about the same weather as Durango. Hoping we get more rain or it will be a bad year for fires and irrigation.

  • 10 years ago

    The Feds just declared our county a disaster area because of the drought. There are several irrigation companies/schemes here, the biggest one has already run through their allocation and shut down for the season - one cutting of hay or alfalfa. I have shares in the company with the most senior water rights, but we'll be shut off in August.

    Dam is empty, the river above the dam looks like late september running 49 cubic feet per second, below the dam its the 10 cubic feet per second, further on down at Slick Rock: 0.51cubic feet per second.

    Fingers, toes, legs, etc etc crossed that we don't get fires.

  • 10 years ago

    100o here this afternoon!

    Suppose to be just as hot tomorrow but then begin to cool down. The hay field beside the big veggie garden is scheduled for cutting so the irrigation is turned off. Oh, boy! I know it can be turned back on if he'd just get that dang tractor out there and do the job . . .

    Good Luck down there in SW Colorado, David! I noticed that your nearest town had a record high a day or 2 ago.