Best Denver Gardening Tips for Human Transplants

Gardening in Denver is nothing like gardening back east. I’m a Denver transplant. It’s taken me years to learn the differences. I’m not a slow learner, it’s just that all my early gardening skills were formed in a moist, moderate climate. Denver is hot, dry and dusty. Not exactly an easy growing environment (unless you’re happy just growing pinto beans and hot peppers). Moving to the city presents some space issues too. It’s nothing like country life in rural upstate New York. If you’re a transplant like me, these Denver gardening tips might help.

The Denver sun can be a gardening boon. Back east, there’s a shortage of sunny days. Here, there’s no such problem. Unfortunately, there are also several drawbacks. Shade loving plants have to be protected from the sun, but still allow a bit in for growth. I try to plant them behind tall plants or use shade cloth. The sun is dehydrating too. That means extra watering.

Denver soil is either clay, sand or a combination of the two. Back east, testing was never a necessity. The soil was rich black and nutrient dense. Here, you really have to pay close attention to soil amendments for each particular vegetable. Most of Denver is clay. That necessitates the use of organic compost and (if you don’t have it) sand. Mulch is needed to hold in valuable moisture.

Denver presents a longer growing season. Back east, summers are short. Denver often stays warm through October. This means crops like lettuce and radishes can survive up to three plantings before cold weather hits. Some cold weather crops, such as corn can be planted as early as April 1st here. That’s awesome news for someone who likes to garden as much as I do.

Growing up, not out saves space. Since moving to Denver I’ve had a variety of residences. Not all of them had yards to garden in. Container gardening on balconies and near windows have been my salvation. I’ve also tried my luck with vertical gardening, square foot gardening and porch planters. These techniques are a great way for city transplants to bring a bit of country green into their lives.

I go native whenever I can. You know the old saying, if you can’t beat ’em join ’em. Growing plants native to Colorado or those suited for the hot climate is very beneficial. Remember those pinto beans and hot peppers? Tomatoes do well here too because they need so much sun. Just don’t forget to give them a drink every night before you go to bed. Oh, yes, here’s one last bonus tip for Denver transplants.

Nix rapid evaporation. Water at night after the sun goes down.

More from this contributor:

How to Grow Great Asparagus

How to Grow Great Carrots

How to Grow Great Radishes


Personal Experience