The priority here is to ensure enough moisture and warmth.

Getting moisture into the plants and keeping them from losing it requires watchfulness and strategy. Soil life is likely to be limited by both cold and drought. Inoculating wih beneficial fungi and bacteria will help, but you must give them food (compost, mulch) and water to create a soil community that is diverse and productive. Compost tea contains it all.The life in the soil will feed your plants.

Earthen walls and swales—or even little furrows, bands of mulch, or wood buried in the ground—can harvest water and create warmer microclimates to transform a dry barren spot. See resources.

Most cold and dry places are in the mountains, and have short growing seasons. Plant shelters and protection like coldframes, hoophouses, and row covers really come into their own here. Short-season varieties are key, also. Mulch can retain heat at the end of a warm spell, but if the soil hasn’t warmed up, mulch can shade it too much.

Shelter from wind is critical. Hedges, walls, buildings, and temporary barriers (even cardboard) will prevent wind chill for your plants just as they do for you. Create sun traps that are open to the sun in the south but enclosed to trap heat. Rock (or water barrels)can be a gardeners best friend in this climate, storing heat during the day to radiate it at night. Terraces and walls can create a microclimate that is like moving to another climate zone. Make walls (rock/wood/soil) that wiggle, and plant in the niches created by the curves.
Sepp Holtzer’s Permaculture by Sepp Holtzer
Rainwater Harvesting by Brad Lancaster
Four-season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
Desert or Paradise by Sepp Holtzer
Popular This Season:
Vgr 3771 aztec spinach web

Aztec Spinach (Huauzontle), Organic

A relative of quinoa and spinach. Basically, a quinoa bred for mild leafy greens. Sprouts quickly for baby leaves for salad mix. Leaves taste like spinach, w...
  • Days to maturity: 30
  • Germination days: 3-4
  • Seeds per packet: 200

Beefy Resilient Grex Dry Bean

Phenomenally productivebean that matures well in cooler areas. Cooks quickly, with delicious meaty, beefy flavor. Easy to thresh. Beautiful mix of small blac...
  • Variety code: Ossi
  • Days to maturity: 75
  • Germination days: 8-16

Benning's Light Green Patty Pan, organic

Top-quality flavor and textureHeirloom from 1914. Called "patty pan" squash because their round scalloped shape looks like a little pie. We feel that these...
  • Days to maturity: 52
  • When to plant: Late spring
  • Spacing: 15-18
Vle 4260 bronze+arrow+lettuce

Bronze Arrow Looseleaf Lettuce

A rare, long-standing heirloom leaf lettuce that has it all. Our own strain, unavailable elsewhere. The head in the picture sprouted from spilled seed in the...
  • Spacing: 8-9
  • Days to maturity: 60
  • Germination days: 2-15
Vpe 4929 lg chimayo

Chimayo Hot Pepper

Rare, rich-flavored early pepper.Ancient heirloom from the mountains of New Mexico, this pepper is not meant to be very hot-it's the sweet, complex, ultra-fl...
  • Days to maturity: 60-75
  • Germination days: 8-25
  • Seed code: N
Gqu 7352 dsc 0063

Colorado Quinoa

Dave Cusak and Stephen Gorad brought the original seedstock from the high Altiplano of Chile to the Colorado Rockies in 1984. Gorad literally traded the shir...
  • Days to maturity: 100-115
  • Seeds per packet: 240
  • Germination days: 3-4

Connover's Colossal Asparagus

This extremely choice European variety is large, tender, and grows well from seed. BOTANICAL NAME: Asparagus officinalisGROWING INSTRUCTIONS:Start early in...
  • Days to maturity: 1460
  • Seeds per packet: 35
  • Germination days: 10-21

Dark Star Zucchini, Organic

Bush. Combines great springtime performance in cooler soils and marginal conditions, with a big root system that goes deep to find water and resist drought. ...
  • Days to maturity: 54
  • Seeds per packet: 10
  • Spacing: 15-18

Glacier Tomato, organic

The best flavor of any extra-early tomato we've tried. This very early tomato produces attractive orangey-red 2 1/2" fruit. Bears over a long season. Perfect...
  • Days to maturity: Less than 60
  • Spacing: 24
  • When to plant: Early summer
Vmu 4455greenwave

Green Wave Mustard Greens, Organic

Big, easy to grow, flavorful curly mustard. Large, bright-green leaves with frilled edges are hot when raw, with rich, deep almost smoky.flavor cooked. Class...
  • Days to maturity: 35-60
  • Germination days: 9-12
  • Seeds per packet: 200

Hungarian Blue Poppy, Breadseed

This heirloom variety has been grown in Eastern Europe for centuries.For producing seed, so the seedheads are high-yielding and do not shed seed when ripe li...
  • When to plant: Late fall
  • Days to maturity: 119
  • Germination days: 10-20
Vch 3190+it.+dandelion

Italian Dandelion, organic

Fast-growing plant traditionally used for early greens. Deep-cut long broad leaves resembling dandelion, but much larger, with a slightly bitter flavor prefe...
  • Days to maturity: 52-83
  • Seeds per packet: 200
  • Germination days: 2-15
Vru 5212

Joan Rutabaga, organic

People are rediscovering the rutabaga Partly because it's related to kale and shares many of the same health benefits, and partly because of the flavor and v...
  • Germination days: 4-8
  • Planting depth: 3/8
  • Days to maturity: 95

Little Giant Sweet Corn

Not just a novelty, this little plant makes tasty, good-sized golden ears super early. Yummy corn flavor. We really liked the way the 3'-4' stalks didn't cas...
  • Days to maturity: 55
  • Planting depth: 1-2
  • Spacing: 15

Lower Salmon River Squash, organic

Idaho heirloom, rare and special. The earliest-maturing longkeeper we know. Develops sweetness even in high-altitude areas with cold nights. Drought-resistan...
  • Spacing: 12-18
  • Days to maturity: 90
  • Planting depth: 1.5-2
Vco 3390 csalad cc+leo+michels

Mache, Corn Salad, Rapunzel

The most cold-hardy green of all, down to 0 degrees. Small dark-green leaves with very mild, almost flowery flavor and delicate texture. Very high vitamin C-...
  • Days to maturity: 45-60
  • Germination days: 7-21
  • Seeds per packet: 200
Vle 4273 lettuce merlot brighter web

Merlot Looseleaf Lettuce, Organic

Darkest red of all lettuces-deep purple in bright sun-and highest in anti-oxidant anthocyanins. Ellen at Golden Rule says, "This was the most beautiful lettu...
  • Days to maturity: 30-59
  • When to plant: Winter
  • Spacing: 8-9

Painted Mountain Flour Corn, Organic

Short 4-5' plants bear 7" ears and can produce a crop where other corns can't. Tolerates low fertility, cold, drought. Very early. Kernels are bright rainbow...
  • Days to maturity: 85-95
  • Seeds per packet: 60
  • Planting depth: 1-2

Pentland Brig Kale

A very special kale, which we carried for many years until it became unavailable. We are so glad to have it back! Tender and succulent leaves, with curled ed...
  • Days to maturity: 50-60
  • Seeds per packet: 50
  • Planting depth: 1/4-1/2

Perpetual Spinach Chard

Smooth green leaves, small stems-can be hard to tell from true spinach in looks or taste. Frost and bolt resistant, needs water after a dry spell. Popular in...
  • Seeds per packet: 80
  • Spacing: 8
  • Days to maturity: 50-60

Provider Bush Green Bean, Organic

Extra-early, widely adapted green bean. Popular for fifty years because of its big early yields and rich flavor.  Well-known for its good cold-soil emergence...
  • Days to maturity: 40-50
  • When to plant: After danger of frost
  • Seeds per packet: 85

Russian Red Kale, Organic

From 1885, very hardy, with delicate flavor. Beautiful bluish oak-type leaves with bright purple midrib turn all purple with frost. Survived weeks of heat in...
  • Germination days: 5-17
  • Days to maturity: 50-60
  • When to plant: Late summer
Vca 2980 shin+kuroda

Shin Kuroda Carrot

Very early, short wide 6" carrot extra easy to grow, with the sweetness that has made Japanese carrot breeders famous. Good for spring or summer crops, all k...
  • Days to maturity: 68
  • Seeds per packet: 800
  • Germination days: 6-21
Vbe 2483 beet shiraz web

Shiraz Beet, Organic

A fast-growing, vigorous table beet with big tops, and a smooth round red-purple root. Incredibly easy to grow, and dependable.Selected for resistance to Riz...
  • Days to maturity: 58
  • Seeds per packet: 160
  • Spacing: 4

Solstice Broccoli, Organic

Ready very early and produces for a long time. Heads are on long stems above the foliage-easy to see and harvest and safer from slugs and snails. Small org...
  • Days to maturity: 45-84
  • Germination days: 5-17
  • When to plant: Late summer
Vto 5730 tomato stupice web

Stupice Tomato

Earliest tomato of all in our trials, and the most tolerant of really bad conditions. Unusually adaptable--if you haven't been able to grow tomatoes, this is...
  • Days to maturity: Less than 60
  • Spacing: 24
  • Seed code: N

Sugarloaf Chicory

Like a giant romaine, except more glossy, with an indescribable sweet/bitter flavor. Chicory is a dependable salad and cooking green where there is frost-sta...
  • When to plant: 1/8
  • Days to maturity: 52-83
  • Seeds per packet: 200
Arugula sylvetta

Sylvetta Perennial Arugula

Same flavor as annual arugula with deeply-cut leaves to 6". Overwinters to zone 6. Compared to annual arugula, it makes a thick bed of  smaller, spicy leaves...
  • Days to maturity: 37-50
  • Germination days: 5-10
  • Planting depth: 1/8
Vpa 4735

Turga Parsnip, Organic

Moderately tapered shorter white roots10-12" long and 3.5" across, with almost no hollow crown and no side roots. Easier to grow in clay than longer varietie...
  • Germination days: 15-28
  • Seeds per packet: 180
  • Days to maturity: 100
Gwh 7619sonora

White Sonoran Wheat

Heirloom dryland wheat from the 1700's for spring planting. A soft white wheat, known for its wonderful flavor in tortillas, pasta, pastry. At one time the S...
  • Square foot coverage: 10
  • Days to maturity: 112-140
  • Seeds per packet: 70