colorado gardening - winter version #775687 - Ask Extension

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colorado gardening - winter version #775687

Asked October 18, 2021, 11:52 AM EDT

Hello, I moved from Atlanta and I would love some advice on what my options are for low maintenance winterizing or winter gardening. I have a house in Fort Collins that has two egress windows, one is south / south east facing and one is north / northwest facing. The southern egress is right up against a fence, and in a small area between our house and the next. The northwest has more space but aspens shade it. I was wondering if getting some polycarbinate covering would allow me to turn one of these into a sorta greenhouse. We have a garage with one small west facing window, or I'm looking into a small greenhouse (separate from the egress window idea) or a rack with some grow lights in the garage. What is my best option for low maintenance gardening, if I want to over winter my bell & poblano peppers and cherry tomatoes, as well as take some cuttings from them and some herbs (basil, mint, thyme, sage) to put in water until they root. I'm an amateur and my husband will not allow the plants in the house. I'd also like to start some plants from seed early next year to have them ready to go by May. Would an egress window with polycarbinate be a cold storage or get hot enough for green house conditions? If a green house is my best option, where would it be the happiest? I'm attaching a picture of the southern egress (rocky area), the northern egress (wooded) and my property for reference. Thank you so much for your time.

Larimer County Colorado

Expert Response

Hi Hayley,

Unfortunately, I don't think the window well would be warm enough for some of the crops you wish to overwinter. Peppers, tomatoes and basil are all warm season crops and cannot tolerate night temperatures below 60-65 degrees. Since the temperature will drop below this in the window, it will be very difficult to maintain growth. You could try heating the area, but I'm not sure how successful that would be.

Some of the herbs might do ok...the mint, thyme, sage, and even chives are perennials and could tolerate some cooling. I would give it a try and see how they do. It would be best to put rooted cuttings into containers and mulch around the containers well. Water as needed. 

As for seeds, I just don't know if the temperatures will be warm enough. Seeds need consistent bottom heat (you could try heat mats) and air temperatures....again, with the temps cooling down so much at night, I just don't think regular heat would be sustained. 

Could you buy a thermometer that could measure the temperatures this winter so you get an idea of the temperature swings? That would help you determine how hot it gets...and also how cold. And try it! Seeds are cheap, and cuttings are free. 

Alison O'Connor Replied October 18, 2021, 3:23 PM EDT

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