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Spy_on_the_Inside
10-12-2013, 02:33 PM
I have a story that's set in the Rocky Mountains (technically, Tusas Mountain in New Mexico), and in my story, grocery stores for the most part don't exist, and people grow a lot of their food themselves. However, I know that because of soil conditions, altitude, and the like, growing vegetables and fruits can be difficult and some varieties can be impossible to grow.

What I was hoping is that anyone in the mountains can give me some tips on what is needed to grow food in this environment and knowledge on growing specific varieties.

Some specific plants I'd like to about growing are...

Tomatos
Chili Peppers
Onions
Beans (Pinto and other varieties)
Oregano
Strawberries
Raspberries


Thank you!

Canotila
10-12-2013, 02:56 PM
In general, any of the Russian or Canadian tomato varieties work well in most climates. Siberian, Manitoba, etc. New Mexico has more leeway because of the season and day length than places further north. Especially if you've got a hoop house or greenhouse to protect them when the temperature gets low.

For chiles, I've noticed Anaheim green chiles tend to do well in higher elevations. All chiles need a regular photo period which you get year round in New Mexico. I've lived in AZ, not NM, but this year I planted an heirloom corn that was collected at 5,500' elevation in Hernandez, NM (very close to Tusas Mt) and it took over 120 days to mature. So that tells me the area does have a long growing season.

You need short-day onion varieties.

Beans are pretty hardy in general. Look into tepary beans, as they're drought hardy but they don't have massive yields.

Oregano should do fine. Strawberries and raspberries should be fine as well, but be more of a luxury item as they'll need a decent amount of water to keep alive.

If you're interested, Native Seeds based out of Tucson, AZ is an excellent resource. They're a seed bank/seed preservation society that goes around collecting heirlooms from the American SW and Mexico. One of their test areas is in NM.
http://www.nativeseeds.org/

edit: For additional grain sources, look into amaranth and quinoa. Corn is also a possibility. The variety I grew was called Hernandez Multicolor. It is frost hardy and took very little water, but only produced 1/2 lb. of dry grain per stalk. If I was subsistence farming I'd go for Mohave or Oaxacan green, as they have shorter growing seasons, are also cold hardy, drought tolerant, and have consistently produced about 1 lb. of dry grain per stalk.

Squash is an excellent source of easy to grow and store food. The seeds are a good source of protein.

Michael Davis
10-13-2013, 03:42 PM
More about condition of soil then being in higher altitude. I'm in the blue ridge and the only thing we have problems with are melons and I think its a soil issue. All other vegs we're grown.

Also, don't forget tht many wild plant are edible and provide important vitamins and minerals. Plants like dock, plantain, lambs quarter, pig weed, purslane, chick weed, rib weed, even the blossom from a yucca plant is palatable and provides nutrients (not bad tasting either). Search on "edible wild plants" with google and find candidates for that region. In a world of scare resources the wise man will supplement their food supply with the wild, life pioneers did.

shaldna
10-13-2013, 03:48 PM
I have a story that's set in the Rocky Mountains (technically, Tusas Mountain in New Mexico), and in my story, grocery stores for the most part don't exist, and people grow a lot of their food themselves. However, I know that because of soil conditions, altitude, and the like, growing vegetables and fruits can be difficult and some varieties can be impossible to grow.

What I was hoping is that anyone in the mountains can give me some tips on what is needed to grow food in this environment and knowledge on growing specific varieties.

Some specific plants I'd like to about growing are...

Tomatos
Chili Peppers
Onions
Beans (Pinto and other varieties)
Oregano
Strawberries
Raspberries


Thank you!

From my own experience growing food in the hills in Ireland, I can tell you that the main crop everyone will grow is potatoes - and they will grow pretty much anywhere. And they are so easy to grow, you plant them in early spring and they are ready in autumn. - much digging is required however. But from what I've seen and know, they will grown pretty much anywhere and in any type of soil.


Tomatos

We grew our tomatoes outdoors this year for the first time. I found that they took a very long time to ripen - we have some that are still green now in mid-October. Were smaller and we had much more wastage. I would say that growing outdoors is viable, but only by using a shelter or lean to etc.


Chili Peppers

These dont' do well outside in a cold climate. They grow REALLY well in a greenhouse in the north, but not in an open environment. I grow ours on a window ledge.


Onions

Very easy to grow, and, like potatoes, will grow just about everywhere. Onions were a big vegetable to grow at home during the war because they were do easy to grow and easy to store even with little room.


Beans (Pinto and other varieties)

I've never grown beans, but I've grown a lot of peas and I gather they are similar. Peas will grown in most climates. They will need something to support them, such as a pole or string. They grow very quickly and produce a fair enough harvest. Although My daughter loves them so much that I've never been able to get an actual harvet from them since she eats them all as soon as they appear.


Oregano

I grow all my herbs in pots outside. I used to grow them in a herb garden. I found that once they were bedded in and settled that they could cope with most extremes of temperature and weather - we were in the mountains and last year had 15 ft of snow and -25 temps (Crazy Irish weather) and they still survived.


Strawberries

Strawberries have a very low harvest yield per pant, comparatively speaking. however they are pretty hardy plant considering and will withstand some pretty low and harsh temps. Also, even when they look like they are dead, often they will come back again the following year.



Raspberries

Raspberries are a bush, however I've found that in their early years they will need some support - usually they are grown in rows and trained up and over wires. You'll probably not get any fruit in the first year, the second year you'll get a little, but really it takes about 3-4 years before a plant settles in enough to produce fruit.


Also, seasonal vegetables such as sprouts and cabbages will do well, even in poor soil. You plant in september and they are usually ready in mid- late december.

Carrots grow pretty well in most soil types too.

Spy_on_the_Inside
10-13-2013, 07:54 PM
@ Micheal Davis, I'm curious about yucca since that's something the characters eat in the story too. How much in bloom would they be in early March, even in the desert? Are the stems of yucca edible too?

ULTRAGOTHA
10-14-2013, 05:30 AM
There's a big difference in altitude between the Blue Ridge and Irish hills and the Rockies.

Is this a future where crops could have migrated before grocery stores disappeared? Or is this set in a pre-European era?

If the former, check out some Andean crops. Also, everything on your list could be grown there now, I think. Check out web sites for farmers markets in the area.

If the latter, raspberries don't appear to be native to that area of North America. Bulb onions are not native to NA, either though other varieties of wild onion are. Oregano is also not native to NA and is an annual in harsh winters.