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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gardening in Vermont

Gardening in Vermont can be challenging at times given our short growing season. Our last frost date is generally May 25 and our first frost date is generally around September 20. That leaves a very short four months to get most of your food produced.

Some veggies like cooler weather so starting them a bit before the last frost date is not generally a problem. I've had good luck with lettuce and other salad greens, peas, spinach, and root crops like beets and turnips.

Other veggies that like warm weather like tomatoes, peppers and corn won't do well in colder temps. Make sure you wait to plant them until after the last frost date.

Some people choose to buy plants instead of seeds when planting their gardens. Personally, I like to start my own plants from seeds to save money. It's not that hard and it gives you more freedom to pick and choose what varieties you want to plant.

I bought a few flourescent tube lights from Walmart last year. I added a few cup hooks to the top of my entertainment center and strung some light weight chains from the cook to the light so that I could adjust the height of the light above the seed flats.

I got a bunch of seed flats from a friend a few years ago and I re-use them each year to save money. I prefer this type:

Seed Flat

I've seen these at KMart and Home Depot fairly cheaply but you can always try asking on Freecycle.

Just add a bit of potting soil to each cell and follow the directions for planting on your seed packet. Water. Place underneath the grow light. Keep the light at about 3 inches above the soil or the plant once it starts growing. Keep it watered. Keep adjusting the light and plant outside after danger of frost.

I generally grow a wide variety of peppers and tomatoes as well as brussel sprouts, eggplant and flowers from seeds under grow lights. I start my seeds inside anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date. Just look at the dates on the back of the seed package and it will tell you when to start them inside. The rest of my garden will be planted directly outside in a few months. I'll move the plants outside slowly into the greenhouse once the weather warms up a bit and then plant outside in the garden after the danger of frost has passed.

So.. what are you planting this year?

3 comments:

Lamb said...

OverworkedMom;
Since I plan on moving to Vermont in the not-so-distant future, I do have a questions about gardening there...okay...a few questions...alright, A LOT, lol!
Can you grow these okay?:
Asparagus
Strawberries
Cane berries (blackberries, raspberries, etc)
What about fruit trees? (Apple and Cherry especially!)
Is watermelon a lost cause?
Can you grow grains in Vermont? (Wheat, rye, barley,quinoa, oats)
How does cabbage do there. (I am a cabbage eating fool...sauerkraut, kimchee, cole slaw...all good things!)
We plan on having a greenhouse, probably with some type of heating source in it.

ConfessionsOfAnOverworkedMom said...

Hi Lamb!

Great questions.

Yes, my father has asparagus growing at his house in Vermont. I've never tried it myself but he's had it for years.

We have several pick your own strawberry places around us so it is certainly possible to grow them. They don't do real well for me here but I do have a few small plants.

We have raspberries, blackberries and blueberries at our home and they do fantastic. They need to be pruned, etc. but they produce very well for us.

Apples are not a problem. My father has a tree at his house and there are several wild ones within a mile from me. We also have a pear tree that had a fantastic year last year and gave us more pears than I could handle. We had a peach tree that didn't over winter for us a few years ago so I can't comment on whether those will work for you. I have a friend with a cherry tree but be prepared to net them or the birds will eat your crop. We also have a persimmon tree that is not yet fruiting but seems to be doing well so far. We'll be adding in a few Beach's plums this spring as well. There are a number of cold weather preferring fruits, I'd stick with those.

I have had luck with Blacktail Mountain Watermelon from Seed Savers Exchange. It's a short growing season watermelon that matures in 70-75 days.

Grains I can't help you with as I've never tried them. I know corn is possible since there's a farm up the road that grows corn on a large scale.

Try the Early Jersey Wkfld Cabbage which is a 60-75 day variety and you should do OK if you protect it well.

Keep an eye on the frost warnings so they don't surprise you and you should be OK.

Not sure where in Vermont you are moving to but the zone could range from 3 to 6 depending on where you move. I'm in zone 4 so my experiences are from this zone.

Good luck!

Lamb said...

Thanks for the advice...yes, I AM taking notes! :)

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