Any northern WI gardeners here?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by LisaLu70, Mar 26, 2005.

  1. LisaLu70

    LisaLu70 Member

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    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I'm so excited to have found this forum. This will be our 3rd year in our country home on 40 acres. I am not an experienced vegetable gardener, but I have always looked forward to the day when I would be able to try my hand at it. The first year we were here, we reaped the bounty of the previous owner's planting. Last year, I converted her 50x90ft plot of garden rows into raised beds. I started my own plants, but I think I did so too late. All in all we had good harvest and I learned a lot from the experience. We did end up with much more than we could use or even give away, so this year, I have looked into avenues for marketing it, and found a farmers market I might use.

    Ok, for questions...What varieties are best started indoors, and WHEN should you start them. Last year I started some indoors, and then became frustrated and ended up buying a bunch of already started plants. When is the best time to plant outside to avoid frost, and to get the most harvest? I realized later that I could have had 2 plantings of lettuce if I would have timed it and spaced it right.

    I have some general gardening questions too, but I'll start a new post for them. Thanks for any input!

    Blessings,
    Lisa
     
  2. LisaLu70

    LisaLu70 Member

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    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    When do you all pull up the garden and do your tilling? Do you do it right after harvest before the cold/snow? Or do you do it in the spring before planting? The last two years, I have let the garden go over winter and then pulled it up and tilled it in the spring before planting. I am concerned this year, because a lot of our tomatoes ended up on the ground, and I'm afraid I will have unwanted tomato plants popping up all over this year. (This happened the previous year with pumpkins! LOL!) We also want to start composting, but have not as of yet. My husband is a perfectionist and wants everything nice and neat. How do you keep a compost pile from stinking? My dh really wants a Mantis composter (anyone use these?) which would be GREAT, but we're on a tight budget. Would it be worth it?

    anyway, any additional input or suggestions are welcome!
     

  3. LisaLu70

    LisaLu70 Member

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    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Oh yeah, another thing, I would love to have a strawberry patch, but I'm a little confused. When would I plant? I noticed most strawberries are pretty much done by the end of June, so what does it take to start a patch?
     
  4. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

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    N.Ar
    wow, lots of questions, im no longer in wis, but i grew up there and planted many many gardens,
    memorial day weekend is outdoor planting date for wis.
    so you should start tomatoes and peppers no actually the beginning of march would have been better, but now will be ok too !, under your grow lights

    as for pulling up and tilling, i like not working twice so i always pulled up and tilled in spring, rather than fall, and have to go over it again in spring anyhow

    strawberries can be planted in may, remember you wont have harvest the first year, another good northern fruit plant is nanking cherries, they often grown and bear fruit within the first year, and 1 bush puts out about 10 quarts when mature, not bad for a 6 foot shrub, you do have to put net over them to keep the birds off them though blueberries too, if you plant them this year will take about 2-3 years till fruit

    compost piles DONT STINK!!!! not if its a good hot pile, you need a mix of leaves and grass and small twigs, dirt and water vegetable matter, etc .

    if you forgot to pick up the fallen tomatoes, you might end up with volunteers, but if they were hybrids you planted, chances are they wont produce any fruit, if one grows where you didnt expect it, look at it as a bonus, and let it grow, what harm is there in a few more maters:D

    a strong suggestion is for you to go over to garden web and look through the forums, they have a wisconsin forum that should help you a lot, i am sure some of the other northern gardeners, that are still uppa nort dealing with snow will be happy to help you out :D

    good luck ,
    good growing,
    may your thumb be as green as the dandelion leaves you never see in your garden!
    Beth
     
  5. rainedaze

    rainedaze Well-Known Member

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    Sep 7, 2004
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Hi,

    I too am in northern Wisconsin. All of the information that bethlaf had was much of what I was going to tell you. I am by no means a pro at gardening. I lack the attention span sometimes and become busy with something else.
    We started strawberry beds last year and they did great. My husband took some treated lumber and made octagon beds. We put about 8 plants in each bed and picked off the flowers as they grew. This will help the second year to develop good fruit. I am looking forward to seeing how our plants produce this year.
    Good luck with your gardening,
    Heather (rainedaze)
     
  6. wormlady

    wormlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Oct 8, 2004
    I'm in Northern WI, too. Still plenty of snow on the ground although it looks like it will melt all week. Yeah!

    Your compost pile should not stink, just smell earthy. Are you putting meat or dairy in it? That will make it stink. Stick to vegetable matter, grass clippings, coffee grounds, egg shells, stuff like that.

    We don't plant out until Memorial Day weekend. I know that is a long time to wait, but any sooner you do run the risk of frost.

    Our biggest problem is deer. We put up an 8 foot fence and do a lot of container gardening on our second story deck. So far they haven't climbed up there, altho' we do have friends who had deer come on their porch (about 5 or 6 steps) to eat their flowers.

    Last year I started our tomatoes inside (obviously!) on Feb. 15. This year because of travel plans I didn't plant until just last week. A Master Gardener friend of mine didn't think that would make much difference as they don't really take off and grow until they are put out anyway.

    BTW, I embrace volunteers in my garden!
     
  7. LisaBug

    LisaBug Well-Known Member

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    Oct 13, 2002
    Northeast Wisconsin here. We've lived in this area (right on the line between zones 3 and 4) for 19 years and have had a garden every year. It can be quite a challenge some years.

    You'll find your climate can be quite different if you live near either Lake Superior or Lake Michigan, they're slower to warm up in the spring but also slower to freeze in the fall. We figure planting Memorial weekend at the earliest, later for beans and such. Our set plants are started in mid-March for setting out the end of May (in a hoophouse). Strawberries can be planted any time in May or earlier if you can provide some freeze protection.

    We usually til the garden in the spring since we have some crops that don't come out of the garden until the first snow has fallen. This is heavy clay, no way can we get into it at that point. If you have clay you might want to consider raised beds, they warm up quicker and drain better than a conventional garden. This year I'll be trying the Square Foot Gardening method in what used to be the tomato/pepper hoophouse. We're downsizing the garden since there's only two of us now. Corn, potatoes, squash and pumpkins are going to stay in the main garden with everything else moving up here to the house.

    Deer are a major problem here so we have fences around everything we don't want them to eat which means every fruit tree, garden plot and flower bed is fenced. Bears and coons can be a problem with the sweet corn, maybe as much of a problem as the deer.

    When figuring out what to plant, look for the shortest days possible in varieties that are of the type you want. For instance paste tomatoes, it's nice to have 75 days but read the rest, is it sweet or tart, lots of acid? No point in growing a 100 day veggie when you're growing season is only 80 days.

    The little greenhouse is going up this weekend (8x4). We have a small ceramic heater plus I stitched a covering of blankets for it on the chilly nights. So far so good, haven't lost any plants to freezing. If it looks like the heater won't be enough we bring the plants in, it's the only way to assure we'll have them come planting time.

    Hope you find some help in this post.

    LisaBug
     
  8. wormlady

    wormlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    LisaBug -
    You are in NE WI and have clay? We are near Eagle River and have very sandy soil.

    I've been toying with the idea of getting a greenhouse. Is yours homemade?
    Do you use coldframes?

    I'm hoping this year to get more season extending items in place.
     
  9. LisaBug

    LisaBug Well-Known Member

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    WormLady, you're an hour or so west of us. Ever go to the Nicolet Sprint races at the girls camp? If you have then you've probably seen us. Any snow left after this morning's rain? We have some, it's leaving quickly. Tapped trees last weekend, waiting for the nights to get back down to freezing so the sap runs.

    We have some heavy red clay, some brown not-so-bad stuff and an acre of sand. One garden is in the brown clay the other we hauled topsoil (brown clay) in for and raised up. That's where the hoophouse is.

    The greenhouse is one of those metal frame-plastic covered ones, DH bought it for me for Mother's Day a few years back and it's made a world of difference in starting set plants. They're less leggy and have overall better health than those in the windows. We set it down in front of the walk-out basement door on the south side where it's protected from most wind.

    I do have one coldframe, use it for growing early lettuce and radishes. So far so good although it does take watching, like the greenhouse does.

    In the north, season extenders are the only way to go. The hoophouse made a huge difference in how many warm season crops we harvest, hard to get them to mature.

    Better move it, lots of sewing to do today.

    LisaBug
     
  10. wormlady

    wormlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    No, we've never made it to the Nicolet sprints. Do you mean at Camp Nicolet off of Hwy. 70? That is about 10 miles from us.

    I hope to get a couple of cold frames going soon. We have a lot of seeds started in the basement under shop lights and on heat mats.

    Hopefully a green house someday.

    We still have plenty of snow left. In fact I was walking the dog in the rain this morning and looked out the window after breakfast and it was snowing!

    Thankfully it didn't stick. I'm itching to get out in the garden.

    I've got lots of worm castings in my basement worm bin to put on the garden.
    Come on spring!
     
  11. LisaBug

    LisaBug Well-Known Member

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    Yup, sure do mean Nicolet Camp. There haven't been races there for a couple of years, more the pity. It was one of the few race locations for our club that was pretty well guaranteed of snow in January. Oh well, there's Land O' Lakes now.

    What kind of worms do you raise? For sale or private use? There's a couple here that raised what they call cultured worms, no refrigeration. They sell the castings of which I buy feed sacks full the last couple years.

    Do you use regular heat mats or something else for your plants? I've often thought about waterbed heaters if I could find them at Goodwill or somewhere. The ones in seed catalogs seem awful expensive.

    Over where you are there's alot more lake effect than here. When you get 8 inches we probably get 3. Some days that's a good thing.

    Looks like some good freezing nights coming, sap should run good. Let's hope so.

    Lisa
     
  12. wormlady

    wormlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have a bin of redworms in our basement. No refrigeration necessary.
    I just feed them our kitchen scraps and they kindly give us castings which help our garden grow. We don't sell them, it is just a little hobby, but I have started a few friend's bins with our extra worms. We do sell books on how to raise worm. Check out www.wormbooks.com if you are interested.

    Yes, the heat mats are expensive. But so are bedding plants from the garden center and I think that in a few years time the mat will pay for itself. I rotate the different flats so they each get some time on the mat. We didn't lose any seedlings to damping off last year,and do far so good this year, so I think it is worth it. Hope you can find a waterbed heater. I didn't even think of that.
    My hubby just yesterday found a 4 flat heat mat on the internet for $70. That is the lowest we have seen.

    Yesterday's snow didn't stick. More of my garden is visible today and I may even see some crocuses (crocusi?) before too long.