harsh climate gardening.

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by icewytch, Oct 22, 2004.

  1. icewytch

    icewytch Member

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    hi, i live on a small island in the orkney isles. the weather is typically, gales, salt air and little sun, plus cold. i would love to hear from anyone who successfully gardens in a cold, challenging climate. :)
     
  2. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Have you thought about heather? :haha:
    I'm sorry, that was uncalled for. I just wanted to say Hi.
    I have never had a garden in such extremes - N.Yorks was as bleak as it got for us, though I saw nice gardens in the Outer Hebrides. I expect even they are sheltered and warm compared to you.
     

  3. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Greetings from Montana! i do not know where your island is located but we have pretty harsh weather here on our mountain in montana. Summers are about 6 weeks long , cool and wet and windy mostly. Winters are bitter with below zero and windy a good deal of the time. Winter lasts six months minimum. I do garden but only in a green house so far. This next summer I am going to try putting some plants outside after starting them well in the green house. Gonna put them in a place where I have built a clear wind shelter so they will get lots of sun and not so much chilling wind. Good luck, i know it can be done , just be patient while learning how to pull it off. Sounds neat though living on an island!
     
  4. kitty32_z8

    kitty32_z8 Well-Known Member

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    Well honestly I dont know asnything about your gardening situation. I was thinking though ......what about cold & hot frames. It would protect your plants from the weather. Of course you probably dont want to have your flower gardens in them. Well unless you make the tops removable once the flowers start growing. It would look kind of like raised beds.
    Hope you find some answers.

    Kathy
     
  5. CMATE

    CMATE Well-Known Member

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    Hi Icewytch, I recently read an article somewhere about a couple living on an island off of Canada (East coast), where they grew Jerusalem Artichokes very successfully for food. Plus, you should try those cold frames mentioned below. What zone (if any) are you in? Sorry, but I dont know where the Orkney isles are.
     
  6. icewytch

    icewytch Member

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    the first link is a map of the uk, orkney is that small group of islands right at the top. :)
    http://www.armage.demon.co.uk/nuff/maps/

    and this is the website of our island. :)
    http://www.sanday.co.uk/sanday.html

    the real trouble we have here are the gales, which throughout winter and even during summer are constant. i made the mistake of trying one of those polygreenhouses a couple of years ago, it blew away and shredded in the first gale. :(
    that, coupled with the cold, salt air means i can grow brassicas ok, and potatoes, but little else. tomatoes, i can grow on windowledges indoors, and some herbs though they have to be sheltered behind stone walls.
     
  7. icewytch

    icewytch Member

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    ps. re the first map, i am not a naturist!! it was the first handy map in a google search, lol....*blushes*
     
  8. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

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    Well, I really don't have any answers from experience as a cold/severe weather gardener.
    But as the wife of a former contractor for home improvements, I know this...

    There is no good way to get rid of old windows. Window glass is not easily recyclable, and since it is mixed materials (vinyl, aluminum, foam rubber, whatever...) it is even harder than just glass.
    This means that anybody who does window replacements would gladly turn over old windows removed from homes to someone to put to good use. I don't know what things are like around there, but if you could develop some contacts, you could get enough window panes - even double pane insulated - to put a "mock" green house all around your home.
    With the disadvantage that if severe weather knocks branches onto the windows, you've definitely got a mess in your garden!
    Best wishes! You'll get it figured!
     
  9. CMATE

    CMATE Well-Known Member

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    Icewytch, perhaps this definition of the USA Plant Hardiness Zones will help you to determine what & how plants by you will grow successfully. I just visited Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago & drove up to the Highlands to visit The Glenlivet distillery....what a gorgeous area Scotland is! I noticed many similarities with my area of Pennsylvania & Long Island, NY so I don't think you'll have too many problems finding stuff.
    Pick 2 descriptions that best match your climate & then hit gardening websites here that mostly all note the zone for there plants.

    Also, perhaps growing yourself some walls using evergreens will provide those microclimates that your tomatoes have succeeded in already, they will not only look nice but will block those winds. It doesn't have to be big either, just a few plants maybe all you need to create a micro-climate.

    ZONE 1. Coldest Winters in the West and Western Prairie States
    Growing season: early June through Aug., but with some variation--the longest seasons are usually found near this zone's large bodies of water. Frost can come any night of the year. Winters are snowy and intensely cold, due to latitude, elevation, and/or influence of continental air mass. There's some summer rainfall.

    ZONE 2. Second-coldest Western Climate
    Growing season: early May through Sept. Winters are cold (lows run from -3 degrees to -34 degrees F/-19 degrees to -37 degrees C), but less so than in Zone 1. In northern and interior areas, lower elevations fall into Zone 2, higher areas into Zone 1.

    ZONE 3. West's Mildest High-elevation and Interior Regions
    Growing season: early May to late Sept.--shorter than in Zone 2, but offset by milder winters (lows from 13 degrees to -24 degrees F/-11 degrees to -31 degrees C). This is fine territory for plants needing winter chill and dry, hot summers.

    ZONE 4. Cold-winter Western Washington and British Columbia
    Growing season: early May to early Oct. Summers are cool, thanks to ocean influence; chilly winters (19 degrees to -7 degrees F/-7 degrees to -22 degrees C) result from elevation, influence of continental air mass, or both. Coolness, ample rain suit many perennials and bulbs.

    ZONE 5. Ocean-influenced Northwest Coast and Puget Sound
    Growing season: mid-April to Nov., typically with cool temperatures throughout. Less rain falls here than in Zone 4; winter lows range from 28 degrees to 1 degree F/-2 degrees to -17 degrees C. This "English garden" climate is ideal for rhododendrons and many rock garden plants.
     
  10. CMATE

    CMATE Well-Known Member

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  11. Ann-NWIowa

    Ann-NWIowa Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Wind is fairly constant here too. We've found hedges around our garden helpful although we still have things knocked down by wind especially corn and the hollyhocks. Do you have materials available for building stone walls? I've read that gardens enclosed with stone walls do well in windy cold areas. There is a difference between a wind break and a wind stop. You'll have to read up and decide which would work best for you. Do you have neighbors who garden or old timers nearby. Their advise would probably be priceless.
     
  12. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I'm in zone 2b. The growing season out in the open is mid June to about mid September. Having said that, the proportion of summer days reaching about 80 degreess or more is good. The summer days also are long with solstace peak of about 16 hours daylight. Things can speed up growing compared to gardens further acclimated to even day/night hours.

    The book called "Cold Climate Gardening" has invaluable inforamtion to help create microclimates to enhance cool gardening such as hotbeds, row covers, etc. You can almost always find something to grow such as root crops like carrots, potatoes, beets and the cabbage family like cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale. Other things to consider growing is chard, lettuce, peas, and short season siberian tomatoes.
     
  13. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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  14. debra in nm

    debra in nm Member

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    Icewytch, I am surprised no one here has mentioned the Findhorn gardens. I would think their weather would be similarly harsh. They did some increadible gardening back in the 60's, I believe, whether assisted by faeries or not. (I'd rather believe the faerie version.) I am on the windy plains of New Mexico, nothing like your weather, but a challenge nevertheless. I have windbreaks for my garden made of wood pallets & also have to batten the mulch down with wire cages. It is a challenge. How about pit greenhouses for you?? Good luck! Beautiful area where you are. debra in nm.
     
  15. babetteq

    babetteq Well-Known Member

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    Hi icewytch,
    I'm in a 4a, but with no light as I'm in northern canada. I'm protected a bit by the ocean so we don't freeze as often as our mainland counterparts, but the weather is incredible with hurricane force wind and hard rains regularly. Our soil is mostly sand and moss and salt. i've just moved here this spring, and didn't get a garden in until July. however, here's what worked pretty well so far...

    I added to the sand a whole lot of seaweed. I mean a LOT. i think the rain washes the salt away sufficiently.

    My broccoli is still putting out heads.
    my peas are doing fabulously
    my sorrel, chard, kale, cabbage, and beet greens are great, but slow.
    my comfrey is happy as pie.

    Everything else died.
    Not an herb made it
    carrots didn't sprout
    lettuce tried, but failed

    I'm going to try to do a poly greenhouse, but as a 'lean to' so that the wind can just blow over it without picking it up. I may reinforce it with that plastic screen. i may also try to build a couple of 'hot boxes' filled with horse poo and then topped off with soil. I'll let you know how it goes.

    Babs
     
  16. DreamingBig

    DreamingBig Well-Known Member

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    Wow, the pictures are so beautiful! I have wanted to go to that general area since seeing the original "Castaways" series on BBC America. I have to say, though, that I can't imagine running around naked there for more than 5 minutes! :haha: Of course you locals may be a hardier stock...

    Anyway, these links might offer some ideas. http://www.motherearthnews.com/rec/og/2099/ http://www.motherearthnews.com/rec/og/2098/

    Good luck!!