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Zone 3-5: what are you up to in the garden?

post #1 of 75
Thread Starter 

I remember the zone 3-5 thread from last year so thought I would start a new one.


I am so far resisting any desire to plant anything - frost date has not yet passed.

I overturned my compost bin from last fall it it had beautiful wet compostjoy.gif  My first compost ever.  I have restarted my indoor scrap bucket. 


I have also bought some soil, manure and a very cool toy - a weed puller.  I have very few tools, and this one is a winner.  IPulled 20 dandelions in under ten minutes with little loss of soil.


I have also decided this year to keep mulch between rows, and to give the squash their own garden (they keep  overtaking the rest of the garden).


so...what are you up to????



post #2 of 75

We have 6 inches of snow! At least the garlic and daffies are poking through. Also, the rose, elderberry and honeysuckle next to the house have tiny leaf buds on them. Spring can't be too far away.


ETA- zone 4 here, we don't usually plant much besides peas and carrots before June. Last year our last frost (very light) was in July.

post #3 of 75

Zone 4 here.  It's been a cold, snowy spring so far, and I have absolutely nothing planted outside yet, partly because it's been so cold and partly because I've been too busy.  I have tomatoes growing inside, and I hope to plant peas, greens, onions, and potatoes soon.  Normally I would be thinking about putting the tomatoes outside in Wall O'Waters around now, but I think I'll want to let the soil warm up and dry out a little more.  And I got them started late this year, so they're still really small.

post #4 of 75

I bought some unscreened topsiol($11 cheaper than screened) and replanted the nanking cherry that was dying in my yucky soil. What a pleasure it was to work with non-clay soil!


 I planted raspberries and strawberries. Dug out some lambs ear and planted oinion bulbs in its place.Planted 2 grape vines. With gas being so high I decided to lessen the grassy areas,so I covered one spot with wood chips. Put wood chips in the chicken run too.


There is so much to do but the rain is water looging everything.


Oh I did weedwack too after I found a tick crawling on my leg INSIDE my pants.Ewwww ewwwww ewwww. I hate ticks more than fleas.

post #5 of 75

We've had a long, cold, snowy spring too. I feel like we just reached the tipping point this week where you KNOW spring is actually here to stay. The grass has greened up this week, there are leaves coming on the lilac bushes.... and it's mostly stayed above 0C these days. (Last week it was not). 


I have tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, and other various little things started inside. They're still a bit small, but that's ok. They won't go out for another month! We have a last frost date of June 1st. DH and I are busy this weekend but starting tomorrow I'll be in the garden getting the beds ready. It's JUST getting to the point where I can do that. It was full of snow for the longest time and now it's drying out. I'm hoping to plant some things early this year; peas, onions, lettuce and other greens. 


This has been the worst spring as far back as I can remember. 

post #6 of 75

Zone 4b in central WI here, and we've had a horribly cool, wet spring here, too. I do have some things out in the garden - the snap peas are about an inch tall right now (planted in early April), and some of the turnips, radishes and lettuce are just getting their first set of leaves. My beets and purslane are also starting, and I have broccoli and brussels sprouts plants out.


The lilacs are just barely starting to leaf out, and the cherry and plum trees have buds but no leaves yet. I've planted 2 pear trees, and am waiting for a new apple tree to show up. I'm insanely happy about the new fruit trees, and am hoping that this is the year I get my first plums, but with the cold spring, it could be that the season is lost - we'll see.


Happy gardening to all my fellow cold weather gardeners!

post #7 of 75

I am newly transplanted to zone 5A (from 6B mecry.gif) and we bought a house with a TINY lot in a community with a HOA (vs. the half-acre back home where I could also keep laying hens).


Oh... sorry... do I sound bitter?


Anyway, just YESTERDAY I found out that there is a set of community garden plots nearby and I went down today to snatch TWO of them!!!!!  But of course, I have absolutely nothing started.  banghead.gif


I've decide that we're going to move forward and join a CSA, then use the community plots to grow stuff specifically for preserving for the winter.  So I'm trying to figure out what to grow RIGHT. NOW!!!

post #8 of 75

Heather, you moved the wrong direction, but I guess you already knew that! ;) Congrats on the community garden plots. I do a combination of gardening in my yard and in the community garden. I could do everything in my yard, but the community garden is a lot of fun, and can be a great way to meet people.


Depending on where you are, your last frost date is probably right about now, so this is a great time to get started. Do you have your seeds already? Your growing season will be a few weeks longer than what I'm used to, but I've found I am happiest with my garden results when I pick the varieties of a veggie that are the fastest to ripen. So, if I am looking in a seed catalog, and there is a carrot with a maturity date of 65 days and one with 72, I'm going to go with the 65.



post #9 of 75
Thread Starter 

Heather - tips for newbies to this zone:


keep a good eye on the calendar and get stuff in as soon as the frost date ends.  You can cover stuff with a blanket if you are expecting a frost and stuff is still in the garden.


I have had little luck starting peppers or tomatoes from seed - they just take too long to ripen.  I buy plants and transplant them.  You can try starting from seeds indoors - but I find they need to much babying for my scheduel.



post #10 of 75

I started seeds indoors mid April (or somewhere in there) and just now sorted through them. Last year I started them in a shallow pan then transplanted the best ones to individual pots. It was a lot of extra work and I didn't like leaving any behind. So this year I decided I'd start 1-3 seeds in individual pots (about 2.5-3" across) but some of those seeds are really tiny and I accidentally planted a forest in some dishes. So again, I had to weed through and now have a pile of tomato and pepper carcasses. Such a waste! I found myself apologizing to them. I feel so sad.


Everything came up ok except my bell peppers. Only 3 out of 12 grew! I guess the seeds aren't very good. After thinning I added more soil to the pots, I'm trying to get some great root systems going. They're getting their first true leaves and I think I'll get out the fish emulsion fertilizer to give them a spritz. They won't be planted in the garden until June 1st. I hope it stops raining at some point so that I can get the garden space ready for them! Plus I vowed I would get some early greens going.... 

post #11 of 75

Oh yeah... I totally know.  Job relocation.  I'm trying to have an attitude of gratitude that we have income.  eyesroll.gif


I joined TWO CSAs this year.  One share wasn't enough last year, we weren't sure which one of the remaining two to go with, and we figured we could preserve the extra.  It's going to also hopefully gain us a little insider info on how they're planting because we're looking for a plot of land and hope to have our own little CSA & herb farm of our own once we master gardening in this zone.


I have precious few seeds for the community garden plot.  I was going to focus more on herbs at the house and bought those.  And we're a Feingold family, so we can't eat tomatoes or peppers anyway.  Well, we can cheat, so I'm seriously considering some paste tomatoes to make some ketchup for the year.  But otherwise, tons of broccoli, green beans, zucchini, carrots, spinach, and some potatoes, onions, peas to dry and kidney beans to dry (anyone got an idea of what kind of pea & bean those would be??).  And maybe 2-3 pumpkins.  I THINK they should all do pretty well in the cold... oui?  Sheepish.gif



ETA: Where might one find organic, non-hybrid, non-GMO transplants for broccoli or cauliflower?

post #12 of 75

You didn't move to the arctic! You're in zone 5 for Pete's sake. Have pity on those of us in 3 and 4! ROTFLMAO.gif Everything you listed will grow really well in the "cold". I'm not sure about broccoli seeing I've never grown it before but it should be fine. God. What I would do to grow in zone 5!!!!

post #13 of 75


Originally Posted by HeatherAtHome View Post

You didn't move to the arctic! You're in zone 5 for Pete's sake. Have pity on those of us in 3 and 4! ROTFLMAO.gif


LMAO - yes, some of us do dream of a zone 5 growing season. At least you didn't move as far north as us! ;) Actually, although I've lived in the south, I've only ever gardened in zones 4 and 5, so maybe I'm dellusional, but a short season can be fun and challenging. And I like to think we appreciate spring in a way no southerner could possibly understand. ;)


What part of Illinois are you in? I'm north of you in Wisconsin, but where I am, it is quite easy to find organic broccoli seedlings. The garden centers here don't carry them, but you can get them at the farmer's market or at smaller nurseries. I found mine at a small local hardware store that gets their plants from an organic farm nearby. The local natural foods store also carries them. I think you'll probably have to just hunt around to find them near you. It might be a bit late to find broccoli, though. I noticed yesterday that the garden center near me no longer had any cole veggies. If all the broccoli plants are gone, you can still direct seed for a fall crop. I usually seed in early to mid June for fall broccoli.


Your other picks will all grow wonderfully here, and none of them (except the possible tomatoes, of course) need to be started ahead, so you should be fine direct seeding them.

post #14 of 75

HI!   I'm in the upper N.E. and I think zone 5b?  Its nice to see you all. I was getting anxious in the food growing mamas thread. :)

I started some things really early march. On my windowsills I have beautiful mini bell peppers going, hot chinese 5 color peppers, and tomatoes which I just repotted because they are enormous!!  I am doing Baker creek seeds this year and have some fun tomatoes. Ananas Noire (pink and green) Black cherries and Delicious  (beefsteak)


In my garden patch I have spinach, lettuce, beets, carrots, and peas going.  I see my peas just starting to sprout but otherwise, just waiting waiting waiting, and hoping my kids remember to avoid those parts of the garden when they're running and digging. I also planted my broccoli and snapdragons that I started early march too. They are doing well so far.


This year we are doing a bean teepee and I am going to try sunflowers for the first time. Thinking about a sunflower house. But we'll see. I have heard they are hard to start because the birds eat the seeds.....


And I almost forgot- my asparagus is poking up!!  I love the sight of that!

post #15 of 75

I'm Zone 3/4 here -- for years I've felt guilty that I never get my garden in until early June (once, mid-June bag.gif ).  But, I checked yesterday and our average last frost is June 6th.  My mom, who is firmly Zone 3, acts like I'm in the tropics --- but our last/first frost dates actually differ by a little less than a week in each direction. 

My gardening projects thus far have been:


1.  Started all my old (as in, 8 years old?) sweet pea seeds indoors in hopes of having some to transplant.  Despite nicking and soaking overnight in lukewarm water, I had only one germinate (!) .... I haven't decided which plants I'll start in my seedling trays instead now, I might actually do corn.  I read in Mother Earth News that corn actually transplants really well.  I've never actually started seeds indoors myself, because most springs we are gone for a significant amount of time and wouldn't be able to care for the seedlings while we're gone.  Instead, we usually buy seedlings at the local nursery.  I err towards the heirlooms, they may not have been started organically but at least they'll be organic once they hit my garden! 

2.  We tilled the garden last fall, so I was able to plant much earlier than usual this spring.  Yesterday, I got my first planting of peas/snow peas planted, as well as onions and my gladiolas.  I will wait on everything else 'til the end of the month (or more likely, June).


3.  I bought two of those polypropelene potato tubs to try this year.  My garden potatoes last year developed scab and from what I've read, that's pretty much THERE in my soil now.  So, we'll see whether compost in tubs works better.  I haven't decided where I'll put the tubs - I'm toying with the idea of putting them on the front steps, and planting something decorative in the bag with them, as if they're a floral planter.  Dh will complain if they are on the lawn itself anywhere, and they need to be accessible for watering.


4.  DD1 is in a gardening class at the local nursery.  They gave her a tree to plant for Arbor Day.  I have no idea where I'll plant it - it's a little Nanking Bush Cherry.  Hadn't been on my radar as a plant to squeeze into our garden plan.....


5.  My compost heap has been an open one for years, I couldn't decide what I wanted to do for a composter.  I've decided that the easiest thing to do will be to make my own vermicompost bin (science project with dd1!) - that way I don't have to trek out to a compost bin during the winter, through ice and snow.  We'll see how the project goes, right now I'm feeling really confident - and looking forward to those rich worm castings on my garden! 


6.  Today, I did the preliminary clearing of my flowerbeds (all the old dead stalks and leaves) - later this spring, I need to re-dig two large beds which have been overtaken by weeds.  And I need to go through all the beds and clear the grass etc. yet (I'm only halfway there at this point with the flowerbeds!). 

We are CSA members, Heatherdeg, so we actually grow three kinds of things in our garden - flowers, for the girls to enjoy and pick; food to preserve; and foods that our CSA doesn't provide in the quantities we would eat.  So, they give us tons of greens --- we don't grow spinach/kale/lettuce/chard anymore.  They give
a ton of tomatoes; so now I only grow a few tomato plants (a couple Black Krim, and a yellow pear).  But we only get a few bunches of peas and green beans, no dry beans, and not a lot of corn.  So my garden this year is:  peas, beans, dry beans, corn, carrots, parsnips, winter squash (Lakota and Sunshine), Lumina pumpkins, onions, zinnias, cosmos, calendula, Love-in-A-Mist (the red ones this time!), gladiolas, dill, basil, parsley, cilantro, my two potato tubs, a few tomatoes and eggplants, etc.  DD1 helped plan the garden with me, and chose yellow beans for both our bush and our pole beans. 


This year, I'm growing a lot of beans for drying.  I got Peregion, Jacob's Cattle, and a short-season Red Kidney.  We are also growing twice as many peas and snow peas.  DD2 doesn't like frozen or storebought peas, but will eat them out of the garden.  So I'm hoping she'll eat what I freeze from the garden too?  Also, the deer got into my peas last year midseason, and both varieties regenerated and looked even better after their pruning.  So my Grande Experimente this year is to trim my peas down along one side of my pea fence, and see whether I can generate a good second crop that way. 


The girls really like sunflowers - I got our usual sunflower seeds.  My aunt suggested that the toxins in their roots had been the reason that my pole beans (planted with them) hadn't done as well last year.  I'm thinking about trying that "plant them in a bag of compost" method with them....  ? 

We are battling ants, which have for a couple years been removing the compost I add to my strawberry bed, to build themselves a nice anthill.  I'm thinking about moving my strawberry bed entirely - they haven't done well there at all, my harvest has been only handfuls.  We are in the middle of remodeling the house, with long-term plans to build raised beds and coldframes for the garden, and lots of fruit bushes/trees/perennials to establish.  We have four apple trees and a pie cherry already planted (this is year 3 for them), but want to get a raspberry bed, acidify a bed for blueberries, etc. - move to more of our fruit coming from our own yard (we live in town so it's a question of really managing our space well). 


post #16 of 75

Good to know about the sunflower roots! I was thinking of planting them where my beans will be. 


Do strawberries like a lot of water?  I have a really large prolific raspberry patch at the back of my property and the area around it is really weedy and marshy in spring. I was thinking about having it dug out and then planting a strawberry bed there.....

post #17 of 75
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post


I have precious few seeds for the community garden plot.  I was going to focus more on herbs at the house and bought those.  And we're a Feingold family, so we can't eat tomatoes or peppers anyway.  Well, we can cheat, so I'm seriously considering some paste tomatoes to make some ketchup for the year.  But otherwise, tons of broccoli, green beans, zucchini, carrots, spinach, and some potatoes, onions, peas to dry and kidney beans to dry (anyone got an idea of what kind of pea & bean those would be??).  And maybe 2-3 pumpkins.  I THINK they should all do pretty well in the cold... oui?  Sheepish.gif



ETA: Where might one find organic, non-hybrid, non-GMO transplants for broccoli or cauliflower?

Kidney beans = red kidney beans.  I've gotten them from Heirloom Acres (they take a long time to ship though - like 3 weeks), and someplace else I can't remember. 
Peas... pretty much any shelling pea.  I've dehydrated peas from the yard (um, yeah, be careful you don't burn them like I have a tendency to do) and from a frozen veggie sale at the grocery store.  :)

Pumpkins, get shorter season ones. 
Potatoes and onions need to be planted shortly if you want to harvest decently later on.

Non-GMO transplants...  your best bet will be a local nursery or farmer's market or some connection you find from there.  Ask your CSA's, too.  Odds are they know the hippies.  ;)

Chilly zone 5 here.  Saw an 8-12" asparagus stalk today in the yard.  Whoa.  Didn't expect that.  It's a dandelion forest out there, and the kids have been pokey about harvesting the dandelion heads for me (to make jelly).  Lots of weeds everywhere you look.  Need to work on it.  Have garlic coming up, spinach and broccoli in the ground, three tomato plants in wall-o-waters.  A few things in the greenhouse, including a giant ant nest.  Sigh.  At least my dozen fruit trees are showing signs of life, that's always good.
Also need to work on the lawn - we've ignored it for years, and I'm sure the previous owners used chemicals, so now it's kind of sucking and bothering hubby (I really don't care as long as he mows it a time or three during the summer).  I'm thinking a boatload of compost/manure from someplace and just re-seeding may be in order rather than trying to weed or let hubby use some random something he's still got in the garage or whatever.

post #18 of 75

This is my second year in the garden and l LOVE how much easier it is this time with most of the hard work of preparing the space and putting up a fence finished. I've been turning the beds with a pitchfork and now toying with the idea of making raised beds. Right now they're just heaps of dirt. I don't have a lot of problems with weeds in the 4' wide beds. Have to do a light weeding early on but once veggies grow they block out the weeds. It's weeds in the pathways that get to me. I'm thinking that if I build raised beds I can just let the (crab? switch?) grass grow in the paths and mow it. We have some very old, non treated, raw/unfinished wood laying around because we just ripped down our old carport. The roof was made with planks of wood about 1.25" thick and then covered with tin so the wood stayed protected all those years. I had hoped to put cardboard and straw down in the pathways but I'm having a hard time finding straw at a decent price plus wondering what sort of pests/pesticides I would be introducing to the garden...


Our last frost date is June 1st and I'm amazed to say that maybe I WILL get some early crops in this year. I was sort of wondering. We were having so much rain I couldn't get out to prep the beds!

post #19 of 75
Thread Starter 

Ok - can you plant lettuce and carrots before the frost date?  I think you can and I am itching to get things in the ground......


I actually drew a garden plan this week, and have decided to use grass clippings as mulch.   It is  not perfect, but it is free and I like free.  


I am also going to either edge my veggie garden with a trench or heavily mulch it to prevent #$%& grass from creeping in.  I am not an anti grass or weed zealot, but my garden is small, so I feel like I have to be carefull.   


So - what are you planting?


My list:


herbs:  basil, cilantro.  I have oregano and parsley in from last year.  Oregano seems to be a perrenial, and does so well here.  The parsley is supposed to last 2 years, but I swear this is year 3 or 4.  it is getting quite small, so I will reseed.  If I have thyme I will plant it.


Chives - I know it is late, but oh well


Garlic - I have some in and they are doing great.  I also have some wild garlic at the back of the property.  


Mesclun mix.  I have planted regular lettuce in the past, but I really do prefer a variety in my salad.


Carrots.  Purple.  For my DD


tomatos - probably from bought seedling.  I have a few cherry tomato seeds I am going to start from seed in peat pots today.  My track record on starting from seed iindoors lousy, but I know they will not have enough time if I do wait until the last frost date to sow 


Brocoli.  first year - we will se how it goes.


Potatoes - I am trying to decide whether to buy seed potatoes or use the things sprouting in my cupboard.


Squash - butternut.  Lovely things are getting their own garden this year as they take over!!!!




post #20 of 75
I'm not doing very well this year. I've got some things planted in the garden. I had some flats of tomatoes and peppers that looked good and I decided to start hardening them off yesterday. Of course I forgot they were outside. I remembered about 4am that I forgot to bring them in. They're on the picnic table under the deck so they're protected from the sun and too much wind. We did have a pretty good thunderstorm last night and they're looking beaten down this morning. I guess they're just getting tough love this year.

I think I'll put everything in the ground sometime next week. I need to get the first planting of sweet corn going too. I didn't start anywhere near enough things this year so I'll definitely be going down the road to the local greenhouse and buying a few more flats of veggies. Either that or I'll have to plant more pumpkins and melons than I had planned. They're pretty good at taking up lots of space.
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