Moving to zone 3. Need encouragement :) - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-08-2010, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm in zone 5a right now and planning to move to zone 3.

The purpose of our move is to become more self-sufficient. "So why move from relatively lush 5a to practically tundra 3, then?" Well, our property has no sun. I've tried for years to grow food here (and succeeded - sort of - in a tiny 3x3 raised bed this year, placed in the ONLY decently sunny space in the yard) but honestly it's best suited for wild mushrooms. Which I'm afraid to eat, though it's tempting. We can afford a good chunk of sunny land in zone 3, though.

I was hoping to get encouragement. I've never lived up there. While my practical experience is quite low, I'm familiar with farming and gardening in this area and know what can be grown and (generally) how (like extending the season with hoop houses and such).

Everyone says "the season is SO short up there" so it makes me nervous. I'm hoping that the increase in sun will counter the move northward. Can the "usual" be grown up here, even tomatoes (which obviously will have to come from greenhouse starts)?

Also, I'm all about growing food but my daughter is really into flowers. Can sunflowers be grown? I've already looked up roses; it seems a few very hardy varieties (that flower just in June, not through the season) can be grown there.

I'm sure I can have a mini-orchard of apples (will look into varieties later); are there any other fruit-bearing trees that do ok up there? Cherries? Or berry bushes?

I am thinking I will "need" some kind of cold frame or hoop house or greenhouse. I wonder how expensive the latter two are.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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Old 09-09-2010, 01:48 AM
 
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I'm in zone 3. We do ok. This year not enough sunshine in my area and tomatoes are all green but usually there is good crop potential.
We like to do berry bushes and grape vines (good for juice) in addition to apple trees. I've heard we can grow pear trees but never tried it. Some people harvest chokecherries.
I envy the longer growing season down South but I am loving the end of the flies and other bugs as the cooler weather settles in!
Oh and you don't need a greenhouse. We start tomatoes from seedlings as well as other plants such as peppers and herbs and most years everything does great.
Flowers do well. A lot of homes still have a large selection of beautiful flowers out in planters and beds. We did sunflowers one year- they did really well
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Old 09-10-2010, 07:20 AM
 
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I'm sure I can have a mini-orchard of apples (will look into varieties later); are there any other fruit-bearing trees that do ok up there? Cherries? Or berry bushes?

I am thinking I will "need" some kind of cold frame or hoop house or greenhouse. I wonder how expensive the latter two are.
Pears. I'm sure some raspberry variant of some sort is up there. I think even honeyberries? Just go through every single catalog you can and flip through them. Bonus if they're geared towards your new location.

Yes, odds are you'll need some kind of greenhouse or season extenders. You can easily turn a generic raised bed into a hoophouse with PVC pipe and plastic (well, you might need a few more things to attach it all, but you get the idea). You may figure out how to make a huge and killer greenhouse out of an old carport frame and plastic or out of cattle panels, scrap wood, and plastic. Just takes some creativity and the help of google or neato blogs to frequent.

One other thing is that you may need to modify what you grow. As in, Brandywine tomatoes may not be your mainstay, but Alaska Fancy tomatoes may rock your world (my hubby that variety, been fairly hardy into the high 30's for me in the past!). Corn and melons may be tricky to figure out as well, but there's a melon called Cream of Sasketchewan, so it can't be entirely impossible.

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Old 09-10-2010, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, I am thinking I'm going to have to get friendly with the local extension person up there. Thanks for the input, everyone. I just feel kind of overwhelmed and trying to get my ducks in a row. I'm a non-homesteader jumping into this for starters; adding an unfamiliar environment (colder) is kind of making it hard for me to picture what I'm doing and what I need to do to plan.

I did see online that you can buy a basic little greenhouse for a few hundred dollars; will have to research to be sure that they are worth the money. (There's also a popup greenhouse for like $150). I thought greenhouses were solar-warmed only, but one description said you'd solar warm during the day and add some heat at night. I thought that was a hothouse. I was envisioning using this in the spring to get seeds started. And thinking I'd use covers or some low hoop contraption for the fall. I don't know if we're talking so much money it's not even worth it, though. I'm soooo new to this.

So much to think about... I want to have a small orchard, so it seems that's my #1 priority. I don't think I can plant dwarf varieties up there, so I have to get these things in if I have any chance of getting fruit within, what, 5 years (buying the most mature root stock I can get without compromising its strength)? It's not that long to wait in the grand scheme of things but as I am going blind I feel this urgency to get everything in place within a couple of years so I can get comfortable with it. But I guess the trees are ok, because I need to prune and such so I will be familiar with the trees even if they aren't fruiting. And we all know how to pick apples I guess I'll need to read up on attracting ladybugs as well, for those.

Wow! Exciting and scary too Hey, would you read a book about a legally deaf-blind woman who one day leaves the comfort of her mainstream lifestyle and moves her family to a yurt and builds a homestead? Not that I have enough time on my hands to write a book on top of all that anyway, lol.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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Old 09-10-2010, 02:02 PM
 
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St. Lawrence Nurseries.

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Old 09-10-2010, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oooooh. I'm supposed to be working but <whispers> I *might* log some time looking through this instead.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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Old 09-10-2010, 03:16 PM
 
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Oooooh. I'm supposed to be working but <whispers> I *might* log some time looking through this instead.
Glad I could help. Like I've said, just takes some poking around.

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Old 09-10-2010, 03:31 PM
 
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I posted to your other thread about the Northeast Kingdom. I don't know how set you are on a particular spot in Vermont, but if food growing is a big part of what you want to do, you might want to look at places near, but not quite in, the Northeast Kingdom where land is inexpensive but the growing season is a bit longer. Lamoille County, for instance, is mostly in Zone 4. It includes some more expensive areas (Stowe, Cambridge) but also some very rural areas where land should be cheap - Belvidere, for instance, which still has only dialup internet access (and may actually be in Zone 3.) But the difference in frost dates probably won't be huge between somewhere in Lamoille County and somewhere a bit further northeast. It looks like maybe about 10 days difference, though it will depend on your local microclimate.

Even if you end up in Zone 3, you'll be able to grow tomatoes. Summers here can be surprisingly hot (though it varies from year to year), so in some ways it's better for tomatoes than a place like the Pacific northwest, where the growing season is long but it doesn't get hot. I'm in Zone 4, and I'm swamped with tomatoes right now. I don't have a greenhouse - I start mine inside in late winter, and plant them out in Wall O'Water protectors. You can grow sunflowers, and plenty of other flowers, but you'll probably want to start a lot of them inside. You'll be able to grow blueberries and raspberries and grapes, among other things. Here is the website (with catalog) of a northern Vermont nursery to give you some ideas about things that will grow in this general area. They're in Lamoille County, probably Zone 4.
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Old 09-10-2010, 04:48 PM
 
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I just moved from zone 3 to zone 5a-7 (depending on who you ask).

In zone 3 we could grow pears, apples, plums, bush cherries, blueberries, grapes, cranberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, saskatoon berries, strawberries, most veg (no artichokes), a lot of nice flowers (including sunflowers). I never had luck with melons but there was a local farm that grew cantaloupe. Tomatoes were easy, just stick to short season varieties.

The only things that I couldn't grow there that I wanted to are peaches, apricots and sweet cherries.

My only advice is to really watch when purchasing fruit trees/bushes locally. I found most for sale were for zone 5 and would never survive a single winter in zone 3. I did most of my buying online.
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Old 09-10-2010, 05:11 PM
 
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Grandparents live in Zone 3 they use hoop houses to extend season they also have a small green house look at Russian varieties of things like tomatoes. They also grow an abundance of raspberries and blueberries. Granny Grows all sorts of flowers including sunflowers with no problems
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Old 09-10-2010, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Daffodil, thanks for both of your threads. I asked DH to look at Lamoille County, but he said the prices did seem a lot higher. I will ask him to look again. Dialup internet unfortunately will be a problem for us, since 100% of our income is made online. And for me, it's not just a question of convenience; I have to be able to access stuff by vpn, download and upload huge files, and so on. I have found even DSL to be problematic (one of many big question marks as we go forward).

"Swamped with tomatoes" sounds good to me My current state of sun is so bad that I am actually thrilled with the 12 tomatoes I wrangled out of our yard. I bought a 1/2 bushel of canning tomatoes and have just finished drying them all, so I can enjoy them into December and January. (I am the only one in the house who eats them, so I can ration them as I like ). But I need lots more if I'm going to can sauce!

Thanks so much for that website, it looks great, I'll have to visit in person as well. Unfortunately I've just spent about $200 in my head on all the trees and so on that I want to plant. Maybe I need more than 10 acres

I may try to build some cold frames myself, it doesn't look "that" hard. (So said a lot of people right before doing something they regret ). Honestly, I'm planning on living in a yurt, and I don't know how that's going to work in terms of sunny windowsills. There is the dome but the light moves across the yurt constantly, as opposed to a windowsill that can count on a couple good hours of sun each day. I think the dome light will hit a particular area for only 30 minutes, say. Of course I could buy grow lights, but first I'll look into a cold frame or something like that (prefer non-electric solutions first, but I'm not above using electricity. You will not be parting me from my washing machine, for example).

It does sounds like we can grow stuff, and that just confirms common sense. I mean, what, did people used to live in the land now Massachusetts, but not the land now Vermont? Much less Canada? Of course you can grow food there; I just have to make sure I get the right food. I'll probably order a book I found about gardening in zones 3-4-5 (tried to find in the library, but the only copy in the state is the 6-7-8 zone book, which I didn't even know Massachusetts was in at all).

So I am currently drooling over (and my family too) apples, pears, tart cherries, nuts (don't know what yet, but something), blueberries and maybe raspberries. I'm seeing grapes; had NO idea they could remotely grow up here. Those are tempting too. DD loves grapes but we rarely buy them for her ($$ and not local).

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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Old 09-10-2010, 05:44 PM
 
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Dialup internet unfortunately will be a problem for us, since 100% of our income is made online. And for me, it's not just a question of convenience; I have to be able to access stuff by vpn, download and upload huge files, and so on. I have found even DSL to be problematic (one of many big question marks as we go forward).
If broadband is vital for you, that's going to eliminate some of the cheapest areas. Sorry to take the thread OT, but you might be interested in this map of broadband availability by town in Vermont.
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Old 09-10-2010, 06:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I can't believe how much information you have. Awesome! Charleston is one of the towns we are looking at, and it has "ok" availability. Montgomery stands out as having a lot, though I don't know anything about it (expensive or what). I can see some towns have zilch. But broadband is wireless, right? I guess the question is really whether a cable company runs up whatever road we're on.

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