Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Growing Food, Zone 4 Style

Our move in a week is in a Northern direction, Taking us from a zone 5 to a solid zone 4. So, I did a little research into the changes in frost date, and the last frost date for our new house is a week after the last frost date here in Des Moines. If I want 6 week old tomato seedlings to plant out at the end of April, I need to start them this weekend. :-) Yay!!! I love starting tomatoes. So much promise in those little seeds, none of the heartbreak. I'm hoping to start a few extra so our current housemate Claire can have some seedlings for her garden too. And if I start another half dozen and give them to Ms Becky, well that would just be the icing on the cake. :-)

I'm hoping to get my cold frame set up the first few days we're at our new house. It will probably require shoveling snow out of the way. :-P But, I need to get it in place ASAP so it can warm up the ground a little, I want to put lettuce seeds in it by the end of the month. There are two good places for the cold frame to go, the south side of the house has two mudrooms, one off the front door that opens into the living room and one smaller one that goes to the kitchen. I want to put the cold frame near one of those doors, probably near the kitchen door.

I'm thinking those mudrooms are going to be great for transplant hardening. Especially the big one near the front door. It has windows, so light and air flow, but not too much of either so the transplants won't go into shock. They'll also help extend the grow season, as I can bring potted plants into the mudrooms to protect them from frost.

I'm not sure yet where I'll put my seed starting setup. There's a couple different possibilities, one of the mudrooms, a sunny window in the dining room or down in the basement. We'll see where things fit when we move in I guess.

I've pretty much figured out where I want to put the veggie garden. There are a lot of mature trees on the lot, but there's a great spot in the south front lawn, right near the door to the kitchen. Close to the shed, which is in the small backyard. It probably won't be very big, as I'm sure we'll have other things to do. :-) But, it needs to be big enough for 3-4 tomatoes, a couple of hills of squash (one summer, one winter), a row of potatoes, a row of onions, a row of beans and a row of root crops (carrots/parsnips/beets).
My garlic will stay in Des Moines, and hopefully I can come back in July and harvest it. I'd hate to lose the genetics I've been growing for the past few years, but since they are in the ground, my options are limited.
Most of my herbs will probably be potted, and my greens will be too I think. Peas I might try potted, just to save the garden space for something with more bang. Eggplant did really well for me in a pot, so did the bell pepper I grew last year, so I might do that again with those.
:-D Here we go!

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