northern Idaho veggie gardening

Anyone out "there" living and gardening in northern Idaho? I am in the mountains, elev 2700', probably zone 4. I think our area was left off the zone map, since within a 65 mile radius the elevation goes from sea level to over 3500' Must be too intense for the zone map. Anyway, I could surely use some tips on what grows well here besides oodles of wild rhubarb and evil blackberry bushes! Thanks for any offerings of advice. Deb
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If you haven't tried raised garden beds check out a series of articles on the subject at: www.raised-garden-bed.com
Johnny
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If you have wild blackberries, you might be in Zone 5. They aren't all that hardy. But buying stock for Zone 4 would be a safe bet.
If you're up on the hill, you can grow lots of stuff that flatlanders can't grow. Raspberries, currants, columbine, blue poppies, all of the somniferum poppies (the oriential, perennial ones), um, my brain isn't working...
Do a google for cold climate gardening or something like that. There are LOTS of things that grow well in the colder zones that just can't handle hot weather or lower latitudes/altitudes.
The state flower of Colorado is a gorgeous blue & white Columbine.
Jan in Alaska USDA Zone 3
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Thanks, Jan, for this encouragement on the zone. It is hard to gauge. You are right - I had forgotten that slopes help since the cold tumbles downward. Nothing is level here! I'm in the northern Idaho panhandle, above the Clearwater River and the huge dam/reservoir called Dworshak. The town at the foot of this hill/mountain has much milder weather. I've been told that before the dam was put in, the winters were arctic. My experience, since 1995 has been that some winters we barely drop below the -5 mark, other winters, down to -15. We have ranged snow fall from 13 feet to barely 3'.
Actually, I probably should have called the berries "black caps" but perhaps the same rule you mention applies regarding the zone. I hope so. On the decorative front, I have oriental and iceland poppies, but just planted those in the spring. In addition to the natural conifers, I have success with maples, pin oaks started from acorns; even an "Aussie willow", which I am using to propagate more trees for next year's planting. The only problem on those have been providing enough water in the hot summer days till they get their roots deep enough to tap into the underground springs. I am taking pains to slowing build my ornamental garden with plants the deer apparently do not like. So far, lilac, daffodils, iris, viburnum, kolkwitzea, buddleia, spiraea, etc. Want to add more shrubs around the bank that surrounds the back deck. No use battling the deer - they always win.
I have a couple of apple and cherry trees, but again, it's a battle with the deer.
This is the first year I have tried the veggie garden. Tomatoes- unknown variety given as gifts and squash I started in my little greenhouse. Our 10 acre plot is between 2600 and 2800 feet, on a gently undulating and sloping hillside. The soil is mostly clay and stony so eventually I will need to use raised beds if I want to expand. There are natural springs in some areas but not right where the veggie garden is growing. Right now, it consists of 7 oak half- barrels and a 18"x 24' raised raised bed created by a retaining wall that holds back a bank that slopes down behind the house. The yard slopes high in the back to low in the front. I have herbs, onions, radishes in the bank which seem to be doing fine. The barrels hold squash, tomatoes, peppers. I hope they get enough sun since the are lined up facing east with the house and deck behind. I see blooms forming - hope there is enough time before fall for them to set and ripen. The plants do get reflected heat from the deck, and from the stones of the 2' stone retaining wall. I also started some Jerusalem artichokes in a deep planter. The barrels are easy to manage at my age; so will the eventual raised beds.
My goal is to have a goodly portion of the garden in perennial or self- seeding food-producing plants such as asparagus, the Jerusalem artichokes and whatever else I can discover. I need to make this process easy on myself physically. I know rhubarb does well but one cannot live on rhubarb alone! I will overwinter the herbs with a straw blanket. Any suggestions would be welcome. :-)
Also, would love to grow strawberries. Do you think they would make it in a container, like a strawberry barrel?
Thanks again for any comments or suggestions! Deb
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Strawberries do fine in a container. Mine grow in an old tractor tire. (I know -- tacky homesteader landscaping, but they're really thriving in there. I'm planting all of the volunteers who climb out of the tire in a dedicated raised bed in the yard.)
If you're just getting started and have crappy soil, compost *everything* you can get your hands on, to build good soil for your beds. Go look at my friend's website for things that you can compost. http://www.plantea.com/compost-materials.htm
Cage your fruit trees with concrete reinforcing mesh or hogwire. Use something sturdy, like t-posts, for supports for the cage.
I have to plant two new apple trees tomorrow. I'll put 8 foot diameter mesh cages around them. We have moose that come through the yard. They *love* fruit trees... (The fence around my veggie garden is 8' tall, made of commercial fishing net, with 2" dia. steel pipe posts.) Moose are the largest member of the deer family.
I recently bought 25 Purple Passion asparagus crowns on ebay for $6, and they are gorgeous! Shop around. Sometimes you can find a sweet deal.
Get the catalog from Raintree Nursery. They have all sorts of small bush fruits that thrive in colder climates. They carry some really interesting stuff from Russia and eastern Europe that we aren't familiar with over here in the states yet.
For a really pretty perennial border, try white shasta daisies and red, oriental poppies, combined. It makes a striking border. (I always like putting white flowers into every combination, to set the colored flowers off all that more.)
At my age (Eisenhower baby), I'm trying to get my infrustructure built while I still can. And we're building all new fences on the ranch using 2" oilfield pipe for the run and railroad ties for the corners. We don't intend to rebuild any of that stuff in our lifetimes...
Jan in Alaska
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Thanks for all this great info. Your goals are like mine. I tell my hubby that every project we do needs to be the last time we do it- so make it right the first time. Never thought of checking eBay for plants. I'll do that. I like your fencing ideas, too. Oh, yes, we know what a moose is. Is there any particular variety of strawberry you prefer for your climate? Deb :-)
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