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.
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
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
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!
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
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?
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