Northeast Gardening forum: Looking for answers and advice for growing in Zone 4

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Name: Jenn
New Hampshire (Zone 4b)
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gngrbluiz
Jul 23, 2018 10:27 AM CST
In September, we will be moving to a new home in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire, Zone 4b. All of the research I've done since moving to New England 3 years ago has been centered around planting in Zone 5, so I'm having to revise my garden and edible landscaping plans. I've scoured the internet for Zone 4 info and have some rough ideas of what I'd like to do, but I'd also like input from the hardy folks who garden in Zone 4 (or colder), to learn from your experience and advice. Here's what I'd like to know:

- What growing methods do you employ? (SFG, containers, hugelkultur, BTE, etc.)

- Do you use a greenhouse and/or hot and cold frames for growing year-round?

- Do you use a root cellar or garage to store produce over winter?

- What edible fruit, self-pollinating trees or shrubs do you grow and how do you winterize them?

- Many websites include Rainier and Bing cherries in Zone 4 lists, but sweet cherries are traditionally grown in Zones 5+. Do you successfully grow Rainier or other sweet cherries? And, if you grow successfully grow sour cherries, what cultivars do you recommend?

- In your experience, what pollinator attracting flowers or herbs actually grow as perennials, without winterizing or other special care?

- I want to establish dedicated (separate) raised beds for strawberries and asparagus. What advice might you have for me and what cultivars do you recommend for the harsh climate?

- There's lots of wildlife in the area, but it's bears I worry about. For a long time I've wanted to grow my own grains and rice, but never had the space to try. Now I'm almost afraid to. And what about corn? I really, really want to grow corn! Do I have cause to be concerned??? Do a few precautionary measures make this a moot point - or should I give up on homegrown grains altogether?

My ultimate goal is to incorporate a majority of organically grown, edible plants into the permanent landscape of the property, providing 4-season interest, with year-round habitat and food for birds and pollinators. If you have thoughts or advice on companion plants or groupings, I'd love to hear them...

Thanks!

Gngrbluiz
Name: Marilyn
CT (Zone 5b)
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RobinD
Jul 23, 2018 11:28 AM CST
Hi Jenn......My husband was from the Upper Valley.....I still visit his niece & friends up there......Edgewater Farm in Plainfield is owned by the daughter & granddaughter of a friend....they may be a good resource....ask for Ann or Sara......They do pick- your- own strawberries, & have many greenhouses on the property, as well as a farm stand on 12A....the dairy farm is on River Rd where Edgewater is located......I think this time of year everyone is at the stand on 12A. I think there are more bears here than up there! Anyway, hope this helps.
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1 Container Gardener Seed Starter
Dog Lover Region: New Jersey Hummingbirder Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Onewish1
Jul 24, 2018 3:14 AM CST

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Zone 6 here not much help to ya.. but wish you all the best
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Sep 2, 2018 12:12 PM CST
Jenn how much land do you have?
How close to woods, where bears, raccoons and other critters reside are you?
I am in Minn. and have gardens in areas that reach down to the -40 below but normally peak at the -20 below area, how cold is your area.
If it is truly a sub-zero, -20 often area, a year round green house would really have to be a sub-terrain item. I.e. the floor is at least five feet below surrounding terrain for it to work without heating bills extremely high.
Even in lower Minn. 100 miles south of me, sweet cherries are at best a crap-shoot with failure most common.
The only thing I grown that is not for this zone is Hybrid Tea roses and they involve a lot of work being prepared for winter.
At that any one up here who grows hybrid teas will lose some near every year.
I totally bury them now but that is a lot of work and getting new ones started still involves a lot of failure.
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1 Container Gardener Seed Starter
Dog Lover Region: New Jersey Hummingbirder Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Onewish1
Sep 3, 2018 3:52 AM CST

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Wow that is a lot of work

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JHeirloomSeeds
Sep 28, 2018 11:15 AM CST
@gngrbluiz, I live in northern Maine, zone 4a, so I can sympathize with you! I have an unheated greenhouse that I use mainly for seedlings in the spring. Being unheated, it's pretty labor intensive because in the early Spring months I have to bring all the plants back to the house at night and then haul them out in the morning. I started over 1,000 seedlings last Spring, so it was busy!
For pollinator attracting perennial flowers and herbs, I have valerian (Valeriana officinalis), catnip, lemon balm, sweet william (officially a biennial but it usually acts like short-lived perennial)...hmm, there's probably more but now my mind is drawing a blank! I grow a lot of biennials and annuals too.
For a while I thought the season was too short to grow corn, but there are actually several short-season varieties that do well here. I grow 'Dorinny Sweet', which is an OP variety. You can get it from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (I'd attach a link, but I'm a fairly new member here and the site is still not allowing me to post links).
We have lots of bears here too, but I haven't had a problem with them in my gardens yet. A moose did eat all my broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage last year, though! Sticking tongue out
Anyway, hope some of that was helpful. Smiling
Joanna
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1 Container Gardener Seed Starter
Dog Lover Region: New Jersey Hummingbirder Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Onewish1
Sep 29, 2018 4:17 AM CST

Moderator

Sounds like you keep busy up there.. good for you
Name: Marilyn
CT (Zone 5b)
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RobinD
Sep 29, 2018 8:27 AM CST
Oh, my gosh! Didn't know moose were a problem in the gardens! I've only seen one moose in CT & he was with a bunch of cows in a pasture.....

Morning Glories Bookworm Enjoys or suffers cold winters Heirlooms Cat Lover Herbs
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JHeirloomSeeds
Sep 29, 2018 3:42 PM CST
A moose in a pasture with cows would be an interesting sight! They seem to love brassicas. Broccoli is a major crop up here and they can often be seen grazing on it in the fields. But I only had a moose raid the garden that one time.


RobinD said:Oh, my gosh! Didn't know moose were a problem in the gardens! I've only seen one moose in CT & he was with a bunch of cows in a pasture.....


Name: Marilyn
CT (Zone 5b)
Birds Daylilies Dog Lover Garden Art Heucheras
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RobinD
Sep 30, 2018 3:51 PM CST
Well, they do eat healthy!
Name: Susie
Western NY (Zone 5a)
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lovegrillin
Apr 9, 2019 2:38 PM CST
Wish I would have seen this sooner. I'm in a zone 4 sub-climate (surrounded by zone 5) and have learned the hard way because I thought I was in zone 5. To attract bees etc, I use daylilies, especially northern hardy types. Be careful ordering from the south as many of these won't live here for long. Any vegetables are fine as long as they have a shorter growing season. I have lots of critters here (no moose though). Raccoons and deer are always a problem. We use the orange plastic snow fencing around the vegetable garden every year. We take it down in the fall when the garden is done. This really helps. I think because its new to them every year and they are leery of it. Before using the snow fence I also had a bear problem - he would eat all of my pumpkins. Not sure if the fence freaks him out or he died but the last 3 years he has left my pumpkins alone. If you don't want bears (or other critters) keep your yard clear of dog food, bird feeders etc. Also, if your going to have a compost pile, keep it as far away from your home as you can. Don't worry to much about the bears - they are as afraid of you as you (and me) are from them. Happy gardening.
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1 Container Gardener Seed Starter
Dog Lover Region: New Jersey Hummingbirder Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Onewish1
Apr 10, 2019 4:07 AM CST

Moderator

Hello and welcome Susie Welcome!
They say I'm zone 6 .. experience tells me zone 5 .. we have bears here also.. didn't realize they would eat pumpkins.. we had feeders for the birds for 3 years and lessons learned not to do that .. we refrain from putting garbage out until morning and that seems to keep them away
Name: Marilyn
CT (Zone 5b)
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RobinD
Apr 10, 2019 7:55 AM CST
Bears have raided the garbage toters down the hill from me, but have left mine alone...Nicki has been barking like crazy on garbage nights, so I think she scares them away. Today's paper says to add ammonia to the garbage. Now if only the turkeys would stay out of the garden....I've bought some new stuff....Plantskyyd...I'll see if it works.
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1 Container Gardener Seed Starter
Dog Lover Region: New Jersey Hummingbirder Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Onewish1
Apr 11, 2019 3:53 AM CST

Moderator

Good luck .. hope it works.. my coworker uses bleach on the garbage.. and said one scent of lysol worked too .. will ask him again which one

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JHeirloomSeeds
Apr 11, 2019 6:07 AM CST
Bears have raided our dumpster twice in the last few years. The first time, they managed to tip the whole thing over and dragged trash all over the dooryard. Somehow we all slept through it, even with the windows open! Hilarious!
Name: Susie
Western NY (Zone 5a)
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lovegrillin
Apr 11, 2019 11:43 AM CST
The sad thing about Bears is that once they find food they will always come back. If its a mother with cubs, the cubs will come back even after many years. This can lead to the bears being shot by the DEC because they become unafraid of humans. I've known of many people who willingly feed bears thinking they are helping them, when actually they are most often killing them. As far as the pumpkins go, according to research I did, pumpkins are like a big old hershey bar to them. When you think about a bears natural diet - nuts, berries, bugs, it makes sense. Zoos will often feed bears pumpkins as a treat. Years ago we had a bear get on our front deck - he was big enough to spread the railings apart on the stairs - all due to a dirty grill. So remember to keep your grill clean this summer.
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1 Container Gardener Seed Starter
Dog Lover Region: New Jersey Hummingbirder Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Onewish1
Apr 12, 2019 3:56 AM CST

Moderator

I usually try to .. we have a pellet grill now and like to keep it nice .. always worried about attracting any critter by the dogs too
Name: Marilyn
CT (Zone 5b)
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RobinD
Apr 12, 2019 8:36 AM CST
Bears will eat anything...worst story here in CT was the elderly woman waking up to find the bear in her bedroom! Have no idea what he hoped to find in there....

Morning Glories Bookworm Enjoys or suffers cold winters Heirlooms Cat Lover Herbs
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JHeirloomSeeds
Apr 12, 2019 10:52 AM CST
Yikes! Blinking I hope she was ok!

All this bear talk is reminding me of The Forest Rangers...I don't know how many people are familiar with it but it's a Canadian TV show from the 1960s. There are a couple of episodes about bears getting into houses. The ending to this episode is hilarious...I've copied the link to begin at the point where it starts to get funny, but to understand the whole story...Uncle Raoul and the junior rangers have been trying to keep out of this bear's way as he wanders around Uncle Raoul's house and barn. Then Uncle Raoul hears on the radio that there is a circus bear loose in the area, and it's not dangerous. So he assumes this is that bear and he's no longer afraid of it...well you'll just have to see what happens! Rolling on the floor laughing

http://youtu.be/c7H7etvWAzM?t=...
Name: Marilyn
CT (Zone 5b)
Birds Daylilies Dog Lover Garden Art Heucheras
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RobinD
Apr 12, 2019 2:17 PM CST
That was a very well trained bear! I went to see trained bears in NH....the man who ran the place was a friend of my husband's college buddy....one of the young bears scratched the trainer while we were watching, & the bear was immediately put back into his enclosure! Anyway, the elderly lady was fine...the bear had already left by the time the police got there....this was last summer...they never showed the lady, just played the 911 call on TV...she was very calm....I would have been hysterical.

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