Montana Gardening in Zone 4

Although I have read a lot of gardening books, I'm a fairly inexperienced gardener. I live in Montana, zone 4. We have a short growing season. The last frost is around May 15, first frost about Sep 10. I tend to experiment a lot with unorthodox methods and unique varieties of plants.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Results of 2005 Summer

Well, I didn't keep up on my blog as much as I wanted to, but the season is over. I will post my general results.

It was a long, cool spring. Things didn't grow much even though I had them under Walls o' Water. It finally warmed up about July 10, and it REALLY warmed up. It was hot and dry for pretty much the duration. Fall has been long and warm. I could have planted some carrots and such in late August and harvested them now!

Tomatoes-my starts pretty much died. That's what I get for spending money on "professiona" seed-starting kits. I bought some roma, yellow pear and sungold starts and they all did pretty well. I picked about 4 plastic grocery bags of green ones in late September and ripened them in the house. I planted too many small tomatoes. Next time, more sauce tomatoes, very few cherry types, a few large tomatoes. Too much work to pick thousands of green cherry tomatoes and try to ripen them. I'm ok with the Romas though. I made and froze some sauce. Some are rotting on the kitchen counter now, because I didn't cook them up right away as they ripened.

Peppers-started in 2 dollar Jiffy Starts. The starts did very well. The plants didn't thrive, I think it was too cold. I got a handful of various types of peppers. It's worth doing again if I get enough for salsa. And fertilize them! Something ate all the leaves of some pepper plants, but they still ripened. Weird.

Blueberries-dead. It got too hot and they dried right up, despite daily watering. I may find a slightly shady area and plant them in pure peat moss as I've heard about.

Strawberries-mostly dead, maybe 2 berries, small and flavorless. I planted these in those green growing bags. My climate is just too hot and dry for this treatment. I watered them a lot, so they may have boiled in those bags. Partial shade may have helped.

Painted Daisy-another mail-order item that arrived dried up and did nothing! I bought some live plants at the nursery though, and they seem to be thriving. I need to winterize them sooon! I think I'll make another post for fall plantings.

Green beans-something ate them, and it wasn't me! I think I have slugs. I've heard that coffee grounds scare them off. I'll get right on it.

Melons-I planted about six types and got 4 unripe fruit. I'm not giving up on them yet! I've got some crazy plans in the works for this.

Asparagus-just planted this spring, they grew to 3-4 feet high. Looking forward to future years. Meanwhile, I shall prepare more ground for them. I think I could eat them every day!

Squash-not much. I got a few Zephyr summer squash, not enough to really evaluate the taste of them. Essentially no other summer squash. Winter squash did a little better. I got three huge Stripetti (striped spaghetti) and I am right this moment baking them all so I can clean them up and freeze them (I left them out on the porch and they froze a little). Black Futsu-one smallish squash. Beautiful and very tasty, rich, orange flesh. I will plant again and coddle. I might not have planted any other winter squash?

Flowers-I spent a lot on new roses and they did quite well, except the wind and sun bruises the flowers. I also got some Shasta Daisies and various other perennials which will show their true selves next year. Carnations did very well! Scabiosa did OK. Morning glories did OK, with more fertile ground they might put on quite a show! I quit cutting flowers in July, as they would just wilt within a day due to the heat.

I'll make another post to talk about fall stuff.


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