ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Gardening Tips For The Northern US

Updated on July 15, 2014

Northern Climates Can Be Tricky

We have a small farm in Laramie, WY. Fun fact: Laramie is the 9th coldest city in the US! Our winters are harsh and our summers are short, which sometimes makes farming a tricky business. We compensate for the short, mild season by choosing the right crops, planting at the right time, and efficiently using what we DO have. We harvest a nice little bounty from our farm, and our CSAers love it! (CSA is Community Supported Agriculture, kind of like Bountiful Baskets, only it's local, fresh, and often organic.) We think that small farmers and hobby gardeners alike can benefit from a few cold-weather tips, so we've put some together for you.

Other than root crops and peas, we like to start seedlings indoors to get ahead of winter.
Other than root crops and peas, we like to start seedlings indoors to get ahead of winter.

Crops We Adore

When the ground thaws and we start working the soil in the spring here (May), there are a variety of crops we are thinking of. Some of those we know are delicate and we have to keep our eyes on them, especially at night. Others are so sturdy and tough that even a few nights below freezing won't keep them down. These are the plants that we grow just about every year and have had success with: Potatoes and peas are among the toughest. They both tolerate cold temperatures. Some even argue that peas taste better if they've been through some cold nights. Most roots crops will surprise you with hardiness; even if the tops get wilted, they often bounce back. Other crops, such as kale, collard greens, chard, mustard, kohlrabi, and cabbage thrive in cooler temperatures but are more likely to get knocked out by freezing temperatures. These are the crops that we recommend starting indoors before planting the seedlings outside once the last frost has come and gone. (If you must plant them outside before the last frost, cover them in horticultural fleece or old bed sheets at night, or build a cold-frame.)

The plants that love the heat are squash (all kinds, from cucumber to pumpkins), tomatoes, lettuce (lettuce likes cool temperatures but if it freezes it probably is gone forever), and green beans. We do grow these plants here, but they do better in a greenhouse where it's hot.

There are, of course, many other crops that you can try. If you have had success with other crops, please leave them in the comments below! We'd like to hear about them.

Firewood is cheap with all the beetle-kill in Medicine Bow Nat'l
Firewood is cheap with all the beetle-kill in Medicine Bow Nat'l

Use What You Have

There's an old saying that I heard many times during my childhood. My mother would often respond to one of my many complaints with, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, and do without." As the petulant and impatient youngster that I was then, I didn't appreciate the wisdom of those words. Now as a slightly less petulant "adult" (it still feels strange calling myself that) trying to make the most of a little, I see the wisdom in her words. Helping with Bright Agrotech's farm in Laramie, Wyoming, I have a great opportunity to put those words to use.

Farming in Laramie is different from farming in, say, Grand Junction, Colorado. We don't have as much sun, we don't have much heat, and our growing season is short. So we work with southern light and cool temperatures, and we grow just as much in four months as others do in six. One of our secrets is that we realize what we have and we maximize on it.

Here's what we have: cheap firewood, a mild season, and two high tunnel greenhouses. The cheap firewood means that we can buy a wood burning boiler and use it with fuel that costs us next to nothing. This allows us to grow year round in one of our greenhouses. The mild season gives us the opportunity to grow crops such as kale year round. Can't do that in Grand Junction! It also means that our lettuce never gets bitter like it does in hot weather. The other high tunnel extends our growing season by several weeks on each end- we roll the walls down at night and the high tunnel retains much of the heat it acquired during the day. We are planting bok choy, lettuce, mustard greens, and more in the high tunnel in April- three weeks before we dare plant anything outside.

Gardman 7650 Large Wooden Cold Frame, FSC Certified Timber Frame, 35" Long x 31" Wide x 35" High
Gardman 7650 Large Wooden Cold Frame, FSC Certified Timber Frame, 35" Long x 31" Wide x 35" High

If you want to start growing in early spring, you should consider a cold frame.

 
Sugar Snap Peas 400+ Seeds - VALUE PACK!
Sugar Snap Peas 400+ Seeds - VALUE PACK!

Peas are one of our favorite cold-weather crops. They do well through out the summer in cold climates.

 

See How Other Farmers Are Using What They Have

Heating systems can be pricey, but that doesn't mean they have to be. Check out what fuel sources are cheap near you. You might find a jackpot of cheap, accessible fuel to use!

JD Sawyer uses earth batteries to heat his greenhouse.

Firewood is an abundant and cheap resource... so why not use it up?

New Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)