"Pic-Of-The-Week" Homemade doughnuts by AL
Sufficient Self Forum
Living a more Self Sufficient & Sustainable Lifestyle
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One of the things I do when I read posts here is try to get a sense of how long the gardening season is for that particular poster based on where they say they live.
Our country is so diverse in its weather patterns that this question often comes to me as I read how the poster is able to do certain things that would NEVER be possible where I am. For instance, it is about 32F and snowing today. We're expecting 8-12 inches. Yes, I know what you're thinking, I must be in antartica, but I'm really only in the NE corner of South Dakota. Yes, 90 miles south of FARGO, but south none the less.
Here in SDAK we get about108 days of growing season assuming all things go well in Sep and we can plant by Memorial Day.
Folks like AL have a 280 growing season. (I know this because I used to live about 1/3 mile from where she lives.)
So, SS'ers, how long is your growing season? How long is your winter? How severe is your winter? Up here, the month of January and February often has long runs of 0-20 F with fairly long runs of -20 to -30 F. You can't leave anything out or it will freeze and break even if it is one of the so-called indestructible plastics.
What is the length of your heating season? OUrs is nearly 7- 8 months long. That is quite a time to be sure.
I guess I'm going to have to figure out a way to start doing some "indoor gardening" with hydroponics pretty soon as things just don't get time to mature in the amount of cold weather we get here.
In the 5 years that I have been keeping track our last frost has been mostly in February, though once it was in mid April (this year we had 31.5* early this April, technically frost, but not really). I think most people here put off planting till mid April. Official first frost date is, I believe, mid October, though`in these 5 years it has mostly happened in Nov/Dec. Biggest problem this year so far, and last year, is our long wet Spring. As for severe Winter weather, well, you wouldn't think we had any. We got 4 or 5 days of snow, 3 days together, the others scattered through the Winter months. We live in USDA agricultural zone 8b, which for me is a step down from zone 9 where I used to live.
Not in the US, but rather southern Alberta Canada (high prairie/foothills, elevation 3500'), but I'll play along for fun:
How long is your growing season? Official number of frost-free days according to local gardening lore = ~115 (May 23 - Sept 15).
How long is your winter? We can get snow in any month, usually get our first snow (that melts) in late September (unless it just rains) and usually get our first snow that sticks for a while around Halloween. My kids feel that winter begins mid to late November and should have ended already, but we're having a cool spring.
How severe is your winter? We are fortunate (?) that we are in the Chinook zone, so although we can have several weeks where the temps are -22C (-8F) those warm winds will roar down the Rockies and thaw everything for a few days every 2-4 weeks all winter long. Chinook temps can be as high at 20C (70F) but are usually more like 10C (50F). But weeks at those -20-something temperatures are wearing on a body. We don't get much snowfall, as it is quite arid here, and it also usually doesn't stick around but we've had a really unusual winter with snow that lasted over 100 days as reported on the news mid-March.
What is the length of your heating season? Depends on your definition of heating season We keep our furnace set lower than most people, and don't usually need the furnace on at night until late September, and it's still on now due to the cold snap and snow we got Wednesday night, but it's actually pretty optional at this point and we usually turn off the furnace early to mid May. So 7-8 months most years. I'm sure there are people here who turn their furnaces on in late August and keep them on until early June, only to turn around and turn on the A/C for two months.
Oh, and we are in plant hardiness Zone 3-4. Most perenials zoned 4 will make it in my yard with little to no care, other than leaving the dead tops on well into May.
Last edited by moolie (04/15/2011 4:48 pm)
I live in southern CA. Zone 10 I think.
I am in the foothills just about 8 miles from the coast. We benefit from the marine layer keeping us cooler but when it's cold we burn off first. Kinda the best of both worlds.
I don't know all the technical dates for spring, frost(don't think we get much of one) etc...
I usually have my garden in by mid March. When the temperature rises in April things take off. Sept and Oct suck because it gets really really hot. This is when I usually neglect my garden. Last year it hit 110 for a few days.
Last year after out heat wave I managed to get some more carrots and beets in the ground. I picked those in Jan and Feb.
So I imagine with some research and a bit of planning I could garden year round.
For home heating, I was really frugal this year. I probably only turned the furnace on once. I think it was in the high 30's one or two nights. Which is very rare. We could have probably done without. I also did not use the AC at all last year. The electric goes though the roof and I could not afford it.
That's what it's like at my house.
Here the growing season is 235 days. I don't keep up with the zone thingy...supposed to be 7b or something but acts like 8 every other year or so. We're bordering zones, so it's kinda tricky some years. I just plant stuff and if it grows it grows, and if it doesn't I don't plant it much anymore I can toss okra seeds and squash out into the yard and get volunteers all over the darn place. Other things I have to work at. I have clay soil and am working on making it more workable. So far so good on this years garden.
Winter in my part of Tennessee is like every other season....hopelessly confused generally speaking. Temp fluctuations are a dime a dozen throughout the year. I have seen the temp rise 20 degrees within an hour, and fall 20 degrees within an hour around here with different fronts. You never know what you're gonna get. Our state motto is "Welcome to Tennessee, if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes, it'll change." We usually run heat sporadically November through March, except for that year we got a big snowfall in April right after I planted my garden I think we ran heat until May that year. Keep in mind that is not running consistently those months either, because the day after you need a heavy jacket, you may be wearing shorts, ya just never know.
No severe winter weather usually, just unpredictable.
If I were you OP, I'd start a little greenhouse
We are in the Ouachita Mts, Ark. It's zone 7 or 7B with a small mountain beside us. Our summers are hot (90 to 100+) & mostly humid. Our winter lows average around 10 degrees. The snow storms may give us hard winds with lows of 5 - 15 and highs of 20 degrees for a week at a time. Usually get 3 snow storms annually + dry periods with freezes.
Our last spring frost varies between April 1st and 15 th. It can go back and forth about cold and hot though late Feb and all March, so some fruit trees lose their buds to the late freezes. I can plant some cold season crops around early Feb with protection. Summer veggies are seeded outside around April.
Our first frost is generally around Halloween, but the cold settles in around mid December. I'll try to harvest everything except green manure by New Years this year, cause January and Feb are nasty outside. I know the temps are worse other places, but 10 or 20 degrees with a hard NW wind still gets me. Our snows usually start with hail or sleet too so even the hardy plants get injured.
I try to dress for the weather and save on the heating & a.c. I prefer to make soup or bake to warm the apt, then just run the heater on the coldest nights. That mostly works till mid November. December to almost March it is needed most nights and lots of days.
I'm in Maine (5b) and the season is short, but not as short as SD. Last Spring frost is usually May 15 and First frost can be as early as Sept 15.
I have a greenhouse that my husband and I built last year (unheated) and I already have spinach, lettuces and kale going in the greenhouse beds plus all my seedlings are in there so they have somewhat cold nights and won't be too difficult to harden off when the time comes.
This is the first spring that I'm using it, but I'd highly recommend it. I go out each night while it still can dip to freezing and cover all my pots, beds and seed trays with floating row covers to give them another layer. I will be harvesting my first batches of lettuce and spinach soon and I've never had anything this early before.
I'm hoping to get as much of a jump on the season as I can. I really want peppers and they're hard to get up here.
Well we are in southern Washington but are so close to the border of Oregon, we are almost in Oregon, but not near the coast, we are closer to The Gorge. We don't really fit our climate zone, it isn't correct, because we are on a mountaintop, so our zip code is describing the valley below, not us. But we are on a south facing slope on an inner canyon on the mountain, so we do have more sun than most of the mountain.
It is always cold and we are having frosts in the county by Halloween every year, and usually spring weather starts in March, although planting to assure for no frosts usually can be done by end of April, although they can occur into the end of May.
This year, however, we are having typical FEBRUARY weather this April. So I dunno what to do about planting. I don't think we will have as many plants as I had hoped, simply because it won't make sense to plant some of the seeds I have when the season won't be long enough this year.
Usually snow occurs here only in December in January, with freak storms occurring in November or March. This year we had snow every month from November through day before yesterday, which was freakish. We usually have a long wet cool spring, and this spring had more snow and frosts than I've ever seen.
It is all this global warming I guess.
According to my chart I have 164 days of frost-free growing days. I live in S.E. Indiana.