New to forum :)

lavender_lass(4b)February 2, 2010

I just read about this forum over on the vegetable garden forum. I don't know how I missed it in the list!

I'm five miles from Idaho, down by Waverly. Does anyone live in the CDA, Waverly, Plummer area? It's fun talking to people about gardening, but most people think I'm in Seattle :)

I live on the family farm and have horses, which means we have a lot of visitors on the weekends. Between the horses, barn kitties and many nieces and nephews, I try to stay with mainly non-toxic plants, with a few exceptions. I do plant tomatoes and I have a few peonies we inherited, but I don't have lily of the valley or sweet peas...especially since I showed the little ones how to eat garden peas right off the vine.

It's funny how many people think everyone in Washington state lives in Seattle. When I first joined, people kept recommending I grow azaleas and rhododendrons. Very pretty plants, but poisonous to horses and not always winter hardy in zone 4.

This will be my second year gardening and I have lots of ideas, but I'm trying to be realistic with what I can install and maintain. I'm adding a few beds at a time, mainly focusing on vegetables this year and enlarging the fairy garden for my nieces.

I would like to build a grape arbor this summer, or maybe next summer, depending on budget :) Does anyone grow grapes? Concord are wonderful, but I have too short a growing season (first frost is end of August/first of September. Does anyone grow Valiant or St. Theresa grapes? Any recommendations for a good eating grape for zone 4/5?

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backyardener(z6 Idaho)

Welcome to the Idaho forum - this may actually be a more appropriate place for you than the Washington forum, most areas of WA are much warmer than zone 4/5 but much of Idaho is zone 4/5.

I grow lots of grapes. Fortunately, here in Boise our climate is wonderful for grapes. The varieties I have will definitely not work for you. You are going to need an early season, cold hardy grape - I don't have any experience with those types, but a good place to start is to look at Lon Rombough's webiste ( Lon sells cuttings that you can root yourself. Grapes are cheap and easy to start from cuttings. There are instructions on Lon's website and he does respond to email (I've had a few converstations with him in the past).

Grapes are wonderful plants and very addicting (I have 6 different varieties and plan to add more this spring). Good luck and have fun!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 11:54AM
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Hi Lass, I live about 60 miles north of your home and have gardened on both sides of the border for the last 15+ years. I haven't had more than a city-size lot here at home, so my gardening has been, mostly, elsewhere. I've been living and gardening around here for over 40 years. My father will soon be 92. He lives between Potlatch and Garfield.

I'm not on this forum often. Most of my time on GardenWeb is spent on the Rocky Mountain Garden forum - for the very reasons that you mention - this ain't Seattle!

It seems that whenever I'm looking for information on Washington growing, the directions all have to do with the area west of the Cascades. Even Washington State Cooperative Extension have most of their research done in Puyallup. Most of the people live in the Puget Sound area but more than half the state, doesn't have that climate.

Arid conditions (I can remember summers when we didn't have more than an inch of rain over the 3 months), and cool nights (40° variation in temperature, just in a normal 24 hours in September) is characteristic of our part of the world.

You must garden at around 2,500+ feet elevation to be in zone 4. I'm sometimes amazed at the elevation of gardeners in NM and CO. But, here's another way of thinking about it. I've had real problems with marmots in my garden . . . Marmots in Colorado, all live above 5,400 feet. Southwestern Colorado has almost the same flora and fauna that we have here.

I had King of the North grapes that really took off just before I moved to my present home. I moved the vine into my dad's backyard. It got to be too rambunctious for him and he couldn't make use of the fruit. He cut it back right to the ground but, I notice that it is staging a comeback. (I think it will get away from him this round. ;o)

I'm mostly a vegetable gardener with a little cutting garden and many dahlias.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 11:32AM
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Lass, you may want to explore the grape varieties grown in the Walla Walla Valley. Of course, the interest of the vineyards there is to grow wine grapes. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most commonly grown.

Your soil is probably not a lot different but you would need vines suitable for your elevation.

Arbor Crest in the Spokane Valley grows grapes and I drive by on Upriver all the time. They only make one wine from their own grapes and I believe that those are Chardonnay but don't know for sure.


Here is a link that might be useful: Walla Walla Valley AVA

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 12:17PM
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backyardener(z6 Idaho)

You should probably stay away from vinefra type grapes (chardonnay, cabernet, etc) if you are in zone 4 (or even zone 5). Growing them where it gets much below 0F can be tricky, especially on an arbor where you cannot bury them in the winter. Even here in Boise there is risk of winter damage to vinefera grapes that are not protected. I'd stick with early ripening American or hybrid grapes.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 5:06PM
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Thank you for the information on grapes. I want something very cold hardy and that will ripen early. The grape arbor is out in an area that gets a little wind, but not much. We're in a small valley, but it's so cold because of the creek and there's no cement to keep things warm at night.

Steve- We do have at least a 40 degree change between day and night temperatures. You can sit on the front porch as the sun goes behind the hill and watch the thermometer drop 20 degrees in about half an hour. It's great for cooling off the house, but not so good for the tomatoes. Last year I had no problems with the blossoms, but the tomatoes didn't get quite ripe before frost. I have some different varieties I'm trying this year.

Since I have horses and work full time, gardening has to be fairly low maintenance. I try to find plants that do well with the weather, the deer and the hot, dry summers. Last year, my small gardens did pretty well for the most part. This year, I'm going to try adding a few more things and putting in more herbs.

My one great weakness is roses. I seem to end up with roses and Hidcote lavender in almost every garden, except with the vegetables. I never was that big a fan of roses, until I planted some for my mom, a few years ago. They seem to do well for me (it's probably all the aged horse manure) that I mix in 1/2 and 1/2 with the clay soil. I'm going to try more old garden roses, since they're more cold hardy. I don't spray the roses at all, just give them some afternoon shade and lots of water in the summer. The deer like to eat them, but don't search very hard for them. As long as I don't put them on the edge of the yard, and mix up some herbs and blueberry bushes or lilacs behind them, they don't seem to bother them. There are so many fields, the deer aren't hungry, just bored and like to wander along the edge of the yard by the pasture.

Thanks again for all the recommendations. Does anyone have a grape arbor, or do you grow your grapes on fences, wires, etc.?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 2:21PM
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I grew that King of the North grape against the southside of my garage. I lived in that home for 9 years but I'm sure it wasn't there for half that time. With another 12 months it would have been able to grow up and over the arbor I had planned.

Dad planted it on a trellis on the northside of a fence. It took forever in that location to take off. I know the vine was trying to grow back and over the fence when he cut it way back. It was doing quite well.

When I lived at a higher elevation near Bayview, the only tomato that would ripen in the garden was Sub Arctic. That was a long time ago. I didn't much care for that variety. The earliest tomato I now grow is Bloody Butcher. They are small plants with fruits that are small but with lots of flavor.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 12:23AM
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backyardener(z6 Idaho)

I've been wanting to build an arbor for a long time, just never got around to doing it. I grow all my grapes on trellises (wires) that I built. Grape vines in fertile soil and with good sun exposure can be VERY vigorous and will require pruning too keep them neat and tidy. That is the main disadvantage of growing on an arbor - they are a little more difficult to prune. Still they are very beautiful and I still plan to build one... some day.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 11:26AM
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Backyardener- I hope you do build an arbor! I am doing mine in stages, since budget is always a consideration :)

This year I'm putting in the garden, framing the beds and the arbor area. Next year I hope to be able to put up the arbor and maybe pave the area...or that may be the next year. As soon as the arbor is up, I hope to plant the grapes, so they can get a good start.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 11:23AM
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I live not far from you, actually Spokane Valley now, But lived in Rockford and Fairfield for a total of about 30 years. Moved into town about 6 years ago and built a home in the valley, This will be the year of putting in a yard (I hope). I have 1.5 acres so it will take me awhile. You are right about people thinking this area is near Seattle and the plants they suggest just won't happen. We have so many deer here also. But then many people around here feed them so they are here all year round. I did put up a 6' cyclone fence and so far have not had one in the yard, but then there is nothing for them to eat since I have even sprayed the weeds. Did have a really productive garden last summer, but have to thank the people next to me that have a horse stable and about 30 horses. I can get all the horse manure and shavings for free.
Was thinking of planting concord grapes this year but guess I better look into it more.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 11:21PM
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King of the North is a: "Late ripening Concord style grape that originated in Wisconsin" according to South Dakota State U & the South Dakota Specialty Producers Association Grape Associations.

That page lists recommended grapes (wine and table) for South Dakota. I just saw SD and altho' February wasn't such a good month for putting on its best face, I think even the southern part of the state takes a fairly severe hit every winter.

King of the North never had any trouble toughing out winter and producing fruit when it had a chance in Dad's and my yard.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 9:45AM
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