glenn1967(6)August 25, 2005

Hi All - I was brought up in New York state in the Finger Lakes area and moved to Florida 20 years ago when I was 18. Am now considering a move back to my home town and about the only thing holding me back is that I'm afraid I'll miss my gardening down here to much......I realize that I can't grow tropicals up north like I can in Central Florida but would appreciate any "hand holding" you all can provide me letting me know that gardening will be just as fulfilling in New York State as it has been in Florida. By the way - I told my partner that one of my requirements for making the move would be that I have to have a greenhouse to escape to! LOL. Any advice, suggestions? Glenn

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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

Actually, I think you'll enjoy your gardening up here so much more! I moved to Florida 20 years ago, then from there to California, then back to NY 3 years ago. Seems I recall that in Florida summers were unbearably hot, and I wanted to stay inside all the time in a/c rather than be outside. When I did go out in the summer, I had no energy because of the intense heat and humidity. The soil is so sandy that it wasn't very fertile and needed watering all the time. (of course, rain often took care of that.) And really, spring and fall were also too hot for me, they're like a NY summer. Winters were wonderful, but I thought that was the only one season that was really enjoyable. Here spring, summer, and fall are all quite nice, and without all the horrible bugs that you have.

I don't mind winter weather that much, but to be honest, it does last too long. If our winters were 6 weeks shorter that would be much better. I am so itching to get outside come March, but I have to wait until April. The advantage is that every winter I get a nice, much needed break from gardening, time to recharge my batteries, read garden books, and plan what I'll do come springtime. Also pursue other interests. In California there was never any rest from gardening, it was year round.

You will have to give up some of your favorite plants that will not tolerate Zone 5 weather, and that's just unfortunate. But you get to grow other things that will not do well in Florida, like peonies, lilacs, and others. And I simply lift bulbs for the winter like dahlias, cannas, and elephant ears. Sometimes I lose plants over the winter, but not often as long as I stick to zone 5 and not be tempted by zone 6 beauties.

I also had the same misgivings as you, but I don't regret it one bit and the gardening here is wonderful. I have seen some incredibly gorgeous gardens here that are just as fantastic as any tropical ones, just different.

So yes, you will be giving up a year round gardening climate, but it's not quite Alaska here. The gardening is wonderful, the soil is usually good, and it is still every bit as fulfilling.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 7:26AM
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kareen(z5 NY Renss.Co.)

Real grass, apple trees, lilacs, no alligators , no fire ants , no( or rare) poisionous snakes .....New York is the place to be!!!!
By the time you get done getting your gardens ready for winter you can begin to winter sow and you will feel like you are gardening all year even before you get your greenhouse in. Welcome home....Kareen (A New York woman)

Here is a link that might be useful: Our pond and gardens

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 8:19AM
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adirondackgardener(Western Maine)

I made my move from the Hudson Valley 5 years ago, but in the opposite direction, north to the Adirondacks. This is the first year I've gardened since moving here.

I've loved being in the garden this year and dealing with the short growing season has been quite a learning experience. (33 degrees on June 23rd and 36 degrees last week. Frost Sept 10th if I'm lucky but don't let that discourage you!.)

The short season concentrates the actual in-garden work into a shorter time frame (and intensifies the enjoyment.) It makes me garden smarter. The longer winter will give me more time to plan (orchestrate) the garden and to sit and read seed catalogs and in general hang out here and at Dave's without feeling guilty about not being out in the dirt.

The snow will fall early and often, giving the beds a rest but the mulch will be in place, ready to begin feeding the microbes at the first hint of thawing. The snow hides this years mistakes and wraps the raised beds like giftboxes marked "Do not open until Spring." The compost bins, I hope, will have some activity going on over the winter. There's nothing more fulfilling than walking outside with temps down in the 20's and seeing steam rising from the bins. (Well, perhaps a few things.)

I'm looking forward to building a small lean-to greenhouse that I hope to heat by solar gain, composting horse manure and occasional supplemental heat from the house. I've never done this before, only read about it for the past thirty years. It's another learning experience and I spent this morning planning the construction.

There's lots you can do to extend the gardening season, either physically or in your mind. I've been to Florida often, have lots of family there. I love to visit them but can't wait to get home. I couldn't imagine ever leaving New York simply for the promise of year-round, in the dirt gardening. (Not even for year-round bass fishing, but that's another thread.)

Wayne in the Adks

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 12:50PM
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hammerl(z5-6 Amherst NY)

You may not be able to grow everything the way you did in Florida, but you can grow things here if you work at it. I grow dahlias and cannas and just lift the tubers in the fall and overwinter them in the garage. My sister even had a dahlia come back that she left in the ground by accident! Some of the other tropicals might be able to be moved in for the winter. I have a nice hibiscus that I just keep in the living room all winter, along with a gardenia.
Plus, there are all sorts of plants that grow up here that can't take the Florida heat. You can plant spring bulbs in the fall and have them come up on their own in the spring without any fuss. And you can leave those in the ground. There are all sorts of flowers and shrubs that would just curl up and die down south. If you plant right, you can even have different plants spring through fall. My dahlias are just budding, my cannas are going strong, the sweet autumn clematis ought to bloom soon, mums should get going in a few weeks, kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate looks like it's on steroids this year, delphiniums are on a re-bloom, so is jupiter's beard, roses are looking decent, hydrangeas are looking good, all sorts of stuff that will keep going right to frost. My pink bonica roses will bloom nonstop until the snow falls. And you can't grow lilacs in Florida. See what sort of things that grow up here strike your fancy. My garden doesn't stop from the first snowdrops in February through the last mums and roses in November. And it changes as the seasons do.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 4:30PM
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If you have your greenhouse, you can garden year round and have all your tropicals. That's my dream...wish I could afford it.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 8:50AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Well I moved here from Louisiana several years ago. The biggest drawback for me is that the growing season is shorter here. I am used to being able to garden most of the year. But to be honest I grow a lot of the same things I did down south. I grow lots of salvias, cannas, honeysuckle, azaleas, rhodies, glads to name a few and this year I have added dwarf mimosa which I have grown from seed. This one I am growing in a container and will overwinter inside. I also have a couple of passion flowr vines and a manettia (candy corn)vine that I bring in for the winter.

Until I got into growing things just for my hummers I grew lots of crotons, dracaenas, and the like and just brought them inside in the winter. Many people grow Mandevilla and bougainvillas here also and overwinter them. If you have a heated greenhouse or heated sun room you can grow all the tropicals you want. Unfortunately I have neither so I have to be selective on what delicate plants I grow for lack of good indoor lighting.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 10:17AM
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mulchinmama(z6 NY)

I am a native southern Californian and had the same qualms as you. I couldn't imagine leaving my rose garden, jacaranda trees, camellias and gardenias.

I want to tell you: don't despair! It's so beautiful here, and ever-changing!
Takes your breath away!
I'll never go back....

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 11:01PM
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husky004_(z5 NY)

With a little bit of luck you can grow just about anything here, i lean more toward the tropical and have been successful with brugmansia, passiflora and am experimenting with a few others, just have to drag em all in in the winter, some go dormant some don't and then drag em out in the spring.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 11:21PM
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thanks everyone for your words of encouragement....I'm about 98% certain that I'm going to make the leap and am now really excited about having a vegetable garden next summer and not having to worry about the tomatoes rotting by May because it's so hot down here! I really appreciate everyones input. Glenn

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 9:31PM
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kareen(z5 NY Renss.Co.)

Please let us know when you return home Glenn . Kareen

Here is a link that might be useful: Our pond and gardens

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 8:24AM
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hilomark(z5 NY)

After spending my entire 25 years of gardening on the edge of the Fingerlakes, pondering your question made me smile. While I have often longed for one or two zones warmer, there are many benefits here: the changing seasons, seasons short enough to be appreciated, generally mild summers, Mother Nature taking care of most watering needs (well, not this year!), etc. I found an article which might give you an idea of what you can look forward to!

Here is a link that might be useful: Article on gardening in the Fingerlakes

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 7:52PM
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mizack2(9a FL)

Glenn, what an irony! I am from central FL too, Winter Haven and St. Petersburg. My job took me to Dalton, GA six months ago and I am already feeling the chill. I have an excellent opportunity to move very soon to Ontario. Having never lived north of Cincinnati nor visted north of Philly, I'm a bit leary of the change. Where are you in central FL? I brought my EEs with me but of course they will have to live inside up there.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 9:02PM
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