NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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April 26, 2010 Horticulture Column


What beautiful weather we have been having.  It is really nice to have yard work done in April and even have perennials coming like they were shot out of the ground.  My daughter got her new flower garden all ready last weekend.  Al (son-in-law) even found a pickup load of really good cow manure compost that will make that flower bed sparkle.  Looks like fun brewing at the daughter home.  Lauren (granddaughter) will certainly like playing in the new found dirt.  Now comes the dilemma of what should I plant?  One thing I have found since my returning to Devils Lake is things sure grow differently in Northern North Dakota.  I was in Lisbon before returning here and found that I could grow plants that were zone hardy up to 5-6.  Those plants were very different in that they generally liked the sun better in comparison to zone 2-3.  They also seemed more drought tolerant although there were flower species that also needed water and more water.  Just to emphasize the difference, we had a friend that lived near Engelvale and he would successfully grow peaches every year.  Now I am not talking about ornamental peaches either.  These peaches were every bit as good as the Alberta peaches that we buy in the fall.  But this is a classic example that anything can grow here if we know how to take care of it.  The reason I say this is because you have not heard the whole story.  Jim did and does grow very good peaches but he has built an insulated building that totally encloses the peach tree grove.  He puts that up some time in September and usually takes it down the first part of May.  I did not mean to ramble on about these peaches but this is a classic example of how we can also apply those similar tactics in our cooler area.  I have planted Hybrid tea roses and have had great success growing them but extra care needs to be taken for our cold winter season.  I cover them very well in the fall and usually cover them quite early in the fall to help keep the soil temperature a little warmer.  The same holds true for perennials.  I have found perennials that are zone hardy 5-8 and will do just fine during the summer season but I have yet to find a good way to keep them as a perennial so I have just come to the conclusion of treating those high number zone plants, as annuals.  Our local nurseries are very good about having the proper zone hardy plants available for you. 

I need to add one side note; I traveled to Grand Forks, two weeks ago, to attend Gardening Saturday.  This event is very worth the effort and is most impressive for quantity of gardeners that attend.  I learned a lot that day and also found more Hosta’s that seemed to fit very well into my landscape design.  Of course Deb was not happy about the whole deal but then I like to plant new things to see how they do.  I bought a variety of hosta that is right off of the press and sounds too good to be true.  They talk about near 5 foot tall and 6-7 feet wide.  Keep in mind this is under ideal growing conditions.  I hope is this will get 3-4 feet tall and I think that is dreaming.     


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