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Old 11-23-2010, 12:52 PM
61 posts, read 106,423 times
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My spouse and I are in the process of planning a move to Wisconsin within the next one to three years. I've already spent the last year-and-a-half doing extensive research on Wisconsin from activities to weather...especially weather as it's a factor in our desire to move away from the desert in Arizona. I feel I'm pretty well prepared for a lot of things we may face when we get there eventually. However, I did wonder about something.

I'm just beginning to get into gardening. Here in Arizona, most of what I grow is planted in pots as our dirt is completely barren of the types of nutrients needed for the plants I want to have (vegetables, herbs, etc.). On the upside, our growing season is incredibly long here. I know the growing season is far shorter in Wisconsin, so I already know I will need to learn to pick plants that can mature in a shorter growing season or else learn some tricks and tips on how to get started earlier and extend my crops a little longer.

So my question is: What tricks do Wisconsin gardeners use (short of building your own greenhouse) to get more out of your gardens in your short growing periods?
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Old 11-23-2010, 05:32 PM
Location: Planet Earth
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You can get some extra time by planting things on the south side of your house. Starting your own plants from seed indoors in March can help (unless you just buy plants in May). Some people try warming the soil by covering it in plastic but I never tried that.

Timing is everything in setting plants outside, do not be tempted to put things out too soon, they will either sit there doing not much, or be killed by a late frost. I wait until Memorial Day for anything like peppers and tomatoes. You can't wait too long either, the first week in June at the latest.

Selecting varieties that are short season or known to do well in cool climates is also important. The first frost usually insn't until late September, but many vegetables will stop growing in early Sept as temps start to cool.

Overall, go with the flow and don't try to force things that would normally not do well. There are plenty of things that do well here to keep you busy. Did I mention the weeds grow ten times faster than in Arizona.
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Old 11-23-2010, 05:43 PM
Location: East Side Milwaukee
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Different parts of the state have some variation in the climate. I live in SE WI close to Lake Michigan, so my climate is a little warmer and less severe than much off the state. Either way, this advice applies all over.

I've had good experiences with raising seeds indoors in spring, but you have to be cautious when hardening them off before planting. I've been looking at trying some winter sowing this next spring, but I haven't tried it yet.

I've used cold frames before with good results. Really, you just have to be mindful of plant tolerances and don't forget to watch for any pests/disease. That hasn't been a large problem for me, but I try to address any issues before they kill anything.

Lastly, check up on gardenweb forums... there's even a section for WI gardening that I've found helpful.
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Old 11-23-2010, 07:17 PM
Location: Wisconsin
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spread manure......
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Old 11-24-2010, 08:35 AM
61 posts, read 106,423 times
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Did I mention the weeds grow ten times faster than in Arizona.
LOL!!! I kind of made that assumption based on how green the state is and the more frequent rains you all get. Although when we get monsoon here, the weeds get big fast too. And we get real nasty ones like tumbleweed.

Thanks for the tips so far! In your experiences, are there varieties of certain vegetables that seem to do particularly well in your areas?

Also, once the frosts are over and the ground is workable, is there anything special I would need to supplement the soil with? Or do most things grow pretty well by just plopping them in the ground with a little bit of manure and/or compost for mulch?
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Old 11-25-2010, 06:58 PM
Location: Ladysmith,Wisconsin
1,587 posts, read 6,306,334 times
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Soil testing can tell you if need lime, fertilizer and such. Buy greenhouse plants and around Memorial weekend latest planting time for much. If can find a farmer that scrapes feedlots down get that mix manure and rotted down hay and such works great for garden. Plastic sheets to cover if frost advisory is always useful to. I seen people put milk jugs around tomato plants and such like a small greenhouse when first planted.
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