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Old 09-19-2014, 11:21 AM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
8,993 posts, read 4,883,403 times
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Hi all,

a few questions to amateur gardeners out there (like myself) about the Westchester growing season...

(I thought it might also offer a welcome break from questions about "Which are the best schools in Westchester? )

We will be moving to Westchester sometime in the near future (no actual timeline yet but sometime within the next 3-6 months).

Just some background - I am originally from the UK so used to harsh seasonal weather, though not so extreme as North East USA.
Moved 3 years ago to the Bay Area, California. The Bay Area is unusual I think in that it has microclimates ie the climate may be significantly different only a few miles apart. The coast (San Francisco) is cold and foggy in summer whereas on the same day, only 15 miles inland, it can be very hot and dry. From where I live in the Oakland hills about 5 miles outside SF, I can very often watch San Francisco covered in thick fog, whereas we are sitting in glorious sunshine. The fog never reaches us.
What surprised me about Oakland is that the growing season isn't all that different to the UK. I plant my tomatoes around the same time and they last for around the same number of months (April- September). Plus because the weather is so mild, I don't get significant growth spurts when growing veggies.
It's fall here now. The leaves on the trees are all turning red and the only thing really worth growing at this time of year are pumpkins and squashes.

When I visited Westchester in the summer, I was really encouraged to see some gardens where people were growing some enormous healthy looking veggies and the whole place was lush green, unlike Northern California, with its 3 year drought and the whole place is continuously brown.

People keep telling me I will hate the climate after living in California, but I miss the seasons and the rain and the green landscape.. and also the snow to a certain extent (hasn't snowed in SF since 1976). So I'm not discouraged by a much shorter growing season or put off by the weather (discounting hurricanes here obviously )

I'd love to hear from people living in Westchester who love their gardens and how they find working within the growing season (I read it is about 144 days) and the Westchester climate. I want to find out how to get the most out of my garden.

When do you start planting?
What have you had a lot success with growing?
Is there anything you would avoid doing?
What plants are popular and/or native to the area?
Can you grow anything at all in the Winter months?
Any microclimates at all? eg weather slightly better inland than on coast or is it fairly consistent?
Do people have greenhouses in their gardens? (I get the impression this is a uniquely British thing with gardens - as many houses have them back home but I don't recall seeing a single one since living in the US. Certainly people don't use their gardens much here in Northern California. They all have very formal gardens and employ gardeners to do it all for them.)


I found this great post from another thread which seems to have the actual weather covered:

Quote:
Originally Posted by jyyanks View Post
Jan-March - cold weather -- usually in the 30's though it could go as low as the teens or single digits. When its sunny, the air is cool and crisp with a bit of a bite. Doesn't rain a whole lot though it sometimes snows (usually we get 1-2 big storms). Icy roads can be an issue. It is dark when I wake up (before 7) and dark when I am going home
April - usually in the 40's-60's, people want to dress for Spring but its still a bit chilly, esp in the morning. Need a light jacket. It may rain more often in the Spring, bit still more sunny days than rainy days but it does tend to rain more in April. We may get a surprise frosty day (snowed on MLB opening day one year in mid-April)
May-June - 50-70s- spring is here, opentoe shoes for women come out of the closet. Still need some type of light jacket in the morning.Flowers are blooming, sun feels good, no humidity.
July-Aug- 80-90's. Hot and mostly humid though this year humid days were low. The humidity is brutal - wet, sticky and uncomfortable and leads to thunderstorms.
Sept - 70's-80's - Indian summer - weather is still warm but mostly in the 70's. Not too much rain
Oct- 50-60's Weather is getting cooler. Mid-Late Oct, the weather starts dropping to the 40's, esp in the morning. Time to turn the heat on if you haven't already. Again, not too much rain. Boots start coming out for women
Nov-Dec - usually in the 30's-40's though known to get cooler in late December. Usually we don't get snow until after Xmas but there have been surprises. Definitely need to start warming up the car in the AM and get out the hat, scarf and gloves - esp for the kids.

Thanks all!
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Old 09-20-2014, 10:12 PM
 
Location: Østenfor sol og vestenfor måne
17,747 posts, read 21,063,516 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post

When I visited Westchester in the summer, I was really encouraged to see some gardens where people were growing some enormous healthy looking veggies and the whole place was lush green, unlike Northern California, with its 3 year drought and the whole place is continuously brown.


When do you start planting?
What have you had a lot success with growing?
Is there anything you would avoid doing?
What plants are popular and/or native to the area?
Can you grow anything at all in the Winter months?
Any microclimates at all? eg weather slightly better inland than on coast or is it fairly consistent?
Do people have greenhouses in their gardens? (I get the impression this is a uniquely British thing with gardens - as many houses have them back home but I don't recall seeing a single one since living in the US. Certainly people don't use their gardens much here in Northern California. They all have very formal gardens and employ gardeners to do it all for them.)

It is definitely green and bountiful gardens can be easy. There are, however, a lot of deer so protectng your garden with fences is a must.

I haven't lived in Westchester in eons, but I will do my best to recall what we did. Last frost in most of the county is the last week of April. Early may is when hardy plants are set out with tomatos and other cold sensitive plants in the follwing couple of weeks.

I grew lettuce, spinach, chard, tomatos, cucumbers, summer squash, pumpkins, strawberries. Also, if you are into orcharding, apples, cherries, and plums seem do do very well, but I never had any myself, just neighbors. Pretty much any food crop that grows in temperate climes will grow in Westchester.

There aren't many native food crops that I know of except for some nut trees such as Chestnut (which are now rare due to a blight). There are tons of forageable plants in the area like ramps, a type of wild onion, burdock, blackberries, elderberries, and mushrooms. Of course you might want to consult a reliable book for identification or take a foraging tour with an expert who will teach you to identify native edible foods.

A greenhouse will extend your growing season. I have seen them in Westchester, but only among very enthusiastic gardeners who have the will and the space. Many in Westchester are, like your California neighbors, keen to have formal gardens and hire the labor to maintain them.

The other main concern is shade, Westchester is very well planted with dense tree cover so make sure your potential property has sufficient sunlight. In the northern part of the county there are properties built on fallow farm fields which are a good bet for gardening as they will have ample sunlight (weather providing). If you go on a map site such as google maps and use satellite view, you can clearly see these fields divided by hedgerows. If gardening is a priority, you may consider looking for a city or village based on its tree cover because vast areas of the county are all but forest with neighborhoods under the canopy.
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Old 09-22-2014, 10:38 AM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
8,993 posts, read 4,883,403 times
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ABQConvict thanks you so much for your response. You bring up a good point about tree cover, that's something I need to keep in mind... my current city is tricky when it comes to removing trees if you need to.. we have a number of protected varieties here in the Bay. On the other hand we also have some invasive types that are not native (Eucalyptus), they are more than happy to have those removed.

Also - fenced yards! I noticed that this is an issue too. We did a preliminary home search a few months back and discovered that fences in Westchester can be a tricky issue. They particularly don't like you having a fence if you live on a corner lot apparently (visual obstruction to traffic). And they don't like you having a fence at the front of your property? Is this a West coast thing? What do people do if they have dogs? Just train them not to run away? How do people deal with the deer issue?

Thanks for the info on planting, particularly orcharding - seems very much like the kind of things that grow well in the UK which makes a lot of sense given the similar climate (I will miss my lemon and lime trees I have here in Cali - definitely going to have to get a greenhouse).

I know you have had two really bad winters (lets hope they are not going to be the norm) but generally approximately how many weeks of the year does Westchester have snow on the ground?

Thanks!
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Old 09-22-2014, 07:49 PM
 
Location: Harrison
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Most towns around here require some sort of permit for a fence, and unless you intend to fence your entire yard with a 6 foot privacy fence (they won't let you anyways), the deer will get over it (it's rather impressive how high they can jump). ABQConvict is not talking about fencing in your entire yard, he's talking about putting some sort of fence around the planting bed where you are growing whatever it is you are growing!
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Old 09-23-2014, 10:49 AM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
8,993 posts, read 4,883,403 times
Reputation: 5782
Quote:
Originally Posted by streetsmart View Post
Most towns around here require some sort of permit for a fence, and unless you intend to fence your entire yard with a 6 foot privacy fence (they won't let you anyways), the deer will get over it (it's rather impressive how high they can jump). ABQConvict is not talking about fencing in your entire yard, he's talking about putting some sort of fence around the planting bed where you are growing whatever it is you are growing!
Wait...I have to fence off my planting beds???
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Old 09-29-2014, 03:43 PM
 
122 posts, read 341,582 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post
Wait...I have to fence off my planting beds???
In most places, definitely yes! The deer really are everywhere in Westchester and they are all hungry.

We have a 6 foot fence around our veggie garden. Then we had to bury fence in the dirt all around because the groundhogs were burrowing under the fence.

Foundation plantings and flower beds have to be protected as well if you plant species which the deer like to eat. There are fortunately many species which they do not eat(well ones they prefer not to eat unless they are really, really hungry).

Any plant nursery in the area can steer you to deer-resistant plantings. The better nurseries also have a large selection of native cultivers which thrive in Westchester.

Tender annuals and veggies can't be safely planted in this area until after May 15. That's the 'official' last frost date. Most of us cheat and put out plants earlier, they just have to be covered or taken in if a frost is predicted.

Not everything dies in the winter, there are many beautiful evergreen plants and shrubs which lend interest to your garden in the winter. Not to sound like a broken record, but they have to be protected from the deer.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:39 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
8,993 posts, read 4,883,403 times
Reputation: 5782
Quote:
Originally Posted by czarinalex View Post
In most places, definitely yes! The deer really are everywhere in Westchester and they are all hungry.

We have a 6 foot fence around our veggie garden. Then we had to bury fence in the dirt all around because the groundhogs were burrowing under the fence.

Foundation plantings and flower beds have to be protected as well if you plant species which the deer like to eat. There are fortunately many species which they do not eat(well ones they prefer not to eat unless they are really, really hungry).

Any plant nursery in the area can steer you to deer-resistant plantings. The better nurseries also have a large selection of native cultivers which thrive in Westchester.

Tender annuals and veggies can't be safely planted in this area until after May 15. That's the 'official' last frost date. Most of us cheat and put out plants earlier, they just have to be covered or taken in if a frost is predicted.

Not everything dies in the winter, there are many beautiful evergreen plants and shrubs which lend interest to your garden in the winter. Not to sound like a broken record, but they have to be protected from the deer.

Thanks!
Sounds like I'm going to have my work cut out with these deer (and groundhogs!). Oh well I do like a challenge.
I'm embarking here on a whole new learning curve about what I can grow and what might deter deer.
I read some success can be had with these:

Asparagus
Carrots
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Fennel
Garlic
Globe Artichokes
Leeks
Peppers
Rhubarb
Tomatoes
Onions
Chives
Dill
Lavender
Lemon Balm
Mint
Parsley
Rosemary
Sage
Tarragon
Thyme
Lavender
Sage
Parsley

Thanks for the tip about May 15th.
Sounds like I will probably be investing in a greenhouse.
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Old 09-30-2014, 07:32 AM
bg7
 
7,696 posts, read 9,383,488 times
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My main problems are possums and chipmunks. But I'm not really at war with them, the take a little, I take a little. They were living here before us pilgrims moved in.

I've found seasonal changes, like first buds and leaves a turning are about 2 weeks delayed relative to Southern England.
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