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Growing Year Round in Missoula

Greg M Peters


Joined: Feb 16, 2010
Posts: 74
The winter market idea has me wondering if anyone has tried growing salad greens year round here.  Is there enough sunshine?  When I lived at Purple Frog Gardens in Whitefish, we didn't grow year round necessarily, but carrots produced well into December.  I think with the hoop house and some cold boxes, we could have grown spinach at least. 

Has anyone tried this here in Missoula?  Does Garden City Harvest have any hoop houses?  If not, it would be cool to try and get a big hoop house set up this next fall so people could experiment with growing greens or spinach or whatever.  Just kind of thinking out loud...

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Well ... not missoula, but on the northern edge of idaho I too the following video.  This guy says he was able to keep tomatoes to the second week of december without adding any heat.

http://www.youtube.com/paulwheaton12#p/u/10/-hV8Teiskfo

And then I was at this workshop where a rocket mass heater was added to a raised bed in a similar greenhouse.  The idea is that you would build a fire once and the heat would last for days later.

http://www.youtube.com/paulwheaton12#p/u/5/qtFvdMk3eLM


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Joined: Feb 15, 2010
Posts: 121
Location: Missoula, MT
Sushine is an issue. Maybe not as much as it is in far northwest cities like Seattle, but I've definitely seen sunnier winters than we have here in Missoula. Even on the other side of the Mountains where it is colder and gets more snow. That reminds me of another question I had regarding the Elliot Coleman ideas you referred to in your response to the Winter Market post. Would it be necessary, especially in a place that gets as much cloud cover and cold as we do, to use heaters and grow lights? Actually I was wondering if Four Seasons uses these things to get through the below zero nights.

On a similar note, would growing through Missoula winters be a good time to use greenhouse in a greenhouse techniques? Does anyone have experience doing this?
Greg M Peters


Joined: Feb 16, 2010
Posts: 74
Thanks for the info Paul. Cool videos.  Destini - the greenhouse in a greenhouse is kind of what I was thinking.  Or I think you could use smaller cold boxes within the greenhouse.  What about growing in containers inside.  Are there especially nutritious herbs or easy to grow veggies for some fresh produce inside.  I grow sprouts year round, but are there other things? 

Any idea how much a simple grow light costs?  Home Resource would be a great place to start looking for containers or materials for containers.  Where would you go for a grow light?
Is Caras Nursery open year-round?


                  


Joined: Feb 15, 2010
Posts: 121
Location: Missoula, MT
Caras Nursery is open year round. I haven't bought supplies there because it is so far away and haven't actually ventured into any more complicated gardening endeavors that would require me to have a grow light or anything like that. Last year I was living back in my hometown and it snowed like winter, I am not kidding, until the middle of June.

Before I knew it was going to snow until June, I germinated a few things, intending to transplant them. I took some sweet potatoes that I never ate, cut them up as my mom said was the way to plant regular potatoes and stuck them in a couple large terra cotta pots in the basement. It was a half basement and the windows were large and south facing. Also, the snow that my hometown gets usually falls at night, leaving a cloudless sky in the morning. This allowed for plenty of sunlight and a heater in the room kept the plants warm at night. When I finally got a chance to transplant, the sweet potatoes were beautiful and vibrant, strong vines overflowing out of the pot. Within a few days, they died back to a few inches in height, whereupon my mom's puppy dug them up (hmm... two dog digging years in a row!). That ending contrasted so much with how well they did in the pots that I wonder if I should have just let them grow out the rest of the season in their containers.

So, sweet potatoes for one idea? I also grew some onions and garlic and they grew alright. I'm not sure I can judge that batch because the onions started from a kind of moldy sprout. I peeled off the obvious moldy layer before planting them and they did alright after that, but then I went and put them in a container that wasn't drained well enough. Same for the garlic. Eventually, I transferred all of them to the terra cotta pots and they seemed to perk up a little after that just before I transplanted them and they all met the fate of the sweet potatoes. Who knows what might have happened if I had kept them in their containers as well. Or if the dog wasn't so interested in copying my digging spot. It's a good thing she was so cute...

Home resource could be a really good source for building materials, but I would try to make sure the wood wasn't treated with any chemicals. Otherwise, it sounds great. I kind of want to go exploring there now. Do they have anything that would work for a container?
                          


Joined: Feb 17, 2010
Posts: 2
A couple of us have talked about it - great place to have it would be out at the fairgrounds. Tons of traffic out there on weekend mornings with the hockey crowd.
                  


Joined: Feb 15, 2010
Posts: 121
Location: Missoula, MT
Hello, Dawn. Are you talking about growing through winter or having a winter market? There is a separate thread for the latter. I'd be personally interested in hearing what you and your friends have come up with if a winter market is in your plans!
Greg M Peters


Joined: Feb 16, 2010
Posts: 74
Thanks for the info Destini.  Good stuff.  Seems like terra cotta pots worked well for you.  I may give this a shot if I can find some pots.  It'd be nice to get some veggies growing by March.
                          


Joined: Feb 17, 2010
Posts: 2
oops, sorry,  posted on wrong thread.  no definitive plans, just ideas for creating a year round market, wondering whether we could entice a sufficient amount of local producers to make it worthwhile.
                  


Joined: Feb 15, 2010
Posts: 121
Location: Missoula, MT
Hey Dawn. I'm going to reply under the winter market thread, so that interested people will be able to find the information.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The presentation/film I'm presenting at the library in a week will cover a lot of this:

He does grow citrus outdoors in a climate very similar to missoula.

He manages to raise a few pigs in such a way that he never buys feed, nor does he harvest feed and re-feed it to them in the winter.  The pigs forage all winter.

He does something similar with chickens, but does put a little away for the chickens and ends up feeding the chickens on the ten coldest days of the winter.

He does harvest food for himself all year - without a greenhouse.  The films will show some of that.
Greg M Peters


Joined: Feb 16, 2010
Posts: 74
Cool, I'll check it out.  Seems like Missoula or the Bitterroot Valley are two of the best (maybe the only) places in Montana where this might work. 
Kristen Lee-Charlson


Joined: Feb 13, 2010
Posts: 56
Have you read Eliot Coleman's latest book "the Winter Harvest Handbook"? Fantastic!
Larry Evans (aka the mushroom man) grows lots year-round.


edibleMISSOULA, a quarterly publication, endeavors to create and grow community through our connection to local foods.
                  


Joined: Feb 15, 2010
Posts: 121
Location: Missoula, MT
Call me a purist, but is it possible to do this without using any extra electricity?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Destini Vaile wrote:
Call me a purist, but is it possible to do this without using any extra electricity?


Yes.

I think all of the examples I have cited use no extra electricity.

                  


Joined: Feb 15, 2010
Posts: 121
Location: Missoula, MT
Okay, awesome. Thanks!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
There are lots of things you can go fish out of the soil almost any time of year ....  well, except for when things are frozen solid.  Potatoes and sunchokes come to mind.

Greg M Peters


Joined: Feb 16, 2010
Posts: 74
What are sunchokes and where might you find one?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
sunchokes: aka jerusalem artichokes.  A perennial plant with a tuber. 

                                


Joined: Feb 14, 2010
Posts: 9
  What about growing in containers inside.  Are there especially nutritious herbs or easy to grow veggies for some fresh produce inside.  I grow sprouts year round, but are there other things? 


Hi Greg,

I put together a home made version of an "Earthbox" which is just a big tub (plastic bin) that self waters from the bottom up.  I do use electricity for the shop lights but find them quite worth the expense as the lights and plants really brighten up my dark house in winter.  I've got spinach, herbs and lettuce about to take over the kitchen and pretty much anything else can be grown too.

The self watering is great.  You can leave for a week or two at a time and not worry about the plants if you've filled the bottom reservoir.

Soon I'll start planting vegie starts for my garden under the lights too.
Greg M Peters


Joined: Feb 16, 2010
Posts: 74
That sounds cool.  Is there somewhere online I can learn how to build an earthbox?  How does the self watering thing work.  Thanks.
                                


Joined: Feb 14, 2010
Posts: 9
Hi Greg,

You can do a search on "IY Earthbox" or "self-watering planter" and get lots of great info and tutorials online.  Or they sell the original item out at Caras I think.  It's basically 2 large plastic bins stacked inside each other.  You put buckets in the bottom one to stack the second one.  The bottom one becomes the water reservoir, the top one is your planter.  You drill a hole in the side of the reservoir and insert a fill tube.  (I didn't want the tube sticking out permanently so I use a long funnel to fill mine.)  The reservoir holds enough water for a week or 10 days.  The water moves up into the planter via wicking action. 

I've put my worm castings in mine a few times so have plenty of worms working in the planter as well.
                                                  


Joined: Apr 16, 2010
Posts: 18
Location: Near Butte MT
florescent lights are not very useful for anything but starting transplants.
I have found pretty much the same with LED grow lights.

regular halide lights come in 400 and 1000 watts.... so they use that much for the whole time they are on... would need to keep about 10-12 hrs of light.  Kinda costly,
but if you had a greenhouse and only used the lights for supplemental light... like an hour or two morning and night it might not be too bad.

combine that with the doubled up greenhouse and heated beds ala rocket mass stove..... could be done.....

Im adding one to my main greenhouse this year and will see how it does.


Sue

Off the grid in SW MT

webmaster for:

MTFolks:  http://www.bulldancers.com/mtfolk/
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                tons of free legal downloads on agricultural topics!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The guy in the first video is visiting with folks this week in the alternative building forum.
Seth Pogue


Joined: Feb 12, 2010
Posts: 81
Who's got some ideas about the best companion plantings for potatoes on the west side of the Bitterroot valley?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I have a quick note about companions on potatoes from a list I made about 15 years ago:

companions:  beans, corn, marigold, broccoli, garlic

enemies: pumpkin, sunflower, tomato, raspberries

pH:  50. to 5.4 (the overlap from seven sources)

Seth Pogue


Joined: Feb 12, 2010
Posts: 81
Anybody in Missoula or the Bitterrroot have some seed potatoes they'd like to donate?
Seth Pogue


Joined: Feb 12, 2010
Posts: 81
Anybody have information on how well Sugar Maple does in our soils?
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I love sun chokes & since I'm allergic to potatoes I eat chokes instead, I would like it if I could grow them, especially in an indoor pot in the winter.
Do you think this would work?
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Lighting question:
You know those full spectrum light bulbs that people with seasonal depression are suppose to use, could you use one of those as a grow light for plants?

D
                              


Joined: Jun 20, 2010
Posts: 34
I drove through Missoula in 2000 and went on a green home tour.  It was awesome.  One of the places on the tour was a guy with an awesome greenhouse.  He was a forestry prof at the U.  At the time he was getting ready to write a book.  I know this was a long time ago but maybe he's still around
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Hi dragonfly,

Yes the green home tour is very cool & now we have a lot more to show off.
Like this one:

Gold Dust Apartments - Missoula, MT   
homeWORD begins each development with an intensive design charrette. The Gold Dust design charrette involved over 70 low-income families, neighbors, artists, professionals, and elected officials. Charrette participants volunteered a day and a half to learn about, wrestle with, and propose innovative strategies for developing high quality affordable housing.  The Gold Dust has a 15kW photovoltaic array which produces about ¼ to ½ of the total power needed for the apartments. There are 88 panels in the system, each measuring 32 x 64 inches. The panels produce DC power, which is converted by inverters in the building basement to AC. This AC power is then fed back to the utility grid and is made available to the Gold Dust apartments. Excess power is sold back to the utility.  More Here:http://www.designadvisor.org/green/gold_dust.htm


[Thumbnail for gold_dust_6.jpg]

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Seth Pogue wrote:
Anybody have information on how well Sugar Maple does in our soils?


The city of missoula is riddled with sugar maples.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Dianne Keast wrote:
I love sun chokes & since I'm allergic to potatoes I eat chokes instead, I would like it if I could grow them, especially in an indoor pot in the winter.
Do you think this would work?


Sunchokes do excellent in the missoula area.

                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I'm glad to hear it! how do you know when it is the best time to harvest?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I've almost always harvested them fall, winter and spring.  I have never thought of when is the best time to harvest. 

Geoff Rich


Joined: Dec 07, 2009
Posts: 22
paul wheaton wrote:
The city of missoula is riddled with sugar maples.



Most of the trees that line the streets, particularly in the U District, are almost always called "Norway Maples." Is that the same as a sugar maple, because if it is, next year I am going for syrup when the sap rises in the spring.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Dammit! 

Sugar maples and norway maples look a lot alike.  And I've never heard of anybody tapping a norway maple.  Might be a good idea to learn the difference before you start tapping!
doc watson


Joined: Aug 28, 2010
Posts: 1
This concerns the earlier discussion about growing year round in Missoula.
A few years ago, some students in my applied ecology class decided to see how long they could grow greens in one of the PEAS farm green houses if they put cold frames inside the green house.
On the last day of class in mid December, they treated the class to huge salads of greens they had just picked.
As I recall, they said they continued to have greens until mid January when extremely low temperatures finally caused a freeze inside the cold frames in the green house.
Emma Olson


Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 155
I have a community garden plot at River Road, and I'd heard you can plant greens in August that will grow into October. I think it's starting to cool down though. Is it to late to plant spinach now? Is there anything else you can plant at this point? I'm from California and used to having a large winter garden, so I'm not sure how to work with the fall out here.
 
 
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