This past week in Bozeman we have been experiencing some beautiful weather. Spring fever is all around. This is evident by the people emerging outside for runs, bike rides and strolls after a long winter hibernation. You may also have noticed some of these popping up in yards...
When the tulips and daffodils begin showing up, it is a sure sign of spring. For any gardener this is also the time you start to get the itch to dig in the dirt. For any Montana gardener, you know that we're still a couple of months out from this. Gardening in Montana takes a little more skill, but with some research and patience you can enjoy the abundance of fresh veggies all summer long! Here are a few tips to take full advantage of our short growing season.
1. To enjoy those beautiful spring flowers plant your bulbs by the first week of October. Good choices for Montana are daffodils, tulips, crocus and iris. No need for bone meal...it doesn't do much in the soil here. Put the work in during the fall and enjoy their appearance as soon as (and often before!) the snow melts.
2. Planting too early, before the final frost can mean a lot of work wasted. To be safe from frost, most wait until Memorial Day to begin planting outside. Of course there are some who are eager and willing to take the risk earlier in May. If you do plant early, keep an eye on the weather forecast and if frost is in the future be sure to cover your plants. Very rarely does it frost in June in Montana, but never say never!
3. Before digging in make sure there have been enough warm days for the soil to dry out and pull the frost from the ground.
4. Good early planting options that are hardy enough to handle some frost would be potatoes, carrots, parsnips and onion.
5. These aren't quite as hardy as the above, but are also good cool season options: lettuce, spinach, zucchini and radishes. Most lettuce actually have a hard time with too much heat, so are good to plant early
6. Resist the urge to plant tomatoes early! They can't handle a frost. Most Montana gardeners get a jump-start on tomatoes by planting them inside in April or May. Plant them in a container that will make it easy to transfer such as a milk carton or peat pot which can be planted right along with it. Place them in a sunny window until the danger of frost is gone.
7. Other great Montana veggies are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, peas and pumpkins.
8. When choosing seeds look for early ripening varieties for our short growing season
For more Montana gardening and planting tips visit www.cashmannursery.com. With a little patience and practice you'll be eating a rainbow of veggies by July!