Gillette, Wyoming is in hardiness zone 4, which means it’s good to grow a great variety of edible plants, including fruits and vegetables.
What Can Thrive in a Gillette Garden?
These plants are not only edible, but easy to grow. As a matter of fact, the gardener might find his or her harvest so abundant that he or she might think of giving some of it away to friends and neighbors or even selling it.
How About Them Artichokes?
Artichokes are cool weather plants that take a very long time to come to fruition, so the somewhat coolish climate of Wyoming is ideal for them. Artichokes can be started from seed in a sunny but sheltered area of the garden. Add lots of compost to the area when the seeds are planted and then again after the plants are about six inches tall. The gardener might also want to start the artichokes in pots to protect them against the cold. These pots should be brought in during the coldest months. If the plant is in the ground, it should be cut to 15 inches above the ground. The gardener should then bend the stalks over, mulch them with leaves, and cover them with a basket.
By the way, if the artichokes are left to themselves, they will blossom into beautiful purple thistles.
Plant Some Carrots
Carrots grow best in soil that’s easy to break up. One way to do that is to plant some radish seeds before the gardener puts in the carrot seeds. The seeds should be sown in a shallow furrow that’s about one quarter inch deep and the seeds should be kept moist. When the first leaves sprout, thin them to about an inch apart. When the true leaves sprout, thin to about three inches apart. However, if the gardener wants baby carrots, he or she should wait a bit before thinning. Botanists agree that the tastiest kinds of carrots are Nantes.
Cauliflower is an ideal cool weather plant. It bolts when the weather turns even a bit warm. It’s best to grow this as a late summer, early fall crop in Gillette. Cauliflowers are often sold as seedlings. Plant them about an inch deeper than they were in the starting pots and cover them with netting to protect them from whatever residual pests are out there. The trick to raising cauliflowers is to tie several of the leaves over the heads to make sure they stay white. Since cauliflower and other brassicas are subject to clubroot, don’t compost their roots and rotate them on a three year basis.
Peas For the Whole Year
Peas are also edible plants that love cool weather. More than that, they can be frozen or put by for later. In the fall, compost the soil, then rake it gently when it starts to thaw in the spring. Peas need to be started from seed as their roots are fragile. For a more abundant harvest, plant the pole climbing peas, which yield more than the bush varieties.
Nuts Are Good and Good For You
Most nuts come from trees, so it will take a while before they start to yield. But here are some that will do well in Gillette:
Plant A Walnut Tree
Ambassador walnut trees are able to grow in our area. They need medium watering when young but are quite drought resistant when they mature. They need full sun but do surprisingly well in poor soil. They are self pollinating which is great because you can enjoy a good crop with only one tree.
Hazelnuts Are Just the Thing for Gillette
Hazelnut trees are extremely cold tolerant and can be planted as far north as lower Canada. Indeed, if the climate’s too warm, the tree might blossom prematurely. The soil needs to be well drained, deep and fertile. Like almonds, the tree needs cross pollination to produce, so buy a least two. It needs medium watering and does well with sawdust mulch.
Fruit That Love Wyoming
Some fruit also thrive in the Wyoming climate. Here are some:
Plant a Cherry Tree
A standard cherry tree can grow to about 40 feet tall and will need a bit of pruning. Otherwise, they’re easy to grow as long as the soil is fertile and they spend between 800 and 1200 hours in temperatures under 45 degrees F. They also need a lot of water as the fruit is vulnerable to water stress. All kinds of cherries except the Stella variety need to be cross pollinated, but this might be a bit tricky because different trees have different bloom times. The canadian cherry trees do great in our area.
Blueberries love very acid soil because this helps them extract iron and nitrogen. They can be bought as two year old plants and should be heeled in till it’s time to plant them. Also, inoculating the roots with mycorrhizal fungi will help the yield. Buy lowbush and highbush varieties. Blueberries are also good at resisting late spring frost. They not only produce those beautiful berries, but the foliage turns brilliant red in the fall. I have had trouble getting blueberries started here but I have talked with many people who have done it. It is always fun to try and if you don’t get them going try Fort Laramie Strawberries they do great!
Pears are great for backyard gardens because they don’t require the sort of care that some other fruit trees do, and they like it cool, moist and overcast. The blossoms resist frost well and will still be on the tree after a really cold night. Also, pear trees can be passed down through the generations. A tree can live up to 300 years and bear for about 100.
I get many trees and plants from GrowOrganic.com they are a great place to shop for non GMO plants.
These are but a few of the edible plants that can be grown and enjoyed in Gillette. Happy gardening!
Photo Courtesy of Knitting Iris