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Sustainable Agriculture

I’m moving to Duluth at the end of this school year (about 10 months) and I am trying to make a plan for some gardening I intend to do. My personal garden will likely be north of Duluth, in the Island Lake area. I know that the soil there isn’t great and that I will be required to haul in some of my own. I also know that Duluth would be in USDA hardiness Zone 3, so that obviously dictates what I will be able to grow.

My question is: what crops have you had success growing in the Duluth area? Any tips or tricks that might help? I’m passionate about returning to localized food production, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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8 Comment(s)

  1. We have a 40ft by 40ft plot at a community garden in Duluth. Closer to the lake we’re in Zone 4.

    Things vary from year to year, but we successfully grow everything from lettuce, beets, brasica (broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage), summer and winter squash, potatoes, carrots, leeks, peas, celery, fennel, onions, radishes, kale, Swiss chard to warmer weather crops like corn, tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers.

    Berries of course also do well, particularly raspberries in our experience but blueberries are coming along.

    We also have an herb pot at our house with thyme, rosemary, various mints, sage and we grow more of the same as well as cilantro, dill and parsley up at the “farm” (the 40 x 40 plot). Our oregano patch is out of control.

    Tricks? I start the peppers, tomatillos, and tomatoes indoors in early April. Plant warmer weather crops outside around last week of May. Seeds and cooler weather crops can go in in late April. Oh, and compost rocks as do raised beds (retain heat and help with drainage).

    Check out the following:

    Bret | Jul 26, 2012 | New Comment
  2. Oh, and all sorts of beans.

    Bret | Jul 26, 2012 | New Comment
  3. Thanks Bret! I really appreciate the links and all the input!

    TomK | Jul 26, 2012 | New Comment
  4. I started vegetable gardening three years ago after a long hiatus. We live in Lakewood and have heavy, clay based and rocky soil. (I’d give anything to have the sandy soil that exists around Island Lake) I built three raised beds and used the lasagna method (layering of organic weed blockers, leaves, peat, compost, etc….) of building soil and the first year didn’t plant, just build up the soil. The raised beds are easy to weed and really don’t get too weedy. In the second year I planted but the weather really stunted any growth as we had some nasty winds off the Lake and a really cold June. There just wasn’t enough time for the plants to mature once the weather got warm. This year I built hooped pvc pipe green houses (stuck the pipe in the ground to make hoops, covered it in plastic and held it down with old landscape blocks) for my beds. They are inexpensive and the warmth and protection they provided in the early season really have made a difference. I plan to put the plastic back on when the weather cools and extend my growing season into late Fall.

    One thing you have to be prepared for is deer. They are plentiful where I am and I use deer netting around my garden to deter them. Notice I used the word ‘deter’. I haven’t found any thing that totally protects my gardens. My neighbor has a 10 foot high fence and that doesn’t keep them out entirely! I am sure Island Lake has a healthy contingent of deer so start planning now how you will keep them out of your garden.

    Bottom line having a garden here is a challenge but the reward that grows is all the more sweet because of the challenge. Enjoy and welcome to the area!

    Ruthie | Jul 27, 2012 | New Comment
  5. Ah, yes, deer. We now have a high fence around the community garden and that has worked perfectly. Before the fence, however, we lost a lot to deer even with netting, etc (which they cut with their hooves and get in anyway, and once they know where the salad bar is look out. So, invest in a good, high, metal fence. If you’re ever near Rice Lake Road and Arrowhead road look for the Arrowhead Community Garden (just south of Arrowhead Road to the east of Rice Lake Road). You’ll see the fence and the gardens.

    Bret | Jul 27, 2012 | New Comment
  6. Bret | Jul 27, 2012 | New Comment
  7. Bret | Jul 27, 2012 | New Comment
  8. @Ruthie thank you for the warm welcome and wonderful ideas/advice! I have been plotting my deer defenses and I agree that a high metal fence is the way to go. @Bret, I will be sure and check out the Arrowhead Community Garden, I will definitely be in that area.

    I agree that the challenge makes the reward sweeter. I’m in Fargo, ND now and although the soil is pretty fertile, the weather poses some similar challenges. The deer are certainly not as prevalent here, mostly just rabbits. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I really appreciate the input!

    TomK | Jul 28, 2012 | New Comment

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