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Growing fruit in cold spot montana.

 
Edward Weymouth
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Looking for ideas and suggestions about growing fruit in a mountain valley of Montana.
Elevation is 4400, and it gets down to -40F. The soil is low in nitrogen, there is a decent amount of sun and it can get pretty dry although there is access to a small creek.

I was thinking about planting some of the trees in a greenhouse/walpini with a rocket mass heater. Is there a better idea, maybe passive solar rock piles and berms to keep the wind from stripping the bark off the trees? Although it doesn't really get that windy. Starting from very little knowledge here any ideas would be awesome.

Thanks
Ed
 
Jamie Wallace
Posts: 82
Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
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Hi Edward
I'm not familiar with your area but I do have some advice for you. I might suggest that you first determine the US hardiness zone which you are in, this would be a great starting point.
Once you have that information you can then take a look for trees that work with your climate. You might want to check out what cold climate farms are growing such as Mark Sheppard Forest Agriculture Enterprises.
Hope this is of some help.
 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
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I was just at a sepp holzer workshop in MT a week ago and we put in a HUGE crater garden on a site at 6300 ft elevation. The wind should go over the top of it and it had several terraces in it to plant things on. We amended the little humus available with composted cow manure and that was the "icing", so to speak, on everything. It also had a "small" pond in the bottom in which boulders were placed for heat gain. The crater will serve as a sun trap, extending the growing season and it should keep the average temperature warmer in it as well.

If you have access to large rocks/boulders, they can also be used as heat sinks and the fruit that you are desiring can be planted and nestled in among them.
IMG_3314.jpg
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crater garden
 
Edward Weymouth
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Jamie Wallace wrote:Hi Edward
I'm not familiar with your area but I do have some advice for you. I might suggest that you first determine the US hardiness zone which you are in, this would be a great starting point.
Once you have that information you can then take a look for trees that work with your climate. You might want to check out what cold climate farms are growing such as Mark Sheppard Forest Agriculture Enterprises.
Hope this is of some help.


Thanks for the Resource, I'll check it out. The area is in a 3a it's -35 to -40 below although overall it is getting warmer. There is a small stream running through the property but there are some questions about water rights, trying to find some resources on Junior Water rights in MT.
Thanks for the post
Ed
 
Edward Weymouth
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Hey Jen,

Where is the crater garden? I've been doing a lot of reading, but so far no hands-on experience with building Hugle Beds, Crater gardens, etc. would it be possible to visit the site and see how it's set up?

This sounds like an awesome idea, I'll have to see if I can get access to a the necessary heavy machinery. Would it be possible to build several smaller crater gardens or is it more efficient to make a humongo crazy one?

Like to know your thoughts
ed
 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
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The installation was done at Sage Mountain Center in Whitehall, MT (about 1/2 hr from Butte). Originally the crater garden was to be a huge fire pond, but the soil would not accomodate that, so the change was made. Sepp was quite excited about the idea because of the possibilites of fruit and herbs that could be raised in it and, with the elevation and climatic factors, it would make it an exceptionally quality product.

Any size, I think would work but I would think slightly larger (and not even to the size we built) would see greater benefits. Like I said, we ended up with a pond in the bottom with boulders in it and we also placed boulders on the terraces as well. (Nature provided the material and we worked with it).

Chris and Linda, the couple that own the property are absolutely spectacular people. Zach Weiss (I think that he might have gotten certified at this event as the first US person to receive the sepp holzer certification) is also involved and, I don't know if it is true or not, someone said that he was living there.

It would definitely be worth looking up. Their website is http://sagemountain.org/
 
Denis Huel
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There has been a fair bit of work done breeding very cold hardy fruit varieties for the Canadian prairies, Zones 2 and 3. There are many excellent apple varieties, cherries (University of Saskatchewan, Romance series), some decent plums and many berries. However, getting plants across the border may be difficult. Finding US sources would be easier.

Yesterday I planted 6 apples (zone 2B-3A), varieties Honeycrisp, Carlos Queen, Haralson, Norkent, Goodland, and Gemini. Of the 6 only the Honeycrisp is marginal.
 
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