Gardening in Snow Country

The Garden….  The Garden Gallery….

Gardening in Chiloquin is not for the impatient.
The tomatoes may freeze in July (or August), the fruit (whatever kind) freeze before it ripens, and a favorite plant to succumb in winter, to -25 degrees with no snow cover to protect it. And that doesn’t even take into account the gophers, voles, moles, raccoons, rabbits, beavers, deer, skunk, birds and any other creature that takes a fancy to a snack. You may be unfortunate enough to have a yard full of pumice soil, or live in an extra cold spot, or an extra windy spot….. But, all of that aside, gardening can be wonderful here.

There is a garden club that meets from April to September, though the April meeting is usually held indoors as April weather is usually cold and unpredictable. The library has a section on gardening locally, and here is a link to some gardening articles that have been published in the Chiloquin News.

Gardening in snow country

Phenology of a Chiloquin garden

As you can see – about 6 weeks between the last hard freeze of spring and the first hard freeze of fall (that’s 27-28 degrees F). Not much time for those heat-loving veggies, but it can be done with a few tricks. One of the biggest problems we face as vegetable gardeners here is that even when it does warm up, the nights stay very cool – usually in the mid-40’s, sometimes dipping into the 30’s and sometimes up into the 50’s. Given that tomatoes do not set fruit if the night-time temperature is below 55 degrees, it’s a miracle that some gardeners here can grow them and get fruit!

The garden is usually under snow for several months and when the first bulbs start to pop through they are like gems in a flat, brown wasteland. Then the magic happens. The nights warm up (sort of), the sun shines, and everything starts to grow. For a couple of months it’s a gardener’s paradise. The flat brown landscape turns into tall, lush greenery, but all too soon it is brown again and needing to be cut back for another winter. This is how it looks during those couple of months:


Native plants are quite beautiful and have the added bonus of not requiring much extra water. Here are some used in the garden:


There are edible landscaping plants that do very well, with the added bonus of fruit!


Since the weather is usually cold for much of what people usually consider to be ‘spring’, Chiloquin spring flowering plants emerge over a period of months instead of weeks. Spring flowering plants are still opening their blossoms right up and into July. Because of that they dominate our gardens:


Finally, the arrival of summer is almost the beginning of the end. But what a glorious end: