Friday, July 22, 2011

Zone Envy

Matt has been reading Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman and is thoroughly enthralled.  Matt just wants to be a farmer and so the idea that he could grow food year round is particularly appealing to him.  Early this year Matt built his first season extender (hoop house) which did jump-start the green things in the garden this year.  Matt also strongly appreciates that Coleman is in Maine, meaning he is perhaps even worse off when it comes to cold and short growing seasons than we are here in Montana. 

So we were talking about year-round harvests.  About my sister's gardening in Washington.  About Rhonda and my blogging friends from around the world growing lemons and bananas and mangoes!  About folks in Texas already eating fresh salsa.  Matt turned to me and said "I think I have Zone Envy."  I laughed, and laughed.

He later told me he came up with the term on the spot, but that it quite accurately describes his feelings.

I can certainly appreciate his "Zone Envy" and wish for a little longer season myself, but as I told Matt in these things it is always a give and take.  For example, my sister can grow greens nearly year round in Washington and we cannot.  However, her garden is frequently damaged by slugs which we do not have.    There are pros and cons to every place and every situation. 
So, we will continue to learn from Eliot Coleman and extend our season here a bit.  (Matt is thinking up plans for cold frames!)  Hopefully, that will help ease poor Matt's "Zone Envy" some.  And, even if it doesn't we will still be eating garden-fresh for much more of the year than we used to!


  1. I have Matt envy! Yeah, I am old enough to be his grandmother. If there were only someone half as interested in growing things to eat and in making my yard more productive! Growing bananas, mangoes,and lemons sounds like heaven. I do know I have read of people making a permanent frame around trees, giving them room to grow and covering them all winter. I have a basement of collected storm doors and half glass storm door pieces with which I hoped to construct some sort of greenhouse for growing. Her is a greenhouse constructed or storm doors and windows--

    It is just like a house with a foundation and wood floor, I think. It is so quaint. I imagine that you could build it where it would be portable enough to move if you are renting or planning on moving, not in a home of your own right now.

  2. Those peas look yummy! Could you believe I have zone envy too! (Yes we can try to grow mangoes here in zone 9, but often they get nearly killed each winter.) I'm wishing I'm in Hawaii sometimes, you can grow your own chocolate beans, coconuts, papayas, jack fruit and bread fruit there! Oh and year round peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, squashes, cukes and yams! I would miss the citrus fruits too much though, they need some chill to set fruit. Not having slugs would be nice.., but all is not a loss, when we find slugs, we feed it to the goldfish. Happy gardening!

  3. You are so right! I miss growing good peas, corn, spinach and other crops that did well in Upstate NY where I grew up in the green hills there. It gets so hot here so fast that you may be able to get 2 gardens in each year IF you time the plantings around the heat just right. Always a trade off thats for sure.

  4. I have zone envy too sometimes, but Kentucky has a nice climate for growing lots of different vegetables. I'm trying my hand at winter kale this year. We'll see what happens. Good Luck to Matt!

  5. Beth, there is a young family outside of Conrad who has an organic farm. I toured it with Cub Scouts last summer and enjoyed it thorougly. They grow a variety of salad greens and vegetables as well as grains such as amaranth, emmer and more. Plus they raise organic turkeys. The tour was fascinating. I would go again. They have a page on Facebook: Prairie Heritage Farm.

  6. Parsimony - We have a growing collection of found storm window that Matt hopes to build into a green house! I think he read about it in Mother Earth News. What a coinkeydink!

    Becky - Thanks for confirming that there really are pros and cons to every zone! I figured, but have never gardened beyond our Zone 4. You are already planning your second garden, right? I feel like I saw the list of plant dates on your blog not too long ago.... I hope your timing and weather cooperate!

    Mary - He was so pleased to learn he wasn't alone in his zone envy. Kale is one of the easiest and hardiest plants we've grown. While all the spinach and tomatoes were being eating the kale looked quite literally perfect. Good luck to you as well! I hope your kale is as successful!

    Homemaker - Thanks for the info! I had never heard of this farm before, but have spent a little while now reading over their website and FB page. Awesome stuff. Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention. I certainly would like to go see it myself too.


Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!