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      U.P. Gardening Tip - February 16, 2010

      The 2010 seed catalogs are piled high on my coffee table and what better time to rifle through them and draw out a garden plan than right now. It TMs a snow day at the Cherry Creek School where I work and with the day off, I plan to take time to read last year TMs list of garden foibles, scan the catalogs and map out my new summer plan. The first things I look for in the colorful bundles are new plants to try. I research ones that seem competitively priced and zoned geographically to our U.P. locale- i.e. Zone 2 and Zone 3.

      Zones let the gardener know how weather tolerant the plant roots will be in the U.P. below zero temperatures. When I was a new gardener, I didn TMt understand the geographic plant zones like I do now. I once, foolishly bought a Zone 8 (yucca root) plant from a discount store and then wondered why it didn TMt survive the next winter. The U.P. of Michigan is Zone 2 and Zone 3. The higher terrains (Negaunee, Ishpeming, and Ironwood) are Zone 2-much colder/longer season. Marquette and Lake Superior/Lake Michigan coastal (lake level) are Zone 3, and whereas this doesn TMt mean it TMs necessarily warmer, it means that our Marquette spring sometimes has a ten day lead and our autumn has a ten day lag, giving an additional nearly 3 weeks more of the summer growing season.

      Some examples of Zone 3 plants to try are: Dwarf Northsky Blueberry and the Red Latham Raspberry. Zone 2 & 3 is ok for grapevines. The grapevine that grew well for me is: The Marquette Grape (available at local greenhouses in the spring). Five of these plants have twisted and grown into an interesting vineyard in the sunny sandy section of my backyard and I plan to plant more. The wine when mixed with chokecherries is an interesting combination. My Yooper Red TM09 was a Thanksgiving hit.

      Be sure and check zone tolerance for strawberries and any other perennials. Do not be fooled by the word hardy. Hardy has nothing to do with how plants survive a -40 winter (even if heavily mulched.) The beginner gardener has to observe the Zones before placing a seed or plant order. Seasoned gardeners already know this because of years of trial and error. So save a few bucks on me.

      It TMs a Lake effect snowstorm out there today. Why not curl up near a cozy fireplace, make a pot of your August harvested and dried mint tea with local honey and sift through a seed catalog or two today.

      Happy Birthday to son Adam Kangas today.

      TV6 Contributor - Donna Campbell, Master Gardener

      Check out our TV6 Family Garden page for daily tips, local growing tips, and news and video, plus helpful links to gardening fun.