A-Z Gardening in Zone 3-4

For the organic gardner struggling in the short season climate


Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Linda and I have always kept a small herb garden on the edge of one of our 3 garden beds, the smallest. We grew thyme, rosemary, basil, sage and parsley. For many years we potted the them up and successfully overwintered them in the greenhouse. Basil is so sensitive to cold that it would not even survive on my front porch in 50 degree temperatures. I can usually keep a pot of it growing in a southern window in the house. Two winters ago none of our herbs survived. Whether it was because the plants were very old or the temperature got too low we don’t know, they all died.

Future sight of our new herb garden

This year we are going to move our herbs to the side of the same garden bed and because we now have more room we are growing a larger variety. We started basil, thyme, culinary sage, lemon balm, parsley, rosemary, Greek oregano and hyssop in flats that we will transplant in late May or June. Hyssop is native to Europe where it is used to improve the smell of kitchens. It’s leaves are used to flavor green salads, soups, liqueurs stews and tea. It also attracts humming birds. Lemon Balm was grown at Monticello by Thomas Jefferson. It is used for making tea and is said to have a calming effect on children and helpful for upset stomachs.

I have recently learned of a good way to preserve herbs for winter use. Chop up fresh herbs, put in ice cube trays with enough water to cover and freeze. When frozen place cubes in plastic bags. When needed just pop a cube into whatever your cooking, or thaw it out and use as fresh. If anyone has more tips on preserving fresh herbs please leave a comment.

These are pictures of our new herb garden after replanting and during the summer.


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It’s Official!

Tim bringing back the tiller from a spring tune up at his house.

Spring has arrived in zone 3-4, the tree frogs have started peeping. I really enjoy laying in bed at night listening to the peepers, it’s music to my ears. This is my favorite time of year. I know that spring has arrived and that soon we will be planting the garden. We may still have at least two more snow events before May. On occasion we have had significant snow in May. I’ve gone to bed when the temperature was in the 50’s and woke up to 6″ of snow on the ground on May 16 th. We had to jump out of bed and run outside to shake the snow off the fruit trees in order to keep the damage to a minimum. Snow in May usually melts by the afternoon although I remember one time it staying on the ground for about 2 days.

Linda came over on April 7 th and we planted the peas and lettuce in the garden. We usually plant peas on Good Friday, however, this Good Friday was on March 21st, and the garden was covered with ice and snow. We also started our herbs, leeks and bunching onions. We will transplant the leeks and bunching onions when they get big enough. They are frost hardy so it doesn’t matter when you transplant them into the garden. The herbs were put on the germination stand until they come up and then will go on the front porch until they can go into the greenhouse.

The daffodils are peeking up out of the ground and the crocus are blooming. Thank goodness for crocus, it’s so nice to have such bright and deep colors when everything is so drab. Last fall I planted 80 crocus in my front yard flower bed, it’s 5’x10′. That bed also has daffodils and is planted with annuals in June for summer color.

It’s also time to prune the apple trees, blueberry bushes and ornamentals. From here on out, life gets very busy.