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End of the Canadian Growing Season -- Pleased about Peppers / New Success

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End of the Canadian Growing Season -- Pleased about Peppers / New Success

Post  bullfrogbabe on 10/24/2011, 10:37 pm

The Canadian forum has been quiet for a while so I thought I'd share a few thoughts about this years SFGing season at my house in Petawawa.

The growing season is pretty short here, and after my third year at this, here are some things that work well and not so well in Canadian Zone 4a.

Long season crops such as peppers, melons, and winter squash just barely start producing before the season is over. We need to find a way to give these plants a head start in the spring to get much production here. I have been lucky to get 1 melon or squash per vine, after 3 years of attempts at winter squashes (acorn, butternut, buttercup, and sweet dumplings have been tried) and cantaloupes. I have had moderate success at summer squashes but could still do better by getting them outside a bit earlier; the years I got them in late May were better than those that had to wait until after early June frosts but I had to cover them a lot to make sure they made it.

I did find a trick that worked well for peppers this year -- I grew them in pots on the patio so I could take them in / out of house until evening temperatures stabilized and the risk of frost was gone so they could have the needed head start. The other benefit of being in pots is that I can chase the sun / warmth around the patio as the sun moves lower in the sky over the summer and into fall. I also tried some faster maturing varieties. When planting peppers into my SFG plots I have to wait to put them outside until mid-June and they loose out on the much needed head start and I was lucky to get 1 - 3 small peppers per plant by fall frosts that killed the next round of flowers. In pots, with a head start in spring I got a dozen or more peppers from the faster growing / maturing varieties and 3-4 per plant on the slower varieties. Overall a much better production rate than previous attempts. I found that sweet cubanelles (maturity 65 days) were the best producers, they grew large and produced many peppers on each plant with flowers constantly being produced. Next year that will be all I grow. I grew 6 pepper plants, the 2 cubanelle plants out produced all the others many times over. I have tried early california wonder (75 days), keystone giant (75-80 days), and another sweet pepper cooks custom mix (mix of 6 varieties maturing 60-80 days) but I don't think I was lucky enough to get any that matured quickly.

I used Mels mix in the pots and had to water frequently to avoid plants from drying out. The pots I used didn't have drain holes so I did have problems with too much water a couple times after heavy rains. All the peppers were started from seed in early March and transplanted to pots for outside early June. I may have been able to start putting them outside a bit earlier than I did but I didn't want to have to move them in / out of the house anymore than I absolutely had too. I did give the seedlings a shot of fertilizer in early May too and a shot of bone meal when planted into the patio pots. 1 plant per 12 inch round pots that were large enough to add round hoop supports.

These sweet cubanelles all came from 1 plant! And there were still more to come.

So I was pleased about peppers this year, and have a new trick to increase pepper production.

Now to figure out my lack of success on broccoli, radishes, and beets. But I gather from reading others posts I am not alone on these challenges! I haven't had any root production for radishes or beets for 3 years straight...so clearly there is a problem; getting lots of leaves/greens but skinny roots.

I did get slightly bigger broccoli this year -- I added bone meal when transplanting to the garden in May and added some all purpose fertilizer in early June. I'll try again next year but will add all purpose fertilizer both times. The compost available to me doesn't seem as rich in nutrients as it needs to be for good SFG production.

Romaine lettuce and carrots are definately great Canadian crops! They have grown well all 3 years -- planting carrots earlier this year, a week after April 15 as close to carrot week as possible also yielded bigger carrots than previous years despite pushing the envelope on the recommended planting date for this zone. It is not possible to get carrots from seed planted after May in this zone, they don't have enough time to grow big enough to eat by fall.

Assorted romaine planted this year -- very colourful and they grew great.

My neice and nephew with the carrots we ate for Canadian Thanksgiving (they planted them way back on Easter weekend in April). They were so excited to come back and pick them.

Female Posts : 189
Join date : 2010-03-03
Age : 46
Location : Petawawa, Ontario, Canada Zone 4a

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Re: End of the Canadian Growing Season -- Pleased about Peppers / New Success

Post  southern gardener on 10/24/2011, 10:45 pm

thanks for sharing! those peppers look amazing! nice job!!
southern gardener

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Location : california, zone 10a

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Re: End of the Canadian Growing Season -- Pleased about Peppers / New Success

Post  Goosegirl on 10/25/2011, 2:56 am

Thanks for sharing your insights. I am also in zone 4a, in SD, and since this was my first year with SFG I have not had the experience of 3 growing seasons yet - your experiences listed seem to mirror my season here so you have given me an extra 3 years of data to decide what I would like to do next year in my garden! THANKS!


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