Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions/Articles section of the Bonner County Gardeners Association site. Here we will post information written by local gardeners that is designed to help you garden in our challenging climate. This area is a work in progress
and we'll add more articles as we receive them.
New to Idaho?
If you are new to the area, the most important thing you can learn before you
go out and buy plants is the hardiness zone of our area. Many plants and gardening
catalogs list the USDA Hardiness zone, which tells you what average minimum
temperature the plant can withstand.
If you look at the standard USDA Hardiness Zone map, you might think that we're
in Zone 5 or even 6 here in North Idaho. In most areas, that is not true. Unless
you are in a particularly warm microclimate (such as the Hope area) a good rule
of thumb is to buy plants that are rated to Zone 3 or 4.
One reason plants face more growing challenges here than in other areas is
because our weather frequently goes through freeze-thaw cycles that are extremely
difficult for some plants to survive. One beautiful Spring day it will be 60
degrees. then two days later, the temperature drops to -20.
Plants really hate that.
Our growing season also can be very short, so you may want to learn more about
season extenders such as cold frames and hoop houses. For example, according
to the Soil Survey of the Bonner County Area, Idaho, only 1 year in 10 will
have 141 days where the temperature is higher than 32 degrees F. However, 9
years out of 10, you'll have 99 days where the temperature is 32 degrees or
higher. Most years, it's somewhere in between.
The University of Idaho Sandpoint Research & Extension Center has historical
records on this page, which also can help give you an idea of what our climate
Again, it depends on the microclimate of your particular site, but as local
farmer, Diane Green often points out in her organic gardening classes, you should
be "prepared for the hottest, coldest, wettest, driest growing season ever
Then you'll do just fine!