Harsh, long winters, dry conditions and a short growing season make the Sheridan area a difficult place for raising food, but it’s not impossible. People throughout Wyoming don’t let adverse conditions stop them from enjoying homegrown goods.
Landon’s Greenhouse and Nursery provides hundreds of options for fruit trees and vegetables that grow well in Wyoming’s diverse climate. The store only sells plants zoned at a 4 or less. Zone 4 indicates plants that survive in conditions up to 30 below zero. Plants zoned at 3 or 2 withstand much colder temperatures, down to 50 degrees below zero.
“That’s as tough as it gets,” Landon’s general manager Keith Kershaw said.
Sheridan’s soil contains a hefty amount of alkaline, eliminating the possibility of life here for some tree and shrub species.
“They have to tolerate our alkaline soils, which has a higher pH level,” Kershaw said.
Surprisingly, though, fruit trees and smaller fruit bushes thrive in Sheridan’s climate.
“It’s absolutely amazing what we can do here even though it’s a cold, harsh climate and a short growing season as well,” Kershaw said. “There’s a lot more than you think.”
In the vegetable department, Kershaw said the supply Landon’s keeps on hand throughout the year indicates what grows best in the area. A wide range of vegetables survive, but starting seeds indoors remains an integral aspect in extending growing seasons.
Urban Farmer suggests starting most seeds indoors in a Zone 4 cli- mate mid-April. Corn, cucumber, squash and beans should be planted at the beginning of June, typically straight into the ground. Most vegetables will be ready for harvest by August and September.
While Wyoming provides more of a challenge for growing an abundance of fruits and veggies than warmer climates, growers can still see the fruits of their labors bloom.
1. Individual fruits and vegetables have a wide array of harvesting times. As the ripening time approaches, check plants daily to harvest newly ripened produce.
2. Aphids don’t discriminate when it comes to Wyoming plants. Tiny black fl beetles like to take residence in the garden during the heat of the day. Neem oil — an oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of the neem evergreen tree — can be sprayed directly onto plants to help prevent these pests.
3. Deer and rabbits are also persistent pests in the garden. Some of their pesky picking can be prevented by building a fence or barrier — chicken wire works great — around the perimeter of the garden. Other herbal repellents through planting or sprays help deter wildlife from enjoying the homegrown goodies.