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Grand Portage National Monument Heritage Garden & Fall Gardening Tips

NGARD_091610.mp3109.8 MB

 Pictured at left is the Three Sisters Garden (Corn, Beans & Squash) at the Grand Portage Monument.

Northern Gardening, hosted by Diane Booth and Joan Farnam, featured an interview with Margaret Plummer, interpreter and gardener for the Grand Portage National Monument Heritage Garden on Sept. 16. The program also featured discussions on fall gardening with Ann Rosenquist, CSA grower and University of Minnesota Master Gardener.

Following are notes and bits of information prepared by Diane Booth for the show. To hear the broadcast, click on the link.

The next program will feature Max Linehan, who will talk about butterfly gardening, and we’ll have an update on the Grand Marais Community gardens. We’ll also continue with tips on final steps in getting your garden ready for winter. That show will air Thursday, Oct. 7 at 4 p.m. The last show of the season is Thursday, Oct. 21.

Do you have questions, suggestions? E-mail us at


Here are the notes from the program that ran Sept. 16.


What are heirloom seeds?

A plant or seed variety that has been preserved by local growers or gardeners in a specific area where the seed has been selected over numerous years and saved. It can also be defined as a  variety that was in existence before 1951 when vegetable hybridization become more prevalent.


Questions to Margaret Plummer:

 Can you please share with us what you do at the Grand Portage National Monument.

• Tell us about the varieties you grow

• Where you purchase your seeds from

• What varieties you save seed from

• Growing methods you use in the heritage garden.

• Three Sisters garden: corn, squash, beans (note: The Three Sisters Garden is an Iroquois term for life support)D

Do you grow herbs?  Tobacco?


About Corn:


Dent corn – Zea mays indenata ‘field corn’ for livestock or making processed food. Contains both hard and soft starch. (white or yellow). Dried and ground to use for cornstarch.

Flint corn – Zea mays indurata ‘Indian corn’ used for similar purposes as dent corn but has a harder outer shell and kernals with range of colors. Harvest when kernels are dry and husks are no longer green.

Sweet corn – Zea saccharata or Zea rugosa primarily eaten on the cob or frozen, canned for later use. Extra sweet.

Flour corn – Zea mays amylacea used in baked goods with soft, starch-filled kernel that is easy to grind. Flour corn is primarily white but can be blue. Dried and ground into meal.

Popcorn – Zea mays everta a type of flint corn with a soft starchy center surrounded by a hard exterior shell. All types of corn will pop to some extent but not as much as popcorn.


 Different types of squash


The genetic history of the pumpkin is so intertwined with the squash and the gourd that it's sometimes difficult to tell them apart. Generally speaking a pumpkin is something you carve, a squash is something you cook, and a gourd is something

you look at. Though it's really not that simple, it's also not that difficult. The answer is in the stem.


Pumpkins and squashes and gourds all belong to the same genetic family - Cucurbita. Within that family are several species or subgroups - Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita moschata.


The Cucurbita pepo species is usually recognized as the true pumpkin. Varieties within this group have bright orange skin and hard, woody, distinctly furrowed stems.

But the group also includes gourds, vegetable marrow, Patty pan summer squash, scallop summer squash, gray and black zucchini and summer crookneck squash.


The Cucurbita maxima species also contains varieties that produce pumpkin-like fruit but the skin is usually more yellow than orange and the stems are soft and spongy or corky, without ridges and without an enlargement next to the fruit. They don't really make good handles for jack-o'-lanterns. Varieties such as Atlantic Giant, Big Max and Show King are often listed as pumpkins but are more properly called pumpkin-squash or squash- type pumpkins. Other members of the maxima group are Hubbard squashes, banana squashes, buttercup squashes and turban

squashes - in short, most autumn and winter squash.


Finally, there's the Cucurbita moschata species. Varieties in this group are usually long and oblong instead of round and have tan rather than orange skin. The stems are deeply ridged and enlarged next to the fruit. Ironically, a member of this group is used for much of the canned pumpkin sold in this country. Other non-pumpkin members include the squash-like cushaw and winter crookneck squash.


Squash blossoms -- use extra blossoms in fall when you want to slow down production of quash (summer or winter).


Fall Gardening


There’s a long list of things we all probably do in our fall gardens, but planting and growing garlic is a great project. 


Types of garlic

Hardneck vs. softneck – Hardneck varieties produce a flower stalk or scape that usually form bulbils. Hardneck varieties do not store as well as softneck. Softneck varieties do not produce a seed stalk. Longer shelf-life and easy to braid.


Softneck Varieties:

Artichoke types may bolt in cold winters, white to purplish – Inchellium Red, California Early, Susanville

Silverskin types are a true softneck type even under Minnesota conditions. Best in warm climates and mild climates. Silver White, Nookota Rose, Mild French,


Hardneck Varieties:

Racambole types usually have purple or purple streaks that are 3-4’ tall with uncurled scape –German Red, German Brown, Spanish Roja, Russian Red Purple stripe – 3- 5’ tall, uncurled scape, purple bulbils – Chesnok Red, Persian Star

Porcelain – large 4- 6’ tall plants, random coils of scape that straightens out.

Bulbils numerous, bulbs white – Music, Georgian Crystal, Polish Hardneck, Zem White, etc.

Asiatic types is a shorter 3’ tall plant thought originally to be a softneck type but current thought is it is a hardneck. Asian Tempest, Japanese, Sakura.


Growing garlic

Garlic needs well-drained soils with high organic matter

pH greater than 5.8

Loose bed for bulb growth

Cloves are used for propagation since true seeds are not produced by the garlic plant

Dig plants up when more than half of the leaves turn brown, tie in bundles 10 -1 5 and hang to

dry about 3 – 4 weeks

Store cloves at 32 – 40 degrees with 60 – 70% humidity

Plant in the fall usually within one – two weeks after the first killing frost (32 deg.)

(Usually the third or 4th week of September here)

Separate individual cloves from the bulb 1- 2 days before planting or longer so they may dry out.

Base of clove should be planted 2- 3” below soil surface.

Mulch well after the ground begins to freeze.


Garlic Sources:

Dakota Garlic, Edgerton, MN 56128, tel. 507-442-3587

Living Song, Howard Lake, MN tel, 320-543-3394

Swede Lake Farms and Global Garlic, Watertown, MN, tel 612-750-2553

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Winslow, Maine

.Z Natures Crops – certified organic garlic

Apple Valley, MN, tel. 952-688-0783


Planting Bulbs this fall

Daffodils - deer resistant, tendency to be more perennial here

• Look for weight – sometimes they are single or double-nosed

You want the largest sized bulbs you can get

• Desiccation and mold become issues on store shelves

• There are 13 different divisions of daffodils:

Trumpets – Dutch Master, King Alfred, Mount Hood

Long-cupped – Ambergate, Fragrant Rose, Mrs. R.O. Backhouse, Stainless


Double – Cheerfulness, Erlicheer( forcing)

Triandrus – ‘whimsical’, smaller usually – Thalia (Orchid narcissus), Petrel

Cylamineus – Jenny, Peeping Tom

Jonquilla – most fragrant, smaller – Pipit, Sweetness (will force)

Tazetta Paperwhites – forcing – Grand Soleil d’Or (yellow & orange great fragrance), Ziva

(not cold hardy)

Poeticus – Actea

Bulbocodium – Golden Bells ‘hoop petticoat form’

Split-corona – palmares (lt. salmon & white)

Miscellaneous – Tete-a-Tete (6” tall, fragrant, early, will force, naturalize)

Planting daffodils

Plant 6 – 8” deep or 3 times the height of the bulb

Plant by the end of September if possible to develop a good root system before winter

 Must have full sun, good drainage and not too much nitrogen

 Don’t cut their leaves after blooming until they die back

Tulips – critters love, plant in larger wire mesh like chicken wire, last one to a couple of seasons

Look for weight – they are sized according to cms in circumference

They can be planted up until the ground freezes



There are many different types:

Kaufmanniana tulips – Z 2 short 6 – 10”

Single early tulips – 10 – 18” stems – Apricot Beauty, General de Wet (orange/yellow)

Double early tulips – 8- 12” stems – Mr. Van der Hoeaf (yellow), Schoonoord (white)4.

Fosteriana tulips – ‘Emperor’ tulips –

Gregii tulips – eye catching foliage with stripes, shorter – Red Riding Hood

Darwin Hybrid tulips – one of best varieties for perennializing – Big Chief (salmon rose 24”),

Hollands Glorie (carmine red), Silverstream (creamy yellow with rose and red + pink and white

margined foliage.)

Triumph tulips – some of best for forcing – 10 – 22” Shirley (white blooms edged with purple)

Viridiflora tulips – green markings on petals, great for long lasting displays and cut flowers –

Fringed tulips – ‘tulips to touch’ 18 – 24”

Lily flowered tulips - Queen of Sheba (Mahogany red blooms dipped in gold), White


Double Late tulips – ‘peony-flowered tulips’- Angelique (pale pink & darker pink)

Parrot tulips – ‘whipped petals’ –

Single late tulips –most popular for consistent – Cashmir(bright red), Dreamland (White with

deep rose and light pink) Mrs. J.T. Scheepers (pure yellow) Queen of the Night ( ‘black tulip’)

Multi-flowered tulips - 4- 6 tulips per stem – they bloom from early through midseason

Orange bouquet,


Tulip Species 


Liliums: Asiatics, Orientals, Aurelian Trumpets, Orienpets (Orientals x trumpets)

Camassia, Crocus (Jeanne d’Arc), Eremurus ‘Fox tail Lily or Desert Candle’, Galanthus ‘Snowdrop’

Hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis) Muscari ‘Grape hyacinth’ Pushkinia ‘Striped Squill’


Bulb Catalogs:

 Brent and Becky Bulbs, Easy to Grow Bulbs -

McClure & Zimmerman ( John Scheepers, Inc. (


Things to do in your fall garden besides saving seeds, planting garlic or bulbs

• Plant a winter cover crop so you won’t have bare soil in the garden over the winter.

• Start some lettuce, spinach, kale, tatsoi or other hardier greens in your cold frame or hoops covered with

reemay / plastic to extend your growing season.

• Repot your houseplants or annuals that have been outdoors and remember to start bringing them in according to those that are most sensitive to the cold.

• Once frost has killed the foliage on perennials, remove all blackened and diseased foliage / stems.

• Cut back and remove the 2-year-old canes (fruiticanes) on your raspberries

• Protect young fruit trees or thin-skinned trees like maple by placing cylinders of fine hardware cloth around them. This prevents sunscald and deer or mice from nibbling on them.

• Protect any vulnerable ‘deer food’ with fencing for the winter like arborvitae, hostas, yews, azaleas – browse the deer loves in the winter.

• If you have raised beds, mulch perennials, asparagus, etc. with straw or leaves covered with balsam boughs just before the snow flies.

• Water, water, water everything into the fall so your overwintering tree, shrubs and perennials go into the winter with enough moisture.


Keep pace with the weather by lifting or harvesting tender bulbs and corms that are desired for next season. These would include but not be limited to glads, dahlias and tuberous begonias. Many can be enjoyed right up until a good frost blackens their tops. Be sure to dig the bulbs carefully, retrieve any offsets that may have developed, and leave the foliage intact.


Place the bulbs in an airy, sheltered spot to dry for a two to three week period. Except for begonias, foliage and stems can be cut off with a sharp knife near but not at the point where they emerge

from the bulb. Allow begonia stems to dry until they are brittle enough to break off from the bulbs.

The bulbs will overwinter well in a dark, cool place (45 to 50 degrees F.) when stored in vermiculite, peat moss, or similar material. It is also recommended to dust with a fungicide (Bordeaux mixture) and insecticide (Sevin dust) to curb disease and insect development in storage.


Two plants which will require special care after their summer outdoors are the poinsettias and Christmas cactus. Both have similar requirements in that they need a 14-hour period of continuous darkness each day from October 1 until mid-December to set flower buds. Two methods to accomplish this are to

either set the plants in a closet or place a cardboard box over them from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. for the period listed above. At all other times, the plants should receive normal light exposure.