It’s becoming increasingly important to learn how to rely on our local resources like our food gardens and to continue to hone our skill. It is said that you reap what you sow. If we are giving the commitment and time to growing our own food, we may as well make sure we get an abundant harvest and reap some food that not only will nourish our bodies but also our souls. Paying lots of attention to the time in between the sowing and reaping is where the real good stuff is - it’s not only the destination, but the journey that counts, and at this time we are on the journey of continued care of our wonderful gardens. It is an investment of time that will be worthwhile.
As spring takes us into another forecasted dry summer, the garden needs to be maintained with frequent watering, weeding, thinning of certain plants, hilling of potatoes and overall heart-felt care. Perhaps some of the plants need some extra attention, like a boost of organic liquid fertilizer or the sugar snap peas needing a netted, upright fence.
In my last column I talked about the importance of watering in our dry climate. Summers are warmer and more dry that they have been in the 27 years that I have grown food in Yellowknife. Likely your garden needs more water than you think, especially if you grow vegetables and herbs in pots, small spaces or mounded or raised beds.
In Yellowknife and surrounding area, watering every 2 to 3 days is essential where the soil is quite peaty. Clay soils will keep the moisture longer. When watering, you can check if you are doing a good job by using the best moisture-meter that is always available – your finger! Simply test the moisture by sticking your finger in the soil, being careful to not disturb the roots of the plants to find out how deep the moisture is. Make sure that the moisture you are adding from the top reaches down to meet the moisture further down. There should not be a dry layer between these two. Later on in the summer as the plants grow and cover the ground, the moisture stays longer and less watering may be needed.
Many gardeners tend to ignore the weeds growing in their gardens. Some, of course, do not realize how quickly their potential abundant harvest can be lessened by weeds. Some gardeners may think if they ignore it, the weeds will go away. Like everything else in life: what you resist persists!
By simply getting familiar with each weed and including the weeding work as part of the joyful garden work, removing them with respect and skill will give the food plants a much better chance to grow strong and big. As you remove the weeds, the plants that you want to grow bigger now have more nutrients, light and space.
In the Yellowknife area, the most common weeds are chickweed, quack grass, horsetail, dandelion, fireweed, lamb’s quarters and several others.
Chickweed and quack grass cannot be “pulled”; rather, chickweed has to be lifted or cut from under the roots to get out the whole root system. Quack grass has to be dug out with a fork, as does horsetail.
Lone Sorensen is the founder of Northern Roots and has lived and grown food in Yellowknife for 27 years.