Rain has finally arrived in the Yellowknife area in the last few days, and for the first time this summer, it has rained for an entire day. The air is fresh, and the soil is drinking up this nectar of the Gods; much needed moisture for the land and the gardens. It eases my week as I now get a break from the many hours of watering in my three gardens. It is a relief to know there is enough rain to penetrate the dry layer of soil to reach the roots of the plants. It is so nice to breathe humid air rather than dust and smoke from the forest fires.
There is an incredible abundance of vegetables in the gardens to pick, from peas, to beans, green and purple cauliflower and much more. This week I have been again eating all local meals, fresh fish from the Great Slave Lake, caribou hunted this spring by MacKay Lake by skilled Dene hunters, potatoes of various kinds (banana, red skinned, yellow fleshed, white skinned) and I have stuffed myself with fresh carrots. One can never have enough carrots, as kids, friends and many others would like some carrots from my garden. I continue to pick the carrots as if I was still thinning them, taking one here and there along the row, which allows the remaining ones more room to keep growing. There likely is another couple of weeks of growing time for carrots, especially with this warm rain that is currently falling.
Carrots are my favourite of all vegetables and over the years I have grown many varieties, always experimenting and having fun with it. One carrot that I have grown for almost 20 years is called Healthmaster and it is high in beta-carotene. It grows well each year as long as it is thinned well and watered consistently. Carrots do not like to be dry and thirsty, ever. My other favourite one is called Rainbow mix and is a lot of fun. These carrots grow nice and big and come in different colours, from whitish to various shades of yellow and orange, to purple. My favourite way to eat them is simply picked and washed, or made into a salad by grating them finely and making a simple dressing of lemon juice and honey. Sometimes the simplest things are the best! And right now, with so many exquisite and flavourful ingredients, there is no need for fancy recipes, as the food in itself is more than enough to please the taste buds and nourish the body.
This week I also had a feast of yellow beets, and what a beautiful experience that is. These yellow beets are sweet, more subtle in flavour than the regular red beet, and are a great colour on the dinner plate.
It is an incredible satisfaction to feed myself, and frankly it is a lot of hard work. Over the last couple of weeks I picked many pounds of fresh vegetables and herbs from my garden, and not only has it fed my household, but also provided a “healing food box” each week for someone with an illness that wants to be on an all-vegan diet as a way to heal. I am honoured to be taking part in this healing process by providing the best, cleanest, beyond organic, real food.
As fall arrives, some of the food plants are done, such as the green beans. I still leave them in the ground, and by the middle of September when I do the final harvests of root vegetables and generally clean up the garden, I will leave the roots of peas and beans in the ground, as they have bound nitrogen into the soil – a nutrient in the natural form that is good for other plants in next year’s garden. Rather than pulling these plants out, I cut the stems about ½ above ground with scissors. This is a great way to plan the crop rotation in advance. My beloved carrots will like growing next year where the beans or peas grew this year so they can be nourished by the yummy nitrogen left over from this year. Isn’t nature amazing?
And here’s a vegetable joke of the month: Why do potatoes make good detectives? There are several silly answers a) because they work mostly underground, b) they have eyes everywhere, and c) they keep their eyes peeled.
Lone Sorensen is the founder of Northern Roots and has lived and grown food in Yellowknife for 27 years.