As winter arrives here North of 60, the last of my harvest has been brought in. Here is a review of what I planted and how it all fared to give you a perspective and perhaps some ideas on what to grow.
All the cabbages were eaten fresh, as I do not have enough land to grow for lasting the entire winter. I constantly have to prioritize and choose my favorites, like carrots and potatoes. Potatoes not only produce a much larger yield than most other food plants, but they also have good calories and vitamins, especially if you keep the skin on them when cooking. The kale is the only vegetable still standing in the garden and this amazing plant will continue to be alive and well until after the snow flies.
Before the snow stays and fall has turned to winter, I am in deep gratitude for having an abundance of organic vegetables and berries stocked to last for many weeks to come. Mother nature was very generous this growing season. The broccoli did particularly well, but it was not a great potato year (some of that due to my pH being too high). The pointed cabbages produced to their normal size, the kales (four varieties) did very well, the carrots that are the sweetest and crispiest on the entire planet were okay, but certainly not to their fullest potential. I had a bad pea year with poor germination in the spring for the first time in 26 years. The green bush beans (Provider) did great under the protective tunnel I made of flexible hoops and covered with floating row covers. The tomatoes did well in the greenhouse. I grew an heirloom tomato given to me by an Indigenous farmer in Minnesota (Kootenay) and it liked the North of 60 climate in the greenhouse, and also outside where I grew just one pot of it to test it out. It ripened before the weather turned cold in September. I must say, it is a true joy to use homegrown sage in stuffing for turkey.
As I look back over the spring, summer and fall to summarize the good things and not so good things, I realize that my garden has fed me from a small degree to almost completely later on in the summer for a total of 17 weeks so far – totally fresh from the garden right onto my plate! As well I have stored more than 100 pounds of carrots and 80 pounds of potatoes. In the pantry I still have tomatoes ripening. In jars I have dried mint and sage, and in ice cube format I have parsley that I put through the food processor last month. Also the berries that are in my freezer continue to delight me. The many pounds of raspberries I picked throughout August and September I froze quickly by spreading them in a single layer on a cookie sheet so they would freeze individually and not stick. Now, when I reach into the ziplock bag in the freezer, I can grab a handful to put into my oatmeal or smoothie along with Saskatoon berries that I got from Paradise Gardens in Hay River. There is nothing better in the middle of the long, dark winter than to have a sweet taste of summer.
To be continued
Lone Sorensen is the founder of Northern Roots and has lived and grown food in Yellowknife for 27 years.