A Northern Garden

September 8th, 2020 in Yukon Plants & Animals

We’ve been very much enjoying the fruits of our labours in our Northern vegetable garden.  Last fall we dug in some organic matter which has helped to enrich the soil and has given us a good crop of veggies this year.

Northern gardeners have some very specific challenges to overcome.  Firstly the growing season is short, with only between 70 - 80 frost free days, so we have to be very selective in the crops we choose.  We need crops that will produce in the available time we have and that are hardy to cooler temps and can also withstand our dry climate.

The second challenge we have to overcome is getting the soil warm.  This can be a big challenge, especially in areas where there is permafrost.  In past years we have dug over the garden in June and found ice in the soil which can be a real problem when trying to supply our own veggies.  When it’s a 10 hour round trip to the grocery store anything we can produce ourselves is of huge benefit. 

There are various methods people use to warm the soil.  Some build boxes up off the ground so the soil can warm from all directions.  Laying black plastic over the ground early on in the season really helps to warm things up and then covering the crops at night – even in summer – helps produce bigger yields.  Most people are familiar with the method of banking up growing potatoes but this method can also be used for other crops.  By banking up the soil you allow the warmer air and sun to get to the roots of the plants which keeps everything warmer and encourages growth.

Of course a greenhouse or poly tunnel is essential to get things started and also for crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and lettuce which all appreciate the extra warmth and protection.

Choosing the right seeds is also important – there are specific varieties of vegetables more suited to our climate, like Yukon Gold potatoes.  We have to ensure we choose varieties that are capable of producing a good yield in our shorter season, otherwise all our hard work would be for nothing!  I recently read about some farmers in Dawson City who have developed hardy apple varieties which is fantastic!

Although we have a shorter growing season we do have an over abundance of light which really helps get things going.  When it never gets properly dark and the sun barely drops below the horizon the plants enjoy the light and everything starts growing like crazy.

We have been enjoying potatoes, beets, kale, broccoli, peas, beans, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, radish and peppers.  Anything we can’t eat quickly enough will be either canned or frozen – nothing gets wasted here in the North!  If you’re coming to visit feel free to take a look at our garden or chat with us about how we grow things here at Discovery Yukon Lodgings.

We look forward to meeting you :)