Welcome to my First Gardening Post on this Blog!

Welcome to my blog. I'll be posting gardening tips and ideas for northern climates. I live in central Alberta, Canada - Hardiness Zone 3b/3a. But that doesn't stop us from growing all kinds of wonderful vegetables, herbs, berries, and more!

It's almost the end of January, so there isn't anything growing outside now :) The pictures above are from last summer. But it's a good time to start planning what you'd like to grow, and even buying some seeds. 

High on my list of must-grow vegetables every year are green onions. They don't take up very much space, and save so much money. A bunch goes for close to a dollar in the stores here, and that's during the summer. They are usually over a dollar in the winter. And as you probably know, they don't last long in the fridge. But when you grow them in the garden, you can just pick them as you need. 

Other vegetables I grow every year are lettuce, kale, spinach, and beets. I like to grow Romaine lettuce and buttercrunch. With both of these, you can pick the outer leaves, while the center head continues to grow. Or, you can pick the entire head if you prefer. I do both, picking the entire head on some of the plants, when the plants start to grow too close together. Kale is cold-hardy and can be started very early. Spinach is a short-lived green, but can be planted several times in one season. Beets are very versatile. You can eat the greens from thinned beets in a salad. And of course, the full beets can be picked in the late summer/fall.

Carrots are a must every year. We still have carrots in our cold room and fridge from last summer. I also puree and freeze carrot puree for baking and smoothies.

We installed a little greenhouse last year, so tomatoes will now finally ripen in the greenhouse! In the north, without a greenhouse, I would recommend smaller tomato varieties like cherry, grape, and roma tomatoes. 

Beans and peas can be easily grown; however, peas, especially are a deer favourite. Last summer the deer ate some of our bean plants also. On the subject of deer, beet tops are also one of their favourites.

Summer squash, like zucchini, usually do well here. The plants need a lot of space and sunlight. I've had better luck planting the seeds directly into the ground, than transplanting the plants into the garden. Zucchini can be grilled, fried, eaten raw in a salad, spiralized to make "zoodles", grated and used in  baking or to add to sauces. I still have several bags of frozen, grated zucchini in my freezer, that I use for baking all winter. (Check out the zucchini recipes on my blog.)

We've tried growing various winter squashes, and the most reliable one has been spaghetti squash. Unlike summer squashes that must be picked during the summer before they get too big, winter squashes are left on the vine until they start to ripen. They need some good summer heat, and therefore may or may not do well in the north. Last summer was hotter than average, and we ended up with loads of large spaghetti squash. We still have several in the basement, pictured below. They can last quite long, and are great baked, and then flaked with a fork to make "spaghetti" strands, with sauce.

One summer we had abundant butternut squash, but if you plan to grow butternut or acorn squash, do some research, and choose a very sunny location.

Some perennial foods that we grow are chives, asparagus, raspberries, haskap berries, saskatoon berries, cherries, blueberries, and rhubarb.

I hope this gives you an idea of some things that you can grow in northern climates. I'll be going into more detail with future posts.


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