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Polar permaculture

 
Paulo Bessa
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Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Hi, I live in Iceland, it is zone 6 winter here, but the real problem is the cold summer, with temperatures just around 50º F during the day.

Annual vegetables do not grow well, unless you have a good and warm soil, like potatoes, carrots, swedes, jerusalem artichokes, different berries, celery and lovage, peas, and brassicas. But except for the potatoes and peas I want food that feeds me not just greens. Furthermore, some vegetables like brassicas tend to bolt because of the 24 hour daylight and frost comes in August and stays as late as June. It needs to be something else.

With such a small (and cold) growing season, I think the key here is to grow well adapted perennial species that can give you plenty of food.
Not just rhubarb or nettles, but something that could be a staple (roots, fruits, protein).

Maybe someone from north Canada or Alaska, could give me some advices?

I have been experimenting with many possibilities, but it still takes time to see results.
Fruit trees such as mulberries, amelanchier, cornus or elaeagnus. Siberian pea shrub.
Roots such as yampa, biscuit roots, scorzonera, groundnut, I can't see what else.
Any other roots, legumes, starch or protein?

I would like to try the native silverweed and angelica roots, but I know they can be irritants as well. Has someone tried eating these?



 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 393
Location: Otago, New Zealand
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An article about permaculture in Sweden

http://permaculture.org.au/2012/06/09/permaculture-life-at-61-degrees-north-the-cycle-of-life-and-time/

Have you considered heated glass houses, using chickens, solar, composts or SHCS etc for heat?
 
Paulo Bessa
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Posts: 340
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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We do have greenhouses here and also a conservatory at home where I grow mostly beans, tomatoes, peppers, squash, gourds and eggplants. Not that much, because space is also limited.

But what I like to know is what species could grow at such northern locations, with short and cold summers (Sweden has much warmer summers than Iceland)
What I look for would be starch crops, high protein crops and fruits.



Rose Pinder wrote:An article about permaculture in Sweden

http://permaculture.org.au/2012/06/09/permaculture-life-at-61-degrees-north-the-cycle-of-life-and-time/

Have you considered heated glass houses, using chickens, solar, composts or SHCS etc for heat?
 
Paulo Bessa
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Posts: 340
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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What from both a effort/easiness and sustainability factor, what really "annoys" me is to grow annuals outside:

first I must see the common annual vegetables indoords, struggle with their bolting tendencies, because of warmer inside and plenty sunlight already by April. Then, when I put outside in June, it can still be frost and very windy: and most of them die and do not grow well. So, basically you must grow at least 50% of a lifetime of a common vegetable indoors! That requires plenty of space, pots and soil.

Therefore, I want to grow crops outside, that could establish themselves and thrive under the cool 3 month long summer.
If we have crops like lovage, rhubarb, potatoes and berries as established perennials, why not to invest in other perennials as well?

I think those would be the key to a sucessful polar permaculture.

I am growing now (but from seed) mulberries, serviceberries, yampa, bamboos, and many other less common crops, from seed.
We seek to understand what can grow well here in Iceland and provide a nice crop of food, without requiring a greenhouse. (The greenhouse is also used, but we want to grow a forest garden outside as well, an established outside permaculture garden, a edible landscape, with available food over the long days of our cool summer time). I just believe it is possible!



But I guess we are being the pioneers on this polar location. I am looking for someone else doing the same thing as we are trying to do: to grow an outside permaculture garden as further north as 66º North.

If there are people here from north Canada, Alaska, Siberia or north Scandinavia doing this, please let me know!


 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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well I'm surprised you wouild be zone 6, as here in Michigan I'm zone 4/5. We of course do not have the 24 hour sun, nor do we have quite as early frosts but we did have our last frost June 13..so that is close.

I have a list of things that I am attempting to grow here in my blog (see signature and then go to food list)..

not all have been terribly successful but you could find things that you might not have thought of trying.

also I believe if i lived in your area I would be using some sort of drip irrigation, maybe fed by rainbarrels..and then hoop houses or other types of sun traps to be able to extend the growing season..

I also would include rocks near the plants to hold heat and a rotting log or two to hold the moisture and protect the plants..I'd also be using windbreaks I believe to cut any wind and protect the young plants..

I found that any of my fruit trees and shrubs that faced the sun without protection did suffer far worst frost than those that were in the early shade..so that might be something to think of as well
 
Victor Johanson
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Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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Wish I could help. I live in Alaska at the same latitude as you; it gets much colder here in winter, but it was 90 degrees F. the other day and gardens up here thrive. You should be able to grow perennials that are impossible for us because of the severe winter cold, though.
 
Paulo Bessa
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Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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That is very nice suggestions from you. Thank you!

I will definitively put black rocks near the plants. Gift from the land: volcanic rocks.
And perhaps raising further the beds with a rotting log (but now it's only for next year). I do have a poplar forest just behind our house.
I also really loved the rainbarrel drop irrigation idea; I will also work on that this week!

Windbreaks: Do you have suggestions? I need something fast growing and taller than the native lupins and meadowsweet I just planted as edges.

I have same problem as you; exposed locations suffer from the cold, sun, dry weather. Summer here is certainly colder than yours But it is also quite humid; it rains almost every day. Hence the need to put some raised huegelbeds here.



Brenda Groth wrote:well I'm surprised you wouild be zone 6, as here in Michigan I'm zone 4/5. We of course do not have the 24 hour sun, nor do we have quite as early frosts but we did have our last frost June 13..so that is close.

I have a list of things that I am attempting to grow here in my blog (see signature and then go to food list)..

not all have been terribly successful but you could find things that you might not have thought of trying.

also I believe if i lived in your area I would be using some sort of drip irrigation, maybe fed by rainbarrels..and then hoop houses or other types of sun traps to be able to extend the growing season..

I also would include rocks near the plants to hold heat and a rotting log or two to hold the moisture and protect the plants..I'd also be using windbreaks I believe to cut any wind and protect the young plants..

I found that any of my fruit trees and shrubs that faced the sun without protection did suffer far worst frost than those that were in the early shade..so that might be something to think of as well
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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i too have poplar forests here..do you have room for canadian hemlocks as a windbreak? I'm sure they would grow there, or maybe black spruce, as they both like cold and damp..the hemlocks grow faster than the spruce, but both can be dug up from a woodsy damp area if they are spaced too closely (some will die anyway)..i have gone into swamps and dug both successfully and transplanted them when they were very small, see the front yard in my blog signature..those were all dug and replanted from the woods.

your aspens will make good nurse trees for your other plants to grow by, do you also have tag alders? you can plant some of your hardier fruit trees in the protection of either one of those..i had an apple grow right out of a clump of alders...it is east of my pond. I cut out the alders but they are growing back..but the apple tree is doing very well.

I can grow jerusalem artichokes quite well here, they make a quick summer fodder and lower screen.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Wow Paulo,
I don't know anything about your climate, but what a challenge!
In such an environment, I'd focus on plants that have been traditionally grown; like some berries.
Oh, and I'm an advocate of windbreak cloth.
 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 340
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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I have already planted some poplar cuttings, about 1 meter to create a windbreak. But the place where I am planting currently is in front of my house (so I think not space will not be a forest garden, only a perennial schrub garden). However I have also property space further away (it's a community shared land), between the meadows. So I plan to set a forest garden there using the species I already grow in front of my house.

I thank you for the windbreak tips. Jerusalem artichokes grow very well here. They will be part of the green manure treatment I am making (since I am not a great fan of importing organic matter from elsewhere). I am so curious to see how much would they produce of roots. Because I plant them in a good soil.

Spruce is an introduced species and grows well, but initially slowly. Canadian hemlocks (not the poison hemlocks, but the tree known as Tsuga canadensis): I am not familiar with them, if they exist they are an introduced species. I will keep these in mind until I figure out how to block more the wind.

Yesterday I set up many black rocks around the most heat sensitive vegetables. To give one example (and call me crazy) I did that around one tomato, pumpkin and a pepper plant, which are still alive, about 30cm high but no flowers or fruit. Almost mission impossible outdoors in cold Iceland. I wonder whether if those rocks will make a difference; I did the same around some brassicas and other plants.

The berries are definitively a good go! I already planted a strawberry bed; they are native ones, I found them growing under birch trees. I also have a couple of currants (they grow also wild) and the blueberries grow native but not yet in my garden (there is just a lot of them everywhere). I might also plant amelanchier, cornus, elaeagnus: these are interesting berry fruits that I even never tried myself to eat. I really hope to explore what can and what cannot be grown at the Arctic Circle, so that more people know about this (of which there is almost no information in the web).

I also plan to plant silverweed, another native here, and apparently has edible roots, small but plenty, it makes a good survival food (though I never tried it). Thank you for the tips!


Brenda Groth wrote:i too have poplar forests here..do you have room for canadian hemlocks as a windbreak? I'm sure they would grow there, or maybe black spruce, as they both like cold and damp..the hemlocks grow faster than the spruce, but both can be dug up from a woodsy damp area if they are spaced too closely (some will die anyway)..i have gone into swamps and dug both successfully and transplanted them when they were very small, see the front yard in my blog signature..those were all dug and replanted from the woods.

your aspens will make good nurse trees for your other plants to grow by, do you also have tag alders? you can plant some of your hardier fruit trees in the protection of either one of those..i had an apple grow right out of a clump of alders...it is east of my pond. I cut out the alders but they are growing back..but the apple tree is doing very well.

I can grow jerusalem artichokes quite well here, they make a quick summer fodder and lower screen.
 
Cory Arsenault
Posts: 55
Location: Ottawa, Canada
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I'm in Canada and here are a few things that grow in the wild, or perennially in my area which I believe is zone 5:

wild grapes
wild strawberries
wild blueberries
raspberries
hazelnut
rhubarb
black walnut
fruit trees: apple, peach, plum, cherry, crabapple
sunflowers
fiddleheads (ostrich fern sprouts)
wild garlic/leeks (Allium tricoccum)
lambsquarters
Dandelions
stinging nettles

Domesticated versions of these may be able to grow as well and I understand there is a type of "arctic kiwi" that may grow also.

 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 340
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Thanks Cory, for the list!

It is impossible to grow most fruits. At least apples, pears are impossible. Cherries even more impossible. In May and even June, temperatures can drop from a balmy summer time to well below freezing, but the big trouble is that balmy spring often shows up in March followed by deep freezes in April, and this repeats many times. Flowers of apples drop and die. We have even tried cold hardy varieties without success. Frosts also start in August.

Iceland is probably colder than even the northern parts of Canada in summer time, because those would be continental and therefore warm more during the day.

I am not sure about hazelnuts and walnuts. As far I know, I never see anyone trying it in Iceland. Do you think a hazelnut could grow well in our cold summer under a forest of poplars or birch?

The problem is that a tree must delay its first leaves until late May, otherwise it suffers from the hard freezes of April and May. Only native birch and willows are "smart" do do that. The time to do fruits is also short, only 3 months max.

Now the successes: Rhubarb grows amazingly well here. Nettles too. Sorrel is a native. All alliums grow well. Wild strawberries and most berries crop well. And the sunflowers I am growing already have a flower bud, but were grown first in a greenhouse.



Cory Arsenault wrote:I'm in Canada and here are a few things that grow in the wild, or perennially in my area which I believe is zone 5:

wild grapes
wild strawberries
wild blueberries
raspberries
hazelnut
rhubarb
black walnut
fruit trees: apple, peach, plum, cherry, crabapple
sunflowers
fiddleheads (ostrich fern sprouts)
wild garlic/leeks (Allium tricoccum)
lambsquarters
Dandelions
Stinging nettles

Domesticated versions of these may be able to grow as well and I understand there is a type of "arctic kiwi" that may grow also.

 
Cory Arsenault
Posts: 55
Location: Ottawa, Canada
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Well, the most northernly parts of Canada include the arctic so I don't imagine there's many places harder to grow than that! lol

I honestly think in environments like yours and parts of Canada you can't get around using greenhouses and other such techniques like starting indoors. I'd look into the techniques that Sep Holzer uses to grow lemons in an alpine environment (sun traps, heat sink rocks, elevating the raised beds, encouraging cold air to "flow away"). Can you build some large ponds to act as a heat sink?

Can you grow maples to produce syrup? I understand that you can also make syrup from willow and birch trees.

Unfortunately I don't have any experience with hazelnuts to answer any questions. It is a bush so I would imagine that it is adapted for living under the canopy of other trees.

What is your soil like around there? One of the problems outside of the most southernly parts of Canada is that the soil is often very poor and acidic.

Would not even Canadian native fruit trees like Macintosh apples grow in your area? From my experience my apple trees don't bud until late May as well. Our last frost date traditionally is May 21st (Queen Victoria day).

What about potatoes?
 
Paulo Bessa
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Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Hi Cory,

I will check those Macintosh apples!
Our last frost is around 5 June and first frost around 20 August. But usually it stays somewhat mild (and it does not snow) until October. How long do the apples take to form the fruit?

When you told me I can´t get around greenhouses, I was meaning to grow perennials, not annuals. Those I can already grow most outdoors, and some indoors (and nearly all started indoors). But since this is BIG effort and not very yielding, I want to invest more in perennials to give reliable food. That´s my gut feeling.

The thing is that perennials can be started indoors but then they need to establish themselves outside, and stand the cold. They will! Most do it. Since perennials are established and then get used to the climate, they will grow very fast in our long days of summer time. Like it happens with native Icelandic species. From shrubs to birch trees.

The occasional cold in summer time will not be a problem for most perennials. Especially if you eat mostly their roots or leaves. Fruit might be a problem for some species like most apples, but not for most berries. I have no idea about nuts.

One example, thyme and sage, which are Mediterranean species, are able to establish themselves and survive the Icelandic winter. Likewise there might be surprises of some perennials I might be able to grow this far north.

So basically I have been observing how nature does it. Plants here grow extremely fast during the balmy days of summer time, because there is often no wind, no cold, plenty of sunshine for 24 hours. This is short but plants can grow amazingly well if sheltered from wind, and the soil is perfect (often the soil here is terrible). Yes, its very sandy, shallow and acidic. It requires much work on it, which is challenging if you want to avoid importing new soil or lots of manure.



Cory Arsenault wrote:Well, the most northernly parts of Canada include the arctic so I don't imagine there's many places harder to grow than that! lol

I honestly think in environments like yours and parts of Canada you can't get around using greenhouses and other such techniques like starting indoors. I'd look into the techniques that Sep Holzer uses to grow lemons in an alpine environment (sun traps, heat sink rocks, elevating the raised beds, encouraging cold air to "flow away"). Can you build some large ponds to act as a heat sink?

Can you grow maples to produce syrup? I understand that you can also make syrup from willow and birch trees.

Unfortunately I don't have any experience with hazelnuts to answer any questions. It is a bush so I would imagine that it is adapted for living under the canopy of other trees.

What is your soil like around there? One of the problems outside of the most southernly parts of Canada is that the soil is often very poor and acidic.

Would not even Canadian native fruit trees like Macintosh apples grow in your area? From my experience my apple trees don't bud until late May as well. Our last frost date traditionally is May 21st (Queen Victoria day).

What about potatoes?
 
Cory Arsenault
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Our first frost tends to be at the end of September, early October.

From my observations, Macintosh apple trees will bud in the late May early June and the apples will be ready by mid-late August.
 
Victor Johanson
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McIntosh may be hardy enough, but it is certainly not early enough. Shoot for a summer apple, like Yellow Transparent or Lodi or Summerred. There are good Canadian cultivars that are both early and hardy. Some of the old Michurin cultivars from Russia may also work. Take a look at this Finnish nursery; maybe they'll ship to you:

http://www.blomqvistplantskola.com/index.php

They have lots of stuff you might want to try, and in an interview, the proprietor stated that he had obtained varieties which another nursery used to import to Iceland:

http://yndisgrodur.lbhi.is/lisalib/getfile.aspx?itemid=4857

Blomqvist has also written some books which may be of interest if you can understand the language; they're listed on the website under Books.
 
Paulo Bessa
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Victor, you just went straight to the point. The ones in Finland should be interesting to try, especially the most cold hardy ones and the early ones, if they wait the flower bud until June.

What about pears and some kind of nuts: do you know of anything?

Chestnuts? Hazelnuts? Korean pines perhaps?


Victor Johanson wrote:McIntosh may be hardy enough, but it is certainly not early enough. Shoot for a summer apple, like Yellow Transparent or Lodi or Summerred. There are good Canadian cultivars that are both early and hardy. Some of the old Michurin cultivars from Russia may also work. Take a look at this Finnish nursery; maybe they'll ship to you:

http://www.blomqvistplantskola.com/index.php

They have lots of stuff you might want to try, and in an interview, the proprietor stated that he had obtained varieties which another nursery used to import to Iceland:

http://yndisgrodur.lbhi.is/lisalib/getfile.aspx?itemid=4857

Blomqvist has also written some books which may be of interest if you can understand the language; they're listed on the website under Books.
 
Paulo Bessa
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Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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That would be a good variety also.

Our first frosts come in mid August but I think it should be just fine. The daily temps are still mild until late September.


Cory Arsenault wrote:Our first frost tends to be at the end of September, early October.

From my observations, Macintosh apple trees will bud in the late May early June and the apples will be ready by mid-late August.
 
Victor Johanson
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Paulo Bessa wrote:Victor, you just went straight to the point. The ones in Finland should be interesting to try, especially the most cold hardy ones and the early ones, if they wait the flower bud until June.

What about pears and some kind of nuts: do you know of anything?

Chestnuts? Hazelnuts? Korean pines perhaps?


The only pear trees I have grown until now have been Pyrus ussuriensis, the Harbin pear. No fruit, because I haven't had a pollinator, but last year I grafted up some Early Gold, an early and extremely hardy Canadian cultivar which others have fruited here. I've also bought some beaked hazelnuts, which are the hardiest, and some American hazelnuts this spring for trial, and a Korean nut pine too. I have a few Siberian nut pines which survive just fine, but they are still very small. Swiss stone pines are also hardy here. I know someone who has had a Manchurian walnut for fifteen years, so I got a couple of those and some butternuts last year, and they did survive their first winter.

You might want to try growing trees from seed. Michurin maintained that juvenile plants are genetically malleable and able to adapt to conditions. This theory has been widely disparaged by Western horticulturalists, but in recent years another equally rejected postion of his--that genetic material can be transferred between stock and scion in grafted plants--has been validated. Maybe he was right about seedlings too.
 
Jeffrey Hodgins
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Oak, I think should survive there, you could get some good seeds from Grimo Nuts in Ontario Canada. Some acorns are sweeter than others but tanins can be washed out with water. Size of the nuts could be a factor because small nuts are less worth while.

Maybe Pine nuts could survive I don't know.
 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
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Thank you! I now have much more information on apple, pears and nut trees, that could be possible in Iceland.

I work also at a nursery by the way. So this makes my life easier if I want to germinate and grow these trees.
 
Paulo Bessa
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Just an update:

I used the suggestion of placing rocks around the vegetables. It really works wonders.

Lettuce which is surrounded by rocks, is growing now faster, then lettuce without them.
Mulching seems to delay crops because it cools the ground; I think it is best to create a very rich soil underneath that keeps humidity, then add some soil, plant the lettuce (or anything else) in there, and then cover with fine grass clippings (fresh ones) when the plant has already some size (because that mulch also warms). But placing a lot of rocks just surrounding the lettuce (or anything else).

Both seem to create a warm microenviroment:

- the grass clippings because it composts and heats as the sunlight shines on it. This heats the soil underneath (dried hay seems to cool and humidify more the soil than warm it).
- the black rocks became very warm with sunlight, and therefore a plant growing next and onto it, grows faster.

I now want to see if placing the rocks will make the impossible become possible: growing a tomato outdoors in Iceland. At least it is already helping the squash to make fruits faster.
 
Mike Turner
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You could try the Shipova pear. It is a cross between Sorbus and Pyrus communis and its Sorbus ancestry should give it a greater tolerance of cool summers than a regular pear.
 
Mona Casselman
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Location: Alaska
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Leaping into the conversation-
I also live in Alaska, further south on the Kenai Peninsula, and in the mountains. Moose Pass. Windy, rocky, sandy soil, lots of rain in summer, unpredictable winters varying from ice-rain-snow to craploads of snow (15 ft last year). I have been wrestling with my growing conditions for 10 yrs. Before that, 13 years in North Pole/Fairbanks. Anyway, I would suggest adding comfrey to your garden. Does very well here, not edible but grows like crazy and makes great compost. Deep-rooted, pulls up nutrients, loosens soil. Woven windbreaks (wattle fences) can help temporarily while you are growing something more permanent.
Raised beds and rocks help me, too. Perennials are what I keep working toward. Shade cloth can be helpful to keep the annuals from bolting and going to seed. Give them some artificial night.
I am totally interested in what you are learning in Iceland AND Fairbanks!
 
Paulo Bessa
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Hi!

Great advices to hear!

I only live in Iceland (I don't live in Alaska), but conditions are pretty much similar (here the climate is polar and mild, that is its changes little over the year, from the cool and short summer to a long and cold but not very cold winter, just around freezing point, and really windy)

It´s also great to hear about the cross between the pear and sorbus. I must look for a supplier for order it.
Here, sorbus grow wild, after being introduced in Iceland. They thrive well and fruit well. But I never tried their fruit, which I know its acid.
I even have two tiny sorbus trees growing in my garden in front of my house.



Mona Casselman wrote:Leaping into the conversation-
I also live in Alaska, further south on the Kenai Peninsula, and in the mountains. Moose Pass. Windy, rocky, sandy soil, lots of rain in summer, unpredictable winters varying from ice-rain-snow to craploads of snow (15 ft last year). I have been wrestling with my growing conditions for 10 yrs. Before that, 13 years in North Pole/Fairbanks. Anyway, I would suggest adding comfrey to your garden. Does very well here, not edible but grows like crazy and makes great compost. Deep-rooted, pulls up nutrients, loosens soil. Woven windbreaks (wattle fences) can help temporarily while you are growing something more permanent.
Raised beds and rocks help me, too. Perennials are what I keep working toward. Shade cloth can be helpful to keep the annuals from bolting and going to seed. Give them some artificial night.
I am totally interested in what you are learning in Iceland AND Fairbanks!
 
Mike Turner
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Location: Upstate SC
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What you have is an oceanic polar climate, more akin to the climate of the Aleutian Islands than that found in the Alaskan interior. You could investigate some of the methods (espalier on south facing walls, sun traps, etc.) used by British gardeners to create warm micro-climates to grow figs, grapes, and other heat loving Mediterranean plants in the cool summers of the British Isles. You could possibly adapt some of these methods to grow cool temperate zone plants in your very cool summer area.

Speaking of Sorbus, there are several East German and Russian cultivars (Concentra, Rosina, Ivan's Beauty) that have been selected for improved juice or berry production.
 
Milan Broz
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I've tried all sorbuses that I found wild, and transplant some of them to my garden. Sorbus torminalis is my favourite, delicious, absolutely eatable. Sorbus domestica is also delicious, but it is no surprise since it is cultivated for fruit production, and for me it can substitute an apple. Sorbus aria I like as a plant since it is found wild in same land that I have in my garden, cold, windy, arid places, and also fruit is quite eatable. Not delicious, but eatable, in large quantities. Sorbus aucuparia tastes like poison, compared to other sorbuses. I pick only one berry and could not keep it in my mouth longer than few seconds

Anyway, sorbus fruits are best after they get frost, I tried with sorbus aria. I pick it before first frosts, and they were quite unpleasant. I freezed them in a freezer and taken it out, and then they were much better. On Iceland, you probably don't need to use freezer
 
Paulo Bessa
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Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Sorbus : If I am not wrong, our wild growing sorbus is mainly Sorbus aucuparia, but we have other Sorbus at our tree nursery. The berries are too acid. I never tasted other species.

Sun traps : I am growing a container full of compost with a tomato plant, which is sheltered from wind. Still grows slowly and no flowers.
I know the reason: tomatoes stop growing if the night temperatures go under 10°C (even if during day they reach always a pleasant 20°C)

Peppers also fail to grow, as well as pumpkins and nearly all types of beans. I am trying them, but their growth is stalled, even with black rocks to warm them.
Summer squash, however, does grow. It flowers and fruits but it does slowly. (Next time I will try other varieties to see if I can improve yields)
Peas grow slower, but they grow very well if you provide them a warming shelter.
Fennel bulbs grows pretty well, a positive surprise.
Haven't tried corn yet (only indoors). All the other common vegetables (mostly carrot and cabbage family) grow fine.

Do you suggest specific varieties of squash, pumpkins, tomatoes and beans, to grow?


 
Victor Johanson
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Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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Provider bush beans are earlier and more productive than anything else I've tried here so far. For tomatoes, Siberian, the Subarctic series, Imur Prior Beta, and glacier might work. I notice that green summer squash seems to do much better than yellow here; any early zucchini is worth trying. I'm partial to Romanesco, flavor wise, although others may be earlier. While it does get hot here in summer, the ground remains cold, and we have trouble with heat loving plants. I have resorted to growing such crops in old bathtubs, 34 of which populate my yard now (and I'm always looking for more!).
 
Kevin Wilson
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Location: Powell River, BC
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Paulo Bessa wrote:Do you suggest specific varieties of squash, pumpkins, tomatoes and beans, to grow?


We have a garden in a valley on a North slope which is several weeks behind other gardens in this area. The only variety of summer squash that has done anything at all this (wet, cold) year in coastal BC, Canada for us is Romanesco. Last year the plants of this variety were 4ft high by this time, this year they are only 18", but that's better than the other summer squash which either never came up at all, died, were eaten by slugs, or have made it to a whopping 4" high. Romanesco squash are edible to much larger sizes than regular zucchini, and also make great dried squash.

Our best winter squash performer so far is our own saved Spaghetti squash.

Our consistently earliest and cold-tolerant tomato is Gold Nugget yellow bush cherry. Stupice (a smallish-fruited red vine) runs a close second.

Do you have slugs? Your climate sounds perfect for them. I removed a 6" long one, plus two 3"-ers, from my overwintering brassica seedlings this morning. I have a lot fewer seedlings than I had yesterday
 
Hanley Kale-Grinder
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
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Some sort of arctic ruminant on pasture? It seems like growing grass is going to be your best bet.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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I grew up in Northern Quebec in an area that is classified as 1b and we used to grow fava beans. The variety we used seemed to be doing much better in cooler temperature and tend to look very sad during heat waves that we get in our continental climate. Perhaps they would do okay in your climate.

As for fruit trees, the university of Saskatchewan developped cherry cultivars that are very cold hardy and that are very sweet tasting (UofS Fruit Program) You might also want to try serviceberries (also called saskatoon berries) and seabuckthorn, they both are very hardy and produce edible berries.

In terms of herbs, you may want to try some unusual stuff such as Bog Labrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum) or Myrica gale.

I suggest you have a look at this list of plants that was created for the Canadian prairies. I realize that your situation is a bit different, but some plants might work.
 
Leon Sennomo
Posts: 17
Location: Finland
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Interesting thread. I live in Northern Finland and 'enjoy' the sub Arctic climate here. I think we are in zone 4, but summers sound a bit warmer than in Iceland. I'm grateful for the species you've researched, and will hunt them out to try myself. I tried goji (wolfberry) last year, but they didn't come back to life this year. I heard a fellow Finn had better luck in Southern Finland though

Edit: Looking at the species you mentioned, I think I've seen Amelanchier here in the parks. I always wondered if it was edible or not. They look a lot like them, but I should check to make sure. If they are, they can grow huge heights and have lots of berries throughout the bush.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Leon, I never tried to grow goji, so I would not be of much help.

The fruit of Amelanchier (Serviceberry/Saskatoon) looks a little bit like a blueberry. They are really good, but are sometimes a bit bland, I guess it depends on growing conditions.
 
Leon Sennomo
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Location: Finland
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From this site: http://www.early-tomato.com/varieties-early-tomatoes.html
I found...

Siberia and Siberian: There seems to be a lot of confusion out there about these two tomatoes since their names are so similar. Since these are 2 different cultivars, let's try to clear up some of that confusion.

Siberia: From Russia, this famous cold weather variety can produce fruit in temperatures as low as 38 degrees (Leon: that's about 3C!!!), and in 48 to 55 days. A compact, bush variety that only grows 2 to 3 feet, it is wind resistant, cold resistant, and produces 2 to 3 ounce red fruit in clusters. Pleasant tasting, but reportedly not as delicious as the Siberian. Only requires a small growing area. Ideal for growing in containers or pots.

Siberian: The Siberian is also from Russia, and also tolerates the cold well, but not as well as the Siberia Tomato above. This compact, bush determinate produces slightly larger, better tasting, 3 to 5 ounce red fruits in 55 to 60 days. Can also be grown in containers or large pots.

I'm going to be hunting down both of these varieties for next year.
 
Leon Sennomo
Posts: 17
Location: Finland
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Researching some more...

I've grown and eaten Common purslane, but know little about this type...
Montia sibirica
English Name(s): Siberian Purslane seeds
http://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/item.php?id=883N

I've heard conflicting info about how edible this plant is. From its berries, leaves and root.
Siberian Ginseng.
http://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/item.php?id=23C

 
Darwin Cameron
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I'm In Fairbanks Alaska (64th parallel). Ive always wanted to try out growing In Iceland.. Someday...

To all those in Fairbanks alaska please send me a message and lets get together in real life and look at our possibilities up here. thats what its all about anyway, right?
 
Leon Sennomo
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Location: Finland
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:
The fruit of Amelanchier (Serviceberry/Saskatoon) looks a little bit like a blueberry. They are really good, but are sometimes a bit bland, I guess it depends on growing conditions.

Here is a pic I took today of what I suspect is Amelanchier: http://i.imgur.com/2rMiq.jpg
 
Adrien Lapointe
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It does look a lot like an Amelanchier.
 
Adrien Quenneville
Posts: 61
Location: Alexandria, ON, Zone 4a
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I live in USDA zone 0b/1a.

Grew my first garden this year, had to dig over a foot deep to plant my potatoes due to the really thin topsoil. Dug up LOTS of rocks. Put the rocks in a pile by the raspberries, they EXPLODED with berries this year.

I know many points mentioned so far, in this thread, but here's what i've noticed:

1) Piles of rocks keeps frost away. Large rocks do it best. Piles of large rocks are awesome.
2) Windbreaks, windbreaks windbreaks. Not only to shield your plants from the cold and/or dessicating wind, but also to trap the heat.
3) Use dark mulch and/or pile it thick, if possible. Absorbs more heat, builds soil.
4) If you live on a slope, grow/build a fence/hedge on the highest side of your property, and let cold air flow down and away from it. Don't block it in!
5) Water features reflect the sun, moderates heat.
6) Use any buildings you might have to your advantage, to plant non-hardy species. This lady down the road has asparagus on the south side of her house, which according to the interwebz, is hardy to zone 4.

Try new stuff every year!

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