Hunza apricots are hardy, but i do not know if they are hardy enough.
Turnips grow well in my area BEFORE spring is over. The roots are good sliced in a salad. And, if cooked and dressed in butter they are not bad: they taste a bit like cooked cauliflower.
Adrien Quenneville wrote:I live in USDA zone 0b/1a.
Are you refering to the Canadian Plant Hardiness Zones? Based on the reference I have looked at, the lowest USDA zone is 1a. You might want to have a look at this page to see the equivalency between the two systems.
Btw great summary!
Adrien Lapointe wrote:You might want to have a look at this Btw great summary!
That page said I was in 2a, but the atlas.agr.gc.ca website says i'm 0b... Now I don't know which one to trust :p
Adrien Quenneville wrote:
Adrien Lapointe wrote:You might want to have a look at this Btw great summary!
That page said I was in 2a, but the atlas.agr.gc.ca website says i'm 0b... Now I don't know which one to trust :p
The atlas.agr.gc.ca website gives you the Canadian plant hardiness zone whereas the other page gives you the USDA equivalent.
So you are a USDA zone 2a and a Ag Canada zone 0b. They are not defined the same, hence the difference.
I am a permaculturist currently in Kentucky (USA), with plans to move to Iceland in about 3 years.
I've just started researching growing food in that climate. Right away, it seems there must be a wind break, yes. And lots of heat traps - the volcanic rocks you mentioned sound perfect. sepp holzer has lots of good information regarding creating heat traps with stone (managing to grow citrus in high elevations of Austria).
I discovered a nice blog last week about a gardener in Iceland. She lives in southern Iceland, but it has been really helpful to me: http://www.gardening-iceland.blogspot.com/
I wish I had more to offer, but I've just started this research myself. I'm drawn to the challenge though -- very much looking forward to it all :]
x- Good luck!
The blog you suggested was also a great read. I am going to contact the person, it looks its doing similar stuff to us.
When you move here, you can already use our past experiences.
You definitively can grow most vegetables outdoors and with cold frames its even easier. The climate depends if you are at the coast (such as Reykjavik) or inland (as I am). Inland the soil is frozen September to May. Frost free weather is mid June to early August (only 2.5 months). Weather is generally windy which can means very dry during summer, even if cold. Its important to balance mulch with growing next to warm walls and heat traps such as rocks or in sheltered spots. The winter has severe wind storms and frequent hard freezes and thaws.
I would dream of growing citrus here. Everyone is trying to crop apples here but so far no success yet (except by the coast where summer frosts do not occur). Its possible to grow many berries in sheltered spots as is squash and beans. Cereals are possible but must fit a short and fast growing season. Some vegetables are technically impossible because of permanent summer daylight, and then when daylight reduces to a half, snow and darkness quickly come. For overwinter you must rely only in artificial lightning or let plants to survive under mulch. The winter days are very short and the sun is just 2º above the horizon. I tried overwinter citrus trees but they must have strong light at all times, otherwise they quickly suffer and die. Geothermal energy provides nearly free heating for greenhouses. Outdoors, perennials might be the key, as the native flora is mostly hardy perennials that have very quick growth in spring, rather than annuals (annuals are rarely present in Icelandic flora). I am hoping for mulberries, walking onions, chinese yams, skirret, as some of our choices... Well, I am trying a lot of perennial species and see what will survive in the next years!
Thanks for mentioning this - excellent news!
I just read something this morning in "Four-Season Harvest" and I thought to come here and mention it to you:
"Every increase in degree of slope of the land to the south improves the soil-warming effects of the sun over similar land on the flat. (Example) Along the 44th parallel, a garden on soil sloping 5 degrees to the south has the same solar climate as flat land 300 miles further south."
Geothermal energy here is only available near active volcanic regions, so you can have over most of Iceland, except in some spots in the east part of the country and northwest part of the country (where volcanic activity is long dead).
Another thing is that soil is also often thin (because its tundra) and often frozen or very cold at depth. So deep digging is improving as well as slightly raised beds. Also sandy or loamy soils warm much faster in spring, than clay soils. Also I would recommend planting poplar, rowan trees north of your projected garden, as these trees create nice textured soil and raise the wind above. I clearly see this in my house, as north winds often blow violently 5 meters above my house (because of a poplar forest to the northeast), leaving the garden (which faces west) more calm.
Can I ask you, where exactly and what do you plan to do, in Iceland?
Currently the ground is frozen here. I have some perennials overwintering indoors, but they seem to be doing terribly, due to lack of natural sunlight. Artificial lights seem not enough. Perhaps I should try a non-freezing cold frame for some of them.
H alpinum is an occasional plant in my area, and one which I intend to establish on my property for both food and ornamental purposes..
You might find some other interesting ideas in The Boreal Herbal, which lists medicinal and edible uses of many northern plants... I'm still reading it!
Thanks for your wonderful suggestion. Boreal herbal seems a really nice thing to explore.
On the hedysarum, well, there seems to be a little controversy/ risk of being a poisonous plant. Apparently it was the one of the "into the wild" movie, but researchers said the toxicity was not the seed itself but the wrong storage of the seeds. However, PFAF also lists the plant as potencial toxic. As many legumes are toxic, even cooked, I wonder if Hedysarum is a safe edible plant.
It does not grow wildly in Iceland, but it seems to be a perfect alpine plant.
Another plant I am currently interested in lyme grass, an edible perennial arctic cereal. JUst read the article I wrote on polar edible wild species at http://greenspot-english.blogspot.com/2012/12/wild-edible-crops-so-far-north-lyme.html
But I am still a beginner on these.My knowledge is mostly from what I read, I haven't tried to eat these plants! that is a different league!
Here is an excellent paper discussing the two species:
In short, H alpinum is widely known to be edible, but there was debate about H mackenzii. NOTE: it is the roots that are usually eaten, not the seeds. This study shows no poisonous alkaloids in either species, and no significant differences in their chemical composition. the reports of toxicicty of mackenzii seem to come mostly from a half starved arctic expedition which was in fact eating any sort of offal they could get their hands on at that point.. However, H alpinum is supposed to have much larger roots than H boreale/mackenzii- making it not worthwhile to dig in stony ground in habitat.
Apparently in the north the two species can grow together and look similar. The populations I know are not at all confusable- H alpinum being a plant of boreal regions into the foothills, tall, with very pale pink flowers in long flower stalks, while boreale occurs from the foothills to near or past timberline (it may have more of a range into low altitudes, but I haven't seen that kind of site personally) and is a much lower plant with very deep/bright pink/fuchsia flowers- a great plant for the rock garden! It seems that H alpinum, the taller plant, would be the one to try for food.... If you want seeds of H alpinum, let me know, I might have some old ones, not sure how long they are viable, and I will probably try to collect some more this year, unless I get germination myself from the old seed.
We also have a common Mertensia sp here, but not maritima, its m paniculata, a larger plant; also edible leaves, I've tasted it raw, okay but a bit hairy, I think it would be good mixed with other things and cooked.
Perhaps what is more important is first hand reports of edibility like yours, as well as scientific studies on the possible toxins of these plants.
In my opinion the scientific studies are good but not enough for me to feel safe in eating some specific species. Much better is when we hear of a certain culture or region that includes that plant in their local food, and how commonly it is consumed, and how is prepared, and which parts. Also, it is different to just taste a plant (which can be ok) and eating it in a larger amount. Many plants can be harmless if just eaten for a bit, but they will cause discomfort when cooked in a little bit more than just a piece of a leaf or the root. This is also very important to know.
By the way, on Hedysarum alpinum, how do you eat it, raw or cooked?
Have you already taste it?
I will try the mertensia (oyster plant) this summer. It looks a rather edible plant, but I still do not know if it can be eaten in a larger amount (like spinach for example). There are also other edible plants but due to lack of reports I haven't tried them yet:
- the roots of Silverweed (Potentila anserina). A source of starch, but some potentilla are widely known to cause stomach upset
- supposely angelica roots were widely eaten by outlaws in Iceland in the past. I have never tried them but I find the raw stems and leaves too strong of a taste for me. Perhaps cooking. However there are reports of a the roots being potentially toxic. I do not know.
- on birch and spruce, two arctic trees, the bark as well as young shots are edible. However I tried birch raw and tastes awful but it is edible. The tea is very pleasant but astringent. Spruce we have done syrup but not actually eaten it.
- Moss Campion (Silene acaulis): I have never tried it, it is reported to have been used cooked in Iceland, but it contains saponins, so it must be processed accordingly (changes of water during cooking).
- Rumex or docks: I tried them raw, r. acetosella is tangy but a bit too acid (oxalic acid) and can burn the tongue if eaten raw in a bit more than just one leaf. I have never tried to cook them, but I will. The seeds look also to be an interesting quinoa replacement. But I have never met anyone using them.
Do you (or anyone) has any experience with these plants?
This page (you have to scroll all the way to the bottom) has some information on native uses of the plant- looks like both raw and cooked:
note they mention the same concern about H mackenzii which was discredited by the other site.
Long term native use suggests the plant is very safe, but of course does not tell us whether we will like the taste. I have eaten some of the wild berries which were eaten regularly by native peoples, and some of them will never find a place in modern Western supermarkets...lol I also suspect that these wild foods will have variation in taste- we need to grow some and select for the best tasting varieties! Carrots and potatoes did not start out as we know them now
I'm very interested in trying silverweed (now moved by some to its own genus, Anserina) since it is a plant I really like anyway, There too, probably a matter of taste, maybe preparation and varieties- the plant grows over a very wide range, so there could be some variations.
There is someone I think you should talk to, he is an English man living now for a long time in Norway, and has long been collecting edible plants of all sorts, he might have some good ideas for you. I see him on a couple of rock garden forums, and he may be on Gardenweb.
I have not yet tried any of the other plants you mention, and to the list I will add fireweed (Epilobium angustifolia, now Chameirion) and cow parsnip (Heracleum lanatum) both supposed to be good spring vegetables, and very hardy.
I would hesitate to think of Silene acaulis as food except in emergency- it is a beautiful and slow growing plant of mountains and arctic and I surely would not eat wild plants unless I were starving, and I think it would be very slow in the garden- but you could grow some for beauty and eat them if they outgrow their space!
I also want to try eating daylily roots (Hemerocallis) I'm not sure if they are hardy for you or not? but here they are very vigorous, and I don't have much interest in them as an ornamental...lol
I will give a try to groundnuts (apios), chinese yams, asparagus, siberian pea, honey locust, the native lyme grass, and walking onions. Maybe maypops, arctic kiwi and siberian varieties of nuts.
Sunchokes: they grow well but in 2 years I could not had any crop from them. There seems to be too early autumn freezing for them to set tubers.
Skirret (Sium sisarum) was new to me-
would be nice to try, will have to look for seed; the genus name was familiar- we have Sium suave wild, here, called water parsnip, but you have to be very careful as it is similar looking to Cicuta spp (water hemlock) which are very poisonous. I may try to look for wild seed sometime if I can be sure of my identification!
I`ve heard of Apios, but never seen them in person, thought to try for years, really must!
Here is the first seed source I saw, but haven`t looked for others yet:
(looked a bit, only found U.S. sources selling tubers)
silverberry I guess you mean some Elaeagnus sp? I think I sowed seed this year of an Alberta sp. Do you have Shepherdia canadensis there? Not something you could eat a lot of, probably, but tough and I think it's a nitrogen fixer. Birds love it.
juneberry- Amelanchier? We have A alnifolius very common here. Berries are like blueberries only better but hard to get them before the birds do. We also have Prunus pennsylvanica and virginiana wild.
Speaking of Prunus, I wonder if the P tomentosa cultivars would grow for you? there are some bred for tough prairie winters, very tough here and nice crops of juicy tart fruit. Not large bushes which I think is good in your climate.
siberian pea- Caragana? They used to be used a lot here in windbreaks, less so now. I never heard of anyone eating anything from them, though I heard of it more recently, I think. Can be invasive here, though I think that is more in drier spots, and almost impossible to remove if you change your mind.
I also want to plant honey locust , have some seeds- Gleditsia- just because I love the trees and remind me of locusts from when I lived in Toronto...lol.
maypops- Passiflora? Interesting, I wouldn't have thought of these as that hardy? Would you grow them outside, or partly inside?
kiwi- I sowed some seed of those this year too.
nuts- I have too many big trees to plant walnuts, but want to get our native hazelnut- I've never seen them right here, but they are in Alberta, and some people selling them. I'd probably have to fight with the squirrels...lol
Interesting about sunchokes- I would think the tubers would develop all season, not wait for fall... is your bed raised? maybe they need a higher soil temperature? I don't have any yet, but hope to start some...
That reminded me we have a locat Stachys- palustris- which is also edible, and sounds like it might be easier to deal with than crosnes. I might grow both, but for sure the local one
Paulo Bessa wrote: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 lived in Lapland for 12 years in the border of Norwegian and Finland, I have use to build lasagna bed and growing vegetables on top of hot compost with some protection for the cold , very good for carrots, peas , salad and all fast growing vegetables, if you like other types of fast growing food, test: Saracens, amaranth, some cereal grow in less then 3months , some race of quinoa to , also parsley and others roots if you give them very rich soil or compost lasagna it's best , greenhouse with 2 cover will help a lot to .
I've got a lot of heirloom varieties growing on the perennial side, including very hardy berries (blackcurrant, redcurrant, strawberry, gooseberry, sorbus, blackberry, raspberry, common sea-buckthorn) apples and damsons.
One very prolific plant I grow for edible seeds is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelica_archangelica maybe these could do fine also in Iceland, in case you would like to get some finnish heirloom variety seeds (at cost + P&P) please let me know. There is reputable source for these called Maatiainen which is kind of "living seedbank" for finnish heirloom varieties. http://www.maatiainen.fi/english.htm The latest catalogue of ornamental (note; many of them poisonous) and edible heirloom varieties available
I'm also experimenting quite a lot with wooden-stem plants (full list of species found in Finland http://www.metla.fi/metinfo/puulajit/puulajinimiluettelo.htm), growing from seed and checking whether successfull on long term. Have had some great succeess with linden, elm and oak in areas which have nice microclimate, but not yet with hazelnut and sorts of more delicate coastal area species (typical trees for the area are pine, spruce, alder, birch and willows).
if you are from ikaalinen we live close , me and my wife had live 12 years in sevettijärvi , but this spring we have buy a small farm between isojoki and honkajoki , its will be nice to meet you one day , we have make permaculture technique in lapland but not easy for lot of things specially for winter food for animals , we have horses , goats and ducks. we start then , again here with really more and bigger projects.
will be nice to meet one day
clovis and heli
It has been a long time since last replies in this topic.
First let me tell that I do not have that much experience with this climate. I am just a curious like some of us here in Iceland are, to see what can and what cannot be grown.
I have been here for 4 years. Conditions are different than Scandinavia or even parts of Alaska, because our summers are colder, and very strong winds in winter and spring can damage plants where they normally wouldn't.
In terms of trees, birch and willows are native, but many people also grow poplar, spruce, some pine species, and rowan.
Nearly everyone agrees that providing shelter with these trees is the key to begin experimenting with other, more sensitive, trees.
Second, it takes a long time to establish these trees, so if someone in Iceland (or similar arctic climate) wants to see a forest garden, he or she needs to find a property with those trees already on site, or wait until the next generation. And these pioneering trees do much better if grown together as a clump, rather than isolated or as a single windbreak.
Fruit trees are challenging, and were thought to be impossible until 20 years ago (when Icelandic climate became warmer).
People have grown apple and cherry trees, across Iceland, and even pears and plums, but mostly against a house wall, espalier, and by the coast.
If you are inland, conditions are more severe, but some of us have began experiments, and so far the trees have not cropped yet, but will probably do it, in a few years. Obviously we are talking about very sheltered environments, but not against a wall or espalier. We are talking about more natural growing conditions, where a fruit trees grows sheltered by other pioneer trees (like the ones described above). This goes for apples and cherries. Plums might be possible but we don't know yet. Maybe even hazels.
Some trees do not grow well, I am thinking of oaks, because the summer is too cool and short, to create woody stems to survive the winter, so these trees often experience setbacks in the freezing winds. Alnus is a nitrogen fixing species that does well, if quite sheltered.
Berries are easy: raspberries, blackberries, currants, strawberries, etc.
And other perennials, for example rhubarb, good king henry, chives.
Many herbs are also possible. Mint for example, and things like sage, if very sheltered. Angelica is a native plant.
Possibly sea buckthorn, elaegnus, etc, there are many unexplored possibilities. But it takes much time to grow these plants to adult size.
Other than this, I say a warm hello to Finland and Lapland Clovis guilloton: I like your suggestion of lasagna bed to grow vegetables. We can grow most root and leaf vegetables, grain is possible but dependant on a good summer, broad beans and peas are easy, i have tried buckwheat and amaranth and haven't worked, but quinoa grows well, especially if in a raised bed. Also squash and siberian tomatoes, if given optimal conditions.
i known Your Challenge, Where i lived before in Lapland , we had the same problems, sometimes under 0 degrees in July for some hours. And lasagna bed it's a great solution. If you have access to horse manure (fresh) in spring, ones very great solution it's to build a hot compost and put 30/40cm of your growing soil on the top , the best its to put a protection on the top , greenhouse plastic for example, we have use every spring that techniques for plant who need a longtime for grow, you can almost win one month of growing season with that.
PS:strange you had succeeded with quinoa and not with amaranth, try again I think
you can see that it s on a totally no fertil sandy soil , that why we had to use lasagna bed and raising bed , behind have be same technique for carrots , we got around 30kg carrots in 6m long and 1m large . we had to build all our soil there , we use all that we had , peat + sand + horse and goat compost and ash and some time the silt from lake bottom .potatos we used lot of the technique of growing in straw for can plant them more early.