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Perennials in Canada?

 
Penny Dumelie
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Location: AB, Canada (Zone 4a - Canadian Badlands)
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I'm in Canada. Close enough to the US border to almost trip over it, but still, it's Canada. What kind of success can be had in regards to food forests and perennial gardens when winter temps can hit - 30 C (-22 F) for a week at a time?
 
alex Keenan
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I have seen a number of plants that grow in Canada.
The first question I would ask is what is the layout of your land.
A hillside facing south will be very different than a flat area or a hillside facing north.

If you read many of the postings you will see that a number of the permies have created micro climates that are warmer than normal climate.

Also you cold and really cold. What I mean by that is cold air is more dense and can travel down hill and settle in cold spots.

Also open water can act as a heat sink. I had plants that avoided frost long enough to reseed near lakes and ponds.

Before I look for the plants I would look for what micro climates I can provide.
 
Josey Hains
Posts: 92
Location: AB, Canada, Zone 3
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There are tons of perennials growing in your zone. I am in zone 3 and here are some ideas: asparagus, rhubarb, all kind of herbs, berries (raspberry, blackberry, honeyberry, seabuckthorn), apple, pear, cherries.

Just google perennial and your zone. Here is a link that lists shrubs by zone for example: http://www.buyshrubszone.com/
 
Anni Kelsey
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Your winter climate is so different to mine that I do not have personal experience of what might be hardy there. However I would look at Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier's Edible Forest Gardens Vol. 2 (Chelsea Green) and consult the plant species matrix that gives a list of hardiness zones for pages and pages of perennials.

Anni
 
Penny Dumelie
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Location: AB, Canada (Zone 4a - Canadian Badlands)
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Thanks for the replies. I guess I know that a food forest can be grown in my area, but I'm... hesitant unsure apprehensive batsh*t crazy and a little freaked out to try my "big plan."

I would really like any information that seems important to know in regards to a food forest, or special species that are recommended.
I mean, I'm online and the entire world of information is at my fingertips, but maybe there is something special or a favorite plant someone (anyone) would like to recommend or a tip that really seems to help <anything in the food forest setting>.
I've been doing a ton of reading (recently about sepp holzer- he might be my new hero) and I understand the basics of the nine layers and the idea of including plants for things like pollination and nutrients, but really anything anyone would like to share that they think I should absolutely know... I'm all ears. Or any specific threads here on the forum that might be great to go through - holy toledo is there a lot of information here. I'll be reading for a long time.

alex Keenan wrote:I have seen a number of plants that grow in Canada.
The first question I would ask is what is the layout of your land.
A hillside facing south will be very different than a flat area or a hillside facing north.

If you read many of the postings you will see that a number of the permies have created micro climates that are warmer than normal climate.

Also you cold and really cold. What I mean by that is cold air is more dense and can travel down hill and settle in cold spots.

Also open water can act as a heat sink. I had plants that avoided frost long enough to reseed near lakes and ponds.

Before I look for the plants I would look for what micro climates I can provide.


Great suggestions. Thank you.

I just started reading about heat sinks and creating a micro climates. It has me quite excited. It could make a big difference in the variety I can work with.

So far I am looking at property that is (mainly) sloped facing the south west. It has a high (main) ridge running in a north-west to south-east direction that slopes down to a valley, intersected with valleys/hills running up to the ridge at a south-west to north-east angle (rolling hill topography).
It has a bit of river for about a mile and a half at the bottom of the property. There is also a couple of dugouts on the property.
The total land area is almost 3/4 of a section. Zone 4a with about 330 days of sun a year.

My main concern is the extreme temperatures. In the summer the average temperature is about 25 C but there is usually a couple weeks of +35 C days and even up to +40 C on rares occasions. The winter is the exact opposite with average temps of -25 C and a couple weeks of -30 C or colder. Springs can be so wet as to flood areas (last year was awful with roads and bridges being wiped out) but drought years are not uncommon. Hopefully some work and strategic planning can stabilize the land a bit.
I'm probably crazy for wanting to even try this in this area but it's home.

Josey Hains wrote:There are tons of perennials growing in your zone. I am in zone 3 and here are some ideas: asparagus, rhubarb, all kind of herbs, berries (raspberry, blackberry, honeyberry, seabuckthorn), apple, pear, cherries.

Just google perennial and your zone. Here is a link that lists shrubs by zone for example: http://www.buyshrubszone.com/



Oh great link! Saved to read and browse. Thanks for the berry suggestions. I've never heard of seabuckthorn or honeyberries.


Anni Kelsey wrote:Your winter climate is so different to mine that I do not have personal experience of what might be hardy there. However I would look at Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier's Edible Forest Gardens Vol. 2 (Chelsea Green) and consult the plant species matrix that gives a list of hardiness zones for pages and pages of perennials.

Anni


Thanks Anni! I've added the book to my wishlist. It might be on my list to Santa.

 
mike mclellan
Posts: 93
Location: Helena, MT zone 4
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Penny,
I'm a bit south of you but suffer from the same climate extremes. Honeyberries ( Lonicera)were developed at the University of Saskatchewan and my understanding is that they are now being grown commercially there. They're are also called haskaps. I've had good luck so far with a limited number of them I planted three years ago. Got a few flowers this year and berries started until we got smacked by hail.
Another species grown commercially up your way are Saskatoon berries (Amelanchier alnifolia. I've had limited success but blame most of that on me, not the hardiness of the plants.

Univ of Sask. has also developed a couple of bush cherries worth looking into. Hazenlnuts may also be a good species worth looking into.

I know we are a bit limited by our climate in this region but there are a lot of fruiting trees worth trying- varieties of apples, pears, cherries, and plums. Check with your provincial ag college and local specialist as well as premies/orchardists in your area. If you are as dry as we are, and I would guess you are, you might look into the irripan to place around your young trees and shrubs as they are getting established (http://www.treeprotectionsupply.com/weed-mats/irripan-weedmat/). I've started using them this year and am impressed how they can concentrate moisture from the lightest of rain showers.

If you really want to be out there, take a look at both black walnut and butternut. Both are cold hardy for our region. It will likely be more a matter of soil suitability ( possibly alkalinity or drainage) , andwind exposure. Still, with a southwest aspect that you have, your general microclimate may be more suitable for these. Don't be afraid to experiment. I have a hunch before we're all done with getting our permaculture forest gardens fully established we'll find some surprising things not predicted by any book. Good luck.
 
Penny Dumelie
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Location: AB, Canada (Zone 4a - Canadian Badlands)
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Thanks for the suggestions, Mike.
I do want to experiment some so a variety of plants will hopefully find a home.
Maybe I'll be able to grow citrus like Holzer.
 
Dave Burton
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Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
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I always recommend checking out the Plants For a Future Database because it is so versatile. It will not let me store the search results from the database, just choosing your zone and your desired filters will reveal tons of different plants that will grow year after year in your area.
 
Russell Olson
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Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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Lots of stuff grows up in the cold north, be as adventurous as your budget allows. Whatever "growing zone" a plant is described as is being suitable for there are plenty of exceptions to the rule. Some things will die in our climate, BUT some really cool things will grow slowly but survive, some will grow just fine but maybe only ripen their crop in exceptionally warm years, some will die back to the roots and grow back healthy the next season(ungrafted trees/bushes), and some things frankly will grow just fine even if they aren't supposed to in your climate.

I'm in a 4a "zone", last winter was the coldest of my life here in MN. The only things I've had die due to cold for all I know were a peach tree that made it for 4 winters and likely would have blossomed had we not had a 30 year cold snap (-60 F windchill over a few days, -25F air temp at high noon with sun out), and maypops(native passionfruit).
I've had Jujube, Pawpaw, hardy kiwi, Goumi, and Schisandra die back to their roots and sprout bigger and healthier the next season, in a warm winter I'd expect minimal dieback from these.
American persimmon, chestnut, pecan, hickory, and blackberry all grow slowly but do just fine. Ripening time may be an issue with these. I've gotten blackberries late in the summer from the new primocane varieties.
Basically anything else is doing great though, even with some brutal winter temps last year. Grapes, apples, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, lignonberries, siberian kiwi, and annual vegetables all should be fine where you're at. Look for keywords "siberian", University of MN, University of Saskatchewan, Cornell, "cold hardy" "-20"
Good luck!
 
Penny Dumelie
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Location: AB, Canada (Zone 4a - Canadian Badlands)
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Dave Burton wrote:I always recommend checking out the Plants For a Future Database because it is so versatile. It will not let me store the search results from the database, just choosing your zone and your desired filters will reveal tons of different plants that will grow year after year in your area.


I might have this one bookmarked somewhere but thank you for the reminder. I think. That site is a dangerous rabbit hole that is hard to escape from.


Russell Olson wrote:Lots of stuff grows up in the cold north, be as adventurous as your budget allows. Whatever "growing zone" a plant is described as is being suitable for there are plenty of exceptions to the rule. Some things will die in our climate, BUT some really cool things will grow slowly but survive, some will grow just fine but maybe only ripen their crop in exceptionally warm years, some will die back to the roots and grow back healthy the next season(ungrafted trees/bushes), and some things frankly will grow just fine even if they aren't supposed to in your climate.

I'm in a 4a "zone", last winter was the coldest of my life here in MN. The only things I've had die due to cold for all I know were a peach tree that made it for 4 winters and likely would have blossomed had we not had a 30 year cold snap (-60 F windchill over a few days, -25F air temp at high noon with sun out), and maypops(native passionfruit).
I've had Jujube, Pawpaw, hardy kiwi, Goumi, and Schisandra die back to their roots and sprout bigger and healthier the next season, in a warm winter I'd expect minimal dieback from these.
American persimmon, chestnut, pecan, hickory, and blackberry all grow slowly but do just fine. Ripening time may be an issue with these. I've gotten blackberries late in the summer from the new primocane varieties.
Basically anything else is doing great though, even with some brutal winter temps last year. Grapes, apples, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, lignonberries, siberian kiwi, and annual vegetables all should be fine where you're at. Look for keywords "siberian", University of MN, University of Saskatchewan, Cornell, "cold hardy" "-20"
Good luck!


Those cold snaps can be so nasty. It should never hurt to breathe. It's just wrong.
Thanks for the suggestions. There are six different things I've never even heard of in your post.
Great ideas on the keywords. I don't dare try them tonight or I'll never get to bed. Thanks again!
 
Wi Tim
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Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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Russell Olson wrote:I've had Jujube, Pawpaw, hardy kiwi, Goumi, and Schisandra die back to their roots and sprout bigger and healthier the next season, in a warm winter I'd expect minimal dieback from these.
American persimmon, chestnut, pecan, hickory, and blackberry all grow slowly but do just fine. Ripening time may be an issue with these. I've gotten blackberries late in the summer from the new primocane varieties.
Basically anything else is doing great though, even with some brutal winter temps last year. Grapes, apples, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, lignonberries, siberian kiwi, and annual vegetables all should be fine where you're at. Look for keywords "siberian", University of MN, University of Saskatchewan, Cornell, "cold hardy" "-20"
Good luck!


Russell, I have never heard about Schisandra before, but it sparked my interest. Do you use it as medicinal? Which variety is it, and where did you get it?

Penny's climate sounds very "Siberian" to me, too.
 
Tristan Vitali
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Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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Dave Burton wrote:I always recommend checking out the Plants For a Future Database because it is so versatile. It will not let me store the search results from the database, just choosing your zone and your desired filters will reveal tons of different plants that will grow year after year in your area.


I second PFAF - bookmark it on your browser and learn to love it like I have Not only is it great for finding ideas, but they also include edibility and medicinal ratings...can help save you from buying things that sound great but really aren't worth the effort or money.

Remember, too, that a microclimate might get you a zone 4b or even 5a equivalent but a simple, inexpensive hoop house can bump you 2 full zones to a 6a. Check out Elliot Coleman's stuff - he's up here in Maine and grows fresh salad greens pretty much year-round using unheated hoop houses and row covers I ran with that idea set up a "composting tent" this year to help prolong our composting season - the black soldier flies and red worms think they're in North Carolina right now

Take a look through the projects forum for some ideas as well. A lot of people have done this stuff in just as harsh of a climate as you face. I included a huge list of plants and fungi on my thread, broken out to layers and segregated into different themed forests, and almost all of them are 4a hardy. My list is nearly all theory still since I'm only 1 year in to everything and have A TON of work to do before even starting to plant most of what will make up these forests, but there's I don't know how many hours spent pouring over details like juglone tolerance and pH preferences that went into it.
 
Mike Haych
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Location: Eastern Canada, Zone 5a
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Penny Dumelie wrote:Thanks for the suggestions, Mike.
I do want to experiment some so a variety of plants will hopefully find a home.
Maybe I'll be able to grow citrus like Holzer.


Citrus?????? Sepp went to a lot of work to grow a very un-permie plant. Think global. Grow local - http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex1007. In Canada, sea buckthorn dates to Dr. L. Skinner at the Morden Research Station in Morden, Manitoba who imported it from Siberia. More info in pdf's here and here. It tastes like unsweetened orange juice but with a lot more flavour.

You could talk to the revived PFRA at Indian Head - http://www.portageonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=37344&Itemid=664 about hardy edibles, medicinals, nitrogen fixers.

It seems to me that you need to talk to locals before you start. Permies are organized in Alberta - https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=alberta+permaculture&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t#q=%22alberta+permaculture%22
 
Penny Dumelie
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Tristan Vitali wrote:
Take a look through the projects forum for some ideas as well. A lot of people have done this stuff in just as harsh of a climate as you face. I included a huge list of plants and fungi on my thread, broken out to layers and segregated into different themed forests, and almost all of them are 4a hardy. My list is nearly all theory still since I'm only 1 year in to everything and have A TON of work to do before even starting to plant most of what will make up these forests, but there's I don't know how many hours spent pouring over details like juglone tolerance and pH preferences that went into it.


Wow Tristan! I took a quick look at your thread. I can tell you have a good amount of time into it.
I'll be going back to read it when I can take more time to really go over it.


Mike Haych wrote:
Penny Dumelie wrote:Thanks for the suggestions, Mike.
I do want to experiment some so a variety of plants will hopefully find a home.
Maybe I'll be able to grow citrus like Holzer.


Citrus?????? Sepp went to a lot of work to grow a very un-permie plant. Think global. Grow local - http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex1007. In Canada, sea buckthorn dates to Dr. L. Skinner at the Morden Research Station in Morden, Manitoba who imported it from Siberia. More info in pdf's here and here. It tastes like unsweetened orange juice but with a lot more flavour.

You could talk to the revived PFRA at Indian Head - http://www.portageonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=37344&Itemid=664 about hardy edibles, medicinals, nitrogen fixers.

It seems to me that you need to talk to locals before you start. Permies are organized in Alberta - https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=alberta+permaculture&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t#q=%22alberta+permaculture%22


Citrus would fall into the experiment category.
I plan on growing a variety that is more suited to the zone I will be living in but it doesn't hurt to try new things
 
leah cardwell
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look at T&T seeds for ideas on perennial plants and trees for just a start. I am zone 3 and I grow apples.cherries. honey berries.raspberries.grapes,asperigus,rhubarb, sunchokesand,perennial herbs by the dozen. what causes die back here are Chinooks and drying wind more than the cold. micro climates ,the odd hoop house, wind protection is a must and a lot of mulch.
 
Penny Dumelie
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Thanks for the suggestions Leah. I was not aware of T&T seeds.
You used the word Chinook so I'm guessing you're somewhere in Alberta (that's where I am too atm).

and I will add, Welcome to Permies!
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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