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What have you grown or tried to grow up north?

 
Posts: 49
Location: Funny river, Alaska
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I've had success with a couple apple trees grafted onto crabapple rootstock. I also have Carmen jewel cherries that are just thriving here in funny river Alaska. Here is what I have growing right now:

Gooseberries
Black and red rasberries
Cranberries
Service berries
Crowberries
Haskap berries
Black currants
Oats
Red and white clover
All those made it through multiple winters with no damages.

I also have a bunch of expiremental stuff i planted and grew great last summer, but I'm not sure will come back this summer including:
Broccoli
Radishes
Chives
Green onions
Kale
Potatoes
Kholrabi
Im probably forgetting a few

Seeds I have saved up for next summer so far are:
50# bag oats
50# bag barley
50# bag Red clover
25# bag sunflower
10# bag white clover
5# bag alfalfa
5# bag feild peas

Again might be forgetting a couple

Curious what you guys got going on or things you would recommend adding. I have plenty of room and plan on adding many more varieties.
 
master steward
Posts: 4017
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Hi Dylan, most of the plants in your middle list are annuals so they won't make it through any winter.  The chives are perennials though.  If you left potato tubers underground they may sprout in the spring (good experiment).  Kale can sometimes make it through a winter but I think the second year it focuses on making seed so it doesn't taste good.  

As for other things to try, I wonder if hazelnuts would work for you?  Many annuals would also work fine, especially cool season crops like cabbage and peas.  If you're up for starting seedlings inside, the world is your oyster.  We're growing tomatoes, peppers and even artichokes here in zone 4a.  Artichokes require some fiddling though....
 
pollinator
Posts: 346
Location: Denmark 57N
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While I am not as cold as you, I am pretty much as far north. What I have found is that things that should be hardy here, and are a couple of miles down the road, like kale, sprouting broccoli, swede are not hardy in my garden, not becasue it gets colder, I'm closer to the sea so it's actually warmer, but because of how damp my place is, all winter we are between 90 and 100% humidity, constant freeze thaw, so everything just rots.
 
Dylan Kirsch
Posts: 49
Location: Funny river, Alaska
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Mike Jay,
I know most of those plant die after 1 season, but I let them all go to seed and I'm hoping the seeds that hit the ground will come back this summer.

Skandi,
I know how that feels when you think you've got a good plant hardy for your "zone" and find out that it's a load of crap, but that is so true how you can't trust planting zones. There are so many more variables besides average coldest temperature. That's why I try to look up varieties that are native to my area or native to areas all over the world that have a similar climate as me. And then, it's also good measure once you find varieties you like, to research those particular varieties to make sure their gonna work on your property.
 
Posts: 16
Location: Argyle, Manitoba, Canada Zone 3
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From what I can find, you are in about a zone 4 b.  I grew up in northern Manitoba and learned to garden there (a solid zone 3b, colder than yours.  I'm currently in a zone 3a but can adjust microclimates to almost zone 5).  The main thing to find is plants that will take excessive sunlight in the summer.  Most plants can't take 20 hours of sunlight, so you need to find what are called "short season" crops.  Pretty much anything grown has a short season you just have to check the "maturity date".  You would even be able to grow corn to maturity.

Start what you can inside under lights.  I found chard does pretty amazing growth in the more northern regions, from seed.  Kohlrabi, cabbage, beets, radish and lettuce are staples, also from seed.  I let my lettuce go to seed (around August) as it wants to bolt due to sun light, and then it self sows.  "Hot crops" like tomatoes and peppers need to be babied a bit but there are tomatoes out there that will grow from seed to a small harvest before frost.  My favorite is the open pollinated yellow pear cherry tomato.  Leave some in the garden and whatever survives to produce next year will be the beginning of your own landrace seed.

For perennials, Sunchokes, Blueberries, Kinikinik, Labrador tea, nettles, mints, asparagus.  I would try plums, apricots, nanking cherry, rhubarb (a staple), Ure Pear, aronia berry, chokecherry, pincherry.  Look up anything coming out of the University of Saskatchewan fruit breeding program.  Plants coming out of the Morden Manitoba research station will also do well for you (including some very pretty roses!).
 
Dylan Kirsch
Posts: 49
Location: Funny river, Alaska
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Hey thanks Wendy, what do you do to adjust microclimates by the way?
 
pollinator
Posts: 228
Location: ALASKA
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Dylan, I'm going to say that with the exception of your chives, everything in that middle grouping will not come back.  We just get too cold for too long for any of that to survive.  On top of that they are all annuals, which I'm sure you know.  Kale isn't even hardy enough to make it through our winters.  I've tried it a couple of times.  I've overwintered carrots, cabbage, potato's and rutabagas, but have to dig them up and move them into more suitable conditions.  I leave them in the garden until the ground just starts to freeze in Oct.  I'll dig them up and move them into my minimally heated shop (stays at @35* when I'm not down there working.  I store them as you would if they were in a root cellar.  So far I've always had spuds to replant in the spring and have been able to eat carrots all winter long and have enough to grow out for seed production.  I store the spuds layered in shavings and the carrots in either  barely damp shavings or sand.  Cabbages are only grown for seed production as well as the rutabagas, but I've successfully overwintered them for several years now.  Hopefully one day I'l have an actual root cellar, but work with what I have right now.
 
Dylan Kirsch
Posts: 49
Location: Funny river, Alaska
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Walt,
Do you have any ideas why their seeds wouldn't make it through the winter? Just can't handle the temperature or freeze thaw cycles or something.
 
Walt Chase
pollinator
Posts: 228
Location: ALASKA
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I wasn't speaking about seeds.  They may, I have no idea.  A lot of the crops that grow well here in AK are bienniels and the plant has to undergo vernilization in order to produce seed. IE.  Plant grows in year one undergoes  winter then resprouts and flowers and produces seed the second season.  In some locations many of the plants we grow up here can and will overwinter outdoors in the garden.  Broccoli and cauliflower can bolt and go to seed in one year up here due to our long summer days.  I've yet to get viable seed from either, but have never really tried.  Several things can and will bolt up here and I've learned to look for long day varieties in some of my stuff.
 
Dylan Kirsch
Posts: 49
Location: Funny river, Alaska
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Well I got a lot of seed from most of that middle list I just let it fall to the ground then I raked it in I'm hoping those seeds sproutthis spring. Just like fireweed or any other native plant that dies every fall I hope some will come back from seed every spring and adapt to my specific location as time goes on.
 
Mike Jay
master steward
Posts: 4017
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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You're on the right track.  Seed that was set this past summer and fell to the ground is likely to make it through the winter and sprout in the spring.  You may get an interesting mix since broccoli and kale are in the same family so the flowers may have cross pollinated giving you a hybrid.  
 
Wendy O'Neill
Posts: 16
Location: Argyle, Manitoba, Canada Zone 3
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For microclimate manipulation I planted wind breaks to the north and west and south.  Here in the prairies it is the freeze/thaw cycle in the fall and spring that kills most plants off.  With the shelter from the wicked cold winds from the north, the hot winds from the south and the chinook winds from the west, I can get to at least a zone 4.  From there I do most of my chop and drop in the fall, in October, so the ground is slower to freeze BUT in the spring is doesn't thaw and re-freeze.  The thick layer of mulch around the base of the plants (trees and shrubs too) stops the killing thaw that comes in January (we are going to be -1 C then back down to -19 C.  An improvement from the - 38 C!)) and then eases the plants into spring.  I remove the mulch when night time temps are going to be right around freezing.  If I forget (which happens too frequently) I just let it go.  The plants and such still do fine, just a bit slower to get to harvest.  Long daylight hours help with that!

For nuts, I grow our wild hazelnuts, tamed hazelnuts, pine nuts (no crop yet...sigh), acorns from our burr oaks (need to be soaked to get rid of tannins).  (I sometimes harvest Manitoba Maple seeds, they are like pistachios but finicky to get the seed coat off unless it's been really dry.  Those I harvest right around now.)  I am starting to push the limits and am going to experiment with some zone 4 and 5 fruits and nuts.  We'll see how that goes.  

My next steps for microclimate manipulation are going to be hugelkultur beds in crescent shapes with the crescent "facing" south,  and Sepp Holzer's crater ponds.  That's the project for the next two summers.

 
Dylan Kirsch
Posts: 49
Location: Funny river, Alaska
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Mike, that would be really interesting to see between broccoli kale kolrabi and cabbage ( if I can get the cabbage to seed one of these summers) what happens when they all cross pollinate for a few years. The number one priority is that the end result thrives here and is even a little invasive, but I wonder how much I would like it as a food. Now I'm really curious good point Mike.
 
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