North of 60 Fruit!

Some of the amazing fruits being produced at Klondike Valley Nursery. Photo by Suzanne Crocker.

When you imagine fruit North of 60 you probably think of berries and rosehips.  And you wouldn’t be wrong.  But it’s now time to expand the realm of possibilities.

Apples, pears and grapes can also be grown in the Yukon Territory.  At least if you are a master of northern fruit bearing trees, like John Lenart and Kim Melton are.

Klondike Valley Nursery, located in Dawson City, Yukon is the most northerly nursery in Canada. And look what they can grow!

John and Kim are dedicated to exploring the boundaries of what can be grown in cold climates at high latitudes.

This year, they managed to grow pears and grapes in their greenhouses, as well as apples from their 65 cultivars of apple trees.

So if your timing is right on a Fall Saturday at the Dawson City Farmer’s Market,  you may be treated to a local Klondike pear, apple or grape!

The Most Northern Apple Tree in Canada!

The Inuvik Community Greenhouse houses the most northern apple tree in Canada. Photo by Ray Solotki.

This is an Autumn Delight apple tree growing in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada at 68 degrees North, well north of the Arctic Circle.

To our knowledge (please correct us if we’re wrong) this is the most northern apple tree in Canada!

This particular apple tree survived an Inuvik winter in the unheated  Inuvik Community Greenhouse, blossomed this spring and is now producing fruit!

Autumn Delight was developed at the University of Saskatchewan  and was supplied by John Lenart and Kim Melton of the Klondike Valley Nursery in Dawson City, Yukon.  John and Kim also sent a Trailman and a Rescue apple tree to Inuvik whose blossoms would have pollinated the Autumn Delight.

John Lenart has spent the past thirty years studying and grafting apple trees in order to cultivate varieties that can withstand the climate of the north.  Their nursery now has around 65 cultivars. Check out the Klondike Valley Nursery the most northerly nursery in Canada.

The Inuvik Community Greenhouse was refurbished into a growing mecca from an old hockey arena.  It bills itself as the most northerly greenhouse in North America!

Fireweed Shoots, Asparagus of the North!

Fireweed shoots are poking out in Yukon yards!
Fireweed shoots are poking out in Yukon yards!  Photo by Suzanne Crocker

Fireweed shoots are the asparagus of the North and our first vegetable of Spring!

The tender shoots are now poking up around the Yukon.  They can be eaten raw, sauteed or steamed. The best part is, that even though they are being snipped, they will grow right back!  Harvesting the shoots doesn’t  damage the plant,  so you can harvest some now for eating and then let them grow back to enjoy the flowers later in the season.  The sweetest fireweed shoots are those cut when the leaves are still reddish.  They are a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A

Fireweed is the official flower of the Yukon and its eye-catching fuchsia blossoms add an extra layer of beauty to the Yukon landscape.

But it is not just another pretty flower, all parts of the fireweed are edible.   The young leaves can be eaten raw in salads or sautéed in a stir fry or with other greens.  The flowers and buds make a beautiful garnish and can be used to make fireweed jelly.

Fireweed grows rapidly during a typical Northern summer, as the hours of daylight extend to more than 18 hs a day. As a result, the season for harvesting the shoots is very short, and you better get them fast before they grow too tall and become bitter.

If you live in the North,  have a look in your yard or your garden and have a taste of a young fireweed shoot.

 

 

 

Suzanne’s Blog: Berry Bounty Boosts Vitamin C

Diana McCready of Emu Creek Farms picking Saskatoon berries. Photo by Suzanne Crocker.

People often ask what we are doing for Vitamin C over the long Northern winter – in the absence of oranges and grapefruit from the south.

Worry not.  No scurvy in this family!

Besides spruce tips and some precious local apples, it is berries that are providing most of our Vitamin C this year.

Saskatoon berries at Emu Creek Farm, Dawson City, Yukon. Photo by Suzanne Crocker.

We have one freezer devoted entirely to berries!

Two of the many awesome women farmers in Dawson are Diana McCready of Emu Creek Farms and Maryanne Davis of Tundarose Garden.  Both produce succulent crops of delicious berries – saskatoons, haskaps, raspberries and black currents.  Emu Creek Farms even grows some northern cherries!  Diana and Ron McCready have the added challenge of having no road access to their farm, it is only accessible by boat.

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Northern Cherries and domestic Haskap berries at Emu Creek Farm. Photos by Suzanne Crocker.

A late June frost wiped out many of the wild berries that we normally count on.   We will be forever grateful to the many Dawsonites who donated some of their precious wild berry stock to help supplement our year.  Wild low bush cranberries are a family favourite!

Fortunately, although the wild berry crop was meek, domestic berries thrived!

A bounty of Saskatoon Berries. Photo by Suzanne Crocker.

Berries have become one of our staples: berry sauce on custard, berry  and beet muffins, crepes with berry sauce, steamed berry pudding, breakfast clafouti.  And one of my new favourites:  Saskatoon Berry and Birch Syrup Roast.

Imagine a roast moose or roast pork cooked slowly slathered in birch syrup, Saskatoon berries and garlic.  Wicked!

Saskatoon berries and birch sryup  are an awesome combination.

Many thanks to the McCready’s and to Maryann Davis for keeping us healthy this winter thanks to their delicious berries.

> Check out the recipe for Saskatoon Berry and Birch Syrup Roast.

Suzanne’s Blog: How Do You Like Them Apples?

A mid-winter treat for Suzanne — a locally-grown apple. Photo by Suzanne Crocker.

It is the middle of winter and in my hand I hold a crunchy, juicy, sweet, locally-grown apple.  Yes, that’s right, locally grown – in Dawson City, Yukon – 64 degrees north.  Further north than Iqualuit, Yellowknife and Whitehorse.

It is all thanks to the ingenuity of John Lenart at Klondike Valley Nursery, Canada’s northernmost nursery.  John has spent the last thirty years studying and grafting apple trees in order to cultivate varieties that can withstand the climate of the north.  The nursery now has 65 cultivars and some of those varieties are ‘winter apples’ – meaning that they keep well in cold storage throughout the winter.

2017 was a tough season on the apple trees due to a late frost in the middle ofJune.  But Klondike Valley Nursery has generously been sharing some of their personal apple supply with me for this year of eating local.  And I can tell you that a crunchy locally-grown apple in the middle of winter is a treat beyond all measure!

John Lenart has been cultivating apples n the North for over 30 years. Photo by Suzanne Crocker.

Berries Abound … But Will There Be Enough?

Blueberry season is just beginning in the Dawson City area. Photo by Cathie Archboud. #ArchbouldPhotography

Here in Dawson City it’s the height of berry season!

This has even more significance for Suzanne and her family, as berries will be their main fruit supply for the next year, while they eat only local foods.

Suzanne recently did a calculation that has her rather nervous.  If she and her family each ate 1  cup of berries each per day (which seems reasonable considering it will be their main fruit source for the year), and since one cup of berries weighs about 1/4 lb., she would need 456 pounds of berries for the year!  This seems impossible.  Currently she has 170 pounds of berries in the freezer (which seemed like quite a lot until she did her fateful calculation). Regardless, she will continue to collect and purchase as much as she possibly can and the family will just have to ration them  accordingly.

Thankfully, Suzanne has help in her berry-gathering endeavour. Local producers Emu Farms and Tundarose Garden are helping her out tremendously.  (If it were all up to her family picking wild berries, they would be in serious trouble.)  Emu Farms supplies Dawson restaurants with delicious local berries.  Maryanne from Tundarose Garden sells her scrumptous local berry jam every other Saturday at the Dawson Farmers’ Market.

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A berry prolific bounty. Clockwise from upper left: high bush cranberries, low bush cranberries, saskatoon berries, soap berries, raspberries, haskaps. Photos by Suzanne Crocker.

Wild Berries
For Dawsonites, berries abound throughout the short summer.  Although the wacky weather this summer has, so far,  resulted in lower than average harvests of wild berries.   Wild strawberries started in mid-July and were over in early August.  Soapberries also started mid-July and are now falling off the bushes.  Wild raspberries began appearing towards the end of July.  Wild blueberries are in season now — if you are lucky enough to find any this year.  High bush cranberries are starting and low bush cranberries and rosehips will follow shortly.

Domestic Berries
Haskaps were the first domestic berries to appear,  back in early July. Saskatoons started late July and into August.  Black currents and domestic raspberries are ripe now.   Unfortunately domestic strawberries did not fare well this year in the Dawson area because of the weather.

Not technically a berry, rose hips can be foraged and used in a similar fashion. Photo by Suzanne Crocker.

Peanuts and Ground Cherries Growing in the North!

Ground cherries in their husk - wikimedia commons
Ground cherries in their husk – ph. Wikimedia commons

If there is something exotic you wish to grow in the North, ask Louise Piché of Rock Creek, Dawson City, Yukon.  Louise is a well known gardener in Dawson and a frequent ribbon winner at Dawson’s annual Discovery Days Horticultural Fair.  She loves experimenting with new and colorful varieties.  She has successfully grown peanuts and ground cherries (aka golden berries) as well as asparagus, giant pumpkins and buckwheat.

Louise has generously shared her ‘tried and true’ cultivars that grow well in Rock Creek, which you can view on our seed page.   This year she is experimenting with ginger, turmeric, artichokes and pink potatoes.

We will keep you posted!

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