Artwork by Andrew Sharp
Artwork by Andrew Sharp
  The North has a short but intense growing season — short in days but almost 24 hours of daylight in June and July.  As you might imagine, not all seed varieties grow well in the North.  Varieties that grow to maturity in 70 days or less do best.  Cold weather crops, such as spinach, often do poorly as they don’t tolerate the long hours of daylight and intense heat that occurs in some parts of the North during the summer. The North cannot be painted with one brush.  There are as many microclimates as there are communities, and even within one Northern community, conditions can vary from one part of town compared to another.
Grant Dowdell and Karen Digby are experienced growers who have been farming on Grant’s Island in the Yukon for almost forty years.           Louise Piché is well-known as a wonderful gardener in Dawson City, Yukon, and a frequent prize winner at the town’s Discovery Days Horticultural Fair.

Below are seed varieties that have grown well for Northerners in their own communities.

If you are willing to share a seed variety that has grown well for you in your part of the circumpolar North, please share it in the form below.


Shared Seed Knowledge Contributions


Asparagus, Jersey Giant Green & Purple Passion; Vesseys Dawson, Rock Creek For greatest success, buy the roots not the seeds. Direct seed in the spring in soil that is  50% dirt & 50% sand. Do not harvest until second year. Second season cut the asparagus from June till mid July and then let be for the following year. – Louise Piché, Rock Creek, Dawson, Yukon Jersey Asparagus Yellowknife, NWT Has successfully grown from seed and after four years, now the size of grocery store asparagus. -France Benoit


Bush Beans, Strike Dawson, YT, Grant’s Island Open Pollinated, 65 days May 14 start Indoors – Grant Dowdell Bush Beans Yellowknife, NWT Not pole beans which take too long and are not as productive – France Benoit Pole Beans, Emerite Dawson, YT, Grant’s Island 55 days May 14 start indoors – Grant Dowdell Pole Beans, Scarlet Runner Dawson YT, Grant’s Island 54 days May 14 start indoors -Grant Dowdell


Red, Taunus Yellowknife, NWT Great for canning, as skin literally just falls off. – France Benoit Red, Detroit Supreme Inuvik, NWT Open Pollinated, 65 days – Les Kutny Yellow, Touchstone Yellowknife, NWT Open Pollinated; 55 days – France Benoit


Broccoli, Gypsy Inuvik, NWT Hybrid, 62 days Start indoors, plant outside – Les Kutny


Cabbage, Minuet; Johnny’s Selected Seeds Yellowknife, NWT 50-day Chinese cabbage Start indoors; plant and harvest in July. Started another batch when first one is planted, then plant 2nd one when after first ones. Can get two crops of cabbage. – France Benoit Cabbage, Savoy Blue Inuvik, NWT Start indoors, plant outside – Les Kutny Cabbage, Stonehead Inuvik, NWT Start indoors, plant outside – Les Kutny Cabbage, Fast Vantage Inuvik, NWT Start indoors, plant outside – Les Kutny


Carrots, Pelleted; Johnny’s Selected Seeds Yellowknife, NWT Pelleted carrot seeds are coated with an inert material and are bigger. It makes planting easier as you have more control over where they end up! Grow them 2 inches apart, and thin once to get a batch of small carrots. Then they are 4 inches apart for the harvest at the end of the season. – France Benoit Carrots, Nantes Inuvik, NWT – Les Kutny


Cauliflower, Snow Crown Inuvik, NWT Hybrid; 60 days Start indoors, plant outside – Les Kutny


Corn, Earlivee; West Coast Seeds Dawson, Grant’s Island Hybrid; 71 days May 1:  start indoors, plant outside The only short season sweet corn that has worked on Grant’s Island – Grant Dowdell


Cucumber, Roxynante; West Coast Seeds Dawson, Dome Subdivision Hybrid; 60 days Early April;  start indoors; plant in greenhouse – Suzanne Crocker


Black Beauty Eggplant Grow in a greenhouse. Plants are open pollinated, 74 days to maturity. – Stephanie Williams, Dredge Pond Subdivision, Dawson City, Yukon Shoya Long  Eggplant Hybrid. grow in a greenhouse. 60 days to maturity. Need lots of water. – Stephanie Williams, Dredge Pond Subdivision, Dawson City, Yukon


Kale, Winterbor; West Coast Seeds Dawson, Dome Subdivision Hybrid; 60 days Mid April; start indoors, plant outside – Suzanne Crocker Dwarf Green Curled Inuvik, NWT Open Pollinated, 60 days – Les Kutny


Kohlrabi, Vienna Inuvik, NWT 65 -70 days – Les Kutny


Yukon Gold Yellowknife, NWT – France Benoit


Pumpkin, Big Moose: Johnny’s Selected Seeds Yellowknife, NWT Has obtained 100% germination rate with Big Moose and it grows her biggest pumpkins – France Benoit


Spinach, New Zealand Spinach: West Coast and Saltspring Seeds Dawson, Rock Creek Open Pollinated; 55-65 days Start indoors or direct seed, plant outside Not actually a spinach, but tastes like it.  Doesn’t bolt! – JF Spinach, Fothergill’s Perpetual Been Green Spinach Saltspring Seeds and Dawson Hardware Store Dawson, Rock Creek Doesn’t bolt! – JL Spinach: Dawson, Dome Subdivision For early spring baby spinach leaves:  Direct seed in unheated greenhouse as soon as the dirt thaws (end of April, early May) Don’t heat the greenhouse and should have baby spinach to harvest by the end of May, before you plant your greenhouse for the summer. – Riley Brennan

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash,  Pinnacle; William Dam Seeds Dawson, Grant’s Island Hybrid; 85 days May 1: start indoors, plant outside Productive and stores well. – Grant Dowdell

Sugar Beets

Sugar Beets (non gmo):  Saltspring Seeds – Gwen


Cherry Tomato, Sweet Million (cherry), Stokes Dawson YT, Bear Creek Hybrid: 60 days March 1: start indoors; plant in greenhouse A family favourite. One year this tomato was our winning horticultural show entry! – Lastraw Ranch Tomato, Black Prince, Saltspring Seeds Dawson YT, Dredge Pond Open Pollinated; Have successfully harvested and regrown seeds! Feb/March:  start indoors; plant in greenhouse – Gwen Tomato, Sungold (cherry) Yellowknife, NWT Hybrid:  65 days: vine – France Benoit Tomato, Early Girl Dawson YT, Grant’s Island Hybrid, 75 days, vine March 1 start indoors, plant in greenhouse – Grant Dowdell Tomato, Yellow Pear, (cherry) Saltspring Seeds Dawson, YT Dredge Pond Feb/March: start indoors, plant in greenhouse – Gwen Tomato, Indigo Rose Dawson YT, Sisters Island Certified organic seeds from West Coast Seeds Tomatoes are open pollinated and take 75 days to reach maturity. – Lou Tyacke and Gary Masters


Pattypans; Johnny’s Selected Seeds Yellowknife, NWT – France Benoit Black Beauty Inuvik, NWT Open Pollenated, 55 days – Les Kutny Thank you!

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