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

  • 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

Beans

  • 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

Beets

  • 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

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

Cabbage

  • 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

  • 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

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

Corn

  • 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

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

Eggplant

  • 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

  • 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

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

Potatoes

  • Yukon Gold – Yellowknife, NWT – France Benoit

Pumpkins

  • 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

  • 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

Tomatoes

  • 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

Zucchini

  • 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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