New Gardner in Northwestern Alberta

Suzy_H(2)April 17, 2013

Hi everyone.
I am looking to connect with others in my region to swap seeds and plants with as I am learning lots about gardening (or trying to) and have learnt that seeds saved in your area should work better as they will have some sort of genetic memory and will adapt to your region.
Anyhow, I am near Fairview , AB. If anyone is interested or just wants to connect with me that would be great.
I have copious amounts of spinach seeds to give away, and some table queen acorn squash, dill, poppies, some cilantro and a bit of clarimore zucchini ( which may be a hybrid? I will see what I get this year)
I have three types of raspberries maybe four you could come dig up suckers from. One is a thornless variety from my mother in law in berwyn, one is a yellow variety from my uncle near manning and I bought some from Dunvegan gardens but she didn't know which was which so I likely have some Boyne and maybe another one I can't remember. I endorse the yellow one. It has grown better than the greenhouse bought ones and tastes sweet picked unripe and even sweeter picked ripe.
I have 3 small apple trees, 2 cherries, 2 haskap 2 grape, some chokecherry if it servived the winter. And some strawberries.
I am getting a bunch of new plants this year so hopefully they all live.
I am interested in learning about anything that will grown in my zone and is edible, or useful in any other way.

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Hi Suzy,

This is a great forum to learn from I am a transplant from a zone 5/6 to 2b and it has been a difficult transition. There is a difference even from zone 3 to zone 2 previously lived in zone 3 and didn't have as many fails. But that also could be the poor soil here too. Wow it sounds like you have a great start. How long have you been here.

Cindy from Sexsmith.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 1:03PM
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Cindy, I'm going to have to strongly disagree with your statement of the soil here being "poor."

The Peace Country has some of the most fertile land in the country - this might be why there are so many profitable farms around and why the County prohibits certain areas from being developed.

I have gardened here for 3 years (this yr will be #4) and I have never had to add anything to my soil and my garden produces an abundant amount of fresh veggies, many of which shouldn't grow here.

This post was edited by Thirsty_Dirt_77 on Wed, Apr 17, 13 at 19:32

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 4:24PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

I will let Cindy speak for herself but you cannot assume what you have to their dirt. It isn't fair.

I have drilled in the peace country and had everything from dirt to rock.

OK i am out for a nap LOL

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 11:33PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Agree, or,.. she might live in town like me and had to buy some dirt back from the developer to grow something.
This always gets me,..they rape all the good deep soil off and lay down a couple of inches,..just barely or not even enough to plant grass. Several truck loads I had to buy for the back yard.

Welcome Suzy!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 12:51AM
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In defence of my comment please note Cindy said the soil "here" was bad not that her soil was bad, as you have pointed out there is a difference.

Anyway, its bedtime I need to go tuck my tomato plants in for the night.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 1:13AM
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In my neighborhood we only have clay. We have even purchased screened topsoil or so we were told and dug down 2 feet to replace the clay in our garden area it seemed fine the first year then we added and added peat and wood chips. I have finally given up and my last attempt will be the bale garden. So in my experience the soil here sucks. Can't speak to the open fields that weren't raped by the developers.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 1:25AM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

I am in the northern Peace area, in Muncho Lake, BC for this winter. I live at the Stone Mountain Prov Park and operate the Summit Lake campground in the summer. I started a garden last fall in the compound where I live across the hwy from the park. It is zone 1b-2a. So far the garden has not been much but I plan to put in a lot of space in raised gardens this year.

This area is new to me as I just started working/living at Stone Mountain last year. I came from southern ON (where I had a small farm with huge gardens) as recently as last summer, so find this zone a little frustrating.

I think that raised gardens might do well here, once established in good soil, with the right plants and care. Straw bale gardens are a great idea! I am considering adding that this year. I am not going to invest a lot of cash into the gardens, since I don't own them, but I do have time, muscle and a lot of raw materials. :-) So I am looking for things that will grow here.

There are a lot of natural plants for xeriscaping which I plan to use and lots of wild blueberries and strawberries.

I would love to try some Valiant grapes if anyone has any seed. I am posting a seed want list on the Cdn Garden Exchange forum.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 9:35AM
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Hi Cheryl,

Only been up to your neck of the woods once what a change from southern Ontario. Hope you survived the winter well. I found a lot of useful info on bale gardening on the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bale Garden forum

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 11:37AM
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IâÂÂm sorry to hear of your soil troubles Cindy but I wouldnâÂÂt give up yet as there is the potential to find some wonderful soil around here.

The unfortunate thing about buying topsoil here is a lot of the time you donâÂÂt actually get topsoil but get screened âÂÂfill dirtâ which can be a combination of pretty much anything. Most times people get this type of dirt unknowingly because it is the cheapest and usually comes direct from a construction company. If you buy topsoil from a landscaping companying you may end up paying more for it but actually get topsoil and the quality is usually far superior.

If you are willing to try adding more soil to your garden Dunvagen Gardens also sells something that they call Peat Soil and is great for gardens. They donâÂÂt deliver but will load it (they sell it by the bobcat bucket) and then all you need to add a little elbow grease to get it out of the truck once home. IâÂÂm not sure of the name but there is also a place just south of town (but before the river) that also sells Peat Soil. We have friends who bought some of this for their flower beds so I can get the contact info for you if interested.

Something else I would recommend is looking for some old horse or cow manure - this time of year you usually see ads in the paper or on Kijiji where farmers are more or less giving it away. In my opinion this would be better than adding wood chips as the chips actually take nitrogen out of the soil while they break down and donâÂÂt have a positive effect on your soil until they are completely broken down which can take 4 yrs or longer.

That being said, IâÂÂm not sure soil will be much of a concern this year because at the rate the weather is warming up I donâÂÂt think weâÂÂll be able to plant anything until July if at all. :(

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 12:41PM
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Hi Sheryl,

I have been through the Summit Lake area many of times as I grew up the Yukon and could probably drive the Alaska Highway in my sleep - I think its a little far north to because considered the Peace Country though, its more on the border of the Northern Rockies and Stikine Area.

It can definitely get warm there in the summer but man can it get windy!!!

Being so rocky there raised beds would probably work wonderfully for you because the sun would be able to warm the boxes faster than the cold rocky ground, and at least you're close to the little honey hole of Toad River and should be able to get some decent topsoil from there.

As for straw bales if you go that way you better think of a way to keep the goats, caribou and moose outta them!

Best of the Luck to you. :)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 12:51PM
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Thirsty- Too late we ripped out the garden (15x20) last summer. And we did by the top soil from a landscape company. I know the place you speak of about the peat soil we bought some from there but I guess it was not enough. Who knows maybe I got a brown thumb when I moved here. The front flower bed is the only place I am will to add to at this point. Hoping this year I won't have to we added 2 bales of peat moss last year. Dug out everything and replanted. We know someone who has aged cow manure but I might as well buy gold for the price. I am very content now to try the raised beds to see how they work I even put down plywood first to stop the quack grass.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 2:48PM
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CL Can I make a suggestion? You said you put down plywood to stop the quack grass. If you haven't covered it yet, may I suggest you try thick cardboard instead? Make sure you don't leave any gaps and cover with your soil. It takes years in a cold climate to break down, worms like it and will help improve our soil, and it has kept quack grass away for me for 4 years :)

Also, don't forget everyone, to start a compost bin. It does wonders for awful soil. In colder climates it takes a while, but you just have to wait a little longer for your compost to be ready. =:)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 6:20PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

I must apologize I was into my papaver seeds a little much last night... Please add my comments to your compost pile as they will work like sh*t :) lol

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 10:30PM
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NAF - we set out the bales last fall and had plywood lying around they look like they will be ready to plant as soon as it warms up

Here is a link that might be useful: My Bale Garden Thread

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 10:41PM
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Suzy and Sheryl are you still here??

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 10:43PM
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I just found this post again, I didn't make it so I was emailed when people responded. I will figure this out eventually.
How disappointing to wake up to another inch of snow blanketing the ground. Will winter never end!
We bought a tumbling compost bin from Costco, just need to put it together now. Any tips on using this type of composter?
Also hoping to start a worm composter to see how good it is. Anyone near Fairview have any excess composting worms?

This will be my fourth year gardening, but I grew up in peace river.
I get confused with the zoning as I found someplace to say I was zone 3 but I always thought I was a zone 2 so who knows. I do know I get lots of wind on my acreage. 10-20 years and we should get some sort of break from the trees we planted 5 years ago, I hope.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 10:31AM
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A few threads down (I think you'll find it on page 2) Cindy posted a link for a new Interactive Hardiness Map. Its a lot more detailed than the old ones.

The thread is labelled "Interactive Hardiness Map" (I tried posting the link here but it kept getting cut off.)


    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:30AM
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Thanks for the info. According to that map, it puts me at a zone 1b! That's not very good. :(

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 1:07PM
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Things do grow slow here. Planted my apple 2 years ago and it still looks the same. Maybe this year.

Here is a link that might be useful: Interactive Canadian Zone Map

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 1:09PM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

Yep, still here! Maybe we'll see you this summer, Thirsty! You're right, it is windy but we are surrounded by trees and out of the wind. The campground on the other hand, across the highway, is VERY windy!

I don't know what I'll do about the wildlife. I know there's a lot of it! One reason we like it here - I'm a wildlife artist and so love the area but it's hard on gardens! I was considering hostas, but I know all the ungulates love them, so there's no point. Lots of wild roses to transplant, though! I'm mostly interested in growing herbs and tomatoes, some spinach and greens and berries, grapes and asparagus. (I know asparagus takes years.)

Suzy: I'd love to hear how your gardens go this year and if you use straw bales. Sounds like you have a lot of great stuff planned to grow! I might be interested in a trade this fall, after I see how the gardens go this year.

There is an angus cattle farm down the highway, just outside of Fort Nelson where I might be able to get a truckload of OLD manure to beef up the soil. There's also lots of old manure piles from the sheep, caribou, moose and elk that frequent that area. I saw plenty of it last summer. This year I plan to scoop it all up and use it. It's chemical free! Not too sure about manure from a cattle farm. I don't want growth hormones, steroids or antibiotics in the soil...

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:10PM
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I'm going to chime in and suggest that you browse the 'Evaluating Woody Plants For Hardiness and Landscape Quality' page on Alberta's Agriculture and Rural Development site. Alberta held plant trials in the Peace Region (and others) for many years and, though the programme appears to have been halted, they did gather much valuable data that is available online. It's a good general guide, although I feel that the results are fairly conservative and may not be representative of results that can be obtained in warmer microclimates. Tilia x cordata (Littleleaf Linden) is, for instance, 'not recommended' for GP, but there are many mature specimens here in Peace River (town).

Remember too that longer days during the growing season partially compensate for our short growing season. And this April is hardly representative of typical weather here -- I'm usually able to put potatoes in by the middle of the month.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 9:43AM
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You are right, we do have much longer days. An exceptionally long spring here too! We have been getting snow for a few days and now have about a foot of it, again and ice on everything! :-( I am beginning to feel like spring will never come!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 9:50AM
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