Growing fruits in northern Canada

Posted by Simon Gaudin on

Here at Green Wtich Acres we love doing trails with fruits, we wish cherrys, berrys and melons were produced locally more oftern.

We have had a few successes over the years and even more failures.We'll start with the biggest failure, our attempts with Plum trees. We've tried them from seed, sprout and grafted root stock. We tried in an area that was firmly zone 3 to an area charitably considered zone 6. No luck, we even had some rabbits naw through one tree like they were beavers. The Plum tree trials lasted 4 years with us throwing in the towel this summer after the rabbit misshap.

Now our biggest success, its a tie between two cultivars. First up the garden huckleberry, Solanum nigrum or Black nightshade. 10 seeds from this plant will last you a life time. We direct sowed and transplanted 5 each respectively, honestly the planting method seemed to have little if any impact. The plants tolerated the zone 3 area though harvest was limited. In the zone 6 bed with the north wind shelter they have become a self sowing annual, its beens three years since we last planted any yet we produce liters of Jam every year. A little tip, these fruits are horribly bitter before being cooked with a liberal dose of sugar. Before fruiting they grow in a bush like formation and produce pretty but small white flowers. We are currently cleaning a batch of these and are proud to be offering them in the upcoming spring lined, though be warned they creep like mint.

The other fruit outside the standard apple/strawberry we've had promising results from is the Goji Berry or wolf berry. We stumbled across the viability of this cultivar in a local historic archive, they had an article on a group of chinese market gardeners producing this crop in our city over 100 years ago.  Those gardens have been paved over for a century now but we've had promising results 30 blocks north of it. Our oldest Goji's are 3 years old now and had a meager harvest last season, though we have high hopes for next season. The two varieties we've tried out were shanghi express and cold prairie, cold prairie was the only strain that survived our first winter. If your anywhere colder than zone 6 we recommend sticking with Cold Prairie Goji Berry.

Now that we've shared three stories from the past heres a plan for the future. This spring we will be devoting a few of our 25 foot beds to running trails on watermelon. Due to our fairly cold summer night time temp's we'll be running these experiments in small poly hoop houses. Over the years we've had success with the basic's like sugar baby's but this year were hoping for more multi coloured icebox types and maybe even a few seedless varieties.

We'll keep this update brief but we plan on doing an entire series of articles on northern fruit cultivation. Thanks for your time and we look forward to sharing more soon.