Herbs Grown in Northern Ontario
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Timothy Quint
Posted on: February 21, 2008

My name is Timothy Quint. I was told to speak with you concerning herbs that grow near the Kirkland Lake and Timmins area. We have large land parcels, thousands of acres, just wondering what might grow as a commercial crop where I intend to live with some other members of the family. I could use your help. Any info is appreciated. I was told that these two areas are like zone 2 or 3.

There are two immediate issues here. One is your northerly location and establishing which herbs of commercial interest grow there. The other is the large size of the land.

Let’s deal with the first issue. Most herbs of commercial interest are not hardy in your area according to commonly accepted hardiness zone ratings. However, we are getting reports plants rated hardy to zones 4 or 5 are surviving winters in colder zones 2 or 3, at least in northern Alberta. This may be evidence that climate change is pushing zones northward and plants that were once thought unhardy are proving to be hardy. But northern Alberta is drier than your area, and dryness, along with snow cover, is an important determining factor.

The large size of the farm is an issue because, for the herb industry, a large farm is 10-20 acres. For many crops a thousand acres will produce more than the world demand. You need to decide whether it is important to cultivate all of the land -- in which case you will need to look at other crops besides herbs -- or whether a smaller operation involving less than 20 acres planted with herbs is more appropriate. My personal preference is to start small and work your way up adding more acreage as you gain experience.

With these point in mind there are a number of herbs you could consider. You need to do some research into the different commecially important herbs and to come up with a short list of 3-4 varieties to start with. I suggest that you get a copy of the book, Manual for Northern Herb Growers, which is available from Richters, in help you draft a short list of herbs to grow. Here is the link to the book:

http://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?product=XB6210

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