Northern Growing
Answered by: Inge Poot and Conrad Richter
Question from: Lorena Chamorro
Posted on: June 10, 1998

I would like to know some information about Northern Gardening, like as north as the Yukon, some information about good books for growing herbs in greenhouse and some outdoors but with northern perspective of growing, this information will be very valuable to me I have already some kind of experience on growing herbs up here but I am thirsty for more and I have ask where to get this information and everyone I ask tells me to ask you guys

Unfortunately there is no book that we know of that directly addresses the subject of herb growing in the far north. But you may wish to consult the book "The Prairie Herb Garden" for ideas since prairie herb gardeners face many of the same challenges you do. This book is available from Richters.

Herbs require good light exposure. With your long dark winters, a light set-up will have to be an indispensible part of your greenhouse herb garden. A two light, forty watt flourescent tube fixture will grow most herbs quite well. Over the winter you should grow the herbs much cooler to simulate the mild winters they would experience in their native (mostly) mediterranean climates. Some such as tarragon and chives have to have about one month of freezing weather to continue to grow well. You might put these outside in the fall and bring them in after about a month.

In the summer, with your long days, you have a big advantage over more southernly growers, especially in the greenhouse. Some of our customers in the Yukon and Alaska tell us that they get terrific growth in the short summers, often enough to produce big yields of the faster growing herbs.

Perennial herbs that are consider hardy in southern zones more than likely have to be treated as annuals in your area. For example, lemon balm, bergamot, thyme, oregano, sage, winter savory, and others, probably will not survive your winters outside and either have to be brought in the greenhouse or grown as an annual and allowed to perish over winter.

When you think about it, treating perennials as annuals is actually a very common thing to do with bedding flowers. Most of the common "annuals" are actually tender perennials that we treat as annuals. There are many examples, but some are geraniums, petunia, salvia, and marigold.

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