Most of NW Ontario is considered growing hardiness zone 2a or 1b meaning we don’t have a great growing season here, however it is possible to grow a number of vegetables throughout the area.
For starters , the growing season is only between80 and 105 days around these parts, however we do have a strong advantage in that we have increased daylight hours which does offset the growing season somewhat.
We tend to have a silty/almost sandy soil where I am and some vegetables just love that. Squash, pumpkins, zucchini produce very well here.
The following are some tips to help you grow something this summer.
Raised beds/ Square foot Gardening allows your soils to warm up faster, become easier to work and allow for maximum usage of space. They can also easily be covered in spring/fall to avoid the cold.
Use plants with short maturity times. Peas, beans (bush), radish, most leaf lettuce and even beets can easily grow in our shortened growing season, some can even be planted twice with a little ingenuity.
Increase the Ground Temperature Using raised beds, with plastic over them – especially in the spring – allows for the soils to warm up quicker and stay warmer longer. Warm soils allow seeds to germinate and grow. All plants will only grow in soils above a certain temperature. Sometimes you can even place a set of older style Christmas lights or rooftop ice melter wires to keep temperatures above freezing on really cold spring nights.
Pick vegetables that can survive a light/moderate frost in the spring/fall. Some plants love the cold, Swiss chard, spinach, Kale, Radish and most lettuce require cooler temperatures to grow better. Other plants can take various levels of frosts down to -2C degrees or so.
Cheat – use transplants. Some plants you just cannot grow here from start to finish, for these many places have access to transplants of various types. From Tomatoes, to squash, even lettuce and leeks, you can usually find a good variety of transplants. Planting along a house foundation can greatly increase your growing season.
Google: Cold Frames, extending growing seasons, frost hardy vegetables, Square foot gardening, container gardening
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NW Ontario Outdoors Magazine