Training For the Yukon

Recently we went down south for a family visit. At the time it was still very much winter here in the Yukon. Down there the snow was melting, there were puddles everywhere and it felt like spring. If it had been like that up here we would have already been in the garden. But no one down there was starting to plant yet. I guess with the luxury of a longer season comes the ability to wait a bit before putting seed in the ground.

Even when we lived there I remember my eagerness to get into the garden and plant. One year, spring was early so out I went and planted everything. It was still late-April or early-May but I thought I would get a jump on the season. A day or so after I finished planting it started to rain, which turned into sleet and then into snow.

Every seed I had was under the snow and it was winter again. I had even planted the cukes and corn, which need the soil to be warm for germination. At the time I thought most of what I had planted would be okay, but I really wasn’t sure about those two crops. There wasn’t much I could do about it and I could always replant if I had to.

The snow stayed for a week and then melted. And I waited to see what would emerge from the ground as it warmed up. To my surprise everything emerged, even the cukes and corn. And because of the extra snow the gardens all around me were still too wet to even till. Our garden that year was about two weeks ahead of everyone else’s.

I guess it was training for gardening here in the Yukon. It taught me that if there is a window of opportunity to plant it should be taken. But only with the realization that it may actually be too early for the seed to grow. On cool, wet years the risk is the seed will rot in the ground before germinating. Or it may germinate and then be killed in a late frost if it has no protection. Now I usually only plant species with the ability to germinate in cool or cold soils, as well as being able to handle the frosty nights we still get this time of year. I have learned a bit of moderation in what I plant but I still get excited to finally start seeding.

On our return from our visit down south it was wonderful to see most of the snow was gone and the gardens were almost ready to till. Because it was still mid-AprilI knew we probably shouldn’t start anything quite yet. But I was thinking, “Is it time yet?”

This past weekend Allan tilled up several of our gardens. And now its time.

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