As we are settling in to our new home and going over the immediate property to see what needs to be done, we’ve been having discussions about what we want to do over the next few years.
Gardening isn’t likely to happen this year, unless my daughters do some planting. At least not any deliberate gardening on our part. Come spring, we’ll see what my mother has planted that will come up.
I’m really hoping the asparagus is still there. And the rhubarb and horseradish.
We’ve talked about making raised bed gardens for accessibility, and what sort of vegetables we’d plant. We’ll have to see what the status is of the raspberry bushes, how the apples do this year, and any other fruit trees that might still be productive around the yard.
We’ve also talked about getting chickens, and how many we would need to provide an adequate amount of eggs. There’s the possibility of getting goats, though more about getting angora goats for their fibre. A couple of goats for their milk would not be a bad idea. I’m the only person in the family that isn’t lactose intolerant, and goat milk is something they can drink. It’s just too flippin’ expensive to buy. They love milk, so they put up with the discomfort of drinking it. It would be nice for that not to be a thing. Plus, I’d like to try making cheeses. The friend I ran into at the clinic with my husband raises goats for meat, plus milk for their own use. She told me that you can raise 10 goats on the resources of one cow, plus they give birth in twins and triplets, so they are a good return on investment for food production. I’ve never actually eaten goat, though, so I don’t know if I’d like it.
Looking just at the size of our yard, I’m realizing that we could do most, if not all, of what we want to do, just in our fenced yard/garden area, and not even need to beyond the yard itself, once we’ve taken care of the overgrowth.
Along with those ideas, I’ve also started looking at other options. Specifically, I was looking into fruit and nut trees.
It’s surprising, how many food trees will actually grow in our planting zone. Here is a map from the federal government.
We fall solidly into the 3a zone, so any fruit or nut trees we plant have to be quite hardy, and able to withstand some pretty chill temperatures.
Unlike a vegetable garden, any trees or shrubs we plant have to be able to survive lows into the -40C range in the winter and survive, even if we do work out micro-climates to facilitate their growth and production. It’d be nice to actually have some of that global warming that’s supposed to be happening.
Here is a wish list I’ve started.
Kiwi. Yes, kiwi! Turns out they can handle zone 3 quite well. We would need at least 3 plants, including 1 male pollinator.
Seedless grapes. Yes, grapes grow on the prairies, and there are native varieties, but I am interested in red and green seedless hybrids.
Saskatoon. These actually grow wild in the bush, though I no longer remember where. It would be nice to have some in the yard. The fruit looks similar to blueberries, but they are related to apples.
Raspberry varieties; I’d like to have three varieties that mature at different times, so we have raspberries available for a much longer season.
Cherry. We may have some cherry trees in the yard already, but I don’t know that they are a hardy enough variety to provide much fruit. There are varieties of cherries that can handle our zone 3 quite well. Later in the year, I want to check out an area where I remember we had pin cherries. These are very tiny and tart; more seed than berry, but I remember eating them by the handful, anyhow, and my father made wine with them. It would be cool if they’re still around, too.
Haskap. This is a hybrid I’ve been learning about that looks a bit like a long, somewhat misshapen blueberry. They can be used the same as blueberries, too.
Sunberry. This is another berry that can be used just like blueberries, though they look quite different.
Plums. We might have plum trees, still. They were little, hard bright red plums, not the soft purple or red ones you buy at the grocery store. We didn’t really eat them, but like the pin cherries, my dad would make wine with them. I think my mom might have made jam with them, but I never liked jam, so I don’t remember.
Pine nuts (Korean pine). Yes! They can grow here! Pine nuts are so expensive, it would be awesome to have our own trees.
Buartnut. This is a hybrid walnut. They are also fast growing shade trees that get huge, so we’d have to be careful where we plant them. Black walnut is a native Canadian variety, but after reading up a bit, I think I’d rather try the hybrid.
Butternut. This is another Canadian native that I’d like to try.
Beaked hazel nut. This variety, I remember picking with my mother once, as a child. I don’t know how she found the bush, because I remember having to go deep into the bushes to get to it, well away from any cow paths – and loosing my sandal in some muck we had to cross in the process! I think this would be a good thing to plant along the edge of our spruce grove or along a fence line.
Gooseberries. Mostly for sentimental reasons. I have such fond, delicious memories of the one we had when I was a child.
So that’s my list so far. Some of these require a lot more work than others – the grape vines, for example, need to be trained and pruned over several years.
What we actually end up doing over the years, who knows. I’d be excited even if we manage just a few of them.
If you’ve got any sort of experience or knowledge about some of these – or suggestions to make – I’d be thrilled to hear it!