Our 2022 garden: first chocolates!

This morning, I headed out to start mowing the lawn before things got too hot.

I was too late.

I suppose 22C/72F isn’t too bad to start, but by the time I was done for the day, just a couple of hours later, we were already at 29C/84F. Depending on where we look, our high of the day is expected to be anywhere from 29C/84F to 32C/90F.

Just to make it even more interesting, the humidity is quite high. It’s just past 1pm as I write this, and the grass is still wet with dew! I managed to get the south and east yards done, but the north and west yards, the garden area, and the outer yard, will all have to wait. Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler.

The good thing about not being able to mow for so long is, there is lots of grass clippings. I’m not using the grass catcher, because I’d be stopping to empty it way too often. Plus, with how damp the grass was, it has a chance to dry a bit before I get the girls to rake it up for me this evening, and I can use it to continue mulching the squash and corn bed, tomorrow.

While I was mowing, I was going past the chocolate cherry and yellow pear tomato beds and could see there were some that could be picked. Once the mowing was done for the day, I went tomato picking.

Our very first Chocolate Cherry tomatoes! There are not going to be a lot of them, altogether; the plants have not been very productive. I don’t know if that’s because of the variety, or because of the growing conditions. These were grown just for fresh eating, though, so that’s okay.

I look forward to my daughters trying them, and letting me know how they like them.

The Re-Farmer

One more blizzard, on the way!

The weather predictions have been just insane for the past few days.

There is a Colorado low that’s supposed to sweep through in a couple of days, with the worst of the storm happening on Wednesday and Thursday, then petering off on the Friday (it is Monday, as I write this).

When I first started seeing the forecasts, they were saying up to 10cm/4in accumulated snow. That’s over 3 days, so not too bad.

That went up to 20cm/8in.

Then 30cm/12in.

Last night, it went up to a possible 40cm/16in.

This morning, it had changed to up to 50cm/20in in some places!!

Locally, they’re saying up to 45cm/18in over the three days. I took this screencap just before noon today.

Of course, different apps say different things. The above image is from AccuWeather. This one is from The Weather Network.

Which forecasts up to about 35cm/14in over the three days.

Both advisories to the Government of Canada alerts, which current reads as follows.


Winter Storm Watch

Issued at 04:34 Monday 11 April 2022

Major spring blizzard poised to wallop southern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan mid-week…with widespread snowfall accumulations of 30-50 cm accompanied by northerly winds gusting 70-90 km/h giving zero visibility at times in snow and blowing snow.

A Colorado low will move towards Minnesota Tuesday night bringing a heavy swath of snow from southeastern Saskatchewan through most of southern Manitoba. The snow will start early Tuesday evening near the International border then push northward throughout the night. By Wednesday morning heavy snow will be falling in much of the area as the storm continues to push northward, and snow accompanied by strong northerly winds is expected to continue right through to early Friday morning as the low slowly pivots through Minnesota on it’s way into northwestern Ontario. By Friday morning widespread snowfall accumulations of 30 to 50 cm are expected…with possible accumulations approaching 80 cm in the higher terrain of western Manitoba and the western Red River Valley.

Travel will become increasingly difficult as the day progresses Wednesday, with widespread highway closures a near-certainty. By Wednesday evening even travel within communities may become impossible as the heavy snow and strong winds continue… and more of the same is expected on Thursday.

Do not plan to travel – this storm has the potential to be the worst blizzard in decades. Stock up on needed supplies and medications now. Power outages are likely, rural areas in particular should be prepared for extended outages.

Conditions should begin to improve on Friday as the winds taper off and the heaviest snow moves into northern Ontario…although the clean-up after this storm will likely last well into next week.

I bolded some of the text myself, not the site. Yes, they are predicting up to 80cm/32in in some places!!!!

Typically, these weather warnings may suggest that roads might be closed, etc. They don’t usually use terms like “near certainly” for road closures, and they don’t usually say “stock up now” nor include warnings for extended power outages.

Right now, there’s basically nothing at all on the weather radar, over almost all of Canada. Looking at the animated radar forecast, there’s a system making its way quickly, through Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. It should hit Montana by this evening. That’s the system that’s heading our way. Sort of.

Here’s the thing.

We aren’t that far South. In fact, we’re far enough North that the storm might miss us entirely.

Or, we’ll get those 45cm/18in.


This is why we work to maintain our supplies for at least a month at a time, while shooting for even longer. This is why we’re working towards having a well with a hand pump. This is why we’re working towards being able to make do without electricity (though we do need at least a way to power my husband’s CPAP so he can sleep! Something we don’t have, yet). If the storm hits as predicted, we likely won’t be able to go anywhere for days.

About all we can do right now is pray that the storm will dissipate and not be as severe as predicted. We can certainly still use more moisture, so some rain or even snow is desirable. Just not a blizzard of this magnitude!

But just in case it doesn’t, we’ll be okay. There are many others we are far more concerned about.

Hmm. My sister just took my mother for her grocery shopping a few days ago. I think maybe I should arrange for another trip for her tomorrow, even though the grocery store is just a couple of blocks away for her.

The Re-Farmer

So you want to grow a “survival garden”

For at least a decade, there has been an increase in people who have decided to move out of the cities, get themselves an acreage, and live as self-sufficiently as possible.

Which is basically, how I grew up.

Things have really changed, though, and modern homesteaders have a lot more resources, options and choices than was available when I was a kid, 50 years ago, never mind what our pioneers had. I found this very encouraging to see.

Photo by Greta Hoffman on Pexels.com

A couple of decades ago, while part of an online homeschooling support group – pre-social media, when everything was by email (and dinosaurs roamed the earth) – I often saw people waxing poetic about how we all need to go “back to the land”, and live these organic, subsistence lives, and all our food would be free and we would barter for everything else, and so on. It had a lot more to do with ideology than anything else. Going back to the farm was a dream of mine since I moved away in my late teens, so I could appreciate many of the sentiments they expressed. Unfortunately, this romanticized view was wildly unrealistic, and I found myself trying to remind people that there are reasons people, including farmers, moved away from that life.

Most of them didn’t get it.

Once we moved to the farm, 4 years ago, in a caretaker role, how things were done when I was a kid just wasn’t an option, and I’m quite okay with that. Most of the land is rented out, so we just have our corner to work on. My mother had a massive garden that had been slowly neglected for many years, as my parents retired from farming and age reduced their mobility, no matter how much my siblings tried to help. We can finally work on our dream to be as self-sufficient as possible, but we have to do a lot of things differently than how we did it when I was a kid.

It was in researching this that I found this dynamic and growing homesteading community. These were people who may have gone in starry eyed, but were also realistic and determined, and they were making it work. The aging hippies I couldn’t get through to all those years ago, with their ideological blinders, could never have done what these awesome people were doing. It was very exciting!

Then, the last couple of years happened.

As people saw their jobs disappearing, their livelihoods destroyed, prices skyrocketing, and government restrictions stifling people’s ability to do some of the most basic things, a lot of people are suddenly having real concerns about being able to feed themselves and their families.

During WWII, governments actively encouraged families to grow Victory Gardens, and even gave out information and resources to help people do it. That sort of thing isn’t happening now. Instead, we are having to rely on each other to figure out how to grow what, for too many people, are literally survival gardens.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to start growing as much food for yourself as you can, I heartily encourage you! You won’t get any sermons or lectures from me. I do hope that I can, at the very least, provide some information and inspiration.

Start where you’re at

Your circumstances are going to be unique to you. If you’re already on an acreage, great. If all you’ve got to work with is a hall closet and some makeshift grow lights, great. You can start where you’re at, even if it’s just poking some holes in a bag of potting soil to grow some greens in a sunny window. Little by little, it’ll get done!

What I will be sharing here is going to be geared mostly to people living in colder climates – and by that, I meant Zone 2 or 3 (depending on what Canadian zone maps are being used, we live in either 3a or 2b).

I will add one thing I’ve heard quite a number of very experienced, prolific gardeners say. If they had to depend on their gardens for survival, they’d starve! It takes a lot to grow enough food to actually provide enough for even one person to last from preservation to the next year’s harvest, and it will still need to be supplemented with other things. I’m still somewhat amused and perplexed by my mother trying to lure us out here by saying we could grow a garden and not have to buy groceries anymore. Even as big as her garden was, plus having chickens and cows, sometimes pigs, turkeys and geese, a root cellar and lots of canning and freezing, we still had to buy groceries.

So you’re still going to need to buy stuff. Hopefully, just a lot less!

With that in mind, as you plan what to grow in your own personal survival garden, here are some things to consider when making decisions.

Grow what you will eat.

I’ve looked at so many lists out there, for things like what to grow to feed a family for a year, or what to grow in your climate, and so on, and frankly, a lot of stuff on those lists are foods I just don’t like. Others, I can’t eat. There are four of us in our household, and we have very different tastes. Which means that our focus will be more on growing things all of us enjoy eating, then including smaller amounts of things only one or two of us like to eat. As wonderful and appetizing as I find tomatoes and bell peppers, they both make gag, but two people in our household enjoy eating them, and all of us can eat processed tomatoes. Now, those two people REALLY like their tomatoes, so growing more of those than peppers for fresh eating makes sense, as well as growing a lot of tomatoes that are good for making tomato paste to last us for months. It’s a sort of juggling game.

Try new things

What we find in the grocery stores is there because those varieties can handle large scale growing and transportation. When you’re growing your own, you can have a lot more choices. This is a time to grow new varieties of things you know you like, and if you have the space and resources for it, grow something you’ve always wanted to try, but couldn’t for one reason or another. Which kinda ties in with my next point to consider.

Grow at least one thing for fun

Yes, growing food to ensure your family has something to eat when times are tough is serious business. The whole point of the list I’ll be presenting to you is to be able to get as much bang for your buck as you can. At the same time, growing something just for fun is a great morale booster. As you go through what various seed companies and nurseries have to offer, you’re bound to find something that just puts a smile on your face. If you have the space and resources for it, go for it!

Keep in mind your region, climate and particular circumstances.

While the zone maps are very handy, that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions. There are things my mother successfully grew in our Zone 3 that were rated at Zone 5. She didn’t even doing anything different for them, either! This is a good time to find and get involved with a community of people in your region and zone, online or off, to learn from. If you are growing outdoors, look at what is rated for your zone, but also consider whether you can create microclimates. If you have only a balcony or patio, there are lots of places where you can learn about container gardening or vertical gardening. If you are growing indoors, there are resources geared specifically for that.

Storage and preservation

If you’re growing food to feed your family, and trying to grow as much as possible in your space, it’s not going to be much good if you grow more than you can eat, but can’t preserve it! There are many options available; freezing, dehydrating, water bath canning, pressure canning and even freeze drying, if you can afford the machine! You might even be able to create a root cellar in some corner of your home. Refrigerator pickling and fermenting are options, if you don’t have canning equipment.

If you’re going to store and preserve food, you’ll need somewhere to put it. What methods you have available to save your food will help you decide what makes the most sense for you to grow.

Things will go wrong. Do it anyway

One thing that is going to happen is, there will be failures at some point. It’s inevitable. Sometimes, you’ll make a mistake. Sometimes, there will be circumstances completely out of your control. It happens. The beauty is, you can still fail “up”. Honestly, you’ll probably learn more from the failures than the successes! Of course, it’s always a good idea to learn from others as much as you can to avoid failures, but it’s still going to happen. Since being here at the farm for 4 years, and only gardening for 2, we knew we were trying to grow in far from ideal conditions, and had some setbacks, yet we still managed to have food from our own garden that we could enjoy.

When it came to making a list of things that might work well in a survival garden, I looked for things that could be grown in colder climates, had high yields, and could be stored or preserved, while also keeping time in mind. So let’s start with the fastest growing things, first!

Super-short term

Photo by Zdenek Rosenthaler on Pexels.com

There are quite a few things that can go from seed to plate in less than a month. Some in less than 10 days! Micro-greens and sprouts can be grown very quickly, can be grown indoors in trays or jars, continually throughout the year. Many seed companies now has sections for sprouts, and quite a variety of things can be grown for their sprouts. Many sprouts can be grown in jars – alfalfa, mung beans, lentils, radishes, and more. Gelatinous seeds, such as flax, chia, cress, arugula and psyllium, can be sprouted in trays. For microgreens, you can try beets, swiss chard, broccoli, cress, peas, radishes and sunflowers.

If you want to give things a bit more time, leafy greens such as pretty much any type of leaf lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, bok choi and radishes can be grown and harvested very quickly. Many of these don’t like heat much, so they can be planted outdoors early in the spring and sowed successively until the heat of summer, then sowed again for a fall crop.

These quick growing plants are nutritional power houses, but they don’t have a lot of calories. They’re not going to keep anyone going for long, so it’s good to think of these as a supplement, and something that can provide nutrition until other foods can be harvested.

Short term

By “short term”, I am talking about the things we typically think of in our annual vegetable gardens. These are things that can take a few months before you can start harvesting anything, and can potentially keep feeding you and your family throughout the winter, with proper storage and preservation.

Root vegetables: carrots, parsnips, beets, radish bulbs, turnips, rutabagas… there are many to choose from, and many varieties of each! Stored properly, they can last for months on their own, but they can also be pickled, pressure canned, frozen, and dehydrated. With these, they are one seed, one plant (except beets; their seeds are actually clusters of seeds), but they produce so many seeds, most packets will provide more than needed for a typical household.

Bulbs and tubers: potatoes, sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes, sweet potatoes – yes, there is a cold hardy variety of sweet potatoes out there! – bulb fennel, celeriac and more.

There are many varieties of potatoes, some more prolific than others, and some better for storage than others. A good source of seed potatoes will give that information. Potatoes also come in determinate and indeterminate varieties. Indeterminates are good for potato bags and towers, while determinate are good for hilling or Ruth Stout growing methods. Sunchokes will grow in just about any type of soil, and can be so prolific, they are sometimes considered invasive.

Special mention: the alliums are excellent bulbs to grow, but tend to require a lot more time, unless you are starting onions and shallots from sets, or spring garlic. Hard neck garlic needs to be planted in the fall, while onions and shallots from seed – which gives a lot more choice in varieties – need to be started indoors very early. In my garden groups, I’ve found Zone 3 gardeners that start their onions from seed as early as January! Onions also come in long day and short day varieties. If you are in a northern Zone, look for long day varieties. Of course, some varieties store longer than others but, properly cured and stored, they can last a very long time! Onion greens can be eaten as the bulbs mature, and hard neck garlic produces scapes that need to be removed to produce bigger bulbs, and they are delicious, making them dual crops to grow.

Summer squash and zucchini: There are many varieties of summer squash, and they all tend to be quite prolific. Just a couple of plants can provide plenty of baby squash that mature fairly quickly, and if they are left to grow larger, some varieties can be stuffed and baked. Most summer squash start to get tough as they get larger, and are not a storage vegetable, but they can be pickled, canned, frozen and dehydrated. Zucchini is a bit of an exception, in that it can be used as both a summer squash while small, or a winter squash if allowed to grow to full size.

Winter squash and pumpkins: These are squash that can grow to sometimes colossal sizes, but there are also varieties that are small, fast maturing and very prolific. Once they reach maturity, the fruits are cured and can be stored for the winter months. Some varieties reach their best flavour after weeks or months in storage. They can also be frozen, canned, shredded and dehydrated.

Legumes: there are few vegetables out there that provide more bang for your buck than legumes! Especially beans. Bush beans can be grown for their pods, and when they’re done producing is about when pole beans are ready for harvesting, and of course there are shelling beans, which are grown for their fully mature and dry seeds. Peas, chick peas and lentils can also provide a lot of food from just a few plants. Dried legumes, stored properly, can last for years, making them one of the most efficient foods to grow.

We could fit about a hundred of these tiny Spoon tomatoes into a single Red Solo cup.

Tomatoes: tomatoes are a fruit that deserve their own category. The varieties available is staggering! However, if you are looking to get the most pounds per plant, look at growing a mid sized variety. Aside from fresh eating, they can be frozen, canned or dehydrated on their own, or be used as an ingredient for sauces and salsas, and so much more.

Cucumbers: As with tomatoes, there are a really amazing number of cucumber varieties available, but most fall into one of two categories; slicers, for fresh eating, and picklers, for preserving. They all tend to be fast growing and very prolific, too.

Peppers: I wasn’t sure about including peppers on this list. They are excellent producers, but growing them in our colder climate seems to be touch and go. I’ve heard from people who have had great success with them, while others have tried for many years, but have never had a harvest. Peppers can be canned, preserved in oil, frozen, dehydrated, pickled and made into relishes.

Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

Mid term

While being able to grow food quickly is important, it is also useful to consider the long haul. If you have the space for it, there are things that may take several years before they begin producing, but once they do, the harvests will be bounteous!

Asparagus: asparagus can be grown from seed or you can buy crowns to transplant into trenches. It can take three years before they can be harvested, and even then, for the first year or two, harvests should be minimal. Once they are established, however, asparagus will keep producing for up to 20 years!

Raspberries, currants, gooseberries and haskaps: Haskaps are the new berries on the block, and are exceptionally cold hardy. They require male and female plants to produce, and can potentially begin producing berries in their first year. Raspberries are available as regular cane (new canes produce berries in their second year, then die back) or primal cane (new canes produce berries in their first year). Choosing varieties that mature at different times can give you fresh berries for months. Currants and gooseberries, once established, can produce fruit for many years. Berry bushes can provide a great deal of fruit per plant. Along with being used fresh, frozen or dehydrated, as well as made into jams and jellies, they can be used to make vinegars, syrups and wines.

Grapes: yes, there are Zone 3 grape varieties. I’ve even seen a Zone 2 variety. Grape vines are very long lived, and have the potential to provide fresh and frozen fruit, jelly, and wines for many years.

Hedge bushes and trees: There are a number of larger berry bushes that can double as shelter belts and natural boarders. Some, like sea buckthorn and bison berry, do well in poor soils, and while they may be considered invasive in warmer climates, they tend not to be, in our Zone 3. The Rugosa rose produces large edible hips, and their flower petals are edible, too. Saskatoons are a more of a tree than a bush, and absolutely delicious. Chokecherries produce many berries, but are better used in syrups, vinegars, etc. than eaten fresh. Many of these will provide enough berries not only for your own use, but for birds as well!

Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

Long Term

Now we’re really going for the long haul! Here, we are looking at things that can take five or ten years before they start producing food – but once they do, they will continue for decades to come.

Fruit trees: there are a remarkable number of fruit trees that can grow in colder zones. Apples, pears, apricots, cherries and plums can all be grown here. While a single mature tree can provide enough fruit for the entire family, many need to be planted with a pollinator, which can be a different variety.

Nut trees: there are not a lot of nut trees that can grow in Zone 3, but some, like the Korean Pine, are hardy to Zone 2! Hazelberts and beaked hazelnuts are also very hardy. Others, such as the black walnut, can grow in Zone 3, but the nuts may not have enough for a growing season to fully mature.

Okay, so all this is a lot more than just a “survival” garden, but we all start somewhere, right? 🙂 Little by little, it’ll get done!

I hope you find these useful in working out what are the best things for you to start growing in your own particular situation.

For those who have already been doing this for a while, please feel free to leave a comment, sharing your own experiences. What worked best for you? What didn’t work? Is there anything you would tell someone who is just starting out now? Let us know!

The Re-Farmer

Catching up

Before I catch up on things, I just had to share this photo.

This is Little Braveheart, now known as Tissue, cuddling with “grandma”.

That is the protective foam insert that came with the new washing machine. Our old mama cat has claimed it as her favorite bed, but she doesn’t mind a kitten joining her for cuddles!

They do like to chew on it, though. 😀


Yesterday, I bit the bullet and headed out to do some bigger shopping. It’s really mostly cat food and litter, where the price difference makes it worth the cost of gas to drive so far to get it. That, and supply. Locally, not only are the prices higher, but they just don’t have the space for much inventory or selection. After hearing about what people have gone though in the city, where we usually go, I wasn’t sure it was safe for me, so I went to the smaller city instead. It’s big enough to have a Walmart. 😀 It’s a small store, but it carries what I need, and they don’t bat an eye when I walk in with a shield instead of a mask. I did remember to bring our pulse oximeter, and was glad to have it. It still amazes me that even a shield causes my blood oxygen levels to drop like that. The kitties are now well stocked in kibble again, though. 🙂

I had a bit of a surprise later on, when looking up the tracking numbers for various orders that we have numbers for. Our new trail cam is supposed to arrive today, along with some other stuff – maybe. Lots of stuff are now coming up as delayed, as Canada Post is overwhelmed. When checking this time, though, I realized the trail cam wasn’t being sent by mail. It’s being shipped by UPS! So now I’ve got the garage security camera aimed at the gate, with the sound on, to keep an eye out for the delivery. Assuming they even find our place. We don’t exactly show up on GPS. :-/ The first time we tried to have something delivered by UPS, they had the hardest time finding us. The last time, they left the parcel at the general store/post office for us to pick up. So I’m not sure what will happen.

I don’t like ordering things online, and this is another reason why. It’s just that much harder to actually physically get things out here! I’d much rather get things locally, but so many things just aren’t available here.

I look forward to getting to a point of self-sufficiency, where we don’t have to depend on questionable delivery services, supply chains and such. It’ll take quite a few years to accomplish, but with all the stuff going on right now, it’s really been hitting home, how necessary that goal is for us, out here in the boonies. It’s hard enough to get things we need at the best of times, and these are not the best of times!

The Re-Farmer

Recommended: Maritime Gardening

Welcome to my “Recommended” series of posts. These will be weekly – for now – posts about resources I have found over the past while that I found so excellent, I want to share them with you, my dear readers. 🙂 Whether or not I continue to post these, and how often they are posted, will depend on feedback. Please feel free to comment below, and if you have a favorite resource of your own, do share, and I will review them for possible future posts.

I hope you find these recommendations as useful and enjoyable as I have!

You’d think that, having grown up on this farm and with my family being subsistence farmers, I would already know how to garden here. And I guess I do, really. The thing is, I want to do things differently than my parents did. Some simple things, like trellising, which my parents never did. One of my jobs as a kid was to flip the rows of pea plants, so the sun could get at the other side. We also want to grow new things I have no experience in, use no-till methods my parents never used, and eventually have raised beds.

So basically, I’m learning how to garden, all over again.

Part of this learning curve is figuring out how to grow what we want in our climate zone, which is a zone 3. It takes extra measures to produce food in our short growing season. We can’t even take advantage of any urban heat island effects.

With that in mind, I have been looking up resources for cold climate gardening. In my searches, I have found many sites and YouTube channels dedicated to cold climate gardening. How wonderful, I would think, as I eagerly began to explore them.

Right up until I discovered that these “cold climate” gardeners were in…

Zone 5.


Just about everything I look at that I’m interested in growing is rated to zone 5. How is zone 5 considered a cold climate?

Okay, okay. I realize that these sites are almost all based in the US, and northern states are rightfully considered cold climates compared to the southern states. But I’m in frikkin’ central Canada. To us, zone 5 is almost tropical. 😀

All joking aside, it did make my searches frustrating. It turns out there just aren’t a lot of active Canadian gardening resources out there.

So I was pretty excited to find Maritime Gardening.

Maritime Gardening is run by Greg Auton, in Nova Scotia. It’s basically one person and 2,500 square feet of back yard garden! He’s been making these videos since 2016.

The only down side?

It’s still a zone 5 climate region… but it’s far closer to our situation than anything else I’ve found! There are lots of videos on how to lengthen the outdoor growing season, like getting the soil to thaw out faster, or dealing with high winds.

There are also a lot of videos on specific crops, such as garlic, onions, potatoes, and strawberries, and techniques, such as no-till gardening, using cold frames, different types of mulches, and so on.

There are videos on planning out your garden spaces, dealing with weeds and insect problems, saving seeds, harvesting and preserving.

There are even cooking videos, fermentation videos, videos on how to make tool handles, and so much more.

There is just SO much to learn from here! I highly recommend this channel as a resource.

Especially if you’re a frozen Canadian. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Thinking Ahead

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!

The Re-Farmer