Planting your foot in cyberspace
Navigating your way around the green lanes of cyberspace
NNSL (Apr 28/97) - During the North's long winters gardeners can keep themselves busy by using their computers to surf the World Wide Web to find new ways of making their green thumbs even greener.
A simple web search using the Open Text search engine, looking for the words "garden," "Canada" and "north," came up with hundreds of possible web pages. The web pages fall into two categories, general information for amateur gardeners and specific detailed information for commercial gardeners and botanists.
Of the former a good starting point is one of the many link or jump pages such as The Trellis at wormsway.com/trellis.html.
The Trellis has some 150 links to other web pages. A small sampling of these pages provide information on subjects such as growing flowers, ecological organizations, gardening supply companies, pest control and government resources.
One link from The Trellis that is sure to be of interest to Northern gardeners is the Gardening in the Cabbage Patch web page at www.polarnet.fnsb.ak.us/Users/PBabcock/patch.
Pat Babcock runs this page out of Fairbanks, Alaska, providing chapters from her book on Arctic gardening. Babcock provides general information on Northern gardening, as well as specific information on topics such as transplanting wildflowers and building an Arctic root cellar.
Babcock writes that while Northern gardeners face problems such as cold soils in the summer and a short growing season, they have the advantage of long hours of daylight.
A worldwide gardening web page can be found at www.gardenweb.com. The Garden Web provides forums to ask questions of experts and other gardeners, has a mystery plant contest, provides links to gardens of the world and lists a calendar of gardening events.
A very specific web page is the Rot Web at net.indra.com/~topsoil/Compost_Menu.html. Based out of North Carolina, the Rot Web provides an introduction to composting, complete with a how-to guide, what ingredients to use and what to avoid.
For more detailed information, a good web site is What's New in Botany, produced by the University of Regina. Located at herb.biol.uregina.ca/liu/bio/bot-nwo4.html, this page is merely a jumping-off point to hundreds of academic papers.
Some of papers available are: Plant Fossils of West Virginia, Host Plants of the Finnish Lepidoptera and the International Association for Sexual Plant Reproduction Research. This page is definitely for gardeners who want more information than just how far apart to plant their cabbages.
One web site that will be of little use to northern gardeners is the Virtual Garden at pathfinder.com/@@r1iR*QcAM6sD*YvA/vg. Besides having a difficult web address, this page gives information mainly about the United States. Its listing of frost dates only works for the 50 U.S. states.
The tiny bit of information it provides about Canada consists of simple information on climatic zones here. But this information is only good to about 55 degrees north latitude. Not much good for us here north of 60. However it does have nice graphics.
Overall, with the large number of web pages dedicated to gardening, it will be difficult for conduct a search for specific information. The best advice is to keep looking and when you find a page you can use be sure to bookmark it fast.