Indoor gardening in the North
There are people all over the North who start vegetable plants indoors early in the season and enjoy a wide variety of vegetables throughout the summer
by Emma Levez
NNSL (Apr 20/98) - Gardening in the Northwest Territories?
It may seem strange to people from the south who enjoy warmer temperatures and more daylight during the winter season, but in fact gardening is a popular hobby in many Northern communities.
In some places the summers too are so short and cool that gardening is limited. Denise Hussey of the Northern Store in Cambridge Bay says that "house plants and flowers are popular, but we just don't have a summer conducive to outdoor gardening so people are mostly left to buying their vegetables and fruits."
On the other hand, there are people all over the North who start vegetable plants indoors early in the season and enjoy a wide variety of vegetables throughout the summer.
Stan Hutyra, who has been gardening in Yellowknife since 1955 starts planting seeds indoors from March through April. He grows everything from corn to cauliflower and notes that "a lot of people do not believe that anything grows here, but even though we have a short season, we get a lot of light during that season."
In most communities, especially the larger ones, there are plenty of supplies available for aspiring green thumbs.
Stan Boudreau, owner of Home Hardware in Hay River says, "We carry a full line of supplies, from starter bedding plants and starter potting mix to peat pellets and different fertilizers. We also stock fluorescent grow lights and sell quite a few of those, especially in January and February."
In some other smaller communities, it is not so easy to acquire gardening products locally, and many people find themselves ordering supplies from down south. Despite the occasional inconvenience, and the fact that much of the gardening in the North is restricted to the indoors, many people in the NWT obviously derive a lot of pleasure from this age-old hobby.
Wendy Groat, owner of Deh Cho Hardware in Fort Simpson, admits that "gardening is really big here because there aren't a lot of activities going on, it's one of the things that people really get into."
She also observes that with the new Communities in Bloom Project, people are eager to produce items to show in the fall fair.
Perhaps it is because of, rather than despite, our location that gardening is a common hobby among Northerners.
Pat Winter, one of the owners of Home Hardware in Yellowknife muses, "Every household seems to have house plants of some kind and maybe flowers in the summer ‚ people like to have plants around just because of where we live."