Cold Climate Homesteading

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by moonwolf, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    Who here lives in a rural area in climate zones of 3 or less, such as the northern tier states, mountain areas, non temperate Canada, and Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, etc. ??

    I am in a 3a zone, some years 4b which has about a 110 day growing season in good years, and winter lows down to -30 with a few days usually in early February or late January down to -40.

    Just curious as to what some of you northerners are involved with to make your homesteading lifestyle regarding market garden, putting food by, foraging, storage, heating, energy, etc.

    I know it's hot even in these places during the summer usually. Our average July temp is about 80 F. Today we had near that, and it's HOT! The days are long, being the summer solstace doesn't get dark until about 11 p.m. I get up at 5 a.m. and it's well into daylight. Things in the garden grow fast once they get going with all that long day.
    Late Fall and Winter is another story. What do you do to make ends meet during the hard time of winter, or do you take it in stride and just get out there doing something. Do you have indoor interests maybe that occupy your time to help make a living from your northern homestead?
     
  2. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I live south of you a bit but north of a lot of others. An hour and a half south of Frost Bite Falls, Minnesota.
     

  3. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    We grow a lot of winter squash, iceberg lettuce and snow peas.....
     
  4. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Greetings from Montana! I am located at 7K feet and in zone 3-4 . We also get the minus 30 and 40 in Feb so we must be near you! I have a small green house where I grow salad crops mostly. I am able to get some squash if I get them started early enough in the house before winter is really over. This year is looking good. Am gonna hit the farmers market and try to put up a bunch of snap beans, some tomatoes and some carrots. First time canning in many years! Snow peas grow well here in the green house. I am also trying some hardy strawberries and red potatoes in a place outside the green house that is sheltered from the worst of the winds and summer hail!
     
  5. Orville

    Orville Well-Known Member

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    When I lived in zone 3b, I grew potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn, broccoli, onions and squash. Didn't always have many ripe tomatoes, but always got a few. Nice thing about the north is that the cellars, whether under the house or outside, were always cool. North is a good place for putting up venison...meat cools quickly in the fall. We burned wood, but had propane back-up. Canned beans and tomatoes. Used electric heaters to keep livestock water tanks open in winter. Even over-wintered honeybees successfully, wrapping the hives in styrofoam and black felt paper, ensuring that the ventilation holes didn't get covered. Picked and froze wild bluberries....some years they were scarce, other years we had so many I think we took on a blue hue. All that said, I still prefer, much prefer, zone 7. Stuff grows like crazy here...I overripened most of my watermelons the first year. I forgot they could actually ripen! Only down side to the south is that it also grows bugs...pests...like crazy, too. Gotta use some pesticides, especially when the japanese beetles are out, or the crops will suffer badly. Strawberries are long done here this year, raspberies and blackberries are ripe, peaches and blueberries are ripening. With a longer growing season, one doesn't have to can so much. We can grow two successive garden crops of most veggies. And, I can put up my winter's wood in a single Saturday.
     
  6. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    Hi sisterpine,
    I'm not far north of Minnesota as Haggis mentioned. He really means International Falls, but they sometimes call it 'Frostbite Falls'. The elevation isn't a factor here and summers are muggy and buggy usually. I've grown killer vegetables before by using methods for cold climate gardening which mostly is transplanting most tender plants and finding the most adaptable varieties.
    I prefer the northern gardening because you can grow outstanding brassicas such as brocolli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, chinese cabbage, etc. Onions are excellent grown here, but you have to pick varieties. I once grew excellent walla walla onions, but always the storage varietyes like copra. So, most of the study is finding the right seed. When starting from seed in March and April in the warm part of the basement (underfloor heating) and then grow out with fluorescent lights on tables. The small greenhouse outside is used for hardening out the transplants. I transplant everything from asparagus (from seed) to corn plants, to pumpkins and peppers. If it's not a wet/cold summer, most does well.

    As for wild blueberries are in abundance by July and August. They are the best grown here and much in demand.
    Yes, it is nice in the north to store by using the winter cold outside. You can save energy costs as you don't have to plug in a 'freezer' to store any game or garden stuff. Saves energy from the heating for canniing. Dehydrating is also a good alternative using the greenhouse.

    You mentioned Hail. Yup. Twice I had near total wipeouts of gardens with damaging large hail. Once I replanted most of the garden, and another time was in August for near a total loss, especially the nicely growing sweet corn.
    One year I harvested over 200 dozen ears of the best sugar enhanced sweet corn ever. We shelled this and froze it with butter in small baggies. That was a real treat.
    Root crops like carrots, beets, turnips, rutabagas.....all grow very good here and so do the leaf crops like lettuce, chard, kale....all loaded with nutrients and good eating.

    In this district was also grown a 400+ pound pumpkin weighed in for an annual contest where the winner gets $1000.
    So, northern gardening can be done with a few 'modifications'. Gotta love trying anyway. :yeeha: