Gardening in the far north

Gardening on the Canadian prairies has it's challenges, but you have to be very creative and adaptable to grow a wide variety of food in the far northern climates!

Growing in the far north

What do we mean by the north? Northern Canada are the arctic and subarctic regions of Canada which includes Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Labrador as well as northern parts of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec.

All of these areas fall into zones 0 to 1 Canada Plant Hardiness ratings and have a short frost-free growing season. Permafrost is a factor in these areas. Some areas have poor soils and low rainfall. However, frost-free summer days are increasing due to climate change, which makes it easier to grow annual vegetables, flowers and some fruits. Although there is almost no sunlight in winter, long summer days are ideal for growing.

Compared with the prairies and the rest of Canada, access to fresh, nutritious, plant-based foods for families in northern Canada is expensive and can be scarce. Fresh fruits and vegetables are shipped long distances which affects quality. Shipments can be delayed by problems with weather and transportation, especially to isolated communities. Growing some of your own food is fun and tastes good.

Northerners have a history of home gardening and agriculture, on a modest scale. While root vegetables in particular grow well in the north, other food crops can be grown as well. With a short frost-free growing season, strategies for growing food outdoors in the north are more intensive than the prairies and other parts of Canada. We'll show you how. The dark winter months in the north is an opportunity to grow fresh food inside under grow lights. After all, homes, offices and community spaces are heated anyway and some indoor growing methods don't require a lot of equipment or cost.

We hope the information on this website will give northern home gardeners practical tools and information to grow, store and preserve your own food.


Follow this link for detailed information on your local frost conditions. To use: Find your location on the map and click on the Agriculture option at the bottom to select your frost-free season (how many days), frost-free date (when you can plant most crops), and date of first frost (when to protect most crops).

Likely necessary additions

See the outdoor growing page for basic advice, suitable to growing anywhere. In the far north you will need to add these methods.