Growing vegetables in Cranbrook, BC

Credit: iStockphoto


Q: I would like to grow my own vegetables, I have the land, but I do not have much know how!. My first concern is the climate – pretty warm in the summer, and very cold in the winter. Also, not sure if the altitude effects growth too.

My second concern are the animals – I am going to have to build a high fence as I have deer constantly in the garden, but I am guessing there are other ‘critters’ I should be aware of?

I would like to know what I could try growing, and when I should first plant anything, perhaps there is a book that could be recommended as I will be starting from scratch!

The easiest way to learn what grows well in your region is to join a local gardening club or group. Here you will meet others who grow food, who can tell you how the seasons and microclimates work, and are a good source of seeds, plants and local knowledge for supplies, etc.

It’s not as complicated as you think. Subscribe to a quality gardening magazine and start reading books on the subject you need to learn about. Everything you need to know is on the internet, at the end of a google search. ( Begin at the beginning by growing the soil before growing the food. You need an efficient composting system to do this. Grow what your family most likes to eat. Experimenting is half the fun, and that’s also how you learn.

Grow culinary and medicinal herbs, edible flowers and small fruits and berries in association with your vegetables. Consider planting a small fruit orchard and introducing some livestock, such as chickens
into the garden. You can preserve your summer /fall excess and enjoy this for winter meals, along with storage vegetables such as winter squash, onions, yams, apples, longkeeper tomatoes etc..

Plant a year-round garden by growing winter vegetables under cloches for extra protection if necessary. There are many hardy brassicas, kales, and leeks, some varieities of which will winter through in your
region. Plant root vegetables that can be dug up throughout winter from under a protective mulch, such as Sunroots (Jerusalem artuchokes), celeriac, parsnips and ‘Winterkeeper’ beets (good for greens too!).

After 20 years of growing food everything, I learned is in the pages of my book A Year On The Garden Path – A 52-week organic gardening guide. It may not be written specifically for your region, but it is
packed with practical information, useful to gardeners anywhere, at any level. I am writing my next book now, which you can blog along weekly with on this very website here: Carolyn’s Organic Victory Garden. The book will be entitled The Organic Victory Garden- a 52-week guide to greater self sufficiency’.

Good luck and do enjoy growing the best food you can possibly eat!