Albert County spans an interesting area, with diverse landscapes from coastal areas to rocky hilltops and winding valleys. No matter where you reside in this up-and-down county, there is one thing we all share: the unpredictable weather. Though the weatherman claims one thing on the radio, we can look out our windows and see the exact opposite. Growing in an area close to a body of water can be tricky. For us, it's the tide that’s tricky. It can bring weather in and take weather out quite quickly. It leaves areas covered in thick fog where the sun can’t get through, and many times it brings wind. So, the question remains…what do we grow in our gardens that will reap a good harvest and not succumb to the drastic temperament of Mother Nature?
At Farmers Brown’s Greenhouse back in Osborne Corner, Lisa says brassicas (cole crops such as cabbage, rutabagas, turnips) are not their specialty, but plants like potatoes, beets, carrots, beans, and onions do really well.
Rainbow Seeds, who are known for their strawberry plants and strawberries, are in Riverside-Albert. They would normally say that strawberries grow great for them, but in 2018, due to the late spring frost, most of the blossoms were damaged, leading to a large crop failure. But hope is not lost, as cucumbers, peas, beans, and lettuces seem to really enjoy the soil in their location.
Close to the Bay in New Horton, where the temperatures don’t get too high, Janet says she can easily grow great vegetables like potatoes, squash, Swiss chard and garlic. Cool-loving salad greens, kale and peas, particularly like the micro-climate.
So, as you can see, vegetables can certainly adapt to their surroundings, but only to an extent. Don’t let yourself get stressed and disappointed from trying to grow things that don’t like to grow where you are. Find the things that do well for you and look for different varieties of that crop to keep it interesting― you will be more satisfied in the end. Also, don’t be afraid to move things around. You might find a little micro-climate in your yard where you can grow something you usually can’t, like a sunny corner that is protected from the wind.
Row cover (a lightweight fabric) can be a great solution for pest control and keeping the frost from touching crops. Depending on its thickness, row cover can keep the air under the cover around 3°C warmer than the air outside. A low tunnel made from pieces of PVC pipe anchored to the ground at each end, forming small hoops, can easily be used as frame for a cloth cover.
Cold frames are another easy and inexpensive way to keep frost off your plants and extend your growing season. They can be made from re-purposed items like old windows, doors or leftover pieces of plastic sheets. You can set windows upon a wooden box, hay bales or even cinder blocks that encompass a garden plot. Crops like lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and cabbage are much less sensitive to cold temperatures. When planted in a cold frame, they will not grow all winter, but will stay in a dormant state that can still be harvested throughout the winter months.
Angela MacDougall and Ryan Smith run Black Sheep Maples and Fundy Farms: Local Harvest in Edgett's Landing.