The Curse of a Northern Gardener

This is a post written by my sister, Anna. Lovingly referred to as Gingersnap, she is a self professed seed addict who loves the outdoors. While dividing her time between working, cooking, canning, crafting, gardening, 3 (mostly) broke horses and anything outdoorsy, she resides in a cabin on 160 acres of wild forest in the Great White North of British Columbia, Canada. Some may roll their eyes at living in a place with no phone or internet connection, but Anna and her fiance, Drillerman, not only make up for it, but thrive, by enjoying fishing, hunting and horseback riding. Anna traded her stilletto’s in for cowboy boots to live this life, and she doesn’t regret it one bit. While recovering from lack of ethnic and international foods available in her town, she has made the most of her freezer full of moose, home canned goat meat on the shelf, a plethora of garden treats captured via canning, and treats herself to the odd chicken breast.


I have always been a huge fan of irony. That being said, I can highly appreciate the fact that I didn’t get bit by the gardening bug until AFTER I had made the trek from a Zone 8 to a Zone 2 climate!
I had always enjoyed grooming planters full of flowers, pulling (and munching) carrots, and puttering around in my grandmother’s immaculately landscaped gardens. But it wasn’t until I was faced with acres and acres of raw land that the desperate need to dig, build, and glean all the beauty I could possibly tame out of this wild cattle pasture we called our home. I set out to build a BIG vegetable garden, and Rock-Stacked beds OVERFLOWING with (carefully color coordinated) Annuals and Perennials, completely overlooking the fact that we lived under a blanket of snow for 6 months of the year.


This photo was taken March 15th. Weeks after my mom had sent pictures of her bulbs blooming. She is very cruel to me. -Kate says: We’ve had snowdrops blooming for weeks and crocus’ for a few days and its just the end of February!

Maybe it was the fact that my husband had been out in camp for 2 months straight, or maybe I was going stark crazy from seeing nothing but that damn WHITE stuff and I needed to see some DIRT, but in my first year of serious gardening, I ‘renovated’ our spare room into a ‘greenhouse’. We northerners need to get a head start on spring after all. A Few long planting sessions in February, Dozens and Dozens of peat filled trays and 4 sets of large growing lights later, I was satisfied in my need to crumble dirt between my fingers. Satisfaction quickly turned into Surprise as I ACTUALLY MANAGED TO GROW THINGS!


…and then as the end of march approached, Surprise and Self Congratulation turned into STRESS as I realized I hadn’t accounted for the fact that those teeny little seedlings would keep growing and growing until our last frost date. I was optimistic that I could plant out on May long weekend, but had no idea how I would contain the quickly growing jungle that was our spare bedroom. My husband wasn’t too thrilled with it either… whether it was the sneaking back and forth past him every morning while he slept-sloshing water and dirt everywhere, or the surprising Hydro Bill… somewhere along the line we realized that we had seriously overstepped out capabilities. I mean, how many people really need 150 tomato plants?! (especially considering we can only grow tomatoes in greenhouses in zone 2 and my small greenhouse only fit ~50 tomato plants….?!?!)

Nonetheless I made it to May, and after a couple weeks of lugging the flats of seedlings outside acclimatizing them, everything was settled into their permanent location. And I was disappointed… My ( 8 huge raised beds built by myself!) Vegetable garden looked promising, but as far as flower gardens went…the overall effect left something to be desired… I had chosen to start many perennials that would take another year to flower. But I was cheered by the fact that my husband promised me an endless perennial budget for the following spring as long as I never turned our house into a jungle again!



Still……. It’s February again…. It’s been months since I’ve seen fresh dirt…and Hubby’s in camp again…. Maybe I’ll start just a FEW plants… some rosemary… maybe a few hot peppers…. Last year’s snapdragons were gorgeous so I MUST do more of those…. Oh and what about my seed order that just arrived…? Le Sigh. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.



And how could I resist a home-grown bouquet of gorgeous “Bridal White” Snapdragons


Or Lettuce Deliveries the leave my coworker’s begging for more of the “REAL” tasting lettuce


Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go daydream of things greening up and purchase a bag of peat mix…


And count the days until I can relax in the GREEN and DIRT, instead of braving the endless WHITE!




Kate says- Leave some ‘comment love’ if you want to hear more from Anna. I love her writing style and hearing about living in the North, which is Cowboy’s homeland!


10 thoughts on “The Curse of a Northern Gardener

  1. forgot to add that the ‘hump’ in the snowy march photo….. that’s my vegetable garden! Fast forward to april and you’ll find me digging the beds out in effort to speed spring up a bit… but i’ll save that for another post!

  2. Gingersnap for President!
    Ok ok, fine. How about more posts from Gingersnap in the near future? I vote YES! 🙂
    Love Kate, love her family!
    I am dying to get out and dig in the dirt too. No snow here, but our last frost date is MONTHS away. No room for seedlings in here in the house with the kiddos, so wait I must!

  3. Well i have no space either now… but as it’s just me at home for the month of march i’m thinking i might just sneak some seedlings in on the dining table…. by the time he gets back they’ll have sprouted and it will be ‘too late’ for him to vote against it? teehee

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