Growing 101

Yukoners know to grow a variety of indoor and outdoor crops despite the poor conditions we are dealt. A key strategy is to build and maintain a robust soil or grow medium to support crops.

 Soil composition needs to effectively convey nutrients to plants, keep a good water balance, and support beneficial microorganisms in their work of cycling nutrients and many other important functions. Healthy soils also are porous and have good structure, which allows for the movement of air and water, and prevents compaction.

Here is a simple step-by-step approach to soil-building and maintenance:


1- Build the Soil Organic Matter (SOM) content
Since native Yukon soils are generally very poor in quality, the first step is to add materials that boost the soil organic matter (SOM) content. Products that increase SOM include biochar, compost, peatmoss and manure. Visit USDA 'Manage for Soil Carbon' to learn more.
2- (Re)establish a healthy microbiome
With suitable SOM, the soil or grow medium can then support the (re)establishment of beneficial microorganisms. Products that introduce beneficial microorganisms include compost, manure, and inoculants.
3- Feed the soil with nutrients as needed
Ultimately, a healthy, living soil or grow medium can be fed with nutrients as needed to produce bountiful crops. Products that supply nutrients include compost, manure, and fertilizers.
4- Adjust the pH

Yukon soil can be slightly basic to slightly acidic depending by region, which has an impact on your ability to grow plants. pH also impacts nutrient availability and microbial activity. At any time, pH should be adjusted to your plants' pH requirements. Products that can increase and lower the pH include lime and aluminum sulfate, respectively.

Every growing project is unique. The type, proportion and quantity of soil, medium or amendment needed to optimize the conditions depends on your objective and the base conditions. For instance, composition can specifically be adjusted to grow tomatoes, cannabis or lettuce in a particular system (e.g. outdoors, indoors, hydroponic etc.). Growing food and plants in our Yukon climate also requires special considerations, and is well worth the effort!