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Above-average temperatures expected

Katherine Hudson
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer officially began at 5:09 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday was the first full day of the season.

What can Yellowknifers expect from this summer? Above-average temperatures, according to Yvonne Bilan-Wallace, meteorologist with Environment Canada.

This is good news for gardeners in town especially as the Yellowknife Community Garden Collective prepares to expand one of its gardens and build a new one this summer.

Bilan-Wallace said Yellowknife has seen four summers of near normal temperatures in the past 10 years, two that were slightly below normal and four above normal. The past two summers were a bit warmer than usual, while in 2004 and 2005, Bilan-Wallace said we experienced summers on the chillier side.

She said, for the most part, it's the winters that experience more dramatic differences in temperatures from year to year.

"In the wintertime, this last season we saw temperatures of December, January, February at 6.5 C above normal whereas in the summertime, the most I'm seeing is 1.5 C above normal for the whole season," she said.

"It's not as spectacular. The winter is the time of the year where we're seeing a lot of extremes."

She also said an "above-average" summer in terms of temperatures does not mean Yellowknifers can't experience some days or weeks when it's below normal.

"It's just at the end of the seasons, the numbers add up and that's what they're looking at," she said.

For the most part, Yellowknife summers are pretty reliable - with a good amount of heat for a few months and lots of sunshine, which Dwayne Wohlgemuth, member of the Yellowknife Community Garden Collective, said is good for the garden.

"The big thing that you don't want is late spring frosts or early fall frosts, because those can kill your plants. The season here is pretty reliable that way. We do sometimes get early June frosts ... but honestly I've never had any complaints about the seasons up here," said Wohlgemuth.

Some plants just don't jive with the amount of sunshine the Earth receives north of 60.

"Because of the intense heat and the long hours of daylight in the summer, they wont produce much vegetable they'll just grow really fast and go to seed," he said, adding that kale is a plant which goes to seed every two years.

Other plants do better in more intense hotspots or in greenhouses, like corn and tomatoes, but Wohlgemuth said all the root vegetables, such as leafy greens, peas and beans, grow very well in Yellowknife.

He also said gardening is growing more and more in popularity in the city - and nothing proves it more than the expansion of Kam Lake's community garden as well as the development of a new garden at Trails End this summer.

The collective started in 1995 with community gardens at Kam Lake Road and Woolgar Avenue. Now, there are three gardens - at Kam Lake, Old Town and at Weledeh Catholic School - whose plots are always full, with waiting lists.

"Over six years, we'll have almost tripled the amount of community gardens, basically. The demand is there," he said.

He said the new plot at Trails End will have 10 or 12 plots.

"At the end of the loop on the right-hand side, there's a lot that's owned by the (City of Yellowknife) and the garden collective was approached by the Trails End Condo Association," he said.

Wohlgemuth said the Kam Lake garden currently has 44 plots and will be expanded to 60, ready for planting by next year.

"Plots are generally shared by two people so that will mean over 120 gardeners at that one site. It's going to be amazing," he said.

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