Q) WHERE DO YOU GET THE MATERIALS TO CREATE YOUR GARDEN?
Salik: Right here in Nuuk! I focus a lot of energy on cultivating a soil that is rich in nutrients and has structure – a far cry from the weak, sandy soil that occurs naturally. I use whatever I can find to fertilize the soil – sheep manure from the few pet sheep in town, old fiber-rich crushed malt from the local brewery, and even seaweed direct from the fjord.
I collect the seaweed and let it sit for an entire year to let the rain and snow leech out all the salt; then it has decomposed a bit and is perfect. I also collect the wood for my raised beds from the local construction junk yard. It’s important for me that this process be as inexpensive as possible.
Q) WHAT GARDEN GOODIES DO YOU HAVE GROWING RIGHT NOW (IN JUNE)?
Salik: So many things – radishes, turnips, carrots, various lettuces, potatoes, parsley, rhubarb, chives, and strawberries.
Q) WE HEAR YOU’VE PLANTED THE SEED (PUN INTENDED) OF GARDENING IN OTHERS’ MINDS. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT?
Salik: In 2009, when I put in my first garden, there was a lot of curiosity from the town. So many people came to look at it that I held an event to tell about the process. It surprised people and the turnout was huge! So for 3-4 years I held this event for people to learn how to makes their own raised beds and grow their own potatoes.
Now I’d say there are consistently 1000 families growing potatoes here in Nuuk. Think! If each family has just 1 potato plant that produces 1 kilo of potatoes in a season, that’s 1000 kilos that does not have to be imported – saving money for each person but also cutting pollution. But we all have way more than just 1 plant. I have 12, and my neighbor has at least 70. And there’s one man who grows potatoes next to his summer house deep in the fjord – he’s got a whole field!
Q) WHAT IS THE EASIEST THING TO GROW? HARDEST?
Salik: Turnips are the easiest because they are hearty. They are just like apples for us – we bite right into them and they are so juicy and delicious when ripe! I also like to save some for winter, when I marinate them in sugar and vinegar and pair them with meat. Potatoes are also very very easy to grow.
The most difficult foods to grow are those that are fragile and require very warm temperatures. For example, carrots could ideally use a little more heat, cabbage is difficult, and I have had no success with leeks. I’ve thought about using hothouses before, but I think it’s best to just use vegetables which naturally suit the environment.
Q) WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS EFFECTS ON YOUR GARDEN?
Salik: We can definitely feel that the climate is warmer. Personally I’m happy for it; the warming is not a total disaster from a gardener’s perspective. When the winters are milder, my strawberries fare better. The hibernating strawberry plants survive very well underground if I cover them with lots of dry hay and a fiber cloth, and they come back earlier. Suddenly we have strawberries all summer long, and I’m just so happy about that.
There you have it. The urban gardening scene in Nuuk is flourishing!