Canadian Renegade

Renegade: an individual who rejects lawful or conventional behavior

Cold Climate Permaculture Plants: Sea Buckthorn


In the first edition of Permaculture Plants, I will be discussing one of the hardiest and most versatile shrubs that I know of, Sea Buckthorn! I have wanted to do a permaculture plants series for awhile but have been putting it off like a homework assignment for some unknown reason.

In this series, I will mainly be focusing on temperate permaculture plants, not only because I am already more familiar with them but because our property will be able to directly benefit from the additional research I will be conducting; many of the plants I will be highlighting will be utilized on our homestead.

Now, with the introduction out of the way, on to the plants!

Sea Buckthorn


Common Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides), also known as Seaberry is an extremely versatile, large, nitrogen fixing shrub that is native to Europe and Asia. They have slender silvery green leaves, dense thorny branches and an equally dense root system, making them great for stabilizing loose soils. They are dioecious, which means there are both male and female plants.

Currently, Sea Buckthorn is most densely distributed in China, where there are large areas of both wild and cultivated plants. Because many of its many useful attributes, it is gaining a wider distribution in other countries like Canada. They will grow in a multitude of conditions, from sandy and dry to moist clay soils. In the wild, Sea Buckthorn can be found in coastal areas, along rivers and also in rocky mountainous areas and it is cold hardy from USDA zone 2b to 7.

Sea Buckthorn has a high saline and pollution tolerance making it ideal for repairing the most damaged soils. Historically, they have been used to help stabilize sand dunes on the eastern coasts of the United Kingdom and, in some areas, have continued to spread to the point of being considered invasive. Now, that is my type of plant!


This Sea Buckthorn thicket is located on a large median in Edmonton

I have noticed that they are often planted around Edmonton as ornamental shrubs near parking lots or in road medians where they would be exposed to saline, from the winter road salting, and plenty of exhaust pollution from all the heavy traffic. They seem to perform beautifully despite these harsh conditions.


The most obvious reason for growing Sea Buckthorn would be for the extremely abundant berries which, rightfully, can be considered a super food. These berries are absolutely packed with nutrition; containing extremely high concentrations of vitamin C as well as A, E, K and other nutrients. They also contain the full host of Omega fatty acids—3, 6, 7 and 9. There are named varieties of Sea Buckthorn that have been cultivated for significantly larger berries.


The berries can be a bit difficult to pick because they don’t easily detach from the branch and tend to be damaged in the process. Due to this, and the berries extremely tart flavor, they are often used in juices, jams and other preserves rather than for fresh eating. They are also a popular ingredient in natural cosmetics due to the high levels of omega fatty acids and anti-oxidants.

The leaves of the plant can also be used as a medicinal tea. They have a mild green tea like flavor and have been shown in a couple of studies to have anti-oxidant and liver protective qualities. The leaves also contain up to 24% protein making them a great livestock feed. In fact, the first part of Sea Buckthorns Latin name Hippophae loosely translates to “shining horse.” The ancient Greeks supposedly fed the leaves to their horses to impart a shiny coat.

Sea Buckthorn can grow anywhere from 10-20 feet tall and are considered a large to extra large shrub. They would fit into many permaculture designs in layer 2 (sub canopy) or layer 3 (shrub layer) and make a great companion plant or guild plant because they are nitrogen fixing and will enrich the surrounding soil. Caution needs to be taken that they aren’t shaded out too much because they do prefer full sun and may not perform well in heavy shade. Due to their thorny nature, they also make great perimeter or boundary plants if planted in tight rows.

Growing Conditions, Propagation, and Maintenance

As already mentioned, Sea Buckthorn can thrive in a variety of conditions. They prefer full sun but can tolerate partial shade. They can also tolerate both dry to wet soils as long as the soils are well drained, and can tolerate a wide range in soil pH, from 5.5 to 8.5.

Both male and female plants are needed for fruit production and the most efficient ratios of male/female plants are said to be 1/8-10. Pollination occurs by wind only so strategic placement of the male plants in relation to the females might lead to greater production. Fruiting occurs most on two year old branches so if you are interested in maximum production some pruning could be beneficial.

loaded seaberry bush

Look how these small plants are just loaded with berries!

Sea Buckthorn can be propagated in a variety of ways: by seed, soft or hard wood cuttings, layering, and also by transplanting suckers. If you decide to start from seed you may need to wait several years before the plants are large enough to be able to identify their sex. The seeds will yield approximately 50% male and female plants so if planted in the ground some of the males may need to be removed and replaced with females to maximize fruit production.


Mail Order Trees Part 3 and Blog Update

Hi everyone! Sorry for the long sabbatical from this blog, my life has been crazy to say the least. Dealing with a full time job, and twins has definitely kept mt hands full. I have also been blogging on a platform called Steemit which you may want to check out to see what else I have been up to.

This video was taken in August and it was scorching hot outside. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that my camera was overheating until after I shot the video and I didn’t have time to retake it that day. Hopefully the video distortions aren’t too distracting.

How I started Elm Trees from seed for Free!

In this video, I re-pot Elm trees that I started from seed last year. During the process I talk about what I did to start them which was really easy and, now that I think about it, everything I used to start them was free! Seeds from gutters, reused pots and regular garden soil were all the supplies I used for this project.

Planting Test Trees on the Homestead

In this video, I plant a variety of trees on our new homestead. Unfortunately, I don’t really have much time to spare this year for messing around with trees, instead I am more focused the yard site, my brothers wedding and our impending twins. Still, I wanted to get a wide variety of trees into the ground to see which do well.

Unpacking Mail Order Trees

In a previous video, I reviewed a few nurseries I was interested in buying trees from online. With all the other things going on this year, I only ordered from two of them. The trees finally arrived and when I unpacked them I noticed differences in how the nurseries packed their trees. In this video, I discuss what I thought of the packing and shipping of the two companies and get started on planting.

Mike’s Fence Project

With the arrival of the babies getting closer, we have been extremely busy. So much so that we spent the prior weekend vehicle shopping and finally purchased a mini van but at the expense of not having the time or energy to get our usual Tuesday video out. This last weekend, I spent an afternoon helping my brother mark a fence line and clear brush and I figured that would be a great opportunity to quickly film an interesting video. Things were going great until I checked my footage at the end of recording and discovered the mic had been off the entire time. Still, it was a fun day hanging out with friends and having a few beers. I managed to salvage the video with a voice over but it would have been more entertaining had the audio been captured.

Natural Rubber Mattress Review

We had a request for a video review of our natural organic rubber mattress and, with this week being so hectic, we thought now would be a good time to do it. Our mattress is comfortable, non-toxic and fairly thin, which helps maximize the head room in our tiny house loft.

The mattress was rolled up like a giant sausage when we picked it up from the store!

It is made from natural rubber and the outer shell is wool and organic cotton. Here are the attributes from the Sleeptek website.

Overall, we are happy with the mattress in the year we have been using it. We bought a medium firmness which is just a touch too soft for me but Aimee finds the level of firmness really comfortable.

PVWatts Tutorial

Here is a quick tutorial of the online solar planning tool PVWatts. This tool will help you gain a better understanding of the actual solar power that can be generated on your site and it’s FREE!

PVWatts Calculator

Dish Drying Racks

We had a request to know more about the dish drying racks in our kitchen and I thought it was a great idea for a short post.

The racks are from Ikea and can be mounted on the wall, set on a counter or in  a sink. If you are interested, the product name is Fintorp and they are $16.99 CAD each.

We positioned our drying racks over the sink to keep the counter space free and so that any stray drips not caught by the trays would fall into the sink.

The pine paneling wasn’t thick enough to support the racks long term so we added a thicker pine backing board to the studs and secured the racks to that instead.

The kitchen ceiling is low so we have shelving over the counters instead of cupboards. We put our dishes on the shelf next to the drying rack so putting dishes away would be less work.

Overall the racks work great but our one complaint is that the drip trays are galvanized steel and still rust on the inside. We are not sure why they didn’t just make plastic drip trays.

At least the sides haven’t corroded too badly yet.

Hobbit Stove Review

As you know, we have been living in the tiny house for a little over a year now. We thought it would be a good time to do a review of The Hobbit Stove from Salamader Stoves. We were very excited when it came in the mail from the UK and it did not disappoint.

Still in the crate shortly after arriving.

The stove came with a variety of accessories; a small brush and dust pan, a stove top thermometer, an oven mitt, some fire starters and a tool to open and close the door when the handles have become too hot.

The stove top thermometer provides temperature and also has a handy guide to make sure the stove is running in the best temperature range.

The Hobbit compared to the wood burning stove in the house we used to rent.

We have several other posts that cover the installation and operation of the hobbit stove:

One thing we should mention, even though it has been covered previously, is that all wood stoves should have fresh air intakes located nearby. Our air intake has a cold air trap built into it and can be shut by sliding the grate closed when the stove is not in use.  This vent also does double duty for the gas range. We usually leave it open all the time unless a cold breeze is blowing directly into it and neither stove is in use.

Fresh air intake located between the Hobbit Stove and gas range.




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