‘Life Below Zero’ Exclusive: Sue Aikens Takes Us To The Tundra Garden And Finds Fireweed

Sue Aikens

National Geographic Channel’s Life Below Zero is one of the best Alaskan reality series out there and features fan favorite, Sue Aikens. The series spawned a new spinoff, Life Below Zero: Next Generation following new people who call the remote wilderness of Alaska home.

In TV Shows Ace exclusive clip below, Sue Aikens is trying to work around a cold snap in summer that decimated her garden in June when temperatures plummeted to 20 degrees.

The tundra is now where she must look for her greens to get her through the long dark winter.

She spots fireweed on her drive out into the plains we normally see covered in snow. Sue explains the multipurpose uses of this healthy plant that can be eaten raw, or made into a tea or jelly.

About the Life Below Zero episode

“Mother nature throws a curveball at the globe, and we all scrape. This is me scraping,” says Sue Aikens as she notes the wildlife and the plant life in particular are changing.

In the clip we ride shotgun with Sue as she explains her predicament. She says: “This has been a very cold summer. My garden was doing very well and I went to 20 [degrees] in the middle of June. Killed it.  I’ve only got a month…maybe six weeks and I’m back to freezing temperatures. I don’t have a fourth try.”

Sue is driving in the open tundra which is normally a snow covered landscape.  She adds: “The tundra is where i’ve gotta look for my greens.”  Sue notices an irregular growth spot where she suspects an edible plant can be found.

Getting out of her car, Sue says: “I’m gonna stop and look that may be fireweed out there…doesn’t look like the biggest patch I’ve ever seen but I’m a betting gal and I’m betting you that’s fireweed out there.”

Sue’s hunches are on the money and she explains that fireweed is a “100 percent edible plant.”

She says: “I can take the greens put them away for some vegetable. I can take those flowers [and] I can make jelly out of it. I can eat them, dry them, make tea out of it… there’s a lot I can do and it’s healthy for me.”

She explains how she has to balance her food sources when a rogue grasshopper jumps on her.  She says: “Okay… it’s something we don’t have here. The grasshopper. Don’t you bite me! I hope you don’t bite.”

Pointing to herself, she adds: “If that little grasshopper can make it, this grasshopper can.”

Sue Aikens, Alaskan Explorer

Aikens excels at living alone, thriving in the arctic despite constant and extreme life-threatening challenges. Apex predators, equipment failures, food stores and managing all of that…nothing is beyond her ability.

The series shows us how these hearty people, Aikens included, deal with deeply cold weather, lack of natural light all while being miles away from civilization. You ran out of milk? Too bad.  Aikens lives in the most remote section of the state, and over 500 miles from the nearest town.

In our exclusive preview, Sue says: “Has my weather changed? Has my climate changed? Have my plants changed? Absolutely. Mother Nature throws a curveball at the globe and we all scrape… so this is me scraping.”

In our exclusive TV Shows Ace interview, Sue foreshadowed the struggle to find fresh greens. She said: “Procuring food is always a concern. This high in the arctic I am not eligible for moose or Musk Ox or salmon… and I must have a business. Weather will play a huge role as well. The pandemic takes center stage for us all and the impact is felt and life adjusted.”

Watch as she takes us to her Alaskan farmer’s market of greens:


Life Below Zero airs Tuesday at 8 PM ET on National Geographic Channel.

April Neale

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *