Growing Ranunculus in Southcentral Alaska

by Megan O’Mullane I fell in love with ranunculus in the spring of 2020 when I was working for Greta Lewanski on her cut-flower farm, Turnstone Farm, in our Airport Heights neighborhood. The ranunculus was blooming ahead of everything else because she had started them so early. They had the same lush, romantic appeal as peonies but were blooming in a far wider range of colors, and I knew I had to try growing them for myself. Last year was my first season growing ranunculus in my own garden and Read More …

Dreaming of sunshine: 3 of My Favorite Recipes from Last Year’s Garden

My garden is sleeping under 3 feet of snow. I am left to day dream of sunny afternoons spent among lush, green, growing things. While I wait for spring, I’d like to share a few of my favorite recipes that I made during the 2021 gardening season. The first is my absolute favorite, Pea Salad. The second utilizes the harvest I’m most proud of, Spaghetti Squash Casserole. Lastly, Pot Roast with Roasted Vegetables, which is the first fall dish I make after the last harvest in the fall. They’re all Read More …

Why in the world would you want to keep honey bees in Anchorage, Alaska?

Honey bees in Anchorage, Alaska? Why yes, that’s my plan for summer 2022! So when a friend gives you seven Langstroth bee boxes that have been in storage for over ten years, what would you do? If you’re like me, you accept them, clean them up, repair and repaint them, and start researching, reading and watching everything honey bees. When thinking about beekeeping, some might ask why? In fact, every person I’ve told about the boxes and the bees asks why? Some recoil at the thought. Some roll their eyes at me. Read More …

What Is Wrong With My Rhubarb?

Delicious in crisps, pies, and even a cocktail, this versatile vegetable is relatively easy to grow. Though technically a vegetable, rhubarb is an Alaskan fruit favorite! But what happens when the pie plant some gardeners choose to leave to its own devices suddenly takes a turn? Growing up we had one very large and happy rhubarb plant in our backyard. It wasn’t in a garden, wasn’t even tended to, and it did great! Our rhubarb seemed to defy most garden advice: a testament to how hardy the plant is! Crisps Read More …

Starting Berries in Winter

An Experiment It’s February in Alaska while the rest of country is gearing up for spring. You’re walking the aisles of your local big box store and admiring the berry starts that just came in! Outside it’s still cold and dark, bright snow gleaming back at you during the short daylight hours. These starts are still dormant, save for a few brave ones with green leaves beginning to break through buds on the canes of the raspberries. Below I’ve chronicled the results of my experiment inducing spring indoors and successfully Read More …

Naked Mojitos, Purple Flowers, and Fancy Hot Chocolate

After having the pleasure of trying my hand at growing and using a few different cultivars, my sweet tooth ultimately tipped the scales in favor of chocolate mint. This species is readily available at nurseries, grocery stores, and other large home improvement convenience stores. It is a strong grower, and in my humble opinion, the best of the frequently available mint varieties to make mojitos with.  Chocolate mint is a peppermint that is a cross between watermint and spearmint (mentha x piperita). It has a USDA hardiness rating of 5 Read More …

Some Additions to the Mountaingoat’s Collection of Common Names

It’s been almost twenty years since I first picked up a copy of Verna Pratt’s Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, A Roadside Guide. While it might be a little unnecessary or even redundant to offer a literary review of one of Alaska’s most famous Master Gardeners, her introduction, penned in 1990, is just as prescient now as it was two decades ago. In her introduction, Verna makes it clear the book was created with the amateur botanist in mind. Given I satisfy amateur criteria, I don’t mind telling you, I Read More …

Alaskans are Truly Global Gardeners!

A brief history of the origins of our favorite garden vegetables Ice on the puddles the other morning had me lamenting the fact that it was still too soon to put starts outside for the season. That got me wondering about the vast number of plants we love to grow in Alaska that aren’t native to our region.  Wishing that I wasn’t at the mercy of our climate I asked myself “where do cucumbers grow in the wild?”. Within minutes my curiosity got the better of me.  Suddenly, I was Read More …

Building a Four Season Greenhouse

I know I am not the only one!  Each fall, the lower the mercury starts to drop, the fuller my house becomes with summer’s plants that I cannot bare to kill. Sometimes things become absurd. Forget using the hot tub, it is now the Arctic Petunia Sanctuary.  The grape vine, re-designated a house plant, attacks and strangles the ceiling fan.   Come February, the living room becomes the seed nursery.  Regular furniture gives way to large folding tables, all covered with flats of starts.  It happens for so many years that Read More …