Where I started when I didn’t know where to start.
I always knew I wanted to have a vegetable garden; but when we finally bought a house with some land I didn’t know what to grow, how to grow it, and when to start. I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed because I knew most of what I would find online wouldn’t work here in Palmer due to our short summer and very long days. That’s when I turned to Facebook! I was in all sorts of Facebook groups, from cloth diapering to buy-sell-trade pages so I thought there had to be one for gardening in my area. I searched for “Gardening in Alaska’ and a few pages came up but I clicked on Mat-Su Valley Gardening since I live in Palmer. Before being able to make a post on the page I had to be approved to join the group. Once I was in I was able to ask all my questions and figure out where to start. A lot of what the members’ posts are based on personal experiences but they also heavily suggest the UAF Cooperative Extension Services, which I check frequently when I’m wanting to learn something new.
From the group, I learned that one beet seed is actually a hard little cluster of two to four actual seeds and I need to space them out after they sprout. This was very helpful for me, as I didn’t get a good crop last year due to overcrowding. Another thing I learned from the page is how to grow garlic in Alaska. I haven’t grown garlic yet but I am doing it this year. I did not know that garlic develops the roots in the fall and winter so when springtime comes it can support the rapid leaf growth. I felt like I was able to rely on what the Mat-Su Valley Gardening Facebook Group suggested because they were local to my area and pointed me in the direction of local research-based information. If you’ve ever grown peppers you know that aphids love them. Before I knew what aphids were I asked the group what the tiny white bugs were on my plant. That’s when I learned to invest in some ladybugs, because they do all the work of clearing out the aphids so they don’t take over your plants. If it wasn’t for that group I would have never known about ladybugs or where to get them.
I enjoy using the group as a resource because everyone is supportive of different growing techniques and has suggestions on what varieties of vegetables or flowers grow well in my area. The group has new and seasoned gardeners alike so there can be a mix of information. After I read a suggestion I like to double check the information if they don’ t post a link to researched-based information. The first place I look is my local cooperative extension office.
Overflowing with information.
There are multiple ways to find information and it’s always a good idea to double check what you read online, ask yourself:
- Is this relevant to me?
- Will this work in my area?
- Is this based on personal experience or is it researched based and if it is research-based who did the research and tested it?
Filtering through all the information the Internet can be a little tough to figure out what is reliable but as long as you keep digging and reading as much as you can it will be worth it when you have a beautiful garden.