Tropical Alaska: Growing Indoor Tropical Plants in Anchorage

It’s October and the birch and cottonwood leaves color the ground yellow outside, while the annual flowers planted around Anchorage have been pulled up.    The termination dust has already frosted the peaks of the Chugach Front Range, and it won’t be long before winter arrives.   So what is a plant enthusiast to do during the dark and cold winters in south-central Alaska? One solution is to visit the Mann Leiser Memorial Greenhouse in Anchorage.   Operated by the Municipality of Anchorage from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm daily, Read More …

Seed starting for Beginners Part 1

Its that time!   It is the time of year – time to appease our need for the smell of soil and the love of nurturing green life. Many people spend a fortune in plants at the box stores and green houses. Good for them, there is nothing wrong with that. However, paying $2-3 per cabbage plant makes me wonder why they don’t just buy cabbage at the grocery store. Not only is it expensive, but missing the seed starting is missing one of the best parts! Watching and nurturing Read More …

Savage Gardening: Keeping Carnivorous Plants Alive

Almost every time I go to Lowe’s I see Venus fly traps or pitcher plants for sale. Last week a colleague asked about mine–mainly how do I keep them  alive? His son had convinced him to let him bring one home. Within weeks, the leaves were turning black, and no new leaves were forming. Unfortunately, other symptoms, such as rotting leaves, didn’t match those of a plant going into dormancy. I have been raising  carnivorous plants  for a few years now so after trial, error, and lots of  research, I Read More …

Adaptive Gardening

At the end of a gardening session do you slowly rise to your feet, stretch, and feel the pains that toiling in the soil bring to your body?  How many of us take the time to think about how the same activity level would affect a person with limited flexibility, one who is an amputee, or a person who is wheelchair bound?  This summer I have been privileged to look at these issues from an up close and personal perspective.  When we are young, bending, reaching, hauling heavy items, and Read More …

Indoor air quality and plants–clear as smoke?

I’ve been thinking a lot about air quality lately. When I look out my cabin window, the familiar mountains are veiled behind a thick, smoky haze. For most of us, you don’t need to look at a map these days to know that Alaska is on fire. One glance out the window, one breath through your nose and it is obvious that the beautiful, hot, and dry spring created the perfect conditions for wildfires. Whether near or far, the fires in Alaska will affect each and every one of us Read More …

Before and After : 2 quick season extension tips

My quest for extending the growing season began after my move to Alaska in 2001. Raised in the Midwest I grew up eating tomatoes on the vine, toasted tomato sandwiches, and  canning bushels of tomatoes. After all, tomatoes are SO easy to grow and very plentiful — right?   Well, I see the smile on your knowing faces because after I moved to Alaska it took me nearly a decade to taste my first fresh tomatoes from the vine, and mind you it was not a plentiful bounty. A few Read More …

Gardening in the Snow, sometimes.

In April, when the average temperature hovers around 20 above, and the snow glistens in the 12 hour sunlight, arctic gardeners like to start their seeds.   Throughout the year, we wash out yogurt containers, sour cream and cottage cheese containers save egg cartons, paper towel tubes, and even those clear plastic takeout containers.   We start seeds because the nearest greenhouse is 600 air miles away and we can’t afford to wait for the weather. While the kids are ice fishing, my husband and I set up two folding Read More …

Growing your Scientific Method Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan Title: Grow your scientific method. Concept / Topic To Teach: The Scientific method Standards Addressed:     The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by [8] SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring, and communicating* [8] SA1.2 collaborating to design and conduct repeatable investigations, in order to record, analyze (i.e., range, mean, median, mode), interpret data, and present findings (L)*   General Goal(s): The student will be able to design, carry out, a critique a scientific experiment. Specific Objectives: The student Read More …