The Upcycled Garden

Beds Filled With Soil & Topped With Compost

Many people love the joys that come with gardening.  Are you one of them?  Think about how many gardens you’ve seen in your life and what they looked like.  A little four foot by four-foot box, a 2000 square foot in ground garden with perfectly spaced rows, hydroponic setups, or raised beds perfectly lined up it looks like a surveyor laid out the beds.  Any way you look at it, people build their gardens to their satisfaction and that’s what makes every garden out there the right design.  If it Read More …

Putting into Practice What I learned in the Alaska Master Gardener Online Class–What Worked and What Didn’t?

This piece will hopefully capture a bit of how the 2020 summer gardening season went.  This time around, we went into the season armed with information from the Master Gardener Course taken online at UAF in 2019.  What good is new knowledge if you don’t use it?  Better yet, if you try something new, it is always useful to actually observe and write down what you did and how it worked out. As of today, the only thing still in the ground here in Anchorage is a 37-gallon trash can Read More …

Southcentral Gardening Thoughts Amid COVID-19 Reopening

As the zombie apocalypse known as COVID-19 recedes into a not so distant and unpleasant memory, we make our way into spring and early summer.   This year, I am armed with a modified toolkit due to the Alaska Master Gardener Online Course last fall.   So, how have things gone so far? Goals I had several goals this spring in no particular order.   These include Prune gooseberries, blueberries, and birch trees in the yard See if I can recover growable yacon from corms stored over the winter Change Read More …

Crop Rotation in Raised Beds

One of the fallouts from the Alaska Master Gardener Online course has been an appreciation of crop rotation, yet another thing I haven’t been doing.   This is a bit of a planning / thought piece on how to set up a workable system.   What better time to do this than in the dead of winter? Raised Beds Many years ago, I constructed three raised beds in the lowest, wettest part of the yard, affectionately referred to as ‘the swamp’.   The goal was to productively use this part Read More …

Growing Yacon in Anchorage

I ran across yacon in 2014 in a column by Jeff Lowenfels.   He recommended it as a handsome plant that produces sweet tubers at the end of the growing season.   We decided to give it a try one year and have done it every year since. The plant itself goes by several names:   yacon, Bolivian sunroot, Peruvian ground apple and occasionally “yacon strawberry.’  The plant itself is related to sunflowers, dahlias, Jerusalem artichokes and other similar plants. It generally looks similar to a sunflower and grows up Read More …

Red Cabbage Kraut Brightens a Winter Plate

When winter gets dark and the vegetables sitting on the supermarket shelf seem somewhat sad, sauerkraut is a beautiful and healthy addition to your plate.   In Anchorage, you can buy local sauerkraut at farmers’ markets and many stores. However,  it’s easy and fun to make your own so you can keep enjoying your garden’s harvest even when it’s snowing outside! I started making sauerkraut five years ago when my boyfriend showed me how.  Krauting our garden cabbages has been a part of every harvest since then. With each batch, Read More …

Rose Hip Syrup To Cure Your Winter Woes

As summer quickly turns into fall,  the wild roses shed their petals in exchange for the beautiful cherry fruits called rose hips. The sight of rose hips blanketing the bushes is as sure a sign as the fireweed turning to fluff that fall is on it’s way. I know many people who like to pick  rose hips as a vitamin C laden snack  on late fall hikes, or to  dry and preserve them  for teas. That was  the plan one late summer as I filled gallon Ziploc bags full of Read More …

Simply Smoked Salmon

Everyone in Alaska smokes salmon, right? It’s in our blood. We just know what to do. Chances are you have a section in the food preservation department of the garage that is dedicated to salmon smoking paraphernalia. This department we visit throughout the year to replenish jars or stash more Food Saver bags when we find them on sale, but at a minimum we take inventory right before the salmon runs are expected so we aren’t caught short handed. There’s nothing worse than having fresh salmon ready to brine, running Read More …

Welcome To My Climatic Zone in the Matanuska Valley

My Climate I live in a subdivision in the middle of Palmer and Wasilla so all of my neighbors, including myself, have raised beds. One great benefit of raised beds is that they thaw much faster in the spring than frozen ground, so that means you can prepare and transplant earlier. Another reason raised beds work here is our ground is very rocky so it’s just easier to have a raised bed. The raised beds have better drainage, which is great for a rainy week. Benefit or challenge? I have Read More …