Farming in the Rain: Sitka, Alaska

Sitka’s climate Gardening in Sitka’s climate presents several challenges. I would have to say too much rain and a lack of sunlight would have to be at the top of the list. We get a lot of rain in Sitka, some growing seasons more than others. Overcast days are plentiful throughout the growing season as well. Overcast days help to give plants a chance to recover after a stretch of constant rain. It’s important to give the soil a chance to dry out and become more stable and easier to Read More …

Sitka, Alaska’s Climactic Zone

  Sitka, Alaska is a part of the The Tongass National Forest- the largest temperate rainforest in the world. Cool days, frequent rain, and acidic soil that has a hi are factors to consider when gardening. Hardy crops thrive in Sitka as show by native, woody edible plants that fruit throughout the year: blueberries, crowberries, low bush cranberries. Hardy plants thrive. Tlingit and Haida potatoes have been planted and harvested for over 200 years in Sitka. You can read more about this history here Normals for years: 1981-2010 USDA Plant Read More …

Starting bare root strawberries

This summer I received 2500 bare root strawberry starts. With that, one must ask themselves what to do with that amount of starts and how to approach what to do with them all. These starts in particular come from a commercial variety called ‘Tribute’. This variety is particularly desirable because of the large yields of sweet delicious berries and are hardy enough to survive cold wet winters.This hybrid strawberry was developed by the University of Maryland for large crops with good disease tolerance.   I began by pulling all the Read More …

More Rain than Shine: Book Review of, “How To Grow Vegetables in Sitka, Alaska” by Lori Adams

  My Plan to Grow When I became Assistant Groundskeeper at the Sitka Pioneers’ Home in almost five years ago I was really impressed with the amount of flowers that were now in my care. But it didn’t take me long to realize there was something lacking on the Pioneers’ Home grounds. I knew that a small vegetable garden would be a nice, attractive, and useful addition for the home. Fortunately I was not alone in this thinking as a former employee of the home had received permission to do Read More …

Mindfulness and Gardening: The Benefits of Stopping, Breathing, and Enjoying your Alaska Garden

Mindfulness and Gardening The Benefits of Stopping, Breathing  and Enjoying your Alaska Garden   Gardening has consistently proven to be a healthy, mood-enhancing activity  that begets numerous psychological and physical benefits.   For example, gardening showed significant increases in  quality of life, self-esteem,  life satisfaction,  happiness,  and sense of community, as well as reductions in stress levels, anxiety, and depression.    Additionally, gardening is associated with increased overall levels of physical activity and fitness, increased calorie burn, lower body mass index (BMI), and reduced risk of obesity.   Mindfulness has Read More …

Winter Doesn’t Have to Mean Boring

One distinct challenge about living in Alaska is making the landscape appealing in the winter. Deciduous shrubs lose their leaves, there’s very little color, and everything is covered by a blanket of snow. Challenging, but by no means impossible. To create a vibrant and interesting winter landscape, consider the following: Color Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a deciduous holly which is decorated by bright red berries from summer through winter. For beautiful berries, Cranberry Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculatus) is another great choice. A deciduous low hedge or groundcover formed by spreading branches. Read More …

The Jensen-Olson Arboretum in Juneau, Alaska – A gift for the senses

Pollinator on Primula

The Jensen-Olson Arboretum  in Juneau, Alaska A Gift For The Senses It is a gorgeous day in Southeast Alaska and I am heading to The Jensen-Olson Arboretum for some much needed “garden therapy.’   I drive on Glacier Highway past mile marker 23 and make a left onto the small parking lot, get out of the car, take a few steps and WHOA!– I am greeted by an explosion of fragrances, textures, flavors, and colors bursting out of 1.5 acres of carefully tended, pure waterfront magic.   I stop, breathe Read More …

We Grew It! Sustainable Agriculture in the Southeast Island School District

Southeast Island School District The Southeast Island School District (SISD) covers 7 communities on Prince of Wales Island, Port Alexander on Baranof Island, and Hyder next to the Canadian border. Although large in size the district serves around 160 students in these diverse areas. Within the district we have 4 greenhouses with a 5th on the way to being completed. These sites have gardens, flocks of chickens, and the district maintains an orchard. The school district has worked with many partners to make these facilities possible and were grateful to Read More …

Lemon Grass: Superhero Among Herbs

When I worked in garden centers down South there was one particular herb that was always in demand: lemongrass. I turned away customers on a regular basis because my vendors couldn’t grow enough to meet the demand. It’s such an easy, versatile plant that has many uses: culinary, medicinal and aesthetic. Then I moved to Juneau. I was perusing my weekly availability sheet and was thrilled to find the elusive lemongrass! I ordered 2 flats of it. And it sat in the greenhouse all season. I couldn’t understand why they Read More …