Alaska Educators Guide to Hydroponically Growing, Harvesting, and Learning about Food and Plants in the Classroom

NFT Hydroponics setup growing lettuce

This guide is for Alaska educators to incorporate hydroponics into your classroom. There are five sections included in this guide, and they are presented in order,  with the beginning sections giving you what you need to know/do first to get started,  following with a section on lesson plans to help you teach important aspects of growing  plants. There are many resources out there to help with this process, and this guide  concludes with some of those resources. Using hydroponics in the classroom is a wonderful way to connect students to Read More …

Early Starts with the AeroGarden

In Alaska, starting plants indoors takes some effort. They need lights.   They need good soil (eventually).  And based on the part of the state you live in; they need to be done indoors for varying lengths of time. Here in Anchorage, we are cautioned to not plant outside until the leaves of the birch trees get to be the size of squirrel’s ears.   The generally works out to be sometime in late May, sometimes a bit earlier, sometimes a bit later. We have not had much luck with 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 …

Vermiculture With the Worm Factory 360

One of the science projects I’ve managed to get myself into is vermiculture. Using a Worm Factory 360 in my heated garage, my worms manufacture compost throughout the winter for my spring starts.   It has nothing to do with wanting to recycle, for environmental reasons.   Rather, I simply do it to have enough compost / mulch in the house to for starts in the spring.   Like I said, an experiment. After a little bit of research, I decided that the Worm Factory 360, a rotating set of Read More …

Gooseberries – Paying Attention to Pruning

This post is more or less an object lesson in pruning (or the lack thereof). In some ways, a cautionary tale, as I have some (a bunch) work to do after breakup next spring. I got interested in gooseberries perhaps a decade ago, once again based on Jeff Lowenfels former radio show. We ordered four of them that seemed to be robust in the gardens of south Anchorage from a nursery in the Lower 48 and put them into the garden–two Hinnomaki Red and two Hinnomaki Yellow gooseberries. The Alaska Read More …

Crop Rotation

Table of content What is crop rotation? What are the benefits of crop rotation? An example crop rotation schedule How to make your own crop rotation plan What is crop rotation? Crop rotation is when each year a different plant is grown in a spot, for example if a farmer were to grow wheat in a field one year and field peas and a field the next year. What are benefits of crop rotation? Rotating crops from one year to the next between different varieties increases yields by 10% to Read More …

Water conservation in the garden

Table of content Garden bed design Soil Planted varieties How you water How you water: With the hose How you water: Drip irrigation How you water: Let the rain do it Garden bed design Different designs of garden beds have different levels of water conservation. Though hugelkultur mounds have lasting fertility they are open allowing for loss of water to evaporation so when trying to conserve water dig a hole to build your hugelkultur beds in to reduce evaporation. When building garden beds on a hill build a large berm Read More …

Cover crops

Table of content What does a cover crop do? Where should a cover crop be used? What are some good cover crops? Buckwheat Turnips Field peas What does a cover crop do? A cover crop has several uses, the first of which is to suppress weeds in a plot of land not used to grow something else. Cover crops are also used to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Another use for cover crops is for animal fodder sometimes even during the winter. Where should a cover crop Read More …