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 starting seeds 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 my soil mix 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 of the 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 trays, would suit 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 …

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 to 7 -8 Read More …