Successful Alaska Gardening- Part 1

alaska gardening

Successful Alaska Gardening Part 1
By Ann Roberts

Many gardeners, newly transplanted to Alaska, have despaired of ever growing more than greens that bolt to seed before they’re worth picking. Or watching seedlings that just sit (waiting for warmer weather), or plants killed by frost before they can produce. The lesson? Alaska gardening is different from the “lower 49” states. But by learning a few things about those differences, any Southcentral or Kenai Peninsula gardener can find gardening success. And many of the lessons learned here can help others who garden in far northern states, or even Canada.

A few challenges gardeners face in this area of Alaska are, naturally, cool weather, cold soil, and, paradoxically, too much daylight! Fortunately, solutions are close at hand. Made possible by a combination of soil warming techniques and careful plant variety selection.

Cool Weather

Very little can be done about weather, though soil warming techniques will help a little, and variety selection (covered later) is very important. The Matanuska Valley may have lush lawns because of more rain, but don’t think you can skip watering – Anchorage actually only averages a few inches more water per season than Fairbanks; it is cloud cover that makes the difference. Cloud cover ensures heat accumulation remains low in South central Alaska and many plants will need greenhouse protection to mature here. The lower Kenai Peninsula stores up even fewer “heating degree days”.

Permafrost and Cold Soil

In South central and Southeastern Alaska permafrost (ground that remains frozen all summer) occurs only sporadically. It is found mostly in isolated and often widely separated masses. A boggy or swampy surface may indicate the ground is too frozen to allow drainage. But if the surface insulation (often peat moss) is removed, the permafrost can then melt down to a level that permits good natural drainage. Unfortunately, soils in Alaska are cold even where there is no permafrost at all!

Soil-Warming Tips for Alaska Gardening

The most frequent recommendations for soil warming are:

  • raised beds
  • clear plastic
  • lightening heavy soils

Other home gardening possibilities are planting in the sunniest spot, using greenhouses or hot frames, putting Styrofoam® insulating boards and/or heat tapes below the plants’ root zone, and utilizing solar collectors. If possible, water with tempered (warmed) water.

For vegetables not under plastic, sprinkler irrigation is most often recommended for Alaska, as warm air helps warm sprinkler water. Avoid sprinkling beans, which are particularly susceptible to soil-born disease organisms, spread by splattering water drops.

Ann D Roberts is the author of Alaska Gardening Guide Vol 1, covering cold weather gardening in Alaska, with specific growing tips for vegetables. The book, written and published in Alaska, is in its third printing and is already the �definitive and indispensable reference guide to every Alaskan gardener.� Readers can check out its table of contents at [] Ann is presently working on Vol 2, covering perennials and lawns. This article may be freely reprinted in its entirety, including this last paragraph.

Alaska Gardening

A Kitchen Garden Is A Wonderful Thing!

kitchen garden

Make A Kitchen Garden Part Of Your Life

Grown right outside of the house, the benefits of having a kitchen garden in your backyard can be very time saving. In the current world of large grocery stores, most don’t have kitchen gardens anymore and all sorts of foods can be found year round with no strong effort of experiencing grown them. Despite this allure, the benefits of having a kitchen garden remains very real, and until you have tried the taste of a homegrown oregano as part of your pasta sauce that has been picked out right outside your back door, you may not comprehend what you are missing.

There’s certain initial work and expense involved with any backyard garden, but it is all extremely easy and very little work or investment. You may invest in developing a smaller area and also have it landscaped to create a gorgeous backyard garden, or you can purchase a few large pots and have them set right outside of the back door for easy access. What’s much more important regarding your kitchen garden is just what you decide to grow.

Many people with a kitchen garden elect to grow herb plants that they would likely regularly purchase at the grocery store. This is particularly popular with immigrants from other countries. They frequently bring or order seeds from their native homelands and grow them here in their kitchen gardens in order to still enjoy many of the same foods they depended upon in their home countries. For example, Italian immigrants once had gardens filled with spices and greens they used in Italy for their everyday cooking and to help supplement the things they bought right here. Asians brought over seeds of bitter melon and various cabbages for basics in their cooking. A lot of hybrid dishes seem to have been made that way and so are staples in American cooking today.

Starting with perennial herbs and perennial vegetables which are incredibly easy to grow crops is recommended. Rosemary, chives, oregano, thyme, sage, rhubarb and asparagus complete a good base for adding annual herbs and veggies. These base herbs will carry any chef through many recipes summer through winter. Supplemented annual herbs may be harvested and frozen or dried for off-season use.

Periodic veggies that are preferred with any kitchen garden are tomato plants. Being the countries’ most well-liked garden veggie, the tomato helps make the backbone of most kitchen gardens for good reason. Completely ready off of the vine in the summer, tomatoes are a real treat fresh from your backyard! They will taste much sweeter and well-balanced than grocery store tomatoes, and with the heirloom resurgence tomatoes are also beautiful and varied in shape and textures.

Peppers are another kitchen garden favorite. They also can be easily preserved and enjoyed fresh, and growing your own personal peppers will save you lots of money on grocery shopping. If you’ve never enjoyed the health benefits and simplicity of growing delicious fresh peppers before you ought to. Even kitchen gardens in the far north can enjoy a harvest of sweet peppers with the right types produced. Both tomatoes and peppers are as easily grown in pots as they may be in the earth.

Lettuces and other greens are another great seasonal kitchen garden enhancements. There are numerous kinds of lettuce with a lot of flavors, several of which you can normally only find in elegant pricey restaurants. Grow them yourself at home and appreciate gourmet right outside of the back door cheaply! Other seasonal greens including swiss chard, healthy spinach, cabbage, and microgreens are all expensive from the store too, and are very easy to grow at home. Save money on food shopping by growing your own greens.

Today, people are eating healthier and they are more interested in the quality and flavor of their food. If you’re still not sure about the ease of a kitchen garden, test growing a couple of plants in containers and watch your family enjoy the simplicity of picking fresh herbs for improving the household meal. Children love growing and harvesting these foods and the kitchen garden can become a project for the whole family!

Mediterranean Garden Design

mediterranean garden design
Mediterranean gardens are best known for their casual elegance. Inspired by coastal regions of Spain, Italy and France, this type of garden brings together relaxed elements and plants with formal highlights and styles. Terra cotta pots, layered fountains, statuary, Roman columns and bocce ball courts are all hallmarks of Mediterranean gardens. The plant scheme of a Mediterranean garden design plan is made of plants that provide texture, coloring and structure – think lavender, cypress trees and decorative grasses. Of all the popular backyard garden ideas the Mediterranean garden design might be the most lush.

A Mediterranean garden design will quickly transport you to another world each time you step out your door. The fragrance of the aromatic herbs, the sound of trickling water plus the warm color of terra cotta will make you want to take a seat and revel in a glass of wine. All that you’ll be missing is a view of the shimmering azure sea.

Elements of Mediterranean Garden Design

Due to the perfect climate, the people in the Mediterranean lead an outdoors lifestyle. For hundreds of years they have been gardening, making friends and eating outdoors. Three elements of Mediterranean garden design which have developed and spread are: bocce ball, tiered fountains and natural herb gardens.

Bocce ball is an Italian sport that dates back to the Roman Empire. Much like lawn bowling, the object is to position your ball closest to the jack. The sport is enjoyed on a lengthy, narrow court with two, to eight players. Want to know more about Bocce ball? Click here.

Layered or tiered fountains are located in virtually every European courtyard and plaza. Rome’s Trevi fountain is arguably the most famous on the planet. It even has its own website. Tiered garden water fountains can be quite simple or blanketed with intricate carvings and sculptures.

Natural herb gardens are extremely popular around the world. During the medieval era, monks and nuns located close to the Mediterranean became experts at growing herbs to use for both cooking and therapeutic purposes. Today this practice has become widespread for individual households. Having an herb garden enables you to easily add the fresh flavors of French and Italian cuisine to your meals.

Tips On Gardening

tips on gardening small garden design,small garden plan,
Small Garden Plan

Common Sense Tips on Gardening

Having the ability to grow your own food will give you a satisfying sense of accomplishment. The only thing better than picking fresh tomatoes for your salad, is having an entire salad for your efforts. This article can give you tips on gardening that can help you get more out of your garden.

Start with Seedlings

Start your seedlings in pots inside and then transplant them into your garden. Your plants will be more likely to survive if you do this. It also permits you to tighten the time between plantings. Using this method, you can remove the mature plants, then put the seedlings in their places.

TIP! Check your soil before you begin planting your garden. If necessary, pay a small fee to have your soil analyzed, and you’ll be glad that you did when you understand what nutrients your soil is lacking.

Get Your Soil Right

Fight pests before you even plant, by getting your soil in shape. Healthy soil equals healthy plants and healthy plants can fight off diseases with ease. Healthy, rich soil with fewer chemicals will increase the yield of your plants, and reduce accumulated salts.

Do not spend your money on chemicals to fight mildew. Combine baking soda with a small dollop of liquid soap and add it to water. Spray this on the plants once per week until that mildew goes away. This is a natural solution for ridding your plants of mildew safely.

TIP! Plants need to take in CO2 to grow and thrive. The majority of plants grow much better when CO2 levels are at their highest.

The Right Tools

Purchase both a wheelbarrow and kneeling stool or knee pads to work with in the garden. Spending time on the ground is rough on the knees, a portable and light stool can help make gardening easier. It is also normal to move heavy objects and dirt around the garden, so a wheelbarrow is something you should have.

Keep your pet out of the garden with old perfume or aftershave in the grass. This will help to cover the scents that are attracting the dog, and make it less of an appealing place for your dog to be.

Dress to protect your skin from sun damage when you garden. Make sure you wear a wide brimmed hat along with sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen. Wearing sun protection is important to help ward off the unnecessary pain of sunburn, and it will help lessen your skin cancer risk, too.

Water mixed with aspirin is great for combating plant disease. Dissolve one and one-half aspirins into two gallons of cold water, and use it to protect your plants. Spray the plants with the aspirin water to assist plants in battling disease. Be sure to repeat this process every two or three weeks.

TIP! Grow wheat or cat grass around the plants your cat likes nibbling. Another option is to protect your plants by lacing them with offensive smells, such as peels from citrus fruit or even moth balls from your closet.

Once your seeds start sprouting, they do not need as much warmth as they needed before. Your seedlings should be moved away from any heat source. Also take any plastic films off of your containers, so you can keep the warmth and humidity out.

TIP! A simple way to lower the alkaline content of your soil is to dilute it with coffee grounds. This is a simple way to replenish your soil with acid.

Raised Bed Gardening

Create a raised bed for your garden out of stone, bricks or untreated wood. Be sure that any wood you use isn’t chemically treated, and will be able to resist rot naturally. The best varieties include cedar, locust and cypress wood. Never use compost from treated woods in a veggie garden; the chemicals can contaminate your food. If the ground cover you’ve used already contained treated lumber, line it with a barrier of some form.

Gardening is a high-risk, high-reward activity and the rewards certainly are sweet. While chemical companies may make astounding claims about their products, growing your own foodstuff is the most rewarding option.

Home gardening, as you can see, is an awesome way to grow your own delicious food. Using your own produce in your favorite dishes will make you that much prouder of your meals. Apply these guidelines in order to get the most out of your gardening efforts.

Vegetable Gardening For Beginners

vegetable gardening for beginnersIf you’ve dreamed of having healthier, easily available fresh foods for your family to eat whenever they’d like, you might have started thinking how you can plant a vegetable garden. Planting your very own vegetable garden lets you manage whether harmful chemicals are used on the foods you consume, allows you to have fresh vegetables for cooking or enjoying raw during harvesting season, and saves you money both in the summer and winter, since you can freeze or can the vegetables you grow and enjoy them throughout the year.

Planting a vegetable garden is not difficult either, but there are several steps required. First you need to plan the location of your vegetable garden, then you need to prep the ground for your vegetable garden, then you’ll plant your seeds or starter plants. From then on, it’s just a matter of taking care of your vegetable plants and keeping the weeds away. And before long you will find yourself outside selecting fresh vegetables right off the vine.

Vegetable Gardening For Beginners: Preparing the Space

The first thing you’ll need to know about planting a vegetable garden, is where you locate your new garden is critical. Vegetables require five to six hours daily of full sunlight, so exactly where you place your vegetable garden plays a crucial role in how successful that garden will be.

Plan Before Planting

You’ll need to plan the space wisely. Depending upon how many vegetables you intend to plant, and how much of each vegetable you wish to be able to harvest, you might find you’ll need quite a bit of room for your vegetable garden. A household of four for instance, typically needs rows of vegetables about 10 feet long to provide enough for the whole family. So when you want to plant twenty different vegetables, you will need a great deal of space.

Vegetable gardens can be planted in containers, and this might be an alternative option for you to consider. Many separate vegetables can grow in a single container too. The best option for the first time planting a vegetable garden is to start small. Choose perhaps five vegetables to plant , or try planting smaller quantities of many different vegetables.

Vegetable Gardening For Beginners: Preparing the Soil

The next thing you will need to learn about planting a vegetable garden, is that soil preparation is essential. There’s a lot to learn , so we won’t cover it in detail here. Nevertheless the basic steps included in preparing your vegetable garden soil require turning the soil, and enriching it with garden compost or some other organic matter.

Vegetables require a lot of nutrition to develop , so the better you prepare the soil before planting, the better chances you will have of producing a bountiful crop.

Planting Your Vegetables

The next step in learning how to grow a vegetable garden is the exciting part. You’ll plant your seeds or starter plants within the freshly prepared soil.

If you are putting your vegetables in conventional rows, you are going to simply sprinkle seeds across the top of a row, then cover then lightly with a thin layer of soil. If you’re working with starter seedling plants, you will make a slight hole on the top of the row, put your starter plant in the hole, then pack the mounded soil around it lightly.

Planting vegetables with elevated garden beds is done much the same way when you are working with rows. If you plant your vegetables in rectangular blocks that is easily carried out in the same ways. Alternatively, you can randomly position your vegetable plants and seeds, creating a more natural appearance when the sprouts start to create leaves.

These are some very basic steps for vegetable gardening for beginners and there is obviously much more to learn. This site, and others, offer a wealth of free and effective advice on growing a successful crop of healthy and pesticide free vegetables for you and your family.