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

How To Know What To Plant In Your Garden

what to plant in your garden

How To Know What To Plant In Your Garden
By Christina Lane

How do you figure out what to plant in your garden? There are a number of deciding factors that you can use to figure out what will be the perfect plants to grow in your garden. Some of them are things that you can do nothing about, such as your particular climate. Others such as availability can still allow you to get that particular plant, but with a little help. There are many online sites that can cater to finding you a plant that you may not be able to find locally for your garden. But doing your research, as with in anything, will be what pays off for making your garden all it can be.

A first time gardener should take the time to research what particular growing climate they are in before picking out plants. It is relatively easy to find this out by going to the USDA web page for the growing zones. Once you’ve confirmed which zone you live in it will help tell you what plants you can grow. But there are variances, a family that lives in Vergennes, Vermont is in a zone 5, but plants from neighboring zones such as zone 4 or even zone 3 can be sometimes be grown in that area. It’s just that those neighboring zone plants may not do as well as in their normal area. If you check out the USDA map and simply click on your state you can easily find your specific zone.

If you don’t grow your plants for your garden yourself from seeds, then you can check with your local nurseries to see what they have. Some hardware and lawn and garden stores will carry garden plants too; so that may be a good resource for you. But if you do grow your plants from seed the sky is the limit as to what you can try. Some plants that aren’t designated in your zone may be a harder grow and require more TLC; but it can be really fun to try. There are a number of seeds available in many of your local stores for choosing from. You may find them at: hardware stores, lawn and garden stores, nurseries or even your grocery and drug store. But if you’re looking for something specific, check out some of the tried and tested online seed stores.

But the biggest deciding factor in what to grow in your garden should be based upon space and a poll of the family members within your house. If you grow a garden full of say… turnips and nobody in your home eats turnips then, well… that’s a waste. But polling your family is a great way of getting them involved in what to grow in your garden.

Gardening is a great stress reliever along with allowing you to provide food for your family. Find more tips on gardening at LanDavi Farms . You can also find books, links and more tips on gardening at their sister site LOL Lane’s Online Lawnsale.

What To Plant in Your Garden?

Water Features and Ponds

water features and ponds

Water Features and Ponds Can Transform a Garden

Have you ever noticed how much more peaceful and serene you feel around water? You can have the sounds and beauty on a constant basis if you include water features and ponds in your garden design. The size and intricacy of the feature will depend upon just how complex you want it, how much you are willing to spend as well as the size you have chosen for it.

No matter what dimensions you choose, be sure to get a quality feature. Nothing is worse than going to the hassle of getting new water features and ponds installed and operating then it conking out as a result of poor quality components.

There are so many choices when it comes to water features and ponds for your garden, that you may have a tough time figuring out which one to select. There are trickling water features, with only a tiny stream of water, others that push a higher volume of water to get a more dramatic effect and versions that appear as though they are there naturally, rather than planned.

If you’re planning substantial and complex water features and ponds it will likely be best if you hire professional installers to ensure the job is done right at the first try. They’re able to assist you to integrate an attribute into your existing landscape and provide you suggestions regarding how to take care of it to guarantee durability and fewer difficulties.

If you’re a do-it-yourself person, you are going to love all the online help available for water feature preparation, building and maintenance. You will find pictures of exotic gardens that integrate water features and ponds, plants, and fish in gorgeous natural tapestries. You will also discover evidence of smaller water features and ponds that will virtually transform a smaller patio or garden area.

The appearance of your water garden can vary from informal to formal. Plants, lighting and accessories like statues will help establish the atmosphere. If you are designing water features and ponds which will hold live fish like Koi, it’s essential to take into account their distinct habitat demands in your planning.

Outdoor water features and ponds are natural magnets to every one. They can lure a youngster from too much television or video gaming and outdoors to be able to observe plants and creatures close up and personal. They can also serve to help clear your mind and body of stress and anxiety. It is well known that the sound and appearance associated with running water is chicken soup for your soul.?

If you are fond of entertaining, incorporating water features and ponds with a water fall or vertical fountain can become a great place to collect and relish the sounds and the atmosphere they provide. Place a grill, table and some chairs in the area for a great meal or perhaps the water can make the flames dance from the fire pit.

A waterfall or water fountain can make your outdoor space a peaceful retreat you will want to spend more time in enjoying a book, glass of wine or conversation with a good friend or significant other.

Healing Plants & Herbs

healing plants and herbs

Healing Plants and Herbs in Medicine

Almost any condition – including cancer – can be relieved by using healing plants and herbs. The derivatives of the plants and herbs (such as berries, leaves, bark, flowers and seeds) are also used to treat some medical conditions.

As herbalism becomes more accepted in our mainstream communities, we’re learning more about its healing powers. Improvements are being made in quality of the plant and herbs sold in stores and online and clinical research is also touting the benefits of using healing plants and herbal medicines in both the prevention and treatment of some diseases.

In a recent study conducted by the World Health organization, it was estimated that roughly 80% of people the world over make regular use of herbal medicines for at least part of their health care regime.

It’s highly understandable that people would be turning to herbalism since the cost of prescription drugs continues to increase worldwide. As people are learning more about healing plants and herbs and how to use them – thanks to easy access to the Internet – the interest in growing these plants for their own benefit is also experiencing rapid growth.

Some conditions that are increasingly being treated by the use of healing plants and herbs are:

Asthma – A respiratory condition that can be triggered by allergens such as mold or pollen, food additives and preservatives and coloring used in food, strenuous exercise and stress. A few natural remedies that have been found effective in treating asthma are flaxseed oil, Ma Huang, coleus, licorice and lobelia.
Eczema – Skin condition where patches of skin become inflamed and scaly, sometimes causing blisters and itching when irritated. Natural, herbal remedies that may help alleviate the symptoms of eczema are aloe vera, coconut oil, comfrey leaf, yarrow flowers and Echinacea root.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome – A severe condition that seems to be triggered by psychosomatic reactions to stress. The symptoms are bloating, constipation, diarrhea and cramps. You may be able to help your irritable bowel symptoms by drinking a daily cup or so of peppermint or ginger tea. Another ‘natural’ way to alleviate the symptoms is to get into a regular habit of exercising to release natural, pain-relieving endorphins.
Cancer – Herbal remedies for cancer treatments are being studied and the jury is still out on their effectiveness, but there are many herbal concoctions that can help prevent and alleviate the pain and other results that some modern cancer procedures can cause. Astragulus is an herb that can be helpful for immune system problems that chemotherapy and radiation cause. Enchinacea (also known as Purple Coneflower) is antibacterial, antiviral and can also be used for healing wounds.
Arthritis – Types of arthritis include the crippling Rheumatoid arthritis and it can be a painful and cause swelling because of the inflammation. More people than ever are seeking alternative medicines to reduce pain and swelling of the disease. Aloe vera used topically, Boswilla and Cat’s Claw for their anti-inflammatory properties and eucalyptus leaves for pain are just a few of the healing plants and herbs commonly used for symptoms of arthritis.

Final Word of Caution

Before taking any herbal concoction for a medical condition, you should meet with your health care provider. Some of the healing plants and herbs may interact with medications you may be taking for other conditions, so doing your initial research is extremely important.

Choosing Garden Furniture To Match Your Water Feature

garden furniture, small garden design, backyard design,yard design,garden design
Garden Furniture

Homeowners can have a lot of fun creating a backyard oasis. Many of us dream of having an outdoor space that answers were every needs. Unfortunately, not everyone is successful for varying reasons. However, there are ways to avoid mistakes, such as with tastefully choosing garden furniture to match your water feature.

The design and shape of a fountain, for example should be in keeping with the design of the furnishings. For instance, a cherub is generally a fancy addition to a water feature. Due to that fact, the rest of the elements chosen to decorate an outdoor space would have to somewhat match the fanciful flare.

Obviously, it would clash with the clean lines of modern design. It may even clash with country style garden furniture. The bottom line is that it would leave an uncomfortable feeling in the air, possibly pushing you away from the outdoor space instead of pulling you to it.

From there, a consumer has lots of options to decorate the outdoor space with the right garden furniture. Aside from the look, one should look for the ultimate comfort. Patio furnishings have come a long way in the last couple of decades, far beyond the typical low-end PVC pieces. With patience and savvy comparative shopping techniques in place, a beautiful set or separate pieces can be purchased at an appealing price. Continue reading “Choosing Garden Furniture To Match Your Water Feature”