Gardening in the Spruce

In case you weren’t aware, it’s planting season here in Alaska.  We’ve been overwhelmed with starting seeds, transplanting sprouts, preparing the greenhouse, garden fields, and herb beds.  The list of what we’re growing this year is extensive and caring for everything is time-consuming.

So far this is what we have started:

  • Arugula
  • Banana peppers
  • Basil
  • Beefsteak tomatoes
  • Beets
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Bush green beans
  • Butter lettuce
  • Butternut squash
  • Cabbage
  • Calendula
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chamomile
  • Chard
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Cilantro
  • Collards
  • Cool beans
  • Corn
  • Dill
  • Dragon mix
  • Fennel
  • Iceberg
  • Kale
  • Kentucky wonder
  • Kohlrabi
  • Loose leaf lettuce
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Pole beans
  • Radish
  • Rainbow chard
  • Rainbow cherry tomatoes
  • Rapini broccoli
  • Red creamer potatoes
  • Russett potatoes
  • Rutabagas
  • Rutgers tomatoes
  • Saveur cabbage
  • Shallots
  • Snap beans
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet peppers of Slovenia
  • Tarragon
  • Tender green beans
  • Tumblr tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Winter squash
  • Yellow crookneck squash
  • Zucchini

Wow, I’m exhausted just listing all that.  In case you’re counting, that’s 57 plants!  Here’s the real kicker, each of those is from seed and we’ve planted at least 20 of everything!  In some cases, even more than that!  For example, we love tomatoes, spinach, salad fixins, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and potatoes.  For these, we’ve planted at least twice that, in some cases even more!

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It’s important to keep in mind when planting from seed that not every seed will grow.  If you’re lucky enough to get every seed to grow, you either get to have more, or you give some to your neighbors.  We’re doing both!

Our Rapini took off like crazy!  We split it out into an entire flat, but still, we have 2 to 3 flats worth left.  As opposed to tossing them, (there just isn’t enough room to plant it all) we gifted some to each of our neighbors.

Now the fun starts, where in the world does all this go?  To me, this really is fun.  I’m a planner, to a fault; seriously, I’m the kind that makes spreadsheets to compare and contrast, list the pros and cons and research till the cows come home.  I can spend days researching before I even start to think about a plan.  I also love charts, graphs, and diagrams.  So what did I do for our garden?  Well, I charted it of course!

There’s an actual science to planting your garden.  Some plants compliment each other, others can prevent its neighbor from producing.  It’s oh so important to know these things when you’re planting a garden that you want to produce enough food to carry you through an entire year.

The other thing I had to consider was the fact that we live in Alaska.  There are areas of permafrost, perpetual muddy low points, wildlife and weather to contend with.  How does one figure all this out?  The University of Alaska has done some fantastic research and published many articles about what to grow here and how to grow it.  Regardless of where you live, search out your local university or university extension center, they work hard for you and appreciate knowing that someone finds the information not only helpful but useful in practice as well.

The biggest considerations for us are the moose and our chickens.  Keeping them out of the garden is of the utmost importance, but just how do you keep these critters out?  For the chickens, we’re using row cover for now until we have healthy plants that can stand on their own.  As for the moose, short of putting a fence around everything, there are no guarantees.  However, there are specific plants you can plant that will deter them from entering.  Stringing yellow caution tape is one option, along with pinwheels and even white plastic bags.  You have to be sure it’s at eye and nose level though, otherwise, they’ll just ignore it.  At the end of the day though, moose are smart creatures, and persistent too.  If they want what’s in your garden, they’re going to get it no matter what you do.  Of course, we’re praying they’ll stay out.

We have been working on the greenhouse, and while it’s in need of repair, it’ll still get the job done this year.  So far we have our peas, pole beans and lettuce in the ground.  We still have to wait a few weeks before we can get more in the ground because we’re still getting frost.  After all this hard work of seed starting, we don’t want to risk losing anything.

I’ll do a few follow-up posts as the season progresses with more pictures so you can follow along with our progress. If all goes well, we should have lots of fresh veggies this season and even more to can for winter!

There are several ways you can get seeds for your garden.  Local greenhouses will mostly only offer starts, however sometimes if you volunteer at one, you can get seed from them.  The local hardware store, grocery store or home improvement store also carry seeds.  My recommendation is the Augason Farms Vegetable Garden Seeds shown below through Amazon.

[amazon_link asins=’B00LBGQGUU’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’midnig02-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’932f6a1d-44ca-11e7-b04a-114c615accfc’]

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