what we can grow…

Victoria Briggs and I have been corresponding back and forth about the hows , whats, and maybes? of increasing the season we can grow more of our own food.

This year, by using Eliot Coleman’s double layered approach to cool weather gardening, I have been able to start and grow spinach and 4 kinds of lettuces  outdoors weeks earlier than is the norm in my part of Alaska.

I am eating goodies, daily, grown fully outdoors without aid of  added heat or lights and so on, weeks ahead of the norm here.

My initial run at this method needs some tweaking but the excitement I feel about being able to use the light from longer days sooner is a powerful motivator to do that tweaking ! 🙂

So is knowing it IS possible to have lovely fresh greens before the salmonberries even fully leaf out!

Most of us are somewhat familiar with the “what is  possible” in the Interior and South Central  but it is hard to extrapolate from what is known for those areas to the varied climates and conditions across this huge state.

I read the SNRAS  ( UAF School of Natural Resources & Agricultural Sciences ) blog regularly as those folks maintain an “ear to the ground” for any and all projects and information relating to gardening/agriculture  as well as sharing their own projects. The links they have on the right side of  the page are an incredible collection of information to browse when I have time.

I talk to people , until their eyes roll back in their heads sometimes, about what they do and how and where. My area is full of different microclimates which dramatically affect methodology and possible food yield. Heavy rains drench my part of the borough in July, August, and September but a mere 6-10 miles away run half or less the precipitation I get as well as   higher daytime /cooler night temps.

I hope I can translate this beginning of the season extender to an end of the season extender. This is a fun project !

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Published in: on May 22, 2011 at 6:30 am  Comments (11)  

11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Alaska Pi, this is so exciting for you! I so admire the work Vick has done with gardening and how eagerly she shares what she learns with those who need and want the knowledge.Now you are off and running with your own ideas to add to the lore. Congratulations on your lovely garden of greens.

    • Vic definitely shares what she knows !
      I think we burned a “garden line” in the Tubes these last few months 🙂
      Measuring soil temps, watching /counting daylight hours, ideas for insulating the main cold frame, choosing seeds for their germination temps…
      It’s a small start but worth every minute of effort to me.
      Changes the way I see what I can grow.
      Now, all the other goodies I grow are getting going too- beets, chard, pac choi, broccoli raab,5 kinds of peas, potatoes, more chard, kohlrabi, more spinach… did I say more chard and spinach? 🙂 My favorites!
      Perennials, rhubarb, chives, and raspberries, are getting going after our unusually cold winter .
      Yay!

  2. I am SOOOOO Jealous !!! those plants look REALLY healthy!! … and the gol-durn deer got into my plants last nite, and all I have are STUBS ! I’m looking into an electric fance this week!!!

    • What a drag!!! Here the porcupines, slugs, and bears are the bad guys.
      Bears smoosh everything wandering through .
      ^$@%$&*^ ing porkies and slugs eat more than their fair share if I’m not watching all the time.
      Everything really is very healthy- not spindly or stunted- is part of why I’m so excited about the experiment. Have to admit I was quite skeptical on a number of fronts… darned excited how it’s working out !

  3. Healthy looking plants you got there pi and good luck with your gardening projects.

    Wild greens are soon to be popping up on the tundra in our neck of the woods – the Norton Sound area. The women are keeping an eye on their favorite spots for fireweed shoots, willow leaves, beach and bog greens. So tasty soaked in seal oil.

    • Hey, Y’all!

      I’m from the Lower 48, catching up on my reading here and marveling at all your excitement and fun.

      And, then I get to Man from Unk saying that all those fresh, wonderful green things are “so tasty soaked in seal oil”! I have to tell you how broadly I am smiling at just the thought of that sumptiousness…. NOT!!!! I have no idea how many years it would take for me to find seal oil “tasty”, but rather than worry about it, should the opportunity EVER arise, I’ll just pass along my portion to Man from Unk to enjoy in my place!

      I sincerely send you all my best wishes for your best growing season ever, no matter what part of Alaska or the lower 48 you find yourself in, during the next few months of spring and summer. And I’ll even add my sincere hope that Man from Unk will never lack for anything–especially, seal oil!

      • Thanks for your hope for me Elsie. Once the wild greens are picked and stored, we watch the rivers and wait for the Salmon to return. And if we’re lucky we’ll get enough Salmon caught, dried and stored for the winter. Yummy, wild greens and half dried salmon with seal oil. Seal oil goes good with just about everything – carrots, cabbage, turnips – it’s a comfort food; makes you feel all warm and cozy inside especially on a cold, cold day.

        • Hey, Man from Unk, I don’t know much about the subsistence life, but I appreciate your efforts to continue what has worked so well for thousands of years. May your harvests all be wondrous and plentiful this season!

          What’s your take on rotting seal flipper? Ever tried THAT? I saw something about it on “Flying Wild Alaska”. Seems like eating that would be an adventure!

          • “rotting” is the wrong word to describe this delicacy. Fermented. If you could get past the smell, the taste is delicious.

            This practice comes from long, long time ago. Probably from the days of the seal oil lamp when it was close to impossible to boil up a pot of seal flipper for dinner. Aging it as in other meat products softens up the fiber.

            I’ve eaten fermented whale flipper but not seal. It’s an aquired taste which I haven’t championed yet. Thanks for asking.

    • Wild greens popping out all over here too as well as berries setting and starting to grow.
      I’ve never had anything soaked in seal oil 🙂 as that is not on the menu here in Southeast..
      This reminds of something important I want to talk about soon- keeping the knowledge of wild edibles alive, what, how to use, how to store, and so on…

      • There are several good books on wild edibles plants. Tells you everything you need to know.


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