Saturday, July 21, 2007

Gardening in Alaska!

I now have a garden!! Bill & Stephanie, who we are renting from, suggested it, and I jumped at the chance! I had just emailed a friend and told her the worst part of living in Alaska for me was not growing anything, so it was the answer to my prayer!

It's not a big plot, but it will be enough to help me learn what to do, and what not to do!

So far I have a composting bin that has straw, alder leaves, horse manure, shredded paper, salmon scraps, and sawdust. The Homer Gardeners handbook suggests using 4 pallets stood upright and tied together to make a compost bin, so we whipped up an economical bin in 10 minutes! Since the area our bin is in is horsetail city, and we don't want horsetails in our compost, we put down heavy duty black landscaping cloth, double thickness, underneath the pallets as horsetail prevention.

So far I have put alder leaves, horse manure and chicken manure on the garden, and have managed to completely cover the entire garden with this combination. Since the tiller did not go very deep I will need to dig this into the soil to a depth of 8-10 inches. The chicken manure/straw was actually already composted, as it has been sitting in an unused chicken coop for 2-3 years. I was so excited to actually find a worm, since I haven't seen any since I've been in Alaska. On the Jones ranch there is also goat manure, cow manure, and more horse manure, so I will have as much work as I want getting the soil up to snuff this year. It really needs it. I ran water on the garden for a minute and the water sat there without seeping in for about 20 minutes! And when I stuck the shovel in, it was thick, heavy, goopy muck. Sounds like clay to me! In addition to nutrients, I need to add sand, sawdust and peat to help the drainage. Did I say I have my work cut out for me??!!

We have sunk holes in the corners for the fence, but hit roots under one so will have to get some heavy duty equipment to get through them. I will keep you posted as I continue my trial and error with Gardening in Alaska!


Nancy said...

Hi Michelle and everybody!
What are horsetails? Thorns of some type? Stickers? I've never heard of them (at least I don't think I have). Also, what is the nearest city that has a large airport? Nancy

Anonymous said...

Hi Michelle
Sure is good you have a lot of compostable stuff to dig into that garden. Do any of the Jones' families have gardens? What is raised in your area? I would assume cool weather crops would do great.
Have fun gardening!!!