Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spring Planting...

For as much as I love the fresh veggies from the garden, spring sneaks up on me and I'm usually so busy and preoccupied (and it still seems like the dead of winter!) that I don't get my seed starts planted in time so I end up having to buy them.  About this time, mid-April or so when the days are getting longer, I suddenly get this overwhelming urge to plant my greenhouse! 

My greenhouse--storage area in the winter and needing to be cleaned out before I plant my greens this week!

My greenhouse is a storage area in the winter, and with the snow and ice blocking the fence, I can't even get in there all winter.  I was able to pry open the gate enough to squeeze through a few weeks ago to prune my apple tree, but yesterday the urgency of needing to get my greens planted overwhelmed me and I trekked to the greenhouse.  The gate opened easily since the snow and ice are gone, but with every step I squished a few inches into the very mucky, wet lawn.  I found last year's seed packets tucked around the greenhouse and checked out my stash in the freezer too (yes, I store my seeds in the freezer; supposedly they last longer!) to see what seeds I need to buy.  

Pruned apple tree, with the branches
skinned by the rabbits

If I plant the lettuce and greens in the greenhouse by the last weekend of April, I will have lettuce for 5 months--June through October.  Usually by this point of the winter I am so tired of store-bought lettuce it cannot happen quickly enough and I'm usually snitching the poor lettuce leaves shortly after they peep out of the ground.  And I plant waaaay too much, which is fine because I love giving fresh stuff away.  The garden is a serious month away from being plantable--like the lawn it is a mucky mess.  Plus I need my compost bin to thaw out so I can pull out the stuff on the bottom and throw it on the garden before we rent a tiller from Uhlmer's for our spring tilling.

I am so casual about my planting it's amazing I get anything, but year after year I throw some seeds and plants into the ground, water it a bit, weed a bit and presto:  food galore!  I still have potatoes from last year's garden, stashed for planting this year.  (Usually I mooch planting potatoes off my aunt, but this year I decided to be bold and independent and actually not eat all the potatoes.)  My spinach, carrots and chives ran out a month or so ago, and I was happy my stash of onions made it into December this winter.  My kale didn't last as long because I would throw a handful into my daily smoothie every day starting in September.  By mid-September our freezer is always jam packed with fish, berries and veggies, and I make bets about how much I can fit in there.

At this time of year, when everything is cold and wet, it is ONLY because I've done this before that I do it again:  the promise that yes, the sun will shine, things will warm up, things will indeed grow.  I don't have to do it perfectly or prettily to get the produce.  I don't have to have a high tunnel (more about that another blog post) to feed my family.  I keep it within my time and energy limits so I have time to play, which is what Alaska summers are all about to me.  The food supports me, rather than me putting so much energy into supporting my food.  So I'll spend half an hour prepping my greenhouse and planting this week and then hope the sun shines and warms things up!


Audrey Welborn said...

Do you have an outside garden as well as your greenhouse, for the potatoes, etc. When is your last freeze date, can't believe your daffodils bloom in June. In Virginia, where I live, they bloom in February-March depending on the variety. We traveled to Alaska last summer, I wrote you about it last year. We loved Homer, what a beautiful place to live. We drove to the spit as well as up the winding road to the top where the views were incredible. We stayed at Cooper Landing at the Princess Lodge, which we also loved and had a beautiful cruise out from Steward, clear blue skies and temps in the 70's, for glacier, dolphin watching, etc. Kenai Peninsula was absolutely one of our favorite places. I am a gardner with a greenhouse so I am interested in how your long daylight hours impact your gardening. I am a night person so I loved the daylight past midnight, we were there late June, early July. We did bike in Anchorage on the Tony Knowles Trail, but I was scared we might run into a moose or bear, had a hard time relaxing to enjoy the beauty of the trail. Love your blog.

Michelle Waclawski said...

Hi Audrey,
I remember you posting last year and wondered how your vacation went. Thought of you when we drove by the Princess Lodge in Cooper Landing--what a gorgeous place, huh?

Yes, in my outside garden I plant potatoes, carrots, onions, spinach, greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage mostly (those are the easy ones).
The ground freezes sometime around the first week of October or later by a week or so (depends on elevation!), and it can freeze overnight so I err on the side of caution and usually dig out all my root plants by the last week of Sept. or first week of Oct.

The biggest impact of the light is bolting, though you have that in the Lower 48 also. Multiple plantings of spinach and lettuce can help with that, as can buying special slow-bolt seeds. The other result is that things grow extremely rapidly--it looks pathetic, pathetic, and then suddenly, kaboom! Everything goes nuts (including the weeds!) the garden looks like a garden should in mid-July. Pea plants blossom in like July here and if you get the peas before the frost some years you're lucky so I've given up on those.

If I stay hyper about my blogging you'll get regular updates on the garden this year.....with pictures!

Audrey Welborn said...

Thanks for your answer. Not only am I interested in gardening, and obviously Alaska, but while I was there observing, I couldn't help but wonder the complexity of gardening in Alaska, so I will love to hear how your season goes. I will be planting our raised bed garden around May 10th, or whenever I can gather most of our grandchildren to help as we do every year. We have 6 in Charlottesville, one in college and 2 about an hour away, so I always try to involve them, as much as possible. We have a fenced in raised bed garden near the house and last year we plowed in our lower field, and planted corn, pumpkins, green and lima beans. Just when the corn was ready, something ate most of the corn, we think raccoons, even though it was fenced. It was very upsetting as each of our grandchildren had planted a row, and marked it. Hopefully we will have better luck this year. I never heard the term 'bolting' before applied to gardening, love to learn something new. Happy Gardening.