In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gardening on my mind

The raised garden beds are under 16" of snow. But gardening is on my mind as the days get longer. It won't be long now... until I start itching to start vegetables indoors, from seed -- and invariably many of them fail!
I don't have the best success starting plants indoors (no grow lights or heating mats), but I try a few every year, nonetheless. Sometime between Mother's Day and Memorial Day, I end up at the big commercial Greenhouse down the road and buy bedding plants, by then having realized that the sad little plants on my window sill will not amount to much in our short growing season...
Another thing I need to remember is not to start planting outdoors too early: many plants should not go out until June, which seems sooooo late. Instead, REMINDER: check the soil temperature!!! I'll probably be experimenting this coming spring with covering my raised beds w/ plastic overnight to help prevent the soil from radiatively cooling overnight.
Last year I planted my red potatoes somewhere around May 20th, and they just sat there doing absolutely nothing. I replanted in early June with fingerling seed potatoes, and then sometime later in June they both started putting down roots and leafing out. By then, the weeds were established very nicely, thank you!

Before snowfall, many moons ago, I found myself debating covering the beds up with plastic to keep them somewhat more weed-free (ha!), and decided on a couple of different treatments: I covered the potato bed with plastic, and tried another with newspapers weighed down by rocks, while the remainder was left uncovered --those will melt out first and I want to try making them into coldframes by covering them with clear plastic in the spring. It sure would be nice to have a greenhouse someday!

Been doing a bit of reading about what to seed directly into the garden. Here in Alaska, the traditional ones include kale, carrots, lettuces, peas, snap peas, beets, spinach, beans and potatoes.

Last summer I successfully grew leeks from starter plants I found at P&M greenhouse -- I do want to grow leeks again (as I've admitted on this blog before: I adore leeks!), perhaps even from seed? Here's a article by Jeff Lowenfels for how to start leeks. He writes that some of his readers
"are complaining that I encouraged them to plant leeks early and now the plants are not only spindly and flopping over but the tips are browning. If you grow leeks from seed, both of these are common occurrences. The solution to correct both symptoms, as well as preventing both, is to cut off an inch or two of the tips with sharp scissors. This will not affect the bulb part of the plant nor the bottom stem of the leek, and these are what you eat when you harvest leeks. "
Too bad that the gardening column is no longer found in our ever-shrinking daily newspaper -- instead we have to go to the web for that local knowledge -- see the sidebar on my blog for Gardening in Alaska (TALK DIRT TO ME), which is on the Anchorage Daily News website.

1 comment:

  1. I am sooo itching to get some seeds started, but I'm going on vacation next week, so seeds will wait until March.

    So many people over here in VT get anxious and plant before Memorial Day, but it's almost always too cold and wet. I push myself hard to wait.