May 13, 2018
Finally, after many false starts at summer, we have GREEN.
Perhaps it feels a bit late due to plans for a wedding on our front lawn at the end of May. Any other year, this would be totally doable. However, the two foot piles of snow we shoveled off roofs, just barely a month ago have not yet melted, despite yesterday’s 70 degree temps.
But yesterday it happened. Those tiny buds finally burst out on the birch trees, lending a slight tinge of that marvelous new growth green to our rather drab “break-up” landscape. For all you cheechakos out there (cheechakos is another Alaskan word for newbies), “break-up” refers to the melting away of snow, dawning of either mud or rain boots, and very dingy looking snowbanks.
Considering we had early morning snow twice last week, this is great news. “Cold” weather even prevented the first day’s opening of the Farmer’s Market by one week. Officially, I have visited all the local greenhouses I’m aware of at least once so far. Not that I’m in a hurry; I just needed to see splashes of vibrant color on green stalks with leaves. Somehow, all the events of last weekend collided with amazing speed to wake me up to the fact that summer has arrived: Graduation at the University of Alaska as well as local highschools, Clean-up Day, and I’m not sure what else!
We are looking forward to those Thursday night Music in the Garden at the Georgeson Botanical; the Midnight Sun Run, lazy canoe trips down the Chena to visit local restaurants, and a myriad of other “got-to-do’s” while the weather is fine. With the eighteen hours plus daylight, things are definitely looking up.
May 30, 2017
A waft of the heavenly scent of chokecherry trees. The smell of freshly cut grass. Early blooms of floral rose, stock and petunia scents abound at greenhouses. Yes, yet another reason Alaskans live here: summer is upon us! On this, the eve of the last day of our three day Memorial Day weekend, our outdoor activity lists expands.
Will this be the year to try a peony in the yard? (Particularly since the discovery that they grow very well, and have a prolonged season here in Alaska?) Or maybe this is the year to train to run in a 3, 5 or 10 k run? How about the long awaited trip to McCarthy and the Kennecott Mine?
What to plant in the garden? Did I do too many potatoes last year? Maybe I will try more broccoli and stagger the planting and harvesting. But zucchini! How will I ever keep up if I get as many as last year? Decisions, decisions!
Camping; Is the tent gear ready? Or should we just travel with the camper on the pick-up…(a little less work, but..) Which weekend will I go? If we time it right, we could go fishing too. We could maybe slip out before the fair starts.
The fair! Which recipe should I enter in the culinary division? Did I finish that cross stitch? Hey, I did those starts for cosmos from seeds–I could enter that this year for the flower show.
Remember that building project; we must lift that rental unit up before it sinks any farther in the permafrost. I wonder if I can get some day labor to help with that project before the snow flies.
Even with the expanded hours of daylight that make us run 18 hour days, it is still difficult to get done all the things that we can only pack in during our short three months of summer.
March 24, 2017
Beneath all the feet of snow (several this year) lies the good soil for planting. Gardeners are gearing up–already, despite the -15 below temperatures at night–doing everything from purchasing seeds to signing up for classes. Several greenhouses have a great line-up of classes starting this month: drip irrigation, composting, and dinnerplate dahlias.
planter in greenhouse-amidst the snow
Some of the excitement is clearly due to eager anticipation of the long sunny days of summer warmth. Another factor for some is geared toward healthy eating; yet another impetus is sustainable living off the land. You don’t have to be a trained gardener to get things to grow in the summer here; check out the Tanana Valley Fair in the fall, and see the myriad of monster vegetables that some of the school aged children grow as proof!
Yes, we do grow things big in Alaska. But you must remember that we have a very short growing season. Rule of thumb is that you do not put out any plants before June 1, and plan on harvesting prior to September 1. I have lived here for over 50 years, and vividly remember gambling by planting my 150 foot driveway with zinnias because it had been so nice and warm that May. Sadly, I lost them all, as there was an unanticipated frost that killed them all. I didn’t plant zinnias again for almost ten years. This year I’m determined to start more from seed and I’ve already picked up several varieties of seeds from one of the local greenhouses so I can get a jump start on my floral fix.
Pink flowers in barrel
Silent now; but soon, the sounds of lawn mowers will replace snow-blowers, and boat motors on the river instead of snow machines. Soon…with every drip off the icicles hanging from the roof.