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.
April 2, 2015
Doesn’t this sound a lot better than “break-up”?
Pussy willows the last day of March
Alaskans all know that this is not the prettiest time of the year. Here in Fairbanks, the snow is covered with sand, dirt, and coal ash from our five coal fired plants in the area. Large puddles splash up as cars slow to ease the mud that covers the windows and dirties the vehicle even more than the accumulation over the past few months. Others roar through the puddles without consideration of the consequences and surprise unsuspecting pedestrians.
Large mud puddles
Yet it is filled with hope, as the days rapidly grow longer, the greenhouses are putting out plugs and plants, and the snow recedes–this year, at a very rapid rate of speed! The box stores all carry seed packets for those industrious enough to get a head start on the short growing season. Blogs, posts and emails are shared with the latest “how-to’s” of indoor gardening. Already we’ve been able to wash those south facing windows to let the sun shine in. All the energy that light brings is evident, as even the most pessimistic comments on how nice it is outside. I went for my first trip to the greenhouse to pick up some plant for my baskets. Usually I don’t have any baskets out until May. Yes, I am gambling; but it just feels safe. ( I can take the baskets in if we do get a sudden cold snap) Any excuse to be outdoors; let me walk the dog, patrol the parking lot, pick up the mail at the end of the driveway. It’s just too pretty to be inside. We, (again) broke high temperature records last week with a high of 52 degrees. Believe it or not, that is amazing for the end of March in Fairbanks.