It’s the beginning of March, which means it’s officially gardening season! While it may not seem like it, given that we’re combating -30 degree temperatures at night, spring will be here before we know it! I don’t know about you, but we are ready to be done with the snow and the cold! It is silly to celebrate Spring when we’re month or more from saying goodbye to winter for good this year, but we’re doing it anyway.
I’ll be honest, this year’s garden kickoff has not been terribly smooth for us. We were finally able to get our indoor lighting ready to go for the massive numbers of starts we have planned. Unfortunately, we had to move to a new place last fall, right in the middle of shutting down both of our community gardens. It was a crazy time, finishing up all the bits of food preservation only a few days before our move. Frost was upon us and we were split a dozen different ways with all that we had to focus on. Unfortunately, we didn’t do the best packing job on the planet so our garden stuff was strewn throughout multiple boxes and was harder than usual to piece back together.
All that is fixed now and this coming weekend will mark the time where we officially start our growing season! Again, this year we plan to raise several hundred starts in a small 2×4 foot space under a single 6-bulb T5 light. Come May, we’ll also be setting up our two outdoor mini greenhouses and temperature control systems. This method worked well for us last year and we were quite impressed with the number of plants we were able to start from seed. If we had more space, we could certainly use it, but more on that later.
We start small, generally following the planting guides laid out by the UAF extension service. The early plant will include our leeks, parsley and celery. Celery will be a somewhat new one for us, but our test grow last year was successful so we’re adding more this year. These veggies take a super long time to grow and are generally the first things we’ll plant. From there, we’ll keep adding on as the schedules call.
If you’re a new gardener, it’s important to resist the urge to plant everything at once or get too far ahead. Things grow quick and with the freezing temperatures we’ll see through April, you must have climate conditioned space and proper lighting to keep your veggies and flowers alive. I remember a few years back where we planted cucumbers a bit too early, we had to nearly tear the plant apart to get it out of our grow tent! The planting schedules will help you support a more manageable approach and will prevent non-optimal conditions for your plants.
In other general life news, we’re really hoping to settle down here in Fairbanks this year. We have plans to buy a house sometime over the spring or summer. We’ve now spent two winters here and feel we’re fully up to the challenge this place brings. It’s been a great place to live with wonderful people, exactly what we thought it would be. We enjoy everything about northern living and while we miss our family down south, we can make this work.
Why I bring this up and its relevance to this site is that this will allow us to bring the concept we have for Frosty Garden to full fruition. Our goal is to maintain our own gardens where we can get into the things we enjoy like permaculture, larger scale gardening projects, hydroponics and hopefully, an indoor vegetable garden we can work in over the long winters. We may start bringing other media elements, like YouTube videos, into the mix as we take on projects. I know that we learn a lot from others and we feel it’s important to continue that cycle.
Hope you all have gardening on the brain!