As we’ve hinted a couple of times, were somewhat recent transplants to the Fairbanks area. We came up from Montana in September of 2015 and are now just wrapping up our second winter.
A lot of transplants from the lower 48 that come to Alaska simply don’t make it here. I would admit myself that it’s a radical change in both climate and general lifestyle. There’s a lot of creature comforts that just simply don’t exist in Alaska, like free 2 day shipping and inexpensive travel elsewhere. At least in the interior of Alaska, the winters are prominent and unforgiving. I think a lot of people come here under the impression that it’s romantic and in their head, it’s a lot easier than what it turns out to be.
For us, though, we’re some hardy souls. We feel like after nearly two years, we have what it takes to live and thrive here and have been excited to put down some roots. We’ve made good friends here in relatively short order and are constantly excited about what’s around the corner. Whether it’s an ice art show and visits to Santa Claus or the camping and travel season that gets us outdoors into new, stunning places. We enjoy living here, despite the challenges and difficulties that nature throws against us every single year.
So, the big news is that we’ve put in an offer on a house and all looks to be progressing well. What’s really exciting is that we’ll have a ton of space to throw down a large garden at the house as well as a little space to do indoor gardening year round. There is some great exposure on this property and while it’s not truly south-facing, the sunlight will be more than sufficient. We’ll have our own little two acre chunk out there! This will hopefully allow us to bring FrostyGarden.com into its full potential, with a lot more “free time” during the growing season and something to offer year round.
One of the major “drawbacks” to many properties in the interior of Alaska is that you’re basically “off grid” for everything except electricity. This is true for our new place. Our water costs will be astronomical, at least until we can get fully rigged up for hauling our own water from town. Our internet options are cellular only, so that means we’ll have very limited choices and will likely have to cut back on our online lifestyle. Our electricity is still going to be expensive and likely somewhat unreliable living out in the “sticks” as it were. Fortunately, we’ve all ready lived this lifestyle here as the first rental property we lived in here was just like it.
We’ve found that living in Alaska requires a positive attitude. We could look at those things as drawbacks, or, you can look at them as opportunities. The people who thrive here look at these things as opportunities. The people who don’t will usually return to the lower 48 eventually.
What we’re excited about is that this will pretty much force us into developing conservation focused gardens. Water is precious and expensive to have delivered here, so the more you conserve, the better it will be for our bottom line. We have several ideas ranging from using pump based drop emitter systems, installing gutters so we can capture rain water from our roof and even a low capacity water hauling system that we can use exclusively for gardening. We’ll probably end up using other methods as well. We are also thrilled to be able to step out on the back deck in the winter to view auroras right overhead.
Better yet, we will have access to many birch trees on the property, so we’ll be able to tap these for birch syrup each year. We did this relatively early on when we moved here and are super excited to make this an annual tradition. Now that we have an idea of what it’s going to take, we’ll be using the right tools to get the job done. We might even work towards planting a few more birch trees for future use and might dabble in planting some fruit trees.
Our plan at this point is to continue with our community gardening plans for this year. We simply don’t have enough time between now and our potential closing/moving dates to prepare the property for what we need it to do. We wish there was another way, because we’d love to eliminate the commute to our gardens, but we can’t risk losing a month of our growing season for us to figure it out.
Our immediate plan for the new place is to try to get at least four to eight large raised beds in place this year. This is a considerable investment on its own, but will allow us a lot of flexibility in the future. Beyond that, we’ll likely be building a few wide raised rows from the existing soil. The plan will be to hopefully get a reasonably large quantity of GHU compost delivered so we can fully outfit the raised beds and wide raised rows in place this summer. That means next year, we’ll be ready to plant in the new gardens and will have everything pretty much ready to go.
We are excited to share our plans and efforts here in the future. Our hope is to do write ups and even possibly videos for the efforts we’re putting into the place. We’ll also be able to bring you quality indoor gardening content later in the year once we have these things fully online. We’re planning on growing at least two or three hot pepper plants indoors this year, so this will be coming soon!