Apologies for the lack of recent updates. This is always a crazy time of year for us with all of our garden preparations that need to be done. We’re also excited to announce that we have moved into the house we mentioned last post, so we are finally Alaska property owners! Between packing our belongings, work related travel and garden preparations and the moving itself, we just haven’t had much spare time for things like blogging.
Our 2017 garden is fully in place. We were able to get both our UAF community garden and our Fairbanks community garden fully planted. We had a decent amount of extra space this year, thanks in part to moving our root veggies up to UAF. Our beans and peas took some time to mature, so these went in well after the main planting. (We grow these in plugs to make transplanting and spacing much easier.) For the extra space, are growing some experimental and new-to-us plants that we picked up in mid June. We are trying out romanesco and cheddar cauliflowers and are also trying out some artichokes. We picked up a few replacement collards to fill out what we lost to voles earlier this spring.
Our statistics this year are around 800 garden starts, grown in 16 square feet of space and a few trays that were entirely grown outside (peas, beans, etc.). Everything worked really smoothly this year from a transplant perspective. We hit our times fairly well and had just enough space to get things done. We had to make some choices about what lived on and what didn’t, but overall had a pretty successful garden start season. It is always a challenge growing this many veggies and flowers in such a small space, but we’re getting decent at it.
This year we will again raise all of our herbs in containers. We find this helpful because we often harvest some throughout the summer and they tend to be harvested at various times. We also like to keep it close to where we live for convenience. Our herb garden is quite impressive and coming along nicely, but hopefully next year it will be even bigger! It seems we never quite have enough thyme and marjoram to put up for the winter.
We’ve had some pretty serious vole problems at Fairbanks community garden this year. We haven’t even been following our own advice completely. 🙂 We simply ran out of cups and just decided to plant directly in the soil as opposed to in solo cups. We have lost several of our collard greens and cauliflower so far to voles. Ultimately we had to supplement these with purchased starts. But we can clearly tell the solo cups work, everything with them surrounding early transplants has survived.
With the purchase of property and a new-to-us home, we’ve really been putting some thought into our future gardening strategies. We haven’t fully settled on how we want to go about it, but have prepared to supplement our water delivery with self-delivered water. As we mentioned, we’ll be entirely off grid for water with only a 1500 gallon holding tank. Water delivery in our area is 10 cents a gallon, which makes gardening with it way too expensive. We purchased a 100 gallon tank which we can use to pick up water in town for 2 cents a gallon. This will then be pumped into a another, larger 325 gallon tank on our property. We will try to use this water exclusively for the garden. What is yet to be determined is what that garden will look like.
We are also moving forward with a plan to install a rain catchment system. The house does not currently feature gutters and badly needs them, if anything to help protect the deck and siding. It shouldn’t be that much more expensive to add in a rain catchment system, but we sure do wish that we had captured this year’s rainfall all ready! We are also exploring building a three bin compost system to help reduce our waste footprint. This should be an inexpensive project and we’ll fill you in once we get it built!
We know that we want to add raised beds, but given our water limitations, it makes a lot of sense for us to keep up our plots at Fairbanks community garden. Our first idea is we would raise high rotation and often harvested plants at our house. So, things like lettuce, radish, peas, kale and spinach will be raised at the house in raised beds. Then, we’d use the community garden for “large” plants, so mostly our potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, squash and other stuff that makes sense there. This would allow us to give up our UAF community garden plots, which are very expensive to support each year. I am really liking this plan as it also greatly reduces how much we need to protect against moose and other garden predators at our new place. It also allows us to have “high value” crops grown in our paid plot, which also coincidentally will use more water.
In the future, we will share more details about our home garden plan. Our water strategy may be interesting to future readers in the Fairbanks area, so we’ll probably do a write-up on this as well. I have some ideas in mind for how I want to do this, but need to do some testing to make sure it works as expected. We have a lot of non-garden related work to do at the new house this summer and of course the ever-present preparations for winter as well. We hope to start sharing our adventure into the true Alaskan lifestyle, starting with preparing 5-10 cords of wood!
We hope that your gardens are green and everything is growing out there! Enjoy your summer!