This winter sure seemed to go by fast! That’s OK by us, we are excited about the best four months on this planet coming up soon!
We put our first seeds in the dirt recently, so that means it’s time for our annual garden season kick off blog post!
We Are In A Much Better Place Than March 2020!
At this time last year, we were going into very uncertain times!
We weren’t sure if we would be able to get the necessary supplies to fuel our annual garden. While we had confidence we could do some of the things we wanted to do, we just weren’t what would be impacted.
It’s almost surreal to remember that we were putting in telephone orders for the supplies we needed at this time last year!
We are certainly in a better place than we were in March of 2020!
Last year, there was a huge surge of interest in gardening. From people putting in new gardens to people becoming interested in food preservation, we saw massive and unprecedented pressures on suppliers.
While we think a lot of this was fueled by the uncertainties of the early days of the pandemic, but we are expecting the gardening challenges that presented last year to also be a factor this year.
If you were new to gardening last year and got beaten down by failure, we have one thing to say to you. Keep going! It can and does get easier, more successful and rewarding.
While things are still decidedly not normal, at least for us, we’re a lot more comfortable with what we are dealing with. And that’s makes us a lot more hopeful for our 2021 season!
Canning Supplies Are Still Difficult
Canning supplies have still not normalized, which has us a bit concerned.
Ball (the primary manufacturer of canning supplies in the US) has indicated supply chain stabilization could be expected around now. Early indicators are showing that’s not quite the case, at least yet.
We’re not sure if that’s the market still under immense pressure or if people are buying up supply with anticipation of larger impacts this year. Nonetheless, we’re also trying to actively resupply on essential materials such as canning lids.
When it comes to canning supplies, we do recommend buying locally. There were a lot of instances last year of fake / ripoff Ball supplies on the market. Local vendors likely won’t get caught up in that.
Seed Suppliers Are Still Under Pressure, But It’s Probably OK!
We put out a few notices in early January that seed shops were seeing some pressure early on in the season.
One of our favorite suppliers, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, was shutting down online ordering on a fairly regular basis. This was done to allow them to catch up, but they’ve done an excellent job at remaining generally available through the early season.
We’ve been around to the local nurseries here, though, and things are looking like they are in good shape. Several of them have bulked up on seeds and supplies, which probably contributed to some of the early supply issues we mentioned.
We are really glad to see this as we want all gardeners to have a good experience!
The Craziest Things Are Unobtanium In 2021!
If you’ve been around our blog, you know we love gardening in 5 gallon buckets. Specifically, black 5 gallon buckets that are outfitted for sub irrigation.
We intended to stock up on a few more this year for a minor increase to the size of our container gardens.
We’ve been looking at our common supplier for these, Home Depot, for months now. Black buckets are practically non-existent across the country anymore. We’re not sure if they are just not carrying them anymore or what. And of course, these are things that “do not ship to Alaska”…
In a twist of fate, we learned that we can special order them from one of our local nurseries. They are twice the price, but at least they are obtainable!
If you’re having difficulties sourcing certain supplies, it might be worth looking in uncommon places this year!
What To Expect For 2021 At Frosty Garden?
As with most years, we’ve come up with some new ideas to try out. We are also looking at changing up our garden trials again this year.
Over the winter, we went deep into research about peppers. We’ve long looked for varieties that might do well in cooler climates and we think we’ve found the perfect thing!
One of the varieties is primarily known to grow in the Andean mountains of south America. In fact, they do poorly in warmer places, so that’s promising! The other pepper trial has a mysterious background. Story goes, it was smuggled out from behind the USSR’s Iron Curtain back in the early 1980’s and has been cultivated in Bolivia ever since!
If these work well, we will certainly be doing a deeper dive on them as this is a subject of a lot of interest to many circumpolar growers!
We are also trying out a few other interesting varieties. We found a snow pea that grows sort of like a bush bean. As such, we’re going to try growing them in a container and see what happens.
I have also convinced myself that another go at the Minnesota Midget melon, grown outdoors, is the right thing to do. Last year, ours died from a streak of low 40 degree temperatures during late June. We are hopeful not to have a repeat and I still think this variety can produce in the Interior of Alaska.
Our 2021 Pants On Head Crazy Idea – The Garbage Bag Greenhouse!
One thing I’ve been super interested in trying to figure out is how to present a very inexpensive solution for growing typical warm weather crops in the subarctic.
When we built our greenhouse in 2020, we saw just how much of a difference it made. It is so important to raise those temperatures for these crops.
As I mulled over various options, it occurred to me that there might be large, clear garbage bags out there for purchase. If you could use this to essentially cover your plant, you can easily elevate ambient air temperatures not unlike a greenhouse.
So, this years “nutso” experiment is to pioneer the micro “garbage bag greenhouse” concept. We’ve never seen or heard of it being done before, so we’re going to try it out and see what happens!
We are hopeful, at least in theory, that such a thing might actually work quite well. If it works, we’ll of course go into a lot more detail with a dedicated post about it.
Dealing With The Problems From 2020
One thing we aren’t exactly looking forward to is the mitigation of onion maggots that infested our garden in 2020.
We got hit hard by onion maggots last year. We suspect it was the growing of shallots that brought them in. It was our first year growing them and we learned that basically scallions are their favorite food of all time.
We were disheartened to learn that basically there are very few “sure fire” remedies to this problem once you have it. That said, we’ve been deep in research and have a good strategy for dealing with them.
We are bringing almost every solution we have read about to correct the problem and are hopefully that we can resolve it. If not, we’ll likely have to face not growing any allium for several years, which would be really disappointing as that’s one of our favorite things to grow.
As indicated, if we can mitigate our issue, we’ll be putting up a post about it on our site. There is very little first hand information out there from people that have struggled through it, so we think it would be a helpful thing to write about. Of course, dependent on our success with our techniques.
Our Site Migration Is Almost Done
Late last year, we announced that we were re-architecting FrostyGarden.com to be oriented more towards a static content site, as opposed to the blog format.
We spent a great deal of time this winter re-editing our posts and re-organizing everything. We also gave the site a modern refresh and rearchitected the entire flow of the website.
I am happy to report that this is almost complete. There are a few posts that honestly, I’ve struggled to find the motivation to update. Some things are interesting for me to write about, some things are not.
Nonetheless, this change will allow us to re-iterate on various topics. The point is to refine each post into a purpose focused and informative dive into the subject. We think this format will much better serve our readers and we’ve all ready received some positive feedback!
Here’s To A Fruitful 2021!
We are thrilled that our days are getting longer and soon, the snow shall also melt away.
Honestly, we are so looking forward to having glasses of beer or wine on our deck after a good long day of work. We can’t wait for that first spring salad from our garden, served up with a nice rib eye steak.
Looking forward to joining you in your gardening season this year!