Fairbanks, Alaska Gardening Resources

alaska-397747_960_720Welcome to one of the largest gardening related collection of resources on the internet specific to Fairbanks, Alaska and the spectacular Interior of Alaska!

We want your gardens to be successful, so we hope these resources help you!

Alaska Garden Planting Times

If you are growing your own from seed, following a seed starting schedule is important!  You have several options to choose from.

  • We have published our seed starting schedule, customized for our gardens.  It is refined each year with different plants, specific things we learn or varieties we grow.
  • UAF Extension Service offers what we feel is the best vegetable planting schedule for the region.  (Here’s the flower schedule.)  Our schedule above was originally based on it.
  • The Fairbanks Daily News Miner, our local paper, usually puts out a seed starting schedule every year in February.  They usually make the schedule available online as well.
  • The first and last frost dates for Interior Alaska are considered June 1st and September 1st.

Recommended Alaska Varieties

Gardening in Alaska often requires the use of particular plant genetics for best results.  Check out these recommended varieties for a starting point.

  • The University of Alaska Fairbanks extension service provides an excellent list of specific vegetable varieties that do particularly well in Alaska.  There are three major regions available for Alaska:
  • You should keep in mind that variety lists are not absolute and experimentation is recommended.  Almost all cool weather crops do very well in Alaska.  Warm weather crops can be a lot more finicky.  Also, some plants or varieties of plants don’t tolerate our extreme sun cycle in the summer.

Where To Get Seeds That Do Well In Alaska?

Gardening is all about getting seeds to grow into plants.  These are some of our favorite seed shops and sources from around the internet!

  • First, get familiar with varieties that will do well in our area.  The UAF extension service provides an excellent document that will help guide you in this knowledge for the Alaska interior.
  • Support your local greenhouse.  They will have seeds and garden starts of good quality that will work just fine in our area.  They probably even have a tip or two to share.
  • For everything else, there’s a number of excellent seed companies out there.  We like Territorial Seed Company out of Cottage Grove, Oregon as they have a great selection of seeds that do well in cool and cold climates.  We also like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for some extra special varieties.
  • Mix things up and try new seed suppliers!  Most northern state seed suppliers will stock varieties that we seek up here in Alaska.  Our favorite way to find new seed companies is through Dave’s Garden.  This is the most extensive database of personal reviews of seed suppliers on the internet.

Fairbanks Community Gardens

Interested in community gardening?  It’s a great way to get started gardening without having to build a garden!

  • The Fairbanks community garden is located in Hamilton Acres, near A Street and Farewell Ave, next to the snow dump.  They feature three acres of community gardening space right next to the Chena River.  We currently hold two plots at this community garden and welcome newcomers.  (We are plots F2 and F3 in the NE corner of the garden, feel free to say hello!)  The gardens are quite large, a water system is installed and many gardening tools are provided.  Community plot fees are $40 per plot with a $40 refundable deposit.  They also have a Facebook page for up to the moment updates.
  • The University of Alaska Fairbanks also helps sponsor a community garden located near West Valley High School near the UAF campus.  They feature 12 foot by 4 foot raised beds which run $40 for the first plot and $20 for additional plots. Given the smaller size of the gardens, this garden is recommended for beginners.  Plots are typically limited to two per person, unless they have extras just prior to planting season.  UAF affiliated students, staff and faculty are generally preferred.  However, available plots are offered to the public after a certain time each year.  A central water system is provided, as are most common gardening tools.  They also have a Facebook page for current updates.
  • A new Goldstream Community garden is in progress as of 2020.  It is not yet open to the public.  You can follow garden progress on their Facebook page.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service

The agricultural extension service is a government sponsored that provides scientific research and new knowledge to farmers and gardeners!

  • The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers an excellent extension service with extensive documentation about gardening in Alaska.  They offer master gardener programs and other helpful efforts for local gardeners.

Fairbanks Greenhouses & Nurseries

At some point, you’re going to want to purchase plants and other gardening supplies.  Support your local nurseries!

Holm Town Nursery

Certainly one of Fairbanks’ premier greenhouses and nurseries.  They feature 60,000 square feet of greenhouse space and a spacious 10,000 square foot retail shop.  They sell just about everything the gardener will need and also offer a supply of indoor gardening essentials, including lighting and hydroponic supplies.  Also, they are the only nursery open year-round. You can reach Holm Town Nursery by phone at 907-451-8733.

Risse’s Greenhouse

Another large nursery and greenhouse, located just a hair up Chena Hot Springs Road.  They feature 18 greenhouses and 40,000 square feet of indoor growing space.  Risse’s offers over 600 varieties of both flowers and vegetables, as well as everything the common gardener needs.  Risse’s is our favorite greenhouse in the Fairbanks area and we support them every year.  You can reach Risse’s Greenhouse by telephone at 907-488-6973.

The Plant Kingdom

Located off Farmers Loop Road.  They feature around a half dozen commercial greenhouses, housing a variety of flowers and vegetables.  They also have a selection of seeds, propagation equipment, pots and other helpful items.  You can reach the Plant Kingdom by telephone at 907-457-5268.

Ann’s Greenhouses

One of the things we like most about the Fairbanks gardening community is there’s often little niche greenhouses that sell to the public.  Ann’s is celebrating nearly 50 years of operation in the Fairbanks, Alaska gardening world!  The greenhouse is located on Sheep Creek Rd and you can reach them by telephone at 907-479-6921.

Hawk’s Greenhouse

A greenhouse after our own heart, founded on a homestead garden.  They have been growing flowers, trees, shrubs, herbs, perennials and veggies in Alaska for over 50 years.  Located in North Pole, Alaska off the Old Richardson Highway.  They can be reached by phone at 907-488-6119.

Fairbanks Farmers Market

We would be remiss to not mention this as a source for garden starts, seed potatoes and flowers!  Furthermore, the market is also a great source for food produced in our region!  The market is a great way to spend a couple hours over the weekend.  Check the site for their current hours of operation.

Other Fairbanks Alaska Gardening Resources

Other resources that you should definitely check out, specific to subarctic gardening and gardening in general!

  • Gardening in the Cabbage Patch is a great resource for the Fairbanks gardener.  The author combines extensive knowledge of gardening in the Fairbanks area with a flair towards flower gardening.  We really enjoyed this site and found it quite helpful.
  • As for books, Alaska Gardening Guide by Ann D. Roberts is an extensive effort on techniques specific and helpful to subarctic gardening.  Compared to other Alaska gardening books out there, this book is an authority on subarctic gardening.  Topics include garden planning, greenhouse considerations & construction, cold frame design & construction, dealing with permafrost, preservation methods, troubleshooting and other techniques relevant to our cold climate.
  • Although not specific to Interior Alaska, one of our tried and true gardening books is The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible.  This is hands down one of the most comprehensive books on growing fruits and vegetables.  We reference this book more often than any other book in our gardening library.

Social Media & Alaska Gardening

Social media is a great place for asking questions, getting answers and checking out what others are up to in your area.

  • Fairbanks Gardeners is a group on Facebook of quite a few local gardeners.  Plentiful in tips and tricks to navigate your way through sub-arctic gardening.  In May, there are many folks offering inexpensive or free starts.  It’s a great place to help identify pictures of local flora and anything else that might come to mind!
  • Alaska Grown is another Facebook group that promotes and encourages the development of a sustainable agriculture industry in Alaska.  The group is “liked” by nearly 1 percent of Alaska’s entire population!
  • Fairbanks Garden Club is a group of folks that are dedicated to growing, preservation, beautification and educational efforts.  Additionally, the club performs community based garden projects in the Fairbanks area.  They meet on a monthly basis and membership is $20 per year.

 

Golden Heart Utility Compost

Compost and organic material is a vital component of soil.  There are some sources of local compost available in the Interior of Alaska.

  • While a controversial subject with many local gardeners, Golden Heart Utilities offers low cost compost made from bio-solids and wood chips.  Read our write up here.  Golden Heart Utilities regularly tests the compost for hazards and it has been used successfully by hundreds of local gardeners without issue.  It’s up to you whether you choose to use it, we will!
  • In 2019, Golden Heart was unable to sell their compost due to PFAS contamination.  This is a very concerning issue in our area and we suspect this may impact future year sales as well.  Due to this, we heavily invested into our compost production as there haven’t been other reliable suppliers of large amounts of compost in the Fairbanks area.
  • Given the difficulties with acquiring inexpensive compost, we invested fairly heavily into our own composting setup.  We combine a lot of nitrogen with potent amounts of carbon from our 2 acre property.  We hot compost when we can, cold compost when we can’t.
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