The garden is a Memorial Garden, a garden of benevolence, a garden of love. It is a gift to our community from the God of Love, Jesus the Christ. The first “seeds” for our garden have come from members of the congregation and a designation from the congregation’s memorial funds. These seeds have brought us to the beginning of a journey that will last for many years. Guided by the Holy Spirit we will plow forth until row upon row of our work is accomplished and our community is better nourished. The Lord invites you all to be part of His work on earth strengthening and feeding His children. The garden is made possible by generous donations from the community, and grants from the ELCA Domestic Hunger Grants, the Alaska Food Policy Council through the Municipality of Anchorage, the Alaska Women's Giving Circle, The Alaska Master Gardeners of Anchorage, the generous support by the congregation of Lutheran Church of Hope, and support from the Alaska Synod of the ELCA.

Food from the garden in 2019 was sent to Lutheran Social Services Food Pantry, the Tudor Road Gospel Rescue Mission, and to Bean's Cafe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

July at an end

It's the end of July. The days are getting shorter, though we really don't notice yet. The weather has been very good for gardeners. There has been lots of sun and pretty much normal rainfall for July. Still have to water but certainly not as much as last year. We finally have the weeds "under control" and can start focusing on increasing our crop.

Turns out, as usual, the turnips are doing quite well. The harvest has been more than 850 pounds to date. The tur

nip patch is now empty. I will fertilize the area again and plant a second crop. Last year was the first time I did this but I didn't fertilize again. The turnips were small but plentiful. Hopefully with the additional fertilizer they will do better. If the frost holds off till the middle of September we should do well. The harvest so far is much more than the two crops last year.
I changed the variety of broccoli (arcadia) and the heads were much, much better. However there doesn't seem to be many subsequent smaller heads. Will have to w
Washing Station

ait and see with the broccoli. I could certainly have more food if I just planted more cabbage or sprouts. Not sure of the best solution. Will kick it around for a while and see what shakes out.


We did a little experiment with the zucchini this year. I had about 25 seeds left over after the initial potting up and starting the plants. The week we put the squash plants in the ground I germinated the "extra" seeds between moist paper towels in a plastic bag. Once they had a root we took them out and put them in the ground. They did indeed grow just fine. We are harvesting summer squash from those plants just like we are from the seedlings we planted. Now you cannot tell the difference between the "regular starts" and the germinated seeds. The zukes so far is just shy of 200 pounds.

A little update on the potatoes. They got planted too close together so last week I went through and thinned them. I removed every other plant and now you can't tell I even took any out. I probably should have waited a couple of weeks and then could have had a crop of new potatoes. Oh, well! They are just beginning to blossom and that's always a good sign. Look forward to the harvest in October.

The only thing in the garden this year that seems to be having difficulty is the beets. They are sparse and slow. Same thing happened last year. I will have to do some study and try to figure out what the problem may be. Won't certainly have a resolution to report on until next summer about this time. But I will definitely write it up next year.

All is well with the garden. The Lord has definitely blessed us this year. Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Really, June Is Nearly Over

It doesn't seem possible that June is nearly over. Where has the time gone? An update is in order. The kale and collards have been brought into plain sight. They were so overgrown by grass and weeds it was difficult to tell things were really planted in the space. The cabbage is doing very well. The Brussels sprout were nearly done in by some neighbors escaped live stock (partridge). But they are growing and we will see what happens. The turnips should be ready in two or three weeks. The beans are up but don't look great. The leeks and chard are doing very well. The peppers are in varying stages of maturity but that's the way they always seem to be. Actually everything is doing pretty well just slower than I would like, but that's the way it always works out.

Kale & Collards
In the picture above are the turnips after doing most of the weeding. To the right are where the kale and collards live. The picture to the right shows what the kale and collards looked like after the weeding was done. There is quite a difference.

We will have the first radishes tomorrow, June 29. With a little luck we will harvest the first zucchini this coming weeks as well. We will also harvest the first pok choi at the end of the week.

Oh, and the seed potatoes I got this year were quite small but they seem to be doing just fine. They may have been planted a little close together but that will just mean  smaller potatoes at harvest time.

Since we are harvesting the radishes we will also be planting more. Same with the pok choi.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Apple Orchard

Orchard Planting
There are two apple trees in front of the parsonage (State Fair and Norland) that were planted by Pastor Ottum while he and his family lived there. These are mature trees that bear between 150 and  300 pounds of apples each year. These trees need to be pruned severely to make them easy to harvest and better producers. Each year I work on them a little more.

There are two trees inside the garden fence (State Fair and Carroll). I grafted them onto hardy root stock the spring of 2017. They were about 18 inches tall when I planted them. One was pulled out by vandals late in October of 2017. I put it back in the ground but the ground was  mostly frozen. This tree did not survive. The lonely survivor will bear some fruit in 7 or 8 years. The survivor is about three feet tall now.
Blossoms Closeup

Five trees north of the garden (Norland, Zestar, and Prairie Magic) will produce a harvest in 3 to 4 years. If they all survive and produce well we could be harvesting 300 to 400 pounds of apples in the coming years. Three of the "orchard" trees did produce some apples in 2018. The Prairie Magic has very tasty fruit. The trees had a bad year in 2019. June and July were very dry. I did not water the trees and they suffered from the lack of water. The only apples on them were very hard and very small.

Parsonage Apple Tree 2018
The orchard is fenced the same as the garden to keep the hungry moose out in the winter. They don't seem to bother the trees in the summer time. The fence is 7.5 ft. tall so should keep them out.

As expected only one of the trees has any blossoms in 2020. The Prairie Magic has blossoms but it's too early to tell if there will be any fruit. Hope springs eternal. The blossoms on the parsonage trees are sparse this year as well. Hopefully we will still get some apples from the trees. If not the goal of 4500 lbs for 2020 will be very difficult to reach.

Sometime in the future I may try my hand at making cider. There should be plenty of apples to press. This is another investment in equipment so only time will tell.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

June Already?

Where does the time go. I have been going to do an update and all of a sudden it's June. All is well at the garden. The brassicas are in the ground and doing well. The turnips and peas are up. Green beans just showed yesterday. But the first thing up this year was the Swiss chard. No onions or carrots up yet but I am hopeful. Planted 70+ zucchini this year and they seem to be doing fine. At least they all appear to have new growth which is a good indication they survived the transplant. The peppers are doing well in their mini green houses. Planted two varieties of radish this year. One was the standby, rover, from Johnny's and a wasabi radish that was gifted to me by a friend. It's green and should be interesting. Still have to finish planting the potatoes and the fava beans are yet to go in the ground. With luck all should be done by Sunday. 

I did a little experiment as well this year. I had some zucchini seeds left over so I put them between a couple of wet paper towels and put them in a plastic bag. I knew they would sprout. My wife put the sprouted seeds in the garden. Will see what happens with them.

Wash Station
Had a couple of repairs to the irrigation system to make and added a sprinkler head. Everything is working well. This was one of the best things I did in the garden.

I modified a work bench that was donated. Shorted the height. Flipped the boards on the top and added a screen that we have used to wash the veggies. I also installed a slanted "runway" to channel the wash water away from feet and legs. Hope it works better than the two tables.

Shooting for 4500 pounds this year. Hope we can do it.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Alaska Master Gardeners Anchorage

This is a very special thank you to the Alaska Master Gardeners Anchorage. They have been very generous with a grant of $500 for the Harvest of Hope Memorial Garden. This grant along with other contributions will not only pay for the operation and maintenance of the garden this year but will go along way in beginning a new project. The project is to build a hoop house between the north edge of the garden and the orchard.

A hoop house will allow us to grow crops we would normally be able to plant. These "buildings" extend the season so we may begin in April and possibly go into November before we have to put it to bed for the winter. I look forward to beginning construction this summer. With a completion in early 2021. Will keep you all posted on the progress as we move it along.

A special thank you for all the gifts we have received this year.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

When To Plant

Early April
This question always plagues Alaska gardeners. Actually all gardeners ask this question no matter where they live. It's too bad we can't be like central and southern Florida where all year is planting time. But even in Florida planting in July and August gets spotty results at best. There is no insurance on the weather. If you want to be certain there won't be a frost you will have to wait until the middle of June. If you are just cautious Memorial Day weekend will do. Remember the greater the risk the greater the reward. The sooner you plant the sooner you harvest, within reason of course.

Seed Packet Front
A hard freeze is classified as 24° F.  According to the National Garden Association you are past the danger of a hard freeze on April 5. That's 80% of the time there won't be a hard freeze after April 5. There is a 50% chance there will be no temperatures lower than 32 F after May 8. There is a 90% chance there will be no temperatures below 32 F on or after May 19. I've lived in Anchorage for 45+ years and I have seen it snow on May 16. That snow hung around for a day or two. In 2017 the week before Memorial Day the lows were in the mid 30s. I had planted summer and winter squash the week before. The week after Memorial Day I planted summer and winter squash again. In 2016 I was harvesting summer squash the second week in June.

April 24
There are some things you can plant as soon as you can work the ground. They won't grow very fast but they will survive most of what the spring weather will throw at them. Plant peas as soon as you are able. Plant potatoes as soon as you can work the ground. If you get some things in the ground early it will give you more time to do the other stuff that needs to be done when there is a crunch on the time you have. I will most always plant cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and sprouts by the third week in May. These last four can be direct seeded but you will get crops much sooner if you use transplants.

By the 20th of May all of your seeds should be in the ground, all of mine are. The ground will probably be below 50° yet but they will grow. If you want to be absolutely safe put in your summer squash Memorial Day weekend. I would chance a week earlier and be prepared to replant if necessary. Crops like leaf lettuce and radishes do best in the cool spring weather. But be prepared to plant subsequent crops as you harvest the first plantings. Radishes and leaf lettuce mature in about 30 days.

Seed Packet Back
Anything that needs a soil temperature greater than 60° F to germinate you should start indoors and transplant or you should grow in a season extended environment. Our soil in Anchorage seldom gets to 60°or more unless it's on the south side of a light colored building in the middle of June.

Planting is the time of anticipation and anxiety. I can't wait 'til it comes up. Then there is the other side of the coin, I hope it comes up. You will experience both. Have fun planting.

Don't throw away the seed packet when you are done planting. The back of the packet has a lot of useful information for later use.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Let Yarducopia Use Some Space

You do have an "urban" lot that you would like to mow less often or maybe not at all. There is an organization that can help you with that. Let's say you would like to provide produce for some organization like Lutheran Social Services Food Pantry, the Gospel Rescue Mission, or maybe Bean's Cafe. You don't have the time. You suspect you don't have the talent to do a garden from start to finish. Yarducopia uses your property to help people learn organic gardening practices and raise food. The food is split between the people doing the gardening, the home owner, and a nonprofit organization of the homeowner's choice. This is a method to use your property for gardening, help someone else learn gardening, share your bounty with others and have wonderful fresh produce grown on your property to enjoy during the harvest season.

The organization is now taking signups now for the next planting season. Check them out. You might just strike gold right in your own yard.