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 Alaska Food Policy Council through the Municipality of Anchorage, the Alaska Women's Giving Circle, generous support by the congregation of Lutheran Church of Hope, and support from the Alaska Synod of the ELCA.

Food from the garden in 2018 was sent to Lutheran Social Services Food Pantry, the Tudor Road Gospel Rescue Mission, and to Bean's Cafe.

Monday, January 7, 2019

January 2019

 It's tough to look at your garden in the winter. It's covered with snow like a thick down comforter. The hoarfrost makes the fence so fuzzy you can't see through it. The temperature is freezing maybe below zero. You really want to get out there and dig, not in the snow but in the dirt beneath. It's frozen and even a pick-axe will have trouble putting a dent in the soil. It looks lifeless.

That leaf mold, compost, or yard litter you spread last fall is under the blanket of white. What's happening to it? The critters that break it down in warmer weather are still there. Not only are they there, they are working hard. They work more slowly but they are hard at it making organic matter that will hold the ion nutrients the plants need. The more organic matter the more nutrients. Your garden will thrive and the critters won't be stealing nutrients from you vegetables and flowers.

Without that cold weather many of our northern plants would not survive or bear fruit. Rhubarb is grown as an annual in the southern US because it doesn't get cold enough for it's winter rest cycle. Many of our fruit trees need at least a specific number of days concurrently near or below freezing (chill hours) to  be able to set fruit the following year. People don't grow apples, as a rule, in the southern US for this very reason. Our warming climate may have adverse effects on some of our fruit tree crops in the future. Winter is a time of rest and revitalization for plants that live in the north. Whether it's fruit trees, rhubarb, or flowering bulbs and shrubs without winter many of them would rot in the ground.

January is the time most gardeners look forward to the warm spring weather. Most wish they could get out and dig. I have already received gardening catalogs from Harris, Johnny's, Seed Savers Exchange, and Territorial. Most people call these publications seed catalogs. I try not to because most of them cover so much more than just seed. It's refreshing with the snow and the cold to browse through the catalogs dreaming about what might be in the spring and wishing you could plant those "exotics" that just won't grow in your zone.

Use winter to research that new season extending idea you had last fall. Low tunnels, row tunnels, IRT plastic all can be used to extend the season and coax those exotics to finish their life cycle. If you haven't thought about how to make it happen during the winter you probably won't have time when planting, weeding, harvest, or other season comes around. Use the "slow" winter period to try to make your garden dreams come true with careful research and meticulous planning. Okay maybe not so meticulous but some plan is usually necessary. Make the most of your winter because all too soon you will be busy with the garden and digging in the dirt.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Radio Debut

Don Bladow
On December 18, 2018 the garden manager, that's me, made his debut on radio. I talked with Amy Pettit on the program Ag Matters at Radio Free Palmer,  The program originally aired at 7:30 AM on December 18, 2018. It is available as a podcast on their website. The program is a half hour and you can listen by clicking on the link Ag Matters. The program name is listed as Rose Memorial Garden but that is the correct program, regardless of the title. If you would like to learn more about the Alaska Farmland Trust click on the name and you will be taken to the website.

A special thank you to Amy for having me as a guest on her program, Ag Matters. Look forward to doing it again sometime.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Planting Flowers in Your Vegetable Garden

You certainly want to attract pollinators to your garden. Bees, butterflies, ants, humming birds (yes, we have hummingbirds in Alaska), and other birds as well. There are many warm climate crops that benefit from pollinators. If you grow melons, winter squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, anything that blossoms to set fruit you want pollinators in your garden. If you live in cold climates you may have to hand pollinate in the green house. If you do this a few times you will long to have pollinators to the task for you.  The blossoms on potatoes are attractive to bees. While you don't need to pollinate the potatoes for a harvest you still attract them for the other things you do need pollinated.

Potato Blossoms
If you have fruit trees, you certainly want pollinators around. Even in Alaska we grow apples, cherries, pears, and all kinds of berries. You lucky people that can grow citrus certainly need the blossoms pollinated to get good crops.

Flowers are a great addition to the vegetable garden. I inadvertently planted nasturtiums among my squash last summer. They brightened up the endless green of the garden. You could also harvest the blossoms of the nasturtiums to spice up a salad or just to munch on while you work in the garden.  You can grow a lot of flowers in the garden just be sure you don't introduce what you might call a weed after a time. If you don't want flowers growing among the vegetables you can plant them along the pathways. You can plant them on the periphery. They not only attract the bees and butterflies but they make your garden look more attractive as well.

Rufous Hummingbird
When you select these flowers be careful. Sometimes we haplessly introduce invasive species. Non-native plants can sometime reek havoc on the plants native to an area. They tend to take over and fill in the niches that should be reserved for our native plants. If you want an excellent example of an invasive species just look at a field of dandelions any place in the USA. This is an invasive species. It is native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Now it can be found most any place people from Europe settled throughout the world. Here in Alaska vetch and hawkweed are invasive. The European bird cherry (Mayday tree) is taking over our parks and bike trails. If you are not sure about a species check with your local Cooperative Extension Service. They will be glad to provide information. They are a great source of information for anything to do with gardens. All you have to do is ask.

Monday, November 26, 2018


Leek Seedlings
I gave leeks a try this season. At 100 days to maturity it was nip and tuck whether they would make it. I started seed on the 31st of March. I thought that may be too soon but was willing to find out as things progressed in the spring. I was thinking about trying to direct seed some to see what would happen. Soil temperatures are usually the problem with this type of "crop". I chose not to direct seed as I read more about the crop. Leeks don't make the list of the suggested varieties from the Alaska Cooperative Extention Service (CES). The publication number in case you would like to order it is HGA-00031. So we will see what happens.

The seeds that were planted took only 6 days to germinate. So the on the 6th we had what looked like tiny chives growing in the starter trays. At a little more than three weeks they still look like chives just taller. Water, light, and nutrients for the next 6 to 8 weeks will hopefully yield viable seedlings.

Planting the seedlings seems to be pretty much the same as potatoes. Dig a trench about 6 inches deep. Plant the seedlings in the trench. As the seedlings grow gradually fill in the trench to get nice white areas above the roots. If you don't trench or hill them you will get a very small white portion and much more leaves than you expect. As the season goes on I will try to give updates on the progress. If all goes well I will try them again next year.

Harvested Leeks
This is sort of an addendum to this entry. Starting the seeds two months before you want to plant is just about right. They seemed to transplant just fine.  I put them in the garden on June 5th. Will see how they progress over the summer.

The progression was amazing. As I read more about leeks from various sources I found out they are quite frost tolerant. They will even do well in snow as long as the ground doesn't freeze. Any way, I filled in the trench they were planted in as the summer progressed. For much of the time they just looked like green bunching onions. As the summer moved on they got bigger and bigger, who wudda thought. When I harvested them the first week in October some were and inch and a half in diameter. I would call that a successful experiment. Altogether there were 25 pounds of leeks. I will be planting them in 2019.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Mission of ELCA World Hunger -- God's Work, Our Hands

July 2018
I recently became aware of a video that is used to support and promote the ELCA World Hunger Holistic Mission. I am proud to have the Harvest of Hope Memorial Garden be a part of this video and ministry. There is also an article in the fall 2018 issue LifeLines about the garden. The work that is done in the Lutheran Church of Hope, Harvest of Hope Memorial Garden is being recognized throughout the country. A special thank you goes out to all of the people that made the garden a possibility and a reality. The list is much to long to include here. But thanks to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, volunteers come from all over the city, south central Alaska, and as far away as Oregon. Together we do God's Work with Our Hands. Praise the Lord.

The video link is here. The download link to the article is here it is a full color PDF and does take some time to download please be patient.

Monday, November 12, 2018

2018 Harvest

Brussells Sprouts
Seems I have been neglecting my blog these days. It's really kind of silly of me because I have many drafts ready all I pretty much have to do is post them.

Chieftain Potatoes
For the 2018 season I set a goal of 4000 pounds (2 tons) for the harvest. I didn't quite make it but came close at 3641 pounds. Once again it was a learning experience. Don't plant squash and brassica starts too early. If the squash are blossoming when you transplant them you started too early. The cabbage, broccoli, and sprouts were all pretty root bound when they went in the ground. The cabbage heads were small in general. The broccoli mostly bolted or had very small heads. I was disappointed. The sprouts did about as expected but some of the stalks were pretty small. The only things that seemed to be started at the right time were the peppers and leeks. The peppers did well, 9 pounds this year with only one box planted. The leeks which were an experiment produced 25 pounds of lovely plants. I will do a separate entry on the leeks.

Chieftain Pototoes
The single largest crop was the turnips, 700+ pounds. The month of July I used a wheel barrow to harvest turnips. I planted radishes three times and ended up with well over a hundred pounds of them. As we were harvesting the crops this year I examined pretty closely what locations had the best yield. Turns out the north end and the west side of the garden did the best. The east and south sides were in shadow much more of the day and I'm convinced that had something to do with the yield. The peas on the north fence did much better than those on the south fence. Everything was pretty much the same except for the shadow. The remedy will be to remove some more trees from the south and east sides of the garden to increase the sunshine throughout. Which means there is lots of work to be done this winter to get things ready to go for the spring. Hopefully we can get into the trees before there is too much snow.

I will be spending some time in Florida and Arizona this winter. Will have to fit the tree cutting between the trips or wait until March. The winter harvest is better for turning bowls but then that is another post altogether.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

2018 Garden Progress

West Side
The garden has been doing very well this summer. The last part of July and first part of August with the two days of rain and a couple days of sunshine have served the garden well. The harvest so far is over 1200 pounds of produce. This includes cabbage, beans, peas, beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, squash, and other stuff. The largest single crop so far is turnips, 450 + pounds of them. There are still probably a couple of hundred pounds of turnips to be harvested. The second crop of radishes will be brought in next week and the third probably the week after. The cucumbers are doing well and may have up to 30 pounds of them before the season is done. They do take some time to grow. Next year I will explore some alternatives for planting the cukes. The squash got a really late start but are producing. Will do them differently next year as well. Each year is a learning experience. But overall the science project called the Harvest of Hope Memorial Garden has been a smashing success this year.

East Side
The orchard we planted last fall is doing well also. There are a few apples and will be taking them soon to find out the taste. I had to strip a bunch this spring so the limbs on the young trees would not break. The trees in front of the parsonage are not producing as well as last year but there will still be upwards of 100 pounds when
all is done. Another successful
science project at this point.