Sharing information about gardening in Anchorage, AK. The blog also talks about the specific garden, the Harvest of Hope Memorial Garden behind the Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, AK
The garden is a Memorial Garden, a garden of benevolence, 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, a Domestic Hunger Grant from the ELCA World Hunger, generous support by the congregation of Lutheran Church of Hope, and support from the Alaska Synod of the ELCA.
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.
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.
You can become a Master Gardener. Courses are offered by the Cooperative Extension Service both online and in the classroom. The next online course with be offered during the fall of 2018. There will be a traditional class beginning in September of 2018 in Anchorage. You can't enroll yet. However, you can get on an interest list to be notified when the next one happens. There is a plethora of information in this course. It covers soil enrichment, lawns, trees, vegetables, flowers, and much more. Almost anything you would want to know about gardening with emphasis on what works in Alaska. There are from time to time other courses offered to provide you with Advanced Master Gardener credentials. I found the courses I have taken very useful in all my gardening endeavors.
You might also like to come to the Alaska Master Gardener monthly meetings. They are held the 3rd Monday of the month at at 7 PM beginning in September. Right now the venue for the meetings is the BP Energy Center. There is also the Anchorage Garden Club meeting on the first Thursday of the month at the Pioneer Schoolhouse lower level. Educational opportunities abound in Anchorage when it comes to gardening. Join any of the groups that help you with your garden and help the community as a whole become more food secure.
Rhubarb is a great garden plant. It looks great in the vegetable garden and it looks great in the flower or "show" garden. It also acts as a weed control ally in the garden. Generally the leaves are so large and dense that nothing grows beneath them. I am considering planting rhubarb under the rose bushes at church to help control the weeds. The clover and chickweed gets really nasty under them and maybe the rhubarb would help control them. If it doesn't work we can dig it up and use it some where else on the property.
You can buy rhubarb from nurseries in town. You will pay anywhere from $9 to $30 for a crown to transplant. There are a couple of much less expensive alternatives. Start with your neighbors, check with them to see if they have any mature rhubarb plants you could divide. This would allow you to get a plant for an excellent price and you get to know your neighbor better. That's certainly a win-win. Check with people in organizations you
frequent. You know the kind, church, schools, etc. You would be surprised how many people have rhubarb and would be
happy to share with you.
Splitting the plants can be done any time of the year. The spring is probably better as you can see the buds in the crown. You want to split the crown so there are a few buds in each "new" plant. You can dig up the whole root or split it in place. If you did up the whole thing be sure to put some back in the same place. It must have been a good place for the plant because it got big enough to split.
If that method fails you can indeed start rhubarb from seed. I don't recall seeing seed packets in the stores in Anchorage but you can certainly purchase them from seed companies or Amazon online. In warm climates rhubarb is grown as an annual but in our zone, 4a, it is a perennial. Just start the seeds the way you would any other. When the plant gets about 4 inches tall harden it off and then transplant it to the desired location. It will take a couple of years to produce usable stalks but it will be worth the wait. If you buy crowns from the local nursery you will have to wait a year before you can harvest and doing it from seeds is a lot cheaper.
If you do get rhubarb from neighbors, buy it from a
greenhouse, or start from seed, when you transplant it in your garden
but sure not to cover the crowns completely. I guess the best way to
explain it is to make the new planting look pretty much like the old
one. It's one of those things that you don't want too much sticking out
of the ground but you don't want to bury the crown either. Rhubarb does
best in full sun with plenty of water. If you must put it in a spot
without full sun you should put it somewhere in the garden that will get
sun for at least a few hours. It will grow in full shade as well but
will look pretty scrawny.
Thanks to generous donations from our neighbors Paula Zawadi, Phyllis Rude, and the Hobbs family, we now have rhubarb plants underneath the whole west fence line of the garden and under the rose bushes in front of the church. The garden is well fixed for rhubarb now. This should be the first harvest of 2019.
I have been asked more times than I can count, "What was the harvest last summer"? "What was the biggest producer"? "Did the weather effect the harvest"? How much do you think you will harvest this year? The quick answers are approximately 2750 pounds, cabbage 763 pounds, and yes, the weather always effects the harvest. And lastly, I have no idea. I have hopes for 4000 pounds. But that's probably pie-in-the-sky!
I was actually pretty surprised by the numbers. I didn't keep track of the weight by veggie types in 2016 (2450 pounds) but I did in 2017. The weather for the summer of 2017 was probably typical. Generally I'd say it we had "normal" summer weather. It was cool and wet. If the weather would have been as good as 2016 there would probably have been a thousand pounds more produce than harvested. But then “farmers” always complain about the weather. It’s too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry and maybe it’s all of those at the same time if that is possible.
Literally thousands of people benefit from the produce. The garden is good for me, good for the congregation, and especially good for the community. It provides exercise and plenty of fresh air. It is easy to see the purpose of the investment. It brings smiles to the face of the congregation and the recipients of the harvest. I look forward to the 2018 season. Hopefully the harvest will increase again.
The brassicas we planted on May 19th are still doing great. They look very healthy and I look forward to beginning the harvest in July. The squash we planted did not fair so well. We planted the seeds way too early and the plants were already blossoming when we set them out. Squash do not like to be transplanted as it is but when they are as mature as these were it's a disaster waiting to happen. Only a couple of the plants survived. I had enough foresight to have Bob Morgan plant more zucchini while we were planting those that died. Those plants well be ready to go this weekend (June 9).
On May 26th we planted peas on the north side of the garden up against the fence. The next day or so I purchased some 2 foot fencing material for them to climb on but I'm still about 25 feet short so will have to get some more and install it pretty soon. The north side peas were up on the 6th of June. So the fence is becoming urgent. Bonnie and I also planted some pole beans ( four plants) we were given on the north fence of the garden. They don't look too good but they are still alive. Will see what kind of production they have. If it's good will try some next year.
May 30th found us planting parsnips and turnips. The parsnips take 21-28 days to germinate so don't plan on looking for them 'til the end of the month. The turnips are supposed to take 6-10 days and indeed they made their appearance on June 5th.
On June 2nd we planted carrots, beets, collards, kale, and green beans. They were all watered in and I would expect to see the collards and kale come up Monday the 11th.
On the 6th I planted red and white radishes, two short rows of each. Will plant more next week so there is a staggered harvest. The potatoes showed up today as well as the green onions and the lettuce. Rod and I covered two of the raised beds today and I planted the Hungarian yellow wax peppers in one of them. There will be cucumbers in the other once they are hardened off.
Basically everything is planted. Now it's time to start up the compost bins and try to keep ahead of the weeds. If we come up with something that looks interesting there is still a little room. But right now that is reserved for more radishes in successive plantings. I almost forgot, the apple trees are beginning to bloom. They should be spectacular by Sunday, June 10th.
God bless you all and thanks for the help from all of my wonderful volunteers.
It's been a very busy May. The week of the May 6 was a time of getting things ready. Getting the soil "up and running" so to speak. Doing all of those prep things for planting. On the 12th of May with the help of 8 spectacular volunteers, many from the Unitarian Fellowship, we were able to get a portion of the space leveled and planted with potatoes. We also planted peas along the south fence. None of those things has made an appearance yet but that will come soon.
During the week of the 13th I put out a general call to rake the garden flat. Friday morning (May 18) when I went to church it was indeed already to go. Don't know who did it but thank you for your hard work it made things go much faster on the 19th. On the 19th we planted approximately 400 starts. These were initially put in flats on the 31st of March. Alaska Mill Feed & Garden donated a flat of cabbage and one of broccoli that were also put in on the 19th. We now have potatoes, peas, summer squash, spaghetti squash, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bunching onions, and lettuce planted in the garden.
Most of the rest except for the peppers and leeks are direct seeded to the soil. I will probably put peas along the north fence in the garden as well this year. Seeds yet to be planted include carrots, turnips, parsnips, radishes, beans, and others yet to be determined. In the meantime please pray for warm weather with just the right amount of rain.
I wish to send a very special thank you to the Alaska Women's Giving Circle. They have been very generous to the Harvest of Hope Memorial Garden this year with a grant of $1000. A special thank you to Molly Orheim for being the champion for this project with the group. Thank you Molly for your encouragement and support.
A special thank you to the Alaska Food Policy Council and the Municipality of Anchorage for the Local Food Mini-Grant Program. This program is administered by the office of Mayor Berkowitz. Thank you for you effort in the administration and getting the word out for this grant. The grant amount is $550. Thank you to all of the people that put me on to this grant and there were many.
We also thank GK "raising it up" Farms for the donation of 25 pounds of seed potatoes for the garden this year. I'm sure the Red Pontiacs will be greatly appreciated by all of the clients served by the garden.
This is truly a community effort and all of the businesses and organizations that have been recognized are a very special part of our community. Good bless you all and may your success bring special joy to the people we serve.