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.

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

Pollinator
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

Leeks

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
Beets
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.
Carrots

Leeks
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

Turnips
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.
Center

East Side
Radishes 
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.





Thursday, July 19, 2018

Become a Master Gardener

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.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Rhubarb

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.

Rhubarb Split
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.

Rhubarb Seedling
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.

Monday, June 11, 2018

2017 Harvest


Brussels Sprouts & Cabbage
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.

Turnips
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.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Garden Update June 6,1018

East Half
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.
West Half

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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Garden Update 5/20/18

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.

More will come as the garden develops.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thank You

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.

And last but not least to Alaska Mill Feed and Garden for their donation of cabbage and broccoli paks for planting in 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.

Praise God from whom all blessing flow!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Planting the Garden

Seed Sprinkler
Carrot seeds are small, up to 500,000 per pound. Lima beans are large, up to 1450 per pound. Planting 100 ft. rows of Lima beans would be relatively easy by hand but 100 ft. rows of carrots are a pain. Turnips are in between in size coming in at 170,000 per pound. 

There is no magic method for planting garden seeds. It takes time and patience if you are going to be frugal with you supplies. If you have a small garden, say 200 square feet or so you will probably will be on you hands and knees sprinkling seeds in a shallow trough you have cut in the soil. You may want to mix the smaller seeds with sand so it's easier to spread them out. Of course you can just shake them out of the packet as well. Do read the instructions on the packet. There is a lot of useful information there. It could save you some time and money. You might find a device like the one at the right useful. They cost about $2 plus shipping on Amazon.

Earthway Planter
The garden I work in most often is more than 9000 square feet. I don't really want to crawl around on my hands and knees to plant the rows. The rows in the Harvest of Hope Memorial Garden are anywhere from 15 to 80 feet long. Much of it is planted in brassicas, you know cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc. There are usually 4 or 5 rows of potatoes, too. So it's not all planted with little seeds.

In 2017 I invested in a planter for the garden. I can sow a row (60 feet or more) of turnips in about 1 minute with this gadget. I would probably take at least 30 minutes on my hands and knees. I planted other things with the planter as well but the turnips came out the best. Of course they were the last thing it used the planter to plant. Just like any other tool there is a learning curve. It did make planting go a lot faster than in 2016 when the garden was half the size. A planter like the Earthway goes for around $110 plus shipping at many locations. Everything is a learning experience.

There are much more expensive planters. If you are planting more than a half acre you might want to invest in a much larger planter than I have. Companies also make machines that put in seedlings as well.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Diary or Log Book

Log Books
The longer I garden the more important I find a diary or log book to be. You can keep track of all kinds of things. I record rain amounts, planting dates, first appearance dates for the seeds planted. Species and varieties planted. I have a max/min thermometer and I try to record the daily maximum and minimum temperatures. I also have a rain gauge that helps me with watering the garden. If I don't keep track of the rainfall I will waste a lot of water during the summer or not water enough. If you are keeping track of volunteer hours this is a good place to record them as well.

People often want to know what variety of a say turnips you planted. Where you bought them. Whether they are organic seed stock. Who certified them organic. If you keep track of that stuff you can tell them. If you are thinking about entering some of your veggies in the State Fair you will need this information as well. There are literally hundreds of varieties (cultivars) of lettuce. There are hundreds of cultivars of carrots. If you don't write down the ones you plant and where you plant them you will have no idea what variety works well under specific conditions and which ones don't. Each year I record more information because I find I need more information each time I plant. What did I do when, where, and how. If you don't have a diary you will not be able to answer these questions.
Calendar Log

Problems with pests in the garden should be recorded in the diary as well. More important than the pests is the remedy you used and how successful the remedy was. The information would be especially valuable the next time you encounter the difficulty.

I use a calendar to keep track of temperatures and rainfall. I can jot down a quick note on a the calendar about something that struck me that day. If I wait to write it down later I will forget it. I now know that something like writing this blog helps me to remember what needs to be done and when. Obviously during 2017 I didn't do a very good job of writing and I'm sure I am kicking myself in 2018 because I was so lazy. You can do something as simple as tacking up a piece of paper in the garden shed and record you information there.

The diary should start your planning. Writing down your plan will help you execute it. It will help you see the steps required to get from preparation, to planting, to harvest. If you don't write it down lots of information goes away.  I am sometimes asked, "what's the worst thing about Don"? My reply is usually, "if I don't write it down I forget it".

A diary is an indispensable document for the gardener. Writing a blog about gardening or a specific garden is also a great way to keep a diary but it's not detailed enough usually.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Pepper Update 4/14

Pablano
The largest yellow wax pepper is now 4 + inches. The next largest is 3 + inches. Just waiting for those first peppers to ripen so I can have them with my morning breakfast. There are currently 35 peppers on the plants. That's 13 yellow wax, 19 pablanos, and 3 jalapenos. The largest pablano is about 4.5 inches. The jalapenos are just 1.5 inches. There are still scads of blossoms as well. There are going to be a lot of peppers once they really get going. The height of the plants hasn't changed much since the last report. Hopefully the next report will be a taste report maybe on all three species. Eventually, I probably include a recipe for pickling peppers that I like. I certainly won't be able to eat all of the peppers as they ripen. Will probably have to give some away as well. Maybe one of you will be a lucky recipient.
Hungarian Yellow Wax
All 8



Sunday, April 8, 2018

Lighting

T5 or T8 Fluorescent
Pulley system
I use fluorescent lights in my grow operation. They are not full spectrum. They are not grow lights. You can spend a lot of money on special lights that you don't need. Just plain fluorescent, same kind you use in the garage work just fine. Prices can range from $1.30 each to $27 or more. The $1.30 lights work great. The Cooperative Extension Service has a publication on this you may find interesting. Unfortunately you have to order the publication it's not available online right now. You will save some money on electricity if you use tube type LED lights but often they won't work in the same fixtures as the regular fluorescent. It has something to do with the ballasts in the old fixtures. But it's only for a couple of months and if you already have the fixtures why not use them. I'm not sure how many months it would take to recover the difference between LED and fluorescent lights and fixtures. If you have a burning desire to use LED you can change the old fixtures. There are many videos on YouTube that will step you right through it. I do plan to do this since I will be using my lights all year long now.

You need to set up the grow operation so the lights can be lowered to just a few inches above the seedlings and then raised to keep them just a few inches above the plant tops. I purchased a "pulley" system from Amazon but I'm sure you can find them other places as well. You could also do it with a rope or a chain.

Timer
I usually have the lights on the plants 12 hours a day. I do this regardless of the window location or how much sunlight comes through the window. If you don't use the lights the plants always lean toward the window, the light source, and they tend to get leggy and spindly. Leggy plants don't support fruit very well so use the lights. I have the lights on a timer so they come on at 7 AM and go off at 7 PM. The on/off times are not important. The 10 to 12 or mores hours of light is the important thing.

Moving the Light
If you try to grow your plants with incandescent lights you will have a problem. If you get them close enough to the plants to be effective the heat from the bulbs will burn the leaves. If you are growing things like peppers during the winter in the house you will be temped to put them outside in the summer. You can certainly do this. Just keep in mind you will probably get an aphid infestation or something else while they are outside and when you bring them back indoors you will have aphids or something else in the house. You probably don't want those little green bugs in your house. They do attack houseplants as well.

There is much more to come on common pests. There's not much to worry about with the snow still on the ground.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Garden is Growing



Truck Sign
On April 30 we had a planting party at church. There were six of us and we got 23 trays planted. Special thanks go to Jayla, Mary, Bob, Lynn, and Daniel. A lot of work got done in just two hours. I had a few trays ready to plant when everyone arrived but very soon i was making more. Not sure how many of each variety we got done. I do know there was both green and purple cabbage, "giant cabbage", Brussels sprouts, broccoli, squash, rhubarb, and leeks planted. Hopefully in a week to ten day we will see some activity. It's really exciting.
Red Cabbage

Unfortunately I was so busy trying to keep up I have no pictures of the process. But there are pictures of the results. I will also post pics of the progress along the way. It's such a short amount of time 'til we begin to plant. In January I long for spring to come and now that it's nearly here things will be happening much too quickly. Already my mind is spinning about how much needs to be done before planting.
Zucchini 

I will trust in the Lord to make it all happen. Hope everyone had a blessed Easter and are ready for the new season to begin. Life is good!

I wrote the above before I went to church to check on the plants today. Low and behold the Lord has already worked his magic. I will go back in the morning to sort things out better. Need to get the lights set up properly and everything arranged. I thought I would do this on Saturday before anything came up but I will do it tomorrow so everything will grow well.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Pepper Update 3/26

Peppers
The pepper plants are still growing nicely. There are actually peppers on the plants now. The yellow wax is about and inch and a half long this morning and the pablano is about a half inch. There a blossoms on the jalapenos but no peppers yet. There are loads of blossoms on all of the plants.
Pablano

 I am really excited about the progress. I will use them as a visual aid in a couple of gardening presentations I will be doing this month. This week I will be putting them in bigger pots. They are outgrowing the ones they are in and I don't want to stunt the growth. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I will be able to harvest the first pepper. That will mke my morning eggs very tasty.

Yellow Wax
Soon I will be able to dig in the dirt again. Getting the garden ready for planting is almost as much fun as harvesting. Three weeks and I should be able to see the surface of the garden again. Wish the temperatures were warmer at night that would make the snow go away much faster.

On Saturday the 31st of March we will have a planting party at the Lutheran Church of Hope. The time is 1 PM. We will be planting a variety of seeds to give them a head start on the growing season. Be sure to come join us. It might be your first opportunity to get dirt under your fingernails this gardening season. Look forward to seeing you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Starting the Seeds


I usually start seeds at the beginning of April. Maybe a little earlier. I probably should start the peppers earlier this year as they didn't set much fruit in 2017. Early April is good for the brassicas. That's the cabbage, broccoli, and sprouts. Of course that means you needed to buy seeds before this time. The local nurseries and the home centers usually have seeds for sale in March. I order most of mine through the mail. If you aren't sure where to buy just key in "seeds" or "vegetable seeds" to your favorite search engine and you will get millions of hits. You might have to use more than one seed company depending on what varieties you want to plant.

6 Pack
Once you have the seeds you will have to get some seed starting soil. It's not really potting soil. The stuff is usually sterilized so you don't introduce pathogens into the seedlings right away. There are many choices of starting mix. They sell them locally. The seed companies sell them. I buy mine from Amazon. If you are a prime member you can get lots of stuff for the garden from Amazon and the shipping is free. The mix I use is Espoma SS16 16-Quart Organic Seed Starter. If you click on it here it will take you to Amazon so you can buy it there. If I run out I will usually buy more locally but no one carries this type. Of ones I have used I like the Espoma the best.

Washing "Pots" from Last Year
You will need some 1020 trays and 4 packs or 6 packs. The 1020 trays should not have holes. They come with and without. I don't use peat pots. They tend to dry out too quickly and they do not decompose well in Alaska's cold soils. You can often use the plastic ones more than one year if you are careful when you take them out to transplant. I planted about 20 trays in 2017. That's twice as many as I planted the year before but now I had twice as much space. I usually get my trays and 4 or 6 packs from Amazon as well. 
1020 Tray

If you reuse your 1020 trays from last year and your 4 or 6 packs, be sure to wash them in soapy water. Add about a quarter cup of bleach. Be careful what soap and bleach you use together. A soap containing ammonia should not be used with bleach. That would put off a poisonous gas that is not good for you.  Washing will help get rid of any critters that might have taken up residence. The critters include the ones you can't see. There are bacteria and fungi that you don't want in the soil while starting your seeds. Wash last years supplies and they should be fine.

4 Pack
Fill the trays with 4 or 6 packs and fill them with soil. Select the seeds you want to plant and put one seed in each cell. You plant them to the depth you find on the back of the seed packet. Cover the seeds with soil. Water them thoroughly. I also take a plastic label stick and write the variety on it and put it in one of the cells. I then cover the cells with plastic wrap. This prevents evaporation of the water. You don't want the seeds to dry out.  I leave it on until the seeds sprout.

When the sprouts appear discard the plastic wrap. You should check to see if they need water every day. Don't let them dry out. The plants are pretty fragile right now. You will also need a more intense source of light. I use fluorescent lights because I have them. You could use LED as well. More on lighting a little later.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

How Much Will the Seed Cost?

The seed catalogs will tell you how many seeds you need to purchase to plant say a 10 foot row of carrots. Knowing how many seeds are in a packet is helpful as well. Most catalogs will have that information as well. Take carrots for example, there are about 750 seeds in a packet. That's about enough to sow a 25 foot row. If you are planting three, 100 ft rows of carrots that would take 12 packets. 12 packets are say $4.25 each. That's $51 for carrot seeds. You could also purchase them by weight or quantities in 1000s. If you remember the last entry said it would take 3000 carrot seeds to plant a 100 ft. row. Accordingly, 300 ft of carrot row should take about 9000 seeds. 10,000 seeds would cost $1.29/1000 or just $12.90. That's a pretty substantial savings. So knowing how much seed you need and where to buy it can save you a bundle in a big garden.

Why is there so much difference in price? I would have to assume it's the cost of putting the seed into small packages with instructions printed on each one. Take those 10,000 carrot seeds and divide them into 13 packets. You will have to weigh the seed 13 times, have 13 packets to put them in, seal each packet, label each packet. I will then have to find a suitable way to ship the 13 packets instead of one box or bag. Does it cost $38 to do all that? Guess it does or the seed companies wouldn't charge that much for a packet.

Obviously, careful planning on your part can save you a lot of money.