Pushing the Zone in Alaska

Posted by @Oberon46 on
Anchorage, Alaska, has a pretty short growing season, which is cool (55-65 F) and tends to be overcast much of the time. So, having a greenhouse would be great. Not having enough room for one on my urban lot, I fortunately discovered raised beds, and to extend the season, hoop beds. Hope you will enjoy my journey into new gardening worlds.

I wasn't much into growing vegetables when we first moved to our present house about 20 years ago (1995). I made a few attempts at planting in the ground and watched all of my efforts consumed by slugs and a variety of bugs. That was enough for me. I turned my attention to flowers and added a pond in 2007. In 2012 I needed to have repairs done to the pond and some extensive changes to the garden beds. Since I had a landscaping crew and equipment in the yard, almost as an afterthought, I had three raised beds built and positioned in the only spot left in the back yard. The beds were brought in and replaced the plywood protecting my lawn.

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I had the beds filled with regular gardening soil and then, having read "The Square Foot Gardener," I bravely mixed my own soil for the top 8-10". As was recommended, I laid out plastic sheets and mixed peat, compost, and vermiculite, then shoveled it into the beds. Since I had already been growing plants in my indoor greenhouse (think -- garage), June 18 was a little late for planting out, but they were already seedlings of a nice size.

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The first year wasn't very impressive, and as we headed into winter I knew I had a lot of work to do to prepare for a better 2013.

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The beds slowly came out of the snow while the nursery in the garage was taking off with a bang.

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We added hoops to the raised beds and covered them with plastic. We then added heat lamps to try to push the season.

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I had layered mulch on top of the beds the previous fall, and now thought I should make it finer by using my sieve.

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I put out seedlings way too early and lost all but the hardiest, despite the heat lamps and even though quilts had been thrown over the top of the hoops. But by June 12 I still had seedlings to put in the beds.

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And by June 23rd I had veggies growing like crazy.

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Just two or so weeks later:

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We are still working out the right spacing, soil, fertilizer, pest control, and the best seeds for growth here in our cold short climate. With the help of all our friends here at ATP, we continue to learn more and more. My database grows right along with it to help me capture what I have learned and what I want to try. (The picture is from July 2014 and isn't of Blue Lake Beans, but it is my own picture.)

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As a final note, I also had an apple tree planted. It is something I never thought I would see in my yard in Alaska. Here is one of the first apples.

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Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Raised beds by Bubbles Feb 24, 2015 8:24 PM 2
Wow! by droughttolerant Feb 23, 2015 2:16 PM 2
A very enjoyable and informative article! by CarolineScott Feb 23, 2015 10:57 AM 3
Love it by Shannon Feb 22, 2015 5:45 PM 1
Apple tree by lovesblooms Feb 22, 2015 5:43 PM 1
Very impressive by beckygardener Feb 22, 2015 5:42 PM 6
Thanks for sharing your journey! by Cem9165 Feb 22, 2015 9:34 AM 1
Amazing by PAgirl63 Feb 22, 2015 7:54 AM 0
good job by drdawg Feb 22, 2015 7:04 AM 2
wow by quietyard Feb 21, 2015 9:19 PM 1
Innovative by jmorth Feb 21, 2015 9:18 PM 1

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