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Thread: How Tough Is Gardening?

  1. #1
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    Default How Tough Is Gardening?

    Hello,

    I'm brand new here. I don't currently live in AK, but it looks like my husband's job might take us there. I love to garden - but am not very skilled at it yet.

    So what kind of garden could I have if we moved to Alaska? From what I've seen, it looks like blueberries and cabbage do just fine. But what about tomatoes? Pumpkins? Fruit trees? Nut trees? Are these things possible for someone who's thumb is not super-green?

    Are moose really a huge problem? What else will I need to deal with?

    Basically - what do people in the lower 48 not know about gardening in Alaska?

    THANKS!

  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    What part of Alaska might you be moving to? Gardening in Southeast is likely different than Southcental, etc. I live just north of Anchorage and have been gardening for two years now. I'm pretty clueless, but it's been really fun to find how easy it is to grow certain things. In the first two years I've had great success with lettuce, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, bok choi, potatoes, carrots, and radishes. As you noted, cabbage does very well here also. I do all of my gardening outside at a relatively high (cool and windy) elevation, so I've struggled to find success with zucchini. Crops like squash, tomatoes, peppers, a cucumbers do much better in a greenhouse, so if you're serious about gardening you may want to invest in one. As for fruit, apples can be grown in Alaska, but the rest of fruit is pretty well out. Berries do very well, of course, so planting a raspberry and strawberry patch is a great option. As for blueberries, I don't personally know anyone who grows their own, as wild blueberries are plentiful and far tastier than any domestic type I've ever tasted.

    I haven't had issues with moose yet, but yes, they can wipe out your garden in one visit. There are some threads here about approaches folks take to deal with moose.

    I'd suggest going to the Anchorage Daily News website and reading to the weekly column by garden writer Jeff Lowenfels. He is a guru of northern gardening and you'll learn a lot. He also hosts a weekly radio show by the name of "The Garden Party" on AM 700 KBYR, so you might be able to subscribe to his podcast of that show.

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    Thanks for the help! I'll look into those podcasts and articles!

    We'd probably be moving to a spot on the southern coast - I'm hoping southern AK is easier to garden in than northern AK.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    The only issue with coastal areas is that the average temperature is cooler. Ironically, northern (interior) Alaska is significantly warmer during the summer. Average temperatures in the Anchorage area stretching down south to Homer are in the low to mid 60s, whereas average temperatures in the Fairbanks area are often in the 70s (reaching into the 90s with some regularity). Still, gardening in coastal areas can be great - just a bit cooler.

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    Brian is right....you may struggle more to grow some things farther south than here in the Interior. I consistently grow good potatoes and lettuce (my best crops), carrots (also excellent), radishes, peas, and onions. Peppers and cucumbers do well in my greenhouse. I've had reasonably good luck with tomatoes (mainly cherry tomatoes) in planters on my deck where sun/heat reflects off of the house onto them, and I've had a few lucky years where I've been able to get corn to mature in a bed next to the house. I've also got lots of wild raspberries. In the Interior we benefit from more hours of sunlight and consistently higher summer temperatures.
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    thanks for the replies!

    Hmm - I just assumed the south would be warmer - but it makes sense that coastal areas would be cooler than the interior.

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    GBeth
    once you figure out exactly where in the state your going to be, come back here and you can get some great advice on gardening specific to your location. I've been gardening in AK for ...... ummm a couple yrs now, and in truth there isn't a year goes by that I don't learn something new or better... The University of AK extension office will have some great books/pamphlets/brochures on area specific gardening and vegetables for that location... and the people on this forum will gladly give you some great advice, so you can profit from their experience (mistakes)...!!

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    Default SE Gardening

    Southeast Alaska gardening is a challenge. Sounds unreal, but there isn't any soil in SE. That rain forest you see is growing out of the rock somehow. A rock garden perhaps? It rains too much to grow anything other than spruce trees and skunk cabbage.

    Southcentral, on the other hand, is an awesome place for growing things. With 19 hours daylight and the mild summer weather, veggies grow like crazy and we don't have to deal with as many garden pests (other than moose).
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    with the 350 tomato plants we had in our 25X75 green house last year we had to throw away 40-80 Lbs a day to the animals cause they put so many on we were only selling about 1/2 -2/3's of what was growing. I am so sick of tomatoes. we had 1 1/2 acres of strawberries (thats kiler on the back to plant 6500 of them by hand) that did good except as soon at any got ripe it would rain and they would rot as they were sitting on plastic. (have to cover the rows and pop the plants out of it to get the big 2-3 inch wide berrys ) tell you what, I went through and ate over a gallon in one sitting and I got sooo sick. (they weren't fit to sell but tasted fine, just had soft spots) but it didn't keep me from eating more the next day! just about everything grows good through plastic, but you'll have to put some work into it (a stinking but ton of work) with a shovel and pick to get it good. if you have some chickens or something other than a dog the manure is dynamite.
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

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    Root veggies and leafy green stuff are pretty easy, better in raised beds, for everything else it gets tricky.
    " Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    Member grcg's Avatar
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    Default trial and error is your friend.....

    There are people with GORGEOUS gardens all over the state.

    Some places have established gardens, but in some places it is not a simple matter of throwing seeds in the ground to grow. Work needs to be done to establish beds and figure out what will grow there.

    I think that is part of the fun! And you can container garden anywhere!

    Alaska it's advantages as well.....we have the long summer daylight hours and far fewer crop pests than the lower 48.

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    if you have no space and a lot of rock look into square foot gardening or making window boxes
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

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