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Thread: Questions about gardening in Alaska

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    Default Questions about gardening in Alaska

    Hey everyone. I'm going to move to Alaska one of these days and i have a lot of question that need to be answered. I'm' trying to ask my questions in the appropriate thread categories. Some of them are about gardening...

    How much of the state can you reliably grow crops in?

    Does the climate usually require a greenhouse?

    What crops can you grow in Alaska?

    Is it practical to rely on gardening in order to can crops for the winter?

    How are crop yields, in the context of work vs yield compared to the lower 48 states?

    Thank you to those who respond. To anyone who has some free time and would like to help a future Alaskan please view some of my other threads. Any advice is appreciated.

    Thanks again
    Kent

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    Member Tearbear's Avatar
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    There are all kinds of answers to all your questions right here on this forum, if only you would research them.
    "Grin and Bear It"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kent15 View Post
    Hey everyone. I'm going to move to Alaska one of these days and i have a lot of question that need to be answered. I'm' trying to ask my questions in the appropriate thread categories. Some of them are about gardening...

    How much of the state can you reliably grow crops in?

    Does the climate usually require a greenhouse?

    What crops can you grow in Alaska?

    Is it practical to rely on gardening in order to can crops for the winter?

    How are crop yields, in the context of work vs yield compared to the lower 48 states?

    Thank you to those who respond. To anyone who has some free time and would like to help a future Alaskan please view some of my other threads. Any advice is appreciated.

    Thanks again
    Kent
    hello kent. I need to ask you a question. And it is a serious question. Why in the hell do you feel you need to live here? Why do so many people think they need to move to AK? Lemme tell you, your not going to escape anything here, there's crime, drugs, alcoholics, crazy people, very little game left.... Living off the land is extremely difficult here and very unlikely. You'd do better to find yourself a paradise down in the states.



    Release Lake Trout

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    Hey Kent, Much of the state, at least much of southcentral and interior, is good for growing broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots outside, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc do much better in a greenhouse. Northern Alaska and western Alaska are a bit harsher for gardening, but they do grow some veggies.
    You will like the state if you like the outdoors, don't mind some rain in the summer and cold dark winters, Alaska has been kind to me for more than 30 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hunt&FishAK View Post
    hello kent. I need to ask you a question. And it is a serious question. Why in the hell do you feel you need to live here? Why do so many people think they need to move to AK? Lemme tell you, your not going to escape anything here, there's crime, drugs, alcoholics, crazy people, very little game left.... Living off the land is extremely difficult here and very unlikely. You'd do better to find yourself a paradise down in the states.
    Well to be honest i hate the current state of our nation. Let me try to explain something to you. Many many people down here couldn't get a fire started on a warm dry day in the woods with a pack of matches. That is not a joke. I'm dead serious. Many people do not understand that fire comes from heat, heat rises, etc. You cant hold a bic lighter to a 1 inch stick and create a bondfire. I know it sounds stupid or like I'm exagerating but seriously, people down here are worthless. I hate to use that word but yes worthless. Seriously mankind has sank hard since the onset of the industrial revolution. Correct me if I'm wrong but i feel like people in rural alaska are more capable human beings than the overwelling majority of people down here. Tvs, smartphones and Facebook are peoples lives. Maybe I am mistaken, but i believe Alaska to be a place of wilderness and self reliant people, at least the closet thing to what America was 100+ years ago. And i like crazy people. They are more interesting and useful from my experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mark oathout View Post
    Hey Kent, Much of the state, at least much of southcentral and interior, is good for growing broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots outside, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc do much better in a greenhouse. Northern Alaska and western Alaska are a bit harsher for gardening, but they do grow some veggies.
    You will like the state if you like the outdoors, don't mind some rain in the summer and cold dark winters, Alaska has been kind to me for more than 30 years.
    thank you for the reply man. My understanding is that the hardest part about growing anything in Alaska in how short the growing season is. I would imagine that at first gardening will require someone holding your hand and telling when to do what or failure the first few times. How long did it take you before you got the hang of gardening in Alaska?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kent15 View Post
    Well to be honest i hate the current state of our nation.
    Newsflash: Alaska is one of the United States; it's part of our nation. What do you hope to gain by bringing your hate to Alaska?
    Let me try to explain something to you. Many many people down here couldn't get a fire started on a warm dry day in the woods with a pack of matches. That is not a joke. I'm dead serious.
    Hint: Most of the people up here came from down there. Think about it.
    Many people do not understand that fire comes from heat, heat rises, etc.
    FAIL. Heat doesn't rise.
    You cant hold a bic lighter to a 1 inch stick and create a bondfire. I know it sounds stupid or like I'm exagerating but seriously, people down here are worthless. I hate to use that word but yes worthless. Seriously mankind has sank hard since the onset of the industrial revolution.
    And you believe coming to Alaska will somehow get you back to a time before the industrial revolution?
    Correct me if I'm wrong but i feel like people in rural alaska are more capable human beings than the overwelling majority of people down here. Tvs, smartphones and Facebook are peoples lives. Maybe I am mistaken, but i believe Alaska to be a place of wilderness and self reliant people, at least the closet thing to what America was 100+ years ago.
    America is a continent; Alaska is part of it; Alaska is not 100+ years behind the rest of the continent. We have cities and paved roads and fast food and gangs and crime and all the same crap you have where you're at. We have all that stuff because people from down there keep moving up here.
    And i like crazy people. They are more interesting and useful from my experience.
    What's your address? We'd be happy to send you some crazy people. How many would you like?
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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    One of the things I have learned about gardening in Alaska is that you must be willing to buy starts from a nursery or be prepared to start seeds under lights. I haven't quite worked out the best system yet, but I am fairly certain it involves heat mats and t5 light fixtures. The more the merrier. Also, look for varieties that are either cold hardy or short season. For spinach and lettuce the key words for me are "slow to bolt". The days here are very long in the summer. If you want tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers you will want a greenhouse. Other things, like broccoli, carrots, ect can be grown outside easily. Slugs can be a problem when it is wet. Depending on where you are moose can be anything from mildly annoying (you have a big dog and/or a tall fence) to absolutely devastating to your garden. And soil warming techniques are essential. Raised beds and tire gardens are your best friends. Most people agree tire gardens are safe. I use them for flowers and they are amazing. And last but certainly not least is the fact that our weather is very unpredictable up here. We have good years and bad. The last two summers have been very warm where I am at. My tomatoes have never done better. Cucumbers, zucchini, green peppers and more came tumbling out of my greenhouse in great quantities. Right now it is 40 degrees here. And there is absolutely no snow. Normally we would have substantial snow cover and temperatures between 20-30 degrees right now. Go figure. Anyway, good luck with your garden. Luck always seems to play a part in it for me.

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    I went back and read Kent's original message, and do not think some of the responses are warranted. I also think the gardening section should be about gardening, not how many grumpy people lives here or there.

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    Thank you Mark

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    Kent, if you come please bring some of Craig LeHoulliers tomato varieties with you, if you garden in NC you should know who he is. lol

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    They must be grumpy gardeners.
    "Grin and Bear It"

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    iofthetaiga...

    Well we are getting off topic. but...

    I don't plan on bringing my hate to Alaska. I would like to leave it here.

    I would imagine those people who can't build a fire that I'm referring to are not the people who move to Alaska. Don't do the liberal American thing and turn a generalized statement into an absolute, only to take the exception and argue the original statement.

    When air is heated it expands and becomes less dense. Therefore is does not stay put, it does not go sideways, it does not fall downward, it goes up because the colder heavier air pushes it up. It super basic physics. I'm baffled by you disagreeing with this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_air_balloon like seriously... And don't come back with some nonsense about when you said heat you meant energy at an attempt to take my original words out of context so you can feel smart.

    Yes. before the industrial revolution people had to rely on knowledge, mental strength, physical endurance and nature. All of which are absent in life down here and are very common traits for Alaskans from my understanding. However i do understand that there are Snowmachines, Firearms, electricity and computers.

    America is a country. Alaska is part of America but is not connected to the lower 48, its separated by Canada and the Pacific ocean. North America is a continent. Just as south America is a continent. America is not South America. America is not North America. America is not a continent.

    I understand there are criminals in Alaska, I understand that many people reject the lower 48 and move to Alaska creating change, once again, its a lot like much of Americas history that i have came to admire.

    The logistics of getting the crazy people in Alaska to come to North Carolina is much more complex than me coming to them.

    I don't like being talked to like I'm stupid. Please don't do that...


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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kent15 View Post
    iofthetaiga...

    Well we are getting off topic. but...
    Yes, you are. Again.

    I don't like being talked to like I'm stupid. Please don't do that...
    <sigh>
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon3464 View Post
    One of the things I have learned about gardening in Alaska is that you must be willing to buy starts from a nursery or be prepared to start seeds under lights. I haven't quite worked out the best system yet, but I am fairly certain it involves heat mats and t5 light fixtures. The more the merrier. Also, look for varieties that are either cold hardy or short season. For spinach and lettuce the key words for me are "slow to bolt". The days here are very long in the summer. If you want tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers you will want a greenhouse. Other things, like broccoli, carrots, ect can be grown outside easily. Slugs can be a problem when it is wet. Depending on where you are moose can be anything from mildly annoying (you have a big dog and/or a tall fence) to absolutely devastating to your garden. And soil warming techniques are essential. Raised beds and tire gardens are your best friends. Most people agree tire gardens are safe. I use them for flowers and they are amazing. And last but certainly not least is the fact that our weather is very unpredictable up here. We have good years and bad. The last two summers have been very warm where I am at. My tomatoes have never done better. Cucumbers, zucchini, green peppers and more came tumbling out of my greenhouse in great quantities. Right now it is 40 degrees here. And there is absolutely no snow. Normally we would have substantial snow cover and temperatures between 20-30 degrees right now. Go figure. Anyway, good luck with your garden. Luck always seems to play a part in it for me.
    Back on topic...

    Thanks for the reply. Correct me if I'm wrong, but "baby plants" or small plants from seeds with the intent of transplant, are usually grow in a greenhouse. At least my uncle did his tobacco this way. I would imagine that nurseries aren't as common up there. Do many Alaskan gardeners use nursery plants or do many people have there own nursery in preparation for the growing season?

    I tried to grow a garden by myself down here for the first time last year. I hear ya on the moose eating up your garden. We don't have moose but we have a bunch of whitetail deer. I had a whole 30ft row of green beans that were looking real pretty. one morning before work i noticed something had nibbled on a couple of the end plants. The next morning it was as if someone had taken a weed eater to my beans. Very discouraging for your first garden. I ended up getting too lazy to upkeep the whole thing with work and all. I over planted for an experimental first time garden. My garden was way too big. If my plants had really taken off or maintianed i would have had to give 75% of it away. I learned a lot though. Mainly from people critiquing my failures. My greatest lesson was that gardening is pretty hard work but the real challenge is just knowing what to do, and theirs a lot to know and i know very little. My tomatoes also failed which i hear do actually require a lot of attention in the beginning, like way more than any plant.

    Speaking of tire gardens, my dad tried out this tire garden for potatoes. Ive never grown potatoes and am not much of a green thumb at this point in time. but the idea was that you keep adding tires and more dirt as the potatoes grow and it allows you to grow a lot of potatoes in a small space. It has something to do with a potato being a root plant.

    Are raised beds and tire garden useful for soil warming? (i think thats what you are saying) Ive never even heard of soil warming down here, but then again the ground isn't frozen for the majority of the year.

    I know you said you had a greenhouse. Do you just supplement the food you would have bought at the grocery store during the growing season or do you use a greenhouse for ultimately canning food for the winter? If so how much can someone realistically grow for food stockpiling in a greenhouse? I guess stockpiling describes what i'm trying to ask.

    Thanks for your responese again.

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    I believe we could grow enough potatoes and carrots to last the winter. Storage would be the problem. As far as tomatoes, I could fill the whole greenhouse with nothing but tomatoes and that might be enough to can for the winter. But I just do not see where a person could go the entire winter without buying produce. Raised beds will help warm the soil and many crops will do well in them. Again, storage is the problem. Canning and freezing helps, but you have to have the pantry and freezer space. I start my plants indoors, move them to the greenhouse then put what I can outside. Tender crops stay in the greenhouse. It's easy to start enough stuff for a big garden but it's difficult to maintain it indoors until after last frost. Even a greenhouse will suffer from a hard late freeze wo supplemental heat. Many crops won't produce if you wait until its warm enough outside to direct seed. Our growing season just isn't long enough. If my goal were to live off the land I would actually turn to the sea. Just my opinion, but my freezers are full of salmon, halibut, cod and clams that we have harvested ourselves. The garden provides high quality fresh produce in the summer, and we store as much as possible but it is a labor of love. True subsistence for us comes from the ocean.

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    I just thought of something...you could dehydrate your vegetables for winter storage. We do some of ours that way. A mixture of carrots, onions, green peppers, ect (whatever is in season and seems appropriate) and I store it for soups. It works rather well, especially when I am in a hurry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon3464 View Post
    I believe we could grow enough potatoes and carrots to last the winter. Storage would be the problem. As far as tomatoes, I could fill the whole greenhouse with nothing but tomatoes and that might be enough to can for the winter. But I just do not see where a person could go the entire winter without buying produce. Raised beds will help warm the soil and many crops will do well in them. Again, storage is the problem. Canning and freezing helps, but you have to have the pantry and freezer space. I start my plants indoors, move them to the greenhouse then put what I can outside. Tender crops stay in the greenhouse. It's easy to start enough stuff for a big garden but it's difficult to maintain it indoors until after last frost. Even a greenhouse will suffer from a hard late freeze wo supplemental heat. Many crops won't produce if you wait until its warm enough outside to direct seed. Our growing season just isn't long enough. If my goal were to live off the land I would actually turn to the sea. Just my opinion, but my freezers are full of salmon, halibut, cod and clams that we have harvested ourselves. The garden provides high quality fresh produce in the summer, and we store as much as possible but it is a labor of love. True subsistence for us comes from the ocean.
    Thanks for all the info. How much meet do you get from fishing per year? and I'm assuming that you are on the coastline.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon3464 View Post
    I just thought of something...you could dehydrate your vegetables for winter storage. We do some of ours that way. A mixture of carrots, onions, green peppers, ect (whatever is in season and seems appropriate) and I store it for soups. It works rather well, especially when I am in a hurry.
    The guy I'm living with is getting into dehydrating stuff. I would imagine in something like a simmered soup you can't really tell too much of a difference. You can get a shole lot of food in a tiny space that weights nothing. It seems like a solid idea. What has been your expeiernce with using dehydrated veggies for other non-stew/soup-like dishes?

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    I have also used the dehydrated vegetables in rice. I haven't really given much thought to other uses. We make jelly out of blueberries, salmonberries and raspberries. Some people freeze them. As far as fishing goes, I am casual about it, but I still catch enough to leave very little freezer space for berries or vegetables. There are other boards with people who can give you much better advice on fishing than I.

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