(Lori Adams, who owns Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden and is a frequent vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market, will be writing a regular garden column in theDaily Sitka Sentinel this summer. The Sentinel is allowing us to reprint the columns on this site after they first appear in the newspaper. This column appeared on Page 4 of the Wednesday, May 23, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)
GARDENING IN SITKA
By Lori Adams
COPING WITH SITKA’S WEATHER
This spring the weather has been particularly wet and cold. If this is your first year of gardening you may be having a difficult time. Try not to get discouraged. Remember that successful Sitka gardeners do not succeed because of the weather … they succeed IN SPITE of the weather through ingenuity and hard work.
There are four things that are essential if you want to succeed.
- Raise your beds to warm up the soil and ensure adequate drainage
- Amend your soil with sand to speed up drainage
- Choose varieties that are known to do well here
- Use row cover to heat up the soil and minimize rain damage
At the Down To Earth U-Pick Garden, I cover almost every single bed with row cover. It costs some money and it is difficult to keep in place, but it is well worth it. As early as May 10, I was picking BEAUTIFUL spinach and I know it’s mostly due to row cover.
Row cover is a lightweight fabric-type of material that is usually made out of spun polyester. It protects plants while allowing light and water to flow through it. It comes in varying widths and lengths that you lay over your beds. Using it can increase the temperature of the bed by as much as 10 degrees. It protects plants from wind, deters harmful insects and minimizes rain damage.
Although it works to simply lay it over the bed and let the plants push it up as they grow, it’s best to suspend it using PVC pipe, wire hoops or fencing that’s bent into arches to keep it from soaking up mud and weighing down the plants.
Even though it is fragile, row cover can last for years if you handle it carefully. Weigh the edges down firmly to keep it from it from whipping around in the wind and avoid laying it over sharp edges. I lay seine web over the top of my row cover to keep it smooth and secure. I leave my cover on until July 15 or harvest time, whichever comes first.
Here are a few more tips for dealing with the weather:
- use clean material for pathways such as wood chips, gravel or shells
- improve drainage on your property
- buy some boots and lightweight raingear that are comfortable
- designate a place inside to drip-dry your raingear so it’s ready each time you need it
- remove as much brush and trees as possible to improve sunlight and airflow
- use proper plant spacing to improve airflow and prevent mold and rot
DON”T GIVE UP! Just take note of the problems you are having this year and get advice on how to improve things for next year. Most vegetables we grow here don’t mind the weather and will recover once it warms up and the weather improves.
Brought to you by Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden
2103 Sawmill Creek Road
Open June-August / Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
747-6108 or 738-2241