• Scenes from the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer

Sitka Farmers Market Co-Managers Debe Brincefield, left, and Ellexis Howey, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Florence Welsh and her daughter Cory Welsh of Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens at the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer on Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. The Welsh family has one of the larger gardens in Sitka, raising a variety of veggies including cabbage, carrots, zuccini, potatoes, greens, and more. Florence received a gift bag with fresh greens, fresh carrots, fresh rhubarb, and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This concludes the seventh year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. While the Sitka Farmers Market is over for the summer, we will host a produce table at the 20th annual Running of the Boots, with registration at 10 a.m., costume judging at 10:30 a.m. and race at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, near St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Lincoln Street. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, or check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka Farmers Market Co-Managers Debe Brincefield, left, and Ellexis Howey, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Florence Welsh and her daughter Cory Welsh of Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens at the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer on Saturday, Sept. 6, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. The Welsh family has one of the larger gardens in Sitka, raising a variety of veggies including cabbage, carrots, zuccini, potatoes, greens, and more. Florence received a gift bag with fresh greens, fresh carrots, fresh rhubarb, and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This concludes the seventh year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. While the Sitka Farmers Market is over for the summer, we will host a produce table at the 20th annual Running of the Boots, with registration at 10 a.m., costume judging at 10:30 a.m. and race at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, near St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Lincoln Street. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, or check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

SitkaFarmersMarketSignFlorence Welsh, along with daughter Cory Welsh, of the Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens won the Table of the Day Award for the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer, held Saturday, Sept. 6, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

This easily was the rainiest Sitka Farmers Market in our seven-year history (we had a record 3 1/2 inches of rain in 12 hours that Saturday), but we still had a decent crowd show up for the market.

While the Sitka Farmers Market is done until the 2015 summer, the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a produce table at the 20th annual Running of the Boots on Saturday, Sept. 27 (10 a.m. registration, 10:30ish costume judging, 11 a.m. race), near St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Lincoln Street. The Sitka Local Foods Network also has a local produce table on weekends when Chelan Produce is in town. A slideshow with scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market is below.

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• Meet your vendors: Linda Wilson of Seaview Garden and Jewelry Arte

LindaWilson

SitkaFarmersMarketSign(This is part of a new series of “Meet your vendors” articles, where Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel is writing features about our regular Sitka Farmers Market vendors.) 

Taking a stroll through this summer’s Sitka Farmers Markets, several perfectly baked rhubarb pies may have caught your eye. Outside in the tent next to the Sitka Local Foods Network produce tent, stood the talented gardener and craftswoman Linda Wilson, a Sitka local for the past three decades who owns Seaview Garden and Jewelry Arte.

Wilson’s father was in the USDA Forest Service. Wilson was raised in California until the age of 6, when her family moved to Ketchikan. A few years later, her father moved the family to Sitka and then to Juneau for his work. Wilson attended high school in Juneau, but yearned to be back in Sitka where they had bought a house in 1975 out on Halibut Point Road. The family returned to Sitka after Wilson’s father retired from the USDA Forest Service in 1982. Wilson lost both her mother and her brother to illnesses, and has been taking care of her father in Sitka since his retirement.

LindaWilsonWithZucchiniIn Sitka, Wilson fell into gardening, because outside of the house is where she felt she had the most control and freedom. Inside the house was dad’s territory. She ripped out her salmonberry bushes in 2004, and learned how to grow broccoli when she met Florence Welsh. Today, she grows carrots, snap peas, greens including kale, collard, and lettuce, and rhubarb. She loves composting and mostly uses coffee grounds and spent grains. At the Sitka Farmers Markets, she sold collard greens and delicious pies. Strawberry-rhubarb is her favorite.

This year, she has been growing zucchini and tomato plants inside her newly established high tunnel via a NRCS grant. She thanks those in the community who helped her put up the high tunnel, and particularly market vendor Kerry MacLane’s instrumental assistance. Even though she has retired from the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors, Linda was one of the original board members. She also was one of the first managers of the Sitka Farmers Market, and she organized the first Let’s Grow, Sitka! education event.

LindaWilsonWithPieWilson loves making homemade pizza from scratch with homegrown tomatoes, onions, sliced zucchini, nasturtiums, broccoli, garlic, and basil. She says, “I grow tomatoes because it’s a challenge, and I’m gonna get it.” She also makes a mean pesto with carrot top greens. When she produces an overabundance of produce, she donates to the Salvation Army.

She loves to go mushroom foraging, and also picks berries to make a variety of jams. Her favorite is blueberry-huckleberry jam.

From 1985 until 2007, Wilson managed one of the local gift shops in town, where they sold authentic Russian imports. From 2003 to 2006, she also worked on a cruise ship in the Baltic Sea where she lectured on Russian arts and crafts, knowledge she had gained while managing the gift shop. Today, she works part-time with the Sitka Economic Development Association (SEDA), takes care of her father, and makes beautiful sculpted wire jewelry with gemstones.

Every February, Wilson makes a two-week trip down to one of the biggest jewelry shows in the world. She has attended the show 12 out of the past 13 years. Her favorite stones are fossils: coral, ammonites, and sand dollars, because, she says, “They used to be living.” She has a rock shop in her house where she houses her jewelry making studio with beautiful stones and lapidary equipment including a slab saw, trim saw, grinder, and rock tumbler, throughout. “Nature makes amazing things.”

LindaWilsonsJewelryWhen she is not out in the garden, tending to her father, or making jewelry, Wilson loves “petting kitty bellies.” They have two cats, Spike and Sandy, at home, though many more are buried out back. “Serving as compost,” Wilson jokes.

If you don’t see her at the Sitka Farmers Market, make sure to check out Linda Wilson’s beautiful jewelry at the Island Artists Gallery, an artists cooperative on Lincoln Street. Her jewelry makes great gifts for yourself, family members, and friends.

• Meet your vendors: Lori Adams of Down-to-Earth U-Pick Garden

LoriAdamsAndGuyBuyingJelly

SitkaFarmersMarketSign(This is part of a new series of “Meet your vendors” articles, where Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel is writing features about our regular Sitka Farmers Market vendors.) 

A couple of miles outside of town, up Sawmill Creek Road, there is a thriving garden with everything from fennel and radishes to kohlrabi and raspberries. Lori Adams operates the Down-to-Earth U-Pick Garden at 2103 Sawmill Creek Rd.

Adams grew up on a farm in Oregon and met her husband Dale in high school through the church community. The couple came to Sitka in 1986 and worked as commercial fishermen. They now have two sons, Ben, 24, and Levi, 18. Ben has a degree in biology and fisheries, and works at the Sitka Sound Science Center as a Chum Resource Coordinator. Levi is studying foreign languages at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The family lived on a boat for 11 years (as Adams says, “It’s a great way to start out here.”) and moved around before settling down on Sawmill Creek Road.

In 2009, Adams started Down-to-Earth U-Pick, shortly after the Sitka Local Foods Network started the Sitka Farmers Market. Adams credits Florence Welsh, the “matriarch of the Sitka gardening community,” for teaching her much of the gardening knowledge she knows today. They were neighbors on Halibut Point Road before Adams moved up Sawmill Creek Road with her family.

LoriAdamsGiftBasketAdams had a serious passion for gardening from the beginning, but was frustrated that fruits and vegetables would come and go, and were not consumed. She wanted to share her produce with others. She contacted Wells Williams in the Sitka Planning Department with her idea and he responded, “You want to do WHAT?” Perplexed at first, Williams soon jumped onboard. He helped to rewrite the city bylaws so Adams would be able to start the U-Pick, and she was approved.

Although the garden requires a lot of upkeep, she loves it and spends hours every day tending to it. Dale, a hunting guide, often asks her, “Why can’t you just be a carrot lady?” And she answers that providing the community with diverse locally grown produce is her true passion. Adams likes to provide a variety of vegetables so that people can see what grows well in this climate. “There is always something someone can pick.” Sometimes one thing will get over-picked, but it’s never been a real problem. Her garden is so successful in part because she is particular in her composting. “I know what’s here, and I bring in the cleanest possible [additions].” She has a family of ducks on the property that help perform slug control and add fertilizer to the beds.

In operating the only registered U-Pick garden in Sitka, Adams has overcome many obstacles. Despite the fact that locals are positive towards her about what she’s doing, she says, “People who are really into local food aren’t my regular customers because they grow their own food, but they do support me.” She has some regulars to the garden, but often her clientele consists of families with kids who usually get their produce from the grocery store, but like to tour the garden. Adams tries her best to keep up with what the grocery stores are charging and seems to be doing a great job. “I’m not a making a living here, but it pays for itself.” Her fennel runs $4 each, peapods are $5 per plastic crate, and carrots are 20 cents each, no matter the size.

She encourages anyone and everyone to start a U-Pick and would love to help them with the venture. “It would be great if we could have U-Picks like this become more of a feasible option for the community [through having more people start them].”

LoriAdamsWithBookIn the future, Adams hopes to expand into all of her usable property, and either continue with her U-Pick garden or possibly transition to farming and supply for restaurants and other similar institutions.

You might have recently spotted Lori driving down the road in the newest addition to her family: a 1946 Chevy pickup with running gear from a 1991 Caprice. A few years back while in her late 40s, she decided that for her 50th birthday, she was going to buy herself an old truck. She has always loved them. “I grew up on a farm. I think it’s just part of the nostalgia.” Her and Dale drove all the way from Kentucky, where they bought the truck, to Seattle, to send it home on the barge.

When she’s not gardening or driving her sweet new ride, Adams likes to crochet and design patterns, scrapbook, and when traveling, watch the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri, as there isn’t a television at home. One of her favorite go-to breakfast meals consists of a toasted bagel (she used cranberry-orange the other day) with real butter, garlic scape pesto, a fried egg, and locally smoked salmon. She loves garlic scapes. She puts them on everything — even into her vanilla smoothies!

Follow her two-week-long road trip journey with Dale from Kentucky to Seattle in her new vintage pickup, as well as her life at the U-Pick Garden on her blog at http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/. In addition, Adams sells copies of her book, “How to Grow Vegetables in Sitka, Alaska,” a collection of her 2012 Daily Sitka Sentinel “Gardening in Southeast Alaska” columns, for $20 each.

Come visit Lori and pick some produce from her beautiful garden Monday through Saturday between noon to 6:30 p.m. She will be at the next three Sitka Farmers Markets (Aug. 9, Aug. 23, and Sept. 6) with samples of her produce, but is also at the garden by 3 p.m. on those Saturdays. A few weeks ago, she came to the market with garlic scapes pulverized with olive oil and spread on a cracker. The combination was a HUGE hit. At the last market, she brought her Down-to-Earth peapods and homemade jams. Come visit her at the market this Saturday!

• Lori Adams discusses everything she’s learned about growing Brussels sprouts in her latest Daily Sitka Sentinel garden column

(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 the Daily 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, Sept. 5, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

EVERYTHING I’VE LEARNED ABOUT GROWING BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Brussels sprouts grow really well in Sitka. They are a late crop that actually tastes best after the first frost. I have had good Brussels sprouts every year except this year … it just wasn’t warm enough.

Brussels sprouts are heavy feeders so amend your soil this fall with nitrogen (salmon carcasses a foot apart) and potassium (seaweed a foot deep) and lime (an inch of seashell sand). In mid-March start seeds indoors, till up the bed either with a rototiller or by hand, and then transplant the starts mid-April with 18-20 inch spacing. Make a dish-shaped depression in the soil and then dig a hole for the transplant right in the middle of the depression. Bury the starts up to their first set of true leaves.

It’s very helpful to mulch the entire bed with four inches of seaweed that has a small amount of herring eggs on it, but be sure the seaweed does not touch the starts or they could be burnt from the “hot” eggs. Cover the entire bed with floating row cover and for best results suspend the cover with hoops to keep the starts from getting beaten down from the rain. As with all brassicas, you should leave the row cover on until July 15 to protect the crop from the root maggot fly.

In the summer you will start to see little baby cabbages growing at the base of each leaf right on the stem.  These are the “sprouts.”  The sprouts closest to the ground are the biggest and the ones at the top of the plant are the smallest because they ripen from the bottom up. When the sprouts reach the size of a marble, start cutting or breaking off the leaves (by pulling down or sideways until they snap off). This allows the plant to put more energy into growing sprouts and less energy into growing leaves. The leaves are edible and can be used like kale.

Brussels sprouts are ready to eat at any stage, but it is best to wait until they are about the size the circle your fingers make when using the OK gesture. The sprouts can be harvested from the plants by pulling them sideways until they snap off.  If you see a sprout start to open up, it has gone past maturity. It is still good to eat but not as choice as a tight, tender sprout.

To prepare Brussels sprouts, just cut the stump off including the bottom sliver of the sprout.  This will allow you to peel off some of the outer leaves which are so hard they feel like you are eating plastic.  Some people like to boil or steam their sprouts and others like to roast them in the over drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. But I’ve never heard of anyone that likes to eat them raw.

In September, it is a good idea to prune the top of the plants off to encourage them to stop growing new sprouts and to plump up the sprouts already on the stalk.   The tops are edible and can be used like kale.

Brussels sprouts are extremely hearty and can be left outside in the snow for a month or two, but keep an eye on them because after prolonged cold weather they start to deteriorate.  If you have a good cool storage area it is a good idea to cut the plants off at the ground and stack them inside.  Whenever you want sprouts for dinner just go break off the ones you want and leave the rest on the stalk for later.

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

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

• Lori Adams discusses everything she’s learned about growing raspberries in her latest Daily Sitka Sentinel garden column

(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 the Daily 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, Aug. 29, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

EVERYTHING I’VE LEARNED ABOUT GROWING RASPBERRIES

Raspberries grow in Sitka without a lot of care or fuss. I’ve had a good crop every year in my garden — even this year.

Raspberries are perennials. With proper care they should come back year after year and never need to be replanted. So choose your planting site very carefully — someplace sunny where the wind doesn’t blow its hardest and where there won’t be shading or crowding other crops.

Raspberries send out many runners underground that pop up yards away, so if you plant them right next to another crop or flower bed the runners will cause problems. The best spot would be up against a building to minimize rain and maximize heat with a wide pathway in between the raspberries and the next crop.

All red raspberry varieties do well in Sitka, but it seems that most of us got our starts from Florence Welsh (tall with large berries and handles the weather fine) or the geodetic experimental agriculture site (shorter with smaller berries and less appreciative of wet weather).

To prep the soil for raspberries loosen up the soil, remove the largest stones to a depth of about six inches and remove all salmonberry roots. The two will complete for space and the salmonberries will always win.

I think planting in rows is much preferable to planting in a patch. Weeding, mulching, pruning and harvesting are all easier when every plant is easy to see and access. Fence posts and wire can be very handy to support the plants efficiently in a row. I have been growing raspberries in a patch for years and have had good success, but am planning to move the entire patch into rows next year. Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden customers do not like to crawl through wet plants and many berries go to waste simply because they can’t be seen.

As with most berries, raspberries do not need any lime. But they do like rich soil, so I mulch with about 10 inches of seaweed every fall and aspire to add more in the spring but usually don’t get it done. Healthy raspberry leaves are green. If yours appear yellow they need more nutrition.

All of the berries will not be ready at once, so be faithful to pick them every three days — RAIN OR SHINE. You don’t want to waste a single berry, and they deteriorate when wet with rain for even a couple of days. Excessive rain will cause berries to become crumbly. This is annoying when you are picking, but they still taste delicious so don’t throw them away. I have noticed that the first picking is the worst and they seem to hold together better as the season progresses.

You must understand how raspberries grow to know how to prune them properly.   First-year canes do not produce berries. Prune the tops off if they grow taller then five feet to keep them from falling over (this does not hurt the plant and will encourage it to branch out more). When winter comes, the canes will look dead but they are very much alive and will sprout leaves the next spring.

Second-year canes will produce berries.  During that same year the plant also will send out more first-year canes. It is very important to protect these first-year canes from damage to ensure a harvest every year. The canes die during their second winter and need to be pruned off the plant that fall or the next spring when you can tell dead ones from live ones easily. Eventually the plant will die, but they are always sending out shoots underground and new plants replace the old ones.

Raspberry plants always send up more shoots than you want, so be vigilant about pulling them up or your whole yard will become a raspberry patch. Pulled shoots can be planted and will take root easily, so be generous and share the love with your friends and neighbors.

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

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

• Lori Adams says it’s time to start planning for garlic in her latest Daily Sitka Sentinel garden column

(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 the Daily 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 3 of the Wednesday, July 25, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

IT’S TIME TO START PLANNING FOR GARLIC

Garlic is the most rewarding thing I’ve grown yet in my garden.  It is amazingly delicious, easy to plant and does so well here in Sitka.

Even though it’s too early to plant garlic right now, the stores are starting to sell it and the catalogs are arriving in the mail. It’s good to buy now because garlic is a hot seller and everyone is usually sold out by October when you need it. Do not buy garlic from the grocery store to plant even though it is cheaper. It won’t do as well as stock bought from a nursery. In fact, many farmers spray the garlic with something to keep it from sprouting during storage.

Our local garden stores sell garlic and Penny Brown at Garden Ventures has been keeping track of the local gardener’s favorite varieties so be sure to talk to her. All garlic varieties fall under two basic categories — hard neck and soft neck.

Soft neck plants have soft stalks at harvest time that can be braided together. The cloves run on the smaller, milder side but have a long shelf life. Most of the garlic you see on the grocery store shelves is soft neck.

Hard neck plants have very rigid stalks.  The cloves run on the larger, more flavorful side but do not have a long shelf life. Hard neck garlic plants send a flower stalk out of the top of the plant in July that needs to be cut off so that all of the energy goes into producing large cloves. This flower stalk is called a “scape” and it’s not only edible, it’s delicious. Just eat it raw or chop it up and throw it into your stir fry.

All of the information I’ve gathered says that hard neck garlic is the best choice for Sitka.

The best time to plant garlic is in the fall. Some stores sell it in time for a spring planting and it works, but your garlic won’t reach its full potential. Preparation for the garlic bed should take place this September.

Remove all the existing plants in the bed, and till or loosen up the soil with a trowel.  Amend with fertilizer (or seaweed and compost), lime (or seashell sand) and bonemeal (or starfish). Be sure the bed has good drainage — if the garlic sits in a puddle all winter it will rot. Planting should take place mid-October.  Separate all the cloves of your garlic, being sure NOT to remove the individual papery covering over each clove. If the covering is accidentally removed plant the clove anyways.

Plant each clove about 2 inches deep and about 9 inches apart and then mulch the entire bed with a thick layer of seaweed to protect it from the winter weather. Mark your bed clearly so you remember where they are planted next year.

Next spring, green blades will start to appear that look like saw grass. Each blade indicates one clove. Fertilize or mulch with seaweed or compost when all the garlic has emerged. Harvest the scapes in July while they are tender before the flower develops.

During July the blades will start to turn brown from the bottom up.  Although garlic is edible at any stage, usually by early August half of the blades have turned brown and it is time to harvest. If you harvest too early it won’t store well and if you harvest too late the cloves will separate from the stalk and the flavor diminishes slightly.  Use a trowel to harvest instead of pulling the stalk to ensure that the garlic stays intact.  For storage just wash off the dirt, cut off the stalk to about an inch and let the garlic dry completely using a fan.

Save your largest cloves to plant for next season, eat the rest of the large cloves and save any tiny or misshapen cloves to plant an inch or two apart in a separate bed to use in the spring as “garlic greens.”  Garlic greens look like green onions but taste like garlic.  If you save and replant your own stock each year the garlic plants will get more adapted to our climate and will get better and better.

Garlic is so delicious, you just HAVE to try it.

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

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

• Lori Adams discusses everything she’s learned about growing fennel in her latest Daily Sitka Sentinel garden column

(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 the Daily 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, July 18, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

EVERYTHING I’VE LEARNED ABOUT GROWING FENNEL

I have to admit that up until about two years ago I didn’t even know what fennel was.  Florence Welsh recommended that I grow it because it does so well here in Sitka and is truly delicious. I am so glad I gave it a try.

Fennel has a round, slightly oval-shaped bulb that grows above the ground and looks sort of like a fat, short celery, while the tops look a lot like dill. If you eat fennel raw it tastes strongly of anise (licorice), but when cooked the flavor changes to this amazing mellow flavor I can’t even describe.

In preparation for growing fennel I like to amend the bed with seaweed in the fall and again in the spring. If the spring seaweed has a sprinkling of herring roe on it, it’s fine because fennel is a fairly heavy feeder. I start my seeds indoors mid-March and transplant them outside mid-April.

When transplanting the floppy, fragile starts, be sure to make a dish-shaped depression in the soil and then dig a hole in the center of the depression. Bury the starts deep enough in the hole to ensure that they are firmly supported with dirt and plant them with about 10-12 inch spacing. After they recover from transplant shock and begin to grow they will straighten out and become more stout.

It is a really good idea to mulch around each start with seaweed to keep the weeds down, feed the starts and retain moisture.  Cover the starts with row cover and for best results use hoop supports that will hold the cover up 2-3 feet off the ground.  Fennel has beautiful bushy foliage that can get quite tall and if the cover is too low it will break the foliage and make the plants very unattractive.

Fennel is ready to eat anytime you want to, but it is best to wait until it has reached maturity for maximum size. You’ve probably noticed the fennel in the grocery store produce aisle … the large, round, plump bulbs are white and the stems of the foliage are stout. My fennel never looks like that. The bulbs are smaller, more flat — almost disc-shaped — and greener in color.  The foliage and stems are more dainty and tender.

Sometimes a few plants will “bolt” and just send up a series of branches getting really tall. They are edible, but don’t amount to much. Adequate spacing usually minimizes bolting.

Because fennel matures so early you can successfully raise two plantings. You probably can plan to be able to start your first harvest mid to late July. If you take a sharp knife and cut the bulb loose leaving the root in the ground it is possible that the root will sprout up baby fennel for a second harvest.

But it is a more sure thing to start some more fennel seeds indoors around June 1, pull mature plants out of the ground root and all, amend the empty spot with compost and transplant new starts in the same spot. If you don’t have room indoors for starting more seeds just pop a new seed into the empty spots as you harvest mature plants.

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

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

• Lori Adams provides advice in her latest Daily Sitka Sentinel garden column

(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 the Daily 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, March 28, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

TAKE MY ADVICE

Your best resource for gardening advice is from experienced, successful Sitka gardeners. Ask them a lot of questions, but be ready for an interesting anomaly … they will give you different answers.

Don’t be confused and get discouraged, and DON’T think that one or both of them is wrong.  Most likely they are both right! They have each been successful and truly believe that their method is the reason why. What you need to do is gather all the information you can and then decide what is the best method for you to try. If that method doesn’t work then you can try one of the other suggested methods.

The one thing you don’t want to do is say something like, “Well, Lori Adams says that you have to raise your beds.”  This is a sure way to irritate them and they may stop offering you advise!  It would be better to form your statement into a question, “Do you think it is important  to raise your beds?” Ask lots of questions and be sure to take notes.

It is also a good idea to have some gardening resource books in your library.  The problem is finding ones that are actually helpful. Sitka has such a unique climate that we just don’t fit into any of the zones addressed in their charts and graphs.

Why are we so different?  For one thing we have a maritime climate. The ocean keeps us warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Our rainfall is 100 inches a year, and the winter is usually just a series of freezes and thaws. We get plenty of daylight hours, but since it is often cloudy we don’t get much sunlight. These are all unique characteristics, and when you put them together it makes gardening difficult. I recommend the following books:

  1. Gardening in Southeast Alaska by the Juneau Garden Club. This is the absolute Bible for gardening in Sitka. Although Juneau is warmer in the summer and colder in the winter than Sitka, this book is full of fabulous information! I try to read through it once a year.
  2. 3-Step Vegetable Gardening by Steve Mercer. This book tells you in simple terms just what you need to know about planting, growing and harvesting most types of vegetables and herbs.
  3. The Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens by Florence Welsh.  Florence has gardened on their property here since 1984.  In this booklet she generously shares information and seed varieties for successful Sitka gardening.

These books are available in Sitka stores and you can contact Florence for her booklet at florence.welsh@acsalaska.net

It’s also helpful to get a few magazines for information and inspiration.  I recommend Organic Gardening and Mother Earth News.

Next week’s column will address SLUGS!

Brought to you by Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden

2103 Sawmill Creek Road

Open June-August / Mon-Sat 11:00-6:00

747-6108 or 738-2241

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

• Let’s Grow Sitka garden education event is Sunday, March 11, at ANB Hall

Mark your calendars, because the 2012 “Let’s Grow Sitka” gardening education event opens at noon and runs until 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 11, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall on Katlian Street. Don’t forget to set your clocks to spring forward so you can get ready to grow.

This annual event brings together local garden supply stores, local gardeners, landscapers and anybody who is interested in learning how to grow food and/or flowers. Sitka Local Foods Network Vice President Linda Wilson, who is coordinating the event with SLFN Board Member Cathy Lieser, was interviewed during the Morning Edition show Thursday on KCAW-Raven Radio and she provided more details about this event (click the link to listen to the interview), which helps Sitka residents get excited about the upcoming garden season.

There will be a wide variety of individuals and businesses with booths for the event, with some booths providing gardening information geared toward and others selling gardening supplies. Lunch will be available for purchase. Here is a tentative list of some of those planning to host booths:

  • Linda Wilson, Sitka Farmers Market, Grow a Row for the Market
  • Cathy Lieser, Let’s Grow Sitka, Sitka Local Foods Network
  • Doug Osborne. Sitka Local Foods Network?
  • Johanna Willingham, Pacific H.S./Sitka Farmers Market backup.
  • Jud Kirkness, Sicka Waste compost project, Fruit tree map
  • Tom Hart, compost, NZ composter ?
  • Kerry MacLane. Pest management
  • Lisa Sadleir-Hart. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm
  • Laura Schmidt, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm/Seed swap & share
  • Maybelle Filler, ???
  • Stanley Schoening, Chickens, fig trees, UAF Cooperative Extension Service
  • Judy Johnstone, High Tunnel program
  • David Lendrum, Guest speaker 3:15, info on new/unusual varieties for Southeast Alaska
  • Jeren Schmidt, Sitka Spruce Catering, lunch for purchase
  • Robert Gorman, UAF Cooperative Extension Service, history of Experimental Station
  • Andrianna Natsoulas, Food Sovereignty
  • Tracy Gagnon, Sitka 4H Club
  • Eve Grutter, Chickens, produce
  • Adam Chinalski, Model greenhouse
  • Penny Brown, Garden Ventures – products for sale
  • Amanda Grearson, True Value – products for sale
  • Lowell Frank, Spenard Building Supply Garden Center ??
  • Michelle Putz, Locally grown environmental benefits?
  • Rick Peterson, Gardening 101 – easiest to grow, need to amend soil, etc…
  • Lori Adams, Down-to-Earth U-Pick Garden – garden promotion and information
  • Mike Tackaberry/Robin Grewe, White’s Inc. – products for sale
  • Mandy Summers, Pacific High School
  • Kelly Smitherman, National Park Service – garden at Bishops House, etc…
  • Lisa Teas, Sitka Farmers Market art debut
  • Florence Welsh, Forget-Me-Not Gardens, local garden booklet, possible plant starts
  • Hope Merritt, Gimbal Botanicals herbal teas – info on wild herbs and herbs to grow

Right after the three-hour Let’s Grow Sitka event ends, guest speaker Dave Lendrum of Juneau will speak at 3:15 p.m. on “New Vegetable Varieties, Small Fruits, and Ornamentals for Southeast Alaska.” Lendrum is a landscape designer who just finished a two-year term as president of the Southeast Alaska Master Gardener Association and with his landscape architect wife, Margaret Tharp, owns Landscape Alaska.

Dave’s life has evolved in partnership with the natural world. He grew up in California on an organic u-pick vegetable farm, learning horticulture from his parents and the 4H club. He did nursery work and continued his post-college adventure in Ecuador by starting a fresh market produce business. After being a city horticulturist at the Eugene (Ore.) Parks Department, Dave started his first nursery, Western Oregon Perennials. A few years later, he found himself in a high-temperature photosynthesis lab at Stanford. In the Pacific Northwest, Dave restored old estate gardens. When he heard Alaska’s call, he moved north to Elfin Cove. Dave and his wife started Landscape Alaska in Juneau 28 years ago. They design and build landscapes on every scale and have won numerous awards both locally and nationally. In addition, Dave is the landscape superintendent for the University of Alaska Southeast and the Southeast representative on the statewide invasive species organization (SNIPM).

For more information about Let’s Grow Sitka, contact Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (evenings, weekends) or lawilson87@hotmail.com, or Cathy Lieser at 978-2572. The two event fliers for this event are posted below as Adobe Acrobat files (PDF files).

• Main flier for 2012 Let’s Grow Sitka event

• Flier for Dave Lendrum presentation after Let’s Grow Sitka event ends

• Southeast Alaska Gardeners Conference and Garden Tours take place May 20-23 in Juneau

David Lendrum, co-president for the Southeast Alaska Master Gardeners Association this year, sent this invitation to Sitka gardeners about the Southeast Alaska Gardeners Conference and Garden Tours on May 20-23 in Juneau:

I would like to invite the Sitka local foods community to our biennial Southeast Garden Conference on May 20-23 at the University of Alaska Southeast-Juneau Campus (Auke Lake). The agenda will be available at our website, http://www.sealaskamastergardeners.org/.

The Extended Stay hotel by the airport has offered an rate of $79.00 per night to conference attendees.

Sitka’s own Florence Welsh of The Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens and Bob Gorman of the Sitka office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service are featured speakers. They will be accompanied by Sam Benowitz of RainTree Nursery (Morton, Wash.), anthropological researcher Betsy Kunibe (Juneau), who has been exploring the early agriculture of Southeast Alaska, especially the early potato introduction to native peoples, and Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries (Canby, Ore.), who has reinvented perennial gardening in our modern times.

We also will have a trade show and demonstration venue, and if the Sitka Local Foods Network would like to have a display we would welcome it. You can call me with any questions,

David Lendrum
Landscape Alaska, landscapealaska@gci.net
Co-President of the Southeast Alaska Master Gardeners Association for this year
907-321-4149

Some of the conference highlights include workshops on tool use and maintenance, planter/container design and maintenance, nutrition in wild plants, landscaping to attract native pollinators, birds in the garden, greenhouses in Alaska, low-maintenance landscape design, native plant propagation, meconopsis, fruiting plants for Southeast Alaska, organic edibles, creating flower arrangements to last, rock setting and plant choice for Southeast Alaska, tree grafting, creating color and flash with new perennials, perennials around the world, taking cuttings and how to get roots on sticks, and compost and worms. A PDF file to the agenda is linked below.

Southeast Alaska Gardeners Conference and Garden Tours flier

Southeast Alaska Gardeners Conference and Garden Tours poster

Southeast Alaska Gardeners Conference and Garden Tours agenda