• Two new books from UAF Cooperative Extension Service encourage kids to eat more veggies

FNH-00540KaleRecipes_Page_01 FNH-00557AKkidsVeggieCookbook_Page_01So you’ve got a nice garden but your kids don’t want to eat their veggies? What is a parent to do? Two new books by Sarah Lewis of the Juneau District Office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service can help get your kids eating their veggies. And they’re available for free downloads.

Sarah is the Family and Community Development Agent for Southeast Alaska, she travels throughout the region giving cooking and canning classes. She will be back in Sitka in mid-July to test pressure canner gauges and teach several classes yet to be determined.

“Sitka’s 4-H Cloverbuds Club helped me refine a few of the recipes after we had a wonderful time in the kitchen together last year,” Sarah said. “Talk about some fun publications to do research for.” (Note: contact the Sitka Conservation Society for more information about Sitka 4-H clubs.)

The first book is Time for a Kale-abration! Introducing the wonders of kale to Alaskan kids. The free 12-page booklet is all about a garden plant that grows well in Sitka, but one some people have trouble eating. The book features information about the varieties of kale, nutritional info, and several kid-friendly recipes from main courses to desserts.

The second book is The Alaska Kids’ Healthy Harvest Cookbook: Alaska kids grow, cook, eat and love vegetables. This free 12-page booklet lists several common vegetables found in Alaska gardens (kale, carrots, peas, zucchini and potatoes) and provides a variety of recipes using these veggies. It also includes recipes for venison stew and salmon chowder (both heavy with Alaska veggies).

According to the UAF Cooperative Extension Service, “Research shows that helping kids have fun with vegies, even ones they say ‘eeewww’ to, increases the chance they’ll try and like then as they get older. For this reason, our very own Sarah Lewis, Family and Community Development Agent for Southeast Alaska, has written two publications to introduce veggies (especially Alaska Grown ones!) to kids. Time for a Kale-abration and Alaska Kids’ Healthy Harvest Cookbook offer simple and tasty recipes that can be cooked with or by kids, with a menu for a kale-themed party or a harvest festival. Sarah has held local food parties and festivals with 4-H kids and Girl Scouts throughout Southeast Alaska, and now you can hold some with your kids, class, or youth group.”

• Lori Adams discusses everything she’s learned about planting peas 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 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 6 of the Wednesday, May 9, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)


By Lori Adams


When I first started growing peas in Sitka I had terrible results. Some people said, “Why don’t you stop growing peas? They take up so much space for so little harvest!” But I was determined and kept trying different things and now peas are one of my biggest producers of poundage.

The first thing you need to know about peas is that they are from the legume family. As a rule the members of this family grow pods with seeds in them; peas, beans, alfalfa, clover and peanuts are the most commonly known legumes. Legumes can do something no other plants can do – by working in a cooperative partnership with the Rhizobia bacteria found in the soil they can pull nitrogen right out of the air.  In this nitrogen-fixing process nodules form on the roots and the plants store nitrogen for pod formation. When you plant peas in a garden bed for the first time there is good chance that the proper strain of this bacteria will not be present in the soil, so it is important to “inoculate” the seeds.

Inoculant bacteria can be purchased in powder form and sprinkled onto the seeds at planting time.

Before planting peas prep the soil with a little compost and lime and put fencing in place to support the pea plants up off the ground. I recommend growing tall varieties of edible podded peas for the most poundage per square foot. Many gardeners prefer “self-supporting” varieties because they readily grab the fencing themselves, but I have never grown them. It does take up some of my time, but I tuck the vines in myself if they grow away from the fence.

The evening before you are going to plant, count out enough pea seeds to plant your row with two-inch spacing and put them in a jar of water to soak overnight. Do not screw the lid on tight. The next day pour the water off and sprinkle inoculant over the wet seeds.

Plant the seeds immediately in a raised bed and then cover the row with floating row cover to prevent the birds from eating the seeds. Don’t ask me how the birds know they are there, they just do — I’ve woken up the next morning to find the entire row ripped up and most of the seeds gone. Water the soil and keep it damp (not soaked) until the peas sprout, then reduce water to a minimum until the pea plants flower.

Once they flower it important to keep the soil consistently damp for optimal pod production. Try to water the ground keeping the foliage as dry as possible. It is important to pick pea pods EVERY day to encourage the plants to produce more over a long period of time. If your plants get too tall simply “top” them and throw the tender tips in your salad bowl or stir fry. When the plants die down in the fall do not remove the foliage from the row, but dig it into the soil to capture as much nitrogen as possible for next year’s crop of heavy feeding greens.

Good luck!

Next week’s column — Everything I’ve learned about planting celery.

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


• Sitka Local Foods Network selling seeds from Bountiful Gardens as fundraiser

Screenshot of Bountiful Gardens website

Screenshot of Bountiful Gardens website

Help support the Sitka Local Foods Network by purchasing organic seed varieties from Bountiful Gardens seed company that have been specially selected for our challenging climate by longtime Sitka gardener Jamie Chevalier.

There will be a serve-yourself seed rack at Old Harbor Books, with an honor-system donation jar for making change next to the seeds.

Among the seed varieties available will be cabbage, broccoli, beets, carrots, a variety of greens mixes, kale, lettuces, peas, radishes and summer squash. Seed supplies are limited for first come, first served.

Bountiful Gardens is an educational nonprofit organization that specializes in heirloom, untreated and open-pollinated varieties of seeds for sustainable agriculture. Bountiful Gardens also promotes the GROW BIOINTENSIVE sustainable mini-farming concept, which helps gardeners make small plots of land productive sources for agriculture.

For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654.

• Sitka Local Foods Network contracting for 2010 St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener

Darby Osborne, Doug Osborne, Kerry MacLane and Maybelle Filler pick radishes at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm before the first Sitka Farmers Market in 2008

Darby Osborne, Doug Osborne, Kerry MacLane and Maybelle Filler pick radishes at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm before the first Sitka Farmers Market in 2008

The Sitka Local Foods Network is contracting for a lead gardener to help manage our activities at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm community garden this summer. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (SPFF) is growing, and we’re adding new garden beds so we can grow more crops. The vegetables grown at SPFF are sold at the Sitka Farmers Market to help support the efforts of the Sitka Local Foods Network, with some crops also going to local church and charity groups. Here is the lead gardener contract description.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm 2010 Lead Gardener Contract Description

Work Experience: 2-3 years of varied vegetable gardening experience, preferably with at least one year in Southeast Alaska. This includes planning, cultivating, harvesting, composting and preparing vegetables for sale or preservation, as well as putting the garden to rest for the season.

Contract Requirements:

  • Develop a garden plan that includes succession planting in conjunction with the SPFF tri-coordinators (board members Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne and Maybelle Filler)
  • Conduct soil testing and amend the soil to improve soil quality using available resources (i.e., seaweed, bone meal, etc) in conjunction with the SPFF tri-coordinators and volunteer work parties
  • Cultivate plant starts using seeds provided by the SLFN and make recommendations for SPFF seed start kits to be distributed at the Let’s Grow Sitka event on March 14, 2010
  • Use organic gardening practices
  • Host 3 initial planting parties (from 2-4:30 p.m. on three Saturdays, May 15, May 22 and May 29) i.e., coordinate with the SPFF tri-coordinators to plan and direct work
  • Direct 75 percent of the garden work parties, i.e., these are tentatively scheduled for Wednesdays 4:30-6 p.m. and Saturdays 2-3:30 p.m. (on non-Sitka Farmers Market Saturdays) during the months of June, July and August, plus the first half of September, but can be negotiated.
  • Plan and oversee the harvest of the garden for the first five 2010 Sitka Farmers Markets (harvest usually takes place early on market-day mornings, July 17, July 31, August 14, August 28 and September 4)
  • Develop a method for quantifying the amount of vegetables harvested from SPFF and implement it
  • Maintain the composting and watering systems
  • Direct any questions or concerns to the SPFF tri-coordinators

Compensation: A total of $1,500 paid in three installments (May 15, July 15 and September 15) plus 5 percent of the SPFF harvest – this compensation schedule is open for negotiation.

If interested in the SPFF lead gardener contract, e-mail a resume that includes two local references that can speak to your gardening ability and a letter of interest by February 20th to 3akharts@acsalaska.net. Direct questions to Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985 or Doug Osborne at 747-3752.

• Baranof Elementary students dig up potatoes and other local food stories in the news

Daily Sitka Sentinel screenshot of Baranof Elementary School student picking potatoes

Daily Sitka Sentinel screenshot of Baranof Elementary School student picking potatoes

Monday’s edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel features a photo of Baranof Elementary School first-grader Keaton Kelling, 7, holding up a couple of potatoes he dug up from the Russian Bishop’s House garden on Thursday. First-grade students from Baranof Elementary harvested crops of peas, potatoes, carrots and other vegetables they planted last spring when they were kindergarten students. Most crops did well this year. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Monday's picking potatoes photo from the Daily Sitka Sentinel

Monday's picking potatoes photo from the Daily Sitka Sentinel

There were several other local food stories in Alaska newspapers over the weekend. Here’s a quick rundown.

Click here to read a story from Sunday’s Juneau Empire that features an Alaskanized version of a recipe for “salmon maritako,” a stew made by Spanish fishermen. The article is by Ginny Mahar, a chef at Rainbow Foods who also writes the Food-G blog. Many of the recipes Ginny posts on her blog include local, Southeast Alaska ingredients.

Click here to read an article from Sunday’s Fairbanks Daily News-Miner about a University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service project at the Fairbanks Experimental Farm where they are using high-tunnel greenhouses to grow more apples and berries in northern climates. Click here to go directly to the UAF Cooperative Extension Service project page.

Click here to read Wednesday’s Anchorage Daily News gardening column by Jeff Lowenfels about now being the time to prepare plants for winter. Most of the column deals with flowers, but he does have some info about preparing tomato plants for the winter at the end of the column.

Click here to read an Associated Press story posted on the Anchorage Daily News Web site on Monday about how hoop houses (a low-cost type of greenhouse that uses plastic on a frame) are extending the growing season for urban farmers in northern climates. The version of the story on the ADN site didn’t have any photos of the hoop houses, so click here to see a version with photos.

Click here to read a transcript from National Public Radio of a story about two Walmart truckers who drive 2,600 miles one way from an Oregon warehouse to Alaska each week to deliver produce to Alaska stores. That’s a long way to transport a piece of lettuce or a carrot we can grow in Alaska, and that distance doesn’t include how far the produce had to travel to get to the Oregon warehouse before being trucked to Alaska. The story originated from the Alaska Public Radio Network, which has the story in streaming audio on its site.

Finally, click here for a humorous column from the July 2009 Field and Stream by Scott Bestul comparing the taste of Grade A Choice Holstein beef vs. wild venison when both are prepared the same way. This isn’t really a local story, but deer hunting season is coming soon in Southeast Alaska.