• Check out the June 2015 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

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The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the June 2015 edition of its newly launched monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This edition of the newsletter has brief stories about several new street food options in Sitka that are highlighting local seafood, a Blessing of the Garden ceremony at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, an update on a June 2 meeting for prospective and past vendors of the Sitka Farmers Market, and a reminder about the Plant a Row for the Hungry program. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the registration form image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will not share our email list with others to protect your privacy.

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• Check out the May 2015 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

May2015SLFNNewsletterScreenshot

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the May 2015 edition of its newly launched monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This edition of the newsletter has brief stories about how Sitka was Alaska’s original garden city back in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, an update on upcoming Sitka Local Foods Network education programs, an update on the Sitka Farmers Market’s new manager, and a reminder about the Plant a Row for the Hungry program. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the registration form image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will not share our email list with others to protect your privacy.

• Check out the April 2015 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

SLFN April 2015 newsletter screenshot

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the April 2015 edition of its newly launched monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This edition of the newsletter has brief stories about how to build a simple raised garden bed, the Plant a Row for the Hungry program, our open manager and assistant manager positions for the Sitka Farmers Market, some upcoming garden mentor program and other free garden classes, and the 2015 Pick.Click.Give. fundraising campaign. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the registration form image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will not share our email list with others to protect your privacy.

• It’s time to … learn how to build a simple raised garden bed

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While we’re waiting for spring to finally show up in Sitka, one thing gardeners can do to prepare for planting is build a simple raised garden bed. The pictures with this post feature members of the WISEGUYS men’s health group (Rick DeGroot, Kerry MacLane, Doug Osborne and his daughter, Darby, then 4) building a garden bed in May 2008 at Blatchley Community Garden in Sitka.

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First, you will need some untreated lumber (treated lumber has chemicals that can get into your food), with 2x12s being good for the frame. Your garden bed will probably be between 3-4 feet wide and 6-8 feet long, depending on your garden space and your lumber. Don’t go much wider than four feet, because you will want to be able to easily reach across the garden so you can plant and weed without falling into the bed. You can go longer than eight feet, but you might need to use more than one board to get that length. So cut your boards to your desired length and width.

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Next, lay out your lumber and nail or screw your boards together to form a box. Some people prefer screws over nails, because they don’t pull loose as easily as nails. But use what you have. Some people will add corner posts that can be punched into the ground.

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After you’ve built the frame, cover the ground with a bunch of old cardboard or newspapers. This will act as a barrier to help keep weeds from getting into your veggies.

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Now you can start filling your frame with soil. About halfway through filling the frame, you can add a layer of seaweed, compost or other soil amendments to add nutrients to your soil. Finish by adding top soil that you mix with some of your soil amendments.

 

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Once you have your raised garden bed built and full of soil, you can start planting (if you’re past your last-frost date, which tends to be mid-May in Sitka). Once you have your seeds planted or starts transplanted, you can water your garden bed.

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In Sitka it’s always a good idea to use row-cover over your garden, especially early in the season. This not only helps keep birds and other pests out of your garden, but the white fabric creates a mini-greenhouse effect that helps warm your soil so your seeds sprout sooner.

• UAF Cooperative Extension Service publication on raised bed gardening

• UAF Cooperative Extension Service publication Gardening In Southeast Alaska

• UAF Cooperative Extension Service publication Southeast Alaska Garden Varieties

• 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/

• Lori Adams plants some seeds in her 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, March 21, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

PLANTING SEEDS

Most vegetable seeds can be planted directly outdoors after May 10, but if you have a sunny window you can get a tremendous head start by planting seeds indoors and then transplanting them outside later.

In February, I start celery, tomatoes and leeks. In March, I start broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, fennel, herbs, lettuce, spinach, chard, brussel’s sprouts. In April, I start squash and cucumbers. The only things I don’t start indoors are carrots, radishes, peas, beans, beets, turnips, potatoes which I plant in April and garlic which I plant in October. Anyone can have some luck starting seeds, but you can really improve your success rate by paying attention to details.

The killers for indoor seedlings are poor germination and “damping off”(a disease caused by fungi that results in wilting and death). To prevent these things from happening to you, buy high quality seeds packaged for 2012 and sterile potting soil. I have tried to use soil from my garden to save money and it has NEVER worked. You do not want to scrimp on these two things.

Fill the containers of your choice with dampened potting soil and then set them in a shallow tray that will hold water. Be sure the pots are all the same height and the soil is level with the tops of the containers. The soil should just be damp, not waterlogged. Place the trays in any warm spot (60-80 degrees F), cover them with plastic to reduce evaporation and check on them every day.

Once you see some seedlings emerging you can uncover the trays and place the trays in the sun. Reduce the temperature to 40-60 degrees F to prevent them from getting tall and scraggly. From this point on you should only water from the bottom by pouring water in the tray using a watering can rather than a hose with a spray nozzle.

Place an oscillating fan so that it blows gently over the level surface of the soil causing the seedlings to wiggle in the breeze.  Good airflow reduces disease problems and wiggling makes the stems stronger. If you don’t have a fan, brush your hand across the tops of the seedlings twice a day.

When the seedlings start to lean toward the sun you can flip the trays around once in awhile to encourage them to grow as straight as possible. You can plan on transplanting these seedlings outside mid April-mid May. Once outside they will need to be protected with a floating row cover to survive any late freezes.

If you think it might be June before your new beds are ready, just put everything off a month.  Better late than not at all.  Just be sure that your seedlings don’t get too old, they are best when young and fresh!

Next week’s column will focus on how to find good gardening advice.

Brought to you by Down to Earth U-pick Garden

Located at 2103 Sawmill Creed Road

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

747-6108 or 738-2241

• Lori Adams gets the scoop on dirt in her 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 5 of the Wednesday, March 14, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

Issue No. 3

By Lori Adams

THE SCOOP ON DIRT

If you have any dirt in your yard at all it is most likely ash.  This dirt has very little nutritional value and must be amended. Our local experts recommend the following recipe for building new beds:

  • One-third (1/3) sand (purchased or gathered);
  • One-third (1/3) seaweed (from the high tide line); and
  • One-third (1/3) dirt that you already have.

They also add that if you have to do without one of these three things, you can give up the dirt!  Be very cautious about bringing in someone else’s dirt to supplement what you already have because it may contain invasive weed roots that could plague you for years to come.  I use this recipe faithfully with excellent results.

These items should be gathered and mixed together in your bed as soon as the ground thaws out. Do not pile layers on top of a frozen bed or it will act like insulation and keep the ground frozen longer.  This mixture provides a good basic start.  Different types of crops require specific additional amendments to do their best, but you can add those as the years go by.

One additional thing I’d like to address about dirt is the pH level. Because of the amount of rain we get here in Sitka our soil is acidic.  From what I have read, only a few crops can tolerate this condition — potatoes, carrots, radishes, parsley, and parsnips. It would be a good idea to plant some of these crops your first year.

Rhubarb, mint and most berries thrive in acidic soil but you need to take into consideration that they come back year after year requiring a permanent spot in the garden.  Also, mint must be grown in a container as it can be quite invasive. If you have your heart set on growing something other than these crops you will need to add some fast-acting lime and read up on pH levels. The Internet or any good gardening encyclopedia will cover the subject in depth so I will not go into the details here.

Here are my recommendations for your new bed in order of importance:

  1. potatoes
  2. radishes
  3. rhubarb

This is a realistic plan that will reward you with produce spring, summer and fall.

If you want a little more variety and have time to put in some additional work consider:

  1. Amending a section with extra nitrogen and lime for lettuce;
  2. Putting up a trellis and amending a section with lime and inoculant for peas; and
  3. Sifting a section and amending it with bonemeal for carrots.

Brought to you by Down to Earth U-pick Garden

Located at 2103 Sawmill Creed Road

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

747-6108 or 738-2241

• Maximizing Space in Small Gardens handout