• Florence Welsh releases free update of her popular guide for Sitka gardeners

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Florence Welsh with copies of her Sitka gardening book

Florence Welsh with copies of her Sitka gardening book

One of Sitka’s best known gardeners is Florence Welsh, who heads up The Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens. The Welsh family has been gardening in Sitka since 1984, and the garden on Davidoff Street has been used to teach other gardeners what works in Sitka. Several years ago Florence wrote a guide to help other gardeners take advantage of her family’s experiences trying to grow edible and ornamental plants in Sitka using organic methods. This past winter, Florence updated her book and today she released the new version of the guide as a PDF file (see link below), and she is starting a blog about local food from Sitka called SitkaVores.

“We are sharing this gardening guide with the hope that it will be of some use to other gardeners in this challenging environment,” Florence said.

The book includes information about how to prepare your garden for Sitka’s short growing season, including how to set up your home for plants you may need to start inside. She talks about using sand and seaweed in the garden to help with drainage and fertilizer. The guide also lists many of the plants, bushes and trees the Welsh family has grown in its garden, including the specific varieties that did best in Sitka. There also are several photos from the garden.

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. 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, zucchini, 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.

The Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens is one of Sitka’s most productive gardens when it comes to producing food, and Florence occasionally has a booth at the Sitka Farmers Market to sell her produce. The garden grows berries, fruit trees, herbs/mints, and a wide variety of vegetables. She includes some instructions with the vegetables, and the guide also includes a timeline for seed starting so you know when to plant. The guide ends with information about invasive plants, insects and slugs, and a list of useful seed catalogs and websites.

The homemade booklet, which Florence used to print out herself, now is available posted online (see link below). It also will be posted in the Documents section of this website.

• February 2015 update of Florence Welsh’s Forget-Me-Not Gardens gardening guide for Sitka

• Lori Adams discusses slugs 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, April 4, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

SLUGS!

Sitka gardeners do not struggle with a lot of pests, but the few that we do have give us plenty of trouble. The worst pests I have encountered in my garden are slugs, root maggots and aphids — and the slugs are by far the biggest problem.

I have had slugs wipe out an entire bed of young lettuce plants in one night! Large slugs eat entire plants, leaving their silvery trails behind them; and tiny slugs hide in the cracks and voids of  bushy plants, riddling them with holes. The only real solution I have found for slugs is ducks.

Ducks love to eat slugs!  They love the rain, they provide delicious eggs and meat and they are endlessly entertaining. My “herd” of ducks spends every waking moment foraging for slugs and other creepy crawlers in my garden!  I could go on and on about the benefits of raising ducks, but I will try to focus on other solutions in this column.

Slugs thrive in damp, cool, dark areas — a perfect description of a Sitka garden!  They are migratory by nature, coming out mostly at night to do their damage and slinking away before daylight. You need to think of the battle against slugs as a war that never ends.  There is no permanent fix because no matter how many you kill they will continue to migrate in.

The best strategy in this war is to make your entire property a hostile environment for slugs. Cut down all brush, salmonberries and grass — TO THE GROUND.  You would be surprised how many slugs live in these areas, just close enough to your garden to provide shelter during the day. Remove all piles of brush, stacks of lumber and other junk. (Compost heaps do not pose a problem if they are kept active and hot).  Potted plants in the garden should be up on blocks to prevent slugs from living underneath them.

Slugs can crawl over virtually any surface but they do not prefer shells, wood chips, sand or gravel so use one of these materials to create a clear perimeter around your garden. Remove ornamental ground cover. My ducks can spend an hour in a patch of ground cover — what does that tell you?  It’s the perfect environment for slugs! Finally, think about getting rid of your lawn. I loved my lawn and still miss it very much, but slugs love lawns.

One other strategy is bait, but rethink how you use it. If the theory is that slugs just happen to fall into it or eat it on their way by, then you should have hundreds of bait traps scattered around your garden. If on the other hand bait actually lures slugs in then DON’T put bait in the middle of your garden! Put it far away to draw slugs away from your vegetables.

Next week’s column — Feeding Your Plants.

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/

• Start now in your fight against slugs and snails

Ah, springtime in Southeast Alaska, when the weather is moist and chilly. If it’s springtime in Southeast, it means it’s time for garden slugs, the bane of every Southeast gardener.

Now is the time to fight slugs, even if you haven’t planted yet as you wait for final frost in May. Slugs get into gardens in the spring, and this is when they are laying their eggs (and both male and female slugs can lay eggs). If you don’t fight the slugs now, the problem will be worse in the summer when your garden starts growing. Slugs eat the plants in your garden, and if uncontrolled they can do considerable damage to your crops.

Charlie Nardozzi, who writes the Edible Landscaping page on the National Gardening Association’s site, recently posted a good article on how to control slugs and snails. Most of his hints work in Alaska, though some people say the Southeast rain makes beer traps less effective here than in dryer climates.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service has several publications with information on controlling pests such as slugs. One good reference is the Gardening in Southeast Alaska booklet (click link for free download as a PDF file). Another good reference, written by Sitka-based Resource Development Agent Robert Gorman, is the publication “Slugs” (click link for free download as a PDF file).

Fran Durner, who used to write the Talk Dirt To Me blog for the Anchorage Daily News, wrote a post about slug control a couple of years ago that included a picture of slug eggs so people could get them out of their gardens before they hatch. Fran also wrote a post about using dryer lint to deter slugs. Julie Riley of the Anchorage office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service also wrote an article for the Anchorage Daily News with tips on how to control slugs that gardeners in Southeast might find helpful.

• Florence Welsh updates her popular garden guide for Sitka

Florence Welsh with copies of her Sitka gardening book

Florence Welsh with copies of her Sitka gardening book

One of Sitka’s best known gardeners is Florence Welsh, who heads up The Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens. The Welsh family has been gardening in Sitka since 1984, and the garden on Davidoff Street has been used to teach other gardeners what works in Sitka. Several years ago Florence wrote a guide to help other gardeners take advantage of her family’s experiences trying to grow edible and ornamental plants in Sitka using organic methods.

This past winter, Florence updated her book and during the “Let’s Grow Sitka!” garden show event on Sunday she released the new version of the guide.

The book includes information about how to prepare your garden for Sitka’s short growing season, including how to set up your home for plants you may need to start inside. She talks about using sand and seaweed in the garden to help with drainage and fertilizer. The guide also lists many of the plants, bushes and trees the Welsh family has grown in its garden, including the specific varieties that did best in Sitka. There also are several photos from the garden.

The Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens is one of Sitka’s most productive gardens when it comes to producing food, and Florence frequently has a booth at the Sitka Farmers Market to sell her produce. The garden grows berries, fruit trees, herbs/mints, and a wide variety of vegetables. She includes some instructions with the vegetables, and the guide also includes a timeline for seed starting so you know when to plant. The guide ends with information about invasive plants, insects and slugs, and a list of useful seed catalogs and Web sites.

The homemade booklet is available for $5 a copy, and people can order copies by contacting Florence at (907) 747-8705 or florence.welsh@acsalaska.net. There are several different cover photos, but the content is the same on all the guides.

A basket of Florence Welsh's books for sale at Let's Grow Sitka!

A basket of Florence Welsh's books for sale at Let's Grow Sitka!

• This week’s e-newsletter (Sept. 14)

Click here to read this week’s Sitka Local Foods Newsletter courtesy of Linda Wilson. Don’t forget, you can sign up for the e-newsletter by typing your e-mail address in the box on the left side of the page.