• 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.

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• Sitka film featured in Palmer’s “Local Harvest, Local Food” film festival, a Sitka café featured for using local food and other local foods news

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Join the Palmer Arts Council for its inaugural “Local Harvest, Local Food” film fest from Thursday, Nov. 19, through Sunday, Nov. 22, at the Strangebird Consulting Office in downtown Palmer. “Good Food” screens at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19; “Fresh” shows at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20; “Eating Alaska” by Sitka filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein screens at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21; and “Ingredients” shows at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22. After the Sunday showing there will be a discussion about women in agriculture with Cynthia Vignetti. Suggested donations are $10-15 for all films except for Sunday, which is free.

A Sitka restaurant, the Larkspur Café, was featured in Capital City Weekly last week. The article talks about the origins of the restaurant, which is located in the same building as KCAW-Raven Radio. It also discusses the restaurant’s use of local foods, including owners Amelia Budd and Amy Kane purchasing produce from the Sitka Farmers Market during the summer.

In other local foods news from around the state, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced an expansion to the state’s subsistence halibut fishery to include more rural residents (this includes the Sitka area). The new rules, which take effect on Dec. 4, redefine who qualifies as a rural resident. The previous rules defined rural residents as people living in a rural community or people belonging to a Native tribe with customary and traditional uses of halibut, and the news rules try to catch subsistence halibut users who fell outside the previous definition. Click this link for more information about subsistence halibut regulations and applications.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel has been running a brief announcement from the Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Kayaaní Commission, which is selling 2010 calendars, CDRoms and field guides about traditional uses of native plants. Here is the information:

Kayaaní Native Plant Publications Available: 2010 Kayaaní Harvest Calendars featuring native plants and their traditional and cultural uses ($16, $2 postage per address); Interactive Ethnobotanical CDRoms with native species, their Tlingít, scientific and common names, and interviews with Elders on the traditional and medicinal uses of plants ($15, $1 postage per address); Ethnobotanical Field Guides ($16, $1 postage per address). We will mail to the addresses of your choice. Order by Dec. 18 for guaranteed delivery before Christmas. Call or e-mail with your order: 907-747-7178, pbass@sitkatribe.org, STA Kayaaní Commission, 456 Katlian. All proceeds will assist the nonprofit Kayaaní Commission in protecting, perpetuating and preserving knowledge of native plants.

The Chilkat Valley News weekly newspaper from Haines featured an article about sixth-graders at Haines School learning how to compost their leftover food (including leftover meat) so it can be used for gardening. The school is working with the Takshanuk Watershed Council to teach the students about composting. The students call their compost project “Marvin” because it’s a living organism.

The Alaska Dispatch recently ran a feature called “Growing Season” that discusses some of the farms in the Matanuska-Susitna valleys that grow local food. The feature includes video clips of harvest time at a couple of the farms featured.

The Mat-Su Frontiersman had a feature called “Chicken U,” which is about raising chickens in Alaska and getting them to produce eggs during the winter months.

The Anchorage Daily News also mentioned Chicken University, which will be one of several presentations at the Alaska Farm Bureau annual meeting on Friday, Nov. 13, at the Millennium Hotel in Anchorage. Other presentations are on growing apples in Alaska and preserving your harvest.

The Anchorage Daily News also had an article about how to get local produce in Anchorage during the winter, either through the Glacier Valley CSA produce boxes from Palmer or the indoor farmers market at the Northway Mall.

Anchorage Daily News garden columnist Jeff Lowenfels wrote a column about how hydroponic gardening is easier and cheaper than ever. The column includes lots of links for people who want to try this method of growing food without soil (by the way, there is a hydroponic garden at McMurdo Station in Antarctica that keeps the scientists there stocked in fresh produce in a land of ice).

Fran Durner’s “Talk Dirt To Me” blog on the Anchorage Daily News site includes a post about how snow can act as mulch for the garden.

The Ester Republic, a monthly publication for the community near Fairbanks, runs periodic articles about sustainability and local food security issues. Some of the articles are linked in the archives, and the editors are working to get more of the past articles on these topics online so more people can enjoy them.

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• Daily Sitka Sentinel features Running of the Boots preview, plus other news about local foods from around the region

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Runners hit the trail during the 14th Annual Running of the Boots race on Sept. 27, 2008, in Sitka.

Runners hit the trail during the 14th Annual Running of the Boots race on Sept. 27, 2008, in Sitka.

The Friday issue of the Daily Sitka Sentinel featured an article and photo previewing the 15th annual Running of the Boots on Saturday (Page 9), which is a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. Unfortunately, the announcement did not make onto the Sentinel’s Web site. The Running of the Boots starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, at the Crescent Harbor shelter (registration opens at 10 a.m.). The entry fee is $5 per person, or $20 per family, and there is a lip-synch contest after the race that costs $10 to enter. Click here for all the details about Running of the Boots.

In other news about local food around the region, the Juneau Empire ran several stories in its Outdoors section on Friday.

Click here to read the On The Trails column by Mary Willson, who writes about picking berries this late in the season.

Click here to read a brief item about some gardening presentations hosted by the Juneau Garden Club from 1-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, at Centennial Hall in Juneau.

Click here to read a story by Kwame Diehl about a fishing trip in Juneau to catch some halibut.

Click here to read a story by Abby Lowell about where to catch silver (coho) salmon in the Juneau area.

Click here to read Anchorage Daily News photographer Fran Durner’s “Talk Dirt To Me” garden blog, who writes about growing organic produce and a potato dig in Palmer this weekend.

• Alaskans love their giant vegetables and other stories in the news

This is the time of year when Alaska has two state fairs in progress — in Palmer and in Fairbanks — and it’s also the time of year when people bring out the record-setting vegetables they’ve grown. This year is no exception, and there are several stories in the news about huge veggies grown in Alaska.

Click here to read an Anchorage Daily News story about the record-setting 125.9-pound cabbage grown by Steve Hubacek of Wasilla. This cabbage not only broke the Alaska state record, but also qualified for entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Click here to see an Anchorage Daily News video of the great pumpkin weigh-off between Dale Marshall of Anchorage and current state record-holder J.D. Megchelsen of Nikiski. Marshall’s winning pumpkin weighed 594 pounds.

Click here to read an article from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner about monster vegetables entered in the Alaska Feed Co. vegetable contest at the Tanana Valley State Fair in Fairbanks.

Click here to read Anchorage Daily News photographer Fran Durner’s “Talk Dirt To Me” blog entry about colorful Alaska State Fair flowers.

Click here to read an article about invasive weeds by Anchorage Daily News garden columnist Jeff Lowenfels.

Click here to see a Capital City Weekly photo package from the second annual Juneau Farmers Market and Local Food Festival held last Saturday. Click here to see a larger photo gallery posted on the Capital City Weekly online site.

Click here to read a letter to the editor in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner about Alaska’s bountiful harvest of berries this summer.

• Local foods in the news this week

Many of Alaska’s newspapers had articles about local foods this week. Here is a sampling of some of the offerings.

Click here to read an article called “Beware of wild things in the blueberry patch” from the Capital City Weekly, about slugs, bugs and bears.

Click here to read an update on the Second Annual Juneau Farmers Market and Local Foods Festival from the Capital City Weekly. This event is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

Click here to read an item in Capital City Weekly about a tree planting and pruning workshop here in Sitka on Monday, Aug. 24, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Click here to read an article and photo package from Fran Durner’s “Talk Dirt To Me” gardening blog in the Anchorage Daily News about Dan Bilyeu of Nikiski, who grows and sells gourmet oyster mushrooms.

Click here to read a “Berries of the Kenai Peninsula” feature from the 2009 Peninsula Clarion Recreation and Tourist Guide.

It’s not from an Alaska publication, but the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service has a story (click here to read it) about new research into phytochemicals and other healthy plant compounds in potatoes.