Jan 11, 2011
Hopefully by this time next year when we have days like this outside ……..
We can be growing things like this inside, unheated…
Originally my hope was that with the new ‘high tunnels’ we were lucky enough to get via a grant this past fall we could hope to have fresh produce of one kind or another for maybe 7-8 months out of the year if we used them without any added heat.
Then I got to reading and hearing more about full winter productions with little or no heat. Realizing with some addition of added protection over the crops planted directly in the ground we might be able to stretch that maybe another month. Again I was figuring most everyone who was doing the full winter growing was in a much milder climate than our zone 5 ish, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones.
Eliot Coleman has authored a number of gardening books, of which many of us have read or at least had heard about. Well this winter I decided to dig into the slim coffers and buy his newest one The Winter Harvest Handbook. He has been growing organic produce in the NE for a good many years, most recently in the great state of Maine. (Ok I have to say the few times I have been to Maine I have felt I could move right in. I enjoy the people, the history, the great seafood, just about everything I have gotten to ever see in my short times there, thus just the mention of the state gets my interest!!)
He has worked out a way to produce a fairly wide selection of winter, and the normal summer, vegetable fare year around in his zone 5 conditions. With more research I figured out we are of course on a farther northern parallel, which makes a difference for daylight as much, if not more, than just the temperature. There is a darn good chance that within a year or two we here, in this area of Western Alaska, can capitalize on his research and experience. To be able to even get close to maybe a full ten months of fresh produce would be fantastic. Something tells me we might well be able to accomplish this. I am not even getting so far ahead as to think we can tap into our low temperature geo-thermal when making these statements. (Remember those volcanoes we have here in Alaska …we have them as close as 20 miles from us …and one that steams almost daily!)
When I see all of this coupled with the work Tim Meyer is doing in the Bethel area in the summer, it seems we here in some major portions of Western Alaska could quickly become much more self-reliant for a greater portion of our food consumption.
I was recently sent a decent list of ‘gardening’ events happening in 2011 here in Alaska by one of my contacts.`This is the first time I have seen such an effort to get the word out like this to help educate a wider variety of potential food producers. Great things in the produce arena could well be on the way for our villages and outlying areas. Absolutely exciting no less!!