On this first official day of spring it is still a little hard to feel it will be here in a few short weeks no matter what it might look and feel like now.
While much of the lower 48 has had a much warmer than ‘normal’ winter and probably that trend will go into the spring, Alaska has not. Many places have shattered records for snowfall and cold temperatures and we have not been released from the grips of winter just yet, despite the calendar.
Those of us who garden, and farm, have been telling each other ‘it will be OK’, spring will come and thus we keep up with our plans and activities. Seed catalogs that have pored over for at least weeks, if not months, now are yielding orders for the chosen seeds. Seed mats and flats are out and being put to work. If there is a grow lamp it is being hung up again and plugged in.
There is much discussion about how deep the frost level might be, given the mild fall, snowfall and THEN deep freeze with still more snowfall. Many old timers are thinking the ground is not frozen very deep and once the thaw starts it will move fast. Flooding might also be a concern for some areas.
Garden plans are coming closer to finalization and those with high tunnels and greenhouses are making sure they are cleaned up and ready to accept the seeds and starts once they warm up more.
The bug to support those producing local food and/or to grow more of your own seems to have hit Alaska full force in the past few years. Whereas much of the lower 48 has been experiencing this movement for somewhat longer, it is something that has still not reached its full power here in Alaska.
For many it seems impossible that such a cold, many times inhospitable place when it comes to growing conditions, could also be able to give us variety and great locally great food. It is not just the cold, but in many places the wind and soil that is less than perfect that has kept many from feeling anything of much value could be produced.
The Interior region of Alaska has had a reputation for years due to its jumbo cabbages and other extra-large produce but the variety has always been questioned. Other areas of Alaska have never developed a reputation for growing much of anything but that is changing.
Tim Meyers of Bethel, whom we first wrote about in 2009 after attending the Alaska Sustainable Agriculture Conference, has helped bring attention to that area of the state. Dillingham has now run an ever growing gardening set of workshops to the growing movement there. Sitka is ahead of most villages and cities for its holistic view to growing local. It is making it a city-wide effort that hopefully more cities will follow.
In our backyard here on the Alaska Peninsula we are moving forward with plans to build on the last few yeas of lessons learned. We will putting more land into production, expanding the varieties we grow and hopefully increasing the volume of food we can actually produce.
Hopefully this year we will actually have time, the space and means to raise some turkeys. Some plans for the a future orchard will be explored. We hopefully can add some additional types of fruit to the mix and mostly show still more people what all we in Alaska can accomplish.