Cold weather gardens…HELP!

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Garden tunnel

Someone posted a question on the Help Ugashik/Pilot Point page that started a discussion that deserves a thread of it’s own.

Say No to Palin in Politics Says:
February 14, 2009 at 2:47 pm

a few questions……do you guys need veggie seeds?

To which Victoria replied:

Say No-

On seeds – yes – but let me get back to you. We are trying to figure out how to do the tunnels in a serious way so will need to look at what will work best in those, besides the little we already know.

I will just start tomato seeds this month, so we have a little bit of time. I want to get with Ann and see if there is any of this we can do with her village so we are learning on this together as much as possible.

We have tried a little container gardening but found I have to figure out a way to keep them protected from the wind.

I would love to see the link on the idea as we can always look at how to adapt it.

Trees – what are those ?  What people here call ‘trees’ are actually just tall shrubs!

Thanks- that is so much getting to be just not enough.

Investment in sustainable gardening should be a large part of maintaining and improving village life in rural Alaska!

Please share your thoughts, experience and suggestion. Also, make contact with experts an behalf of anonymous bloggers! If you find a link that looks promising, don’t simply post it, try to make contact!

A quick e-mail or call to someone who might be able to write a grant, contribute equipment and materials or get the story about this situation into the mainstream media might be the call that makes all the difference!

You can contact for moral support.

Thank you!!



121 Responses to “Cold weather gardens…HELP!”

  1. Jim Says:

    About 30 years ago, when my dad was a state official, he held some public hearings and met folks from a religious commune who had interests and testified. Dad followed up and invited the commune’s leader to our house to dinner and a more extended conversation. It turned out these people were fabulous farmers and potatoes were one of their main food sources. I never visited the commune (I feared they might try to convert me) but I remember this guy talking about potato farming and storage in Alaska– the storage part is almost more interesting than the growing part– after the frost they harvested the potatoes and stored them in large insulated bins. They didn’t have to heat these bins until around february– if I recall correctly, the conversion of sugar to starch gave off heat which kept the potatoes from freezing until the conversion terminated. Around February they had to start heating what was left of the potatoes.

    My guess is potatoes would be a potential food source for you too. I get bad wind here in Anchorage but they seem to survive. I’m not sure how they would do in hurricane force winds, but they are tough.

  2. Jim Says:

    Victoria: I’m broke, but would it help if anyone else could donate frequent flyer miles so you could attend your gardening conference? Do any of your carriers participate in frequent flyer programs?

  3. Jim Says:

    Finally: Looking at the photo, are the tunnels really that large? (the photo shows an enclosure that can accommodate a standing person). I thought you were just using knee-high wire loop and polyurethane tunnels.

    Sometimes I make ground frames out of 2 X 12 lumber and cover them with plastic for stuff like cucumbers. I pull the plastic off when it gets hot and to dry things out. If you have a lot of moisture you’d need to figure out how to ventilate to avoid mold.

  4. anonymousbloggers Says:


    That’s a photo of a tunnel I took in the Falkland Islands to clarify what a tunnel is — didn’t want people to think they were gardening underground.


    If you have photos of yours, send them.


  5. Robin Says:

    I’m a four season vegetable grower in Maine. I use unheated greenhouses similar to the one above to grow food directly in the ground.

    If you want to give me a list of questions and/or topics to cover I’ll do what I can to help.

    Jim, opening the door and providing circulation will help with mold, mildew and disease issues. The PVC this tunnel is made of won’t hold up under Alaska’s snow load. The poly would be taken off in the fall and replaced in the spring. A permanent tunnel would be made of steel and have ribs no more than 3′ apart. The sides would roll up to the hip board to allow for good air flow during the warm and hot parts of the year.

  6. Jim Says:

    Robin: Apparently some of these Alaska places encounter hurricane force winds. Jane indicated the tunnel she photographed was in the Falkland Islands, which (like some Alaska locations) are conspicuously absent of trees because of wind. When I look at these plastic tunnels, I worry about wind damage– the entire thing could get destroyed. What kind of wind resistance could we expect with a strong steel frame and thick polyurethane? Thanks.

  7. Greytdog Δ Says:

    Dunno about this stuff – I barely get my kitchen garden to cooperate. BUT Kitchen Gardeners International might have some answer as well as Mother Earth News. Time to hit the archives. Will be back. . . eventually with information

  8. shrinkinggranny Says:

    Here are a couple of thoughts. Not sure how well some of this would work in AK, but surely there’s something that could be modified… I’ve written, but they’re only in the office on Fridays during the winter. I’ll pass on whatever I get from them.

    About potatoes: I read somewhere that a gardener used to do a “potato tower” out of old tires. He started with one tire on the ground, filled with soil. As the potato plant got big enough (that’s the part I don’t remember, sorry), he’d add a tire, fill it with dirt and do it again. I think the tower could go as high as 5 (?) tires. Harvesting meant tipping the towers over, and picking up the taters.

    One version:
    another suggests using leaves in the tires (or something that’ll become compost).

    Onions: Egyptian onions most cold hardy – aka “Walking onions” and are “pungent,” website suggests using the “greens” in winter. Hmm.
    “Potato onions” sound spiffiest – they divide themselves (sorta)
    info from here:

  9. anonymousbloggers Says:


    I Googled “potato tower” and found this link:

    What a great idea!


  10. shrinkinggranny Says:


    You found one with a picture, no less! Cool!

    and a link on *that* site: They’re using them for a LOT – mentions some of the bennies from it (absorbs heat, can start earlier etc).

    This can get addictive lol


  11. Carrie Says:

    Here’s one to look at:

    I have a book also (Square Foot Gardens) Where they utilize “sunboxes”
    and lay out heat tape in the soil through the winter.

    anonymousbloggers Rock!

  12. Robin Says:

    >>>When I look at these plastic tunnels, I worry about wind damage– the entire thing could get destroyed. What kind of wind resistance could we expect with a strong steel frame and thick polyurethane? Thanks.

    The worst that will happen to my steel framed greenhouses is the loss of poly. The ribs are 16″ into the ground. Some of them are cemented. The poly might take a beating but the 2,000 pound frame isn’t going any where. As long as the poly is tight and can’t flap in the wind it should be just fine. Keep the tunnel closed up during high winds.

  13. anonymousbloggers Says:


    Victoria and Alaska Pi were talking about gardening on another thread. I didn’t want to go too far OT there so I made a page to show them how they deal with strong winds in the Falklands.

    Do you think there’s something that would grow there as a windbreak?


  14. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    Just a little note…I have loved gardening so I visited Carries link. When I got further into it looking for cold weather vegies it came up with Fla. resources-where I am….I did not feel like playing with it….LATER.

  15. LurkerInWI Says:

    Here is a link to Growing Power, an urban farm in Milwaukee founded by Will Allen.

    Will Allen just won a MacArthur Genius Award for his work in urban gardening and community activism. He is truly inspirational. He’s got my family involved in worm composting and indoor gardening. He has a very non-fetishy approach, and I wonder if it can be adapted to the conditions in Alaska. Milwaukee is cold, but not THAT cold! :-)

  16. Say No to Palin in Politics Says:

    this is kinda weird but also an interesting concept…….I wondered if something like this could be used as a wind block? (these are plastic bales, I’m fascinated with the straw bale housing)

    this is neat book…..don’t know how to do the tiny url thingy

    something else we could do is email Mother Earth News and ask for help or suggestions from readers, there are very resourceful people out there who would love to share.

  17. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    Straw bales and also filled tires have been interesting for shelter and the idea of using it for wind blocks etc. is really imaginative!

  18. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    I wrote to Growing Power to request their help in rural Alaska. It seems like a wonderful organization and their mission seems very much in line with the problems of fresh food in rural Alaska. I hope they can help! I went to Mother Earth News too. I immediately discovered what appears to be a good way to grow lettuce indoors in plastic clamshell boxes. I know how happy Ann S. was when she ate a fresh salad. This seems doable if we collect plastic boxes ….. I tried ti email the article but was not successful. Can someone go there find the article on growing lettuce quickly indoors and bring it back. This seems like somethin AnnS. and Victoria could try right now…once we send the ingredients. If it works we can go from there!

  19. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Thanks for following up with Growing Season! If everyone starts contacting every possible source that might be useful, we’re sure to get more people interested.

    Ask questions on other blogs and leave a link to this page. Thanks!

    Here’s a link to the lettuce article:

    (It took forever to load so be patient.)


  20. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    Ann S. and Vic. please read the lettuce article and give feedback….Thanks.

  21. Robin Says:

    Growing lettuce is simple. Another option uses a 1020 tray, soil, seeds and a grow light will do the trick. You plant leaf lettuce, cut it when it’s ready and leave the plants to grow again. It’s very efficient.

    1020 tray:

    I live in the woods so I’m surrounded by natural wind breaks. We get high winds but it’s not a daily issue. Alaska’s Dept of Interior, USDA, Forestry Service or similar entity should be able to tell you what, if any, trees can be planted for wind breaks. I’m skeptical about trees as an option. If they aren’t already growing naturally in the area there’s a good reason for that. You’ll probably have to explore the artificial blocks mentioned above.

  22. Robin Says:

    Patti Moreno has a great collection of videos that deal with small scale food production.

  23. Say No to Palin in Politics Says:

    Jane, how about starting another thread for energy ideas?

    I started this one on the mudflats forum, too much to copy and paste here. I’m not suggesting actually making the wind generator yourself, but what is needed is good research, organization and grant proposal writing, maybe someone at the university could take up a project? It wouldn’t hurt to ask, the sooner the better.,6325.0.html

  24. UgaVic Says:

    Have been slow to get here – sorry.
    Just got back from PIP today. Started out at 19 degrees, snowing when left at 12:30 PM – returned around 5:30 PM to 36 degrees and freezing rain. YUCK travel and dangerous as the dickens. No traction on all the ice. Will see what tonight brings.
    I will try and catch up.
    Pototoes do pretty well here. Actually are the one staple grown by even elders when they were kids. Families planted when they left their winter home sites in the spring, went fishing and returned in the fall to harvest.
    Root cellars use to be common but as our homes have moderized less people have root cellars.
    We are trying do some research how to best find locations for them in and around our homes since we have changed the typical Native home.
    I have also heard about people growing in 5 gallon buckets for those who can’t do regular gardening. Might be an option.
    On flyer miles – we use Ak Airlines. PIP has a meeting the first of next week and we have a proposal to help with my travel to the conference so I should have an idea by then.

    I can relate to the ‘I’m broke’ part so let’s give it a few days and then we can look at options. I appreciate the offer.

    Tunnels – ours are with the tallest about hip level and most about thigh high. About 3-4 feet wide, used 3/4″ or 1″ PVC, rebar into the ground as anchors for the PVC to hold onto. Then used those clips that they offer to keep the plastic on the PVC. We use 6 mil plastic and it help up well. Less seems to do good until one good wind and it is shreds!

    On tunnels – the above construction help up last year and through the winter this year fairly well.
    Our snow load here – in a normal year is so dry that it will drift and bank but not settle on the structure. Has to be the hooped frame – not flat or peeked.

    I did get the hubby, mechanical engineer, to look at a greenhouse – steel frame, welded, anchored in concrete and with double heavy – keeping a forced air postive pressure – covering and we feel that will work. We will of course put it in a more settled area than up on a hill for the full brunt.
    Looked at getting one up here and we are looking at about $3000 with freight, so possible just going to take some planning on the budgets.

    Never heard of the Kitchen Garden group- will have to hit the net to research.
    Mother Earth news (MEN) – GREAT for many ideas. Just read about the “Urban Homestead” guy in Pasadena. Would love to do at least some of that – minus the large population center and year around growing. Would be happy if we could get 10 months most years on growing some crops at least.
    My dream at least:-)

    Will wait to hear what you find on the squarefoot – have hard generally but nothing I can remember in particular.
    I would prefer to find something we can subsitute for the tires. Two reasons – tires not that common here. Also worry about the leaching of them as they are filled with stuff. Wonder if we could use 5 gal buckets recycled somehow – have LOTS of those.
    Onions sound good. Will have to look into those.
    I am needing to do some reasearch into varieties that can take cool/moist summers and have pretty short season.
    We usually can’t get into the ground until June and have first frost by end of Sept if we are lucky.
    If we can do things to extend that as much as possible.
    I read the four season gardening book a few years ago and need to revisit it.
    Will read the links provided and see what we come up with.

  25. Greytdog Δ Says:

    Hi everyone. I’m a member of Kitchen Gardeners International and have sent out a post requesting assistance in the form of knowledge, seeds, seedlings, etc. that folks such as in the Scandia and other colder climes might be able to provide. Also Heifer International might have some co-op information – they do more than just provide animal husbandry stuff –
    A friend of mine is “mining” his back issues of a gardening co-op journal he co-edited during college – his response to my queries for help was “good grief, who’d thunk being an aging hippie would actually turn out to be good for something other than memories of the “lost days of youth”?” Anyway I’ve asked KGI to post a link to this blog so that KGI members could directly communicate rather than trying to go through a middle-person.

  26. Say No to Palin in Politics Says:

    I emailed this company today, they put on all sorts of workshops including about one how to understand and install wind generators, they work through grants, universities, professors and students, those desiring accreditation in the green tech industry for jobs, etc.
    he writes for Mother earth news……

    this is his latest article

    Train Now for Green Jobs of the Future!
    Friday, February 27, 2009 2:41 PM

    By Troy Griepentrog

  27. Jim Says:

    What about sprouts? I’ve never been a sprout eater but I guess they are nutritious, don’t require light, and consume little space.

  28. LurkerInWI Says:

    I hope Growing Power can be of help!

    Jim, my family just started growing sprouts (broccoli sprouts! Yum!) and they are very easy to grow. There are some simple steps to keeping them germ-free. I’ll see if I can dig up some links (on husband’s laptop!). We’ve also been growing mushrooms (don’t need light or warmth), but they require some sterilization techniques we haven’t yet perfected.

  29. LurkerInWI Says:

    Sprout People website

  30. Greytdog Δ Says:

    in re Container gardener – any container can be converted to a “garden container”. It’s the drainage and the soil that are the two primary components so that your plants don’t get root rot or fungus. Best information i’ve ever found have been on agricultural school sites – since I’m in Florida I use the UF Extension Research website – so folks up north might want to see if UA has something similar – I’ve also used WVU’s agricultural site for additional information on various gardening issues. I’ll check out UA and see who’s on faculty and see if we can’t get some agri-profs involved here.

  31. Jim Says:

    LurkerinWI: Thanks for the scoop on sprouts. I don’t know if many folks in rural Alaska have tried sprouts but perhaps you could recommend a “starter” kit.

  32. anonymousbloggers Says:

    LurkerInWI and Jim.

    Sprouts are a great idea!

    The sprout people sell kits but I used to do them in glass jars with lids poked in the top. Everybody already has glass jars so a flat rate box filled with seeds would go a long way.


  33. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    Sprouts are really nutritious

  34. UgaVic Says:

    Somewhere my computer did not load all the comments so I am back tracking a little.
    I did a quick check of all the links and definately will go back and read in detail a number of them, especially the cold weather stuff and also greenbuilding. (can’t do straw building here – no straw and spending to ship in:-)

    Did also read the lettuce one. Hubby is going to PIP later this evening – am kicking him and our ‘helper’ John out for an evening of girls only; the cat, dog (OK city life is hard leave behind and one things is animals:-) and 90 baby chicks I am raising for layers will stay with me so we ‘girls’ can enjoy the evening.
    I will get a lettuce container planted as I have all the goodies to do it. Will then report as it goes. Would be an easy and great thing if we can make it work.

    Been following Allen’s work and would hope o get worm composting going in here at least at a few home, but figured had to get the gardening first so they can see the relationship. (also been reading about the aquacluture they are doing – more on that later)
    Been also thinking about mushroom growing – did a little research but have to learn more as temps would be an issue so have to figure how how hardy they can be.

    We are doing some wind power now, both at our place privately and also in both villages. We have a real “gust” issue so have to have systems that can withstand it. We are also figuring out that we can marry a couple of different systems so we can accomplish things without an expensive consultants – please do not beat me up on that- they are good- we are just tired of expensive ones – or quarter million dollar costs.

    Also just starting to look into low temp geo thermal as a heat source for hooped or greenhouse heat, even low heat. I am not looking to do a ‘warm’ greenhouse but what they call a ‘cool’ one, at least to start.

    A few of us do sprouts – great – i just need to get better at using them in a variety of ways. We probably need to do more education with others and get better participation.
    I think that catches me up for now, back to reading links.

  35. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Thanks for the update Vic,

    Your life gets more and more intriguing. What are the accommodations for the baby chicks? I can’t imagine them cuddling up at your feet and watching TV with you.

    Enjoy your girls night!

  36. Say No to Palin in Politics Says:

    I love mung bean sprouts……I’d be happy to send up the beans next box.

    I also like to “sprout” my garden veggie beans/seeds before planting either inside or outside, I think it gives them a boost up.

    In fact, lol, last winter when cutting into a store bought bell pepper some of the seeds were spouted so I stuck them in a pot, grew and transplanted just fine.

    To sprout for planting I just stick them in between wet paper towels and keep them damp in a plastic bag.

  37. UgaVic Says:


    The chicks come in the mail as day old babies and have a spot in the corner of my dining room, which is more like an alley to the kitchen.
    They have a big sheet of heavy duty plastic on the floor, newspaper covering that. The surround is a cardboad roll that flexes and is about 14″ high. We then take two heat lamps and hang them over a bar that is balanced between the kitchen counter and dining room table. The whole thing is about the size of a 4 person dining table.

    They stay in the house until they are 2-2 1/2 weeks old, until they get some feathers. From there they usually go out into a big fish tote – looks like an apple bin but is insulated in our heated bathhouse.

    This year we build a brooder but am finding it takes 1500-2000 watts to keep warm, even insulated to the temp they need of 80 degrees. Costs too much diesel to do that right now so …..
    Means they might be in the house another week so we only need to maintain to 70-75 degrees when they go out. Glad hubby will most likely get to return part time to work – then less to take care of:-))

    I did get lettuce planted so am looking forward to that project. Will update as I see it happening.

    Say No-
    Mung beans sound great – just make a note on the outside of the box so we catch them. Yum, yum!
    Maybe I will do some Thai cooking to go under them:-))

    Gotta get dinner for the guys,

  38. anonymousbloggers Says:

    I’ve just posted a letter that Ann and Victoria will soon be submitting to The Alaska Dispatch. It includes many thoughtful suggestions to improve life in rural Alaskan villages.

    It’s a must read – must comment!


  39. shrinkinggranny Says:

    Loved the letter, saw it on the Alaska Dispatch site. Wonderful!

    About that square foot gardening thing…
    I haven’t heard back from the Square Foot Garden website; the originator is “on Sabbatical” and they only read the emails on Friday when they come in to fill orders or something. I *thought* I emailed them late Thursday. They may yet answer, dunno.

    The quick version of it is this, more or less:

    The idea is to plant *only* as much seed as you plan on eating – don’t seed so heavily that you wind up thinning more than you wind up growing. It uses space in 4′ x 4′ chunks instead of 10 or 20′ lengths. If some of your crops cross-pollinate, this is *really* good, if they don’t, no biggie.

    Part of the point was to make a garden less intimidating and mysterious to the timid or new gardener. Very little weeding, and what there is, is easily dealt with.

    You don’t have to reach more than 2′ at any point in the “square” since it’s only 4′ square. Alternatively, you can do something 4′ x 6 or 8 ft (or more), but you’d need to have “aisles” no further than 4 feet apart, so no one has to reach beyond 2 feet. Makes weeding much easier.

    I guess it’s a sort of raised bed setup; and he’s a firm believer in compost. When you reseed the garden for the next batch (if you have that much growing season), you add compost, stick in the seed, and there you go.

    You don’t have one huge plot of land to take care of, and a 4 ft square – or two or five or ?? – a 4 ft square just isn’t as big a job, no matter if there are 2 or 4 or 5 of ’em. At least it feels that way. lol

    And, part of it was to make the most of a package of seed – you don’t wind up tossing half the package of seed when you thin the plants, because you don’t plant so many you *have* to thin the row.

    You can have as many “squares” as you have need for.

    In his book “Square Foot Gardening” (of course), there are little “templates” showing how to do each “square” within the square (I forgot, they’re broken down into 1 ft sections within the 4 ft bed). That would be a good way to get little kids into the concept, too. My grandkids liked it anyway.

    We have gardened this way, and I really do think it has a LOT going for it. I don’t know how well it would fit into a greenhouse setup, but there’s no reason it couldn’t work.

    Oh, and with only a 2ft reach, there’d be no need to walk on your nice fluffy soil, tamping it down and making it harder for the plants to grow.

    the book is best, easier to get around in than the website, but the website gets the idea across. I doubt you’d need much in the way of soil additives, just do the compost (and watch out for AKM’s Brian-the-Moose – ha).

    Here, we need to use chicken wire to keep out the rabbits. Hardware cloth (wire fencing with 1/2 inch gaps) would be needed for raccoons – they’re stronger than the rabbits. We don’t have deer here in the heart of town, but further out, some folks do. That would mean even taller, stronger fencing than for the raccoons.

    As for moose? I haven’t a clue!

    What the heck, the website is free, and it might be worth a look: If that doesn’t work, then google (and you get to fuss at me).

    Oh, I do put (well-rinsed) eggshells in the compost heap; figure it adds calcium or something.

    Hope there’s something there for ya.


  40. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    I tried to contact Barbara Damrosch on line but they do not want email queries-they garden full time. They do organic gardening and seem very involved with their own learning put out as books and news columns. Probably not the best people to engage in our specific project. As of now I have not heard back from the folks with the grow garden project….hope we will.I do believe that MotherEarth news is a great resource and when people want to do some healthy things like grow sprouts indoors it is a place to learn….again we could send the ingredients to get that started;maybe get a grant if it is costly.

  41. Robin Says:

    I use the same methods Eliot and Barbara use on their farm. I’ll be seeing them mid month. What would you like me to ask?

  42. Say No to Palin in Politics Says:

    Baffled why this landed in the spam box! Jane

    I love this web site…… can always find loads of inspiration and great information.

    ps…….last fall I bought about 12 of bags of flower bulbs that Walmart was clearing out, I think they were a buck. Anyway, I didn’t get them planted last fall, but last week I put them along the road on the front of our property. right now we have snow on the ground, but are due for 60 and 70* this week. I mixed them all up, tulips, hyacinths, of various colors, lol……we’ll see if they come up and what it ends up looking like…..I just planted them in random spots along the road in the grass, 3 or more per hole. I’ll take a pic if it turns out worth taking a pic, lol

    I was hoping to create a springtime surprise for folks driving by, we live out in the country, our house is set way back from the road. I love driving along and seeing a bunch of spring flowers where at one time a house was and now is gone, they live on longer that the surroundings. One of those little fun little unexpected surprises in everyday life.

    got my dirt, seeds and pots ready just gotta get er done…..dinner first.

  43. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Fellow gardeners,

    Victoria Briggs in Ugashik, whose comments on another thread prompted this thread and who updates us as often as her busy life allows wrote privately…


    I am/was trying to get to a meeting/conference in Fairbanks this month that will deal with AK sustainable agriculture. It is March 15-18.

    The whole trip will cost roughly less than $2000 with airfare which is out of my range this year.

    I worked up a proposal that would have me help both villages, since they are ‘neighbors and I can get to both, to do some small grant writing and get some gardening/food projects started with each.

    I have submitted it both the Pilot Point (PIP) and Ugashik (UGA) councils to see if they are willing to split the costs to send me.

    I do not expect anything from UGA for a variety of reason, much to do with their small population.

    PIP Council is postponing their meeting until late next week due to illness – creeping crud traveling all around the village :-) I am afraid to wait that long to see if they fund the suggestion as I will have less than a week to get plane reservations – we are usually not able to do that with such short notice.

    I REALLY want to go as I think I can get a lot out of it that can jump start our area on food production and even hopefully make some good contacts for Ann’s area if at all possible – would love to see villagers at least do window gardens ;-)


    You kind anonymous bloggers have all been doing so much — we hesitate to ask — but does anyone have a contact at a rural air service, a company that might benefit by sponsoring Green Thumb Vic or any other creative way to get her to Fairbanks by March 15?

    If not, is there anyone in Fairbanks who could attend the conference, take volumes of notes and report back to Vic?

    Many thanks!

  44. Jim Says:

    I guess PenAir is the carrier from Pilot Point to Anchorage, then transfer on Alaska Airlines to Fairbanks. As of Monday night, Alaska Airlines award travel appears to be available from King Salmon to Fairbanks on March 11 or March 15 (12, 13, 14 are not available) and award travel for the return is available on March 18 or 19.

    I’m sorry I consumed all my award miles– it would be a really good deal if anyone else could donate Alaska Airlines miles– 12,500 miles each way (If I understand what I’m reading on the Alaska Airlines website) would cover about 300 to 350 dollars worth of travel. The round trip (purchased today) costs 600 to 700 dollars from King Salmon (not Pilot Point)

    Since March 12, 13, and 14 don’t seem to be available for award travel from King Salmon to Fairbanks, I’m concerned March 15 may go soon too.

    Also, I’m sure the short hop from Pilot Point to King Salmon must be quite expensive despite the short flight.

    Anyone got either 12,500 or 25000 Alaska Airlines miles?

  45. shrinkinggranny Says:

    Could that Veteran’s airline maybe take up some of the slack? I don’t know the area, but if they could do one leg of the trip (or more), it might be a bit more affordable.

    I’m just not familiar enough with AK to know if that’s sensible or silly.


  46. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Does anyone have a contact at the airlines? We can put ads for them on and thank them in the blog for helping in exchange for tickets.

    Keep it open as to the number of tickets because Victoria may have a villager that could go along or someone from Nunam Iqua might want to go.

    Call their advertising departments, explain what we’re doing. Tell them this blog is getting more attention each day and we are looking for partners to help us help rural Alaska.

    Ann and Victoria have both been interviewed by Alaska Public Radio and the reporter feels the story might get picked up by NPR.

    If there are other airlines than the ones Jim suggested, call around. This should be a tax deductible donation if it is arranged through the village council.

    It’s much easier to ask for something if it’s for a good cause, and much harder to refuse. They might even go the extra mile and sponsor the gardening effort or at least pick up the freight charges for supplies.

    The more I think about it, this needs to be done in the form of a proposal by someone who knows the territory. If Alaska Airlines partners with the smaller carriers, try starting there. It would be terrific PR for them and a drop in the bucket monetarily.

    Good luck!!

  47. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    ROBIN! Somehow I missed alot of the action on this section.With regards to what to ask Barbara and Eliot….I am not sure what we need to know. Questions about growing in such a cold climate,questions about growing nutritious vegies indoors,greenhouse ideas,and outdoor protected garden design for a community veggie;and or berry garden.What do they think just off the top?It seems you might be a helpful resource since you use their methods. What is your vision for growing food in Ugashic and Nunam Iqua!?Thanks…

  48. LurkerInWI Says:

    We bought a sprouter that the sprout people recommended. Here is their sprouter page. We have the “easy sprout” (first one on scroll-down – it’s plastic).

    We soak our seeds in a disinfectant – you can use a mild bleach solution – that will kill any pathogens hanging around the seeds. The easy sprout device is a nested strainer, so it is easy to rinse your sprouts twice a day (which is what is recommended). The only disadvantage to sprouts is that they need twice-daily rinsing with potable water, but I suppose the rinse water could be used to water other plants, or boiled and used again for sprout rinsing or other activities that need water.

    We eat our sprouts in sandwiches (instead of lettuce), on tacos, on salads, or just on their own. My partner made a sprout, cheese and salad dressing lunch yesterday and it was delicious. We love the broccoli sprouts and they are supposed to be out-of-this-world nutritious. The don’t actually taste like broccoli – they have a spicy, green flavor.


    Will Allen’s fish farming is amazing! The “closed system” (hydroponic micro greens, worm composting and tilapia tanks) is an incredible use of space and resources. He is also working with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s WATER Institute to develop methods for farming lake perch. He has some little pools at Growing Power that are working really well. I have a secret hope that Will himself would visit Alaska to help set up “village community farming” for remote, cold climates. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

  49. LurkerInWI Says:

    About mushrooms…. they seem a little trickier. We’ve bought kits, which work out rather expensive, because we’re interested in finding out more and what works in our environment. We got our kits from Fungi Perfecti. The man who has founded it, Paul Stamets, seems to be sort of a mushroom wizard. He also seems like someone who might be interested in this sort of community-raising project. He might be worth contacting to see if he’d be interested in sustainable, affordable mushroom cultivation in Alaskan villages.

    From what I’ve gathered so far, for me to do my own more affordable mushrooms, I need a sterile environment and pressure cooker so I don’t grow mold instead of mushrooms!

  50. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    About sprouts…around here there is a raw food health spa called The Hippocrates Institute. People come from all over the world to find alternative healing for fatal diseases and just to be healthy. Ofcourse everything is organic and fresh….mostly vegies. You get a salad to eat and it will be Sprouts of every type. They have the most life in them of anything, because they are sprouts not mature but yummy carrots or peppers. Just as is is good.Wheat grass is made into juice- drink it and dance all night…so this might be an easy but good addition to the traditional diet for a few believers,anyway.

  51. Michigander Says:

    Any news on getting Victoria to Fairbanks? This sounds like the perfect opportunity for her to get the ball rolling. I am clueless as to help re: airlines but I could try to get some donations to help fund the trip. I just have concerns if I/we could come up with the money in time to get her there.

    I was planning on shipping more food TMO but I could send money for the trip if that would be better????

  52. Jim Says:

    Michigander: I can’t give much advice, but I’m sure your offer is appreciated.

    Perhaps you could tell them some funds are coming and they could use it as needed if Victoria can’t travel. Just a thought. If you decide to send funds, you might want to use express mail– even that may take 4 or 5 days, plus it appears weather may be heading their way.

  53. Carrie Says:

    check out the cooperative extensions shiny website.

    an over-dose of info here (I like the Earth-sheltered Greenhouse) you can easily…wander…off…

    I’ve used sprouts on a hamburger, like lettuce.

  54. Aussie Blue Sky Says:

    Today I emailed UAF Co-operative Extension Service, to ask if they are willing to offer advice and assistance to the villagers.

    It seems logical to me that they are well-placed to help. I will let you know when/if I hear back from them.

  55. Jim Says:

    Robin: If you are out there, I’d like to send Victoria some tomato seeds to start and transplant in their poly tunnels. I’d guess the summer weather is cool and usually doesn’t go above 70 and they may get a lot of rainy weather off the Bearing Sea. They’ll start transplants this month (if they haven’t already), plant around June 1, and finish harvesting around mid to late September.

    Are there any determinate tomatoes that would work o.k. in poly tunnels and cool damp summers? I like ordering from Johnny’s– do they have a suitable variety for this or would you recommend something else?

    This is a stupid question, but what else would grow well in the poly tunnels?

    Finally, can you recommend compact tomato plants for their home windows?


  56. Robin Says:

    I need to run an errand and get my farm work done this morning. This afternoon I’ll put together a list of cold weather greens, tomatoes and other vegs to grow, and I’ll make a phone call to Johnny’s. They’ve donated seeds to my school garden program. I’m hoping they’ll make a donation for me today.

  57. Alaska Pi ∆ Says:

    Jane- Airlines are very few here and AK Air is main cost effective one.I donated all my miles to a medical mission a few months ago so can’t help there but any Alaskans here can help and it is possible that any folks Outside with partner miles might be able to do so…

    CHALLENGE to gardeners and internet savvy info -finding folks who visit here-

    I have been looking for something which may be helpful for the potato growing issues in Uga/PIP area.
    Still need more info from Victoria, but as she is bouncing more balls right now than she has hands and feet, I’m going to ask for help here from you AnonyB gardners to RE -find something intriguing about spud growing in the Andes.

    As I have not had TV most of my life this has to be 10-15 years old.
    I saw a NOVA or similar type program about an experiment in the Andes by farmers and (what I think was) an agricultural archeologist to boost potato crop yield.
    Post- Spanish colonial times farming had moved up mountainsides and yield was poor.
    Scientist noted tic-tac-toe cross hatching on plains/plateau below- near a year round water source. Verbal history of indigenous farmers included memories of good crops but not whys and hows.

    Theorizing about purpose of cross hatching led to an experiment of digging lines out of cross hatching to create canals and diverting some water from river/creek to flow through regularly. Potatoes were planted on resulting mounds within canals . First year yields were quite promising as this not only solved watering issues but also created night time warming mists (cold summer climate up that high) which allowed a more even growing climate for crop.

    Victoria mentioned early on that spud yields have been poor the last couple years due to even cooler summers and her climate is short on precipitation-
    especially compared to our 90 (frickin) inches of rain we get here in Southeast AK.

    Anyone able to find the study and any follow-up so idea could be evaluated?
    As the primary expense involved is labor I think it worth evaluating…

  58. Jim Says:

    Robin: That would be great. I’ve used Johnny’s for about 25 years and they have some excellent varieties for Alaska. The summer climate in Fairbanks is much milder than Anchorage, which is milder than Pilot Point. Last summer in Anchorage we had only a handful of days where the temp. went above 70. My big claim to success with Johnny’s seeds (especially in Fairbanks but I’ve also gotten some in Anchorage) has been Fortex pole bean. But apparently those wouldn’t make it in Pilot Point unless they had 8 foot tall greenhouses which don’t exist yet.

    Thanks VERY much your help and for trying with Johnny’s.

  59. Alaska Pi ∆ Says:

    Attention ALL Anony blogger Gardener-Farmers Extraordinaire!!-

    We are looking to expand our/your ability to follow and build on ideas here.
    Our Chief AnonyB Jane will be helping me create threads to work in.

    This is NOT an attempt to stifle ideas but an attempt to nurture what we do turn up AND present it all in a way that makes it easier for Victoria to work through for evaluation of possible application in her region.

    Please jump right in and add or expand to example list for threads…

    indoor gardening/ worm compost boxes-
    indoor- energy efficient lighting and supplies ideas
    outdoor -exploring seeds and stock for cold climate
    outdoor- supplies needed- materials for tunnels, beds
    outdoor- methods brainstorming

    Please send ideas to me at

    and we will get going in next couple days !

  60. anonymousbloggers Says:

    If anyone would like to help get this up faster, pick a topic or start your own. Write an intro, then go through the existing comments and copy relevant ones and paste them into your file. You can make comments on the comments if you like.

    Send the pages to me and I’ll make pages and put them in a separate gardening section.


  61. Robin Says:

    I’ve put in a request for a seed donation to Johnny’s. I’ll let you all know what they say as soon as they make a decision.

    My we learned this morning that my husband’s employer is closing its doors on May 5. I won’t have as much free time as I expected because I need to increase what I produce on our farm. I will send info out in bursts as I have time. I’m going to go back through all of the comments now to make notes. I’ll be back with a couple of topics by the end of the day.

  62. Robin Says:

    Can someone tell me what the soil is like, when last frost in spring usually happens and when the first frost in summer/fall comes?

    What is the USDA Hardiness Zone? That matters for winter greenhouse and cold frame work.

    What resources for gardening are in place now?

  63. shrinkinggranny Says:

    @ Jim
    Could those pole beans be trellised “sideways?” – or at an angle maybe?

    I’ve read that one of the best books (for raising worms) is by Mary Appelhof. Amazon carries it, and you can see some of the contents. There are several other books, too, for commercial applications, if anyone wanted to go that route eventually (or start out commercial – whatever)


  64. Jim Says:


    Hopefully Victoria will have time to reply, but Pilot Point looks to be 4B, close to 5A. Victoria had indicated they have “good” soil. There are numerous volcanoes around so there may be volcanic ash in the dirt. She said they usually plant around June 1. I don’t know when the last frost is but I would guess early to mid May. They usually get their first Fall frost in the last half of September. They have a lot of wind. I’ve never been to Ugashik so I don’t know what their gardens are like. I know they use waist high poly tunnels.

    I’m sad about your awful news. Thank you very much for your generosity and help, and best wishes.

  65. Jim Says:


    Had I called you Skinnygranny earlier? Oops, if so sorry. No, I don’t think Fortex would survive Ugashik’s or Nunam Iqua’s wind even horizontally. They would need to be shielded. I bet they would do well upriver from Nunam Iqua 50 or 100 miles, once you start getting into Interior Alaska. I used to get bucket- fulls out of about 20 feet of row in Fairbanks, growing them along a south facing wall. They are some of the tastiest beans.

  66. Carrie Says:

    Here’s a hardiness zone map. My cyphering is zone 4a?

  67. Jim Says:

    Robin: Sorry, I forgot– Ann lives in Nunam Iqua, which is hundreds of miles northwest of Pilot Point/ Ugashik. This area is zone 4A. Many of the affected western Alaska communities along the lower Yukon/ Kuskokwim Delta, are in 4A. I imagine the lower river delta has good soil but I don’t know. They are also trying to use low poly tunnels.

    Pilot Point/ Ugashik is on the Alaska Peninsula and that is where Victoria lives. As I indicated above, they are 4B. Victoria has been involved in the discussion here.

  68. Jim Says:

    Carrie: You’re right; 4a would be the safe bet.

  69. Say NO to Palin in Politics Says:

    I’m way behind of reading but I wanted to pass on a good catalog for all sorts of good materials. It’s called FarmTek

    gotta run, try to get back on later……..

    Also, too, Jane is there a way to put a little header by the leave a reply box, that identifies which thread a person is about to post to? perhaps a way to click and switch threads above it?

    please forgive I’m also behind on my email lol

  70. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Say NO,

    “Also, too, Jane is there a way to put a little header by the leave a reply box, that identifies which thread a person is about to post to? perhaps a way to click and switch threads above it?”


    I am so in over my head with the blogging thing — I don’t know. If anyone knows more about the features of free WordPress blogs, please get in touch.

    I’m in the process of sorting the comments on certain popular topics in Word and will then post them under general topics — Growing & preserving food, Alaska Native Arts, et.

    Right now it’s a quick and dirty, cut and past job to get a few categories out there. Once I get them roughly sorted, anyone who wants to can take a thread and run with it.

    I’ll send the Doc of what I’ve gathered so far and you can add an intro, comment on the comments, add ones I missed and keep the conversation going on the new thread.

    Any takers?


  71. shrinkinggranny Says:

    @ Jim
    If you did call me “skinny” I won’t complain – lol

    understood re the beans. Dang.

    Oh! I found this, and am emailing them (and crossing fingers, also too)

    They went to the Scandinavian countries and brought back “heritage” seed. They seem to be linked somehow to this site:

    Oooooo! JUST found this one: – in Anchorage!

    … in “the land of the midnight sun,” is the home of Denali Seed Company, the only seed company in North America specializing in varieties for arctic and sub-arctic growing conditions.”

    amazing what you can google up – ha

  72. UgaVic Says:

    BOY do I have to catch up:-))
    Computer ided late yeserday afternoon so am ptich hitting while things get straightened around. Will do reading tonight and get back to all of this.
    WOW is all I can say!!

  73. shrinkinggranny Says:

    Condolences on your computer… good to see you here in spite of it though.

  74. shrinkinggranny Says:

    Use this link instead, sorry: to get to the meat of the site.

    I don’t know how I got here: where it says:

    Volunteers are needed from all parts of Alaska that are willing to spend the time needed to plant, care for and help evaluate trials. These volunteers are greatly appreciated and are doing a great service to fellow gardeners in Alaska by helping make new varieties available. For more details on the requirements to get seed for testing and how to get started contact us by e-mail at

  75. UgaVic Says:

    Let’s see – am jumping in around the 3 or 4th of March for comments and will work my way down-
    First off Robin – thanks for all your help and anytime you can jump in is appreciated. Hope the farm is a bumper crop this year!!

    We are a zone 4-5 with last frost date about 3 week in May and first in mid September. Hard freeze isn’t usually until Mid Oct.
    Our soil stays cold into mid to late June thus using Wall o Waters inside even tunnels is needed to warm the ground.

    I did tomatoes in my windows last year and used from Territorial Seed – in OR because they had some good ones for inside greenhouses that did not need bees – the term has slipped my mind. Also tried a cuke but put it outside for more sun and a wind storm took that day and shredded it!
    I am thinking a determinant type might be better as it prone to set its crop faster – am I thinking right?

    My biggest thing is to figure out how to warm my soil the earlist and the best way to jump start it when I put things in.
    I THINK we can keep the season going long enough to do cauliflower and broc – not sure on brussle sprouts.
    Am going to see about doing an asparagus bed. Most worried about how well it will hold up with freezing and little snow cover.

    We, the other gardening type person thinks we can do cabbage (elders talk of it), some hardy fillet beans, peas, all sorts of greens mixes, onions, even if just green ones. I haven’t a seed catalog search lately to remind myself. Of course also rhubarb and potatoes, and chives :-)) ALthough I would love to try the pole beans:-))

    On Will Allen- I would LOVE to have him for an Alaska visit and working with us – even on development of fish farms – tanks even!! If someone to get him interested I can get him a fishing trip for salmon or trout- in fact I can do that for anyone who wants to travel to AK to help I can get you a salmon/trout fishing trip as a thank you!!

    Will read more and follow up in a few mintues

  76. UgaVic Says:

    THINK I caught up-
    Lots of bites but haven’t had a chance to see what has happened if anything for conference.
    I did get an offer to stay in Fairbanks with a lady that works for the group. Also it sounds like they can waive the conference fee so it looks to be down to air plane flights. PenAir is all that is here until Anchorage – then from there not sure but Alaska Airlines is the only option I have seen.
    IF anyone DOES DO MONEY – GIVE ME A HEADS UP AND write on the check for “Victoria for gardening”.

    Ok onto other goodies;
    Denali seeds – have heard of them but no one that has tried it. Have used Johnny’s and they are good.
    Even though Ann is north and not sure of growing stuff there I am going to get it figured out. I would at least to get them with a box of greens in the window and maybe tomatoes in summer.

    Will get it worked out but I am keeping that part of AK in mind as we work on this.
    In our spare time :))))) we are talking about things for that area – just haven’t worked firm things out yet.

    Glad to see the different ‘threads’ idea – will try and keep up.
    IF someone is an energy buff I will get hubby to dicuss those ideas. We were talking to Sue with PIP council today about the school being able to channel it’s waste heat over to a greenhouse or high tunnels to use to warm the ground beds. The community garden in PIP most likely will go next to the school so getting the waste heat for the bed could give us another month or two of growing.
    We are already at daylight almost at 12 hours daylight – March 22 think is it half way to summer solsitis (sp).

    Anyway – gotta run go check up on emails.
    Thanks for all the ideas and threads, you are keeping me busy reading and I LOVE it.

  77. Jim Says:

    Victoria: it should be easy to grow any of the brassica, including brussels sprouts, but watch out for cut worms when you transplant (I guess I’d use bacillus around the stems- I haven’t grown cabbage and broccoli for years because the moose are here, and I haven’t bothered with a fence). Brassica love cool weather.

    Back in Fairbanks, after trying blasting moose-butts with rubber bullets at 3a.m., firecrackers, swearing, sudden directed bursts of rock-and-roll music, activating the car alarm, and lacing the yard with 100 dollar-a-gallon “Swedish Wolf Urine,” I finally settled on a 7-foot tall heavy wire fence around the garden. They’d circle it and push on it with their noses until finally around October I’d open the door and let them. Glancing out the window I’d watch as they charged each other fighting over frozen cabbage remnants. Moose remember to return for generations once they have found a cabbage and broccoli source. Bottom line– if there are any moose around, and you plan to grow brassica, you should consider a tall strong fence around your garden- otherwise they’ll find your cabbage and eat them. I suppose you could use tunnels but they could grow worse in the heat.

  78. shrinkinggranny Says:

    I looked around the Denali seed website some more. No pictures, the stinkers! But there are *several* articles on having a gardening in AK, and not just the southeast. They seem to be readier than I to attack bugs with chemicals, but I don’t know AK bugs, either.

    One of ’em did mention that in permafrost, the compost isn’t yet compost (not enough decay because it’s been frozen).

    Omg! They carry a cabbage seed for a cabbage that can hit 25 lbs (!) even in the lower 48 – way more in AK! Geez, 2 heads would make cole slaw for the whole youth group – or enough sauerkraut for the whole winter. wow.

    (I like Johnny’s too.)

  79. Peaceful Granny Says:

    Wow, I can’t believe how busy you have all been, it took me two hours to read through all the posts, now I don’t know where to start. But I do have a few questions and a couple of suggestions.
    First are you mainly interested in a community gardening or individual gardens? Second, do you include your school(s) as a resource for gardening? Get the kids involved in learning to garden as well as part of the volunteer work force?

    The reason I ask is because we (our church) is working on an interesting “Green” project. We are partnering with a local day care to teach “box gardening.” We have a local composting company, so we can get free 10 lb bags of compost ready to grow veggies. We want to teach the kids not only to grow the veggies, but also how to cook with what they grow. So we are putting together a holistic menu, setting up planting boxes to get all the veggies to grow in a timely fashion so that they can be harvested, cooked and shared as a meal sometime during the class. I don’t know all the details, as I’m on the committee to get the boxes and compost, not the other things, but I will check with the garden committee to see just what a menu looks like.

    My brain child is to see if I could get a class here to adopt a class in the village. In looking at the Priority Mail boxes, they look like the perfect size to grow most things. You might need to have some things 2 boxes deep but only very deep things like potatoes. Since the boxes are free and the compost is free, all I’d need to raise is enough money to send the boxes up compost. Is this a project you’d like to follow-up on? If so, let me know in the next couple of weeks, so I can figure out how to co-ordinate the adopt a village part. It’s a fun and interesting project and might be something other day-care or schools around the country might want to try.

  80. Peaceful Granny Says:

    One more idea. I read someplace that most villages now have laundry mats, which usually have a lot of wasted heat coming off of the dryers. This is a good source of energy for hot houses that can often be built along side a laundry mat. Along this line my hubby is a junk collecter and has collected old windows for years, always thinking to build a better green house. I can’t tell you how many different kinds he’s tried. I know it’s too expensive to air mail large windows, but I’d be willing to look into barge frieght prices next summer and see how to get some salvaged windows up that way. Don’t know if that’s a viable way to do green houses there, but it’s an idea, and kept us in veggies all winter even down to -15 here in ID, when our kids were young.

  81. Carrie Says:

    From what I could gather I think the Co-op will send you pamphlets.
    looks like I’ve got so catch up reading to do too also. The page kept building and building as I kept scrolling! As you suggest:
    # Alaska Pi ∆ Says:
    March 5, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Attention ALL Anony blogger Gardener-Farmers Extraordinaire!!-

    We are looking to expand our/your ability to follow and build on ideas here.
    Our Chief AnonyB Jane will be helping me create threads to work in.

    This is NOT an attempt to stifle ideas but an attempt to nurture what we do turn up AND present it all in a way that makes it easier for Victoria to work through for evaluation of possible application in her region.

    Please jump right in and add or expand to example list for threads…

    indoor gardening/ worm compost boxes-
    indoor- energy efficient lighting and supplies ideas
    outdoor -exploring seeds and stock for cold climate
    outdoor- supplies needed- materials for tunnels, beds
    outdoor- methods brainstorming

    Please send ideas to me at

    and we will get going in next couple days !
    # anonymousbloggers Says:
    March 5, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    If anyone would like to help get this up faster, pick a topic or start your own. Write an intro, then go through the existing comments and copy relevant ones and paste them into your file. You can make comments on the comments if you like.

    Send the pages to me and I’ll make pages and put them in a separate gardening section.


  82. anonymousbloggers Says:


    Check the Cold Weather Gardening section I added to the right column. Do those categories look right and are there others I’ve missed?


    If you have posted comments here or there are comments here you would like to discuss, copy them and paste them into the categories in the right column.

    I’ve added a new post to the blog asking for help with Victoria’s airfare.


  83. walkaboutstory Says:

    I skimmed the comments pretty fast, so I don’t know if anybody has brought up the H2GROW greenhouse project in NY. Their technology may be adaptable to the bush, and is worth looking into.

  84. Peaceful Granny Says:

    I am downsizing my library and have 8 brown binder bound years of Mother Earth News that I was thinking of trying to sell on EBay. I would be willing to donate them to a village garden project. If I could afford to ship them up there. I’ll check them out later and give you the Numbers and dates, I’m sure they are almost collecters items by now….must be mostly in the 70′ vintage, but still full of good information. I’ll checkback here if anyone is interested and leave my email address later.

  85. shrinkinggranny Says:

    Peaceful Granny,
    I know books can be sent “book rate” through the USPS and possibly magazines, also. I’ll check on that – unless someone beats me to it at (hint!)


  86. Say NO to Palin in Politics Says:

    Jane, not meaning to make extra work, I have no clue about this forms, but some of the gov forms I’ve filled out have a subject topic. I think just what you’ve added up top is good.

    I have not read all the posts yet, but, how about a water thread under gardening also, too, lol, man, I wish I could forget that saying.

    It’s gorgeous here and I’ve spent way to much inside chewing the crud on Mudflats, lol……I need to go kill some weeds….it’s 81* in MO, not for long though.

    do we have a weed thread?

    mulch thread?

    bug/insect thread?

    light thread? I can’t even imagine how that works up there, lol, I’m talkin the real thing.

    In fact, maybe this is something I can check into, if a thread on Alaska gardening could be started on Garden Web…….that would draw a lot of attention by those who have no clue what you are doing. I’ll check tonight, but anyone else feel free too, I don’t know what it takes to get a category going but I know they do by states. They get a ton of traffic.

  87. Say NO to Palin in Politics Says:

    Also, too (gads I’m gonna start pinching myself every time I use that)

    the postal shipping boxes, even those like fed ex and be used reversed, with brown side out, printed side in, for book rate shipping, kinda handy that way.

    And under a water thread could be greywater usage, pretty potent stuff.

  88. shrinkinggranny Says:

    @ Say NO to Palin in Politics

    If I keep having to catch myself sayin that too (also, too) I’ll start pinching too. uh… als… NOOOOOO lol

    I’m in St Louis – where (about) are you?

    I don’t know why the weeds, mulch, etc shouldn’t go under the gardening thread; it all applies.

    BTW – there’s a really interesting article about drainage and permafrost etc at that AK seed site (link above).


  89. Robin Says:

    Johnny’s is going to donate seeds for greens. It doesn’t sound like it’s going to be much but we’ll take it. I’ll pick up more when I go to Fedco Friday.

  90. anonymousbloggers Says:


    I’ve put a Cold Weather Gardening section in the right hand column with several different threads. You have been offering very good suggestions and advice on a number of topics.

    I know you’re busy with the farm, but when you have a little time, could you please summarize some of them in the new categories? If you want to take it one step further, you can write some intro pages explaining what each thread is about.

    Let me know.


  91. Robin Says:

    ohhhhhh Jane! Could we have a page for Tips & Tricks?

  92. anonymousbloggers Says:

    You got it!

  93. Jim Says:

    Jane: I recommend “Pest Control.” (Moose, bears, hares, voles, cutworms, aphids, mites– pests large and small. Indoors and outdoors. Perhaps “Season Extenders” would be another good one for northerners.

    Robin: Wow, thanks so much. It is amazing what Anonymous Bloggers have accomplished.

  94. tigerwine Says:

    Hi all – In a hurry, so pardon if this has been discussed before. When I worked for the Cooperative Extension Service in Bethel, the Extension agent would go out into the villages to explain cold weather gardening; the types of crops, when to plant, methods of planting, correct types of seeds/plants, etc. She also would take soil sample containers for them to mail to FBKS for analysis. And, of course, all sorts of reading matter specifically for where you live in AK. Bethel has a District Office – give them a holler!

  95. Say NO to Palin in Politics Says:

    skinnygranny……I’m east of Lebanon, about 15 miles. We moved from Colorado to Mo 3.5 years ago. Love the trees hate the bugs.

  96. anonymousbloggers Says:

    We have a solution in the works!!

    LGardener has offered to make reservations and purchase Victoria’s ticket using her credit card. Others have stepped in and offered to contribute.

    This is a much more efficient way to do this because people don’t have to rely on checks arriving in Ugashik in time for Vic to book her flights. One wrinkle might be a forced stopover in Anchorage and need for a hotel room. Anybody out there have a sofa if it comes to that?

    We’ll post details here as we get them.

    Thanks to all!

  97. empish (wasilla) Says:

    I think you should go here and email Rita Jo! She runs a very successful garden business in Homer. She is very kind in responding to email questions, and I believe she would a huge asset. Like having your own master gardener by email! Tap every available resource, and Rita Jo is a gold mine!

  98. UgaVic Says:

    Quick Note –
    Victoria is going to the conference.
    We are working out the details on plane travel and hotel room and then will do all the “thank yous”.
    I do appreciate so many and thier offers.
    This looks to be the start of some great beginnings too.

  99. UgaVic Says:

    Seems like I am always behind:-))

    Jim – moose control and brassica – I laughed, and so did hubby until teared up.

    Given our low moose population I am thinking of planting a couple of acres – opening to moose during the major hunting season – of course with no’hunting signs and let them out later. Wonder if we can jump start the populations here:-)??

    SWEDISH wolf urine – damn that was hard core!! We have plenty of the regular ones here – maybe we should look at collecting it here and selling it!
    We will have to try to look at electric fence, until they figure out their horns, Moose, will let them walk through!

    Shrink gran- Denali – cabbages that size will be great. Will go look again.

    Robin – on Johnny’s – great!!!!

    Peaceful – I posed the question to a school board member. We planned to use them to start seeds before school is out then have a after school/summer program get it into a community garden.
    We are first going community with the hopes people learn enough to do home for speciality things.

    ?? – Mother Earth News Old – copies – love to have them. let’s look at shiping costs and what can happen there.

    Tiger..-Bethel is between Ann and I – will try calling to see if they travel.

    I will readup on the H2GROW project.

    I think that covers it:-)) You are all keeping me busy.

  100. Michigander Says:

    Victoria – If you go to ‘Recent Posts’ Send Victoria to Gardening Conference some others want to know how to designate funds to reimburse LGardener. Will the check info in the main post there suffice or should that be changed? Could you take a peek over there?

    Sorry to jump in here but thought I should bring it to your attention (o:

  101. Peaceful Granny Says:

    @ Victoria: I checked on Ebay and it looks like I could only get about $10 a piece for each of the 8 brown binders, and I’d still have to pay shipping, (about $3 each for book rate) so I wouldn’t make much for my effort (about $56 for all of them and that’s hardly worth my time.) It would only cost about $24 to send them to you. So, I’m going to double check and maybe start sending them a couple at a time, after the 25th of March. Do I send them at the same place listed above?

  102. Jim Says:

    Victoria: I’d never thought about putting the garden outside the fence, and the moose inside– interesting.

  103. UgaVic Says:

    Lettuce update- it has sprouted and is showing strong. Is in a south window getting light from about 9 AM to 9:30 PM.

    As scare as our moose is – might be well worth it to lock the moose in:-))

    Please send them to:
    Victoria B
    Ugashik Village
    via King Salmon, Ak 99613
    Then they can go into the Ugashik file:-)) I will scan and share with PIP as we get them going. Thanks!!!

    Trying to get things ready to be gone for a few days next week. My 90+ baby laying chicks are doing good having moved to the brooder 2 days ago.
    They are feathering fast at 3+ weeks and hoping we have eggs by summer.
    I need to order the ‘feeder’ ones for chicken dinner for delivery in April.
    Will have much to report once home so “stay tuned”,

  104. anonymousbloggers Says:

    This comment was posted on the marketing thread. I’m putting a copy here because poster Mark Springer mentions Tim Meyers, of Bethel, who is successfully gardening there.

    This article about him illustrates what could happen in Pilot Point and Nunam Iqua in the coming years.

    You know how Google is always smarter and makes suggestions of alternate spellings? Turns out Tim “Myers” is on the program for the conference Vic is attending! (Program)

    When you come across a post that belongs in another thread, copy it over and alert the poster to check that thread for comments too. Thanks!!
    Mark Springer Says:

    March 10, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Marketing per se is never a problem for high quality Alaska Native arts and crafts. Many artists have a fairly established customer list either in the village (teachers, manly) or out. Personally, I am a sucker bet for a particular oomingmak knitter (you know who you are, now where’s my scarf!).

    The Bethel Saturday Market at the Cultural Center represents possibly the best-kept secret in our State in terms of one-stop shopping for all your malaqai needs. It’s worth the price of a r/t ticket from Anchorage, and a nice article in the Alaska Airlines magazine would really be helpful.

    The internet is a good place to sell stuff, eBay has been successful for a number of Alaska Native artists of various media, so there isn’t a real need to build a new website every time. On the other hand, lets not forget that the global economic crisis might have an impact on that disposable income we all want to see flowing into pockets out here!

    So, lessons learned: Ask local artists where and how they are already selling their work; check with the University of Alaska rural campuses to see what sort of outreach they have available on small business development and arts and crafts marketing in particular (there is a lot of help to be had there!)

    And a brief note on gardens- we have a very successful farmer, production-wise here in Bethel (Tim Meyers) who recently got an Alaska Marketplace award and who has been champing at the bit to share his well thought out technology with villagers. Gardens in Rural Alaska are nothing new at all. From Holy Cross to Hooper Bay vegetables have been grown with no problem at all.

    Mark Springer

  105. Jim Says:

    Victoria: Tim Meyers will be at your conference and speaking on the Composting Panel Tuesday at 3:15.

  106. anonymousbloggers Says:


    Did you see Victoria’s update about her trip and garden plans?

    If you run across comments that might help Vic with her garden on other threads, please copy them here.


  107. Aussie Blue Sky Says:

    Well, it’s a week later and I haven’t heard from the UAF “Cooperative” Extension Service. I realize they may be busy with the conference and all, but the hard work of that should be long over. Perhaps Victoria can collar someone when she goes. Maybe she can meet face-to-face with whomever’s job it is to help.

    I don’t yet know of any potential funding for the “hardware” that will be necessary in a food-growing enterprise, but I do know that one of the pre-conference activities is a grant-writing workshop.

    Good luck, Victoria!

  108. Jim Says:

    Jane: I’m traveling and reading stuff too fast. Sorry I missed your info. People like Tim in Bethel and Robin in Maine are the ones who can really provide informed and helpful assistance. Tim is not too far from Nunam Iqua.

    Viewing your copied comment above, now I see how to do it.

  109. Aussie Blue Sky Says:

    I told a big, dirty lie!

    I received an email from Michele Herbert overnight. She confirmed that, yes, it certainly would be the brief of the Extension Service to give advice and assistance to the villagers in W AK with their food-growing activities.

    I have emailed her back and asked her to make contact with Victoria at the conference.

  110. LGardener Says:

    Thought this geodesic dome greenhouse site looked interesting:

    One of my favorite winter vegetables is kale and I just discovered a new dehydrated raw kale treat this past weekend. The “Ranchier” is my favorite so far. Some folks are calling it Kale Krack :-)

    It is selling like you wouldn’t believe in NYC. I ordered some online and I’ll forward to Victoria to try. It might be a good cash crop too. It’s selling for about $8.50 per 3.5oz at health food stores.

    Perhaps raising rabbits might be a good idea in that area? I see that there is grass available in the Summer. They could graze in large pens during that time, then slaughtered and either frozen or dehydrated just before Winter arrives. Angorra rabbits could be used to make wool.

  111. Jim Says:

    I used to go up in the woods behind my family’s house in Fairbanks and blast rabbits and eat them. I’m sure they are in western Alaska too. They grow in 7 year cycles and Lynx (who eat hare) shortly follow that cycle– but I don’t eat Lynx. Hare are extremely durable in the arctic. I saw long-legged Tundra Hare 500 miles from the North Pole in Ellesemere Island in Canada, near Lake Hazen. Anywhere there is grass and willow trees on our planet, there are also Hare.

  112. avotresanteΔ Says:

    This is my first post to this website, and I hope I can help. I would like to pass along a little information I’ve learned over the years about gardening. Someone mentioned adding eggshells for the calcium; they are also a necessity for eliminating snails and slugs, which will find their way into a moist area. It’s best to remove the membrane so they don’t attract other wildlife (rodents). Put them in a plastic bag and roll over them with a rolling pin, bottle, whatever’s handy. Even though they’re well crushed and tiny, they act like shards of glass when slimy critters move over them.
    I don’t have a cost-effective alternative to this yet, but an acquaintance stores potatoes in metal garbage cans dug into the ground and layered with soil and straw.
    Also, please be aware of the companies you get seeds from. Johnny’s has a “safe seed pledge” and they do not KNOWINGLY sell seeds that are modified in any way. I personally have a problem with the word knowingly. If someone can’t give me a straight answer, I won’t do business with them. Johnny’s buys seed from Seminis, which is owned by Monsanto. I buy only seeds that aren’t “owned” by a chemical company. Fedco is a good company. Kitchen Gardeners had a list a while back of all the seed companies that sell Monsanto-owned seeds. It’s a long and frightening list, but worth looking up.
    Also about pollination – keep some things in mind when planning your crops. Brassicas in particular will easily pollinate each other, and in some cases a 1/8 mile distance between plantings is recommended. That’s a matter of choice, basically. You’ll get a good fruit set, but the seeds won’t necessarily come true next year if you plan on saving them. One year I planted my luffa gourds too close to my cucumbers, saved the seeds, and the next year I had lufumbers. Not a bad thing if you want to eat your salad in the bathtub. Just something to be aware of if you’re planning to save seeds.
    There might be a possibility of using a heavy snowfall to your advantage. I moved from GA to Chicago, and couldn’t give up my pomegranite trees, so I dug them up and took them with me. I tried to protect them in the winter by putting a tomato cage around them, and bubble wrap around the tomato cage. The first two years there was a heavy snowfall and the trees survived. The third year there was virtually no snow, and the trees died. I believe the snow cover helped insulate, so maybe there’s an idea there somewhere.
    Best wishes.

  113. Robin Says:

    Johnny’s is not “owned” or owned by Monsanto. Employees are buying the business from Rob Johnson over time. It is privately owned. Only 4% of their seeds come from Monsanto and they are being phased out, much (not exactly) the same way Fedco did. “Knowingly” isn’t a problem for me. Fedco uses the same phrase. This is from page 8 of their 2009 catalog. It helps explain why companies from Fedco and Johnny’s are honest about the situation.

    Fedco Does Not Knowingly Carry
    Genetically Engineered Seeds

    At our 1996 Annual Meeting we voted unanimously not to knowingly offer
    for sale any transgenic variety because the new gene technologies pose
    unacceptable risks to the environment. In 1999 we affirmed and clarified that position and will follow the guidelines of the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) which prohibit the use of genetically engineered organisms in organic crop production. OMRI uses the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) definition of genetic engineering. Along with more than 100 other seed companies, we have signed The Safe Seed Pledge. See our website, click on Fedco Seeds, then on Catalog Corner for the full text.

    Please note the word “knowingly.” Because of the possibility of contamination, over which we have no control, our pledge necessarily stops short of being an absolute guarantee. Although we will not sell any variety represented to us as transgenic, we will not be held legally responsible if any of our seed tests positive for genetically modified organisms. We have been advised not to sign any blanket statements such as “GMO free” that require us to state with certainty that our products are pure. Please do not submit such statements with your order. We apologize for having to split legal hairs, but we all share the reality of genetic drift.

    Unless you test all seeds or they were grown in a sterile environment it’s difficult to knowingly sell seeds you can’t guarantee aren’t the result of cross pollination. I hope that helps explain the sad situation we’re in.

  114. ugavic Says:

    I am back and trying to read what all I missed last week.
    We did do a seperate thread to let you know what all I learned.
    I will find the link and get it posted – it is off on the right side of the main column.
    Right before I left I would have said we were heading to an early spring. NOPE !!
    Came home to temps below 0 and more snow than we have had in a month.
    Back to reading and catching up!

  115. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Good News!!!

    Pebble Fund announces $1 million in grants
    The Alaska Community Foundation announced its first round of grants from the Pebble Partnership-endowed Pebble Fund. The endowment is expected to provide $5 million total in competitive grants over the next few years. The next round of awards is in the fall.

    Ugashik Traditional Village: Greenhouse Project
    This grant is for purchase and shipping of a greenhouse, construction costs and miscellaneous supplies required to start growing fresh produce.

  116. LGardener Says:

    Wow! That is great news.

    BTW, here is an article in the April, 2009 issue of Alaska magazine about Tim Myers’s farm in Bethel. It is a pdf article so you have to have Adobe Acrobat reader in order to see the amazing photos.

    Adobe Acrobat can be downloaded free at:

  117. ugavic Says:


    Thanks for the T Meyer link. He has so many good ideas and was a bi help with what we might due.


  118. ugavic Says:

    WOW- I need to learn how to spell – you can tell I am tired!!

  119. LGardener Says:

    And now for a couple of links to let folks know that you would like some helping hands:


    Tim Myers farm is listed on this website.

  120. ugavic Says:

    L Gardener-
    I am sure all of you were excited to hear that Ugashik Traditional Village, our local tribe, was awarded over $14,000 for a greenhouse.

    I can say I wish I had been also. I really had nothing to do with this, besides giving the basic idea to one of many consultants the local village tribe hires on a regular basis as a POSSIBLE future project that COULD provide employment in the village, and have had no input.

    The Pebble Fund awarded this grant and I have to say that this was done without any input of the village residents, as is so often the case in what our tribe does. Although some of you have reservations about the Pebble Fund I am not opposed to the awards going to the villages, it looks to be for many projects that might not getting funding otherwise.

    If you feel it is a case of trying to ‘buy’ approval BELIEVE me this happens ALL the time and is nothing new in ANY way. I have yet to meet a group in Alaska that will stand on values if the check is large enough.

    I HATE this but let’s call it as it is. Many people also wish it were different but many ‘leaders’ of all kinds know exactly how to tweak the message to either raise approval or disapproval of a project. I wish I could say the area is filled with rebel rousers who are independent thinker AND will speak out!! NOT the case!

    I will see if I can find out what all was said and promised and will report back.

    Given we are a village of 10 people and outside of my husband and myself all are over 60 years old. Over 70% of the village was not consulted so I will be interested to see how they think they are going to accomplish this:-)

    There is much more here than appears, as is normal with the tribal government of THIS village.

    Hate to ruin the excitement BUT will take the volunteer in fo for PIP as we are working to do that community garden and even with about 60 full time residents it is going to be hard given the needs of fishing!
    Thanks – truly!!

  121. Nan Says:

    Here’s one more link, found when I signed up for one of Mother Earth News newsletters (food & gardening, I think). Once I signed up, they sent me a link to a dozen-ish pdf files. One of those pdf files (planning a homestead, I think – on page 2) had this link:

    it’s the “National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service” and there are all kinds of links there, from food supply to energy conservation to livestock to business and marketing etc. Actually there’s more, but you get the idea.

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