Tuesday, January 15, 2013


So it's January in Alaska - about when my brain turns to "When can I start working outside?!" mode.  I consider starting seeds - knowing full well that I shouldn't until March, at the earliest.  I consider drawing up fences, planning shed/greenhouse, consider buying baby chicks with no where to put them, and all the other little gardening things that come to mind this time of year when it's cold and dark. 

I have a new gardening buddy, though she doesn't know it - for Christmas I got a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy.  Gladys is a funny pup, and I am looking forward to training classes this spring/summer, along with teaching her about raspberries, peas, and carrots.  (She already knows about carrot trimmings, and loves them!)

My brother is moving in tomorrow from Minnesota, and so getting fences up next year will be that much easier, provided I have some funds.  This year has been expensive, and we have not saved as much as we hoped to.  Between the puppy and Christmas and everything else, we're pretty tight for the next 4 months - then the tax refund shows up, and that will help.  Also the extra income from rent will help.  We'll tuck it away, pay down the credit card some, and plan. 

I think the back fence is going to run around $1500 if we do it ourselves, double if we hire it out.   The gate section of fence will be a few hundred on it's own, and the long short fence won't be too expensive to raise up.  Fencing in the Mountain Ash tree will be about $200.  Getting the blackberries will run about $20 a plant, unless I get a great deal, and the same goes for red raspberries, though if I can move the rootstock I have already into an easier to harvest location, I'll do that instead.

Two big spruce trees need to come down this year - well, one for sure.  I haven't had that priced yet, but the tree is a good 40 feet tall, and is killing our front yard.

We'll see how it all goes.  For now, I'm going to start designing the back fences - around the tree and the back run - and see what I can come up with that cuts costs but not strength.  I cannot afford to let the two dogs behind us get through the fence, I'm afraid they will try to kill my dogs or hurt the hubby or I.  The chainlink that is currently there won't last another year - the old posts have all rotted, and it's just the pressure at either end holding it up now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A year gone, with more planning in the works!

So, I posted nothing in 2012, because I ended up not having a garden in 2012.  Between being in a car accident in January (I was rear-ended by a city bus) and helping my mother in law through two hip replacements (Yay, Mom!)  I never had a lot of time and/or energy work on my garden.  I did get a few things accomplished though.

This year's raspberry harvest was amazing, triple last year's at least.  Maybe it was the weather, the lack of extreme heat, the moose pruning early (baby moose took the top most shoots off in the spring, so the plants bushed out a lot more, but stayed about 4 feet tall)  I put three quarts of golden raspberries and about 1/2 a quart of red raspberries away in the freezer this year, with many more going overripe before I could pick them - Cody was quite content to slurp them up as soon as they were tossed in his direction, and is adorable when he tries so hard to catch them in mid-air - not my Sheltie's most honed skill. 

This year we went to Homer for a three day weekend, and stayed in a lovely B&B.  I spent an hour in a great little greenhouse, and went home with 1/2 a dozen primroses for my flower bed - we'll see if they come back next year.  With luck I'll have great patches of them in no time, even though the flower bed got overrun with weeds this year - my back just couldn't handle the weeding!

I've been spending more of this fall on my sewing machine than on the yard and garden, and hopefully next year won't suffer too badly for it, although it looks like I'm starting over on project: Reclaim my Yard from Weeds.  Ah well, such is the life of an Urban Farmer. 

Next year's plans - New back fence, Blackberries to go with the Raspberries, trimming back roses, and taking down a couple of big trees.  Future dreams - shed and greenhouse, preferably one building with a small chicken coop attached.  Municipal law says I can have up to 200 square feet without a permit, so I'm thinking an 8x10 shed, an 8x10 greenhouse, and a 3x3 coop with attached yard, maybe even putting the coop in one corner of the greenhouse to keep it warmer.  Hmmm.  Time to get sketching!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Last of the Year - Time to Plan Next Year!

So, it's the end of October, the snow isn't quite here yet - but it will be soon.  The only outdoor chore left is cleaning out the planter boxes (the goose and the hanging baskets) and puting them up for next year.  That means finding a place to plant the goose's columbine, so it comes up next year.  Very exciting. :)

The rest of this fall has been plotting sewing projects, getting geared up for the Christmas season, and prepping for next spring.  The planning season starts now, making lists of supplies needed for next year and when to order them - seeds to be started inside have to be obtained near March in Alaska, and most of the suppliers don't start selling them locally until the end of April.  So this year I'll be ordering online, which means figuring things out soon so that I can budget.

The raspberries are trellised temporarily, but not well - just enough to get through the winter.  Next spring I plan on building them better supports, or weaving the canes into fencing to keep them upright.  Two green fence posts, 18" of green fencing between, leave the spaces between the first and second rows.  It will take a good number of fence posts to spread a relatively small area, but I think it will support them sufficiently as the canes grow high - they should grow up to 8 feet, I hope to keep them trimmed to five or six so that I can keep the berries coming. 

The blueberries didn't find time to really ripen this year - too cold for the last month of the summer.  Though if I'd waited until now they would have been good, as I found a few berries I missed that were tasty and sweet, plump and deep purple.

Next year I also must repair the trellis for the peas - the moose pushed in the netting on the back corner of our garden to eat the leftover pods this year - no seed peas for us.  :(

Monday, October 3, 2011

Change in the Weather

So, the temperature fell, and so did the rain this weekend.  No mowing happened, not much time in the garden either.  Hoping for one more good weekend - maybe a couple of evenings? - to get the rest of the gardening and outside preparations done for this year. 

I need to get out there and do the prep work.  Also, I've decided to try to pot a few of my herbs, and bring them inside for winter - need to clear the plant shelf for them, and see if it works out.  I used to do it when I was a kid in Minnesota, but I need to do it soon or the shock will kill them.  Maybe tonight after class.  Or maybe I'll leave class a little early.  We'll see. 

I also need to get around to moving the compost heap.  I want to shift it all the way into the corner, and fix up the front part of the garden. 

So much to do!

Friday, September 30, 2011

End of the Year - so much to do!

So, it's that time of year.  Most of the garden has been harvested, though there are still a few things out.  The broccoli I didn't plant has produced a head about the size of a baseball.  The brussel sprouts almost looked like they were going to do something - maybe I didn't thin them enough to really do it, though.  Next year I'm going to start them way earlier in the window - maybe in April - to give them a fighting chance. 

The herbs are still waiting for me to pull them in bunches - I've been a bit busy having started classes again.  Working full time, taking two classes, and trying to work in the garden/yard work is tough, but I'm managing.

The fall chore list:

1.  The final mowing of the yard - need the clippings to insulate the vegetable garden.
2.  Clean out the beds of dead or dying plants - pull the old, make room for the new
3.  Trellis the Raspberries - they're going to need it.
4.  Bunch of new bulbs to plant - both front and back yards
5.  Use grass clippings to cover the strawberries too, trim back the old dead stuff, weed their bed - take leather gloves, something with spines grew in there and hubby never took care of it.
6.  Clean up the dog run
7.  Plant the last of the things that aren't in the ground yet - a little bishops weed for the front garden.
8.  Stir the compost heap, and add more of the powered bacteria stuff to it
9.  Put all the plastic pots and garden art up in the utility shed
10. Put up the hoses and tools (hoses go in the utility shed, tools go to thier respective homes
11. Clean and put up the mower, put note on it to sharpen blade next year
12. Empty and put up hanging baskets and goose planter

I think that covers this year's list - strange, I thought there was more to it. 

13.  Clean up leaves off of driveway, add to compost pile

Anything else?


I think that's it.  Oh, wait -

14.  Find new home for the pond liner, plan out pond this winter - start watching craigslist for pump supplies

Okay, now that's gotta be -

15.  Trim back roses

16.  Add ash to roses / blueberries / currants

Okay, now I think that's it.  At least, that's what I've got for now.  I'm sure I'll get outside and think of fifteen more things. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back from Vacation

So, after three days of no attention, the garden is doing what gardens do when you aren't looking - it's overgrowing!

Unfortunately slugs got to the fourth baby zucchini (I've only had one make it to harvestable size) and so it fell off the vine.  I've got three more babies working though, and we'll see how they do.

Something attempted to pull a parsnip through the fence, but failed.  So I have an 8" parsnip on my counter, that probably will be simply steamed and buttered tonight. 

Of course there are tons more peas to collect (I bought in about a cup last night) and the lettuce is going great guns.  Soon I have to go and collect herb bunches to dry, and I need to clean the deck a bit before that - this year I think I'm going to do more of the drying on the deck instead of in the basement, unless I can come up with a reliable way to do it in the microwave.

I'm also going to have to dig potatoes soon - the main plants are turning yellow, and the slugs have started in.  The yard needs mowing if the rain quits a bit more tonight, and the grass clippings will be handy for mulching around the berry bushes and paths.

The blueberries still aren't ripe!  Just a little tinge of purple along the edges.  Hoping they finish up in the next two weeks. If they don't, it's going to snow before I get to pick!

Looking into chickens again.  I have the whole fall and winter to come up with a design that will work.  Hoping to have four Orpingtons next year.  (I really want lavender ones, but we'll see what I can find!)

Stuff left to do this fall?  Let's see, there's trellising the raspberries, cleaning up the compost pile and moving it, clearing out the garden when it's done, weeding and mulching the perennial bed, a pile of gladiolus bulbs to plant, and planning to do for the other garden beds I want to put in.  I need to mulch the strawberries like crazy.  I also need to plan on where I'm going to get the money for the new fence around the mountain ash, and plan on doing that next spring if I run out of funds this fall. 

Then I need to make the list for next year, draw out where the plants currently are that should come back, and plan on what I'm searching for as fill-ins.  Primroses are on the list - there are some awesome varieties, and a great greenhouse in Homer that's supposed to carry one of the largest selections of them, if I can get there next spring. 

It's a great day to be in the garden!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Someday, pictures will be forth coming. I actually took them...I swear.

So, it's been a month (about) and the garden has gone great guns!  Lettuce that is almost as tall as me (it will grow on stalks if you keep stealing leaves), peas that have crested the 9' mark by enough that I think we're safe calling some of those vines 10', and my first zucchini!  The eight-ball zucchini have really struggled on fruiting - the plants are great, but every time I got out to check them, another small fruit has rotted off the vine!  I managed to save one to be proper size, and it's in the vegetable drawer in the house.  One more and I'll make some bread!

The carrots will probably be ready soon, but I'm going to try to be patient and wait for the frost.  The blueberries are going to be huge, and we're still waiting for them to ripen - right now the little green orbs are the size of the first joint of my first finger, and still growing!  The currants were huge too, the size of marbles! 

I scavenged about 40 golden raspberry canes from a friend's patch, and they are all doing very well.  Hopefully I'll get them some trellis' built by next year - they'll do much better on production if I trellis them up and prune them proper.  I've been looking up instructions on the proper care of brambles, and think I've got a good idea on how to care for them properly. 

This month has been so wet (rain every other day for most of the month) that the yard isn't mowed, the perrenial garden is overgrown with weeds, and the garden paths are gone (thick with weeds as well).  I started cleaning up the edges with my new weed trimmer yesterday - it's the best one by far that I've ever owned.  This time I opted for a light model, electric, and the Stihl FSE60 has not disappointed.  It made quick work of the small canes from the weird purple flowers that remind me of my mother's hostas out back, and it trims up rock and fence lines easily.  The vegetable garden paths were half cleared when I decided to take a break, and tonight I'll finish them, and start working on the grass.  The lawnmower is gassed and ready, and we've had two days of sun in a row - one more and tonight it should be ready enough. 

No chickens yet - I've had bear scat in the yard three times this month, so we're going to not do that this year.  Chickens are great bear-attractors, and apparently my backyard is already interesting enough without adding that temptation.  I do have plans for the coop drawn up though, and I've been chatting with the feed store about a solar powered electric fence.  I'm considering connecting the coop and fencing to the vegetable garden fence, so that it's easy to let the chickens clean up the garden at the end of the year. 

My compost heap is shrinking, almost too fast for me to keep up!  I need to go stir it some more, though - I've got more curly dock growing out of the top of it, so the center isn't warm enough to kill it any more. 

So far this year Dave's strawberries have been mostly safe, but he hasn't weeded them much and they are getting hard to find among some of the thicker weeds.  Which means it's also harder for the pests to find them, but still. 

My fern that I moved in from the woods has not been doing well, but as it is still alive I think next year it will do fine.  My wild geranium appears to have made a good start, and the new peony isn't dead, so I think it will come back.  I've got a Rugusta Rose to find a home for - it's still in a large pot, but it's still alive!  I think it's going to share a space under the Mountain Ash.  We'll see.

I guess that's it for now.  Without pictures, you can't really see any of my progress, and I left the pictures on the camera yesterday!  Ah well.  Later tonight, perhaps.