Out of Alaska Gardens and Kitchens
This is the linking page to recipes I will add from time to time using the crops we grow in Alaska and the Subsitence Foods we Gather
Scroll to the bottom if you are in a hurry!
Alaskan's are brave gardeners. We have a short season and an undependable climate but we never give up. Moose invariably get part of our crops. Many of us sucessfully raise fruit trees and many strains of berries. Granted we can't grow a large Red Delicious apple or a peach but many grafted trees will eventually produce fruit if the summer climate is right. We can now buy a pear tree but it takes about seventeen years before it produces. I personally don't have enough time left and will probably be in a nursing home before it would make a pear. I have an apple tree (it took almost twenty years to produce) but the fruit is always small and the competiton of birds, squirels and grandchildren leave little for processing. I also have a cherry tree that hopefully will produce fruit in the future. This year service berries were added to my collection of raspberries and strawberries. Raspberries are very dependable if the moose don't eat them to the ground during the late fall and winter. Strawberries are iffy and the better varieties can freeze out. This year a frost got most of my peas and the moose ate the centers out of my brocolli and part of the brussell sprouts before we got a fence up. I checked the broccoli in the morning. I decided to pick it that evening. Sometime during the aftenoon the moose came for a snack. The nature of the moose is to take a snack and then come back that night or the next morning to finsih off the entire garden. You can imagine how quick we put a fence up. I saw her across the street dining on the neighbor's hedge but since I was working in my front yard I didn't think she had been dining in my back yard first. My friend and one of my cousins lost all their peas to the moose. My daughter lost her kholrabi and other greens to a cow moose and her calf but luckily her garden is mostly potatoes and moose don't care for them. My step-sister lost almost her entire garden to the moose although he didn't care for her herbs. The list goes on and on. We suffered an unusual drought this summer and then in August we had a terrific rainstorm which beat our flowers to the ground, a few days of sun and then a bad hailstorm. We never loose hope and each day is a surprise in the garden. After the storms came a barrage of 1/2 to 2 inch slugs. Slugs are relatively new to our area and rapidly becoming a problem we aren't used to dealing with. Until recently root maggots and cutworms were our only problems. With the climatical changes and warming we are seeing many imported species of bugs and other critters (slugs, ugh). With all of our adverse conditions we still manage to raise record breaking giant cabbages, thirty pound turnips and other large species of things. Mostly we grow cold weather crops and this summer with the hot dry days we were fooled. Our spinach, beets and other things went to seed much as they would in the lower forty-eight. Our long daylight causes veggies and plants that are properly nourished and watered to become excessively large. Many of the Alaska flower gardens are exceptional. We, the avid gardeners, tend to bond together sharing plants and tips. We have climatic changes from zone 2 to 4 and try everything. We take cuttings from our sucessful trees and trade with one another. We split out perrenials and share with anyone who asks. Many of us try new annuals some of which cannot make the summer and keep track of what does well. People will say things like last year was a brocolli year and this year is a lettuce year. I know someone who is working her way through Thompson and Morgan seed book and I am really working on Park's Seeds. The local nurseries always welcome our advise on new plants to try. Things and soil vary from yard to yard so what grows in my yard may not grow in the neighbors yard. Exotic trees are a challenge because the moose will strip the branches completely off and gnaw the bark to sawdust. We try everything from hanging Irish Spring bars of soap, sheets of fabric softner and anything else you can think of to discourage them. The Fish and Game officer gave me Roman Candles one year but the flares didn't bother the moose in the least. We try netting and metal cages but often the snow piles high and the moose can climb higher up and ruin the trees. They sometimes eat the new growth on the lilacs (they don't like it's bark) and we get blooms only where the moose couldn't reach. Mountain Ash (which does well here) is one of their favorite meals. I had a choke cherry for three years and though it didn't die it didn't have any limbs or leaves due to the moose munchies. I finally had to take it out of the ground. There are some plants they don't bother such as my purple flowering plum. Still we Alaskan's don't give up. we persevere and experiment until we make something grow. I have an exceptionally large Mock Orange (one nursery used to tell people, "If you want to grow a mock orange go ask Bobbie!"). It likes the moose to prune it. So munching isn't always bad. As the years go by many of us are turning to landscaping and you can see some extremely lovely yards here even though we only have a few months to enjoy them. Greenhouse gardening is and can be expensive but many feel the taste of a fresh cucumber or tomato is worth the effort. I grew several thousand annuals in mine this year. In the spring people's houses are full or seedlings as are greenhouses, cold frames, porches, crawl spaces and basements with grow lights. People bring plants to the almost blooming stage in all sorts of contraptions. If we didn't we probably wouldn't see the blooms. Greenhouse gardening is a challenge and people grow corn, stringbeans, squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, artichokes or anything else they have a penchant for in them. Green Peppers, Jalapenos, cucumbers, zuchinni and tomatoes are the most common crops. Our outdoor crops are normally things like lettuce, cabbage, carrots, parsley, beets, spinach, broccoli, chineese greens, radishes, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, rhubarb and potatoes. I sucessfully grew extremeely large celery this year. I am hoping for a late fall as I have parsnips and leeks which need a while longer to mature. Normally our season is too short for slow developing cold crops but we had an early spring. We also do container growing as the soil is warmer. I have a friend who grows all her veggies in cut barrels. Large Dahlias and begonias are almost always kept in pots or boxes. In order to grow a gladiola we must first start it indoors and then plant it outside in the early summer. We are very successful with growing hanging baskets. I have seen larger fuscias and petunias in Alaskan greenhouses than I ever have in the lower 48. The new wave and avalanche petunias are becoming very popular and bloom profusely all summer if we start them early indoors. Alaskans will pay large amounts of money for things that only bloom one season. Many of us grow exotic bulbs in the greenhouse just to say we did it. Perrenials such as delphiniums grow extremely large here. We depend on columbine, trolius, forget-me-nots and other perrenials to fill our gardens especially if we are not avid gardeners. Commercial Greenhouses do a bristling business with those who do not grow their own annuals and perennials much as they do anywhere else.