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Caring for our small water garden

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Never before have I been responsible for caring for a outdoor water garden.  I mean, really, in Military housing, such a thing would be considered to be an extreme luxury so when we moved into our new home and I found myself the owner of a lovely, 1500 gallon pond, complete with a water fall, I found myself a little overwhelmed.  What do I do with such a thing?
At one point we thought about raising trout in the pond, but we felt already so overwhelmed by the garden and the amount of work we now had that we threw our hands up and said "get to it later".
Turns out immediately after break up, we discovered we had some work that was very much required.  We knew from the years we have been keeping indoor fish that agitating the water is always good.  It's always good to ensure your water isn't stagnate, so we plugged in our lovely waterfall and found our pond stunk.  Badly stunk.  It stunk enough that we all even hesitated to walk near it.
So one weekend, mid May, when …

Snow, snow, go away

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T-minus 19 days till April 15th.  19 days till our honeybees arrive.  22 days till April 18th, the day we get about 20 to 25 trees removed from the front of our property by BlackHawk Works, a local company that has expertise in taking down trees in tricky locations.  The tree removal will help us with our future potential project; solar panels which will allow our house to be a bit more self sufficient as well as get rid of the moss on our roof and reduce the fire danger.

Whenever, the daytime temperatures start staying above 50 the birch sap will be flowing and we will then be collecting the sap to be boiled down into syrup.  See this article about that.

Meanwhile, at just about the same time we will be hiving our brand new Italian honeybees, direct from California.  As long as our daytime temperatures stay above 50.  If you're curious about our new beekeeping undertaking, see this article. 

Within the next weekend or two we also have a large, brand new rabbit hutch to build whic…

Using up the leftover fruit; more Alaska edibles

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Between the rose hips we have in our freezer from a year past, the wild blueberries that were just gifted to us from a wonderful friend, and a bag of rhubarb that was gifted to us from yet another wonderful friend, we have a lot of fruit and vegetables to use up, especially before that birch sap goes into the freezer next month!

For more on that click on my blog Foraging from Nature; Birch Syrup
So this weekend we intend on turning all these bags into the following: Rhubarb Ginger Jam and Blueberry Lime Jam.

Please keep in mind, these are all recipes I get from online, they are not mine.  I have posted a link to the original website with each recipe. Also a side note, I didn't get to the rose hip jam even though I have a picture of it in the bag.  Obviously that will be a task for another weekend!

Rhubarb Ginger Jam
It will make about 3 lbs

INGREDIENTS
2lbs trimmed rhubarb, chopped
2lbs sugar
Juice of 2 small lemons
1.75 tbsp fresh ginger
3.5 oz crystallized ginger, chopped

Preparation tim…

Foraging from nature; Bunchberries

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Cornus canadensis.
Cornus canadensis is a slow-growing herbaceous subshrub growing 10–20 cm tall, generally forming a carpet-like mat. The above-ground shoots rise from slender creeping rhizomes that are placed 2.5–7.5 cm deep in the soil, and form clonal colonies under trees. The vertically produced above-ground stems are slender and unbranched. The leaves are oppositely arranged on the stem, but are clustered with six leaves that often seem to be in a whorl because the internodes are compressed. The leafy green leaves are produced near the terminal node and consist of two types: 2 larger and 4 smaller leaves. The smaller leaves develop from the axillary buds of the larger leaves. The shiny dark green leaves have 2 to 3 mm long petioles and leaf blades that are obovate. The blades have entire margins and are 3.5 to 4.8 cm long and 1.5 to 2.5 cm wide, with 2 or 3 veins and cuneate shaped bases and abruptly acuminate apexes. In the fall, the leaves have red tinted veins and turn complet…

Foraging from nature; Birch Syrup

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We have been blessed on our property with a large amount of silver birch trees so this Spring time we intend to use some of them.
Some will be used in making birch beer for my husband, which I'll write about later, and some will go into making birch syrup.  In the coming years I might make birch wine as well for use in cooking but for now I've got more than enough other projects to work on and I really do not want to bite off more than I can chew.
We've actually had birch syrup before but it is most definitely an acquired taste.  It is not quite as sweet, and it is much darker than maple syrup is.
Making birch syrup is much more labor intensive then maple syrup is.  Maple syrup typically takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.  Birch on the other hand takes 100 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of birch syrup.
This means we will be cooking down our sap for quite a while.

Our first step, will be within the next month, to walk our property to assess which birch t…

Planning out our 2017 Alaskan garden

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I've often told newer gardeners that the best thing to do is watch your yard, really watch it for a full season to get a good idea of where the sun is at any given time of the day, where the water collects and lays stagnant most often, which areas are drier, and so on.   So, following my own advice, last year that is precisely what I did.  Now I found recently that when presented with a large amount of area to deal with you need to break it into manageable pieces, quadrants or areas.  So I've broken this down to the garden area, the side area, our pond area, our rabbit area and our bee area.  Our morning sun comes over our house and hits the lilac tree, the raspberries and the raised beds on the left so this year I'll be putting more of the plants that don't do as well with afternoon sun over on the left.  Meanwhile, the plants that love the heat (summer squash, tomatoes, hot peppers) will all be pushed over to the right side where the sun shines from 3p to 6pm.

If yo…

Somethings a'buzz in our backyard Honeybees in Alaska

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A long time ago, when we lived in Maryland actually, in military housing, I badly wanted honeybees. I felt like it would be the perfect addition to my backyard garden.  And of course, that was a no go since military housing said "No you may not have domesticated honey bees in your backyard".  So I shelved that idea until we had a house with some land.  Land that we could spread out on some, do what we want with and so on.
Well now we do have land.  1.7 acres of it.  We have a garden that is bigger than any I've ever had the pleasure to work in, we raise meat rabbits and now, it looks like we might be finally getting the honeybees I longed for so long ago.
You know that saying "be careful what you wish for because you might just get it?" Well that applies here.
Out of all my experiences with gardening and with rabbits, never once did I feel truly overwhelmed by my own lack of knowledge.  Not until now.
Since Christmas morning when I opened up my first ever b…