Challenges and successes in a northern Alaskan garden
Its officially week three into our safe planting time and we’re now harvesting baby kale greens, rapini (or also called Broccoli Rabe which is pronounced raab), some lettuce, arugula, micro greens and oddly enough, mustard greens which were from last year. They obviously reseeded themselves.As of today I harvested our first two radishes, and wow, surprise, no sign of root maggots! Little victories!
Our tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers and watermelon are looking better than they ever did last year which gives me some hope that we’ll actually harvest something more than greens and potatoes this year. As of today we have about five unripe tomatoes on the plants, most of which are all on the tomatoes in our greenhouse. We have harvested our first bell pepper recently which came from one of the few plants we purchased from one of the many greenhouses here.
I purchased two weekends ago two white eggplants which I’m seriously hoping we see something out of. My husband pestered me when I purchased these that they’ll never produce. Here’s to hoping he’s wrong and we end up eating ratatouille and eggplant parmesan come late July.
Our strawberries are growing, albeit slowly, and I anxiously wait for their small red fruits. I know I’ll never get enough for jam or pie but it would be nice if we could get some to snack on. Thanks to a few Facebook friends along with my husband’s job we now have raspberries growing all along the exterior of our fence. Last year we got enough to get a bowl or two filled. I have the oddest feeling that while right now we watch them anxiously and whisper to them “grow grow”, later we’ll be yelling at them to stop growing and to stop sending out runners that start up raspberry bushes in the middle of the yard. Regardless, I’m still looking forward to all you can eat raspberry buffet in my back yard.
This year we veered far away from space hogs and heavy feeders like corn and we’re going more with what we’ve had success with in the past. Last year we had an awesome amount of zucchini squash so once again we’ve planted that along with summer squash. I am really hoping we get even more this year out of those squash plants since I have had my eye on a vegetable spiralizer at Amazon for the past year. Who knew you could make noodles out of vegetables! Here is a list of recipes we used last year when we were swimming in zucchini.
- · Zucchini fettuccine with rosemary butternut creme sauce
- · Easy bacon shrimp zucchini noodle scampi
- · Broccoli rabe pasta with spicy italian sausage zucchini noodles
- · Summer squash pad thai
- · Lemon garlic zucchini noodles with roasted tomatoes
At the time we had to, by hand; sculpt each and every zucchini into a noodle type of shape. Now this year we’ll have this spiralizer that we can use to speed up production when we’re making dinner in the evening!
We’ve moved our snow peas to a part of the fence that won’t cause them to shade all the other plants and we’ve also planted less of them. Snow peas don’t do so well with freezing so if we do not have a surplus of snow peas in the freezer this year I won't have my feelings hurt.
We have also added to the yard this year blueberry bushes which I seriously hope manage to survive the winter. I read after the fact that these variety of blueberries can only survive up to -20 which is no good for us as our winters typically can get down to -40. My husband picked the first blueberry today though and he reported that it was delicious.
|Visitor in our garden. We're trying to make friends with him/her|
We did have a nice surprise recently. Last year we planted a mixture of trees that I purchased from a University of Alaska Fairbanks fundraiser. All of them approximately three weeks later were mowed over by the lawn crew our home owners association hired. The only survivor, it seemed was the small Amur Maple tree which is still extremely small. We now have it protected by a metal pole stuck near it with a small flag to notify anyone who is trying to mow that to please avoid this tree. It's there on purpose. Just this past week we noticed that three of our high bush cranberry bushes are regrowing from the little stubs that were left behind. Amazing, we thought they were done for.
So, with this all said, I have to get back to work. Our peony bloomed and it's now time to go make some peony jelly! I love the color of the finished product from these beautiful peonies!
This is the recipe I like to use for my peony jelly.