From The Anchorage Daily News:
As the New Year approaches, many will be making resolutions. What of the gardeners?
My wish is that each and every one of us will resolve to turn our backs on the use of chemicals.
It isn’t very hard to build a case that no gardener should use chemical fertilizers, insecticides and the like. In fact, it isn’t very hard to build the case that no gardener should be ALLOWED to use them. Gardening, after all, is just a hobby.
It is undeniable, for example, that nitrates and phosphates from modern agriculture — and, yes, horticulture — have leached into the aquifers, streams, rivers and waterways of our land in excessive amounts with incredibly deleterious impacts to the health of humans as well as Nature (as if the two can be separated). Chemicals with unpronounceable names, bearing labels carrying dire health warnings, have become such a mainstay of our hobby that some of us deem their use one of our “rights as Americans.”
No matter that the poison you spray on your lawn drifts up to 75 miles when there is even just the slightest breeze, impacting the innocent child playing in the yard in the next town or the moose in the forests you may hunt and consume as much as it impacts the dandelion which is its target.
Continue reading: Gardeners: Go chemical-free in 2011
From The Anchorage Daily News, Tuesday, January 4, 2011:
In Alaska, giant cabbages and other huge plants generally rule the garden.
But a couple of local growers are going the opposite direction — they’re cultivating micro produce. Sioux-z Humphrey Marshall and Rusty Foreaker have teamed up to create Northern Latitude Controlled Environment Agriculture.
In a 1,300-square-foot warehouse on Arctic Boulevard, they are growing “micro greens” indoors in a custom-designed hydroponic system. Among the greens they produce are broccoli, pac choi, arugula, beets, cress, endive, basil, cilantro, radish, pea shoots and corn shoots.
“People are familiar with sprouts,” Marshall says. “If you wait a little longer, you have micro greens. You harvest them when they are between five and 20 days old.
Continue reading: Indoor winter ‘farm’ is producing micro vegetables
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Monday, December 13, 2010:
The state is preparing to caution gardeners using well water contaminated with sulfolane.
Department of Environmental Conservation project manager Ann Farris said a study last summer shows the chemical contaminates garden plants.
“The bottom line is that sulfolane was in the plants,” Farris sad. “We have already asked Flint Hills (Resources) to be prepared to provide people with water for their gardening until we can get more information on the toxicity or on the uptake of sulfolane in these plants.”
About 200 wells in North Pole and outside the city have water contaminated with sulfolane, an industrial solvent used to refine oil.
A fact sheet detailing the garden study and making recommendations is due in the coming weeks, Farris said.
Flint Hills discovered the groundwater contamination last year. It stretches from the refinery to about three miles northwest of the refinery.
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Tuesday, November 23, 2010:
Are you missing the green of your garden? Grow a garden year-round with a bottle garden.
A bottle garden, also known as a terrarium, is a self-contained, closed system that sustains itself much like Earth’s atmosphere. Photosynthesis and decomposition occur in a balanced state, creating an environment that requires minimal care.
Bottle gardens enable you to grow plants that require high levels of humidity, which can be difficult during the dry winter months in your house. It is an excellent option for the Fairbanks gardener.
You will need a glass container, small rocks, activated charcoal (available in the aquarium section at the store), sphagnum moss, potting soil, a few complementary plants that have similar growing requirements, and a spoon or tool that can reach into the jar.
From The Tundra Drums, Wednesday, October 27, 2010:
Students recently built a greenhouse in Quinhagak, thanks to a $10,000 grant from former celebrity talk show host Jenny Jones. There are still some final touches to be done on the inside such as lighting, heat, shelving. Those jobs won’t be done until next February when the class is ready to start planting.
Teacher Sherry Pederson applied for the grant from Jenny’s Heroes. Learn more at www.jennysheroes.com [http://jennysheroes.com].
Pederson wanted to improve nutrition in the Western Alaska village by providing fresh, cheap veggies.
People in rural Alaska often buy their vegetables in cans because fresh ones in remote village stores are often wilted and costly, if they’re available at all.
From Alaska Dispatch, Friday, September 24, 2010:
Jenny Vanderweele’s house looks out over Vanderweele Farm fields, so she has a front row seat to the bloom-and-bust summer season. As fall approaches, she spends hours in her kitchen putting up fall vegetables for the winter. Though she also pickles and cans produce from the farm, Vanderweele says freezing is a simple and effective way to preserve broccoli and cauliflower. “The longest parts of this process are getting the water to boil and waiting for the stuff to freeze,” she says. Properly prepared, cauliflower and broccoli should keep for up to a year — or even longer if vacuum packed. “Put it in your freezer and you have a beautiful way to open up some summer in the middle of the winter.”
Continue reading: Extend the Alaska summer: How to put up your veggies for winter
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Wednesday, September 8, 2010:
The entrance of the garden at the Tanana Valley fairgrounds smelled like a minty fusion as about a dozen students harvested crops Tuesday afternoon.
“The spearmint needs to be weighed. The kale needs to be weighed,” said Sheryl Meirerotto, who teaches the eighth-grade class from Effie Kokrine that was busy digging, plucking and weighing vegetables.
The class will prepare a portion of the produce for a potlatch dinner during the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in October.
The garden, which has existed for many years and has been managed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks for the last two years, demonstrates how much can be grown in the Interior.
“The purpose of the garden is to represent the crops grown in the Tanana Valley. People don’t know we can grow things like corn,” said Jeff Werner, a UAF researcher and Alaska Future Farmers of America adviser.
From The Daily Green:
Serve potluck dishes made from local foods. Invite a farm family, or arrange a visit to a local farm sometime.
Then, play old-fashioned outdoor games and sing folk songs and modern tunes about gardens and farms and saving the Earth. Play board games like Earthopoly, Wild Seed Game, Harvest Time, Farmopoly and Gardenopoly. Make your own Environmental Jeopardy game, with everyone contributing questions, or download Earth Day Network’s free version. Check out, rent, or buy a DVD appropriate for all ages. Green Planet Films, a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental education through film, is one of the best sources we’ve found.
For themes, search “eco dinners” or “green dinners” on the Internet and then choose a specific topic for links to discussion questions or guides. (Or browse around on The Daily Green!)
Additional sources of nature and environmental DVDs: Bullfrog Films and the Sierra Club.
More from The Daily Green: Host a Farm-to-Table Potluck Dinner
From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 20, 2010:
Amid the heavy equipment and industrial setting of the Golden Heart Utilities wastewater treatment plant, it’s easy to spot the nearby garden filled with squash, tomatoes and corn.
The lush plot runs along one side of the South Fairbanks facility and gives employees an opportunity to collect an armful of fresh produce on their way home. But the garden is more than a food source or a summer pastime — it proves a point about the soil it’s growing in.
The crops are planted in fresh compost, made on site from biosolids collected at the wastewater facility. The big cabbages are growing in 100 percent Golden Heart Utilities compost.
“The only thing mixed in there is sweat,” said Sylvia Brees, an administrative assistant for Utility Services of Alaska and “master weeder” of the garden.
As Brees proved, the compost can be the foundation of an impressive harvest. It’s the first year of planting a full garden, part of an experiment to show exactly what can be done with the abundant compost material.