Garden

Garden yields good crop of surprises

My, but I have been having fun this week. I needed to contact Janice Chumley, the integrated pest management technician at the Cooperative Extension Service office in Soldotna, not once but twice. 

And here’s why: I noticed a very white woolly substance on a branch of one of the tatarian honeysuckles. I took a picture and sent it to Janice who quickly responded with questions. So I slipped a Ziplok bag over it, cut it off and mailed it to her. 

Gardening: Peaceful, never dull

Jade the Dog hunts red-backed voles in the perennial beds. Mayhem. Destruction. Fewer red-backed voles. 

    What a trade-off. 

The vegetable garden is interesting this season. I thought this wonderful weather would be the answer to my ambitions. But “things” are strange. The Romanesque cauliflower did not make a head, just a huge central stalk. I finally accepted the inevitable and composted the whole lot. What a disappointment. 

Let these gardening rules guide you: Keep it small, keep it simple, enjoy it

I met a soon-to-be retired couple this afternoon. They are moving to Homer from Anchorage and building a new house. And one of the big questions is “how much garden?” She has a practical nature and recognizes that regenerating the disturbed soil will be a challenge. The consideration of strewing lupine seed is an option as is doing nothing. 

Gardening should be enjoyed; pick your battles

Busy. This is the point in the gardening season that so much happens at once. We have had a long spring, very unusual, and the extra days have been a boon to say the least. Nevertheless, there is much to be done. For those of you with a career and/or families now is the time to pick your battles. Prioritize. Make a list. Do whatever it takes to make your gardening experience a positive one.

Homer experiences rare, real spring

O, the wonder of bulbs. Over the years I have been reluctant to invest in them. There are too many variables that can lead to failure. Voles eating them and rain rotting them are a couple that pop into mind. 

Thus, I have avoided them, until recently. Over the past few years I have been inclined to stick a few of this and that here and there. Once again, my lack of interest in garden design manifests itself. But what can go wrong? Nothing.

Gardening all about enjoying it

It WILL snow. Do not fear it. Our environment needs water and snow is one way to get it. However much we get won’t last long. Think of it as adding nitrogen to the soil. Think of it as a plus. Or don’t think about it at all. 

The greenhouse is providing sufficient shelter for the tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and green beans that will live in there all season. The other crops are all seeded and planning on spending the next six weeks or so nicely tucked in.  They will be coddled until they meet the truth of a Far North summer. 

Plenty of ways to make the most of March

I

 have given March the lions share of my thinking this winter. March does not agree with me. Not ever. But I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could make it work in my favor.  I could find a way to burn through it. So I looked up from the end of my nose to see what I could see and lo, there is much to be made of this month-that-makes-winter-seem-like-it-lasts-forever.

Weather calls for wait-and-see attitude

“... and o, the winds do blow. ...”

Cold winds. Single digits for the next five days or so. Who knows? 

I have been coaching my plants: “Don’t listen to the varied thrush. They’re early. Don’t you follow suit. Hang on. Wait. Patience. Survive. Pleasepleaseplease ...” 

I’m grateful for the spruce boughs that have been covering the perennial beds throughout this very mild winter. I often thought that they were out there for naught. No. They are right where they should be — protecting perennials from the vagaries of March and April.

Be ready for ‘what ifs,’ but start gardening

The very best aspect of procreation are the ensuing grandchildren. Cecilia, our 9-year-old granddaughter, has recently moved from Hidden Hills to part way up East Hill. She has been studying the lay of the land at their new house. Plotting a vegetable garden. Thinking about hanging baskets and containers on the deck. Scrutinizing the existing perennials. Asking questions. Ah yes, the questions. I could listen to them all day. 

Aquaponics: A blast of green in midwinter

Update: This article has been updated with a note at the end of the article noting that tilapia fish are illegal to grow in Alaska.


In midwinter when Homer seems gray and gloomy, the prospect of fresh vegetables at the Homer Farmers Market can’t come soon enough. Two growers experimenting with aquaponics, the merger of aquaculture with hydroponic gardening, have introduced into local markets something that might seem unimaginable in January: fresh, vibrant green veggies.

Hummingbird, rabbit, snail found in garden — oh my!

So there I am, fussing around in the west garden and I get buzzed by a hummingbird. This is October. Granted, we had a family of four in residence all summer. I think there may be a nest to be seen when the leaves are gone. 

Little is known about the migratory habits of hummingbirds, but Alaska hummers are usually gone by the end of August. It appears to be an immature rufous but don’t place any bets on that. Try as I might, my identification skills are lacking. 

Not too early to ponder next year’s garden

I just finished a charming book: “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life” by Marta McDowell. The second half gave me food for thought. It went into detail about her garden, the quintessential cottage garden that England is known for and many of us strive to achieve.
With the moon near full, I found myself sleepless at 3 a.m. and took to my gardening book shelf. You would think that as our growing season winds down, this would not be the time to plan for next season. Au contraire.

Summer produces veritable berry heaven

The strawberries are setting fruit — again. I really am impressed by the quantity of berries that John harvested from our two beds. We haven’t had strawberries the likes of this in many years. So I had to ask him the obvious: “Are you man enough to keep picking berries?” 

Not only was his answer affirmative but we got in the boat and headed across the bay to blueberry heaven. Three trips and who knows if we have enough to see us through the winter. We are delighted. The grands are delighted. Win/win. 

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