Alaska Gardeing 102

We are past the June 1 okay-to-plant date, but it continues to be chilly and often windy. At 8 a.m. this morning, the temp on the deck still hadn’t reached 50-degrees F. As a result, I’m still lugging the tomatoes and herbs into the house at night.

To help with the wind/temp issue, Mike cobbled together a sort of cold frame/wind block for the deck. Last fall, I couldn’t resist salvaging some old windows from a work site, and sure enough, they have now come in handy.


This was a spur-of-the-moment temporary solution to a problem which has led to an idea for a nifty permanent solution. We want to turn the whole west edge of the deck into a permanent mini-greenhouse (cold frame is more accurate, I’m sure). The railing has been up for almost a whole month, and now we’ve decided to take out all the balusters and replace them with some sort of solid window.

The current temporary cold frame gets sun only in the morning and afternoon. If we move it to the west end of the deck, it will get sun from morning to night–10 p.m. or so, I guess. Whatever time the sun moves behind the northwest hill. I don’t know if we’ll fix up and use these salvaged windows, or if we’ll use some composite. I’d kind of like to use the windows, but Mike likes them less than I do.

Still using 5-gallon buckets, ice cream tubs, and milk jugs as pots. I don’t want to buy new pots; I want to salvage or make better ones. I’m temped to tile these plastic buckets, or even just paint them.

Two of the four tomato plants are doing well. The other two have cupped leaves and scale-y stems. From what I’ve read, those could be symptoms of both over- and under-watering or possibly a plant disease, the name of which I’ve forgotten. The only way to determine if it’s the disease is to cut the stem and have a look inside, so for now, I’m adjusting my watering and feeding Miracle-Gro. Tomatoes are tough to grow in AK; I know that, but I’m determined to try.

The herbs are growing slowly. I’m already using fresh thyme, but that’s because I bought a start when seeds weren’t available. The start is growing nicely. Of the seed-started herbs, the parsley is bravely leading the way (the container-parsley, that is, the garden parsley is hanging on but not growing), the basil is following somewhat reluctantly, and the lazy oregano seems to be waiting to see what happens to the others before making much effort. My first attempt at chives, which are supposed to be a snap to grow, even outside here, resulted in absolutely nothing. I planted a second round of seeds in the garden and have some started in containers now, too. Maybe my first attempt was too early.

Categories: Alaska

2 replies »

  1. We had snow here today- well not in town, we’re in a valley, but in the higher elevations. So much for our safe to plant date. Mind you, we’ve had some 90+ days already- it is just bizzare. My thyme, parsley and sage wintered over well, but my rosemary doesn’t seem to like where I’ve been planting it. I’m going to try a different location, but I’m cheating- I’m going for a plant, not seeds. Your cold frame is ingenious.

  2. Rosemary…that’s one I need.

    Snow in NM in June. Hmmm. Someone else I know is melting in extreme heat in upstate NY.