Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Our Alaskan Garden (part 1 = May 2016)

When we bought our house in May of 2015, we knew that it came with a high tunnel, but that our time in "the States" meant we wouldn't be using it that first summer.  This year was our first foray into Alaskan gardening.  I've never gardened ever, and considering the high tunnel is 30' x 70', we invited a couple of people to garden with us.

Oh, here's what a high tunnel is, per  High tunnels, or hoophouses, are unheated greenhouses that can help commercial farmers extend their growing season so that they can improve the profitability and productivity of their farms.

Ours is a metal frame that we have to put the visqueen on the top and roll the sides down each year to create the greenhouse.  Visqueen is:  a durable polyethylene sheeting, used in various building applications and in the manufacture of waterproof household articles.

Jeff got a new toy!
The high tunnel has 4 beds, not necessarily "raised", but enclosed, with soil that obviously had been brought in at some point.  The soil up here is NOTHING like the soil in Illinois - our backyard is basically rock and silt.

but the soil in the beds looks pretty good!

Since the high tunnel is so huge, we aren't using anywhere near all the available space.  But it does have the 4 large beds, a few pots, some potato plants in tires (far left, below), and a couple of small beds behind the point of the view in this picture:
5-25-2016panoramic shot of the end of the greenhouse that we've planted in.
Yep, I use "high tunnel", "greenhouse", and "garden" interchangeably.
lettuce and celery plants were bought from the TrueValue store here in town.
She had bought the plants from a greenhouse over in Palmer, I think.

May 25 - the (large) tomato plants that we planted have flowers! 
I then get a little obsessed with these tomato plants.

Radishes:  May 25 & May 30

I've seen it get as hot at 110 in there...
When it's breezy (sometimes windy) outside, it's not too bad in the high tunnel.  Sure, it gets warm, but the wind was keeping the humidity out.  With all the rain we've been getting in July though, it's another story.

chives came back from previous years.

other radishes - these ones did way better

cucumber plant

5-28-16:  peas were planted from seed - you can see here they had just broken through.

5-30-16:  squash plant

5-30-16:  Lettuce popped through about 5 or 6 days after seeds were sown

beans were also planted from seed.


  1. Wow, it looks great! I'm also from Illinois originally and I've noticed a big difference in AK vs IL soils too. What have some of your biggest/most unique challenges been?

    1. Right now the biggest problem is blossom end rot on our zucchini plants. There are a few causes of blossom end rot, and I think ours is a multi-pronged problem. 1.) Too many plants in the space, which probably caused 2.) a calcium deficiency, and possibly 3.) watering issues.
      The beginning of the season there was no problem with the zucchini. Now even the small ones are rotting, so today I harvested 5 small zucchinis, ranging from 4-6 inches long.