Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures

Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures - learning about gardening up north.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring time in Wasilla...

I will be picking fresh lettuce again soon and ruby Swiss chard too.  I started some new plants about a moth ago and I should be ready to pick some in a week or two. The long days sure are nice again. We are back above 12 hours of sun and temps in the 40's by afternoon. 

There is just way too much snow left to melt. I had to climb up and shovel off part of my garage roof yesterday as some of the melt water was backing up into my bathroom vent and leaking into the house. Wouldn't you know - my extension ladder, that I left leaning up against the back of my house, was completely frozen to the ground under several inches of ice and it took me nearly an hour to get it loose. I am afraid we are in for a very soggy break-up season this spring. I better get my hip waders out soon. We always have lots of standing water when the snow melts and before the ground thaws out - but with our record snow amount this winter there will be a lot more melt water than we usually have to deal with. Welcome to springtime in Alaska...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Greenhouse Design for Alaska

I would like to extend our growing season as much as possible without adding a huge cost in supplemental heat. I envision a 3 stage gardening process for homestead and hobby gardeners in south central Alaska. Starting seeds indoors under grow lights in late January to early February then moving the seedlings to a small heated greenhouse in late March to April and that means having a super insulated greenhouse with twin wall or triple wall polycarbonate windows and an insulated foundation with a radiant floor heating system if possible. Then moving plants out to an uninsulated hoop tunnel or polycarbonate covered greenhouse for final growing in late May. I think my Alaska Grow Bucket system would adapt to this process very well. 

I think the most efficient design for our cold climate is a South facing shed roof lean-to style with an R-40 or higher insulated North wall. There is no advantage to having windows on the North side and the heat loss is just too great. Twin wall polycarbonate panels would probably work with the additional layer of  corrugated polycarbonate over the roof for added snow load strength. Ventilation is also very important and I would recommend solar window openers and would have several windows on the low side and several on the insulated wall near the peak for convection flow - along with a thermostat controlled vent fan in one end wall.

The greenhouse that I built only has R-12 insulated 2x4 walls and is only covered with a single layer of plastic film. It loses too much heat at night even with a propane wall heater to be effective in March and April - but the heat gain during daylight is more then adequate.

I found another design on the web and I really like the idea of an attached storage shed on the North side.