Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures

Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures - learning about gardening up north.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April Gardening in Wasilla

The calendar may say April, but I still have at least a foot of snow covering my garden and our big Spring thaw is taking longer than usual this year. It is still too early to move any plants out to my greenhouse. The nights are still too cold with lows in the single digits when it is clear. The cost for propane to run my greenhouse heater is not economical until it warms up in May and the nights are much shorter. My greenhouse is plenty warm as long as the sun is shining, but cools off very quickly as soon as it gets dark. I am still keeping busy starting seeds and transplanting seedlings. My growing rack is about full and I will be moving some flats around to make room for more germination trays.


Starting seeds indoors is required to get a jump on our short season. I have been using the Parks Bio Dome germination trays for several years now and they seem to work very well for me with nearly 100% germination and no damping off problems.
http://parkseed.com/parks-original-60-cell-bio-dome-seed-starter/p/06529/
I have been transplanting my seedlings when they have true leaves into small pots filled with a soil-less potting mix. And I continue to use bottom watering by filling the flats instead of watering from above. I believe this also helps prevent problems as the foliage stays dry. 

I have been trying a new easy to hang lighting fixture this year that I found at my local Wasilla Home Depot. The Lithonia Lighting 4 Light Heavy Duty Shoplight with 4 Phillips 32 watt T8 6500 degree daylight florescent bulbs at 2750 Lumens each for a total output of 11,000 Lumens.

This seems to be working well for starting seedlings that will be moved to my greenhouse or outdoors. I recommend the more powerful T5 High Output fixtures if you want to grow tomatoes or peppers and similar vegetables indoors under lights during our long Alaska winters.


The clear sunny days are nice and it is only a matter of time before we can get out and start playing in the dirt again. There is only a short window of time we can get our gardens in, so you can't put it off, or it will be too late for this year. Adding new beds, or building garden structures is usually a 2 year project as the time it takes to get the work done usually means you won't be planting that area until next summer. It takes more planning ahead to garden in Alaska and you are restricted by the short season, but it can be successful if you  look at the larger picture of what you are trying to accomplish.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tomato Seedlings Update

I transferred most of my new tomato seedlings from my Parks Bio Dome germination trays into pots today and they are all doing as good as I could hope.


I have about 35 tomato seedling potted so far and I still have a few left. I am always looking for cold climate varieties and many come from Russia and Northern Europe. I am also trying many dwarf or bush varieties. I am hoping they will do better in my low hoop tunnels and inside of my greenhouse. Many tomatoes I have grown in the past would reach the roof inside my greenhouse and needed to be pruned back frequently. I read some good reviews of one variety called Extreme Bush from Victory Seed company. Two of my new varieties called Alpatieva 905A and Yaponskiy Kerlik along with Siberian come from Russia. I am also trying several interesting new varieties that are named after Alaska landmarks including Sleeping Lady, Yukon Quest, Sand Point, and Iditarod Red. Most of these come from Titiana's TOMATObase web site that I am trying for the first time this year. Follow along throughout the season to see how these tomato varieties do in my garden here in Wasilla and let me know what tomato varieties work for you.