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Gardening

Well, while this doesn’t have anything to do with art, this is what has taken up a huge chunk of my time this past week, consequently, art has been on the back burner. However, just as the art is very relaxing for me, so too is gardening, at least most of the time. I am not a green thumb gardener, actually just the opposite. I seem to have a black thumb when it comes to flowers and nonessential grown items, and only slightly less of a black thumb when it comes to edibles in our garden. But over the years I have at least reached the point of being able to grow food. We don’t grow all the food we eat, but we do enjoy having fresh veggies throughout the summer and having some of what we grow that can last through the winter.

I love the quote above, because I thought I had made a lot of mistakes over our many years of gardening. But I have learned so much through those mistakes, so I really do think it is more of the experimenting. We have had 3 different garden spots on our property over the years. The first was 3 raised beds about 20 feet long and 2 feet wide. This was very early in our marriage, so we didn’t need a lot to sustain us through the summer. We would grow some potatoes, different kinds of greens, carrots and peas. Occasionally cabbage and broccoli, but definitely not enough of either for more than a couple of meals. This spot was in the trees, consequently it did not get a lot of direct sunlight, and while it did grow, I didn’t realize how much of a difference the sunlight would make until our third garden spot. Our second garden spot was in some stepped landscaping that we created in the hill of our backyard. This area did not get enough sunlight either as it was facing north, and we didn’t ever get very good quantities out of the beds. Because they were stepped, they were very difficult to till, consequently I ended up turning them over by hand. They were 60 feet long by 3 feet wide, and that was a huge chore that took almost a week just to get the soil ready for planting. I didn’t want to do that forever!

We finally moved the garden down to a sunny spot in our backyard and increased the size, because our family size had increased over the years as well. There are no nearby trees, and the garden gets around 16 hours of sunlight every day. This has been the most productive garden spot we have had. It started out as just a raw piece of land that still had topsoil on it. Each year as my husband tills the garden, the rest of us follow along picking up rocks. It has taken a number of years, but each year there are less and less rocks, and the garden soil looks better and better. Over the years we have learned a lot about amending the soil. Last year we learned a lot about lime, how little lime there is in Alaska’s soil, and how much we needed to add to get our plants to grow well. This year we weren’t able to find the kind of manure we usually use on our garden, in fact there was no sterilized steer manure to be found anywhere in our valley. Consequently, we will be relying more heavily on a commercial fertilizer. We shall see how that works out. I have decided that with the scarcity of soil amending products, that I really should start a compost station at our home. I have never tried this, so it will be another opportunity to learn a new skill. I’ll keep you updated if I get that going.

We grow a variety of vegetables in our garden. The majority of our garden is planted in potatoes. Probably 80% of the area is potatoes. We usually grow a white potato as well as Yukon Gold potatoes. Both of these have been great producers. We have tried a variety of different kinds of potatoes over the years. I really like a purple potato that we had good success with, but my kids had a hard time getting past the color and apparently the taste. To me they tasted just like the white potatoes, but my kids said there was a difference in flavor. Consequently, we keep going back to those 2 great growers, the white and Yukon. The other 20% of our garden has a much bigger variety in it. We grow peas, cabbage, broccoli, radishes, leafy lettuces of different kinds, beets, onions, and carrots. The beets I haven’t had huge success with over the years, so I haven’t planted them in a few years, but I decided to try again this year. We shall see how that goes.

I recently did a YouTube tour of my garden, as well as talked a bit about what we have done over the years to grow a better garden. You can see my Garden Tour here.

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