Resources for northern gardeners

It’s relatively easy to get started gardening in Alaska. First, our cooler climate and long summer days constrain what we can grow (at least until we get ambitious in our gardening schemes). Second, we don’t have as many pests attacking our plants.

Visual learning isn’t for everyone, but I got started with my nose buried in pages of text and pictures and my pen scribbling in a notebook.

At the time my husband and I assembled our first raised bed and a greenhouse in Anchorage, I had very little gardening experience other than keeping a small deck garden in Florida.

Amaranth, tomato, and pepper starts in the greenhouse.

Friends and neighbors eagerly shared cuttings from their gardens and sent me to the Alaska Cooperative Extension Service website – a gold mine for new gardeners. My first plantings in 2007 were guided by free Extension publications on topics such as recommended vegetable varieties for our region and how to plant raspberry beds.

To meet other gardeners, I got involved with my local permaculture guild and later on the Alaska Botanical Garden, the Anchorage Master Gardeners, and the Pioneer Fruit Growers of Alaska.

Like many other gardeners, I began saving articles, website trivia, and fact sheets from our local Extension outreach center in a large, three-ring binder. I dip into the binder to refresh on annual tasks such as when and how to prune black currants and lilacs. More recently I’ve also been using the custom Google search engine for the Cooperative Extension Service that allows you to access publications throughout the country.

Great gardening and plant-related books that have inspired me include …