Mavis Mail | Gardening in Alaska – Ted Sends in His Photographs

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garden growing food in straw bales

Ted from Alaska writes:

My wife and I live in Interior Alaska. Attached are some pictures of winter squash and leeks on top of greens that we produced, only a small part of the average of approximately $850 worth of produce (after expenses) that we grow in the back yard of our suburban plot.

straw bale garden

We compensate for our cold ground by using raised beds. We have moved several times and the soil has always been less than perfect so I now have a system. The first year, we use bales of hay to make raised beds, filling the bales with commercial soil. We plant in the soil as well as in holes gouged into the bales.

winter squash picture

As you can see, we get a good harvest. After a few years, the straw rots down and we have some great soil. The fall before I am ready to knock down the straw beds, I build permanent wood raised beds (3 feet high, 8 or 10 feet long and 3 feet wide).

garden boxes

All fall and winter we throw compostable materials into the empty permanent boxes. In the spring, we throw the rotted straw and the dirt they enclosed into the permanent beds, right on top of the compost materials.

Over the years the materials under the dirt compost down slightly, but this is compensated for by the new compost I spread around all of my growing plants—which builds up the soil levels at the same time.

Way to go Ted! I had no idea you could grow so many awesome vegetables in ALASKA. You rock!

~Mavis

fresh leeks

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Comments

  1. How cool is that?! I’m always so inspired by people!

  2. Man these gardening posts are makin’ me antsy!!!!

  3. Wish we got the Fairbanks heat down here in Anchorage!

    I really like the way Ted does his dirt with the bales! Great concept!

    • I’m moving to Anchorage in a few months, any tips for what to garden Marcy?

      • I know. I don’t envy the interior’s cold winters, but I do envy the summer heat. I would like to know if Ted does anything special to his beds to protect them from moose. We are trying to figure that out this year.

      • Cooler crops do great. Things like taters, carrots, beets, cabbage, lettuce. Tomatoes must be done in a greenhouse here imho only because the last few years we’ve had a TON of rain and they don’t much like that…

  4. Fantastic job Ted! I don’t have to cope with extreme temperatures – my problem is howling gales – especially at this time of year. I have tried hurdle fences and netting (to break up the wind) but without much success.

    Does anyone have any tips or am I doomed to grow only very short vegetables? :-)

    Angie
    Isle of Man

    • We lived in Scotland for a year and I had four beds placed so they formed a square and built a strong wood frame on the outside of each one. I nailed plexiglass to the frame. It ended up being a sort of greenhouse without a roof.

  5. Love Ted’s idea of raised beds made with hay bales!

  6. Wow! Is all I can say. What a great job and I had no idea either that one could grow that much food in Alaska.

  7. Wow….so cool, I want to grow leeks like that!

  8. Good job, Ted. I also garden in interior Alaska (Fairbanks). We just bought a new house and may use this technique to build up our beds at our new house!!

  9. I sure would like to do bale beds here in Anchorage, Although Anchorage is cooler in the summer if you made an arched roof with plastic would that serve to heat it up enough?

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