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Discovering the Beauty of Native Alaskan Plants

Alaska native plants

Discovering the Beauty of Native Alaskan Plants: Yarrow, Fireweed, Forget-Me-Not, Lupine and Iris

Alaska, known for its breathtaking landscapes and rich biodiversity, is home to a fascinating array of native plants. Among them, yarrow, fireweed, forget-me-not, and iris stand out for their unique characteristics and cultural significance. Let’s embark on a journey to explore these enchanting flora and uncover their hidden wonders.

  1. Yarrow: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a perennial herb found across the Alaskan wilderness. Recognizable by its delicate white flowers clustered in flat-topped inflorescences, yarrow has long been revered for its medicinal properties. Traditionally, Alaskan Native peoples have used yarrow for various purposes, including treating wounds, reducing fevers, and soothing digestive discomfort. Its feathery leaves also make it a charming addition to flower arrangements and herb gardens.
  2. Fireweed: One of the most iconic Alaskan wildflowers is the vibrant fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium). This resilient perennial plant thrives in areas affected by wildfires or disturbances, hence its name. Fireweed boasts tall, slender stems covered in striking magenta flowers that bloom in succession, creating a breathtaking display of color across the landscape. The plant is not only visually stunning but also serves as an important food source for wildlife, particularly bees and hummingbirds. Additionally, fireweed has cultural significance for many Alaskan Native groups, who use it for various medicinal and culinary purposes.
  3. Forget-Me-Not: The enchanting forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris) is a small flowering plant that holds a special place in Alaskan folklore and the hearts of its residents. This delicate beauty is characterized by clusters of tiny, sky-blue flowers with yellow centers. Forget-me-nots are often associated with remembrance and are commonly found in memorial gardens or used to honor loved ones. These charming blooms can be seen adorning Alaskan meadows and riverbanks, adding a touch of ethereal beauty to the landscape.
  4. Iris: Alaska is home to several native iris species, including the Alaska iris (Iris setosa). These stunning flowers showcase a wide range of colors, from deep purple to pale blue and even yellow. Irises typically grow in wetland areas and are adapted to survive in Alaska’s challenging climate. The vibrant blossoms of iris serve as a source of nectar for bees and butterflies, while their distinctive sword-shaped leaves provide shelter for small creatures. In Alaskan Native cultures, iris roots have been traditionally used for weaving baskets and making dyes.
  5. Adding to the Alaskan floral tapestry is the charming lupine (Lupinus spp.), which graces the landscape with its tall spires of colorful flowers. Lupine species in Alaska display a variety of hues, including purple, blue, pink, and white. These vibrant blooms not only add beauty to the environment but also play a crucial role in the ecosystem. Lupine plants have a special relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, enabling them to enrich the soil and benefit neighboring plants. They also provide habitat and food for pollinators, making them an integral part of the Alaskan ecosystem.

Exploring the native plants of Alaska is an enriching experience that unveils the wonders of the natural world. Yarrow, fireweed, forget-me-not, and iris exemplify the resilience and beauty of Alaskan flora. Their striking colors, unique adaptations, and cultural significance make them essential components of the Alaskan landscape. Next time you find yourself wandering through this majestic land, take a moment to appreciate these native plants and the stories they tell.

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Alaska Garlic

Alaska garlic

Hardneck garlic bulbs perfect for the Alaska climate. Our hardneck garlic is German hardy.

Each 1 pound of garlic includes 8-10 heads which provide 40-50 cloves.

Plant with the tip up 3″ deep and space plants 6″ apart. Mulch with straw or other weed free material.

Plant before ground freezes:  plant hardneck garlic about 4-6 weeks before the ground starts to freeze. This gives the garlic clove time for root development in the fall.

Garlic cloves need cold temperatures to root: Hardneck garlic needs 4-6 weeks of cold temperature below 40-45 F to develop bulbs.

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Alaska Flower Bulbs

Beautiful mix of long season blooms to grace the Alaskan garden. Our daffodil and tulip bulbs are perfect in the flower garden or in your favorite vase.
Hardy to Zone 3 and naturalized bulbs that are the first blooms in the Alaskan garden.
16-18″ tall. Plant 6″ deep and 8″ apart.

Optimal soil planting temperature is 55F or below with nighttime temperatures are between 40-50F. Bulbs require roughly a 6 week cold window to ensure proper rooting.

Our bulbs do not ship until the 3rd week of September.

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Pre order for September Shipping Daffodil (Narcissi Blend) (10 Bulbs) Size 12/14

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Alaska Seeds

Alaska Seeds

We are a ecological farm located on beautiful Lazy Mountain in Palmer, Alaska. We save seed in this great land. Vegetable, flowers and herbs from our farm to your garden.

Giant Red Mustard

Giant Red Mustard is a staple green in our kitchen. This is my husbands favorite leafy green by far!

Perfect for companion planting with slow growing vegetables or flowers, mustard is a true “cut and come again”. Harvest individual leaves for sandwiches, salads or a stir fry. The large leaves can be used as wraps for a low carb and gluten free bread replacement.

Mustard is excellent combined with sweeter greens in “wilted” salads and perfect for some flavor in smoothies.

This variety is very cold hardy and withstands frosts with ease. Mustard is perfect for shade gardens and those that are a bit cooler.

Fall in love with flavor with an old fashioned green.

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Alaska sown-Alaska grown

Alaska Seeds Arugula

Arugula is another green on our daily menu.

The spiciness of its leaves and the tangy flavor from their flowers and seeds pods are unlike any other leafy greens.

Arugula is perfect in a stir fry, raw salad and even pesto!

This variety is very cold hardy and withstands mild frosts with ease. Arugula is perfect for shade gardens and for the cooler locations on your landscape.

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Alaska Wildflower Seeds

Some of the most beautiful wildflowers are found in Alaska…from fireweed to forget me nots. These flowers are relatively easy to grow in the home garden and invite many pollinators to the landscape.

Many flowers are self sowing and will broadcast their seed once the seed is mature and the pod shatters open.

From cottage to cutting gardens, wildflowers add to the whimsical nature to blooming spaces.

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Alaska Tomato Seeds

Many tomatoes are long season fruits with large amounts of plant material. I have grown tomatoes outside in Southcentral Alaska but there are a few rules for survival that I have observed:

Starting seeds at the right time. I transplant them outside after June 1 and hence they should be of manageable size so they do not break or are in a reproductive stage such as flowering. Starting them between the 2nd or 3rd week of March allows roughly 2.5 months of vegetative growth before being transplanted.

Locating a microclimate that is warm and dry. Typically near buildings, stone walls, protective spaces that reduce the amount of water/moisture that plant receives.

Pruning at least the bottom foot for both indeterminate/determinate types as tomatoes are susceptible to soil borne diseases.

Watering constantly throughout the growing season. I do my best to never allow tomatoes to go through a drought period until their fruit is set and blushed.

Tomatoes are heavy feeders and should be fed every 2-3 weeks throughout the growing season with a reduction in nitrogen once flowering begins.

If the season is coming to a close and the fear of frost is approaching, the plants can be topped so that further flowering/vegetative growth ceases. Water can also be restricted once the fruit has blushed. Tomatoes can be harvested at the blush stage and allowed to ripen off vine.

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Alaska Seeds

Bush beans- what does it take to grow beautiful beans in Alaska? For Southcentral Alaska my favorite place to grow bush beans is in a warm and dry microclimate. Beans appreciate warm temperatures and are susceptible to molds in moist conditions.

Beans are relatively light feeders and do not require an abundance of fertility throughout the growing season. Beans are prolific…the more you harvest- the more they will produce.

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Alaska Seeds…how to start them (Learning to garden in Alaska)

The excitement is near! The large push for indoor seed starting has arrived. What a wonderful time of year of planning, designing, creating and sowing.

Let us share some simple and easy ways to make your seed starting a success. We have started seeds in every way possible so let us share our experience and knowledge. Our seed starting classes offer even more in depth information to make your garden dreams come true.

There are many ways to arrive at the same goal- we honor expertise of all kinds.

First: Materials

What type of container will you use? There are many options available…using what you have on hand makes seed starting cost effective and accessible for all. Drainage is the most important aspect here. Trays, cell packs, soil blocking, recycled yogurt containers (the possibilities are endless). Drainage is the key!

What medium are you going to use? We are a long way away from outdoor transplanting where plants can mine the nutrients, fertility and water needs naturally. You must supply all of these needs for the next roughly three months. Choosing a growing medium that is sterile will require the addition of fertility. Growing mediums that have fertility built in may still require additional nutritional needs. Purchase what you can afford and support local. Make sure that the medium you choose offers a guarantee as many growing substrates can harbor unwanted living materials…also keep your receipt.

What is the light source? Plants must have light…where is the supplemental light coming from? A window? Grow lights? There are so many options to choose from. For years we used good old fashioned T5’s purchased locally. If you are using a window, you may need to turn your trays several times per day. Determine how much time, effort and energy you have to dedicate and then decipher your light source.

Second: Location: Providing a micro climate for your seedlings to thrive! Seeds needs the right conditions to germinate: moisture, temperature, light (for some) and proper seed planting depth. A “warm” location with air movement is ideal. Where within your home can you place your seed tray away from cats, pets, kids and spouses? Scope out the ideal location that offers protection and the proper amount of air circulation.

Third: Days to maturation: Starting the right seeds at the right time… plants should be transplanted at a specific size that is not too big nor at critical points of growth if this can be avoided (flowering and fruit set). Certain plants grow VERY slowly depending on their type. A quick example: Certain Brussel Sprouts require 180+ days to grow. This seed would need to be started indoors in the darkest days of winter for a fall harvest. On the other hand, some cucumbers finish their lifecycle in 60-70 days and grow very quickly. If we started cucumber seeds for our garden now, the plants would be too large for indoor growing and would be transplanted during a critical point of growth. Cucumbers are a seed started closer to our target transplant date. Look at the days to maturation, plus the days to germination, plus some time for plants to adapt to transplant shock: that is your goal seed starting date.

Fourth: Depth Seed depth is critical for success. Think of how plants disperse their seeds naturally…many lay on top of the soil until the conditions are just right for germinating. Others pass through the digestive system of animals and spend their time in dung waiting for the optimal time. Seeds know what to do! Give them their best chance of success by planting them at the proper depths. Unless you are growing VERY large seeds, most seeds should be planted at 1/8″, 1/4″ and 1/2″ and some just lightly pressed into the soil (the smaller the seed, the more shallow the planting). If you plant too shallow the seed cannot use the depth to remove its hull and could break. If you plant to deep the tiny seed doesn’t have the energy to push through that much depth. When in doubt 2x the height of the seed is a good measure. Certainly seeds have to have light for germination…your seed packet should outline this clearly.

Fifth: Needs: Indoor growing requires all the input to be placed on the grower. The food, water, shelter and air must be supplied by us. Feeding seedlings and transplants is a part of this! We use granular or liquid amendments that have a low scent, a mild amount of fertility and are “natural” in nature. Making your own countertop composts (stay tuned for that growing guide) is another simple solution.

Happy growing!

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