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Are you ready to plant???

We have been waiting so eagerly to put our hands in the soil and grow…whether you started your plants from seed 😉 , purchased them from an Alaskan farm, garden center, Master Gardener plant sale or the Palmer FFA – plants need to be hardened off to your landscape prior to being transplanting.

What does this mean and why? For those plants grown indoors under lights or glazing (greenhouse coverings) they have enjoyed a lot of cotteling. Including but not limited too: constant consistent temperatures, timely watering, frequent feedings, reduced UV light exposure, minimal wind, limited pest pressure and lack of exposure to the soil ecosystem.

All of these protective measure have grown strong healthy plants but can they withstand the forces of nature on your landscape? If we take our juvenile plants and place them directly into the outdoor environment without a hardening off period, there may be some rather shocking impacts.

Suddenly plants that have adapted to a protective environment are now subjected to fierce drying winds, massive fluctuations in temperature, intense UV exposure, “pest” pressure and cooler soil temperatures. A period of gradual transition to their new home will allow for adaptation to occur so that they may thrive in nature.

Excluding the warm loving plants that may suffer tissue damage below 45F (tomatoes, peppers, squash, pumpkins, corn, dahlias, sunflowers, zinnias and others) many cultivated varieties can handle cooler temperatures. What they cannot handle is direct and immediate exposure to UV rays. Sunburn and sunscald are the most common concerns that will come up during this time of year.

Taking a broad focus to include as many plants as possible:

In a protective location out of the wind and direct light- away from pets, littles and wild animals

Start hardening off with time: setting plants out plants each day for a period of time (start with one hour and increase every day over a 10 day period)

Use directional hardening off: start in the North, move to the East, then to the West and finally the South

Increase watering and fertility: we want to give our plants the best chance at survival and the capacity to fend off “pests” and disease. Restricting food and water (although are adaptations in the wild) decreases a plants health and vitality. We are growing in managed ecologies with a goal of food production…our actions should reflect that.

Once your plants are in their new homes you may find that they are not looking so well. This is a period of adjustment as plants are taken from the current vessel that lacks all the biodiversity that living soil has to offer. Once transplanted, new relationships within the soil will begin to form with millions of microorganisms, fungi, bacteria, nematodes and protozoa. Your plant is now the new kid at school and it will take time for the root system to become part of an even bigger system. Help your plants through this phase with light feedings, warm water, staking and of course wind protection.

Once our trees fully leaf, the temperatures are consistently in the 60Fs and soil temperatures are above 50F…we will begin to see a massive influx of insects who are hungry! Will your plants be strong and healthy enough to fend off this initial pressure? They will because you have hardened them off 🙂

 

 

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What does this even mean “as soon as the soil can be worked”???

As the snow melts and the ground thaws, many folks are ready to transplant, to seed and start the growing. I have the itch myself after what has seemed like a hard Alaskan winter.

Nature is giving hints that our time is approaching. Flowering bulbs are pushing through the soil with some even blooming in warm microclimates. Certain perennials are beginning to put on their new growth. Fruiting trees are are showing leaf buds and insects are making their first appearances.

With all these signs of life and the desire to awaken our growing spaces…there are still many other indications that we need to have some patience.

Nightime temperatures are still in the “killing frost” zone for many cultivated plants. Areas of the soil are still frozen below 6″. Soil life is just beginning to emerge and make new economies for trading resources.

We are still covered in feet of snow albeit melting quickly. Soil is nature’s water catchment…soil needs time to allow the water to infiltrate and turn mud into a thriving ecosystem to support plants.

So what is “as soon as the soil can be worked”? There are specific plant scenarios but we will stick with a broad focus to include as many plants as possible.

Soil temperatures around 50F – not only is this nearing the optimal temperature for soil life but it is a great indicator that those seeds that appreciate a cooler soil temperature (peas, cilantro, spinach and others) will germinate more evenly and timely. If we seed too early there is potential that the soil is too cold for germination. Seeds will sprout with the soil temperature and soil moisture nurture life.

Soil is dry (ish) you can squeeze a ball and it is not dripping wet. If we seed too early…for those seeds that do not have a hard coat (carrots, lettuce, arugula) they can rot with too much soil moisture. If we transplant too early into heavy mud, roots can rot as well. Soil life, air, water and nutrients need to move freely throughout the soil. Think “would I want to grow in this soil”?

Nightime temperatures consistently in the 40s for cold hardy plants (caution here…too cold and broccoli will button instead of crown). Our current temperatures are perfect for perennials and biennials to emerge from their sleep. They are extremely hardy and are prepared for what lies ahead.

As for the warm loving plants (squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, dahlias, zinnias, eggplants and others) many will suffer tissue damage at 45F. It is truly best to wait until night time temperatures are in the upper 50s to transplant. This may be the first week of June for Southcentral.

Many folks may be new to gardening or new to Alaska. I will say as my 15th Spring that anything goes…it is the wild! When in doubt look to when the trees leaf- around the second or third week in May. This is an excellent time to grow!

 

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Farmhouse Kitchen Recipe: Daily Bread

8 ingredients

From the farm
  • 1 Egg yolk
Yeasts and Salts
  • 1 1/2 tbsp 2 packages active dry yeast or (if you use bulk yeast
  • 6 cups All-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 4 tbsp Sugar
Fats
  • 1/3 cup Olive oil
Water
  • 110F  Degree 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp Water
    1. In your mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Add 1 tablespoon sugar; let stand for 5 minutes until it becomes bubbly/foamy. Add the oil, salt, remaining warm water and sugar and 4 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

    2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place back into bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
    3. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 8 pieces or two large pieces for bread
    4. Shape each into a ball and than flatten just a bit to spread out a little. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets.
    5. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Beat egg yolk and a splash of cold water; brush over rolls with a pastry brush.
    6. With a sharp knife (I like non stick knives), cut a 1/4-in.-deep cross on tops of rolls
    7. Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet to wire racks to cool.
    Recipe Notes

    After brushing bread with yolk (I prefer yolk for the golden hue it gives the bread), I sprinkle artisan cheese, roasted sesame seeds or cayenne pepper before baking.

    Store in a covered container for up to 1 week or in the refrigerator for 10 days.

    I originally found the basic roll recipe on Pinterest

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Seeds and Soil

I cannot believe we are coming up on our 6th year! We have grown with over 600 Alaskans (and some lower 48 friends).

If you know someone that would benefit from our classes but may not have the means, please email me directly: seedsandsoilorganics@gmail.com. We do cap the number of participants in our classes and workshops. I provide “support” throughout the growing seasons to come and we have to ensure a full commitment to each of our class participants.

Our online classes are hosted on a teaching platform (non-zoom). Classes are about 2 hours long with the exception of the seed classes in which a recorded video lesson is the precursor. Each and every class is recorded and all presentation materials including the video are sent out within 24 hours of the event.

As I start designing the 2022 classes, workshops and coursework…I am reflecting on the old, ancient, ancestral, intuitive and natural growing methods that have been past down for thousands of years. Our upcoming classes will be vested in the ways of the old coupled with the lessons of an ever shifting and living growing space.

Below please find a deeper summary of the upcoming classes and some exciting events that are sure to please.

Our first class starts in September 2021- Home to Harvest. Join us as we share our processes on long term cold storage, our in home root cellar, how we preserve our flowers, vegetables and herbs for winter use. Everyone wants to know how we are cooking our harvested carrots in January- join us and learn how.

We have added Advanced Seed Starting to our Seven class series! We provide the seeds- 24 seed types including perennial edibles, vegetables, flowers and herbs.

The Spring Seed Starting class includes 18 types of seeds (supplying all the needs of the sub arctic garden). We add new varieties every year. We share everything we know about “how to grow, where to grow and how to save the seed”.

We have added Prepare for Planting as a core course as these are the most asked questions/answers/mistakes we have ever encountered. So much success can be gained in growing in the far North with proper bed preparation and balanced soil.

Of course Permaculture design (must), soil and soil amendments will lead the charge following Advanced Seed Starting.

We have an entire new series for 2022! “The Permaculture Series” will be defined and outlined by the end of July. Thank you to everyone who has emailed showing their interest.

We have some amazing guests to further our knowledge on an array of topics including animal husbandry, Advanced Permaculture design, mushroom cultivation and so much more.

Our hearts are full of gratitude. Thank you all for such an amazing journey…through seed and soil.

Here is the link for registration: https://seedsandsoilorganics.com/product-category/dec-2021-2022-classes/

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What seeds are we starting this week?

Tomatoes!

Everyone’s favorite fruit 🙂

Timing is of the essence here as we would like to transplant them outside after all fear have frost has passed and temperatures are above 45F. Tomatoes may suffer tissue damage otherwise.

We want to transplant without fruit and flowers as these are critical growing stages and can be very shocking. Starting seeds at the right time (nowish).

Tomato seeds like warm soil temperature and even moisture. Tomatoes are not a large seed and should be sown at 1/8″-1/4″.

We have around 2.5 months prior to our target date- start them in 4″ pots so they have room to grow and reduce the amount of “potting ups”.

Feed your tomatoes every couple of weeks and provide them adequate light and heat. Interplant with aromatic herbs such as basil, parsley and oregano. Depending on your type use cages or trellising…homegrown sweetness is just around the corner (well roughly 5 months).

Yes we do have tomato seeds available: https://seedsandsoilorganics.com/product-category/shop-seeds/

Alaska sown-Alaska Grown