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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?

Artichokes!

These beauties really take the stage as part of an edible landscaping or in the Alaska home garden.

Artichokes grow slowly…and require a cold period (vernalization) to influence this perennial into growing a heart as an annual. There are many options on how and when the cold processing can be completed. Here is our process:

We start our Artichokes in 4″ pots and keep the temperature 60F-70F. It can take up to three weeks for germination.

We pot up as these giants slowly grow over the next three months. Around the end of April or beginning of May we set the starts outside when the temperatures are above 34F and below 50F for about 2-3 weeks.

Once all danger of a killing frost has passed, we transplant outside. Design and bed preparation is key as these show stoppers need a minimum of 4′ sq. ft.

Alaska sown- Alaska grown

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What seeds are we starting this week?

Asparagus!

Purchasing crowns is another alternative to starting from seed. Crowns are about two years older and will be at a harvestable size earlier.

Starting from seed does require more time and a delicate transplanting hand. Seeds can take up to 21 days for germination so patience is a virtue.

Asparagus seeds should be started in 4″ pots and sown at approximately 1/8″ deep. Avoiding multiple “potting ups” is one of the keys to success.

These beautiful perennial edibles can supply food for up to twenty years! Bed preparation, soil fertility and nutrition will certainly pay off immeasurably.

Female asparagus typically produce less than their male counterparts but produce tiny flowers that the chubbiest Bombus occidentalis (a vulnerable species of Bumble Bee) will attempt to squeeze themselves into. The striking red berries on the wispy fronds are quite a sight to see in the fall.

We have had enormous interest in purchasing our divided Spring crowns…our household has yet to come to an agreement as the mouth watering flavor of our Asparagus is priceless (I am being humble here).

Another inquiry is if we have Asparagus seeds available: not yet…we are putting our energy into the future.

Happy Growing!

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What zone are you in? Above frozen ground..

The USDA has a tool that outlines annual extremes for minimum temperature across 13 areas of the U.S.

An example of a zone represented in Southcentral Alaska is zone 4.

The USDA map has minimum temperatures of -30F to -20F for zone 4.

We can use this zone tool to help guide us when adding perennials (plants that live more than two years) and biennials (plants that complete their lifecycle in two years) to our garden spaces.

If I am shopping and find a “zone 7” plant , I may be able to grow this plant as an annual but the rate of overwinter survival will be less as the minimum temperature for a “zone 7” plant is 0F to 10F and the minimum temperatures in zone 4 may be way too cold for this plants survival without certain extreme protection measures.

When we are discussing annual plants (those plants that complete their life cycle in one year) we need know our frost free dates. This is the span of time where we can reasonably expect not to have killing frosts (28F and below).

For my landscape and microclimate growing spaces this is from May 1 (ish) – Sept 30 (ish). As nature doesn’t always fit in the “box” we can expect seasons to extend and sometimes shorten.

Nature is dynamic…not static

Certain plants can withstand much colder temperatures and overwintering with meticulous care of the soil, the enhancement of natural microclimates and a keen understanding of individual plant species coupled with extensive season extension. Taking growing risks is a fun garden challenge I look forward to every year.

We can use these tools as a guide to direct us towards plant choices and landscape design. Check your zone for perennials and biennials and know your frost free dates for annuals.

Here is a link for the USDA hardiness zones: https://plants.usda.gov/hardiness.html

Here is a link for frost free dates: https://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates

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What seeds are we starting this week?

Long season leeks… 120+ days

Some leeks are known to grow very s-l-o-w-l-y and we want to give them just the right amount of time before setting them out. We are roughly 12-14 weeks away from our target transplanting date.

Some folks find sowing seed in 10×20 trays (with drainage holes) and hand dropping seeds works well. Using this method, seeds can be planted 1/4″ deep and roughly 1/4″ apart.

Once your glorious leeks reach about 2″ in height, they can be transplanted into larger individual containers such as cell packs or 2″ pots.

Once leeks have reached about 5″ in height- a hair cut is in order. Trim back to 2″ and enjoy a zesty snack. 10 days to 2 weeks prior to your target transplant date start hardening off your leeks to the outdoor elements.