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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Warmer weather! Let the garden begin!

Finally! Warm weather has finally hit the Alaskan interior, and all I can say is IT’S ABOUT TIME! We are having wonderful highs in the 70’s, lows in the 40’s and the trees are finally greening up.  When it finally happens it’s so fast you can practically sit and watch the leaves as they open.  First just a hint of green on the hillsides from a distance, then the tiny green leaves start to appear, and within a week we will be practically all leafed out and green.  It’s nearly impossible to believe that a few weeks ago we were still under snow.

This weekend I was finally able to make a start with the garden.   Last year we made all new raised beds with new compost in them.  I planted some cold hardy seeds, and got the peas, parsnips, beets, carrots, turnips, rutabaga and onion sets. To be safe I have some in the plastic hoop house and the peas covered with clear plastic.  I would have loved to add some compost to the beds this year, but we have not been working our compost pile as we should.  Our pile is mostly made up of chicken and rabbit waste and bedding, with some vegetables the chickens won’t eat.  The problem is instead of turning it, we just piled new stuff on old stuff.  I do believe we have some usable compost at the bottom, however it was frozen solid.  So our goal this year is to get the compost really breaking down.  Hopefully once it thaws out I’ll be able to mulch around some plants to improve the nutrients.  
The chickens have been enjoying the outdoors and taking dirt baths and digging up their yard, but with the grass greening in the garden area and the bugs all over the compost pile we decided to let them roam the garden area while there is cover on the planted parts.  The were hesitant at first and had to be coaxed out with organic cracked corn (which they go NUTS for), after a while though, they were digging around and having a great time.  
Tomorrow evening DH and I will plant the potatoes and I need to start hardening off my plants, because if the weather holds I could get the cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower starts in the ground soon.  I think I’ll give it a little more time to warm up.  I would love to get the tomatoes and cucumbers out into the greenhouse, but none of my experiments at keeping it warmer have really made a difference, so I think I better give it more time. The soil is about 5 degrees warmer than outside and the plastic water jug experiment only keep it about 5 degrees above what it is outside. 

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  1. I bet it is beautiful,is it true that Alaska pays you instead of you paying taxes????It looks like the chickens have a lot of work in front of them.

  2. Um... well I guess sort of. It is true we don't have state taxes. Some areas we do have a sales tax, and some we don't. It is true every person and child who has met residency requirements does get a dividend (look up permanent fund dividend) from the oil income. While it is nice to receive, it doesn't make up for a lot of the other things that cost us more here. It depends on where you are coming from, we are from the northwest and the housing was a bit cheaper here, but people from the south really suffer sticker shock when they come here. We have high property taxes, we pay high for gas and oil (and use a lot of oil for heat) compared to most states, we have to fly anytime we leave the state (and believe me your family and friends really wont visit much and you'll have to go see them), and most of our good cost more also due to shipping. So everything has its good and bad. Don't believe any hype that you'll be rolling in money here, you won't. I do feel that we are doing well here, and we are able to afford average which we couldn't in Oregon. It's the right place for us, but many come and are miserable because they had unrealistic expectations.

  3. I have that same problem with the compost. I never seem to get it emptied out before I need to refill it. I've decided I need to build a couple more compost bins so that I can rotate.

  4. Look at all those trees, we have the same issues with our soil and short planting season here in MN.