|What to do on the -40 degree days? Shop for seeds!|
I've hit the seed catalogs. It's the happiest thing I can think of (well besides dreaming of a trip to Hawaii) when it's been -30 to -40 for days on end. I'm ready to think of green, growing things! A girl can dream anyway. I tend to buy from Denali Seeds because they are for and sold here in Alaska, and Territorial Seeds, which is where I ordered from this year. I actually am trying to keep my seed purchasing to a minimum this year, I have a bunch of seeds leftover from last year when I bought everything new. I seal them in ziploc sandwich bags, and zip everything in a gallon ziploc bag and keep it in the garage, the coolest part of my house, but heated so it doesn't freeze.
Tomatoes are the one thing I have yet to get to grow more than 1-2 green ones per year here in AK. I was hoping that a greenhouse would help, but we had a very cold year and everything was 2 weeks behind, and my greenhouse was taken over by powdery mildew too. I started them indoors in early March, but over-watered or something and most died and I had to start them again the beginning of April. I will try a different soil, and water very carefully this year. I do plan to start them the first couple weeks of March.
A fellow AK blogger at Wild Roots Homestead posted a pic of a bunch of actual tomatoes grown right here in interior alaska, and from last year, when I got nothing. She recommended some soil treatments and varieties, I wish I could, but cannot find the actual post. I do remember her saying she has put fish parts under the plants. I have 19 fish heads in my freezer and I'll definitely give this a try this year. , she also recommended several varieties of tomatoes. I cannot remember them all, but found a couple of those I remembered from Territorial Seeds, Oregon Spring, Siletz, and Sungold cherry tomato. Last year I grew Manitoba Heriloom tomatoes. I think those have promise, and did set fruit, maybe in a warmer winter I may get someting. I also grew Nova and got basically nothing. I have a few seeds of each left and will try those again. I also have some seeds I saved from my CSA box that had damaged heirloom tomatoes that I'll give a try. I have no idea what the variety is.
So my tomato plan for the year:
- Start seeds early March on a warming seed starting mat
- Different soils when I re-pot my starts
- Careful watering
- Fish fertalizer until they flower, then will use a blooming fertalizer
- Put out in greenhouse as soon as it is warm enough. Sadly this is early-mid may at the very soonest.
- Place a fish head under each plant
- To limit powdery mildew I will be very careful to keep the leaves dry and ventilate better. It was a VERY wet year for us, which is unusual, so a normal year may help.
I'll keep you posted on my progress. Does anyone have any other suggestions for me?