Monday, April 18, 2016

2015 Recap....getting ready for 2016

I am hoping to get more time this year to do up keep on this blog! But before we get started on this years gardening adventure I thought I would need to at least gather together thoughts on what happened last year.

I had absolutely no idea what it was going to look like last year.  I had no one to call or email to ask what to expect and how to organize everything.  Though some amazing people threw me some info to chew on they never really fit our situation completely. So rather than hmm and haw...and bite my nails....I just JUMPED right in.  As you can imagine we had some amazing successes and some mini failures and some major failures.

Mostly I realized right off the bat that that all of a sudden there was just me doing....everything.  And it's kind of funny because there is a part of me that loves organization and tending to tiny details and I absolutely LOVE calendars and lists and if it has to do with gardening I love it even more. But I found myself having WAY too many things to accomplish and very little time.  At one point I timed how long it took me to put together a grow box with soil and fertilizer and plants by myself...as fast as I could...and it took me one hour.  And I had ordered 40 boxes.  As you can imagine I did not get them done! So this year we are starting early and I am looking for funding to pay some local young people to help me this year.  What made it worse was we had some crazy weather that delayed us by a few weeks. Normal spring was rudely interrupted by harsh and freezing stretches of cold and snow.  We lost a good amount of our heat loving baby plants that I had set out in our tiny homemade greenhouse.  Despite the small electric heater we placed in there.

Our students did not get to take home a planter box and that really bums me out! So this year I am going to try and plan for smaller take home projects.  I plan to get a few small one gallon pots and plant some container friendly peas and a couple lettuce plants.  Hopefully they work well as edible window plants.

We did get 18 boxes out though to 5 families.  And we built two homemade greenhouses.  They all performed beautifully! The greenhouses made a huge difference in how the boxes performed.  The greens were much larger and healthier. I also realized that we would need to do home visits or post specific info videos for our situation, focusing on basics like how to do cut and come again harvesting and how to tell what is going on with plants if something goes wrong and what that might look like. And especially how to cook and eat all the different plants!  I'm sure I can even create a little dvd eventually! something that can be mailed to other villages.  Luckily I have a equipment to these things so keep on a look out for our little instructional videos!

I am so proud of what our residents have done last year, they dove right in with me and that takes some guts!  Part of the barricade of creating a 'grow some of your food' system is having community buy in.  And it made me so incredibly happy and hopeful and joyous that there are a few that are all for it.  It is a lot of work with very little resources so I would like to recognize the amazingness of those first residents that decided to jump in with me!

It was especially heartwarming to me personally since my grandmother who introduced me to gardening and who taught me the names of all of her flowers that she grew, passed away last year in the late Fall and in a way this adventure of mine was a tribute to the positive affect she has had on my life.  My grieving process is to do something that echoes positively in this world, so that some of the love that they represented to me manifests itself.  I think it would tickle her to know that she might be the reason that gardening is getting a foothold in the arctic.  I'm hoping ot name our high tunnel after her: Jewell.  Seems fitting!

So I conclude the 2015 growing year with a better plan for this growing year.  And the next post will go into more detail of what 2016 will look like.

We are still in need of donations and well wishes!

We are looking for any books that you might need to find a home for that might have anything and everything to do with gardening here.  I am trying to build a knowledge resource for the future, a mini-library for gardening.  Do not worry about sending doubles as I can easily hand out duplicates to our resident gardeners.  Topics include: northern gardening, composting, soil building, food preservation methods, fermentation of veggies, companion planting, greenhouse and high tunnel growing, native plants and flora, native bugs, care of plants...etc.

We are also looking for donations of old and new tools that can be given out to our residents that would be useful in a greenhouse or high tunnel: shovels, mini shovels, trowels, hoes, gardening claws, reusable pots in all sizes, seeds, gloves, greenhouse plastic, water towers, thermometers, compost thermometers, fertilizers, and the like.

Monetary donations can be transferred via paypal to email address: gardensinthearctic@hotmail.com

(emails can also be sent to that address, info and leads and inquiries are welcome! )

Our mailing address:

Gardens in The Arctic
c/o Rainey Hopson
PO Box 21106
Anaktuvuk Pass, AK, 99721