Alaskan Homestead Vacation

We spent last week on a retreat to Scott’s son’s family homestead in North Pole, AK.

Built on 2 acres of peaceful wilderness, their home rests on the banks of the Chena slough. They moved to the property last fall. This is their first growing season and to our delight, we got to assist them in establishing a starter garden. Quickly I realized that I really don’t know a lot about Alaskan gardening, so first step we did some research.

The quick and dirty stats are:

*  97 Day garden season (May 25 – August 30)

*  Zone 1B (only the hardiest of perennials will survive)

As we observed the yard, we noticed that due to their trees, the property has dappled sun exposure near 24 hours a day in June and July.

What about the soil?

Once we understood the general conditions, we wanted to understand the soil.

There are 3 types of soil:

*  Sandy: Larger particles, drains quickly/does not retain moisture, less nutrients

*  Silt: Leaves hands dirty, holds on to water, more nutrients, compacts easily

*  Clay: Doesn’t aerate or drain well, hardens when dry

Was the Alaskan homestead soil sandy, silt, or clay?

The soil at the Alaskan Homestead had a hard clay surface with sandy pockets below the surface. In contrast, on Fruit Hill Farm we have very rocky, silty soil.

The challenge with sandy soil is that it doesn’t hold on to water.  When we went to nursery and I asked about solutions to clay soil with sandy pockets.  The nursery experts encouraged us to to amend with an organic woody nutrient laced soil conditioner.  In the interest of quicker fix for this growing season that is what we did.

homestead soil

What did we plant?

After we were instructed on soil conditioning, Scott’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter picked out the plants they wanted.

They picked:

*  1 Tomatillo

*  2 Peppers

*  7 Snap Dragons

*  3 Cucumbers

*  1 Mellon vine

*  12 Quinault Strawberry

*  1 Pineapple Strawberry

*  2 Dianthus ‘Arctic Fire’

*  1 Dianthus ‘Indian Carpet’

*  1 Rose bush

The finished project

After the soil was conditioned, we planted the plants, and then watered them with harvested rain water.

The finished garden brought such joy to my heart, especial the smaller bed we named ‘Bella’s Bed’.  Scott showed the grandkids how to water the garden. We can’t wait to see pictures and receive progress updates 🙂


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