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Experimental Crops for Southcentral Alaska

June 30, 2011

Looking at all the things we might need to do without during the Alaska Food Challenge, Randy and I decided to plant some experimental crops. We were able to get a community garden plot out on Elmendorf Air Force Base, and planted hulless oats and wheat along with our usual potatoes and parsnips. If we’re lucky on weather, we’ll have oatmeal for the winter! Wheat is available locally, but we decided to try it, since we had the space, and the wheat.

Another thing we use all winter are canned and dried peas and beans. We found a pea that is made to be grown and dried on the vine that is supposedly suitable for Alaska, so planted 4 15 foot rows. Ed Hume seeds has a similar type of bean with a 63-day growing season, so we’re trying them, germinating them in large black pots in the warm garage, and leaving them in the pots for growing up the garden fence. We are hoping the black pots will absorb heat and help the beans along, and will also be able to cover them in plastic, using the fence for support, if things get too cold and wet.

Our last experiment of the growing season is asparagus. I was inspired in part by Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but would never have thought to try it if I hadn’t found some asparagus plants at Lowes that claim to be hardy to -30 F. We’ll see what happens, but it will be a year or two before we get anything from the planting.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2011 7:14 am

    Asparagus grows up here in Fairbanks, I’m sure it will do just fine down there… Be warned though: it takes years of establishing to get a crop out of an asparagus bed!

  2. June 30, 2011 4:18 pm

    So glad to know someone is successfully growing asparagus up here! Do you have any tips or recommendations for things like overwintering? I planted the little roots over a month ago, but I’m not seeing any sprouting. Should I be worried?

    • July 8, 2011 6:27 am

      Hmmm, good question.
      I plan on putting in my first bed next spring, but I’ve seen them at farmers market from a local lady, and at Homegrown Meats… We grew them growing up in Maine, though. I think we did a mulch overwinter…. I’d probably go ahead and give em a nice bed if straw. Snow’s actually a pretty good insulator too… So maybe keep an eye on whether there’s not much snowfall or if it gets blown off of that spot?
      I’d think that at about a month you should be seeing something… I think I read in the homestead-blogosphere recently about someone putting in asparagus roots, waiting a little over a month, and then digging them up figuring they were goners… Turns out their shoots were just about to break the surface. I’d give them some more time before you start worrying? I know up here we’ve been getting LOTS if chilly rain, but I haven’t been keeping track of statewide weather? What was the soil temp when you planted? Roots grow slower in colder soils 🙂

      • July 16, 2011 11:33 pm

        The asparagus is up! Thin stalks, but recognizable. I think they needed a good, deep watering! Good luck with you bed next spring.

  3. Joseph permalink
    May 8, 2014 11:07 pm

    How is the asparagus doing now that its been a few years???

  4. May 17, 2014 6:04 pm

    It’s just starting to pop up this year – only 4 stalks as of yesterday. I find it usually really starts coming up after the first good rain, even with regular watering. I’m hoping for rain next week, and will keep ou informed.

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