It’s been winterizing time around here the last couple of weeks. Last weekend we took down the green house and after harvesting the last few tomatoes hubby hauled away the dying plants inside. All the random outdoor toys and lawn care items found their winter homes in the garage. This next weekend we’ll be finishing up the bulk of winterizing by dumping the last of the annuals, perhaps trimming the perennials, protecting the apple trees, and hanging Christmas lights. I’ll never forget the winter we were out one night in freezing December temperatures with Kevin on the extension ladder (barely tethered to the slick ice by a dusting of kitty litter) and pregnant Janeen at the foot of the ladder praying for safety. It might be cheeseball, but we’ve learned to get the lights hung early!

The Alaska Cooperative Extension Service has in the past published a Fall Gardener’s Checklist. I can’t find the publication on their website any more, but the Peninsula Clarion has a reprint in the Sunday, October 10, 2004 edition. The highlights:

  • Remove crop residues from garden plots
  • Remove and store poles, trellises and potable frames
  • Mark perennials for spring
  • Apply mulch. Anyone know where to get straw or hay??
  • Till and turn heavy or compacted soil, then add organic material. This is the order of the day for my nutrient-starved raised veggie beds!
  • Dig in a top dressing of compost for raised or deep beds.
  • Build a compost pile
  • Put away hoses and sprinklers
  • Carry out garden expansion plans
  • prune and mulch perennials
  • prune berry bushes
  • prepare materials for starting seedlings in the spring. Anyone tried a soil blocker? They look soooo cool…

Looking at getting into gardening? I am hardly a green thumbed horticulturist. My gardening motto is “the least effort for the greatest joy”. Sometimes joy means experimenting with varieties of veggies or perennials, sometimes it’s faithfully tending the greenhouse, and sometimes it means neglecting the garden for a summer in favor of playing with the family! Here are some links to help get you started on your own joyful gardening adventures:

  • The Alaska Cooperative Extension Service – here you’ll find helpful publications and expert knowledge
  • Alaska Master Gardeners webpage – past newsletters, a variety list, and tips for gardening in Alaska
  • Direct Gardening – Cheap, cheap, cheap perennials. This mail-order plant source ships bare-root plants during the spring and summer. They offer a one year guarantee and it’s easy to get a replacement if plants don’t survive. This place is the cheapest of the cheap when it comes to plant prices, but you’ll have to work for it by carefully tending new transplants and diligently requesting a replacement if plants don’t survive. Some favorites are Fort Laramie strawberries (25 plants for $7), the Astilbe sampler (4 plants for $7), and Fern leaf Bleeding heart (3 plants for $6).