The sun is beaming brightly at the Williams Street Farmhouse, melting the winter blues and teasing us with the promise of spring.  I can feel my energy gathering, ready to rise like the sap in a tree and burst into new growth.  The Alaska Botanical Garden’s Annual Spring Conference is this Saturday, and marks the official start of the gardening season.  Are you ready?  Do you have your garden plans drawn up and your seeds organized?

This year we have been extra busy because we want to grow as much of our own food as possible for the Alaska Food Challenge.  A big aim of the challenge is to reduce our environmental impact, and I would have to say that food from our own back yard (or front yard) wins high marks in that category.  It’s also cheaper, more convenient, and fresher than anything we could buy.

Matt and I are teaming up with James and Kelly, our downstairs tenants, who are also doing the Food Challenge, so we really need to step up our game.  Can we feed all four of us on this little lot?  For a year?  Exactly how many beets should we plant?  We have a spreadsheet calculating from our desired yield, how many plants we need and how much space it will take.  It is very theoretical, but it still helps in the planning process and will be interesting to see how accurate we are.  We aim to grow almost 2,000 pounds of food, quadruple what we grew last year!

Luckily with the extra mouths to feed, we have extra hands to expand and tend the garden!  And so we begin, with our spreadsheets, garden maps, a few tomato seedlings and a flat of leeks.

And so can you!  Start by thinking about what you want to grow this year, then run to Freddies, where seeds are 50% off right now. If you can’t find what you are looking for, seed catalogs such as Johnny’s or Territorial offer more varieties than you could ever dream of trying.  The next week is a good time to start your tomatoes, leeks, herbs, celery, and any greens you want to try growing indoors.  Now is also the time to order fruit trees, and berries… don’t worry, they won’t ship them until the time is right.

If you find you can’t control yourself at the seed rack (like me!), you can bring your extra seeds to the third annual Anchorage Permaculture Guild Seed Exchange on March 28th at the Cooperative Extension Service and trade them for other varieties you might like to try!

“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a see there, and I am prepared to expect wonders. “
–Henry David Thoreau

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