We got a lot done this weekend. I finished the second bench in the green house and got the second raised bed going. My wife got all the flowers in the containers planted. It was a great weekend. The plastic barrels are doing a lot to maintain the temp inside during the night. Hauled in some of the garden soil from Susitna Organics.
This weekend I got rid of the old folding tables that were my benches last summer and came up with a more permanent solution. I recycled some ceder fencing that had fallen down in the wind and cut it into 1"X2" strips and spaced it 1" apart to allow water to fall through. The ceder should last a long time and resist water damage. Got one done for one side and will get another for the other in a couple of weeks. Trying to get another couple of raised beds going and a strawberry patch.
Ate a salad last night with lettuce from our garden. The official beginning of summer is eating from the garden. Finally the end of eating salad that traveled thousands of miles and instead only traveled 50 feet. Also checked the bees this weekend and all seems well to my untrained eye, they are building up the brood and storing pollen. Picked up about 15 strawberry plants last night and hope to get them planted this weekend. The forecast for the weekend looks great.
Sunday afternoon I moved some more seedlings out into the raised bed. Kale, lettuce,endive, broccoli, radichio and mustard greens. I was not sure if this was early for my area so I made sure to cover it with some left over sheeting from the greenhouse. Also I took some old dark colored wine bottles and filled them with water and hope they will act as mini solar collectors during the day and provide some heat at night. I will let you know in a future post which bottles work better, the whites or the reds wines. Also did my first hive check since last week and things look okay. I spotted the queen, though I'm not sure she was laying any eggs yet. The workers are building the comb on the foundation. So as far as my inexperience tells me everything is fine.
Things are getting ready to pop. Tomato seedlings are getting to about 2 feet tall, broccoli is in need of a transplant, my wifes African violets are developing blooms and as I was walking around yesterday trying to clean up from winter I noticed the Delphiniums have green shoots already 6 inches above the mulch I put around them last fall.
Started getting the raised beds tilled and ready, mixed in some compost from some compost piles I started a few years ago. The piles are still frozen in the center but the edges are thawing and I run that through a screen to get the fine stuff. I toss the bigger chunks back into another pile that should be ready in the fall.
Picked up the bees today. The pictures are of my friends hives. I did mine first but didn't get any pictures, so i went over to his place and got some shots of his hiving his bees. Everything went well and I checked a few hours later and they seemed to be coming and going orienting to the surrounding area.
Did some more transplanting of kale, mustard greens, broccolli and other plants into larger pots. Also picked up more bee equipment. Bees will be picked up next Saturday and will be "hived" later that day. I bought this compost bin last fall at the UAF Farm on Trunk road and have been filling it with kitchen waste alternated with some old hay through out the winter. It warms up pretty good when the sun is on it, I don't expect anything out of it till at least mid summer.
Spent today putting together the hive bodies and will get some paint on them in a couple of days. The bees are suppose to arrive around the 20th of April. Got some 55 gallon black plastic barrels for passive solar collectors in the greenhouse to help maintain the temp at night.
Lots of sprouting going on. Even the dill which takes up to 14 days. I'm trying some new heirloom tomato's varieties. Green Zebra, Mortgage Lifter, Stupice and Gold Nugget. Just got back from another canning class at the Extension Office, this one was canning meat and veggies. Also picked up my hive boxes and will be putting them together this weekend.
Took a class last night at the Cooperative ext. on canning fish. This would be a great alternative to freezer burned salmon in January. Plus I plan on dip-netting this year and the freezer might not be big enough. Also the home economist gave lots of info on smoking the fish which I haven't been doing right. Next week they offer a class on canning meat and veggies.
Attended the second session of a 2 weekend beginners beekeeping class on Saturday that was held at one of the farms of the pioneer families here in the Matanuska Valley. Placed and order for the frames as I am building the boxes myself. Th class was taught by a long time Alaska beekeeper Steve Victors. http://www.alaskawildflowerhoney.com/ It was a great primer for a first time beekeeper in Alaska, I would recommend it to anyone just starting out.
Getting ready for seed starting. Will have some pictures shortly of my seed starting operation. I have to travel for some business this next week so I am putting off doing any seed starting till after that. I will be experimenting with different light sources and invite any comments about that subject. At this point I am going with the assumption that the Extension service makes, that is that the main requirement is that the maximum amount of lumen's is achieved and that you don't actually need a specific wavelength. So at this point I am using just the inexpensive 4 foot shop lights. Also using an electric heating pad as my garage is not heated.
This is my second year vegetable gardening in Alaska. Last year I built a greenhouse and a raised bed and had a great summer growing tomatoes and lettuce. This year I intend to expand into different veggies and bees, and possibly getting started with some apple trees and berry bushes. Ive been inspired by the Dervaes from So Cal, also the expense of good tasting food up here in AK.