Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

By Leah Wagner
Foundroot owner 

Things to consider before seeding garden beds


April 27, 2023

The lilac buds are out, the last patches of snow are melting away, and dare we say it, it’s nearly planting time in Haines. There are a few orders of business we need to take care of before we put those seeds in the dirt.

First and foremost, get your fencing set up. Protect our bears by not creating attractants. Simple electric fencing will do the trick and is the first thing you should put out into the garden. If moose frequent your home, you will need something much higher and more substantial. The most destructive animal in our garden is usually neighborhood dogs so a low fence that they can’t get under has been key.

Spring is a great time to test your soil if you didn’t do it in the fall. Testing your soil will allow you to supplement any nutrient deficiencies and ensure that your hard work pays off in a bounty of food. Whether you are using local inputs or purchasing fertilizer, knowing what’s going on in your dirt is critical to feeding your plants properly.

Get your season extension infrastructure in place. Row cover and greenhouse plastic go a long way in helping northern gardeners bring their plants to maturity. Please, only use materials that are meant for gardening. Leaching and disintegrating plastics into your beautiful organic soil defeats the purpose and is difficult, if not impossible, to remediate.

The first seeds we put in the dirt every year are for green manure. This year we are using buckwheat to add some organic matter and nutrients to the soil, allowing it to grow up to less than 12 inches and then turning it in. Next comes our hardy leafy greens, root veggies, and legumes. Once spring has truly hit, that’s when we’ll seed our heat loving seeds like squashes. Lastly, we harden off and transplant our tender indoor plant starts carefully.

One of the neatest parts of growing in the Chilkat Valley is the number of microclimates we have. Depending on where you live will determine the exact timing of spring planting or if you might be more susceptible to a late cold snap. If you are new to growing here, chat with local gardeners and neighbors about their timeline and plans. It should be adjusted every year depending on what the weather is doing.

The best thing you can do is get everything in place so when the season hits, you can hit the ground running. It’s coming folks and we can’t wait.


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