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Northern Garden Fences

  • Subject: [cg] Northern Garden Fences
  • From: Wintergarden wintergarden@gci.net
  • Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 21:03:05 -0800

Adam wanted to know if our garden was the one on the listserve looking for a garden host.  Yes it was, and we did find one, though not through the listserve.  A returning gardener decided to save on rent money and park their trailer at the garden.  It is so nice to have someone living on site. In the past we have had some complaints about this from people who think we are providing free space to transients from "outside" (our word for the lower 48) who are taking Alaskans' jobs.  The borough parks department is very happy as our garden is on property leased from the borough in a kind of seedy park. 
Our community garden is about 3 acres (never been surveyed)  We have 86 plots that average about 600 square feet.  We lease the land for nothing and our lease is 4 years with a 4 year renewal option.  It is a very cheap way for the borough to maintain this property!  Our growing season is June 1 to Sept 1 though we have had frosts as late as June 7 and as early as mid August.  We have 20plus hours of sunshine for much of that growing season and it doesn't get dark until mid August.  It is nice to be able to head out to the garden after the children are in bed to do some weeding, etc and still enjoy the sunshine while you are at it. August is our wet season which is a problem for beans and squash.  All the cole crops do well and greens that won't bolt in the constant light do great.  Potatoes are easy to grow and so are carrots.  Carrots have a very high sugar content because of the light.  Peas do well too.  We get temperatures in the high 80s but the 70's are more common.  I grow everything is raised beds covered with water permeable, reusable, weed barrier cloth.  This helps warm the soil which is very cold. I add a lot of organic material every year,  The soil is wind blown loess, very light and fluffy and very infertile (Just blew off the glacier a few thousand years ago)  I can't use mulch to keep down the weeds because it keeps the soil too cool.  By the time the soil is warm enough to add mulch, in mid to late June, the weeds have taken over.  Not everyone gardens this way.  For years I would weed like crazy and then mulch like crazy.  One year I had surgery and knew I wouldn't be able to weed so I set up my garden this way and loved it so much I kept doing it. 
If you have visions of Alaska as in the TV show Northern Exposure, you aren't far off.  The people are great and our community garden is a wonderful community of individuals.  Really unique individuals!  I should write a book!
In regards to our fence.  We created it with wooden posts, 12 feet apart and two runs of 4" welded wire with a run of barbed wire on top.  It can be cut easily but it is very unobtrusive and does the trick.  Ironically it was built partially with free labor from people sentenced to community service.  We had a wonderful maintenance man from the Catholic church who supervised them and also the planting and harvesting of 4 gardens for their soup kitchen (also done with free labor).
Thanks for the web site address for the Inuvik garden.  Looks fabulous.  60 degrees at 9PM, sun is shining with just a little haze from Russian forest fires!  Wendy 

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