Preparing Soil To Grow Culinary Herbs In Alaska

by Claudette Lambert

Growing culinary herbs in Alaska has to be one of the most challenging things for gardener. The area is very cold in winter and, unlike other parts of America, has very little daylight during the cold months. The extreme temperatures can wreak havoc for growing herbs as the earth freezes up to five feet underground.

The soil is not the only thing that can suffer during an Alaskan winter. The flowers and plants have a hard time too. Savvy Alaskans will tend to their soil well in advance of winter, to ensure that when the frost finally disperses they are able to start planting right away.

The growing season in the region is very short which means they need to prepare the land throughout the whole of winter so it is ready for the growing season in spring. They often do this well before the first frost of winter touches the land. Among the techniques they utilize is to test the soil. They do this by either going to the local university or buying a test kit. As the kit is cheaper most people go with that.

Soil is checked in the spring and in the fall, when the land is not frozen. Testing in fall is particularly vital because by doing this they get a head start on improving the earth before winter, so it is ready in time for next spring. Neglecting the land can mean having to import soil from third parties in order to improve its texture and composition.

Among the many techniques implemented by gardeners is the use of horse manure. Great care should be taken if this route is followed. It can contain chickweed seeds which do cause problems if the composting phase isn't properly undertaken. The use of organic manure is something to consider but this also has its problems, what with potentially high levels of nitrogen which can burn plants and seedlings. Once the manure has been used it should be worked thoroughly into the earth.

When preparing for spring, one of the methods that is often used is to distribute wood ash onto the land. Alongside this method is one that involves distributing coffee grounds. Though this is only used in a thin layer, this simple formula can help to discourage flies from laying eggs that breed root maggots.

It is vital to protect the land against the extreme weather as temperatures can plummet to below freezing and stay there for a while. The dark winters do not promote much growth so steps have to be taken to protect the land. Therefore, some gardeners will put down clear plastic mulch or black plastic mulch to protect from the cold. Another way is to start seedling in a greenhouse, transferring them to land when the thaw comes.

The obvious challenges of making sure soil is fit to grow culinary herbs in Alaska has given rise to some of the most resourceful gardeners in America. Preparing early for winter and replanting when the frost is over are a few of the important things to consider if you want to make sure crops are given the best chance to thrive.

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