Monthly Garden Calendar for Alaska

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Linden Staciokas

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FEBRUARY

February is pretty much the only time I think of moving out of interior Alaska. It is not so much that I am sick of severe temperatures and the lack of sun. It is the photos in all those seed catalogs that arrive daily! I suddenly remember that somewhere out there people are spending Saint Patrick's Day sowing peas, and when I remember that (and I always do), I am hit by a deep envy that allows the harshness of winter to creep into my gardening soul. The only antidote is to start my gardening engines by tackling those chores not affected by weather.

Keep Those Containers. Drop an email to friends and co-workers asking them to save milk cartons, yogurt cups, cottage cheese containers, convenience store pop cups and anything else that can be recycled into a seed-starting container.

Stay Away From Peat Pots! They do not disintegrate properly in our soils; at worst your seedlings will die, at best they will be stunted. Newspaper pots can be filled with soil and transplanted in their entirety, because they decompose quickly once in contact with soil. Plus, it is cheap and easy to make your own newspaper pots.

Lightbulb Deals. Plan ahead and save money this month by looking for sales on shop lights and fluorescent bulbs. You'll need lights to start your own seedlings. You do not need expensive specialty grow lights; a mixture of warm-whites and cool-whites in your shop light will work fine.

Garage Projects. This is a good month to do those garage or workshop gardening projects that are quickly abandoned when seed sowing starts. Consider making cold frames made out of scrap lumber and glass.

Reap the Benefits of Raised Beds. Building raised beds is another good garage project. Simply take 2 X 6 lumber (or boards of the new recycled plastic or wood-plastic composites) and nail or screw them into a square or rectangle. You can carry them outside and fill them with dirt as soon as the snow is gone. Even this slight elevation of your garden results in warmer soil, improved drainage and allows for more intensive planting—all of which leads to larger yields.

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