Anchorage in general is in a sulk. Three or nine inches of snow fell yesterday and today, depending on where you live in the Anchorage bowl. This snowfall gives Anchorage a new record for the longest snow season on record, 232 days long. Bike to Work Day on Friday was rainy and then snowy. The Nenana Ice Classic, Alaska’s biggest guessing game on when the ice goes out in the spring on the Tanana, was the latest breakup in recorded history. Gardeners are frustrated, and even the skiers are tired of winter. We seem to be experiencing a cooling trend for Alaska due to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and changes in the winter ice patterns–more in the Bering Sea and less in the Arctic. Alex DeMarban at Alaska Dispatch summarizes the study: Continue reading Going Local
No, that’s not the cry of a spoiled child. It’s food, calling to you!
Anyone can grow, gather, or make a lot of their own food. We do it on four fronts – we garden, we catch a lot of fish, we raise chickens, and we make some of our favorite foods from scratch. What have we learned along the way? Continue reading Make Me!
Doughnuts–alternative fuel for your next vacation?
By Todd & Mary Logan & Dawn Groth
“Don’t tell me you rode those bicycles all the way out here!” said the folks from Atlanta.
And so began an amusing lunchtime conversation with the vacationing couple from Atlanta. Mary, Dawn, and I were filling our stomachs, resting our legs, and enjoying a spectacular view of the Kuskulana River bridge at milepost 17 on the McCarthy road. We had each pedaled out of our driveways in Anchorage on bikes six days before and had ridden 280 miles since leaving home.
The folks from Atlanta were enjoying their first visit to Alaska. They were at this remote place in their rental car only because they were traveling with friends who had been up to Alaska several times before who were looking for something different – a trip to McCarthy and the Kennicott mines. We each traded a few stories of neat things we had seen or done so far, and we shared some smoked salmon. But the couple kept returning to the idea that what we were doing was super-human and unbelievable. They were younger than us, and lamented that they should be doing more biking themselves and leading a more active lifestyle. They would arrive in McCarthy in a couple of hours, while it would take us another day to arrive. We encountered them two days later in McCarthy at the McCarthy Lodge. We were on the deck eating a celebratory dinner of curried rice with local duck eggs, and up they drove up in a shuttle. We yelled to them, “Don’t tell me you drove all of the way here in your car!” Later they offered us shots; we demurred, as “nothing good ever came from a night of shots!” The theme for our trip reflected the common refrain from Anchoragites regarding the long distance to McCarthy; “McCarthy–too far to drive, but we can bike there!” Continue reading Doughnuts–alternative fuel for your next vacation?
Alaska has a long and interesting history of agriculture, including a government-sponsored relocation of 200 Midwest farm families in 1935 to establish the Matanuska Valley Colony near present-day Palmer. Today a modest number of commercial agricultural operations are successfully operating around the state. Nonetheless, commercial agriculture, even when combined with subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering, supplies less than 5 percent of the food consumed by the 720,000 residents of the state.
In recent years home vegetable gardening has seen rapid growth in popularity nationwide. The local foods movement and a growing interest in sustainable and self-sufficient living have at least in part fueled this interest. In the Anchorage area, ornamental and vegetable gardening is popular. Our long summer days are a big plus. Our short growing season and naturally cool air and soil temperatures are our biggest challenges. Anchorage gardeners typically reserve Memorial Day weekend to plant most vegetables outdoors. We enjoy harvests from mid-summer until the hard frosts and first snows of mid-October bring the outdoor gardening season to a close.
At our Anchorage home we have had a successful vegetable garden for several years. Leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and Swiss chard do well here. Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and turnips also thrive in our long days and cool soils at 61°North. However, if you lust for a good tomato, cucumber, or pepper, regardless of season, you must create more conducive growing conditions or accept the imported fare that spends weeks traveling from farm to market.