IN THE GARDEN: Let the Gardening Commence

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 16:13

(Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a new “In the Garden” column that will deal with all things gardening. Written by Eagle River master gardener Chris Wood, this column is intended to enlighten, entertain and educate everyone from novice gardeners to those with the greenest of thumbs. Please feel to write Chris with questions, comments or column ideas. We hope you “dig” this new feature as much as we do…enjoy!)

With all the beautiful gardens we see in our area every summer, the love of gardening is evident in our community. We are so blessed to have several excellent greenhouses in our area that help us to show off our gardens every summer and they are open for business. I for one have been planting seeds and watching them grow under lights; checking out the greenhouses and just itching to get out in the yard to start gardening. I have been checking the greenhouse temperature daily high and lows and they are coming up! The snow is finally out of my yard. At this point, patience is in order to not plant yet! I have been burned more than once putting plants out too soon. The old timers tell us to wait until Memorial weekend for good reason; but we can start hardening off our plants a few hours per day in a partial shaded area of our yard. In the higher elevations you have a little longer wait for the soil to warm and the chance of frost to pass.

In the meantime, the yard clean-up begins and should keep us busy for the next couple of weeks until we can begin planting. Removing the dried plant debris and leaves away from your plants allows the new green shoots to emerge easier. Around town the ceremonial raking of the dry dead grass is in full force. Instead of getting rid of these rich sources for the compost pile, save all your leaves and grass that will breakdown and become rich mulch for the garden later.

Now is a good time for us to put away our bird feeders as our bears are awake roaming around and hungry. The birds have plenty of food available to them with bugs emerging and the snow gone. Water availability for birds and bees is extremely important. Bird baths or just a shallow bowl of water for these garden partners welcomes them to share your garden and is essential during dry times. Last year I was surprised to see my bumblebees drinking from my bird bath.

Watering parched areas of the garden can help jump start your perennial plants, especially under the eaves of the house, where rain is scarce. I use a watering can with warm water to help these plants get started. The wind is also drying to our plants and needs to be taken into consideration. Soaker hoses work well in the garden, providing water to the roots and wasting less water to evaporation and runoff.

I am looking forward to seeing which plants survived the winter and will eventually emerge this summer in our gardens. It is always a surprise and a miracle really that under all the snow and cold they prevail.

Please share photos of your gardens and any questions you may have of challenges in the garden. As part of the Master Gardeners Volunteer community, I will do my best to find the latest answers available to your questions. This column will attempt to share topics of interest in gardening today that are relevant to our area. Send me your gardening events. I look forward to hearing from you at [email protected].

Remember, we must “Keep calm and garden on.”

May Upcoming Meetings and Events:


Friday, May 12

Herb Study Group meeting and Orientation to Alaska Botanical Gardens with tour, 12-1:30, meet at ABG, 4601 Campbell Airstrip Rd. Anchorage


Monday, May 15

Anchorage Master Gardener meeting and presentation on Edible Flowers by Ginger Hudson, Master Gardener. 7-9 pm at Anchorage Cooperative Extension Service, Chugachmiut Building room 116, 1840 Bragaw Street.


Saturday, May 27

Alaska Public Garden Day, with free admission to the Alaska Botanical Garden at 4601 Campbell Airstrip Road, Anchorage.

Plant Sales:



Saturday, May 20

Alaska Botanical Garden and Alaska Rock Society plant sale, 10-5 at the garden.


Tuesday, May 23-26

Hiland Correctional Facility Plant Sale is 9-6pm. 9101 Hesterberg Road, Eagle River


Saturday, May 27

Alaska Rock Garden Society Plant Sale is at, 9-4pm at Snowfire Gardens, 3379 Inlet Vista Circle, Wasila.

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