Monthly Archives: October 2012

The successes of the Alaskan Food Forest Garden

It was a great year for fruit! The apples, june berries, arctic kiwi, currants of 3 colors, sour cherries, strawberries, and raspberries of 3 colors were all mega-prolific. Sweet cherries, gooseberries and an improved mountain ash all produced a bit. Here are the Hyer 20 apples:

Turnips, potatoes, rutabagas and some cole crops also did quite well, and I got one almost-big-enough tomatillo. As of yesterday, most of the garden is harvested and in except for some cabbages, that I think are better left out until I can make room in the fridge or a cooking pot! I still have some spring bulbs to plant, but gardening is almost done for the year. Just in time considering we already had our first snow last week, and a few nights of frost.
I purchased the empty lot next door this summer, so my dream of starting a community garden may be realized next year, if I can get off my butt and organize it! Right now the lot is full of piles of wood chips and the back corner is fenced for an extended chicken/duck run.

Berry harvest in July

Dipnetted the Kasilof and the Copper this summer, so the freezer is full of salmon and berries, and the cupboard has a few jars of syrups and jams. Not a huge stash of food, but a start on the winter! Also grew a good crop of oyster mushrooms from a kit and dried some of those plus some wild boletes.
Secrets to this year’s successes: goat manure around the fruit trees early every spring has undoubtedly contributed to strong growth and health. Guild planting has definitely led to happy communities – the strawberries are doing a very good job of competing with grass, berries under the trees are happy, and borage and motherwort and other flowers are drawing the bees. Yarrow, crimson clover, buckwheat, field peas and favas filled in the interstices, were lovely, and contributed their myriad benefits (drawing beneficials, pollinators, providing chicken forage, covering the ground as living mulch, providing food and nitrogen fixation). Mushrooms (of a generally undetermined nature – except for ubiquitous inky caps) grew everywhere amongst the beds and the wood chip paths.
Secrets to this year’s failures – I always put all the manure on the trees and mostly ignore the annual beds, so they don’t do as well. I didn’t thin enough as usual, and let the turnips shade out the beets and carrots too long for the latter to get big (the former are the size of baby’s heads and still tender). I traveled in May and late June and missed planting many things early etc, but all and all a great year!