Gardening in Alaska

Image by/from Doug Noon

Agriculture in Alaska has become more popular and more acceptable as a general idea. Although agriculture in Alaska poses many challenges, largely due to the climate, the short growing season, and generally poor soils for agriculture, there have been a number of recent successes in agriculture and gardening in Alaska.

Knowledge of appropriate northern climate crops, as well as tips and tricks for the northern climate conditions will greatly enhance a gardener’s chance of success in Alaska. Additionally, there are a number of local and regional resources available to gardeners in Alaska, which are mentioned at the bottom of this article.

There are a handful of crops that do well in Alaska. Here is a short list of food crops that even a novice gardener can grow relatively easily:

Gardening in AlaskaAlaskan soil conditions range from loamy to sandy, with all ranges in between. In many parts of Alaska, the soil is acidic, and could greatly improve with the introduction of lime or wood ash. The biomes range from tundra, which is rich in underlying peat moss to taiga, boreal forest, and temperate rain forest. Because Alaska was once dominated by glaciers, much of the underlying subsurface is glacial till, silt and sand. Some gardeners have had success using compost, incorporating local materials such as salmon, seaweed, and peat moss.

A few innovations have made gardening in northern climates relatively successful. High tunnels, low tunnels, and greenhouses can significantly raise the ambient temperature for sensitive starters and can enable gardeners to start growing weeks or even months earlier than if growing from seed sown directly outdoors.

Starting seeds indoors will also enable gardeners to start growing weeks or even a month or so earlier.