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  1. A great essay supporting that Mother Nature is in charge. Seasonal changes bring gardening surprises no matter what your location and no matter your experience as a hunter/gatherer.

  2. Great article. It sounds like you really know your local environment.

    Question: In what ways were you concerned, or have you been impacted by the news stories earlier in the year about how commercial corn production was projected to be at devastating lows, and could lead to people starving?

    From your article here, it sounds like you know your local environment so well, that corn has no impact on you, at all.

    1. Good grief Muddykid, these folks are living off the local land and harvesting what they can in their back yard. And you ask how they are concerned about commercial corn production? Did you even read the article?

      1. I am sorry that my question to the author offended you. Have you considered not being so delicate? I asked about corn production, not personal secrets.

        I did read the article and I thought it was excellent. These people are living off the land, and it sounds like they are thriving. Your reply makes it sound like you feel sorry for them. I admire them.

        If you keep up on current events, you’d know that crop failures have been a huge story this year. The narrative within those stories make it sound like the world is falling apart. However, as can be seen in this story, people can live within their local environment just fine.

        So, my question still stands. This story tells us about the ins and outs of living locally, and the doom corn production stories are not important (or edible) when you pay attention to your local environment .

    2. Dear Muddy Kid:

      We do not buy much corn or seed corn. For one thing, our growing season is too short to grow any and it is a high maintenance crop (space, water). For another, we utilize other starches we can grow (potatoes) and sweets we can produce (instead of corn syrup) such as honey. However, our animal feed is corn based, so thanks for the head’s up on a likely price rise. To supplement their feed, the chickens free range about half the year and I give the rabbits lots of yard weeds. Availability of food (and dangerously low temperatures) determine whether we keep many animals through the winter.

  3. Great article! We lived in the Matanuska Valley for 11 years. I never had any success defeating root maggots from our broccoli or cauliflower plants. How do you do it??

    1. Dear Butch, the Mat Su Valley (the size of eastern states) varies so much from gravel to muddy river valleys to rocky outcrops…I do not know why we have been fortunate to avoid that problem. I do inter plant with companion plants in the allium family (onions, garlic) and other highly scented roots like radishes… .lots of those, to deter ground based pests. Perhaps that has helped. Perhaps just a congenial setting and luck. Next year I will be surprised by something or other!

  4. You are so right. Every year is different. The best way to deal with it of course is to plant many different things as something is bound to do well! On my farm there were years when the blueberry branches were breaking due to the heavy crop and another year when the entire commercial size planting yielded not even enough to put on a single bowl of cereal; late frost leading to total crop failure! Many years the plums got nipped by frost and then would come a summer where the harvest was amazing. You never know…..

    Re: voles- I share you pain as to the damage they can do underneath the snow. I found hardware cloth to work to protect the young saplings as there was no way they could get through that!

    We also had to eliminate a number of roosters who were too mean to keep around. I found that a banty rooster was the sweetest ever and also protective of his partner while she was sitting on her eggs. Amazingly enough, he seemed to recognize that the chicks were his and he helped care for them.

    Your weather in Alaska sounds just like here in the far north!

  5. Thank you for offering this great perspective on your experiences.

    In lessons on history, the public may read a short passing reference on starvation, crop failure, years with no summer, and then eat a danish with their coffee. It doesn’t connect.

    If you have neighbors, it pays to network and get to know them. One family may grow 10 items, and another family a different 10 and barter is possible with people you know.

    For one family to try and produce 40 or 50 different crops of plants and animals is extremely challenging. Not just to grow them, but to effectively defeat predators, diseases and pests to have successful crops.

    I appreciate the need for diversity in production. I have started 32 varieties of apples, 8 varieties of cherries, 8 varieties of pears, and a dozen assorted nectarines/peaches/apricots.

    In real life, out of all these, perhaps 10 trees may produce a good crop in any year and that’s what I am planning for, along with 3 types of raspberries, Marionberries, 8 varieties of blueberries, 4 kinds of currants and gooseberry, seaberry, honeyberry, and more.

    Your article makes me more determined to erect an extremely sturdy hoop or greenhouse of good size.

    Alaska is truly an awesome place, but it must be very hard to have to purchase so much of your feed for animals.

    Thanks again and God Bless.

  6. Excellent article!

    Our experiences have been much like Mrs. Alaska. I am hoping to save up enough to build a solar greenhouse (think earthship or walapini) to help eliminate some of the uncertainties caused by critters and weather. Greenhouses have pests too but of the smaller variety.

    1. Dear Cuz Mike: Thank you for the link to this excellent and informative video. I have heard of “glassing eggs” and of “pickling lime” but could never find it. Thanks to your link, I now know to look in the Home Depot construction department (not a supermarket). Who knew!?! This is now on the shopping list for next spring when we go to town. I also read a comparative egg-storage article on Mother Earth News a while ago that validates this as an excellent long storage (one year ) technique for fresh eggs. I can’t wait to try it. Regards, Laura

  7. If you can do it in a Alaska, we can do it down here in Montana. Wish I had a great big green house built into the ground, heated by a wood stove, or by thermal heat from the ground, but I can barely afford some plastic for a crude example. As the book Gardening When It Counts instructs, learning to live with what can be grown with out a green house, is the best approach. The green house can get us an extra month of time to grow a limited amount, but the bulk of it should be done the old fashioned way. If we can at some point improve on that, all the better…

  8. Reply to Laura……. I’m happy this was of benefit to you. Please be sure that you get the food grade lime instead of what is used for construction.
    Thank you for taking time to write and sharing your experiences.

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