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  1. Looking forward to the remaining parts. I lived in central Alaska when I was young and returned during my 40s but only for a short while. I am a major follower of all things Alaska and have great respect for the hearty folks who live there.

  2. Having lived in southern interior Alaska (I still own a home near there), Barley is about the only grain crop anyone has ever had any margin of success growing. It seems a bit better up near Delta Junction, but not much. Some oat varieties might be harvestable, but you can forget about pretty much all other grains.

    That said, there are a couple of commercial farms in the Susitna and Matanuska River Valleys that grow a large selection of vegetable crops, including potatoes. We’ve U-Picked some of those farms with good results, and reasonably decent prices. I’ve done well in Anchorage growing cabbage and all the rhubarb one can stand to eat. Without much effort, I was able to produce cabbage heads quite a bit larger than 12″ diameter.

    For the average Schmo, growing grain crops on arable land in Alaska is not practical. The required effort for cultivating such a subsistence crop precludes having a career of any sort either close enough to commute to, or time enough to pay for the mortgage. We did the math, and concluded it would be far more practical and far less expensive to ship a few tons of grain up from the Palouse, put it in dry storage somewhere secure and reasonably convenient, and invest the difference in things far less risky. It all boils down to making $100k+ a year and stockpiling what we need for the rest of our lives, or clearing $30k a year if the crop comes in, and the potential to grow more every year as long as everything is just right. In a SHTF situation, defending a connex box ought to be far easier than 50 acres of almost ready to harvest crops.

    You can grow enough potatoes to feed your family for a year in the backyard garden up there, if you are smart about it. I met a lot of folks who did, and no one who grew barley anywhere near me.

  3. The line that really jumped out at me was the line about older people selling in the vendor lines because their pensions no longer were enough to meet their basic needs. That is happening to many folks here. Pensions are not increasing with the cost of living – not even the phoney cost of living figures we are told are real. Our medical costs with prescriptions are roughly the same as our total income. How is that supposed to work?? Well I’m selling on ebay which may be our version of the Russian vendor lines.

  4. Around 2013 I read the book “Survivors” and that kicked me off into re-starting my gardening ventures and the quest to learn how to can my harvests.
    In 2014 I cleared the weeds from an old garden area at one of my rental properties in Anchorage.
    I hand dug an existing 4ft. X 20 ft. raised bed and part of a 30 X 60 flat area. Note to self, if I make any more raised beds make them 3 feet wide. My arms are not that long. I also started to play with container gardening along the south side of my home. I had three battles to fight one the weather the second weeds and the third slugs. The slug problem was so bad in 2015 that I would go on search and destroy missions to hunt them. My neighbor’s ducks were well fed that year with a head or slime count of over 300 of the slimy bastards. I found that after the first two or three the dirt sticking to my fingers made picking them out of the dirt better. I also laid cardboard squares and the outer guard leaves of my cabbage plants on the ground for the slimy munchers to hide under during the day. If it should hit the fan I would try to get a few ducks to do this job.
    By 2015 my wife bought me the largest roto-tiller Sears sells. It is a monster to control but I could, if necessary, till the 1/3-acre property that I have with no problem well now with my age and arthritis some problem.
    In 2015 I planted Blue Lakes Bush String Beans and Yellow wax beans in the raised bed and the weather co-operated I was able to get 3 pickings and canned either fresh pack or pickled 20-pint jars of beans. I also had Carrots, Turnups, Red Beets, Head Lettuce Zucchini Cabbage and Cauliflower in my flat garden. The slugs loved the lettuce.
    In the container alongside of my home I grew Sugar Peas (Edible Pod Peas) in 3 small Rubbermaid totes. These did quite well and I got 4 pickings for meals and a few I snacked on whenever I walked by. Leaf Lettuce, Tomato’s in 5 gal. buckets, green Bell peppers, Egg Plant, Zucchini in large round plastic tubs, Red Beets, Carrots, Spinach and Dill. They all did well except the Zucchini which did Great. I missed 2 and when I discovered them they were over 2 feet long. We split these in half, scooped out the seeds and put fried hamburger and marinara sauce on them and baked them with provolone cheese.
    I was cooking some Red Beets to make pickled Red beets and the wife came running out of the bathroom where she was taking a bath, I looked at her and said not now honey I have a pot of Red Beets cooking on the stove. She yelled earthquake, it was then that I felt it. I looked at her and said, “If you are going outside you might want to put at least a jacket on it’s chilly outside”, as I went to the kitchen to check the pots. Being Pennsylvania Dutch, we love pickled Red Beet Eggs. For some reason carrots here taste sweeter than imported from outside (California) carrots. The people at the Extension Service say it is because of our soil. I fresh Pack them for soups, stews and cooking as well as pickling them.

    20016 was a repeat of 2015 but a larger garden area for Yukon Gold and Red potatoes and the addition of more totes along the house for container potatoes. A 3-pound bag of seed potatoes grew enough for potatoes once or twice a week to last us until March. The weather co-operated again and I planted more Wax beans in a different area and more Blue Lake Beans. I still have green and Yellow beans for stews and “Ham & String Beans. Boil the meat off of a ham bone, throw into the stock some cubed potato’s and 3 Qts. of mixed Green and Yellow string beans I like vinegar on mine my wife puts butter on hers (Don’t put both you will get sick). The Zucchini, Cauliflower, cabbage and everything else did great. I did a garden pickle mix of about 15 pints. The cabbage I turned into “Pepper Cabbage” AKA Freezer Slaw

    Pepper cabbage
    A simple recipe as a side dish for the Holidays to go with almost any meal but especially a greasy one like fried fish, turkey or a beef roast is called “Pepper Cabbage” AKA “Freezer Slaw” (it can be frozen for up to a year and it will taste as fresh as the day it was made.
    Shred 1 head of cabbage
    Toss with 1 Table spoon of salt and set aside
    in a sauce pan combine 2 cups of sugar Or Splenda
    1 cup Apple Cider vinegar
    1/4 cup water
    1 Table spoon Mustard Seed
    1 Table spoon Celery seed
    bring to a boil for 1 Minute and then let cool completely
    While this happens dice
    1 Green Bell Pepper
    1 Red Bell Pepper
    Shred 1 or 2 Carrots
    When mixture is completely cool to room temp.
    Rinse shredded cabbage and drain thoroughly and in a large bowl combine everything and set in refrigerator overnight (it lets everything combine and tastes better)
    serve or put up in 1-pint Tupperware containers and freeze.
    NOTE: This can be taken on picnics and you don’t have to keep it cool it won’t spoil like coleslaw.
    I made close to 5 gallons of this we all like it.
    I tried sweet corn but it was a bust.
    The Zucchini got to a point where my wife forbade me from brining any more into the house. I snuck some in and fermented some in quart jars and they were good I did this to some pickles we tried to grow this year also.

    20017-The summer of 2017 our normal summer came. 20015 and 20016 we had nice warm days with lots of sun and over 10 days where the temperature hit 70 degrees or more. 20017 we had a cold wet summer with maybe 4 days in the low 70’s. That coupled with my knees going bad with arthritis where I couldn’t stand much to weed the garden or hunt slugs we didn’t get much from the garden while my container garden, which is sheltered and on the south of my home did better. We added pickle plants this year and I managed to put up 5 pints of Bread and Butter pickles.
    This fall we had a bay window installed in the living room of our home and I am listening to Christmas Carols, drinking cocoa and looking out at a cow moose eating the berries off of our Mountain Ash and dreaming with trepidation the 2018 summer growing season. Will my knees hold up, will my wife allow me to use the area of the bay window to start my plants in March? I know the weeds and slugs will be bad this year so maybe I will get some duck’s this year but the down ide is the neighbors cat that free roams. Those super sonic pellet rifles are loud as crap and I live trapped the bastard twice and took it to animal control so now it’s trap shy. It cost them $75.00 each time to get it out of the pound.

    Things that I have grown here with no problem: Potatoes, Turnups (Moose LOVE them), Carrots, Radishes, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Broccoli, Red Beets, lettuce both leaf and head, Spinach, Pickles, Zucchini.
    Items that take a little effort String Beans, Egg Plant, Tomatoes Bell Peppers, strawberries.
    A LOT of effort Sweet Corn. The ground doesn’t get warm enough naturally.
    People with greenhouses grow other things but this is what I have grown.
    I won’t mention Rhubarb (over 70 pounds a year) and Raspberries (they are like weeds).

  5. If America would get back to the quality they once reigned supreme over the world our whole economy would be re-invigorated . Chinese work cheap and it still shows in the end . Make something again like the 1947 John Deere model B I had . When the engine rod,crank,piston pin bearings were worn you took out one of the factory installed shims to restore the clearances and ran it another 40 years .

  6. I have been experimenting with hull-less oats for several years in Kodiak, growing them in raised beds. Some years they mature fully, other years not. The straw is certainly a valuable garden addition, while unripe or ripe grain can be a good chicken feed. Hand threshing the grain is a pain.
    My garden supplies a lot of our vegetables, very expensive otherwise at the store. Still have kale, leeks, chard, and various herbs now outside. Later in the winter the deer may eat them if the snow ices over.
    Permaculture practices have helped; growing comfrey for high nitro mulch (and sticky leaves that don’t blow away in our ferocious winds)for garlic.
    All the cold winter veggies are useful, and berry hedges. Porches, south or west sides of the house, are good heat traps to grow tender plants in summer like tomatoes and zucchini.
    A lot of folks have built hoop houses through the FDA’s program, these have greatly increased local yields. They have been visible, and more people tend to want to garden to keep up with neighbors.
    It does not seem possible to be fully self-sufficient here, but if whole populations grow more food,even just the easy ones like rhubarb, chard, raspberries, garlic,potatoes and the cold weather greens, we would be much more robustly supplied.

  7. I grew sunshine hull less barley on the Kenai a few years – but I discovered my soil needs more work for a better crop. I had good success with a black hullless variety that is drought tollerant and tolerates poor soil The experiment continues…

  8. I did some quick calculating based on reported crop yield for Oats, Barley and potatoes in Alaska. Using USDA 2015 crop production report (page 79 of 101), Univ of Missouri Extension crop weights tables, and nutritiondata.self.com website, I calculated that one acre will yield about 2.6 million calories of barley, 2.5 million calories of oats, or 8 million calories of potatoes on average for Alaska. Per pound, potatoes yield about 20% of the general nutrition of the grains, also being lower in iron and much higher in Vitamin C.

    For the amount of effort put into cultivation and harvest, it would seem, at least in Alaska, that potatoes would be a much better choice than grains for a main subsistence crop. With the yield necessary for self sustainment requiring considerably less growing area, the utilization of the difference in area for other crops would be much more feasible, and result in a much more diverse and complete nutrient source for similar growing space. Perhaps this is a big reason why the vast majority of subsistence farmers in Alaska grow potatoes and not grains as their primary crop. For those who are stuck doing most of the cultivation and harvesting without the aid of expensive mechanical equipment, the economics get real simple real quick.

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