Look out any window and it’s hard to believe — the Anchorage gardening season has begun.
Experienced dirt-diggers are already scattering seed indoors, rescuing bulbs from dark places and plugging in grow lights; which means it’s time to buy a ticket to the Alaska Botanical Garden’s spring conference, traditionally the first gardening event of the new season.
The conference is Saturday, March 10, on the third floor of the Consortium Library building at UAA.
Sixteen hour-long sessions on everything from potatoes in containers to tomatoes in greenhouses to dividing perennials and growing your own medicine are open to anyone with a ticket.
This year, the Botanical Garden people are playing dirty — trying to seduce us back to believing in green with a keynote speaker who promises our dream: a longer growing season.
Eliot Coleman is the national guru of extended seasons. The paperback version of his 1999 co-authored “Four Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long,” is No. 22 on Amazon’s list of all-time gardening best sellers.
By telephone from his home in Maine (latitude 44° N.), Coleman seemed sure his techniques will work in Anchorage (latitude 61° N.). Makeshift greenhouse-like planters are allegedly all that’s required to produce lovely winter produce and flowers.
“A cold frame, some sheets of plastic and a few bent pipes, or even saplings … Once the people up there see how easy it is, I think there will be 'greenhouses’ in every backyard garden,” he said.
According to Coleman, temperature can be dealt with. “The key is the 10-hour day. That’s when growth starts again.”
The 10-hour day returned to Anchorage last week. It’s not exactly 10 hours of life-affirming sunshine, but one presumes Coleman will deal with the details in his keynote address next Saturday afternoon.
Coleman is also scheduled to give a free talk on organic gardening at the Anchorage museum Friday evening for Botanical Garden members.
Nonmembers will be charged $15 to attend this event.
Some of the other presenters at the conference are: Dohnn Wood, on personal scale urban farming; Laurie Constantino, on cooking foraged wild edibles; Jeff Lowenfels, on what to feed plants; Elise Huggins, on sustainable residential landscape design; Verna Pratt, on growing veggies in containers; and Darren Snyder, on community gardening.
For fees, a complete schedule, and how to buy a ticket, see www.alaskabg.org or call 770-3692.