Market Fresh: Dahlias debut at Center Market

Steve Edwards

Despite the recent sunshine, it's still too early to dig around in the garden. But that shouldn't stop flower fans.

Rob Wells, The Persistent Farmer, will be at Wednesday's Center Market with dahlia tubers for those who have pre-ordered and for those who may be procrastinators.

"The tubers have woken from their nap, are happy, sprouting and ready to be placed in pots," Wells says.

He will have a wide variety of tubers to choose from and more information is available at

For those without dahlia experience, here is how Wells describes the best way to treat the flowers-to-be.

"A 1 to 2 gallon pot of loose potting soil is recommended for starting the tubers, depending on their size. The soil should be moist, but little watering should be done until the plant breaks the surface. I plant them 3-4 inches deep horizontally, with the sprout up. I am only selling tubers that have visible sprouts," he says.

"Depending on the plant, it may be a couple of weeks before they show above ground, then they need normal plant care with even light. If grown in pots, they will need a bigger one, up to 5 to 10 gallons with staking as they can grow quite large, 4-to-5 feet and their blooms are heavy. I like tomato cages for staking. I also like Alaska ground fish bone for fertilizer. If planting the start in the ground, wait until the danger of frost is gone unless you can offer protection.

"Dahlias love full sun, and if you start them in March you should have blooms in July with a strong finish in August."

Wells will be at the Center Market throughout March and will also be at Saturday's Alaska Botanical Garden conference at the Millennium Hotel.

The usual vendors also will be at Wednesday's Center Market.

Duane Clark's Country Health Foods will have grass-fed beef, local free-range chicken and duck, local raw honey, Alaska Sprouts produce including lettuce, Alaska shrimp and scallops, and goat cheese.

AD Farm will have approximately 70 dozen fresh chicken and duck eggs, Delta-grown barley flour and cereal, pork products (chops, roast, loin roast, steak, breakfast sausage patties, Italian sausage, ground pork, spicy sausage, fresh side slice and slab) and vegetables (carrots, golden beets, cabbage, parsnips and potatoes).

Rempel Family Farm will have snow apple turnips; daikon radish; green cabbage; stripetti squash; red, Chioggia and golden beets; and nine varieties of potatoes

The market is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at The Mall at Sears.


Spenard Farmers Market

The popular, volunteer-run market is accepting vendor applications for the summer season (May 18 to Sept. 28). All new and returning vendors must complete an application, which is available at

Vendors are selected by the SFM Vendor Committee and qualify for a 10-by-10-foot booth space under one of these categories: Alaska Grown/Caught, Locally Baked or Cooked, Locally Made Arts and Crafts, Community Service or Special Event Boot and Spenard Area Business.


From the sea

Dannon Southall from 10th & M Seafoods says the sunshine is giving everyone the "spring itch."

"What better way to cure this itch then cleaning off the grill and enjoying fresh Alaskan seafood," he says. "This week fresh troll king salmon from southeast will be coming in. These winter treats are a great way to enjoy your grill tops and this sunshine."

In addition to the winter troll kings, fresh Alaska cod fillets are available for $5.50 per pound.

And fresh halibut should be available before too long. Southall says the new season for halibut opens March 23.


River Dip - Spenard Style

 Half a fillet of smoked or cooled, baked salmon, roughly crumbled (halibut works well too)

 8 ounces cream cheese, warmed

 1 cup sour cream

 1 cup mayonnaise

 1 teaspoon dill

 2 teaspoons Tabasco or Cholula sauce

 2 cloves garlic, finely minced

 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped

 1 bunch green onion, finely chopped

w Warm cream cheese in the microwave until creamy.

w Mix cream cheese with chopped salmon until combined.

w Stir in hot sauce, sour cream and mayonnaise until smoothly combined.

w Stir in garlic and green onions.

w Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (to let the flavors get to know each other).

w Put the music on and serve with crackers, tortilla chips, veggie sticks

Source: Cindy Shake, Spenard Farmers Market community and media relations volunteer


Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. If you have a suggestion for a future Market Fresh column, please contact him at



Daily News correspondent