For generations, Memorial Day weekend has been the ideal garden-planting window. Start before that time and you risk a frost. Start after and you risk a puny harvest.
That means if you don’t have plants in the ground, you’re wasting great growing time. Market vendors say these plants are the ones to get in the ground ASAP.
Tomatoes: “The weather is settling, and since they take half of the summer to eventually produce, you don’t want to delay,” says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics, which will be at Saturday’s Anchorage Farmers Market and the Wednesday Market at Airport Heights. “We have plants available that are large enough to give people a good head start — we say they’re ‘halfway grown!’ "
Winter squash: “Winter squashes also need most of the summer grow and develop mature fruit,” Bean says. Look for these varieties from Arctic Organics: orange kabocha, buttercup, blue ballet and pie pumpkins.
Brassicas: It’s a family of vegetables that love Alaska growing conditions and includes kale, collards, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. “Right now is a great time to transplant,” says Allie Barker of Chugach Farm, which will be at the Spenard Farmers Market on Saturday.
Scarlet runner beans: “They are more cold-tolerant than most beans,” Bean says. “They will actually produce a crop of delicious Italian broad bean-style beans by the time it gets cold in late August.”
Carrots: They’re the sweet darling of Alaska root veggies and it’s time to plant them. Barker says direct seed them in your garden and you’ll be growing orange (or purple or white or yellow) treats in no time! It’s pretty much the same story for beets, lettuce, and spinach, too.
Barker says regardless of what you’re transplanting, tossing on a row cover — or agribon — is a good idea. “We can still get a frost and (they) reduce pests finding the plants and laying eggs.”
NOW OPEN: Wednesday Market at Airport Heights
The popular weekday market at Fire Island Bakery, 2530 E. 16th Ave., opened for the season on Wednesday. The market runs through Aug. 28 and features farmers, live music, rotating artists, local brews and supporting various local nonprofits.
Among the vendors lined up for the market are Arctic Organics, Wild Scoops, Alaska Pasta Co., Su Salmon Co., Wild Child and Turnstone Farm. Featured breweries include Anchorage Brewing Co., Double Shovel Cider Co., Bleeding Heart Brewery, Resolution Brewing Co., Turnagain Brewing and Midnight Sun Brewing.
The market is open 3-7 p.m.
Anchorage Farmers Market: Bean says vendors lined up for the Anchorage Farmers Market include Arctic Organics, Ed & Tina’s Kraut & Pickling, Hatcher Pass Dahlias, Matanuska Gardens, Seldovitch Farm, Brown Dog Farm, Shaggy Mane Shroomery and Turkey Red Café breads and treats. Ben Swimm of Brown Dog Farm says they will have fresh Alaska tulips and daffodils at the market. In addition to veggie starts, Bean says Arctic Organics will have an assortment of hanging baskets including petunia, nasturtium, cottage garden, and herb, and fertilizer blends.
Center Market: Alex Davis of AD Farm says his highlights are “all things eggs” — from quail, guinea, chicken, duck, turkey and goose. Davis also has plenty of pork cuts and storage vegetables from last fall. Other vendors include Flourishing with baked goods, Fat Corgi Confections with chocolates, Capriccio Specialties with spices and Jonsers with nectars.
As we head into June, the Alaska seafood world is heating up. Rob Winfree from 10th & M Seafoods says the shop has plenty of options available. Among the Alaska highlights are: Copper River sockeye headed and gutted for $16.95 per pound, Copper River sockeye fillets ($21.95/pound), rockfish fillets ($9.95/pound), halibut fillets ($19.95/pound) and Alaska spot shrimp ($21.95/pound).
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find your farmers market:
Friday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Midtown Mall, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street
Saturday in Anchorage: Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., 15th Avenue and Cordova Street; Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets; Center Market, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Midtown Mall, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; South Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., O’Malley Sports Center; Spenard Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., 2555 Spenard Road
Saturday outside of Anchorage: Healy Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Mile 249.2 Parks Highway; Highway’s End Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Delta Junction; Homer Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Ocean Drive; Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 2600 College Road, Fairbanks
Sunday in Anchorage: Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets
Wednesday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Midtown Mall, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Wednesday Market at Airport Heights, 3-7 p.m., Fire Island Rustic Bake Shop, 2530 E. 16th Ave.
Wednesday outside of Anchorage: Highway’s End Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Delta Junction; Homer Farmers Market, 2-5 p.m., Ocean Drive; Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 2600 College Road, Fairbanks