Sunday, February 15, 2015




To read about a topic, 
simply click on the topic from the list over to the right >

Our family has gardened on our property here in Sitka, Alaska since 1984. Sitka is located on the western shore of Baranof Island in a temperate rainforest. The forest is rooted in volcanic ash atop uneven, rocky terrain. Countless hours of soggy labor went into landscaping and developing our garden beds. Finding and growing suitable flower, fruit and vegetable varieties involved lots of trial and error. So far, the outcome of our efforts has been more than favorable. No one has been more surprised and delighted with our success than we are!

We are essentially organic gardeners. Our plants are produced with fertilizers of plant or animal origin as opposed to chemically formulated fertilizers and pesticides.

Many of the flowers, herbs and vegetables we grow need to be started indoors from seed in February, March and April. We use our own seeds as well as purchased seeds. We use our own soil for the starts as well as locally purchased seed starting soil.

We designed our woodstove hearth to hold lots of plant trays. The woodstove warmth promotes seed germination. For four to six weeks after germination, the young plants get the best natural light we can offer inside our home before they go out to our greenhouse. Plants are gradually moved out of our home and into our greenhouse for hardening off. Hardening off acclimates the plants to our cool days and nights. The move to the greenhouse depends on plant sensitivity, size and weather. By the end of May, most plants have been moved out of the greenhouse to the outdoor garden beds.

We have grown the bulk of our vegetables in several large garden plots each year. Crops are rotated in these plots. Flowers and berries are grown in and around the vegetable plots as well as in separate locations.

Our garden soil is rich and healthy. We started each of our many plots the same way. After removing as many of the tenacious salmonberry bushes and weeds as possible, we brought in equal amounts, as much as we could get, of sand and seaweed. We never pull attached seaweed off of rocks. We collect the loose stuff piled up at the high tide line at the top of beaches... preferably after the annual spring herring spawn so as to include a good spattering of herring eggs. We also try to add more loose seaweed and sand each spring to our established garden plots. When any of the plots need sweetening (need a higher pH), we like to till in fine, broken shell found high up on some beaches. Lime is also available commercially.

After adding spring nutrients and supplements, we rototil our vegetable plots thoroughly. Next, we shovel the soil into raised rows or beds. We have periodically underlined raised beds for root crops with fish scraps from local canneries and starfish from beaches at low tide. No boards or other supports are necessary.

After the starts are transplanted into the rows, each row is covered loosely with a floating row cover. This is a lightweight material that keeps out insects and pests while allowing rain and sunlight to pass through. It also causes the soil temperature to increase significantly. Most years, we remove many of the floating row covers permanently by the end of July. 

Large, healthy plants are revealed and are truly a joy to behold!

It seems that there are as many methods of gardening as there are gardeners! 

Each gardener gathers information and acquires preferences over time.
It all comes together in a unique way. In this blog, SITKAVORES, I will be sharing the Welsh family's approach to gardening... 
and our experiences wild harvesting in and around Sitka.

May all of your gardening and wild harvesting endeavors 
be successful and fulfilling!

All SITKAVORES photos are by Florence Welsh, unless otherwise noted.

You are welcome to contact Florence Welsh by email:

No comments:

Post a Comment