Have you been following the Rising Chaos tour? Holy cow! When Red Adept Publishing tours a new book they go all out! Being that I have had Erica Lucke Dean on my blog for a few #FourthWallFriday specials, including two of her Red Adept Publishing tours, she told Elizabeth about it and here we are? I let her know it was #AtoZChallenge month and said, how about P? And so… in a diner somewhere in…
Today O is for OK reads. Nothing wrong with an OK read. Not everyone is Hemingway or Thoreau. I am totally down with a good 3 star read! It won’t blow your minds but you will be entertained, isn’t that what some of us want and need on any given quiet afternoon?
Short and sweet just like the book. I am really into Young Adult Sci-Fi these days and so I have been reading a ton of it. This is…
Welcome to a slight interlude on the A to Z Challenge. J is for Just.. just another night, just another bike ride, just another intrusion of one authors world build into her life. Fourth-Wall Friday, for those who have never read one is one of my favorite things on my blog. Authors are challenged to write themselves into their world-build and characters and introduce you to their work from a…
Kory M. Shrum is about as Hot is it comes in the Indie Scene!
Kory emailed me back in mid January and asked if I would be interested in reviewing Dying for a Living. I was fresh off of reading Grasshopper Jungle and The Almost Girl and I told her I probably would not be able to get to it right away. Then I read the synopsis again and went ohhhh fresh new urban fantasy! I am so glad I did not…
Gardening in Alaska is magical, large and in charge veggies and fruits grow in our never ending sunlight here in the land of the Midnight Sun. We produce the most obnoxiously large zucchini and pumpkins… cabbage lettuce heads etc. It is really magical.
My mini corn stocks were as large as regular and the tomato plants were crazy my first year! My herb pot of basil I brought up from Arizona was a large bush about 2 feet across became dangerously close to a shrub of 6 feet! I was giving handfuls of basil away to my neighbors! But when we moved to the cabin I didn’t have my huge garden anymore and so I went back to gardening in containers, just like my mom raised me to do in the Pacific NW.
Container gardens are something I flourish in. I enjoy them as you can move them around your yard or if they need to be in sunlight or if they need special types of dirt, such as certain herbs, and tomatoes and lettuce.. They all need different blends of earth. Draping tarps over the top of delicate plants during the monsoon rains (yes the interior of Alaska is an Arctic desert). There are other reasons such as moose who cannot get certain buckets up on your porch.. that is unless he is a moose like mine (read about my basil eating, hostage taking moose over at Erica Lucke Dean’s site)! Container gardening is ideal anywhere. I did it when I live in Texas and it was lovely. You need to find out what the best mix for potting soil down there, but we will discuss soil later.
At first I used expensive containers I bought from the garden center, my garden was gorgeous. Then… winter happened and I did not have a garage to move them into or a basement and half of them were destroyed by the cold. Plus I wanted to expand it so I bought 5 gallon buckets, left over plastic gallon containers and larger Rubbermaid™ tubs. Everything grows amazing in Alaska, all you have to do is mix the dirt right. My secret ingredient always was adding ash to the mix especially since I wanted to make sure the roots would stay moist but not sodden and never dry out on top of that.
Whatever you use make sure to get containers that you can drill/poke holes into the bottom for drainage, if the containers don’t already have them. Make the holes about 1/2″-1″ on the bottom of the container. I grab the cordless drill and a thick drill. On the side of the bucket no more than an inch from the bottom of the bucket drill anywhere from 10-20 holes. Good drainage is a must for any container gardens. Especially when you are doing potatoes because they can start rotting and I do those in 30 gallon garbage cans!
Back to the soil though. You CANNOT use regular garden soil in containers. It is way too dense and prohibits proper drainage. You need to splurge and get the potting soil mix, or make your own (which is what I do. The basic recipe is easy-peasy. Mix one part each of the peat moss, vermiculite, and compost. I also add 4 cups of ash from a wood stove, this really tends to be a plus with everything I grow. Unless you have chickens like I did the first year, you are going to want to choose some kind of fertilizer, either organic or store bought. If you do not have your own compost you can even check locally to see if you can find some. Many neighborhoods have gardening co-ops so check around!
It’s easiest if you just grab a bucket and throw one bucket of each ingredient into your mixing container (I use a large Rubbermaid so I can close the lid but many use a wheelbarrow). Add a little water and stir it around with gloved hands or a shovel. Start filling your containers, but pay attention if you are using a commercial fertilizer, fill your pots half way, add a scoop of fertilizer and mix it in. Fill your container the rest of the way, repeat the fertilizer step, and and my secret ingredient. 4 cups of ash from a wood stove. I take my shovel or spade and mix all these ingredients in! BAM, you’re done! If the soil is for tomatoes or peppers, I make sure to add some egg shells, and some “moose nuggets” as it will help with the growth and drainage
Fill the containers till you have about 2 inches from the top. You want to make sure you have 2 inches as it will give you space if you need to add extra soil later in the summer as the plants will absorb quite a bit of the nutrients. Leave the buckets alone for a couple days in the weather so everything can settle.
Do this will all your buckets and however much soil you have. Leave out for two days in the weather so the lime in the soil can perforate the bucket and the plastic as well as whatever was in the buckets to begin with can transfer their properties and not kill the plant. After the two days, plant no more than two plants of your choice in each bucket. If you have a lot of seedlings…. You will need a lot of buckets!
Water normally, check the soil once a week (as it will settle) and add soil as needed or if needed and make sure to follow the directions via the seed packets. I use seedlings for some things but mostly I just start in the buckets as is. Mainly because I am lazy but also I learned that in Alaska? It grows FAST! But you may want to do a bit of research. My sweet peas and green beans grow like crazy all up the side of my cabin! Check out some of the famous grown stuff from all over Alaska. We do everything rather BIG here!
The best types of container plants are lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, herbs of all kinds, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and you can go on and see. If you are going to do carrots and potatoes you are going to want to do them the tub or garbage can. Check this video out to really get a good idea!
Did you know that over 40% of the people who live in the Fairbanks and Ester area have no running water? Those that have taps and some heaters also still have to haul it in because they basically just have a water tank and a small water pump with a small heater. It is more convenience than anything but it is better than what I have. We have what technically is called a grey-water cabin because we have a sink which we drain our wash, pasta water etc… into a five-gallon bucket that we dump into a our grey water drainage tank (one of our two tanks, outhouse and grey-water which we have pumped). It is a real cabin too! With logs and everything! Don’t worry I will include photos, but first…. lets talk about being dry!
Being that we are a waterless cabin, the main focus is water! So the questions are usually, where do you get water? How do you do dishes? How do you shower? Do you have an outhouse? They are pretty easy to answer. Conservation is the key here. We haul our water in from The Water Wagon
We have three five gallon water cooler jugs and six blue camping containers so we have up to forty-five gallons when we are full up. The three water cooler jugs are used for our cooking and drinking water. We have a hand pump that makes life a bit easier. The water in the blue jugs is used for cleaning and bathing.
So we have established where we get the water, how about the next question, how do we do dishes? Believe it or not people ask this before they ask how I bathe! It is pretty basic, but it is a process. I have a thick pair of rubber gloves because I boil water in my large stew pot so I can fill each side of the sink with water. One side I add bleach and dish washing soap. The bleach is to break up any grease and bacteria. The water is boiling hot so at first it is very uncomfortable. I really am bad at doing dishes, I have to force myself. We have very limited counter space and again it is a pain. The water is then drained into a grey water bucket, a five gallon paint bucket, under the sink. The grey water is emptied into our outhouse tank which is pumped so the bleach does not leech into the land. It is a pain, but the dishes are very clean in the end and I am usually collapsed on the couch with a cold drink and the PS3 or 360 controller in my hand. I do not even have the energy to read at this point! Bloody Mary anyone?
Showering is the next question. Interesting enough, most of the Laundromats in the Interior have showers in them. So whenever we do laundry we are showering. Most people with water have either lived in a waterless cabin or understand our position. When we need to shower and do not have time to run to campus or the Laundromat we wash up at the sink in two ways. One is the quick and easy PTA (Pits, tits and ass) wash. We heat water on the stove and we scrub away at the vital parts of our body. Usually I wash my hair too. The other is with a large Rubbermaid storage bucket and I take a bath. There are of course the occasional massive rain showers in the summer evenings that I throw on my bathing suit, at least most of the time, and run out and wash up in the rain, it is liberating! We also use camp shower kits, so it is great in the summer, winter time is when it sucks!
Outhouse, yes we have one. But since I am a klutz and have fallen and been seriously injured in the winter going out to it, we have an inside unit that Geoff dumps in the outhouse, which is nice for those cold winter nights when it is -50` out!
If we owned the cabin I would have a 100 gallon water tank that we could fill every other week and have a small water pump set up and also a small 5 gallon water heater too. It would make life much easier in the cabin. Many houses that have indoor plumbing all around still have to have their water delivered or they port it. They have much bigger containers. They are able to have indoor toilets and even full size dishwashers. There are counter-top dishwashers we could have now, but with the limited counter space we have opted out.
It is a pain, it is tiresome, but it is the way we live and have lived since February 2005. It is probably at the top of my HATE list for living here and at the same time when I wake up in the summer and I see the gorgeous sun lighting up behind the trees? Well I remember why I live here!