Local Media: O’Brien Garden and Trees

High tunnels boost Kenai orchard

By KELLY SULLIVAN and RASHAH McCHESNEY
Peninsula Clarion
June 22, 2014
Inside the towering high tunnels’ at O’Brien Garden and Trees, are rows of meticulously sown trees, erupting with vibrant green leaves; the branches laden with the beginnings of this year’s fruit crop.

The expansive green space is the result of four-decades of experimentation and the recent move to indoor growing for the agricultural operation.

Link to the full article: http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/2014-06-22/how-to-use-a-high-tunnel

National Press: Flowers from Alaska

Flowers From Alaska

by Amy Nordrum, Atlantic Monthly

For late-summer weddings, the peonies can only come from one place. And when one woman realized that, she started planting.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Beks, North Pole Peonies

Peonies—those gorgeous, pastel flowers that can bloom as big as dinner plates—are grown all over the world, but there’s only one place where they open up in July. That’s in Alaska, and ever since a horticulturalist discovered this bit of peony trivia, growers here have been planting the flowers as quickly as they can.

… Meanwhile, large flower companies like Currie’s in the lower 48 states are watching Alaska’s small growers to see what they can make of the opportunity before them. One company—Kennicot Brothers from Chicago—has already invested in the state’s peony industry, buying into several farms on the Kenai peninsula. …

Full article:  http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/06/flowers-from-alaska/372994/

Free Class on Garden Troubleshooting

With the Summer Growing Season off to a great start it is time to look around and see how your garden is growing. Are some plants looking like something might be bothering them? Is it a bug or lack of nutrients, or is it planted in the wrong location? These questions and more will be covered in a FREE CLASS on Tuesday June 17th 2014 from 5:30-7:00PM at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank high tunnel and garden. Janice Chumley, IPM tech for the Cooperative Extension Service will teach a Garden Problem Troubleshooting Class for attendees. This class will help growers figure out what is going on in their gardens using IPM to maximize growth and fight pests.

Space is limited, so registration is required, please call 262-5824 to reserve your space in this timely class.

Offered in partnership with the Square Foot Gardening Class, Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District, USDA-NRCS and the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank for the benefit of growers across the Kenai. We hope to see you there.

– from Janice Chumley, UAF Cooperative Extension

From the Local Media

In the Market for Community: Farmers Markets Set to Sprout Up

By Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter
May 14, 2014

Among the sure signs of summer on the central Kenai Peninsula are the return of salmon and the crowds come to harvest them, the grow-while-the-growing’s-good burst of wild foliage, and the efforts of the green thumbed to similarly make the most of what climate, ecosystem and science allow.   Starting soon, the fruits and vegetables of those local labors will be available for customers at a bounty of farmers markets in the area.   One of the most food-oriented of the seasonal markets is the Farmers Fresh Market, opening June 3 and running from 3 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday into September. It’s in the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank parking lot, on Kalifornsky Beach Road and Community College Drive.   “This is a collaborative effort by local growers, the food bank and Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District to promote local sustainable agriculture, provide an outlet for producers of small quantities of products, raise awareness about nutritious local food and provide healthy, fresh, local food to everyone in the community,” said Dan Funk, an organizer for the market. “Our vendors are farmers. We only sell food, plants, flowers — no crafts.”

Cauliflower and tomatoes are just a few of the options on offer at a previous Soldotna Saturday Market. Growers, arts and crafts makers as well as musicians are invited to participate in the seasonal, community-based markets in Kenai, Soldotna and the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. The virtues of buying local produce are many, Funk said,…

Full article: http://redoubtreporter.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/in-the-market-for-community-farmers-markets-set-to-sprout-up/

From the Local Media

Alaska gardening interest booms, as tunnels extend growing season

Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter
May 2, 2014

(excerpt) “This will be our third year with a high tunnel, and they’re unbelievable,” said Bill Lynch, of North Kenai, who along with this wife, Liz, led the discussion on this subject.

“We used to be limited to the usual Alaskan crops: cabbage, carrots, broccoli, etc. But now I grow fruit, like melons and blackberries, and artichokes and tomatoes,” he said. Having high tunnels increases what he grows, and it also increases how much and for how long.

“It used to be all the produce we grew would come ripe all at the same time, but now we can harvest fresh produce year-round. We got three full crops of carrots last year. We planted tomatoes by April 15th and by the first of May we were already harvesting. We ended up getting 400 pounds of tomatoes and 2,000 pounds of produce total last year from our unheated high tunnel. It would be 10 degrees outside, but inside the plants were fine,” he said.

Lynch said that the high tunnel was responsible for much of his success, but he also learned about using smaller low tunnels, within the larger one, to exponentially increase solar heat to plants. He said the concept is one that should be familiar to many Alaskans — dressing in layers to stay warm.

“Studies have shown the more layers, the more heat is retained,” he said. “Each tunnel over a plant is equivalent to moving one and a half zones warmer, or 500 miles south. This means a high tunnel will bring you to a growing season equal to northern Kansas, and adding a low tunnel in the high tunnel will move you to a growing season similar to Oklahoma.”

Link to full article:
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140502/alaska-gardening-interest-booms-tunnels-extend-growing-season

 

 

Feb. 18 Forum on Cover Crops and Soil Health

Opening presentations from the National Forum on Cover Crops and Soil Health will be live-streamed from Omaha, Nebraska to over 230 sites across the country. Whether you have experience with cover crops or you’re just interested to learn, join us for the broadcast followed by discussion.  FREE and open to the public.

When: Tuesday, Feb. 18, 8:45 a.m. to noon

Where: Kenai Community Library

Schedule: 8:30 am, doors open; 8:45 am, program begins; 9 – 10:45 am, broadcast presentations; 10:45 am – noon, short break and discussion with local producers, NRCS and Cooperative Extension staff

Website: http://www.sare.org/Events/Forum-on-Cover-Crops-and-Soil-Health

Questions: Heidi Chay, Kenai Soil & Water, kenaiswcd@gmail.com, 283-8732 x 108

Feb. 10/11 Workshops for Hay Growers and Users

UAF/Cooperative Extension, in partnership with Fox River Cattlemen’s Association and Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District, is hosting a Forage Workshop in Kenai and Homer.

Kenai – Monday, February 10, 2014 5:30 PM registration, 6:00-8:00 PM program, Kenai Community Library

Homer – Tuesday, February 11, 2014 5:30 PM registration, 6:00-8:00 PM program, Kachemak Bay Campus, Room 219

To Pre-register, contact Vicki Heinz at UAF CES Kenai District, 907.262.5824 or vheinz@alaska.edu

Dr. Mingchu Zhang will present on “Organic and inorganic nutrient sources for hay production in Alaska”. The talk will cover the results of experiments in Homer and Fairbanks area for hay production from adding organic (including fish fertilizer) or inorganic fertilizers. He will also briefly discuss soil testing.

Dr. Milan Shipka will present on “Hay quality considerations and how best to use the hay you have available”. You can’t change the quality of hay once you’ve put it in your barn. Anyone with animals needs to consider the nutrient needs of their animals and how best to get the nutrients to their animals. Dr. Shipka will discuss nutrient needs and digestion in ruminant animals (e.g., cattle, goat, sheep, llama, alpaca, etc.) and the nutrient needs and digestion in horses.

This FREE workshop is offered to all animal and hayproducers and the interested public.