Category: Horticulture and Gardening


Plastic on the squash bed

Plastic on the squash bed

The sun will rise this morning at 6:31, and set 14 hours and 36 minutes later at 9:08 this evening. We’re now losing about 6 minutes 43 seconds a day. It’s starting to feel like fall, though, if not quite like winter. The official airport temperature hasn’t dropped below freezing yet, though it reached 33 °F Saturday morning, and I’m pretty sure it was colder out my way.

Frost nip on the pineapple sage

Frost nip on the pineapple sage

I’ve put the plastic cover on the squash, put row cover on the potted mints, and started bringing the rest of the potted plants into the garage overnight. I also separated the hoses from the outdoor faucets. Even “frostproof” fittings can be damaged by freezing if the hoses are left attached. So far the only actual frost damage I’ve seen was discoloration of the growing tips of the pineapple sage. The forecast suggests slight warming next week, but lows are still forecast in the 30’s.

It’s dried out a little, though it’s now official: 2014 was the wettest summer in nearly a hundred year of records in Fairbanks. Certainly it’s the first summer I’ve had to do almost no watering!

Sunflower QuiltThe sun will rise today at 6:10 and set 15 hours and 24 minutes later at 9:34 pm. I can no longer drive places in the evening without checking the time, and we now have astronomical twilight (sun between 12 and 18° below the horizon) for about 2 hours just after midnight.

Lemon PhaleonopsisWe’ve had a few more showers, but we still haven’t reached 2” for August. We are almost half an inch above normal, though. Temperature has also been slightly above normal, but that’s still mostly in the high 60’s in the daytime. As far as the forecast is concerned, mostly cloudy with chances of rain and normal temperatures for the next week.

I’m thinking more of house plants now, and couldn’t resist an orchid. Hope I can get it to rebloom.

Quilt BThe sun will rise this morning at 5:48 , and set 16 hours 12 minutes later at 9:59 this evening. It will drop 12° below the horizon tonight—almost astronomical twilight.

It’s mostly been in the 70’s or high 60’s, with nighttime lows still well above freezing. We’ve had a little more rain, but mostly it’s just been occasional showers, and the forecast for next week is more of the same.

Sharon came by Thursday. She helped me with the chickweed and gave the herbs and mints a much-needed haircut. Some of the herbs, such as the pineapple sage and the parsley, were shading out the others. The trimmings will go to people who can use them – I use fresh herbs, but not that many! She also helped trim the lower leaves on the zucchini, finding a 7 ½ pounder that I took to the food bank Friday. I took a photo with my iPhone, but I can’t seem to get it to import*, so another quilt from the quilt show will have to do for today.

*Turned out to be the USB daisy chain. Here it is.Zucchini

Pink Lillies 8:9:14The sun will rise at 5:25 this morning, and set 17 hours later at 10:25 this evening. I’m glad to say it has finally quit raining and warmed up, though there are a few showers forecast this week.

The last few days of the fair were quite nice, with temperatures in the 70’s. I managed a brief visit most days, though I concentrated on the horse shows. The giant vegetables weren’t all that gigantic this year, due no soubt to the relatively cool, wet, summer. The lilies are finally blooming in my garden – one of the few plants that are perennial up here. I’m also getting a few late strawberries.

For most of the summer, the local chapter of the Alaska Writers’ Guild has been selling (or at least trying to sell) books at the Farmers’ Market. That’s over for the season, as two of the three authors are though for the season, and I’m having problems with cancer again.

Not too bad, I hope, but my CA125 is rising and I just went through a CT scan. The radiation oncologist says no immediate problem, and I’m seeing the doctor in Anchorage the second week in September which he seemed to think was fine. I do hope I don’t need chemotherapy again.

The sun will rise today at 4:34 in the morning, and set 18 hours 38 minutes later at 11:15 this evening. We’re losing almost 7 minutes a day, now. The weather is still cool and wet; we might get back into the 70’s by midweek.

July probably won’t set a new record for precipitation, but it will be close. Right now we’re sitting on 5.78” for the month, and I think another .2” would push us over.

The lawn and garden are lush, and the weeds are thriving all too well. The squash aren’t doing as well as they would if it were a little warmer, but they have reached the harvestable stage. The delphiniums are getting indecently tall—two or three feet over the 7’ top of the lattice. I think I have three varieties of Maltese cross: the dark red I bought, a much smaller-flowered pink I started from seed, and a few volunteers that I think are hybrids: large like the reds, but a distinctly lighter color. I wish it would warm up and stop raining, though.

The sun rose this morning at 3:49, and will set 20 hours 15 minutes later, a minute after midnight tomorrow morning. It’s still rainy: 4.58” (well over twice the July normal) as of July 12, with more yesterday and even more predicted for next week. If this keeps up we could set a record for July as well as June.

The raised beds with herbs and mint are riotously green, and the mints especially are crowding each other out. The delphiniums were a little beaten down by all the rain, but they are now tied up. The tallest are close to 12’ high, and the flowers are just starting to open. I don’t actually grow peonies but they are one of the few commercial crops up here and are starting to show up at the Farmers’ Market. Seems that the blooming period here, in July, is at a time when there are very few parts of the world peonies are in bloom. Result? Several people are growing them for the international cut flower market.

My hair finally grew back from chemo to the point that I got a haircut. I thought all the curl would be cut off, but a little wave still remains. I’ve included some before and after shots, which you can compare with the ones last fall.


The sun rose today at 3:27 this morning, and will set 20 hours 57 minutes later at 12:22 tomorrow morning. We’re already losing 6 minutes a day. It’s downright hot by Alaska standards, well into the 80’s over the weekend.

The late June rain continued for the first two days of the month – and we did set a new record for June. At 3.36” we’re already above normal for July. The forecast for the next few days is cloudy, scattered showers and occasional thunderstorms, and high temperatures in the 70’s. Maybe I can hold out without air conditioning, but I’ve gone back to my Kansas habits: close the house up in the daytime and open the windows as soon as the temperature outdoors falls below the indoor temperature.

The garden loves it. I picked the first tiny zucchini yesterday, the day lilies are in full bloom, and the first tall columbines are opening. All of the photos were taken yesterday afternoon.

Unofficially, it started raining around midnight and has been raining (with some thunder) ever since. We’re on the way to setting another record for July. Having survived the 1967 Fairbanks flood, I’m keeping an eye on the flood advisories (which we’re under.)

Surprise! My first daylily of the year opened Monday.

Surprise! My first daylily of the year opened Monday.

P.S. 7:40 am: we had .01 ” precipitation early last night, which may well give us a new wettest June, and it’s still raining.

backyard 10-30 6-29-14The sun will rise this morning at 3:09, and set 21 hours 39 minutes later at 12:38 tomorrow morning. It’s gotten a good deal warmer and drier this weekend; it hit 80 yesterday. There is a chance of showers or thundershowers today, but compared with the past week it’s really nice out, if a little warm.

At least the rain is easing off. Our unofficial total for June so far is 3.55 inches, which would tie the record for the month. One good shower today, which is a distinct possibility, would give us a new record for June. As of midmorning, the forecasts are calling for thunderstorms this afternoon and rain likely after midnight.

The garden is growing well. The delphiniums range from shoulder high to tip-my-head-back-and-look-up, though they are only starting to bud. The white iris are blooming, and the daylilies will be open in a few days. The photo, by the way, was taken in available light at 10:30 yesterday evening.

Shade lovers: Non-stop begonia, lobelia, and impatiens

Shade lovers: Non-stop begonia, lobelia, and impatiens

As you’ve probably noticed by now, my raised beds are built of cement blocks with the holes oriented up and down and filled with topsoil. Very few plants actually survive our 50 below winters, so I buy annuals each summer, mostly in 6-packs, and plant them in the holes of the cement blocks.

Annuals bordering the lavenders and other herbs

Annuals bordering the lavenders and other herbs

Some are truly annuals, growing from seed, flowering, seeding and dying in a single season, regardless of climate. Some are in truth biennials or perennials in more clement climates, but are grown as annuals in Alaska.

Lantana. This is actually a perennial shrub, but I treat it as an annual.

Lantana. This is actually a perennial shrub, but I treat it as an annual.

In general the flowers I choose will keep blooming throughout the summer if they are deadheaded—the flowers cut off after they bloom but before they can form seeds. This keeps the plant thinking it has to keep on blooming to produce seed. (I must admit that this is something I frequently forget to do.)

Calibrachoa, Pansy and Petunia edging the squash bed.

Calibrachoa, Pansy and Petunia edging the squash bed.

A few plants are sterile hybrids, and these never need to be deadheaded—they just exist in a constant state of frustration.

Pansies. I love the colors these are available in today.

Pansies. I love the colors these are available in today, and the way the colors change as the flowers age..

Pansies are very popular in Alaska, and they will self-seed.

Portulaca (moss rose.) They like more sun than we've had this year, but they do like our long days.

Portulaca (moss rose.) They like more sun than we’ve had this year, but they do like our long days.

A sunshine favorite is portulaca, or moss rose. The last week or two have not been kind to these.

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