Well, summer is upon us in AK, and that means 3 months (give or take) to get everything planted, tended, and harvested. Thankfully the Lord balanced out our short growing season with all that notorious sunlight. These days we're averaging about 18 hours/day in SouthEast AK where I live, and it's been glorious : ) Upper 60's-70's may be spring down in the lower 48 (what we Alaskans call 'outside'), but it's what we get for summer here, and I love it! Having spent many years on the TX and FL gulf coast with my hubbie, I will take Alaskan summers any day!
So, with all the gardening frenzy, I have lots of updates and pics to post. First off, the rain gutter! We had our first salad of the season complete with chives and radishes. The chives weren't in the gutter, but the baby lettuces and radishes were. Here are some pics to show you the latest as of last Friday, June 4th.
(Side note: You can see in the picture above how the green onion did seem to 'die' away, but is now regenerating itself. I'm not sure how much more it will produce in order to make it worth doing this, but I guess we'll see...That's the whole point of an experiment, right?
The only downside I have to my garden is that it's not enough :( Our family loves garden salads, and that's why I love these baby lettuce mixes. You simply pinch off the leaf at the base and it will continue to regenerate all summer. However, we're used to a raised bed full of lettuces. While it seemed we had too much last year and had to give much away, I'm seeing a shared rain gutter is not enough for us. As soon as my radishes are all pulled, I plan to re-seed that part of the gutter with more lettuces. Next year I know to add an additional gutter for the onions and radishes. Otherwise, it's working beautifully!
Now, moving onto the newspaper weed blocker. Again, so far so good! While I do have to weed along the edges of the beds and the mounds, it's working perfectly all around and in between the rows. However, my bed was attacked on a new front; I came out the other morning to find my pumpkins had been ravaged by slugs. UGH! We must have picked 10-15 of the little brown lumps off of our newspaper. Thus began the battle between us and the slimy invaders.
We had previously gathered a few buckets of cockle shells when we were beachcombing a few weeks back. My husband took the handle off of his floor jack and crushed them in batches in a bucket. Then we sprinkled them generously all over/around the mounds. The theory behind doing this is that the slugs don't like being cut up by the sharp edges (who can blame them?), so they will stay out of your beds. I've also been told you can just use egg shells as well for the same effect. We'd already gathered the sea shells, and didn't have nearly enough egg shells saved for the large beds that I have, but otherwise, I would've tried the egg shells first simply because they will compost quicker into your soil over the winter. I'm not sure how these thick cockle shells will do in that area. However, they definitely beat out the eggs in the 'sharp edges' arena. Those crushed cockle shells are like little blades all over my beds. If these don't deter a slug, I'm not sure what would!
Our second line of defense will be homemade slug traps using plastic water bottles and that ol' slug standby, beer. I found instructions on another website, and once I've collected the water bottles, I'll begin crafting those and posting pics. So far, though, I haven't seen a slug loitering in my beds since we added the shells Sunday morning. The true test will be if they come out of their homes after the next rain. I'll keep you posted!