In My Cottage Garden: “Extend the Season, Expand Your Mind”
by Linda Kellen Biegel
Thanks to the help of friends here on Mudflats, I was able to attend yesterday’s Alaska Botanical Garden 6th Annual Spring Garden Conference with the theme “Extend the Season, Expand Your Mind.”. It was an absolutely wonderful experience; my brain is overflowing with what I’ve learned and I only wish I could get out into the garden and start now!
As you can imagine, I have tons of information to process. At the bottom of the post, I was able to upload the first part of Elliot Coleman’s keynote speech from yesterday for you to enjoy. It was very different from the speech he gave at the Friday Night Annual ABG meeting, which was a step-by-step history of his quest to achieve year-round crop yields in a northern climate (Maine) without the expense of artificial heat or light. The picture below shows the low-tunnel and high-tunnel greenhouses he uses today:
As he explains it, each layer of protection takes the plants inside farther south climate-wise. Plants growing uncovered on his farm are “in Maine.” Plants inside the low-tunnel greenhouse would be “in New Jersey.” (Yes, there were jokes.) Plants inside a low-tunnel which is under a high-tunnel are in the equivalent of Georgia. He believes the two-layers of protection is the maximum that can be used while still allowing the plants to get enough sunlight.
He also explained the progression from using a tractor to move the large high-tunnel structures to a system where it requires only two people to slide it down a long bed as required for the season changes.
I was unable to gain permission to video Mr. Coleman’s speech on Friday due to Anchorage Museum rules. However, both of Elliot’s speeches were recorded and should be on the Alaska Botanical Garden Website in podcast form within the next two weeks.
Like I mentioned earlier, I have a lot of information to process. I attended some really exciting Conference sessions where folks in Alaska are using Elliot’s techniques to extend their season and including some of their own for year-round crop production in Alaska. You’ll be seeing those sessions and more in upcoming Sunday Garden posts. The second portion of Elliot Coleman’s speech I’ll use in an upcoming (maybe tomorrow) post regarding the Legislature…yes, the Legislature. (I strive to keep the Sunday posts non-political.)
(Elliot Coleman Keynote Speech, part 1)
I loved the theme of Elliot Coleman’s speech: Nothing is Impossible. After attending this conference, I believe that Alaskans can improve the duration and the yields of our growing season. Now I get to convince everyone else!