When a Moose Invites Itself for Dinner

If your garden isn’t fenced and you haven’t had a visit or two from a moose, count yourself lucky. It’s never too late to fence in your garden and prevent an unwanted visit from a moose. Once they have feasted on your produce, it will be harder to keep them from coming back. Moose are the biggest and most destructive pest in Alaskan gardens. The obvious way to keep them from eating your garden is to build a fence, 8- to 10-feet-tall, strong and possibly even electrified at the top. However, you might not want to fence your garden, for example, if it is scattered across your property, you don’t want to block your view or you can’t afford it. In that case, the following alternative methods may help.

A young bull moose stands just outside Heidi's 8 foot tall garden fence

This moose provided some extra motivation to work hard and quickly to build a moose fence. He walked around the entire perimeter of the fence looking for a way in. The moose did eventually find a way in because our gate was too short. We had to add additional fencing above the gate and duck when we went in.

Moose eat some things because they’re there, others they gravitate to. They are particularly fond of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower or almost anything in the Brassicaceae family, and peas, but their palate is not limited to your vegetable garden. They’re also fans of flowers, shrubs and trees. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game lists trees and shrubs that are frequently damaged by moose, such as apple and crabapple trees, and those that are only occasionally damaged by moose, such as lilac and maple trees. Continue reading

Growing Turnips, Radishes, and Rutabagas in Alaska

The Brassicaceae family includes a bunch of vegetables that grow super well in Alaska’s often cool weather. Some examples are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, daikon radishes, radishes and rutabagas. I’m going to talk about a few of the below-ground or root brassica vegetables now.

You can eat turnips and their greens. Left, photo by Glenna Gannon; right, photo by J.R. Ancheta.

When you think of a radish, you probably think of a small, round, radish (red on the outside and white on the inside) commonly sold in grocery stores. These mature super quickly — in under three weeks. Examples of this type of radish are Cherriette or Cherry Belle. But radishes come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Some are long and cylindrical while some are short and stubby. Some are purple and some are white. Daikon radishes are the biggest radishes. They are white and spicy and make a good addition to kimchi or Korean sauerkraut. Here is a nice comparison chart of specialty radishes. At the Fairbanks Experiment Farm, we trialed just a few Daikon radishes in 2017 and found that Alpine and Summer Cross No. 3 grew big and long respectively. Continue reading

Friend or Foe? Distinguishing Between Beneficial and Harmful Creatures in Your Garden and Welcoming the Former to Your Garden.

What do you do when you see four-, six-, eight- or 100-legged creatures crawling about in your garden? Is your first instinct to smash them?

Next time, before you do, ask yourself, “Is it a friend or foe?’Closeup of a tufted caterpillarA variety of creatures, big and small, play beneficial roles in your garden, from pollinating plants to preying on pests to cycling nutrients. Some, if not beneficial, are harmless. Then there are those that do in fact damage your garden–the pests. There even are some that are sometimes beneficial and sometimes a pest, like robins. They eat insects, but they also eat berries. Continue reading