Thursday, July 29, 2010

Georgeson Botanical Gardens

These gardens are located on the campus of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The gardens are small, at least in comparison to other botanical gardens which we have toured. Maybe I should not attempt any comparison to other botanical gardens considering the geographical area which we are in. And yet, given that Fairbanks does deal with some very long and cold winters, it is amazing to see the flowers and vegetables which are able to flourish during the summer months. It is the midnight sun which makes it possible. According to the AAA Tour Book, the northernmost regions of Alaska receives almost 3 months of continuous sunlight a year. There are many beautiful flower beds at Georgeson. I don't believe I have ever seen the kind of daisies pictured below.
Flowers are the primary show at the gardens. But research is also going on in the gardens to discover ways that  vegetables can grow in the short summer months. Cabbages do quite well here, we are starting to see them in the local farmer's markets. Lots of sauerkraut is sold in Alaska.
We have not been to find good home-grown tomatoes in Alaska, they are grown in hot houses. Corn is another vegetable that needs a long time under a warm sun. So I was surprised that the university has found a way to grow corn. To get corn, and many other vegetables to grow, the soil temperature needs to be raised. This is done by various methods as plastic mulch, styrofoam insulation, cold frames and hot beds. The vegetables are also planted in rows from east to west to get the southern exposure. I was impressed with the corn which is now on the stalks in the garden. The plants are small but the corn is quite filled out.

I guess that I have bored some of you enough with gardening information. Probably you are not interested unless your are into plying a spade into soil. I am interested because there has been a paucity of fruits and vegetables available for us here in Alaska, unless we are willing to pay the high prices. At the Fairbank's farm market yesterday tomatoes were priced from $5-6.00 a pound, and all were from hot houses.  I need to end this posting on a bit more interesting but humorous note.  A street we passed yesterday was called "Stubborn German Court".  Coincidentally, I am sure, it is across the street from Zion Lutheran Church in Fairbanks.

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