Talk Dirt To Me

Gardening in Alaska presents big challenges, whether it's the extra effort in finding plants tough enough to survive our Zone 2-4 climate, communicating with like-minded Alaska gardeners, or keeping up with the latest trends, issues and solutions. We'll try to help with that. We'll also tour gardens from Homer to Anchorage to Wasilla to Willow whenever we get the chance, and post the best garden photos around. Presenting a forum about cold-weather gardening and for cold-weather gardeners is what we are all about. We hope you'll join us on the Talk Dirt garden blog.

Photographer and gardener Fran Durner (fdurner@adn.com) writes the blog.

February Garden Calendar - 1/29/2010 9:28 am

UA Anchorage recognized as a Tree Campus USA - 1/27/2010 10:36 am

Stone walls provide beauty and exercise - 1/26/2010 8:43 am

USDA program for high tunnels offered - 1/25/2010 8:08 pm

Worms could eat your garbage too - 1/24/2010 8:01 pm

Wildflower Garden Club offers annual scholarship - 1/21/2010 1:08 pm

Where did you find inspiration last year? - 1/19/2010 3:57 pm

Zaumseils say farewell for now - 1/18/2010 3:57 pm

What to do about worm "volcanoes"?

May Garden Calendar
View Garden Gallery
Submit Your Garden Photos!

It's not what you think: Little worm "volcanoes" are appearing in lawns. Fran Durner/ADNIt's not what you think: Little worm "volcanoes" are appearing in lawns. Fran Durner/ADNEach summer the mounds of dirt (like small volcanoes) in my lawn are getting more and closer together. Can you tell me what is causing these mounds and what I can do to stop the progression? They are killing out my grass. Thanks. CLH

read more »

Q & A with Rose Marie Nichols McGee

May Garden Calendar
View Garden Gallery
Submit Your Garden Photos!

Author Rose Marie Nichols McGee will be speaking at the Alaska Master Gardeners day-long workshop Hands-on Harvest on Saturday, May 9. Nichols McGee is the president of Nichols Garden Nursery in Oregon. Early registration ($55) has been extended till Wednesday, May 6, after which the fee is $75. Lunch is included.

read more »

Special ADN Garden Section Published Today

May Garden Calendar
View Garden Gallery
Submit Your Garden Photos!

A special garden section was published Sunday May 3, 2009, inside the ADN.A special garden section was published Sunday May 3, 2009, inside the ADN.

Inside the ADN's special Home & Garden section published Sunday is a pull-out calendar of gardening events stretching into the fall and winter, including dates for upcoming plant sales and garden club lectures.

read more »

May Garden Calendar

View Garden Galleries
Submit Your Garden Photos!

Spring Arabis. Photo by Fran DurnerSpring Arabis. Photo by Fran DurnerMay 1, Friday, 5-8pm. Garden writer Tracy DiSabato-Aust, author of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, will give a talk and workshop on how to create a well designed garden in Kenai at the Kenai Peninsula College, Room 108 and 109. Tickets are $10 at the door.

read more »

Use what you've got for staking plants and trellises

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Galleries

A simple shish kebab stake will do for small vining plants. Photo by Fran DurnerA simple shish kebab stake will do for small vining plants. Photo by Fran DurnerI'm growing canary bird vine for the first time and the little plantlings really needed a support to climb, so I raided my odds-and-ends drawer and came up with wood (or maybe they are bamboo) shish kebab skewers to use as I transplanted the seedlings into individual pots. Overnight, the vines embraced the supports and hooked on.

read more »

Flowers are a-bustin' out at the Muni Greenhouse

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Galleries

Municipal gardener Eva Weiss waters begonia starts inside the municipal greenhouse at Russian Jack Springs Park. Muni gardeners grow over 85,000 plants for the public gardens every year. Fran Durner/ADNMunicipal gardener Eva Weiss waters begonia starts inside the municipal greenhouse at Russian Jack Springs Park. Muni gardeners grow over 85,000 plants for the public gardens every year. Fran Durner/ADN

read more »

Q & A with Tracy DiSabato-Aust

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Galleries

Tracy DiSabato-Aust in her conservatory. Photo by Dr. Deb Goff.Tracy DiSabato-Aust in her conservatory. Photo by Dr. Deb Goff.
Tracy DiSabato-Aust, garden designer and author of three books, including The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Borders With Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals & Bulbs and 50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants (all Timber Press), will speak in Kenai on Friday, May 1, and in Anchorage on Saturday, May 2, at 7pm at the Alaska Wild Berry Theatre. We had a chance to ask her a few questions before her appearance.

read more »

African violet eye candy

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

Kohleria Anneli African violets on display at the 63rd annual African Violet Society of America Convention and Show in Sparks, Nevada. About 300 growers of African violets came from around the world with their flowers to promote their plants at a national convention last week. Marilyn Newton/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP.Kohleria Anneli African violets on display at the 63rd annual African Violet Society of America Convention and Show in Sparks, Nevada. About 300 growers of African violets came from around the world with their flowers to promote their plants at a national convention last week. Marilyn Newton/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP.

read more »

Plant a tree, and a memory, for the community

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

Youngsters plant a tree at Susitna Elementary for Arbor Day in 2007. Bill Roth/ADNYoungsters plant a tree at Susitna Elementary for Arbor Day in 2007. Bill Roth/ADNThe Alaska Community Forestry Program is encouraging schools, organizations and communities to plant a tree honoring Alaska's 50th anniversary of statehood. You can register your tree with the ACFP, and in return for planting and caring for the tree in a public place, they will send you a framed certificate. A map locating the tree and photos of it will be featured on the Alaska Division of Forestry web site. The tree must be planted between May 15 and July 15, 2009. Arbor Day is May 18. Contact Stephen Nickel or Patricia Joyner for more info at the Alaska Community Forestry Program, 269-8465 or -8466.

read more »

Master Gardener workshop registration deadline approaching

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

Rose Marie Nichols McGee and her husband Keane McGee will both be visiting for the Alaska Master Gardener workshop in May.Rose Marie Nichols McGee and her husband Keane McGee will both be visiting for the Alaska Master Gardener workshop in May.The Alaska Master Gardeners have extended the deadline for early registration for their spring workshop, Hands-on Harvest, being held on Saturday, May 9. You can save $20 by registering by May 6. After that the day-long workshop will cost $75. Lunch is included.

read more »

What "Must Have" Plant Are You Looking For?

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

Cypropedium 'Gisela' is on Doug Tryck's list. Photo courtesy Doug TryckCypropedium 'Gisela' is on Doug Tryck's list. Photo courtesy Doug TryckWe gardeners are always lusting after some plant or another. What's on YOUR list this year?

read more »

Signs of spring

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

A straggly cosmos bloom waiting to be transplanted. Photo by Fran Durner.A straggly cosmos bloom waiting to be transplanted. Photo by Fran Durner.The sea gulls are back. The geese are flying in, and little piles of moose nuggets are emerging from under the melting snow.

read more »

Egg shells for the soil?

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

There are probably a couple dozen pulverized egg shells in the cup already. Photo by Fran Durner.There are probably a couple dozen pulverized egg shells in the cup already. Photo by Fran Durner.I have a very small lot and I compost food scraps during the summer when I can. During the winter, I figure the dump probably needs the organic matter too, so I don't worry too much about it.

read more »

Book Review

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

Newspaper, Pennies, Cardboard & Eggs For Growing a Better Garden
By Roger Epson and the Editors of Organic Gardening. Published in January of 2008 by Rodale Press.

The title is catchy and definitely gets your attention, but more on that later. This book is chock full of practical advice, age-old practices and modern discoveries as well as recipes, design plans and simple instructions for building your own garden structures. It's all crammed into ten chapters and 346 pages, in a nicely designed and easy-to-read format geared towards the home gardener. The hand drawn illustrations are pretty and easily understood.

read more »

First Lady Plants First Seedlings

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

First lady Michelle Obama plants herbs in the White House Kitchen Garden with students from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, Thursday, April 9, 2009, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. AP Photo/Charles DharapakFirst lady Michelle Obama plants herbs in the White House Kitchen Garden with students from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, Thursday, April 9, 2009, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

read more »

What seeds do you have started?

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

Pinwheel marigolds will go from seedlings to flowers in such a short time. Fran Durner photosPinwheel marigolds will go from seedlings to flowers in such a short time. Fran Durner photosI'd almost forgotten the thrill of seeing tiny seedlings emerge after sowing them into flats days before. Every morning and evening I've been checking on the little dears, most impatiently since I got such a late start and I want them all up NOW!

read more »

April bits and pieces

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

The Garden Snaps map is free! Mat-Su is on one side and Anchorage on the other. Fran Durner photo.The Garden Snaps map is free! Mat-Su is on one side and Anchorage on the other. Fran Durner photo.The Garden Snaps map is out! 15,000 FREE copies have been printed and distributed to garden centers around the state. If you haven't heard about this pretty and resourceful map, it contains info for Anchorage, Eagle River, Girdwood, Indian, Mat-Su and Big Lake with listings of nurseries, garden centers, farmers markets and other resources for gardeners. Maps for the Kenai Peninsula and the Fairbanks area are planned for the future. This is a wonderful resource if you like to check out all the greenhouses in any given area. This is a creative collaboration by Lynne Opstad and Anna Denis with artwork and design by Deborah Fields.

read more »

Bloomerang lilac on the market

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

Bloomerang is a dwarf lilac that is said to bloom for four months straight. Proven Winners photo.Bloomerang is a dwarf lilac that is said to bloom for four months straight. Proven Winners photo.

Proven Winners is introducing a dwarf lilac, "Bloomerang," with a reblooming habit -- it claims it "blooms in spring and then again throughout the summer."

read more »

Is Alaska a gnome man's land?

View April Garden Calendar
Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

View Alaska gnome video

Who couldn't love a face like this? Fran Durner/ADNWho couldn't love a face like this? Fran Durner/ADNEveryone loves a garden gnome, right? Those diminutive fixtures of the cottage garden that peek out at you elfishly from under rosebushes, from behind trees or perch themselves straight out in the open on the edges of warm, inviting rocks as they keep watch over the garden. Their pointed red hats are hard to miss, even when they try their best to hide.

read more »

April Garden Calendar

Submit Your Garden Photos!
View Garden Gallery

Are your seeds started yet? Photo by Fran DurnerAre your seeds started yet? Photo by Fran DurnerThere is a serious amount of garden events going on this month, enough to satisfy anyone, if you don't end up dropping from exhaustion!

April 1 and 8, Wednesdays, 6:30 to 8:30pm. GARDEN DESIGN WORKSHOP. The Alaska Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects presents their annual garden design workshop. Learn about garden design and develop a unique plan for your own garden. Classes include lecture-style slide presentations, handouts, and one-on-one time including a 2 hour session with a landscape architect on Saturday, April 11. $225 per residential site. Held at the BP Energy Center. For a reservation and additional information please contact Eric Morey by calling 279–2688 or send an email to emorey@earthscape.alaska.com

read more »

JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service