There’s no reason you can’t grow amazing plants all year round in Alaska.

Right now our lawn is cleared of snow, but I realize some of you are struggling with half a foot of wet, heavy material. I may be able to dig in the gardens, but many cannot. So instead of suggesting you plant a tree or put in more spring-flowering bulbs, here is my annual rant urging all gardeners in Alaska to get – and use – indoor grow lights.

So there you have it: I counted them. We have about 140 days of real outdoor gardening. That leaves 225 days when we have to garden indoors or not at all. A recurring question is why Alaskans spend so much time and money during those 140 days outdoors, but ignore their hobby for most of the year.

I also calculated the cost of buying new starts each spring and compared it to the $ 10 worth of seed you could buy and start yours under lights instead. Isn’t growing plants what you love to do anyway? And, if the rule is that real gardeners start at least one thing from seed, imagine what kind of gardener you will be when you start almost everything you grow from seed. All it takes is a good show of lights.

And then there are your houseplants. We all have them. Some were created from cuttings from friends, maybe even given to you by a relative in Lower 48. You want to keep them in their best health, and given our dark winters, additional grow lights are needed. bet. Each of your houseplants needs a little bit of light during winter darkness so that they can photosynthesize their chloroplasts even if it’s only for a week or two at a time.

I could go on, but given how many times I’ve urged readers to act in the early days of darkness and get some kind of light, I won’t. I will stress how much of a joy it is to have lights on early in the morning and stay on until early or even mid-evening. Who needs a SAD light when you have plant lights?

This year, I’m finally ditching the old advice to just get a two-light, one-timer, store-style fluorescent fixture. Sure, you can ride something for $ 25, but let’s get serious. Store fixtures were fine when all we had were those fluorescent bulbs emitting purple light. Today there is a range of lighting options to meet all the needs of a reader. They are all much better than a store accessory.

Take LED lighting systems. These have come a long way – thanks to growing cannabis indoors. Fixtures for other types of lighting, including fluorescent lamps, have also changed. So have the size and types of bulbs. It’s time to modernize and get serious, as we do for the outdoor seasons. Alaskan gardeners shouldn’t be having fun; gardening is too important to us.

So my advice is to visit a “grow” store if it’s in a good location and ask for advice, or jump on the web and explore for some information. Look for “indoor grow lights”, “LED lights” and “plant lights”. That way you can factor in your level of interest, the size of your particular grow area – room, table, or kitchen counter? – and the types of plants you want to grow. There are some really cool stuff.

And, let me add just a little pitch in case you still need a boost here. Dare I suggest that growing indoors is easier than growing outdoors? You have constant and controllable conditions, fewer pests and no moose. Best of all, once you have lights you can grow some really good stuff. Just think of the flowers, scents, herbs and even vegetables that you will have equipped with the right lighting system.

So don’t roll your eyes when I mention extra lights. Go out and get something to meet both the needs of your plants and those of your gardener.

Jeff Garden Calendar for the week:

Cat owners: There should be a law requiring all cats that go outdoors to wear a cat bib to prevent them from catching birds: catgoods.com.

Houseplants: Look for insects and slugs.

Amaryllis: Put yours to sleep. Hold back the water and place the jar on its side in a dark, cool place for the next eight weeks.

Alaska Botanical Garden: Snow doesn’t stop life in the garden. Discover all the activities on alaskabg.org.

About Charles Holmes

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