This world. This place. This life.

Taming the Alaskan Wilderness


Before we closed on our condo late last spring, I contacted the woman who runs the Girdwood Community Garden.  How do I get a plot? Can I help get the garden ready for spring?  Would you like donations of things like hoses and tools and lawn mowers?

And then Murphy’s Law kicked in with a vengeance.  Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.  It was October before we were living in Girdwood full-time, and I didn’t get a community garden plot last summer.

This winter I was determined.  I asked for a gift certificate from Seeds of Change.  I ordered seeds, hand tools, row markers.  I got a bright orange five gallon bucket from Home Depot, and a Fiskars bucket caddy.  I checked in with the garden coordinator on a regular basis.  I was ready to go.

In mid-May, I looked out the window of the Girdwood Community Chapel and saw the community garden.  Tucked in among the trees, it did not match my imagination’s picture of sunny abundance.

When I finally got my plot, I was quite discouraged.  Filled with devil’s club, horsetail, ferns, and other weeds I didn’t recognize, my very uneven plot was on the shady end of the garden.

But I had seeds.  And tools.  And row markers.

So I dug in.  Literally.  One of my new tools was a handy-dandy weeder that made an excellent scythe.  Made in Japan, it’s called a Negiri Gama hoe.

There were two stumps in my plot.  One was small and near the edge.  The other I dug and cut until it released its death grip on the glacial clay; I took it home as a trophy, and it’s still living on the balcony.

As I was working to level the plot, the earth gave me a gift:  a softball-sized chunk of granite-studded quartz.

Day after day I worked, digging stumps, pulling out rocks, creating a semblance of levelness.  Finally it was ready for weed barrier–and soil.  I dragged one wheelbarrow full of dirt down the uneven, stump-filled path before enlisting some help.  It’s amazing how much faster a bed fills with five people working on it, rather than just one.

Somewhere in this adventure I discovered that I’m more attached to this raised bed that I built from the ground up than I would have been had my plot been move-in ready.  My fifty square feet of “tamed” Alaskan wilderness is as quirky as I am, and I like it that way.


2 thoughts on “Taming the Alaskan Wilderness

  1. Life is not easy but all the more delicious because of the labor. Enjoy your garden.

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