Today, we’re urban gardening. The time to garden is now, and Anchorage resident Tikaan Galbreath can’t wait to dig into his soil.
“Check that out, the rhubarb is starting to poke its head through; a sign of a good spring,” Galbreath said. “The soil is getting warm.”
Galbreath loves gardening so much that he and his wife chose their house for its large, south-facing yard. A concept Galbreath says his younger self would find absurd.
“When I was growing up my mom always had a garden, but I rebelled naturally and ate a ton of processed foods,” he said. “And it wasn’t until I was going to school at the University of Massachusetts. It was just a rich valley full of local food and it really caught my attention.”
So much so that Galbreath actually changed his minor to plant, soil and insect science. But after he graduated and moved to Alaska he had a hard time putting that knowledge to use. His landlord at the time didn’t want him growing food in the lawn, so he had to make the best of his limited space.
“Growing in your house you can just grow in pots,” Galbreath said. “If you have a balcony or a window that gets some decent sun you have the opportunity to grow something. A roof works too.”
Galbreath says if you’re interested in gardening but have no outside space to do it, try sticking with produce that thrives indoors.
“Basil, tomatoes, squash, or eggplant are better inside,” he said. “So those hot climate crops, if you have the space inside definitely do it.”
For those intimidated by gardening? Galbreath says start small. He suggests filling a flower bed with herbs and sticking it on your window sill.
“That’s a great thing to do in the kitchen. Get a tray of different herbs that you can grow and harvest from while you’re cooking,” Galbreath said. “It’s not the dry stuff from the store, you know where it came from, and there’s just something about running your fingers through the herbs and getting that fresh smell.”
Galbreath says no matter where you choose to grow, the key to a happy garden is good soil. One way he gets that is by composting, something he does indoors as well.
“We have two big worm bins for the colder winter months,” he said. “Smelling a little ripe right now. Worms are cool.”
Galbreath uses a pair of storage totes which he fills with worms, food scraps and newspaper for his compost. He keeps them by the front door. Galbreath says with a little creativity you can garden in just about any space, no matter the size. And he notes that when you do get a bigger space that creativity will come with you; like it did for him when he used a raspberry bush as a fence.
“So in this case with the raspberries it’s a visual barrier giving us a bit more privacy, we make friends with our neighbors and it gives us the bounty of the fruit harvest,” he said.
And although Galbreath is pleased with his yard, he’s not quite finished finding new places to garden. His next stop? The driveway.
“Our vision is just to fence it in and block off three quarters of it,” Galbreath said. “We’ll still have enough room to park one car, but the rest will open up this whole new space and we’re thinking of an herb garden and a breakfast table where we can come out and enjoy the early morning sun.”