Growing tomatoes in Alaska
As you can imagine, Alaska lacks the summer warmth to grow tomatoes. However, who loves the smell and taste of self grown tomatoes grows them nevertheless. A greenhouse is an obvious choice, but most Alaskans use the old trick of tanning fast that was popular in the 60s.
Alaskan gardeners plant their tomatoes in a huge pot, place the plant against a south-facing, white reflective wall, best underneath a short roof or other cover that protects a bit from nighttime radiative cooling. A south-facing garage door, for instance, does the trick.
If your driveway is light you get some reflection of sunlight from there too. If it is back, no problem. The dark driveway warms up during the day and releases the heat when the sun is low on the horizon shining from the North, i.e. when the plant is in the shadow. When you are one of my regular readers you have seen this arrangement in several of my outfit photos.
In summer the sun sort of circles around you when you are in Interior Alaska. The short length of the vegetation period is made up a bit by having daylight and no dark nights for about 84 days (see here).
The first tomatoes actually get red on the plant, but most of the yield does not. When the first frost is in the forecast, Alaskans pick all their tomatoes, red or not. Thus, in early/mid September Interior Alaska kitchen counters are full of green tomatoes. Tweet this.
Some Alaskans cut the green tomatoes into about half an inch (1.25 cm) slices and fry them in a pan for dinner. When I was served this dish for the first time, I was quite astonished. Growing up in Germany, I was taught that green tomatoes are poisonous! Well, I also was taught this for raw green, yellow or purple beans, and mushrooms. 🙂
Have you ever tried green tomatoes or eaten raw beans? Did you like them? Let me know by email.
Focus Alaska is a weekly series about Alaska, lifestyle in Alaska, and Alaska-unique features. A new post of this series goes up every Monday at 00 Alaska Time. Get a subscription to my blog here to never miss a post.
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Photos: G. Kramm (2015)
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