Saturday, November 9, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow in Nome, Alaska?

A common question that I get from new visitors to Nome is, "can you have a garden in Nome?"  The answer is, "yes!"  We even have an annual garden tour which is amazing. There are so many "secret" gardens in Nome and talented individuals to learn from.

Granted is does help if you have a great spouse who can build you a green house.

 Snow peas grow very easily here in a green house and outside.

 My recycling effort.  Milk jugs filled with dirt.  Green onions and various herbs and lettuce were planted.
later in the season.

 White Onion
 Butter crunch lettuce, romaine, and peas

 Honeybunch tomatoes and Vietnamese mint

 Cucumbers and Petunias that I grew from seed.

Burpee's 4th of July Tomatoes and a Black Krim Tomato.

Petunia and a baby Zucchini.


 Strawberries and Bok choy.  Strawberries are a hit and miss but when they are a hit the kids love them.  Love growing Bok Choy grows easily here... avoid putting them in too much sun since we get 24 hours of it here.

 Green Bean and Burpee's Black Krim tomato

 Black Krim, 4th of July, and a Zucchini

 Variety of lettuces and a Yukon gold potato.  I tell the kids to look for gold potatoes and the purple ones are like treasure.  They love it.

 Broccoli and Chinese Cabbage.


The other great thing about Nome is that there are a lot of native plants you can harvest from the Tundra.  I don't have to pay a fee to do so just need to know what you are looking for.
 Stink weed and a spring of labrador tea.  I don't know why they call it Stink weed because I think it smells divine.  You can boil either of these to make tea.  Can also be used for medicinal purposes.  Stink weed tea is said to have cured colds.
 Labrador tea
 This is a beach green found on our beaches it's similar to pea greens.  This is one of my faves has a mild taste and crunch. The Inupiaq name is Autchaathluuq. Great in salads

 I don't know the english name for this one but in Siberian Yupik it is Nunevak.  Looks like some sort of thistle.  Found on the tundra.  Pinch flower heads off, discard, and use the rest with salad greens.
Tukayuks.  Sorry I don't know the english name for them.  Strong flavor good in Salads. Usually seen here preserved in Seal oil.  I prefer them in my mom's Kim Chi.

Fireweed.  Fireweed leaves and young fireweed shoots (no picture) are used in salads as well.  Fireweed blossoms are boiled into a tea to make Fireweed Jelly, syrup, ice cream, etc.  So good.

Mom's Kim Chi using tundra greens.  Oh so good.  Here's a link to her recipe using Chinese cabbage but you can substitute greens. Nomemade Kim Chi Recipe

 Fireweed Blossoms

If you would like to know how to make fireweed jelly.  I have a step by step recipe HERE.

We also have a variety berries that we can pick off the tundra to fill our freezers with.
 Salmon berries also know as Cloudberries.  I personally am not a fan of eating these raw but they are GREAT in a jam.  Don't get these confused with the south east Alaska variety which is sweeter then the Northwest variety.

 They look like salmon eggs.  Taste like them too... just kidding.

Tundra Blueberries aka Bilberries
 These suckers are so delicious!

My niece visiting from Utah tasting blueberries for the first time. Best tasting blueberries ever.  Full of flavor not like the lower 48 or grocery store blueberries. Pies, jams, desserts, oh my.

 Tundra Cranberries aka Lignonberries

use just like you would any other cranberry.  Cranberry Jelly for thanksgiving, relish, or Cranbanana jam = YUMMINESS.

 Tundra Raspberries aka Nagoon berries
 I'm telling you... THESE ARE THE BEST TASTING RASPBERRIES EVER!!!  Nothing like the store bought or lower 48 raspberries.  These are full of flavor.  The downside is that the hulls don't come off easy when picked so you have to individually remove the hull and be careful to not swish the berries.

We also get blackberries aka crowberries... not you're normal lower 48 blackberries.  Not much flavor to them.  I don't care for them so I don't go out of my way to pick them.  sorry no picture.

But that's not all!
We also have mushrooms.  If you've never picked mushrooms I highly advised that you go with a local who knows how to pick mushrooms.  Don't just randomly pick mushrooms off the tundra.  Some of them are highly toxic and can cause paralysis... ask my mom :-)  There were mushrooms that looked like ones from Vietnam so she picked one and tasted it with her tongue.  Instantly her tongue and lips went numb.

 These are non poisonous mushrooms.  One sign is that there are no gills on the underside of the mushroom.  Pick when flesh is a creamy white... not brown.  Best when sauteed with butter and garlic. 

We also have puff ball mushrooms as well... good eaten raw.

Thanks to my friends Wendy D. and Rhonda S. for showing me what mushrooms to pick.

Some other plants that are picked in the wild and eaten is Maszu, which is an eskimo potato root and Sura which I believe is a young willow leaf with a strong flavor.  Sorry I don't have pictures.

I only listed just a fraction of the native edible plants that we have here in Nome.  There are many more and lots of beautiful wild flowers as well.

Another reason why I love living here in Nome.