THE U-Pick GARDEN will be closing August 20th. This will be the last year the garden will be open to the public. Next year I'll be operating as a CSA, supplying about 20 regular customers with weekly boxes. Thank you for your support over the last 8 years, but it's time to try something new.

To get a copy of my book, "How To Grow Vegetables In Sitka, Alaska" just give me a call....The books are $20 plus tax. If you live out of town and want me to mail you a copy, you can mail a check for $25.60 to:

Lori Adams
P O Box 6021
Sitka, Alaska

Down To Earth U-Pick Garden is located at 2103 Sawmill Creek Road in Sitka, Alaska. It is open usually from mid-June through late August. Hours are Monday-Saturday 12:00 to 6:30. On Farmer's Market Saturdays I am not open until 2:00. Children are welcome but may not run through the garden or chase the ducks. If you have any questions you can contact me, Lori Adams, at 907-747-6108 or 907-738-2241. My email address is

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brussel's Sproutus Giganticus

Brussel's Sprouts plants do really well here in Sitka, but here are a few tips to get the most from your plants.

Brussel's Sprouts form right at the base of each leaf. If the plants are left alone the sprouts at the bottom mature first while the plant continues to grow taller and produce smaller sprouts up the stem, clear to the tippy-top. You will get plenty of sprouts without doing ANYTHING to the plant. However, most of them will be disappointingly small. If you want larger sprouts I suggest the following:

1. As sprouts begin to form at the base of the leaves, remove some of the lowest leaves every other week or so by either snapping them off sideways or cutting them off with a knife. Removing excess leaves channels more energy into growing sprouts rather than leaves.

However, be sure not to remove more than 1/3 of the leaves at any one time or the plant will become stressed and production could actually be negatively affected.

2. Sometime in September it's a good idea to "top" the plants by pinching out the growing tip.

Topping plants stops them from growing taller and producing more sprouts, and lets the plant concentrate on plumping up the sprouts that are already on the plant. Interestingly enough, topping the plants seem to cause the upper sprouts to get bigger than the lower sprouts!

If you do these two things you will be amazed at how big your sprouts will get! But don't let them get too big before you harvest them... or they could get loose and tough on you if you're not careful. Some of mine got really huge this year!  Look at this one....

Fortunately it was tightly knit, tender, and delicious!

Remember, Brussel's Sprouts taste best after the first don't eat them all now! In fact, not many people realize that these plants are not merely hibernating right now....they are actually STILL GROWING, so any sprouts you've left outside will continue to plump up for the next few months!

Monday, October 28, 2013


I am always amazed on what a difference a few inches can make.  A plant will do badly in one spot, but once it is moved it starts to do well. Micro-climates make a BIG difference. For instance....

I had a large White Daisy plant that was doing well out in the open, but the rain tended to discolor the flower petals. I wanted to use the blooms in bouquets so I decided to move it under the eaves of the house to protect it a little. Unfortunately the only available spot under the eaves was on the North side of the house...too shady. For 3 years the plant survived but it was slowly shrinking and it would not bloom. Then, about a month ago I moved it 3 FEET to the East.....and the other day I noticed it was blooming!  In October no less!!!!!

That's just crazy! It really proves to me that you should never give up on a plant....just try it in a different spot in your garden.

Friday, October 25, 2013

10 Random Tidbits

1. There's no one here to haul our wood anymore....

So now we have to haul it ourselves.

2. One day this summer when I was driving out the road I noticed this cloud over Mt. Edgecombe, our local extinct volcano....

Weird, huh?

3. I love dehydrated carrots. They are SO delicious!

But I prefer them at the "rubbery" stage and this particular batch went a little too long....they are kind of hard to chew....

4. When I travel anywhere in the lower 48 I notice that everyone's luggage looks pretty normal, the closer I get to home the more unusual it starts to look, and by the time I get to Sitka it's looks downright odd...'s MY luggage from the last trip I took.

5. A friend of mine recently gave me a Spiral Cutter for vegetables, so Mr. Adams and I took it out for a ride the other day and made some Zucchini "pasta".

Look how long this "noodle" turned out to be!

Zucchini pasta is SO DELICIOUS! You can't even tell it's not pasta!

6. Here's what Levi's room looks like right now....don't tell him.

Do you think he will be upset when he comes home for Thanksgiving vacation?

7. This is my Dad's pickup. He bought it on the day my little sister started Kindergarten.

Everybody in the valley recognizes it and wants it.

8. My neighbor has 2 ducks. They are Rouens - a large breed that look just like mallards, only larger. When I was out of town recently they wandered up to my place. The housesitter thought they were my ducks and called me while she frantically tried to herd them back inside the fence. "She said, they just don't want to go back in!"... which is strange for my ducks. They are always easy to herd because they want back in the safety zone. I told her, "That's weird....maybe they're not mine....are there 19 ducks inside the fence?" About that time she said,"Oh no, they just took off flying!" Well, then I KNEW that they weren't mine. One ended up inside the fence and one outside the fence.....oh dear...the neighbor showed up about that time to take care of the situation.

I still laugh once in a while when I think about her trying to "herd" the neighbor's ducks INTO my yard and her confusion when they didn't want to go!!

9. Mr. Adams' recent Sheep hunt in Colorado was really challenging...

Does that look like fun to you?

And finally....

10. I'll do almost anything to get a good photo for this blog.

photo courtesy of Carolyn Nichols

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Garlic Is Planted

I finally got my Garlic planted yesterday.

Two different hardneck varieties:

Music - my favorite because the cloves are large, but not too large, and most of the time there are about 5 cloves per bulb.

And Georgian Crystal - a close second with super large cloves but only about 2-3 cloves per bulb.

I'm actually starting to think the Georgian Crystal cloves are just a little bit too big....I mean...holy cow!

BTW: For the past few years I've been calling this variety "Bogatyr" or "Bogarty" by mistake.  Some sort of mix-up when it was given to me the first time. A local expert recently corrected me....she could tell just by looking at it that it was actually Georgian Crystal.

Anyways, they are all tucked in their bed now....ready for winter.

All of the large cloves were planted using about 9 inch spacing, all the medium cloves were planted using 4 inch spacing, and all of the small cloves were planted using 2 inch spacing. And the whole bed is mulched with seaweed and leaves gathered from the beach.

Yum..................I can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


October is berry picking time! Lingonberries and Bog Cranberries. I just love picking them.....but around town these particular types of berries are small, not very plentiful, and hard to everyone who's looking for them is very secretive about where they pick....

Lucy usually accompanies me, but she can keep a secret.

Even though she's mostly blind, she still seems to be able to flounder around in the muskeg and have a good time. I think she even figured out how to pick Lingonberries herself.

She does have a tendency to just wander off, so today I attached a bell to her collar to keep better track of her whereabouts.

Carolyn also joined me today.......berry picking is more fun when you take a friend!

This year we're noticing a definite trend.....there are hardly any Bog Cranberries but there are lots of Lingonberries....

 ....and they are larger than normal. I wonder if other pickers are finding the same thing?

We each ended up with about 3 cups of berries after about 2 hours of picking, and Lucy was muddy and panting from all of her exercise.

 So everyone's happy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Alaska Day

October 18 is Alaska Day...the day we celebrate the purchase of Alaska from Russia. The 1867 purchase actually took place in Sitka, so we celebrate it here in a big way. One of the main events of the celebration is the parade. EVERYONE is there! The kids especially love it because everyone throws candy to the crowd. It's better than Halloween! This year I decided I wanted to walk in the parade to advertise the U-pick garden and hand out something better....I wanted to hand out carrots.

So I had some t-shirts made up....


The fronts say:

And the backs say:

And then I washed all of the carrots (the ones I said I had set aside earlier for a project).....

....while Mr. Adams attached my sign to the front of the 4-wheeler....

 ......and duck decoys to the rack for special effect (since live ducks didn't seem like a very good idea)...

Carolyn agreed to help us, and she met us down at the parade lineup...

Of course it was raining, as it does every year on Alaska Day, so we had to wear our t-shirts over our warm clothes and rain gear. We sort of looked fat and puffy....but, so did everyone else!

And then, we were off....Carolyn and I carried baskets of carrots, and we each took one side of the street....

Mr. Adams carried the rest of the carrots on the back of the 4-wheeler.

Now, let me tell you, when the people saw us coming with those bright orange carrots, they went absolutely nuts! I could hear them yell, "CARROTS!" way down the street.... EVERYONE one! They were so excited! Of course, we didn't have enough for everyone to have one, but we handed them out to as many kids as we could. The kids were so cute...look at this little girl, all set up for a rainy parade...

I wish I could have taken more photos, but I was REALLY busy. The parade seemed to move pretty fast and the crowd was just a blur of frantic people holding out their hands begging for carrots. Honestly, I couldn't even focus in on who was there or recognize people I was that crazy....but I absolutely could not stop smiling. It was about the most fun thing I've ever done.

The highlight of the whole thing for me was seeing kids ACTUALLY SPIT OUT THE CANDY THEY HAD IN THEIR MOUTHS to eat our carrots. I almost made me so happy.

We tried to ration out the carrots to last the whole parade, but we unfortunately ran out the last half block. And then, it was over....and on the way home I was thrilled to see carrot tops along the road....

....mixed in with the candy wrappers.

Let's do it again next year!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

And Finally.....The Hogs

My Dad used to be a hog farmer. I don't remember a time growing up when we didn't have hogs on the place. And then, about the same time I got married he got out of the business, so for a while there were no hogs on the place. A few years back, my Brother, for some reason, decided to raise a few of them, and since my Dad's farm is set up for that type of thing, there's a few hogs living there again. I was a little surprised. I never had much to do with the hogs while I was growing up - those chores fell to my Dad and Brother, so I would have thought he would HATE hogs. But he seems to genuinely like them. 

Anyways, hogs make wonderful garbage disposals, so we took all of the reject apples out to them and gave them a little snack. My niece, Rebecca, has been involved with the hog project too and is familiar with them, so she called them over for their little snack. Here is the first one on the scene....

Now, since I didn't have to work with the hogs when I was young, I didn't have any real strong opinions about them. I knew that they stank and that I was scared of them, but I also knew that I loved bacon and pork chops, so I guess I thought they were okay. Watching these hogs eat apples now, I decided that I do not like them. I mean, look at this....

That is beyond disgusting. 

And then more of them appeared on the scene....

And I found them even more repulsive and unattractive. Just look at the brown one....

A face only a mother could love.

I have now formed VERY strong opinions about hogs.......they stink and I'm scared of them, but I love bacon and pork chops. 

And I'm going to stick to growing vegetables........ and leave the hog-raising to someone else!