I am a desert baby. I’ve always lived where it’s hot and rain is there and gone in a flash. I planned my gardens around heat loving plants with low water needs. Moving to South Central Alaska’s rainforest environment has been a huge adjustment for me. I didn’t expect it to be so hard to adapt to this area and it’s more… interesting challenges.
Besides everything being wet all the time, everything is muddy all the time. I have never seen so much mud in my life! Good, waterproof shoes are a must here (if your feet aren’t swollen and will fit in them anyway). I switch between flip flops and rain boots depending on how deep the mud is. Kyle and I are always slipping too, which isn’t fun, and can be dangerous depending on what we are doing. However, it is hilarious when the chickens slip and slide while trying to run! We ended up buying a huge tarp to put over our addition as it kept getting wet. It kind of reminds me of a circus tent, but it did extend our living space quite a bit having a dry spot to leave shoes and such. Hooray for less dirt in the house!
Another thing neither Kyle nor I expected was just how much growth you have to get through to get to actual dirt. There are a lot of fallen trees that grasses and moss grow over before they decompose completely. The ground looks like its just under the grass, then surprise! There’s a tree and another 3 or 4 inches of growth built up under the tree as well! It takes a long time, and a chainsaw, to clear any room for building or planting anything.
Speaking of plants, my whole gardening strategy is turned upside down here! Last year I had a Pinterest board called Drought Resistant Garden, but here every pot has moss growing in it, and some of my plants drowned, literally. I need to rework my garden ideas for cold tolerant plants that love water. When we build our actual cabin, one of my requests for Kyle was a lean-to style greenhouse off one of the sides. Then it can share heat with the house and maybe we’ll get hot weather fruits and vegetables like tomatoes that way. My admittedly small garden was almost a complete dud this year. We’ve gotten a few cucumbers, some broccoli and strawberries, and peas are coming in now, but that’s it. Good thing I have all winter to plan for next year’s garden.
Something that really came out of the blue here were slugs. They get into, and onto, everything! In your shoes, the dish washing bin, my laundry station, the bed (gross!) and even just on your clothes walking around. Every time we move something there is always a few slugs underneath, though sometimes we find piles of 20 or 30 of them. We’ve even found slugs on the dogs before. The chickens don’t eat them, so I’m seriously considering possibly getting a few ducks next year to save the garden from slug infestations. At least the chickens do eat the mosquitoes though!
We don’t have our wood stove set up yet since we are in the process of building the extension still. I’m really looking forward to the stove so we can get some dry heat going in the studio. I’m not used to the humidity so everything feels damp to me unless it’s in direct sunlight. Even my skin feels damp with humidity. Doing laundry is kind of a bust until there is a sunny day, otherwise things don’t dry properly. And right now we are officially in the rainy season, so the sun has been gone for a week. Once the stove is set up laundry can be hung near it to dry, so I’m excited for that. At least it’s one thing living here that there is an easy solve for!
The amount of rain we’ve had recently has also made our access a lot sketchier than it used to be. Kyle fixed it the other day so he can drive right up it in the 4 wheeler now, but I always get off and walk. The rain runs right down the access and creates a nice clay slick to slide around on. It also washed away the dirt around a few big rocks, making it that much harder to get a good slope going up. We are planning on talking to the borough since they own the access and seeing if they will send someone out to fix it. Now that there are people living out here year round I’m hopeful that they’ll fix it quickly.
Rain for weeks on end, mud everywhere, a drowned garden and an over abundance of slugs are all things I’m just going to need to get used to here spring through fall. I wonder what challenges winter will bring us!