The purpose of mulch is to moderate temperatures and keep the ground frozen, not to keep the ground warm. Alternating freeze and thaw cycles wreak havoc with perennial plants.

Mulch should be applied after the ground freezes, but before a lasting snow. In Alaska, this can be tricky but winter mulch usually is best applied in October. Read more about mulching here.


Horticulture covers a large segment of Anchorage

Consumer Horticulture —This program provides information to home gardeners on organic growing, vegetable production, flowers, tree fruits and berries, culinary herbs, houseplants, lawn establishment and maintenance, landscaping, home greenhouses and more.

Master Gardener Program —Experienced gardeners receive 40 hours of horticultural training in return for 40 hours of volunteer service. For more information check out the MG web page.

Commercial Horticulture —Involves those employed in the horticulture industry and public gardening including greenhouses, garden centers, grounds maintenance, landscape contractors, interior plantscape professionals, commercial peony growers and nursery operators. The Alaska Greenhouse & Nursery Conference is held annually to support industry and public horticulture needs.

Call 786-6300 for more information.


Visit your local farmers market for fresh vegetables.

Soil Testing

Before our office can make a proper soil amendment recommendation to correct deficiencies in nutrients or pH, the land owner must take a soil sample. Procedures for this process can be found in the UAF-CES publication, Soil Sampling, FGV-00044.

After taking the soil sample, the land owner sends it to a laboratory of their choice. Please refer to UAF-CES publication, Factors to Consider in Selecting a Soil Testing Laboratory, FGV-00045.

In Alaska, soil sample testing is performed by the UAF Laboratory located at the UAF Palmer Center for Sustainable Living (formerly known as the Matanuska Experiment Farm). The lab is located at 1509 S. Georgeson Dr., Palmer, Alaska 99645 (formerly Trunk Road).

Please send your sample directly to the laboratory to avoid any delays. The Soil Sampling publication gives instructions on how to package and mail your soil sample. Please print and include the formincluded with the publication. The UAF Laboratory can be reached at (907) 746-9450 if you have further questions. If you choose another laboratory, please follow their instructions for submitting your soil sample.

The UAF lab usually has results in approximately 7-10 days after receipt of the soil sample. The cost is $40 for the basic test (pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium levels). The UAF lab will send a copy of your test results to the CES office of your choice. You will also receive a copy of the test results either by mail or e-mail.

Upon receipt of the test results, an agent will interpret and make recommendations for soil amendments based on the information provided on the form submitted with the sample.

Please note, if you choose to use another laboratory, you may bring your results to the office and we can help you make the appropriate recommendations. 

Greenhouses and garden centers often do a free pH test as a public service for their customers.

If you are interested in learning more about soils, please download and read this UAF-CES publication:  Soil and Fertlizer Management for Healthy Gardens.    


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