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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Monday - February 25, 2008

From: Fairbanks, AK
Region: Northwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Recommendations for plants for Fairbanks, Alaska.
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

i have just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. i loved it. i'd like to start getting folks to grow their own foods, and raise as much livestock as possible, but i live in central alaska, zone 1, and there is only a 90 day growing season if we're blessed with it. any suggestions or comments on how to grow and buy local, with logistical challenges such as distance and climate.would love to hear anyone's politics, advice, opinions on the premise of her book. this recent beef recall struck a chord, as i truly hope the food was not wasted, but fear it has been. i truly think it is a shame to waste food, number one. i am also ashamed of the way these animals were treated. how can we change our food industry here in the USA? thank you very much.

ANSWER:

You have an excellent resource, the Georgeson Botanical Garden of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, for plants that will grow well in Fairbanks and surrounding areas. In the summertime, the Georgeson has a beautiful display of flowers and you can see the plots of vegetables growing in their research areas. Be sure to see their publications page where you will find articles on particular cultivars of vegetables and flowering plants that grow well in Fairbanks. Indeed, they there are a wealth of articles about a wide range of topics from growing native plants to growing non-native ornamentals. Even though you have a short growing period, the growth during those days can be very rapid since you have many more hours of sun per day than we have way down here in Texas. In fact, your short growing season has produced some impressive "giants" such as a 70 pound cabbage! Click here to see more about giant Alaska vegetables.

While we share your concern about animal cruelty, our Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is not a forum. Mr. Smarty Plants is a question and answer feature to deciminate information about native plants and their use and conservation. To quote our mission statement:

"The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes."

The ASPCA (American Association for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) does have a forum to discuss animal cruelty. You can find it at ASPCA Online Community. You can also get involved with the ASPCA in Fairbanks.
 

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