The benefits of living in Alaska go way beyond the great hunting and fishing. There are so many other benefits we have here that we often take for granted. The unbelievable gardens we can grow here are just another example of how lucky we are to live here in Alaska. For the past four or five years my family and I have helped Billy and Rosie Spiers with their garden in Nikiski.
I will never forget my first trip to Billy's place on Wik Road to help him with his garden. With wide eyes I exclaimed "Billy this is not a garden this is a farm!" The garden spot was huge and inside their home Rosie had many of the summer garden plants already started. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and tomatoes were some of the plants she started herself.
A couple years ago I bought two green houses from Marcella Bremond on Poppy Lane. I kept the bigger one for myself but hauled the smaller one up to Nikiski for the Spiers family. They tore off the corrugated plastic and replaced it with new green house plastic and this little building became a major part of Rosie Spiers day each summer. There were tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers, squash, and who knows what else growing from every nook and cranny in that building. There was no wasted space whatsoever and just enough room for Rosie to get inside to water and tend to her plants.
I once made the comment to Billy that it was too bad I couldn't find her another building to grow stuff in. He replied with a half smile and in voice that Rosie was sure not to hear, "Don't you dare bring another greenhouse building here, I would never see my wife at all as she already spends about 6 hours a day tending to her plants in there!"
I have raised a garden for about as long as I can remember and on certain years I have managed to put away a lot of food either by canning or freezing it. But 1 have to admit that I have never raised vegetables like those I saw raised on Wik Road in Nikiski. Billy and Rosie Spiers raised more potatoes in one row of their garden then most people grow in a lifetime! Under one plant this year I dug more than thirty potatoes that were all bigger than a baseball! In just one hour my Uncle Jim Von Haden and I dug 16 5-gallon buckets of potatoes!
If you were to ask Billy why he plants such a big garden he would probably tell you because he has the land and you can never tell when someone will need some food. Each day that I was there helping him he would say "The Lord's really blessed our garden this year." Then go on to say how lucky we are to be able to grow such crops.
For me personally it does me good to see people like Billy and Rosie Spiers raise such huge gardens as they do. It is a daily reminder to me to be thinking of the needs of others and to hopefully learn to be more thoughtful of the needs of others. This couple gives away more vegetables each year than most people grow.Quite a tribute to a couple that are both over 70 years old and one of them had 80 candles on the last birthday cake!
Billy is a little crippled up and has a difficult time getting around but that does not stop him from each year running The Spiers Truck farm! I watched Billy crawling around his garden after dark digging potatoes or weeding until he can hardly go any more. I try to get up there and help them as much as I can but must admit they give me so many things from their garden each year I feel guilty. Each day you're there you can be assured Rosie will have a nice meal for everyone.
To those of you who know Bill and Rosie Spiers stop in and have a cup of coffee with them, tell them ol' John sent you! Even if you don't know them pay them a visit on Wik Road
Bet you can't leave there without something from their garden!
See You next week!
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