A Quick and Dirty Guide to Raising Vegetables in Southcentral Alaska Step 2: Buying Seeds

Buying Seeds

We have a really short growing season up here, with very long daylight hours. In order to get the most of your garden, you need to find the right variety of seeds. After many years of experimentation, I have come up with a list of seed varieties I use with good results. The cooperative extension service also has recommended variety list, but it is quite outdated. You’ll notice that there are a lot of veggies missing from this list. That’s because this list simply reflects the vegetables I’ve had good success with. Please contribute your own variety suggestions by contacting me.

Erik’s recommended seeds for growing in Southcentral Alaska:

I’ve listed the variety, followed by the seed company where they can be obtained.


  1. Storage #4 (Johnnys)

Very good storage quality. Late season.

  1. Golden Acre (Denali)

Small but early.

  1. Copenhagen Early Market (Johnnys)

Small, cone-shaped heads.

  1. OS Cross (Denali)

These are the giant cabbages you sometimes see at the fair. Grow between 25-100lbs.


  1. Packman (Territorial)

Nice main head, with tons of side shoots. Cut side shoots frequently so that they do not flower.

  1. Blue Wind (Johnnys)

Also nice, though I do not think that they are as productive as Packman.


  1. Red Russian (Denali)

A standard for Alaska. A few plants will give you more kale than your know what to do with. Very hardy.


  1. Bolero (Johhnys and Territorial) [I like to use the pelleted seeds]

A great storage variety. Big roots. Late. Not as sweet as fresh varieties, and we’ve stored them until January (when we ate them all).

  1. Purple Haze (Johnnies and Territorial)

A really fun dark purple color. They are ridiculously sweet and tender.


Any variety will do, but radishes tend to bolt (go to seed and get tough) during the middle of summer. Plant a crop in early spring and another in late summer.


Most varieties do very well up here. However, I have had great success with baby salad mixes (offered by Johnnies and Territorial). Scatter a couple of 6” swaths with the seeds, and give them a haircut every week or two. You’ll have tons of salad mix and the flavors will change throughout the season as different types of greens mature.


  1. Black Beauty or Blackjack (Denali)

Zucchini does very well up here if it has a nice warm spot to grow. Three or four plants will produce more zucchini than you know what to do with.


  1. Yukon Chief (Denali)

Corn needs a lot of time to grow and a lot of warmth. Even then, it’s hit or miss. Produces fairly small ears, but it’s an accomplishment just to get anything. Don’t pick too early! Allow lots of time to ripen.

  1. Spring Treat (Johnnies)

I’m still testing this variety, but it is showing potential as another Alaskan variety.


Copra (Johnnies)

Many gardeners have good success with this variety. I’m still learning, and my onions never get very big. Try some other varieties, but they must be “long-day” varieties, and must mature fairly early.


Potatoes in Alaska are naturally disease-free. That means you should not plant potatoes you buy from the store. Buy only certified disease-free potatoes. You can find them in garden supply store in the sping (P&M Gardens in Eagle River carries them, but they usually run out fast). After you’ve bought them, you can use your leftover potatoes from the harvest for next year’s seed potatoes. Common varieties are Yukon Gold and Iditared, but there are many varieties that do well up here.

Next Step: Starting Your Seeds

Leave a Comment