For best results, use raised beds
Raised beds provide many benefits in Southeast Alaska. They enhance plant growth by improving drainage and warming the soil. They can be enclosed with boards, rocks, or many other materials, or the soil can just be mounded up. Good gardening soil should be loose and well-drained and supply good nutrition for your plants. For heavy, clayey soil, consider adding sand and organic matter such as aged manure or compost. Our frequent rainfall tends to leach out nutrients, especially through the fall and winter, so you need to add organic matter each year. Our soils tend to be acidic and you may need to add lime each year, except where growing potatoes, which like the acid. The Cooperative Extension Service provides information on soil testing and recommendations for improving soil composition, pH, and nutrient content.
Another common practice is to cover your mounded beds with a layer of at least 3-mil black visquean and cut an X-shaped hole just big enough for your plant. This eliminates a lot of weeding and tends to raise the soil temperature.
For more information see: Raised Bed Gardening in Alaska
This PDF guide includes tips to overcome cold soils, excessive or inadequate rainfall or poor soil conditions through the use of raised planting beds. It includes benefits, designs and the actual construction of raised beds. For those gardeners who do not have a garden spot located in a south-sloping, well-drained, sunny area, this guide is a valuable tool.
To grow plants that require warmer conditions and/or drier soil, you might consider covering a portion of your plot with clear visquean supported by a wooden framework or plastic pipes bent like covered wagon staves to make a sort of greenhouse. This approach requires monitoring, so that you provide adequate ventilation and don’t cook your plants, and hand watering since they don’t get direct rain.