A Garden Blog by Kevin Milaeger

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Kevin 2015 

A Marvelous Community Garden

July 29, 2015     
(See below for archives)
I recently returned from a short trip to our family cottage in Sister Bay, Wisconsin. Just a nice walk from our place is a community garden that started up a couple of years ago. It’s a great place and I thought you’d like to hear about it. Although it is free and open to everyone, the garden is on the private property of Tom and Carolyn Rehberger. Through the efforts of this generous couple, the “Beach Road Community Garden” at Hidden Acres Farm is available for all to enjoy. The garden is set amidst a group of historic buildings that were once part of a commercial fish processing facility---my mom (she is from Sister Bay) remembers it still operating in the late 1930’s. The buildings have now been restored, no obvious sign of the processing remains, and the site is now a charming and friendly garden.
The gardens are a series of raised beds. I didn’t count them but there are quite a few. All the beds are about six feet wide, and they vary in length---some are about twenty feet long. The soil in much of Door County is very rocky, so that is possibly one reason they chose raised beds. Also, raised beds are easier to tend, a feature that I appreciate more every year. A few of the beds are fitted with metal hoops. The hoops will support a temporary plastic covering, not unlike some greenhouses, to protect the plants in colder weather. In these beds are planted plants of tropical origin (such as tomatoes, eggplant, peppers)---they are generally the most cold sensitive. A wide variety of produce is grown at the garden. Summer squash was ready to be harvested when I visited. Also ready were Swiss chard, lettuce, beets, dill and other herbs. Other crops were coming along nicely---tomatoes, beans (bush and pole), peas, peppers, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, carrots, and more. A few early crops such as lettuce were already finished by mid-July. The chore list indicated arugula was one of the plants that would partly fill the resulting gaps.
Water is mainly provided by rain. Rain that falls on the largest building is channeled into a storage tank, and water for the garden is drawn from there. I assume there is also a well on the property---it would be needed to supplement during dry spells. Another interesting feature on the site is the library. The library is in a little shed, with no locks on the door. The books aren’t organized in any particular way, and they are on all subjects. You can pick anything up, or drop anything off at any time. I’m already gathering up some books to donate on my next visit.
I understand an intern is regularly working the garden, but I haven’t yet met him. I imagine that between the intern and the owners, decisions are made about what to grow, crop scheduling, crop rotation, and other issues. Volunteers do the usual garden chores; they can then share in the garden bounty.  A “chore list” is updated regularly so the volunteers can see what projects need to be done. They are doing a great job---the garden looks immaculate. Seems like every time I visit, nearly all the work has already been done. As a result, the most I’ve done is pull a few weeds---I have yet to sample any of the bounty! (I did, however, offer to donate plants.) Often when I visit the Beach Road Community Garden there is someone there, just wandering like me, or busying themselves with various tasks. On my most recent visit someone was tying up the cauliflower (blanching) and fixing the tomato supports. These activities invariably prompt casual conversation, so this is a good place to get to know your neighbors. Being a summer vacation area, most of the folks are there only occasionally so the garden helps people get connected.
Mid-July in northern Door County means it is harvest time for tart cherries. I enjoy driving around the county and seeing all the cherry trees, loaded with millions of bright red cherries. I planned to pick some cherries, so I stopped at my cousin’s orchard---it’s just a mile or so from our cottage. For commercial harvesting they shake the cherry trees, but I didn’t need many so I just stood on the ground and picked the easy, low hanging fruit. I left the orchard with a couple pails of cherries---it turned out to be 25 cups---I’m planning on making a big batch of “cherry bounce.” Bounce is a homemade concoction that has been around in various forms for generations---George Washington even made some. It can be made with many different types of fruit, and a wide variety of alcohol. The principal ingredients are cherries, water, sugar, and alcohol (I chose vodka.) There are many recipes out there. Come autumn (the bounce takes a while to “age”) there is a bounce tasting competition, complete with prizes, held in Door County. I usually don’t sample mine until Thanksgiving---it seems like a holiday beverage anyway, sort of like a cordial. I serve it in a small glass with a few of the actual cherries (watch for the pits!) But be forewarned---the cherries hold the highest concentration of alcohol. Cheers!
Scroll down for more images of this marvelous community garden! 
Please email me (kevin@milaegers.com) if you have any questions or comments.

Archives  (Click on the green text for links)

July 2015 - A Marvelous Community Garden

July 2015 - Finally----the first ripe tomato

July 2015 - Is it Possible to overdose on peas?

July 2015 - The Garden in July --- I'm still planting!

June 2015 - And Just When Things Were Looking So Good...

June 2015 - Tomatoes, Cukes, and a Whimsical Onion

June 2015 - Trials and Tribulations in the Veggie Garden!

May 2015 - Trouble in Tomatoland!

May 2015 - Tomatoes are Claustrophobic

May 2015 - A Little Chilly, but it's Rhubarb Time!

May 2015 - Joan's Rhubarb Torte Recipe

April 2015 - "Ketchup and Fries" plant video

April 2015 - Early May in the Vegetable Garden

April 2015 - What Vegetables Can I Plant Now?

April 2015 - Making Salad Interesting

March 2015 - Ready... set... GROW!

March 2015 - Unusual Potatoes --- Not Just for Tots Anymore!

February 2015 - Next Month is Spring!

February 2015 - Greens to Grow 2015


September 2014 - Tomatomania Review 2014!

September 2014 - Tomatomania Results by Category or Cummulative

August 2014 - Kale! Kale! The Greens are Here! Click here for Recipe

August 2014 - The August Harvest Begins

July 2014 - Greens to Grow for Fall!!!  Click here for Spreadsheet

July 2014 - My Tomatoes are Blushing

June 2014 - Some Tomato Concerns

May 2014 - Garden Update --- the Cold Weather Experiment

May 2014 - Is it Time to Plant Tomatoes?

May 2014 - Vintage Veggies #4 and Vintage Veggies List 2014

April 2014 - A Chilly Spring... What Can I Plant Now?

March 2014 - Start Growing Your Own Food Right Now

February 2014 - Greens to Grow   Click here for Spreadsheet


October 2013 - Keep Calm and Garden On!

October 2013 - Autumn Vegetables

September 2013 - Tomato Popularity Poll Results Blog

September 2013 - Tomatomania Category and Cumulative Results

September 2013 - Tomatomania 2013 Blog, Video and T-Shirt

August 2013 - Greens to Grow and Spreadsheet

July 2013 - Spaghetti Squash

July 2013 - New Tomato and Zucchini Recipe Blog
July 2013 - Tomato and Zucchini Recipe

June 2013 - Cold Spring - What it Means for Vegetables
May 2013 - Tomatoes in Containers
May 2013 - Vintage Veggies 2013
April 2013 - My Tomato Garden Preview 2013
April 2013 - Don't Forget Rosemary!
April 2013 - It's Planting Time
March 2013 - Onions
March 2013 - Vintage Veggies
March 2013 - Greens to Grow Update
February 2013 - Hot Peppers
February 2013 - Grafted Tomatoes
February 2013 - Greens to Grow

September 2012 - Tomatomania Results
July 2012 - Compass Plant
July 2012 - Heat Wave
June 2012 - Okra
June 2012 - Potato Onion
May 2012 - Gas Plant

May 2012- My Tomato Garden
May 2012 - Vintage Veggie Fest
March 2012 - Growing Raspberries in SE Wisconsin
March 2012 - Winter Tomato Project
February 2012 - Success with Sweet Peppers
February 2012 - Vegetable Cukes Miniature
January 2012 - Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2011 -Tomatomania Review 
August 2011 - Tomatomania Preview
August 2011 - Racine Vegetable Garden Tour
Summer 2011 - Vegetables in my Garden
July 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
June 2011 - Vegetables - Diseases made Simple
June 2011 - Vegetables - Container Growing
May 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
April 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Event Preview
March 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Announcement

September 2010 - Tomatomania Review 
August 2010 - Flowers Late Summer Color
July 2010 Vegetables Cukes and Tomatoes
June 2010 Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2009 - Tomatoes End of Season Review 
September 2009 - Tomatomania Review
July 2009 - Tomatoes General and Fruit Set Problems
June 2009  - Tomatoes Fertilization
June 2009  - Tomatoes Personal Experience
May 2009 - Tomatoes General
May 2009 - Tomatoes Diseases
May 2009 - Tomatoes Selecting and Growing
April 2009 - Tomatoes General

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