To learn about exciting plans for the Crowley Station platform, see the website for the Lakefront Porch on Wilson Street at Crowley Station: Lakefrontporch.org. Learn more about the Lakefront Porch in this article, madison.com!
Find Your Garden in Madison
CSCG garden beds are perfect for gardeners living downtown who desire a small piece of land to grow herbs, flowers, and vegetables that do not require too much space, but there are only a few beds. There are more community gardens in Madison. They vary in size, requirements, and locations. Look for the garden that fits you best at danegardens.net. The map below is a great way to explore local gardens in the Madison area. You can be on the wait list for multiple community gardens at once.
Blair Street Gardens
If you are interested in growing more than vegetables, join a group of neighborhood gardeners at Blair Street Gardens. These volunteers have been beautifying the Isthmus since 1985, blairstreetgardens.org
Community Gardens Map
2021 Garden Season
Welcome to the new gardening season! Please follow CDC and city public health guidelines when you come to the garden. Wear a mask when others are around, and bring your own tools if you have concerns about sharing.
If you have received a garden assignment from us, you are welcome to begin as soon as you complete your registration form, and we receive your plot fee. All gardeners must complete the registration form each year.
The Welcome email includes:
- Important dates
- Registration form
- Link to membership guidelines
- Plot fee information
- Storage bench lock combinations
2021 Garden Changes:
- Use social distancing whenever at the garden.
- Bring your own tools if you are concerned about sharing
- Consider becoming a leader for the garden this fall. We need all the help possible to make sure the garden continues in 2022!
Sending health and ease your way,
Crowley Station Community Garden Leadership Team
2020 Garden Season
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/622592304. Meeting ID: 622 592 304
- Use social distancing whenever at the garden.
- Bring your own tools. (Currently there aren’t any sanitizing supplies at the garden).
- No volunteer hours are required this year. You can still help by completing tasks on the task list.
- No monthly garden meetings
- Consider becoming a leader for the garden this fall. We need all the help possible to make sure the garden continues in 2021!
Tuesday, June 16, 2020: Summer Garden Meeting, at the Garden (or on Zoom depending on State Guidelines)
Saturday, October 31, 2020: Closing Day plot must be trench composted by this date in order to remain in good standing.
Autumn Gardening: Planting Garlic!
If you’re planning to continue gardening with us at CSCG for the 2018 season, it’s time to get your garlic cloves in some soil! Garlic is typically planted in the Fall and harvested the following summer. Our raised garden beds are sunny, rich, and well-drained; which is perfect for garlic.
Garlic should be planted 6 weeks prior to freeze. Planting garlic can be purchased at many local locations. This year we tried Pehoski Purple and German Extra Hardy-Porcelain. Make sure to get a variety that will do well in this region.
Separate the cloves from each bulb.
This year we tried a pre-soak that was recommended to us by the folks at Paradigm Gardens. This soak gives the garlic a fertilizer boost and reduces any diseases that could be carried on the garlic bulbs. After the cloves are separated, put them in warm water with a tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of fish emulsion. We used Age Old Organics, Fish and Seaweed Emulsion. Soak the garlic in the mixture for 1-12 hours (the longer the better). Drain the cloves and them soak them in Vodka for 10 minutes. This is what will kill any diseases.
Plant the cloves into prepared soil about 3” deep and about 6-9” apart. Plant with the tip of the clove as straight up as possible (or you’ll get wonky shaped garlic!) and the root side down. Cover the cloves with 1-2” of soil.
Cover the garlic with generous layer of straw mulch to protect it from the freeze and thaw of our harsh Wisconsin winter. You may want to protect your garlic from hungry critters by covering with a layer of chicken wire. It also may be a good idea to mark where you planted each clove so it’s still obvious next spring. We color coded ours so we can keep track of which variety and method does best. Let your garlic hibernate!
In the spring, add more mulch to help encourage growth, retain moisture, and keep the weeds at bay. Make sure to keep the area around your garlic free of weeds. Later in the spring your garlic will begin to flower. Remove these flowering stalks to encourage growth of the garlic bulb itself instead of it putting its energy into flowering (you can eat these, they’re called garlic scapes!). In June, the garlic will stop producing new growth. At this time, remove any remaining mulch and allow the soil to dry out. Harvest in mid-July or August when you have 5 full green leaves remaining or 50% of the leaves have died from the bottom. The garlic can be removed and allowed to dry for 2-3 weeks in a cool, airy location. Enjoy your garlic now or store it to use through the fall and into the winter! Consider setting aside a few bulbs to replant!
If you need any help planting or need extra tips, feel free to reach out to us!
– Grayson & Krista
Sauerkraut: from the ground up
As you are plotting your new garden this spring, it’s great to think about long term projects. Planning plants that you can preserve later is a great way to use your bountiful harvest and reduce waste! There are three primary methods to preserve your harvest later on: canning, freezing, and pickling/fermenting. If you have a preferred method, think ahead of time about what produce will do the best with your method of choice.
Today I’ll discuss fermenting 101. My favorite vegetables to ferment result in fun takes on the traditional sauerkraut. First, what goes into traditional sauerkraut?
- green cabbage
- caraway seeds
In my opinion, the best sauerkraut requires a little bit of invention and pizazz! Think: beets, carrots, pink cabbage, ginger, radish, garlic. In order for the sauerkraut to preserve optimally, you should add spices. Think: turmeric, fennel seeds, caraway seeds, cumin, curry powder, and even seaweed! The spices help to control the bacteria levels – inviting the good ones in and keeping the bad ones out. From an aesthetic perspective, keeping all of your ingredients in the same color palette will result in vibrant colors in your kraut.
We will host a workshop to address the process of making sauerkraut, but here a brief run down once you harvest your produce:
- give your produce a light rinse
- chop, shred, and mince your vegetables
- add spices and flavors (garlic, ginger, turmeric) and salt!
- massage, squeeze and beat your mixture until the juices from the vegetables are oozing out
- transfer to a large mason jar or sauerkraut crock (nothing plastic). Pack down the kraut tight, so all of the liquid rises to the top (leave at least 2 inches on top of jar)
- cover jar with a cheesecloth (any mesh will do), place in a bowl to catch overflow and put in a dark cupboard
- “burp” each day for the first week of fermenting. Burp: using (clean) hands or a glass jar to press down on your kraut, bringing the air bubbles to the top
- let ferment as long as you’d like, tasting along the way until you like how it tastes. In cold weather, I ferment for 3-4 weeks. In warm weather, I ferment for ~2 weeks. Add a lid and place in your refrigerator to enjoy!
Back to the garden: for fun sauerkraut, think about planting your spring produce…beets, carrots, radishes, and cabbage. Choose a new variety or a different color. Golden beets make a wonderful tasty addition to sauerkraut. Or get creative and try something new!
We’ll keep you posted on plans for our sauerkraut workshop, and in the mean time get planting. We can’t wait to see those beet greens pushing out of the soil soon!
About a month ago we had our opening day at the garden. I apologize for not having a post up sooner about it, but it’s been a busy month. We had great turnout and it was great to meet so many new people.
A few people planted their gardens that day and since then more and more plots are getting filled in.
Sprouts are beginning to show in some beds and established plants are flourishing.
The great news is that all our plots are filled this year and we even have a waiting list! It sounds like Crowley Station is becoming more known in the community which is a great thing.
We had our first workday this past Saturday. We did some maintenance and added a cork board to the bulletin board. We also fixed the rain barrel funnel so it will fill up with water more efficiently.
We also made put laminated name cards in every garden plot.
After the last few days of rain, there is finally a significant amount of water in the rain barrel. Remember to use the rain barrel before using the water spigot. Thanks!
Spring Plant Sales!
Starting seeds is a gardener’s favorite way to save some money and grow only the very best varieties. This whole process can seem overwhelming for new gardeners. You can still have your tomatoes and peppers without starting seeds yourself. All you need to do is buy some starts! The Farmer’s Market on the square is a Crowley Station favorite since you only have to carry plants a couple of blocks before planting them. However, you might be surprised by the selection and savings by heading out to the annual plants sales that happen April to May. Here is our round-up of plant sales that happen around Madison in the Spring. In the comment section, please let us know if we missed any!
Troy Community Farm Plant Sale
This annual plant sale has a fabulous selection of hardy vegetable starts that are perfect for your food gardens. Prices range from $1.50 – $8.00. These plants are also certified organic!
Plant Sale with the Pros – Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Friday, May 6, 2016 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. & Saturday, May 7, 2016 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Get great plants and expert advice from area professionals this year at Plant Sale with the Pros. The sale features everything from annuals and perennials to ornamental grasses and shrubs. Olbrich’s staff carefully chooses unique plants that do best in this climate. Find the newest, hardiest, disease-resistant cultivars on the market. Local plant pros, master gardeners, and Olbrich’s horticulturists will be available to answer questions.
Proceeds from the plant sale benefit Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Shop early since quantities are limited. Shoppers are encouraged to bring cartons, wagons, or boxes for carrying plants. Cash, checks, MasterCard, Visa, and Discover are accepted. Maximize your support of the Gardens by using cash or check.
Master Gardener Plant Sale
Sunday, May 22, 11AM-3PM (May 29th Rain Date)
Hundreds of perennials for shade or sun, vegetable & herb starts, annuals and more will be available! Master Gardeners will be around to answer your gardening questions. Proceeds will help purchase seeds & supplies for community gardening programs. Plants are reasonably priced. Cash or check only.
Dane County/UW Extension Office parking lot at 5201 Fen Oak Drive, Madison 53718
UW Arboretum Native Plant Sale
For a completely different type of plant sale check out the Arboretum on May 7, 2016, 9AM-2PM. There will be large tents near the Visitor Center where more than 100 species of native grasses; woodland, prairie, and savanna plants, and trees and shrubs will be available to purchase. I’d suggest coming early. This is a popular sale in Madison!
Is Spring Here?
It seems like after the crazy snow and rain of last week, spring might finally be here! We are ready at Crowley Station Community Garden to start planting. Our opening day is coming up on Saturday, April 16. Stop at the farmer’s market for some fresh veggies and then come on down to the garden to plant your own. We’ll be there between 10 and 2 taking registration info and payments and having a nice little social to kick off the planting season. We’ll also be decorating name plates for our garden beds to let the community and garden visitors know who we are. I can’t wait to see everyone and meet my fellow gardeners.
Looking forward to Spring
It’s finally feeling like spring! We shall hope that this warm weather continues and we get lots of spring rain to fill up our rain barrels, which will be going out in a few weeks.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Emma and I’m the new Communications Director for 2016. I’m excited to be in this role and have lots of ideas for the coming planting season! I’ve been gardening since I was small and loved to eat dirt-covered carrots right out of my family’s garden. This is only my second summer as a gardener with Crowley Station but I’m happy to be a part of the leadership team.
The leadership team have been meeting to plan this season and we are all looking forward to opening day. The date for opening day this year is April 16th from 10-12. We’ll be taking deposits and registrations and making name plates for our garden plots.
We met last week to discuss our goals for 2016 and this is what we came up with:
- We are working with various people at the city and water utility to finalize our new lease of the Garden space. Our goal is to have that finalized soon. We will have more details on that as the lease terms get worked out.
- There are so many community gardens in Madison doing great work. This year we’d like to develop a deeper relationship with some of them. Keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities and jointly-hosted events with other gardens this summer.
- Last year we had some problems with theft of our produce. This year we would like to minimize that, by making our gardeners more visible and increasing neighborhood awareness of Crowley Station Community Garden.
- We would like to update some of our policies and make the handbook the best it can be. Since Crowley Station has such an interesting history, we’d also like to document that in some way.
- We decided that a 5-year goal for the Garden will be to increase the number of raised beds in the space.
Our next meeting is March 24th at Barriques on West Washington, from 7:00-8:30. We’d love for anyone to join us!
Closing Day at CSCG
As we approach our first Winter storm this year, I was reminded of the perfect Autumn day we had for Closing Crowley Station Community Garden. November 7, 2015 was chilly, a little windy, but super sunny. The garden was filled with happy chatter and busy hands.
To put our garden beds to rest (did you see Danna’s post last week about the workshop?), we tried something a little new this year. There is limited space for composting materials at the garden. Our raised beds also need a fair amount of compost each year. Why not make our own compost directly in our beds? To do this we dug a deep trench into every bed along the railing side whenever possible. Into this trench we put all the organic matter that wasn’t being kept for Spring (IE garlic, carrots, some herbs). We also added some partial compost to these trenches. Then we buried the organic matter. Finally, we planted a cover crop of Red Clover to protect the soil during the Winter and early Spring. It’s an experiment that we are hopeful will work smoothly.
We also held elections for next year’s leadership team. Congrats to our new leaders, and thank you to those who served in 2015! The results are in:
- Co-Chair: TBA
- Maintenance Director: Grayson Smith
- Membership Director: Krista Farrell
- Tresurer: Brad Lang
- Communications Director: Emma Sams
- Educational Director: Danna Olsen
Closing Day was also a great time to enjoy a small potluck and chat with friends about our successes and failures of the garden season. Many mourned the losses due to theft this year. Others were impressed with how much they grew for their first year gardening. We also pooled our last veggies together that weren’t going to be used personally to do a big donation to the Food Pantry (picture seen above). It was mostly carrots, swiss chard, green tomatoes, kale, and other cold hardy plants.
Thank you to everyone who was a part of our community this year. We loved gardening with you!
Next garden meeting: December 3, 2015 7PM at Barriques ALL ARE WELCOME!
Putting Your Garden to Bed Workshop Recap
By: Danna Olsen
I attended the last gardener workshop of the season at McFarland’s Community Garden. The topic of the evening was “putting your garden to bed and planning for next season.”
Katie Getty-Syoen gave us a tour of the gardens. I was particularly impressed with the children’s garden area. After running into many obstacles trying to get a school garden started, Katie got involved with a 4-H program and created a playful space with and for kids at the McFarland Community Garden. This space has a big sandbox, a desk planted with sedum, a mini produce/ lemonade stand and a whimsical garden bed. Her creativity and perseverance is an inspiration.
Below are some notes from the workshop of what to do at the end of the season.
- Before the first hard frost, make sure to harvest remaining tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.
- Root vegetables should also be harvested before the ground freezes.
Remove Dead Plants
- Disease-free weeds/plants should be composted or used as mulch.
- Diseased plants should be bagged and discarded off-site.
Get Ready For Next Season
- Be ready to cover late season hardy vegetables and cold tender perennials with row cover or a plant blanket.
- Add compost to your garden plot.
- Plant cover crops (e.g. Clover, buckwheat, field peas/oats)
- Try lasagna mulch by layering paper, cardboard, used straw/hay and vegetable scraps to build both structure and fertility or layer mulch of autumn leaves or hay on your garden bed.
- Plant garlic and other spring bulbs (select the largest bulbs you can find).
- This is a good time to clean and sharper tools.
Closing Day & Elections
Closing day is scheduled for Saturday, November 7th at 12:00pm. This is a mandatory event for all garden members. Failure to attend will result in bad standing* and removal of all plants in your plot.
The purpose of closing day is getting the garden ready for winter by wrapping up any maintenance projects, cleaning out plots and planting cover crops to protect the soil, holding elections for the garden leadership team next year and celebrating the end of a successful season together with a potluck.
- You are required to compost your weeds/plant debris within your plot boundaries or remove the material from the property. Diseased plants should be bagged and removed from the property.
- Between old plant refuse and cover crops, mulch shouldn’t be needed, however if you wish to add something else, it must be approved. Mulch such as leaves and marsh hay are encouraged, but materials such as wood chips etc. may cause damage to the soil or issues in your plot next season.
- Volunteer hours will be awarded to those that attend.
If you are able, please bring a snack or beverage to share. After our hard work, we will celebrate the season with a potluck.
To end the season in good standing, you must have paid all dues and completed 4 volunteer hours per plot. Being in good standing allows you to be refunded your security deposit AND gives you the opportunity to apply for a plot next season.
Elections for 2015 Garden Leadership Team:
We will also hold elections for next year’s garden leadership team during closing day. Descriptions of the positions can be found below or on the CSCG website: https://crowleystationgarden.org/handbook/leadership-organization/
The success of Crowley Station Community Garden relies on dedication and hard work from the leadership team. It is a very important role that isn’t difficult! The leadership team meets once a month at the garden meetings (open to all members) and discusses the status of projects, events and issues within the garden. If there are projects that pertain to their role, leaders put in some time to complete those tasks throughout the month. They are encouraged to enlist the help of other garden members to complete these tasks and keep the garden running smoothly. This is a great way to fulfill volunteer hours and make a difference in the success of the garden.
Please let us know if you have any questions about any of the leadership roles!
You’ve grown all the vegetables in your garden or just been to the farmer’s market, but there is too much to eat all at once. What do you do? Well, you put it away for the Winter, of course. Join our Educational Director, Danni Niles, as she shows you the basics of Water Bath Canning. Topics will include safety, easy recipes, ways to use products, and resources.
Location: Danni’s Apartment by the Vila’s Zoo (those who sign up on the Eventbrite page will receive directions the morning of)
Suggested Donation: $10 Non-Garden Members, $5 Garden Members
Water Workshop Review
Last night as the storm clouds rolled across the north of Madison, I attended the Water Conservation and Inter-Personal Conflict Resolution Workshop at Brittingham Community Garden in Madison, WI. This workshop was a part of the workshop series being put on by the Dane County Community Garden Network, Coalition, & Dane County Extension. We luckily only got a few sprinkles on us during the workshop and gained a lot of fabulous ideas on how to conserve water at a community garden.
There was a lot of talk in the workshop about watering your garden plants the right way and at the right time. Morning is the best time to water plants, followed by evening. This allows the soil to retain moisture longer and gives your plants more time to use the water before it evaporates. Watering at the base of the plants is also very important. This can help prevent disease and puts the water where plants need it, the roots, right away! Plants need about 1-2 inches of water per week. You can check this by using a tool called a Soil Moisture Meter or you can stick a trowel in the soil and dig straight down to see where the water has penetrated to. Another technique is to water as long as it would take to fill a normal soup tin with water.
Improving the soil is also critical to conserving water. The more like rich loam your soil is, the more efficiently you’ll be able to use water. You can achieve this by adding compost and organic matter. You can even, occasionally, “water” with compost tea, liquid kelp or fish emulsion to improve the soil at the same time. Mulch can also work wonders at covering the soil so there are fewer weeds (stealing water!), keeping the soil temperature down, and retain water in the soil longer.
Amy Robb from the Madison Water Utility was also at the workshop to talk about how Community Gardens can take advantage of the online tools and Water Utility resources to manage water usage better. Most gardens in Madison should be working to install their own meter and access point for water. While this is an expensive project, it allows the garden to be better stewards of their water and is a much better long term solution to water access than some current practices like using a fire hydrant.
A typical community garden in Dane County can pay anywhere from $20 – $100 for half of the year. To reduce this cost, gardens should make sure their tools and water access points aren’t leaking. O-rings are cheap but amazing investments to ensure that hoses and spigots aren’t leaking. Of course, also remember that hand watering (like with a watering can) will waste the least amount of water!
Community Gardens can also go online to use some of the Madison Water Utility resources to see when and how much water is being used. The meter collects data all the time giving gardens a great sense of whether they are watering at the correct time or maybe have leaks or other problems on site. This data can then be presented to gardeners when discussions about garden plot fees or new rules come up.
Of course, at Crowley Station Community Garden we also use a rain barrel and water saucer. This tool allows us to collect and use water for free! We are so in love with our rain barrel and saucer. If you are interested in getting one of your own, check out the Rainbarrel Man. He was great to work with. Our Rain Barrel sits on a wood stand that our Maintenance Director, Grayson Smith, built this year. It has two spigots that allow us to put the watering cans underneath to fill or attach a hose. This is the second year we’ve had it and it has held up well.
Hope this inspires you to work a bit more on ways you can conserve water. See you around the garden!
Memorial for Becky Selleck
Last year Crowley Station Community Garden was created through the work of many dedicated community members. One of those members was Becky Selleck. Becky volunteered to be the first Educational Director and had a vision of the community garden serving everyone in the neighborhood. She worked to establish a relationship with the Episcopal Grace Food Pantry and started the first Educational Plot to teach members how to get the most our of their gardening experience. She was always willing to jump into a project with a smile or a sympathetic ear if a member was struggling. It was amazing to have her energy involved in the project.
Sadly, Becky Selleck passed away this Summer in an accident. Her Madison friends wanted a way to honor her gifts and life. They reached out to Crowley Station Community Garden in hopes they could find a partner for a memorial that would align well with everything that Becky worked for.
Together we have decided to rename the Educational Plot to Becky Selleck. We also hope to work on some expansion projects for the garden as well.
Please join us on Friday, August 28th, 5:30-8PM at the Crowley Station Community Garden for a potluck, stories, and an opportunity to donate to the memorial project!
Sounds of Summer in the Garden
Last Sunday was the Summer Solstice. It was a bright, sunny day with temperatures in the high 80s. Nothing could have felt more Summery. The community garden celebrated by inviting local artists to play in the garden as a part of the city wide event Make Music Madison. Neighbors, gardeners, and friends came out to the garden to enjoy lovely music and their own picnics. It was a grand way to usher in the Summer!
We started with the folk/rock sounds of John Kostle. He was a champ on the guitar and in the intense sunshine that covers the whole garden at 4PM. He started the event off in a great way. There were songs that everyone knew and could sing along with and other fitting songs for a Summer day at the garden.
The Strays came next bringing instruments (including a large double bass!), jazzy vocals, and their own possy. This young group had a fabulous sound. A mix of jazz and pop had everyone popping into the garden off the street to hear what was going on. For a group of “stray” musicians, they have the beginnings of a really excellent group.
The following artist, Mackenzie Benish, slowed thing down just a notch with her original songs on the guitar. The lyrics were excellent, each song telling a story, almost like old folk songs but with a more modern sound. She was another trooper in the sun. Her performance was right in the middle of the sunshine as the audience all moved into the little bit of shade offered at the garden.
As the sun began to set, Richard from the Big Swell came by to sing some rock anthems. Sadly, as it was dinner time, much of our audience went home for the night. Richard still sang his heart out and those that stayed had a great time.
Twilight at the garden brought out a shimmery crescent moon and a bold, pink sunset. Robert Trader took advantage of this magical setting to perform his folk/rock songs. His voice carried over the whole garden and even to the apartment balconies across the street from the garden. It was a great performance that really finished the concert off in the best way. Many peopled were wooed from the street into listening to the urban lyrics and heartfelt melodies.
We want to thank all the performers who donated their time to performing at Crowley Station Community Garden. You made sunday the fabulous event that it was! Thanks also to everyone who came out to enjoy the garden with us. We really have one of the best communities around!
Concert at the Garden!!
Enjoy FREE MUSIC in the garden on Sunday, June 21, 2015 as a part of Make Music Madison event. Bring some snacks , seating (blanket or camp chairs) and enjoy the sounds of Summer! We picked out some excellent performers this year. Most of them have some folk or jazz elements to them. Check out the music at the links below. Come for part or all of the show.
4-4:45PM John Kostle
5-6PM The Strays
6:15-7PM Mackenzie Benish
7:15-8PM The Big Swell
8:15-9PM Robert Trader
Herb Workshop: Saturday, June 13, 2015
Herbs are some of the best plants for container gardens, beginner gardeners, and those who like to cook. Whether you are new to gardening or an herb expert, there will be something special for you to learn in this workshop. Join us at the garden this Saturday, June 13, 2015 at 4PM. This event has a $5 suggested donation. We’ll cover the following:
∗ How to Plant Herbs
∗ Companion Plantings
∗ Benefits of Herbs
∗ How to Harvest
∗ The Many Uses Beyond Cooking
Workshop run by Pat Niles:
After obtaining a degree in Horticulture – Crop Production from the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, Pat has spent the last four decades working in flower shops, green houses, the extension service and on organic farms. She has used her extensive experience to run her own CSA farm in southern Wisconsin. Her customers have grown to love her veggies, fruits, culinary flowers, herbs, and her vast gardening knowledge. Along the way Pat has shared her enthusiasm and knowledge in classrooms, workshops, and online. It’s rare to find someone who is as comfortable and engaged in the field as in the classroom!
Compost and Happy Hour Planting Party this Friday, May 1st
CSCG Members, loved ones, friends, and neighbors,
This past Saturday we traversed Dane County on a mission for free compost and struck black gold! All beds were given some compost so our plots are now nutrient rich and ready for planting. Stop by the garden sometime this week and see how it’s shaping up already.
Join us this Friday, May 1st, for a Happy Hour Planting Party Work Day at the garden from 6:00–8:00pm. Bring beverages and snacks to share while we sort through weeds, seeds, and compost to wind down the week. It’s the perfect time to start planting some of the early spring vegetables that can withstand coldish weather. See our Education Director Danni Niles’s previous post for more suggestions, or keep reading using the gardening resources section of our website as your guide:
Gardening: Where to start?
It was so lovely to get to meet all the new members to Crowley Station Community Garden last Saturday! I met a lot of members who were new to gardening, and they all had such wonderful questions. I thought I’d take the opportunity to write out a few of the most basic questions in case others were wondering how to get started.
What do I do first?
Ah, such a broad question! It can be intimidating to start a new project, especially when the subject matter can be as expansive as gardening. Your first garden, though, is a chance for you to take chances and really dive into the exciting world of gardening. Don’t worry so much about doing things right. Just dig in! Your bed at Crowley Station is pretty small; that means it’s easy to fix if a “mistake” happens. “Mistakes” are really just experiments where the results don’t match your expectations. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been gardening, you will still experience surprises every year.
Generally, the first thing you want to do is prepare the soil. Adding some compost is a great first step. There are also probably some small weeds in your bed. You can pull those or just work them into your new compost. Second, pick ONE plant that you want to try this year. Feel free to plant more than just one thing, but maybe you do extra research online, reading books, or asking fellow gardeners about that one plant that you love.
What can I plant in the Spring?
Good things to start in the spring include short day, cold hardy plants. Most seed packets will mention these traits. Try herbs, greens like lettuce and spinach, and root crops like carrots and beets. Save your tomatoes and peppers for warmer temperatures. As evident today, we could still get snow even though our last frost date was April 15!
How do I plant seeds?
First, read the back of the seed package. This will tell you how close together you can plant your seeds and how deep your seeds should be. Some seeds are really tiny. Remember that you can always thin, pull unwanted plants, later when things are bigger. Water your seeds after planting. You can then cover your plants with something like straw or leaf mulch. Olbrich Gardens has a leaf mulch sale until the end of May. Don’t forget to check your bed at least weekly for weeds and watering.
If you have any further questions feel free to contact me, the Educational Director, or leave comments below. Happy Gardening!
Garden Plots Still Available for 2015
We still have several beds available for the 2015 season! Fill out a registration form and email it to CrowleyStationGarden@gmail.com to get started. Then join us on Opening Day, April 18! More information about fees, required volunteer hours, and our gardening standards is available on our website.
Crowley Station Community Garden is more than just some soil to grow plants. Together we work to improve this space for our neighborhood while getting to know each other and forming friendships. This year we will host Dane County Master Gardeners and hold educational workshops on various gardening topics such as thwarting pests and maximizing productivity from raised beds. We also have one educational plot used to teach members how to garden; harvests from this bed are donated to the Grace Episcopal Food Pantry. We have social events like yoga classes, concerts, and potlucks and welcome suggestions from our members.
If you live on the isthmus and would like an opportunity to get your hands dirty, grow some organic plants, and get to know your neighbors while learning how to garden better and adding to the beauty of Downtown Madison, it sounds like CSCG might be just what you need this summer! Read more about us on our website. If you like what you see, fill out a registration form asap. With spring settling in a little more every day, the time to start planting is right around the corner and you don’t want to miss out!
Join Us for Opening Day! April 18, 2015 @ 1pm
Come one, come all! Mark your calendars for the Crowley Station Community Garden Opening Day 2015. Meet at the garden on April 18th at 1:00pm, which is also the first downtown Farmer’s Market. Pick up some farm fresh goodies and enjoy the first market, then head down W. Wilson to the garden. Bring something delicious to share as we say hello to each other and our garden for our second season!
On Opening Day we will:
- Assign plots to new members
- Collect fees
- Introduce our wonderful garden leaders
- Take volunteers for our committees
- Assign garden mentor/mentee pairs
- Provide new member orientation
- And, most importantly, enjoy a potluck/social!
This is a required event for all members. If you absolutely cannot join us, please let Membership Director Krista Farrell know by April 17. Otherwise, your plot will be reassigned.
We’ll see you there!
Second Transition Meeting Recap, 2/17/15
A few members of the Executive Team met on Feb. 17th to finish discussing some lingering transitional items for our new leaders. We also discussed some exciting developments and ideas around the top three Crowley Station Community Garden Goals detailed in the previous post.
The highlights are:
Registrations for 2015 will be sent to past members today and are due by March 1 for those who would like to keep the same plot as last year. Returning gardeners will be given first preference. After March 1st, there will be open registration for anyone who wants to get involved with our active CSCG group! New registrations are due by March 15th. An updated registration form will be posted to our website shortly. If you are looking for a community garden this season, visit the Member Expectations section for more information.
CSCG now has an Instragram account! #crowleystationcommunitygarden
We encourage you to post creative and attractive pictures of our garden with the above hashtag to help promote awareness and increase our visibility. As we emerge from winter into spring through summer growth and fall harvests, share your progress with our greater community with pictures!
Treasurer and Co-Chair Courtney Stacy will keep a wishlist for items that would benefit our community garden. Ideas are welcome! Please contact her if you have any suggestions for materials that will continue to improve the CSCG, located in the First Settlement Neighborhood, and enjoyment of this community meeting space for everyone.
2015 Crowley Station Community Garden Goals
Tonight the Executive Team met for the first time in 2015. After catching up on the big changes going on in our lives, we got down to the exciting work of planning the garden for the next year. It was a super productive meeting. Every leader had ideas for how they could help the garden grow and be more awesome. We also had some great ideas for the whole garden to work on. We wanted to share our top three goals for 2015 with our members and the community.
1. To develop and distribute well thought out and designed literature for garden members and the community. This will include refining our handbook, creating brochures for on site promotion, and more!
2. To increase the promotion and visibility of the community garden. This year we will focus on creating a solid plan for the next two years on how to promote the garden efficiently and exquisitely. We hope to increase the diversity of members and help create a following and support network for the garden’s continued success.
3. To increase the productivity and health of the garden plots to the point where members have enough surplus to donate to the food pantry on top of the donations coming from our educational plot.
To accomplish all these things we will need the continued support of our garden members and community friends. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or contact an Executive Team leader!
Winter Garden Dreamings
It’s reached single digit temperatures outside. While the sun is shining this afternoon, it’s a rare pleasure for this time of year. So, what’s a gardener to do? Why, dream up next year’s garden of course!
January and February are prime seed catalog months. Many seed catalogs will send you free copy. Seed company websites also offer excellent website shopping, as well. Flipping through your seed options now gives you the chance to dream, plan, and research your options for the next year. It also allows you to evaluate how much time you’ll have for gardening.
Let’s say you set aside two hours each week in January for garden planning and seed ordering. As the month goes by you realize you only have time for one hour each week to devote to garden planing. This might be a sign that you will only have one hour a week for gardening and should only plant three types of tomatoes not six. The time spent planning a garden does not completely equate to the time needed to care for a garden, of course. It’s just a good way to check in with yourself about the time you have available. Crowley Station Community Garden has small plots that even the busiest people will have time to garden!
When you are planning your garden and going through seed catalogs/website be sure that you think about the following things for next year:
- Seasonal Rotations (planting cabbage after your Spring spinach is done for example)
- Growing days needed
- Appropriate zones (you might really want a lemon tree, but Wisconsin just isn’t warm enough for an outside planting)
- Drought and Disease tolerance (experiment now because you never know what the season will bring)
- Take a look at companion plantings
You will also want to balance the foods that you love to grow and eat year after year with new experiments. For example, last year I found the perfect green bean (I had over 10lbs in my 2′ x 8′ bed). I’m certainly going to order more of those. I’m also going to try experimenting with Chinese Red Noodle Bean. Since I’m a fan of beans I know that I’ll have a hardy type that I’ll love but might also find a new favorite. If the weather is unusual this year, one variety might do better than another. Diversity does wonderful things for a garden and your table!
Here are some of my favorite seed catalogs. In the comments, I’d love to hear about your favorite garden planning resources!
2015 Executive Team
Crowley Station Community garden is run by a team of members. We have five positions: Communications Director, Treasurer, Volunteer Coordinator, Maintenance Director, and Educational Director. Two of those positions also served as Co-Chairs this year. This group of leaders makes all decisions for the garden. Meetings are open to all members, though. On October 1 members in good standing were encouraged to submit candidate statements for any positions they’d like to run for to serve in 2015. We were supposed to then have an electronic survey for election ballots. Only five members submitted statements and thus our five positions were filled for next year.
The members of the 2015 Executive Team have been wonderful to work with. All of them put in many volunteer hours above the required four. Many of them worked on special projects or even served on the planning group this Spring. Their passion for the project and enthusiasm to serve has been evident throughout the growing season. Please join me in congratulating them on becoming the next Crowley Station Executive Team!
Maintenance Director: Grayson Smith
I feel that I have the knowledge necessary to solve material choices, construction, and aesthetic as a graduate of industrial design working in the furniture industry. Problem solving is in my nature. I’ve been involved in this garden since last winter and have grown to understand the community, politics, and capabilities of the people involved. I look at taking on this position as not only a personal challenge, but also a lot of fun! I hope to be qualified enough to satisfy the hard working team of CSCG. Thank you!
Volunteer Coordinator: Krista Farrell
I would like to run for the Volunteer Coordinator position again next year. I feel really fortunate to be involved with such an amazing project and would love to continue to be involved with a leadership role. I feel like I only dipped my toe into the possibilities for the Volunteer Coordinator position this year and am excited about all of the potential for next year. I have a lot of great ideas for how to establish more community at the garden and am eager to see them through! I have been able to form an organized system to carrying out the responsibilities of this role this year and have ideas how to improve things for next season, if given the opportunity. Mostly, I am excited about the opportunity to serve along with and learn from the other amazing members of this community. Thank you for your consideration!
Communications Director: Lisa Winkler
The CSCG is an exciting grass roots effort to develop an underused public area into a welcoming gathering space for our community. With all the hard work and commitment of the volunteers in its first year, it will be essential to the success of this initiative to have effective communication with our stakeholders, neighbors, and the local area providers we want to fully utilize this garden. I would like to help the CSCG by managing the information on their website and communications between members, the water utilities and the general public.
Treasurer: Courtney Stacy
I was the treasurer and a co-chair for the 2014 growing season at Crowley Station Community Garden. I truly enjoyed being a part of our leadership team, and would like to continue in the treasurer role for the 2015 season. My hope is to finish laying the financial groundwork for the garden, and continue developing projects which will ensure CSCG’s fiscal independence and security for many years to come.
Educational Director: Danni Niles
Next year I would love to serve as your Educational Director. This year I have served as your Communications Director and Co-Chair. It has been amazing to work with everyone and watch the garden and the community grow this year through the long meetings and even longer build projects. After years of growing up on a vegetable and fruit farm and doing my own personal gardens in urban settings throughout college, I feel like I have a great deal of knowledge and enthusiasm to share with the garden. I’d love to focus on the mentoring program, hosting how-to workshops, and expanding our donations to the food pantry. I’d also love to continue working with the Executive Team to bring our goals to life during our second year. Thanks!
Brr, it’s cold out there! Gardening in autumn
Common Weeds in Wisconsin
If you wonder around the garden this week (if the rain stops!), you see towering tomato plants, blooming flowers, long green beans, and fragrant herbs. It’s a beautiful sight! Hidden among the productive plants are plants that the gardener did not plant and does not want. Those are weeds. Here are the top four plants I’ve seen in the garden as “weeds”. Just remember that weeds are all about perspective. Many of these plants are edible or have other uses, too!
Pigweed Amaranthus retroflexus
These plants can get huge, sometimes reaching 6 feet. The size of these plants can shade out the plants you want. Be careful to remove these plants from beds completely as they can re-root sometimes if left laying out. The seed heads are sometimes used as food and the young leaves can also be tasty. Check out a recipe here.
Purslane Portulaca oleracea
This is one of the most frustrating weeds for me! If you don’t get the whole root system pulled out, the runners can keep it alive and thriving for quite some time. It stays close to the surface of the soil but can have stems around 14 inches long.
Lamb’s Quarter Chenopodium album
This weed can also get fairly tall at 3 feet tall. The leaves enlarge and the stem can be quite woody and hard to pull during dry spells. This is another edible weed. It can be a hard weed to identify when it’s young but look for the slight white hue to the green leaves.
Crabgrass Digitaria sanguinalis
While this plant doesn’t do much harm to other seedlings, it can quickly take over a bed. It is important that you pull from the bottom of the plant and get the root system. Just like the grass in your lawn, it won’t die unless the roots are gone.
UW Weed Information
Grand Opening Party!
You are invited to. . .
Some local press and upcoming garden events
We’ve been featured in an article on the City of Madison website! Click here to read it. It features interviews with Danni and Danna, from our executive team, and gives a little background on how Crowley Station Garden got started!
We’d also like to share a few local garden resources with our fellow garden enthusiasts:
- Dane County Community Gardens For information on Dane County garden events, see this very helpful calendar. The same website also has helpful links on how to plan and maintain a community garden.
- The West Madison ARS Display Gardens Open House
On Sat. Aug 9, 2014, from 10am-2pm the UW Display Gardens will be holding their annual summer event in which the public is invited to tour the outstanding collections of flowers, vegetables, and fruit. This year’s trials and demonstrations include nearly 400 cultivars of annual and perennial flowers and nearly 130 different cultivars of vegetables.
University and Extension experts include Jim Nienhuis, UW veggie expert and professor of Horticulture; Brian Hudelson Senior Outreach Specialist and director of the Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic; Scott Craven, Wildlife Ecology emeritus; Julie Dawson, Urban and Regional Food Systems Specialist from Horticulture; Dick Wiedman, grape expert; P.J. Leisch from the Insect Diagnostic Lab; and, and pollinator experts from USDA-ARS will be on hand to offer samples and answer questions on insects, disease and animals that may affect your garden and lawn.
Master Gardeners and garden staff will also be available to field general garden questions on growing techniques and variety selection.
Enjoy tasting of the gardens’ fresh fruit and vegetables, including roasted chili peppers, activity booklets for the kids, pollinator exhibits, and large farm equipment on display. This event is FREE and open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to bring their cameras and questions.
The open house will be held at University Display Gardens that is located at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station approximately 0.5 miles west of the Hwy 12/14 beltline at 8502 Mineral Point Road, Verona, WI 53593.
- Seed Saving Workshop
Sat, August 23, 2pm – 4pm
Where: Madison Public Library: Goodman South Madison Branch, 2222 S. Park St. (map)
Description: Join us for a seed saving workshop with UW Extension Master Gardener Volunteers. Learn how to dry and harvest seeds to save for next year, and how to return seeds to the seed library! We will meet in Meeting Room 115. Space is limited, please register at http://host.evanced.info/madison/evanced/eventsignup.asp?ID=36426
Work Party: July 31 5:30-8:30PM
Crowley Station Community Garden will be hosting another work party on Thursday, July 31, 2014 from 5:30-8:30PM. For this event we will be building our last raised bed, Doty St. All members and friends of the garden are welcome to attend and help out with this event. We are also asking for use of a cordless drill and more buckets, as we have to fill the bed by hand.
This raised bed is quite special. It is called a “no-bend” bed. It will be sitting on a raised stand that allows the gardener to use the bed without having to bend over and put extra stress on their back.If our garden did not have steps leading up to it, a person who used a wheel chair would be able to easily garden in this “no-bend” bed unlike the other raised beds. It also allows someone to place a stool or chair by the bed while they are weeding or planting thus eliminating the need to put stress on their back, knees, ect. Placing a bed a at different height also brings the garden new depths and elements of design that is critical in making an urban garden inviting and engaging. This bed will serve the garden in a host of splendid ways!
Now, it might seem silly to go to all this effort. However, community gardens are places where the public can explore the many varied issues around food including how accessibility plays a role in the availability of healthy food. Members of our community who live with accessibility issues, like seniors, are at an increased risk of also being food insecure. Having access to a community garden can help those members increase the amount of healthy food that is available to them. Yet, it doesn’t do any good to have the gardening experience be painful or impossible! A “no-bend” bed is just one solution among many that helps a community garden be more welcoming to the many diverse members of its community. Other solutions include: paths that are wheel chair accessible meaning that they are large enough for a wheel chair to go through and smooth enough not to get stuck, hanging containers, extra seating and shading for members to rest during the harsh summer months, easy access to water through light-weight hoses, and more. We hope that our first “no-bend” bed encourages other community gardens to think about accessibility issues and discover new solutions.
Community Gardens are only as strong as the diversity and empowerment of its members. Our neighborhoods are not made up of only one type of person and neither should our gardens!
Featured gardener: Danni Niles
We’re continuing our Featured Gardener series, in which we interview our community gardeners to learn a little bit about them and why they chose to be part of Crowley Station Community Garden. Today’s interview features Danni Niles, who has been with the garden since the beginning! Here she is…
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do here in Madison. Include your garden experiences, if any!
Featured gardener: Joy Hinds
We’re excited to kick off our Featured Gardener series, in which we interview our community gardeners to learn a little bit about them and why they chose to be part of Crowley Station Community Garden. Today’s interview features Joy Hinds, who incidentally was the first person to plant when the garden opened! Here she is…Take note of her request to meet at the garden and eat some sweet treats!
Surprising ways gardening can make your life better
The Crowley Station Community Garden is officially open! Our gardeners have started to plant lots of summer vegetables and herbs, everything from tomatoes and peppers to sage and basil. Over the next several months, this blog will feature short interviews with many of our gardeners, who will give us insight as to why they joined our community garden. We’ll also post gardening tips, plus links and events related to gardening and community health. If you have any resources to share, please feel free to email us!
Today we’ll share some surprising ways gardening can make your life better. Scroll down to see an infographic from The Pond Blog. Did you know that 45 minutes of digging in the dirt can burn 200 calories? Or peruse this article from Mother Nature Network, which tells us that gardening lowers your risk of osteoporosis and diabetes. Last, learn from the National Gardening Association how much money a large food garden can save you each year (hint: it’s more than $500!). Here’s to gardening making our city a healthier and wealthier place to be!
2014 Build Weekend
Many members of the community have been working tirelessly to lay the foundation for Madison’s newest community garden, Crowley Station Community Garden. This process has taken months. Meetings filled with design details and policy development went well into the April and May of this year. Some gardeners were beginning to wonder if anything would get planted this year at all!
Finally, on June 25 we got the materials needed to build our community garden. A call went out to registered members of the garden and the community for a Build Day on June 27 from 3-8PM. Twelve people showed up and got busy putting out beds from NaturalYards.com together. That was the easy part! We then started to move 13 tons of organic soil, by hand, up a small hill, up some steps, and into the beds. One day was not going to be enough! Saturday work continued for another five hours ending right before people began to find places for Madison’s Rhythm and Booms. The job was completed on Sunday at 5PM. A one day project turned into a whole weekend.
I think it can be safely said that all those hours of endless work were worth it! The garden looks beautiful. Many neighbors are already commenting on how wonderful the space looks now. Great things are going to grow in this garden. Please follow us to read the stories of our community garden and the gardeners who create it!