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.

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German Extra Hardy-Porcelain (left) and Pehoski Purple (right)

Step 1: 

Separate the cloves from each bulb.

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Step 2:

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.

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Step 3:

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.

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Step 4:

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!

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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

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Sauerkraut: from the ground up

Hi gardeners!

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?

Traditional sauerkraut:

  • green cabbage
  • salt
  • 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:

  1. give your produce a light rinse
  2. chop, shred, and mince your vegetables
  3. add spices and flavors (garlic, ginger, turmeric) and salt!
  4. massage, squeeze and beat your mixture until the juices from the vegetables are oozing out
  5. 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)
  6. cover jar with a cheesecloth (any mesh will do), place in a bowl to catch overflow and put in a dark cupboard
  7. “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
  8. 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!

Garden updates

 

Hi gardeners!
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.

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New and returning gardeners at Opening Day

A few people planted their gardens that day and since then more and more plots are getting filled in.

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Sprouts are beginning to show in some beds and established plants are flourishing.

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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.

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We also made put laminated name cards in every garden plot.

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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!

 

 

Is Spring Here?

Hi readers,

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.

Harvest

  • 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.