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Veggie Fest


May  2014

How does your garden grow? If you live in Wisconsin, the answer is most likely very well.

"We can grow just about anything here, except of course tropical fruit," says Mike Timm, head horticulturist for Ebertís Greenhouse in Ixonia.

The green thumb contingent in our state, much like the vegetables they plant, is growing nicely.

"I havenít seen a gardening surge like this since I was younger," Timm says, noting how consumers are more conscious of the nutritional and economic benefits of growing their own produce.

"I think a lot of it has to do with the chemicals people are finding out that are sprayed on the vegetables you get in the store, and a lot of the genetically modified vegetables that people donít want to play around with.

"And I got sick of paying $4 for a pound of peppers," Timm says.

Wisconsin soil is ideal for producing nutritious vegetables. Vegetables rich in Vitamin A are sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, red peppers and broccoli, according to Dr. Kit Werner, nutritional science clinical director at UW-Milwaukee.

Red and green peppers, broccoli and cauliflower, mustard greens or other greens such as brussels sprouts and tomatoes are great sources of Vitamin C. Swiss chard, kale, spinach and collard greens are rich in Vitamin K, Werner says.

But there are some challenges with Wisconsin soil, which has a high PH or acidity level. "We always recommend that you add as much compost as you can into whatever area youíre going to turn into your garden," Timm says. "We want to liven that soil up and lighten it up a little bit. We recommend that you do that every year."

Timm says itís important to do some research to find out which vegetables grow best at different times of the year and to watch your watering technique. "If you can, donít use a sprinkler. And never water at night, always try to water early in the morning so that the excess moisture has a chance to burn off."

And a little bit of detective work can help you reap a bountiful harvest. "Keep an eye out for disease or insects. There are a lot of organic products out there you can use," Timm says. "I always tell people to go out to their garden every day. You can keep up with the weeds better that way too."

Go Organic

Community Supported Agriculture allows consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from farmers. Customers are offered "shares," which amount to memberships in a CSA program and receive a box or basket of seasonal produce every week throughout the farming season. Here is a list of some of the farms in the Milwaukee area that offer CSA. Many have multiple pickup sites unless otherwise noted.

Backyard Bounty, Plymouth,

Bean Head Farm, Mukwonago, (pickup at farm),

BrynTeg Farm, Oconomowoc,

Common Roots Sustainable Farm, Burlington, (Wauwatosa pickup site)

Field To Fork Farms Wisconsin, Waukesha, (pickup at farm)

Full Harvest Farm, Hartford,

Growing Power, Milwaukee,

High Meadow Farm, Johnson Creek, (pickup site in Oconomowoc),

One Guerrilla Farmer, Burlington, (home delivery in Milwaukee area),

Pinehold Gardens, Oak Creek,

Rare Earth Farm, Belgium,

Three Brothers Farm, Oconomowoc,

Turtle Creek Gardens, a division of GRVW Farms, Delavan,

Twist & Sprout Farms, Watertown, (Oconomowoc pickup sites),

Wellspring, West Bend,

When to Plant

Mike Timm of Ebertís Greenhouse offers the following guidelines for planting your garden.

Cool-weather crops like radishes, lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, chard, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and peas can be planted fairly early as soon as you can get the garden worked up. Normally mid-April to the end of the month, depending on temperatures. Potatoes can also be planted toward the end of April.

Warm-weather crops like tomatoes, peppers, okra, beans, etc., should wait until after the last frost date, which is usually around May 18 to 20.

Cool-weather crops can also be planted again in late summer/early fall for a end-of-year harvest.



This story ran in the May2014 issue of: