BELFAST, Maine — The abundant harvest garden Kaler CSA will be featured as the next to last garden for the summer’s Belfast Garden Club Open Garden Days 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at 93 Kaler Road.
The Kaler CSA Garden was started the year after Jan and Dean Anderson bought the property in 1999. The lot included a sizable field, formerly a cow pasture and hayfield, and more recently an orchard which had been abandoned after the apple trees died.
Before beginning to build a house to live in, the Andersons removed truckloads of plastic, wire and re-bar left from the orchard operation, plowed, removed lots of quack grass and planted their first vegetable garden on the land.
Dean remembers hauling 55-gallon barrels of water from the hose at the house where they lived in town, setting them at the edge of the road, which is higher than the garden, and gravity-feeding the water, 150 gallons at a time, to the new garden.
The Andersons had been growing their own food in gardens at their previous homes. Dean grew up on a farm with a large garden and believes he inherited his garden aptitude from his mother. He also has had a big part in some of the school garden programs in Waldo County including those at East Belfast School and Drinkwater School in Northport.
When the Andersons began their Kaler Road garden, their in-town garden already was producing more food than they could eat or store. Jan went house-to-house distributing extra tomatoes and garden vegetables.
The next year the couple decided to invite families to sign up and become part of a CSA — Community Supported Agriculture — and come to the garden to harvest their own vegetables. Since then the CSA has supported as many as 10 families a year. The Andersons also donate part of the harvest to Stone Soup Kitchen in Belfast.
The garden is set up in traditional vegetable garden rows and maintained using natural methods of pest control including removing insects by hand, spraying with soapy water or canola oil and dusting with bacterial additives.
Weeding is kept to a minimum by keeping the garden heavily mulched using 60 bales of oat straw throughout the year. The neat and tidy garden grows crops according to the tastes of the Andersons and the CSA members, particularly those which flourish in clay soil. Clever planning allows the Andersons to grow a large quantity of food on less than ¼-acre.
Succession planting of crops such as basil, lettuce, beets, broccoli, carrots and chard allow many rounds of those vegetables to be grown throughout the season. Garlic planted between rows of pumpkins and squash allow more room for the squash to grow because the garlic is harvested at just about the time the squash plants are ready to expand into the new real estate.
A strong structural element of the garden is an 8-foot bean trellis, a variation on an Eliot Coleman-designed trellis. It consists of three tall fences with cross bracing on top to keep the fences from bowing over with the weight of the crop.
When the climbing beans grow up the faces of the fence, it creates a cool “bean house.” Other crops include potatoes, onions, celery, celerac, peas and peppers as well as blueberries and raspberries.
Visitors will enjoy lovely perennial and annual flower beds Jan maintains at the front of the house. Blooms from early spring to fall include ladies mantle, rosa rugosa, flax, lavender, honeysuckle and lilies. Shrubs and trees include magnolia, Japanese lilac, hydrangea and quince. A small orchard boasts pear, crab apple and sour cherry trees. The garden is accessible to the handicapped.
From High Street in the center of town, continue to Upper High Street, City Point Road and bear right on Oak Hill Road. Take the first right onto Kaler road, and look for the yellow Open Garden arrows. Tickets for Open Garden Days can be purchased at each garden the day of the tour for a donation of $4. Proceeds benefit the club’s civic beautification projects.
The final BGC Open Garden Day will be Friday, Aug. 26, at the Shure Garden.
For more information about Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days, call Diane Allmayer-Beck at 338-3105, Martha Laitin at 948-2815 or visit http:// www.belfastgardenclub.org.