Community gardeners get down and dirty
El Dorado Hills Community Gardeners planted their inaugural crop Saturday at the temporary site located in a former strawberry field.
Local plumber and farmer Ron Mikulaco volunteered a close-to-ready garden plot near his home on Green Valley Road, adjacent to the strawberry stand 1.7 miles east of Silva Valley Parkway.
Longer term, the recently created El Dorado Hills Community Coalition, aka EDHC2, has been granted the use of a 1-acre spot behind El Dorado Hills Fire Station 86 on Bass Lake Road with the fruits of their labor to benefit the senior nutrition program in El Dorado Hills.
Senior nutrition cuts were postponed by the county Board of Supervisors in November. The group’s goal is to make the site ready for planting in the spring of 2012.
Chief gardener Susan Johnson is fond of saying, “There’s nothing closer to God than dirt.” She was in close proximity to both on Saturday. The El Dorado Hills activist was down on her knees and up to her elbows in Godliness with her friend and fellow gardener Rachel Michelin’s daughter Ashley.
Mikulaco asked that no pesticides be used, but placed few other restrictions on the use of the plot. A parking area, porta-potty, picnic table, shade and water are all in place, with farmer Mikulaco on site to make sure all’s well.
Mikulaco cleaned out eight rows for the community garden, and encouraged the gardeners to salvage some of last year’s strawberries, which are still present on the rest of the plot.
“They won’t be as big and juicy as the first cycle berries, but the plants and drip are in good shape, so why not get another season out of them?”
On Saturday the community gardeners planted tomatoes, garlic, onions, squash and zucchini.
Volunteer Pat Ebert was gently placing garlic shoots into one furrow. She’s a horticulture student at American River College, and said she read about the garden in Village Life and just “like the idea of doing something like this.”
Mikulaco explained that strawberries drain the soil of certain nutrients, and lower the ph tremendously.
“We’re at about 6.2,” he said. “The ideal ph is 7. Tomatoes don’t care, but crops like corn and watermelon are more sensitive, and won’t work well out here.”
“Don’t forget the green beans,” chortled Johnson from the next furrow. “And I want peppers.”
“We might put some organic fertilizer on, but sun and water seem to do the job here,” said Mikulaco.
For now, the garden consists of six neatly furrowed and partially planted rows, but Mikulaco is quick to point out, “There are 30 more full length rows here … anything’s possible. It’s just a matter of getting the labor.”
Johnson needs help getting the balance of the six rows planted, and put out a plea for volunteer garden coordinators. To get involved, send an e-mail with “EDH Community Garden” in the subject to [email protected].