Monday, July 28, 2014

Gardening with Dave Nadeau at the Community Garden, Windham - By Michelle Libby

Dave Nadeau is well into his third crop of vegetables from his plot at the Windham Community Garden located on Route 202 near the public safety building. For three years, he has been planting tomatoes, beans, cabbage and more in his double lot garden. Nadeau is on the Windham Town Council and spent 10 years on the planning board. He’s been gardening for 10 years. 

The community garden started four years ago, and although no one thought it would take off the way it did, the garden was expanded this year due to its popularity. Each year there is a waiting list for garden plots and the garden doles them out as they become available, Nadeau said. 

The organic garden is a great place for like-minded gardeners to grow their vegetables in an enclosed area where they don’t have to worry about deer or trees blocking the sun, said Nadeau, who had a garden at his home, but once the pine trees grew too much, he needed another option. 

Nadeau likes color in his garden. “I like the color when it comes,” he said. He grows all of his plants from seed, so he knows exactly what he’ll grow. This year he’s growing white cucumbers, tomatoes in white, black and striped and different colored peppers. He does sell his plants at the beginning of the season and his reputation has grown. This year a man from “up state” bought all of the plants for his own garden that Nadeau had grown.

Being an organic garden provides challenges for Nadeau, who is an electronic engineer by trade. Solving problems is his forte, he said. He uses the compost provided by the garden and he uses neem oil as a spray and surround to keep the bugs down.

“It’s a big bug fight down here and has always been. I spend a lot of time picking them off,” Nadeau said. “Give me a problem and I’ll give you a few solutions.” 

To help his squash crop, he wraps the bottom of the plant with aluminum foil so the bugs can’t bore into the root. For cut worms, Nadeau buys Styrofoam pipe insulation and cuts it into five inch strips and plants the tomatoes with the Styrofoam wrapped around the stem.

“The Internet is a wonderful tool for finding all these little tips,” he said.  

Nadeau also has some tricks to help his produce grow. He has homemade miniature hoop houses for some of his plants and for his beans he made a large box with a cover to insulate them and keep the bugs out. On Tuesday, he removed the box to get ready for beans. 

He’s been harvesting cabbage, Swiss chard and broccoli. When he plants he uses trellises and other tricks to make harvesting easier on his back. 

“This year has been awesome,” he said of the growing season. He spends almost two hours of his mornings at the garden harvesting, weeding and killing bugs, he said. He also visits with the other gardeners. 
His favorite thing to grow is tomatoes. “I like tomatoes. The different variety of tomatoes,” he said. He’ll use the white tomatoes to make a white tomato sauce with other ingredients from his garden, he said. 
This year Nadeau is looking for a good sour pickle recipe. He freezes and pickles a lot of the extra produce.  

“You don’t need a whole lot of space for a whole lot of food,” said Marge Govoni, Nadeau’s wife, who spends her mornings helping in the garden watering and weeding. Govoni was one of the initial members who petitioned the town for the garden.  

For new gardeners, Nadeau recommends beginning with growing beans, Swiss chard and tomatoes.
Looking to start gardening at the Windham Community Garden? Find them on Facebook or on the website

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