April 14, 2013

Gardening Class at Wellspring Organic Farm

My first visit to Wellspring was yesterday for a gardening class.  I drove through snow to get there but by the time the indoor portion of the class had ended, the sun had come out and it was a little warmer for the farm tour.  Can you tell that it rained for five days straight here?

Inside we learned about the importance of soil, how to deter rabbits, the benefits of raised beds, why you shouldn't dig in wet soil, why it's beneficial to add compost (organic matter) and mulch (straw, paper, cardboard) to the soil and finally how to get seeds started.

Outside we toured a greenhouse and hoop houses.  You can see abandoned cold frames on the left in the photo below, which are no longer necessary due to the addition of hoop houses.

Love seeing all the seeds coming to life in the greenhouse!

It was a chilly 38 degrees when we were doing our farm tour and I was amazed at how much warmer the greenhouse and hoop houses were.  I can definitely see why plants thrive in there and why they're critical in Wisconsin's climate.

Over the winter, one of the hoop houses was filled with greens.  We were encouraged to taste the spinach, which was sweet and delicious.

Mary Ann Ihm founded Wellspring 30 years ago and she co-taught the class along with Francie Szostak.  Mary Ann is pictured below holding her favorite garden tool.  Everyone was amazed when she said that she does all the soil work needed with a garden fork.

For more information about Wellspring, there's a great blog post on Farm to Table Wisconsin.  I've heard people complain that Wellspring is too far away to visit and while it is quite far, especially from the south side of Milwaukee, I think it's worth the trip.

I listened to a Betty White audiobook for my 1 1/2 hour round-trip drive, which made time pass very quickly.  I highly recommend the book and the audiobook is even better because it's read by the author.

Two great resources were mentioned in the class, the book How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons and Purple Cow Organics for both soil and compost, which is based in Middleton, Wisconsin but sold at many places in the Milwaukee area.

I came back from the class inspired and ready to start my garden!  So the timing of a Facebook post last night from Slow Food WiSE regarding a Vegetable Plant Kit with Ark of Taste heirloom vegetables was perfect.

I immediately ordered a kit which is available for pickup at the Village Green Street Fair on June 1st in Wauwatosa.  The kit includes 6 organic heirloom vegetable plants:
  • Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry
  • Aunt Ruby's Green Tomato
  • Amish Paste Tomato
  • Beave Dam Pepper
  • Sheepnoe Pimento Pepper
  • Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce
Do you plan to garden this year?  I haven't decided if I'm going to do containers again or attempt raised beds for the first time.  I won't be starting from seeds this year, but next year I definitely plan to.


  1. Sounds like a great class. I didn't start any seeds this year (just hasn't felt like spring will get here), so I will need to revisit my gardening plans.

  2. Gardening is one thing I am totally clueless about so that sounds like a great class! Can't wait to see how your garden turns out!

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