As a leader at Rosedale Community Garden, I often booked the golf clubhouse across the street at the Harvard Gulch Recreation Center for classes, meetings and big events. Along the way, I got to know the manager of the golf course, Jessie Moisson and we often talked about gardening. Jessie had been thinking about starting a garden near the clubhouse and last Spring, when I mentioned the possibility again, he was ready. Jessie quickly scheduled a meeting with me and the chief horticulturalist of the Denver golf courses, John Swain and Mario’s Garden was born. The garden was named in memory a beloved little squirrel who visited often and was befriended by the golf staff.
John, Jessie and I met in mid-May and discussed how to transform the spot once occupied by a fish pond, the surrounding beds as well as an adjacent rose garden into a vegetable garden to feed the hungry. I helped map out some plans and with a generous budget and access to a greenhouse, Jessie and John sprang to action shopping for seeds and plants. Within two weeks, they’d built raised beds with recycled railroad ties, filled them with fresh garden compost and laid out a new irrigation system. It was so exciting to be a part of such a project; one that literally went from zero to mach five drive in less than a month.
By mid June, tomatoes, beans, peppers, a patch of three sisters (corn, squash, beans), lettuces, carrots, melons, zucchinis, kale and more was planted and sprouting. The excitement of Jessie and John was palpable every time I came by with a jug of bokashi from Rosedale. Bokashi is a fertilizer created from “cooking” organic waste anaerobically in large covered buckets. Mixed with water, it provides a wonderful fertilizer albeit very stinky. We all reveled in the fecundity of the plot and marveled at the huge harvest.
As the harvest started to come in by early July, Jessie was in search of a benefactor. After exploring several options, he opted to deliver produce to Cafe 180, a local restaurant that cooks healthy organic meals and customers pay what they can afford. Later in the season, he donated a huge cache of produce to the Rosedale Garden Harvest Sale. In my estimation, Mario’s Garden was a beautiful bountiful success. For the two main caretakers, it was a huge labor intensive project. As the beginning of a new garden season approaches, I plan to pop in to talk to Jessie and cheer him on in hopes that the garden will continue for a second season.
I took a lot of photos of the garden during the summer and here they are:
In the beginning. Early May 2016:
Filled in fish pond.
Derelict rose garden.
The edge of the clubhouse.
Construction underway. Early June 2016.
Recycled railroad ties in use.
More raised beds in the erstwhile rose garden.
First planting of carrots, kale, cucumbers, lettuce, and more.
Plants and seeds in. Late June 2016.
Tomatoes and peppers planted in raised beds on top of old fish pond.
Lettuces planted along the shady northside of the clubhouse.
Three sisters planted in the old rose garden.
The Dogs Days of Summer — August — Garden Growing Like Crazy!
Golf clubs used to stake tomatoes!
Bountiful Harvest and Friends in the Garden — September 2016