Janesville47.1°

Garden is therapy

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Marcia Nelesen
August 9, 2013

TOWN OF BELOIT--By day, Kacey Kaderly works in the business world, keeps his hair short and uses deodorant.

But in his garden, he's a “hippy dippy” dude who goes barefoot because he likes the feel of the earth, eschews chemicals and strives to be sustainable.

Kaderly's garden is his stress reliever, his hobby, his outdoor man cave. He stands outside and just stares at it, like he's watching a nature show on TV.

On days off, he packs a cooler and weeds his way around the garden to the back of his  large town of Beloit lot.

“Pulling weeds is very therapeutical,” Kaderly said. “In two or three hours, I got a good tan and a good buzz.”

Sometimes, his wife will sunbathe nearby and keep him company. He doesn't trust her to pull any weeds in his garden.

Kaderly, 28, normally talks fast but really ramps it up when his garden is the subject.

He comes from a long line of farmers, and his father is a master gardener. Growing up, the family would buy a cow and live off the garden. They went out to eat maybe once a year.

“I thought that was normal,” Kaderly said. “I thought it was pretty good growing up and having fresh, good food like that.”

Kaderly's own garden is 4 years old. He starts most of his plants inside from seed and transfers them outside on a staggered timetable.

He babies his seedlings, going home every noon from his job in Janesville and moving them twice a day to catch the sun. He moistens them with a spray bottle twice a day.

“Maybe I'm a little OCD about it,” he conceded.

This year, Kaderly planted two types of potatoes—he has hundreds of potatoes, many still in the ground waiting to be dug. He planted onions anywhere they'd fit—“You can never have too many onions”—and staked snow peas, snap peas, sugar peas and sweet peas.

He planted four types of lettuce and kale, “one of the most nutritious things out there.” Green peas, cucumbers and squash twine up fences and supports. Cabbage, with its massive leaves and tight center, grow in a corner. Herbs include oregano, dill, basil and cilantro.

He has jalapeno, habanero and green peppers and three types of carrots. It's his first year for eggplant—“I wanted to see what they were all about.”

Rounding it all out are about 60 tomato plants—roma, cherry, and beefsteak.

“I planted way too many,” Kaderly said happily. “Technically, any sane person only needs two to three.”

Next year, he plans to bring in a truckload of good earth and expand his garden. He's going to try corn.

Kaderly doesn't use chemicals.

“I'm kind of hippy dippy, all organic,” Kaderly said.

He composts his eggs shells, coffee grounds and fruit and vegetable matter for fertilizer. He digs his grass clippings into the dirt.

Kaderly does tons of research for tips and recipes.

He discovered, for instance, that herbs all have preferred methods of harvesting so they continue to grow. He found a pickled radish recipe with Indian roots that was fun to try but “turned out kind of weird.”

The bounty that makes it from the garden into the kitchen—Kaderly munches his way down the rows—is stir fried, baked, steamed, juiced, and blended. Meals are planned around what's ready in the garden.

Kaderly starts every dish with olive oil, onions, peppers, garlic and herbs. He doesn't use salt and pepper. He often throws in kale, which cooks up like spinach.

This year, Kaderly made rhubarb jam and is going to can. He's got a pressure cooker and recipes on standby.

“When you eat (home-grown food), it tastes so much better because you know where it came from,” Kaderly said.

“God intended us to eat natural food, not chemicals. I can't stand artificial crap, the preservatives.

“My goal is to grow and can enough to last until next year's garden, to be self-sufficient and not rely on anybody else,” he said.



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