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Bitter melon makes a sweet retreat

Seabrook priority list member plants Chinese garden

Created date

July 23rd, 2013
chinese garden

Darcy Lee loves to garden. But the small yard at his townhouse in Lauren s Harbor, N.J., doesn t afford him enough room for more than a few plants. Instead, he gardens with his friend Augie Chai at Seabrook, an Erickson Living community in Tinton Falls. Together, they have planted a Chinese garden fit for an Iron Chef. Bitter melon with a taste that lives up to its name lines the back of one 10- by 10-foot garden; they have two side by side. Green snow peas climb 3-foot bamboo stalks along the right edge. Chinese melon a slightly sweeter variety fills the middle. And garlic huddles in the lower left corner. Augie built a bamboo trellis this spring for the melon vines to climb and to expand the square footage of their gardens. While garlic and snow peas sound familiar, bitter and Chinese melon aren t usually found in traditional American supermarkets, except in Chinese stores, Darcy says. Chinese like bitter melon for health. It s very good for the digestive system. But most people don t like it because it s too bitter, he says. In the Philippines, they use bitter melon to heal everything. At first you don t like it, Augie adds, but after a few times, it feels very soothing. Planted in early May, the melons should be ripe by now. Darcy and Augie will enjoy a meal of spare ribs braised with garlic and bitter melon.

Priority benefits

Darcy, a member of Seabrook s priority list, has the opportunity to garden at his future home, along with a number of other activities on campus. That s the benefit of joining the priority list. When he s ready to move, he ll already be acclimated to his new community. He met Augie while taking advantage of another activity at Seabrook tai chi. I first came here to learn tai chi and mah-jongg, says Darcy. I met Augie in tai chi. Since then, they and their wives have become good friends. And thanks to the Lees priority status, they can experience the Seabrook lifestyle firsthand. First and foremost, priority list membership reserves your place in line for the apartment home of your choice. If an apartment home becomes available and you are not ready to move, you may pass without penalty. But, says Sales Counselor Susan Coulson, the priority list also has dozens of other benefits, like the ability to participate in a number of community activities like gardening and tai chi classes just as if you lived at Seabrook already. Priority list members may attend trips through our transportation department and even invite their family, Coulson says. They get invited to exclusive events on campus. They can take classes and meet their future neighbors. What most people find who truly take advantage of their priority status is that they want to move sooner, Coulson adds. Why drive here to experience the lifestyle, when you can live here and have it all the time? Darcy says he looks forward to moving to Seabrook. I joined the priority list because everything is so convenient, he says. You have everything here you need. As an added benefit, he will be enjoying his spare ribs with bitter melon any time he pleases.

Plant your own Chinese garden

Chinese vegetables come in all shapes and sizes, but they re often hard to find in traditional American supermarkets. Try adding some of these plants to your garden next year to enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine all summer long. Follow directions on the package for planting and growing care. Bok choy Fuzzy melon Bitter melon Silk squash Chinese celery Flowering chives Chinese broccoli Snow peas Leeks Chinese cabbage Chinese eggplant