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Great Things in Small Ways


Did you hear that? It was a very faint buzz but it's there. The gardening bug has officially emerged! A few days of sunshine and 50 degree weather after a cold winter is all it takes for this very special bug to emerge and enter its human host. Once infected, the host may suffer excessive bounce in their step, unexplained trips down the seed aisle, fingers twitching, new gardening books appearing in their shopping bags or a trip by their favorite garden center just to see what's in stock. Of course the gardening bug is at the top of the list of beneficial insects!

Getting back into the garden can be a welcome outdoor activity after spending many hours indoors after a long winter. Gardening can be a choice form of exercise for some while others may be disappointed by the physical limitations they face after years of gardening.  No matter your ability gardening can truly be for everyone. Adjust your gardening to your space, ability and amount of free time. Don't break ground on 1/4-acre if you know you won't have the time or energy to follow through to your desired standard.

Are you a believer in the "go big or go home" philosophy? Well, might I suggest a new philosophy of "start small and be successful" when it comes to gardening? Small garden spaces can have a big impact on you, your neighbors, our flying friends and more! A few small garden ideas you may be interested in:

  • Pollinator Pocket
    Consider a 4x6' garden planted specifically for pollinators. By planting a space filled with a combination of aster, beebalm, butterfly weed, coneflower, alyssum, verbena, zinnia, dill, fennel, mint or parsley (just to name a few options) can create a delightful oasis for pollinators who play an important role in our food supply as well as dyes, medicines & some fibers.
    Read more about Pollinator Pockets.
  • Square Foot Garden
    A relatively low maintenance garden that can be situated where ever the garden conditions are right for vegetables to grow. The garden is constructed with a frame made from (4) 2x6" pieces of lumber, weed cloth, (6) 4' lath boards, and a specific soil mix. Just one 4'x4' bed can produce:
  • one head each of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower
  • four heads each of romaine lettuce, red lettuce, leaf lettuce (followed by sixteen scallions), salad lettuce
  • five pounds of sugar peas
  • eight bunches of Swiss chard
  • nine bunches of spinach (followed by nine turnips)
  • sixteen beets (plus beet greens)
  • thirty-two each of carrots and radishes

Read more about Square Foot Gardening.

  • Plants for Birds
    If you already have an established landscape but you are willing to make small changes, you might find that you can easily make your outdoor space for the birds as well as your pleasure. By incorporating specific trees or shrubs you can create a suitable environment for various birds to feed and/or nest. Canada Hemlock, Oak, Serviceberry, various Dogwood & Viburnum species to name a few.

These are just a few ways a small garden effort can have a significant impact on you, your grocery bill, our feathered and pollinator friends. 

If you are interested in learning about adaptations to your garden practice to make gardening easier, Pollinator Pockets or Landscaping for Birds, consider joining us in Piatt County for "Rooting for Change" Gardener's Day – Saturday, March 28 at Allerton Park Mansion. Pre-registration is encouraged - space is limited: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/registration/?RegistrationID=11879

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." - Van Gogh



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