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Old 01-25-2009, 03:01 PM   #1
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Default Projects for the Overwhelmed Suburbanite

Iíve been here for a couple of weeks now, and the magnitude of what Iím reading is starting to sink in Ė and overwhelm me. Now, Iím pretty fanatical for a suburbanite about gardening ethically, so I know that this is a temporary setback for me. But for most weekend warriors, this would be it. The fun would be gone, the practicalities of dealing with the kids and job and chores would take precedence, and gardening would revert to occasionally pushing the lawnmower across the lawn and sprinkling down chemicals.

What projects can you suggest to the typical suburbanite to help them get away from environmentally damaging garden practices?

Projects have to stay within some strict guidelines:

The projects have to be guilt-free. Itís easy to dump a load of guilt on someone about using the wrong plants, or the wrong products, or the wrong practices. As soon at the inexperienced gardener hits their guilt limit, they are going to throw up their hands in despair and go right back to what they were doing.

The projects have to involve fun. ďFunĒ is a terribly important part of life, and (to our detriment) easily forgotten by busy adults. As any child or kitten intuitively knows, play is how learning happens, and playing is done because it is fun.

The projects have to involve a minimum research on the part of the novice gardener. A more advanced gardener might get wild enough about native plants to do a lot of research, but a need for research is going to take fun away from the beginner.

The projects have to involve minimal work and minimal expenses. Projects that can be done first on a small scale and then expanded would be ideal, such as starting with a small flower-bed devoted to native plants.

Projects that can be done with the help of small children would be ideal!

I know this is a fairy-tale list of requirements. But the point isnít to get a novice suburbanite with a yard to transform overnight, rip out their lawn, and metamorphose into a devoted organic gardener, because thatís just not going to happen. The point is to get the typical, busy parent-with-full-time-job to start thinking and acting Ė even if on a very small scale - outside of the grassy box.

I would love to see a list of practical, scalable projects compiled here. For example, instructions on how to build a butterfly garden using native plants, including links to nurseries, instructions on how to winter-sow seeds, and information about the specific butterflies that would be attracted.

Iíll try to come up with a few projects to add, just as soon as I can find the time. . .

If there is enough interest in coming up with projects, then we could use this as the planning and editing area, and compile the finished list of projects in another thread.

Anyone interested?
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Old 01-25-2009, 03:04 PM   #2
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i would suggest as a project to go to your local national forest with a sketchbook and take notes how native plants are growing - notes on wild life, notes on relationship between plants, sun exposure, etc.
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Old 01-25-2009, 03:12 PM   #3
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Ooh, interesting!
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Old 01-25-2009, 03:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
I would love to see a list of practical, scalable projects compiled here. For example, instructions on how to build a butterfly garden using native plants, including links to nurseries, instructions on how to winter-sow seeds, and information about the specific butterflies that would be attracted.

Iíll try to come up with a few projects to add, just as soon as I can find the time. . .

If there is enough interest in coming up with projects, then we could use this as the planning and editing area, and compile the finished list of projects in another thread.

Anyone interested?
Most certainly which is why the educational forum for the site was created. Any threads you start that end up being educational can be moved to the educational area of the site so that others might benefit from them.
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Old 01-25-2009, 03:24 PM   #5
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Most certainly which is why the educational forum for the site was created. Any threads you start that end up being educational can be moved to the educational area of the site so that others might benefit from them.
Excellent!
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Old 01-25-2009, 04:12 PM   #6
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"Iíve been here for a couple of weeks now, and the magnitude of what Iím reading is starting to sink in Ė and overwhelm me. Now, Iím pretty fanatical for a suburbanite about gardening ethically, so I know that this is a temporary setback for me."

Think globally and act locally. It's all any of us can do many times. The nursery industry is extremely powerful and they send out catalogs filled to the brim with glossy images of totally inappropriate plants they want us to buy and they send out their lobbyists to knock down proposed weed laws so they can keep selling us their garbage plants come hell or high water. Give them our money and buy buy buy. They don't care if the plants they can still legally sell threaten public health or not as long as they can sell what ever they want to make money off of us. I can tell you they don't like a site like this where productive discussions are taking place. Wildlife gardeners is bad for their business.

If I were you, I'd start by learning how to winter sow seeds. If you screw up, I can replace some of your seeds as a gift. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. I learn the most from my mistakes. The list you have of seeds to sow is one of the best lists I've ever seen for a new comer to wildlife gardening. Winter sowing is more than enough project for one person with everything you have on your plate. Stoloniferous, you can't save the world. You can't. You can save your little piece of it and what you do will make a difference.
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Old 01-25-2009, 06:56 PM   #7
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Start really small. Do a small garden...with some plants that will amuse and occupy the kids, and some plants that will amuse and occupy you! Amend your soil with humus, and use a very light mulch after planting so you don't have to spend valuable time weeding. After the new plants are up, you can mulch more heavily.

It could be as easy as planting a "mailbox garden"... coneflowers around, and green beans trellising up your mailbox with a mixed lettuce border, if you have a free standing mailbox. The green beans and lettuces will sprout quickly, and you can harvest with the kids, and the coneflowers will give you something purty to look at. And the work would be minimal, except for watering and harvesting the veggies. The humus you amend the soil with will take care of fertilising.

Gardening should be some work, there is no such thing as a maintenance free garden.....but it should also be fun.

Expand your garden as you find you are able to.
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:29 PM   #8
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Don't forget to throw some radishes in there, some different varieties. They germinate fast and kids are fascinated with them, plus that's good eatin'
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:39 PM   #9
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I'm loving the "mailbox garden" idea, Prarie! Would you guys care to work up some step-by-step plans for such a project?
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
. . . You can save your little piece of it and what you do will make a difference.
Thank you Equil! I had a rough weekend, and those words mean a lot to me.
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