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Gettin’ Some Plants in the Ground

Posted by kevinwolz on May 7, 2011

Despite my impending departure, I’ve had a strong urge to get some plants in the ground…even if I won’t be around to care for them or reap their bounty. In the last few days, I’ve satisfied this urge through several different activities.

HoHo Prairie Garden

No, this has nothing to do with Hostess or their little brown creations…”HoHo” is short for the Honors House of the Campus Honors Program (CHP) at UofI. CHP is a great program and is housed in a small 100-year-old house just off the quad. The house could definitely use some work, but it’s quaint and just the right fit for the program. My issue is not the house but the “front lawn”. The small (maybe 500-square-foot) patch in front of the house is part grass, part weeds, and part bare dirt…not much of an icon for an honors program. SO, last fall I submitted and secured a $350 grant to convert this small plot into a prairie garden. Throughout this semester, I have been working with other honors students to develop garden designs, gather materials, create signage, and much more. It has really been a great experience.

Benefits of the prairie garden include:

1) Removal of the HoHo from the “mow list,” which means we are conserving fuel, saving CHP money, and preventing local air pollution.

2) Dramatically decreased storm water runoff. The HoHo sits just off the street which has been described as “the campus water management disaster”, so even small things like this should help out.

3) Decreasing/Ceasing the need for irrigation. The perennial, deep-rooted, native prairie plants used should never need to be watered…again saving CHP money.

4) Beautifying the HoHo landscaping and making it a more attractive place for students to approach and hang out.

5) Increasing the biodiversity of inner campus, which has almost no native species planted anywhere.

6) Most importantly, providing an easily accessible plot for students to learn about and experience Illinois’ dominant native ecosystem and the reason for our nickname as “The Prairie State”.

After mulching the entire plot last week and adding some stone path/border, we finally planted almost 200 native plants that we purchased from Grand Prairie Friends, the local prairie restoration organization. So now they’re in the ground and ready to grow. I can’t wait to come back in August and see how they look…cross your fingers!

So much nicer than sod and weeds...

Drilling holes for the transplants...cordless drills are not meant to do this job.

The hard-working group after 3 hours of planting.

Orchard Downs Community Garden

Again, despite the fact that I won’t be anywhere near campus for the entire summer, I want to plant some food! Luckily, I have some friends that want to do this as well…so we split a 900-square-foot community garden plot near campus. We went out this week (without much of a plan) to plant a wide variety of crops that they and our friends can utilize all summer while on campus for summer school. I planted a lot of squash that will hopefully be ready after I return. Can’t wait to see how they survive!

nice jorts

Home & Cottage Gardens

Yup, more food. This time, however, my parents will at least be around to take care of it (Thanks and good luck!). I definitely don’t have much of a plan for the gardens at either location, and neither will be anywhere near as intensive as last summer’s plot, but I have a bunch of seeds and some soil…so what the heck?


One Response to “Gettin’ Some Plants in the Ground”

  1. Joan said

    Your ho ho patch looks great. EAger to see pictures after the native
    plants take hold. Did you plant
    flowers, too?

    Eager to see your cottage garden too and will do that on Aug. 13th.

    See you soon.

    Love, GB

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