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Home grown: Mary Pellerito


Gardening goals for 2011



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January 05, 2011 - Every year I write down my goals for the coming year. In 2011 I have two gardening goals: grow a prairie and grow and preserve more of my own food. Here is my starting point.

· Our property is approximately 2.5 acres. We currently mow about 1.5 acres. The prairie means we mow less and hopefully attract more insects, butterflies, and birds to our property.

· In 2010, our vegetable garden consisted of 3 raised beds 20'x 4'. I added two more 20' x 4' beds in the fall.

The Prairie

A prairie is an ecological community made up of native grasses and wildflowers. Oak trees are a minor component. Unfortunately, growing a prairie does not mean not mowing and letting whatever is growing get high.

We are lucky, I suppose, in that our property used to be a cow pasture. We did not put down sod in the area so I am hoping that some of the plants we have been mowing are native prairie plants.

This winter, rather than drooling over poppies and roses and hostas in garden catalogs, I will be researching native prairie plants.

This is a multi-year goal. This year I hope to identify the native plants that are currently growing in my garden; come up with a prairie design (if that is possible); start to eliminate 'weeds'; and introduce some new native prairie plants (as many as my budget will allow). I will keep you updated in this column.

The Vegetable Garden

In 2010, I froze tomatoes and basil. I shredded and froze zucchini. That's it. I have one bag of tomatoes left and a few bags of zucchini for bread. The basil should last the rest of winter.

In 2011, I want to grow strawberries, raspberries, and thornless blackberries so I can make jam in the near future. I want to plant beans and more root vegetables to use in the winter months.

In the next few weeks, I will pour over seed catalogs and plan my vegetable garden. I will also be gathering recipes for preserves, jams, sauces, and salsas and ordering seeds for the fruits and vegetables used in the recipes.

I think I have filled up the next few weeks of winter with the most important garden activity—dreaming. And a dream turned into a goal becomes a garden.

Mary Pellerito can be contacted at mary.pellerito@gmail.com

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