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greenliving


and what needs to be done to make it work?” is what Lindy Westerfeld, presi- dent of Green Gardens Landscape & Installation, Inc. (847-670-7370), asks her clients when they start wondering how their garden will look this season. Carl Alguire, CEO of Smart Gar-


dener (SmartGardener.com), recog- nizes that some gardeners can use some help when it comes to the plan- ning process, so he developed a free online tool that teaches how to plan, plant, manage, care for and harvest an organic fruit and vegetable garden. “Smart Gardener helps you create a highly personalized weekly plan for your new or existing garden, keep de- tailed records with your online garden journal and share it all with your friends on Facebook,” he explains.


Local park districts offer a wealth Don’t Despair!


Planting Season Will be Here in No Time (So Plan Now!) by Megy Karydes


Longer and warmer spring days are making many local gardeners itchy to get outside and start digging in the dirt.


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aManda Joy, founder and president of Chicago’s The Peterson Garden Project (PetersonGarden.org), notes that the amount of money consumers spend on landscape gardening overall is down, but backyard and community food gardening investment is skyrocket- ing. “Urbanites are finding interesting ways to grow food anywhere they can, including vertically in small spaces, and a lot of products are coming out to facilitate this,” she says. “But you can also get creative by reusing everyday materials as garden containers to save money.” For those without much space or that want a more social approach


Chicago North & North Shore


to gardening, community gardens like those managed by Joy are something to consider. City neighborhoods, suburban communities and even corporations are installing community gardens at an increasing pace. While April is too soon to plant most crops outside in the Chicagoland area, experts say it’s the perfect time to plan the garden’s layout and prepare the soil to get it conditioned for sum- mer vegetables.


Plan Now “Are you going to add a vegetable garden? If so, where is the best place


www.NAChicagoNorth.com


of resources, like Chicago’s Kilbourn Park and Organic Greenhouse (ChicagoParkDistrict.com/Parks/Kil- bourn-Park), to help both budding and seasoned gardeners plan for the season. “Kilbourn is the only park with a teach- ing greenhouse,” says Park Supervisor Julie Thompson. “The greenhouse is open Tuesday through Saturday for gar- dening educational programming that ranges from seed starting basics and water conservation to cooking demon- strations that highlight recipes using the bounty from the garden.”


Prep the Beds The next step is to prepare the growing beds. A thorough spring cleanup will get things going in the right direction as early as April, weather permitting. Westerfield cautions to hold off if the ground is too wet because standing on the plant bed soil will collapse the voids that hold oxygen, water and roots in the soil, negatively affecting plant growth. The best thing you can do is keep


your plant bed areas properly hydrated,


Photo by Andrew Alguire


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