I am Holly Gansz, a retired District 64 teacher. I garden and have been living in Park Ridge forever! I have been eco-friendly and green for many years. We recycle, reuse, and repurpose. I have used some large things, a wood burning stove, as garden art. But I would like to focus on three areas of my garden: 1) straw bale gardening, 2) dressing up my garden and 3) overhauling a garden.
Thank you for nominating me for the Changemaker recognition!
This is a form of urban gardening. Bales can be placed anywhere, on patios, driveways, existing gardens, or grass. There is a science for treating the bales in the spring to prepare them for planting. It is a process of feed and water to start decomposition. Then you just place your seedling with a small scoop of soil and get ready to enjoy the harvest. Bales need very little water and then only to the top of the bale. (I watered twice in 2021). Our garden delivered eggplant, beans, kale, spinach, lettuce, red and green cabbage, green and wax beans, acorn butternut and mystery squash, tomatoes (finished my last tomato 12/7) rhubarb, zucchini, potatoes, onions and cukes. This is my second year using straw. I look around my neighborhood for homeowners with Halloween decoration using bales and invite them to let me recycle those straw bales. I have been very successful at gathering them free. I am hoping to reuse 9 bales and added seven new already.
Dressing Up My Garden
Although I plan to have something in bloom every day, sometimes my garden is not colorful. So to dress it up, I hang colorful pretty dresses in the trees and bushes. I have use a theme or I am spontaneous and fanciful with my choice of dresses. Maybe a wedding theme in ’22? I visit Goodwill, Salvation Army, or resale shops for deals. Several friends have contributed dresses. It’s just for fun and it’s interesting! Come by 909 S. Prospect (kitty corner from Roosevelt School) for a peek at the dresses next summer.
Overhauling A Garden
My large perennial area was looking shabby, weedy, and tired. In the process I read an article in the Trib about a plant rescue in an abandoned lot in Chicago using plastic grocery bags. In the fall, I dug up each plant, with a shovel of dirt to protect the root structure, placed it in a plastic sack, doubled the bag, moved the bagged plants to my vegetable garden and buried the bags for the winter. I had about fifty bags and only lost two. I cleaned up the old garden, rototilled, fertilized, and planned before winter took hold. Come spring, I dug up my sacks, replanted the flowers and enjoyed a well-earned colorful summer garden. I’m probably the only one to swipe bags from the Jewel recycle box! This was about 12 years ago, and I am thinking about a repeat. I did 2 other areas to complete restoring the beds.
Other Go Green ideas
2L pop bottle greenhouses
Reclaimed chair gardens
Planted 12 trees
Take a look at what your neighbors are doing for Park Ridge sustainability!