If you’re interested in local foods, you must be interested in things that are good for you and good for the environment too. The U of I Extension Master Gardener volunteers have been working hard to develop a demonstration garden that exhibits water and energy saving practices. The demonstration garden is a tool to show and teach the general public how to grow food crops in a sustainable manner.
Using techniques like deep mulch, vertical gardening, sheet composting and no till improves soil tilth while also expending fewer resources to have an abundantly producing vegetable garden. Though some watering has been necessary this very hot, dry season our garden is looking beautiful due to the sustainable techniques used.
The conditions this growing season have been challenging due to the lack of rainfall. It is very important that home gardeners start integrating water and energy saving methods into their gardening practices, as well as making smart plant selection choices that will weather drought conditions.
U of I Extension Master Gardeners would welcome the opportunity talk to others interested in learning about sustainable vegetable gardening. Volunteers are present each Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. to conduct tours of the garden and answer horticulture questions. The public is invited to drop by during those hours. Group tours can be scheduled by calling 815-986-4357.
The U of I Extension Garden is located on the south side of the building, accessible from the west end of the lower parking lot or from the sidewalk along N. Second Street. Visitors should park at the North end of the YMCA parking lot and walk the short distance on the river path to access the U of I Extension building and garden. The main drive from Ethel is under construction.
Meghan Bowe is a program coordinator with the University of Illinois Extension office in Winnebago County. She is an avid gardener, food preserver and local food supporter.