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Adventures in Organic Gardening

A Garden That Lasts by David Y. Goodman, UF/IFAS Marion County Master Gardener

E

ver leave your yard alone for a few weeks? Or a few months? Or a few years? The smoking remains of the housing market have given us some insight into what happens to a lawn when folks lose their over-mortgaged “pride of ownership” and leave their underwater houses for friendlier shores. First, the grass grows long and sends up seed heads. Opportunistic weeds start to appear. Vines grow over the fence. Buried acorns sprout. Black cherry and wild plum pits dropped by powerline-straddling birds germinate amidst the unraked oak and magnolia leaves. I have a friend who picks loads of berries from his local “blackberry patch”— which just so happens to be the front yard of a neighboring house abandoned in the ongoing real estate bust. As soon as our management ends, complex biological webs begin their assault on imposed order and HOA regulations. A lawn—however lovely and enjoyable—is a very low-level ecological system. Nothing stands still for very long in nature. If you take a look around our area, you’ll see that mature ecosystems in our area are generally oak or pine forests, but they also host cabbage palms, passion vines, palmettos, wild grapes, mimosas, hickories, coral beans, sumacs, beautyberries and a wide variety of other species. Does your yard do the same? Only if you leave it alone—and sometimes the results aren’t pretty for a long, long time. Dog fennel, anyone? Maintaining grass is tough, especially when you try to do so around trees and islands of ornamentals. You’ll almost never see trees naturally growing alone in a field of grass, except in the African savannah. And there they have frequent wildfires and grazing animals that keep forests from forming. Here we generally have lawnmowers and weed-eaters. You have to slave at your yard work because you’re trying to maintain something that doesn’t want to stay where it is. Now … there’s an opportunity in here, if you choose to run with it. What if you created a forest ecosystem piece by piece? But rather than letting birds and squirrels start it, you plant it. If you choose the right species, you can make an Eden of food … an oasis of drifting butterflies … a lush jungle of green. You’re only limited by your location and Continued on the next page. www.GoNaturalAwakenings.com

Ecological Preserve

Organic Farm

Farm Stead Saturday Every Saturday 9am-3pm

Starter plants for sale Country store Gifts and books Gourmet spreads and jellies Playground

Upcoming Workshops September 8, 2012, 9-4 Organic Gardening September 22, 2012, 9-4 Food Preservation

Ask about our

Local Honey

and our Weekly Organic Food Baskets Fertrell Organic Gardening Products

Cash or checks only. We do not accept credit cards. Please do not bring pets. No smoking on farm. Store Hours 9am-3pm • Open 7 days/week

6411 NE 217th Place Citra, FL Email catcrone@aol.com

Call 352-595-3377 for more information www.cronescradleconserve.com September 2012

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Profile for Natural Awakenings North Central Florida

"Natural Awakenings" September 2012  

“Natural Awakenings” Magazine, September 2012 issue. The full-color monthly magazine about green, local, organic, wholistic, natural, fun, h...

"Natural Awakenings" September 2012  

“Natural Awakenings” Magazine, September 2012 issue. The full-color monthly magazine about green, local, organic, wholistic, natural, fun, h...

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