Posts tagged flooding

A move for Cedar Rapids farmers market

    Iowa City officials are handling a potential move of its farmers markets from a covered parking ramp – on an occasional basis to a busier site a few blocks away  – by talking to market vendors. Cedar Rapids has a different way of changing its farmers market sites and doesn’t have to jump through the same hoops as Iowa City.  A couple years ago, some vendors and customers were upset over the move from the covered Riverside Roundhouse in Cedar Rapids to an open air market at the city parking lot at Eighth Avenue and Second Street SE.  Market officials say the new site is no longer an issue for customers or vendors.      Nevertheless, Teresa White, the city’s farmers market supervisor, decided to move the Thursday markets from Eighth Avenue to Greene Square Park. “I just want to be different,” she said. Teresa also hopes the market will be a boost for workers in downtown Cedar Rapids, which is still recovering from last June’s flood.  

   Greene Square is quite a convenience for those of us who work in The Gazette, as the park is just outside our office. What do you think? Will that move be a good one?  And what should become of the roundhouse? Is it just a  relic that should be demolished with other flood-damaged buildings?

 

   I will be updating the farmers market schedule for as many in Eastern Iowa as I can find and will post it here later this spring. Most markets don’t start until May, although the Hiawatha one usually gets a head start in April.

   If you are a market master, have information on a farmers market or know of a new one, you can send the info to me at: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com or leave a message below. Please include a contact name and phone number.

 

    Here is the Cedar Rapids farmers market schedule for this season:

 

    Eighth Avenue and Second Street SE parking lot will be May 2 through Oct. 24; Tuesdays from 4-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to noon, except when the Downtown Farmers Markets are held. Thursday markets will be 4-6 p.m. in Greene Square Park, from June 11 through Aug. 27.

   Noelridge Park farmers markets, from May 1 through Oct. 23, are 4-6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

   The larger Downtown Farmers Markets – with a record 160 vendors this year – are 7:30 a.m. to noon on June 6 and 20; July 18; Aug. 1 and 15; Sept. 5 and Oct. 3.

 

 

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Ray’s Market, another victim of epic flood

  

Sweet potatoes from plant purchased at Ray's Market

Sweet potatoes from plant purchased at Ray's Market

  Call me a gardening geek, but yes, that is a photo of some of my sweet potatoes, which we finished eating just a couple months ago. I took the picture because a) they were the first sweet potatoes I had ever grown and b) they might have been one of the last relics of a business that fell victim to June’s devastating flood in Cedar Rapids.

   I bought the sweet potato plant in May from Ray’s Market, near Czech Village in Cedar Rapids,  just weeks before the flood that devastated not only Czech Village and my old neighborhood near Ray’s Market, but many other parts of the city.

  It took me awhile to track down Ray’s Market owner Fran Smith, someone I didn’t even know by name before the flood. She was hesitant to talk about what happened and who could blame her. Not only had she lost her business, a longtime icon at Bowling and C streets SW, but her son, who worked in the store with her, nearly lost his life around the same time. Lynn Smith had to have his leg amputated after he was hospitalized with pneumonia and an infection right before the flood. He and his wife, Karren, lived in a home behind Ray’s Market. The family has been through a harrowing year, but Lynn pulled through his illness. 

   Fran decided against the burdensome cost of rebuilding Ray’s Market. I’m sure many people will miss the blooming petunias and other bedding plants that lined the front of the shop come springtime. And I’ll have to track down another sweet potato plant elsewhere. In the meantime, you can catch up with Fran and her mother, who sell homemade jelly, jams, floral arrangements and aprons, at Cedar Rapids farmers markets. Fran also said she would consider selling Ray’s Market, as well as the house behind it. Although the business is in shambles, the home can be rebuilt.

More on their story is in the Friday, Feb. 27, 2009, issue of The Gazette.

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Shower time!

 

 

Aloe vera gets a shower

Aloe vera gets a shower

 Those dear, neglected houseplants, alternately baking and freezing in windows that vacillate between oven and freezer in the winter. Once spring arrives, mine spend Iowa’s warmer months outside, where they grow lush and green. But first they must survive the less than ideal conditions indoors.

 

   Kept out of reach of predatory cats, I don’t pay as much attention to my houseplants as I should in the winter. But just recently I brought them back into better health with a good shower. I’ve tried the bathtub and basement sink methods, but finally found that the best spot to spray the plants is right under their window, in the kitchen sink. Each plant gets a good spray and soaking. I let the water drain from the bottom of the planters before putting them back in place. Usually, I try to give them a shower once a month during the winter months, though I’ve been slacking this year. The process can leave a bit of a mess in the sink and although I’m not usually a bleach person, it comes in handy when thoroughly cleaning the sink afterwards.

 

   Because some of the plants are almost out of sight in their window, had it not been for their shower this month, I would have missed a nice surprise. A  geranium, which my mother entrusted to my care when her home was flooded this summer, had actually bloomed! Perhaps this was the plant’s cry for help, since some flowers bloom when they are stressed, but it was nice to see a bright spot of color on a cold winter’s day. 

Mom's geranium

Mom's geranium

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Organic oasis in Cedar Rapids

   In November 2007, I wrote a Gazette article:   http://tinyurl.com/dl5seb  about Sheree’s Skin Care Studio, where owner Sheree Ramm had been operating in the Guaranty Bank Building in downtown Cedar Rapids.

Sheree Ramm inside new location of Sheree's Skin Care Studio

Sheree Ramm inside new location of Sheree's Skin Care Studio

   

 

 

The studio specializes in organic skin care products and treatments. Lotions, peels, makeup and other items are made with naturally grown organic fruits, herbs and vegetables and are safe for sensitive skin. Sheree notes that the products are gentler than artificial ingredients found in most  products in stores.  A great source for people who not only care about what they’re putting in their bodies, but on their bodies.

    But like most downtown businesses, even though her studio was on the fifth floor, Sheree was affected by last June’s devastating flood. The building remained closed while Sheree scrambled to find another place to open. She found temporary quarters in the historic Ausadie building, 845 First Ave. SE, and then this winter, moved to another historic building. This weekend, Sheree had an open house at her new site, the Calder House, at 1214 Second Ave. SE.

    Besides an enthusiasm for her organic products, Sheree has an appreciation for historic buildings and found the cottage house a perfect fit for her business.

 

Here is what she shares about the site:

Sheree's Skin Care Studio (at left)

Sheree's Skin Care Studio (at left)

     

 

   Built in 1868, the building is a 2-story gabled cottage house similar in scale and materials, built by the same builder, Charles Calder, as its twin at 1216 2nd Ave SE. The house has a stone foundation and brick walls. This rare brick building and its twin next door are both very well-preserved and are the oldest residences in the historical district. Both are among the oldest standing houses in Cedar Rapids. The integrity of the building is in excellent condition.

Charles Calder came to Cedar Rapids in 1851 with his family from central New York state. He made his fortune in real estate and land speculation and was termed, “among the heaviest property holders” in the city at the time of his death in 1890.

  Like many flood-affected business owners, Sheree could have moved out of town, but chose to stay in Cedar Rapids. As the city begins a “buy local” campaign, remember those who have been hit with the double whammy of the flood and economy.

 

Sheree’s Skin Care Studio is by appointment only. Hours: 10-5:30pm, Every other Sat 9-2pm
Closed Sundays and Mondays.  

 

Contact: Sheree, who is a Licensed Esthetician, at:  (319) 551-4876 or (319) 365-7000. More can be found on her Web site at:  www.shereeskincarestudio.com

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Time for city gardens

  I renewed my city garden lease yesterday and talked to a few other people who were doing the same. Cedar Rapids has leased garden plots – 20-by-50-feet of land each – at Ellis, Squaw Creek and Tuma parks. Cost is $20 annually. Renewals run through March 2, and after that, the plots can be leased to other people. Gardeners must go to the Ambroz Recreation Center, 2000 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, to reserve a garden. Ambroz is open 8-5, Monday through Friday.

Butterfly on milkweed at Cindy's city-leased garden in July 2008.

Butterfly on milkweed at Cindy's city-leased garden in July 2008.

 

  

   Last year wasn’t the best for gardening, with temperatures too cold to get the plants going in the spring, and then, of course, the rain. All of the gardeners at Ellis were completely washed out for the season due to the June flood (except for a couple of die-hards who returned after the water receded.) But soil tests conducted on the land have shown it’s not contaminated, according to the city, and gardeners are eager to try again.

 

   Chris Pliszka, who has leased a garden at Ellis for about five years, asked city workers about possible chemicals that were left behind by the floods.

Chris said he was comfortable going back after being told it wasn’t contaminated. Like other gardeners, he’s looking forward to growing fresh vegetables to eat from his garden. “The taste is amazing,” he said. Chris tries to get to his garden every day during the season, which brings up an important point about the leased gardens. The last two years, with gas prices high, I thought spending one solid day every week in my garden would be more practical than going a few times a week. The weeds proved too powerful and it became a constant battle between their overwhelming forces and my less-than-overwhelming hoe. Many people use tillers and some use chemical means to control their weeds. I’m going to try to be more aggressive with my mulching system and see if the weedy powers-that-be can be overcome this year.

 

 

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Flood advice

Landscape designer and author Janet Macunovich, who will be keynote speaker at the upcoming Winter Gardening Fair at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, wrote this advice in 2005 after she and her husband, garden photographer Steve Nikkila,  experienced flooding at their home in Michigan.  Janet passed this along as advice for Iowans who were flooded last year.  She writes: “Although it’s been a year since Cedar Rapids’ devastating flood, I am sure what’s in it is still applicable, as gardens can’t be the first thing we think about after such a disaster, and they take time.”


Special to those with flooded gardens.
I’m thinking this week about gardeners in the path of Hurricane Katrina who were fortunate enough to be spared flooding within their homes, or who cleaned up from minimal interior damage only to find that their yards were not similarly spared.

Three times in the last five years, my own yard has been under 18 inches to several feet of water that poured in from uphill areas when over-taxed storm drains failed. Luck the first time, and then fast sandbagging during subsequent floods, kept the water in our slab home to under a foot. Yet all the relief I felt after removing the interior mud disappeared when I realized how much debris, piled soil, displaced mulch and gullies had been deposited, plowed and cut by the force of so much water moving through my garden.

So my heart goes out to you who are recovering from flood or trying to help one of those gardeners reclaim their beds. I hope when you conquer the despair and the anger and start the reclamation that some of the following notes may make your work easier.

Use the triage approach of doctors working in disaster situations. Spend the time you have on the most important and permanent plants in your yard, even if it means losing some others. Rinse off evergreens so their needles and leaves can return to full photosynthetic power. Then they can produce enough energy to make internal repairs or grow roots to replace those lost to drowning. Pull soil away from the trunks of trees and shrubs. Banked soil traps moisture against the bark and can incite rot the plant will be unable to repair. Cut back water-battered shrubs, even if this means removing major limbs. Chances are such a plant will grow back much more quickly than you imagine but even if it revives slowly it will be at a better pace and to a better end than if you left it alone. That’s because a few clean cuts take less energy to seal over than dozens or hundreds of breaks.

If a large tree has shifted and is leaning, do not try to brace or straighten it. Call in an arborist and be prepared to hear you have to remove it. Submerged soil floats, removing the weight that was anchoring the tree’s surprisingly shallow pan of roots. Many trees topple in a hurricane not from wind but when water renders weightless the anchor that was counterbalancing the tree’s top. A tree that doesn’t fall but only leans may remain in that position once the water departs but it will never be as stable as it once was, and may be a serious hazard in the next storm. Nothing you can do to the trunk will change that.

Don’t scoop up and reuse mulch that floated and piled up wherever the water slowed in its path. That mulch is no longer an asset in weed control but a liability, since it is full of weed seeds that came with the water. Instead, gather and pile that mulch high enough (three feet or more) to make a hot compost. The heat of active composting will kill weed seeds.

Right now and for the next couple of seasons, be extra vigilant about applying and maintaining a mulch layer. Mulch over the mulch you already have, even if you would have waited until next spring to renew it. If you normally go without mulch during the growing season, it will be better to make a temporary change. Over years, your attention to your garden had reduced the number of weed seeds in the top layer of the soil, so weeding had become less of a chore. The flooded garden, however, has been loaded with seeds from other places. Some may be weed species brand new to your experience. Be ready for them — suppress them before they can start.

Don’t hesitate – cut down all herbaceous plants that were battered. It will simplify removing debris and shifting flood-piled soil. The cutback is unlikely to kill them when it comes this late in the season.

Before you start digging and raking, determine just how much soil was deposited over your perennials. Most can emerge successfully through about an inch of extra soil. Bulb plants can manage even when buried 3 or 4 inches deeper than before. Where a heavier layer of soil covered an area, consider keeping it as a raised bed. Dig up a few perennials, divide them and replant the area with those starts at the new level.

Resist the urge to use collected debris to fill gullies that were gouged by fast moving water. Where the water moved fast enough to scour and cut this time, it will move quickly if it comes again. Such areas need to be filled and tamped down using uniform, dense material such as sand and gravel that will make a smooth, heavy, low-friction surface. Water will slide past. In contrast, junk makes a loose fill that presents a myriad of edges to rushing water. That water will pluck things loose, quickly making depressions that will then become a new wash-out.

Include damage to paved surfaces in your damage report to FEMA. You may find some help in resurfacing not just the driveway, but walks or patios that crumbled and washed away when their bases flushed away.

Expect your reclamation to take years. Higher expectations can sap your soul. Accept that some things will die or need replacement, even though they survived the flood itself. Try to think in terms of opportunity to try new things, rather than dwelling on the losses.

Give yourself a view that will fuel your heart rather than your depression. Start your clean-up in an area close to your window or door, even if this makes no logistical sense. A sitting area is ideal. Bring that space back up to your old standard, even if that means letting chaos reign elsewhere a little longer. Each time you see that spot or sit with some comfort in it, you’ll feel better, and be better able to keep moving outward from that refuge.

 

Janet publishes a free weekly gardening newsletter based on questions people ask. She offered to answer anyone from this area who might want to know more after reading her flooded-garden advice.
You can reach Janet by email at:
JMaxGarden@aol.com

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Working on flood prevention

   Rain gardens are one of the ways individuals can work together to help reduce flooding. The Indian Creek Nature Center has scheduled the following two programs for Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009 to learn more. Only a couple spots are open for the second session, on building a rain barrel. Call the Nature Center today (Friday) at (319) 362-0664 to register. Several spots are available in the first session on creating a rain garden, so you might be OK to just show up.

 

PUBLIC PROGRAM-RAINWATER IS NOT RUNOFF! RAINWATER IS A RESOURCE-1 PM: CREATE A RAIN GARDEN-MEMBER:$8-NONMEMBER:$10-As citizens of the earth we have a responsibility to manage run-off from our property and yard. Learn how to capture water from hard surfaces and roofs in rain gardens. Rain gardens are beautiful and environmental! Native seed and plant sources, planting methods, and care will be discussed.

PUBLIC PROGRAM-RAINWATER IS NOT RUNOFF! RAINWATER IS A RESOURCE-2:30 PM: BUILD A RAIN BARREL-A MATERIALS FEE WILL BE CHARGED FOR THIS PROGRAM-Good ideas keep coming back! Our grandparents had a rain barrel and cistern to capture water from roofs. Water was then used for everyday household needs. Get creative and make your own rain barrel with Master Gardener Deb Walser.

 

The Indian Creek Nature Center is at 6665 Otis Rd. SE, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  

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Flood plants

    During the Depression, Julie Gladfelder’s father always found something beautiful for his wife to look at, whether it was something he traded for, or found in the timbers. “It was so there would be something encouraging,” Gladfelder said. “It was such a bleak time.”

    Gladfelder, of Cedar Rapids, knows that Iowa flood victims are going through their own bleak times.

    She and Sheri Mealhouse of Cedar Rapids decided to offer something encouraging for those flood victims. The two started a program called Neighbor to Neighbor Sharing Plants.

    So far, they have given away nearly 180 houseplants to flood victims. The two will expand to offer free perennials to flood victims in the spring.

    Gladfelder said about 20 people have contributed houseplants, including jade, spider plants, African violets and more.  The two welcome donations, especially when outdoor plants will be needed next spring.

   More on their efforts will be published in The Gazette.

   If you’d like to donate or know a flood victim who would like a plant, leave a message below or send an email to me at: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com

 

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Winter deja vu

    My daily gardening/weather log last winter reads something like this: ice storm; school canceled; snow; more snow; school delayed; more ice; snow; more snow, and on and on. By the end of March, I was actually rooting for a bit more snow so we could reach the top spot for the most snow on record.

   Already, this season feels like a continuation of the last, which culminated in June in the worst flooding we’ve ever seen in Eastern Iowa. While we can’t predict what the rest of the season holds, no matter what, I won’t be cheering for more snow come spring.

   This past winter, with its never-ending snow and ice storms, is one of the candidates for The Gazette’s Top 10 stories of 2008. That the weather still constitutes news is actually a good sign. I’m not looking forward to this becoming typical for Iowa. The flood, obviously, is another choice. You can still cast your votes for the Top 10 stories of the year. Ballots are running in The Gazette.

  

    

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Preventing floods

    Jim Patchett, president of Conservation Design Forum in Illinois, will offer his ideas on flood prevention when he speaks at the Thursday, Dec. 4, Trees Forever forum in Cedar Rapids.

 

    One of the suggestions that anyone can do at home is to start a rain garden. Here are some of the resources he suggested for more information:

 

    Rain Gardens:  A How-to Manual for Home Owners, by Roger Bannerman and Ellen Considine, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources PUB-WT-776-2003 and it can be accessed online by Googling Roger Bannerman/ Rain Gardens.

 

     Also check out www.raingardens.org

This is the web site of the Rain Gardens of West Michigan organization.  Lots of useful information including how to design and construct a rain garden at home.

 

    You can also check the Maplewood, MN web site for rain garden information at www.maplewoodmn.govoffice.com

 

More information on Patchett and the Trees Forever symposium will be in The Gazette.

 

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