Posts tagged organic

Pond and garden walks

     

Pond at Larry and Erma Thompson's Cedar Rapids home (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Pond, and wildlife, at Larry and Erma Thompson's Cedar Rapids home (photo, Cindy Hadish)

 Larry and Erma Thompson have an entire room in their home dedicated to Larry’s fish hobby, but it’s outside where his love of fish really shines. Twenty-two koi in 20 varieties spend the entire year (cold Iowa winters, too) in a well-kept pond at the couple’s home in Cedar Rapids. Goldfish are in a separate pond. Larry Thompson was awarded the Koi Person of the Year for Iowa, a regional award given at the Associated Koi Clubs of America during February’s koi show in San Diego, California. The award is a testament not only to his koi expertise, but dedication to the craft and volunteer hours he donates to community projects. Larry gives credit to his wife for her support and the beautiful plants that surround their ponds.  “Anything pretty is Erma’s,” he said. “The functional stuff is mine.”

Plants help filter the water in the ponds at Larry and Erma Thompson's home (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Plants help filter the water in the ponds at Larry and Erma Thompson's home (photo, Cindy Hadish)

      Their home will be one of the stops on a pond tour next weekend. Following is info from the Eastern Iowa Pond Society and other groups holding garden walks next weekend.

    Whether you are a serious water gardener, Koi keeper, casual pond owner, want-to-be pond owner, or just plain love flowers and water, you won’t want to miss the chance to view the ponds in this year’s  Eastern Iowa Pond Society annual pond tour, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, July 12, 2009, rain or shine. As usual, pond owners and club members will be available at each pond to answer questions. They will also have a plant and small art/craft sale at one of the pond locations. This year’s tour will feature ponds in the Cedar Rapids/Solon/Swisher areas. Tickets and maps are $5.00 for adults (kids under 12 are free) and are available at all pond sites with all proceeds going back to the community for area landscape and beautification projects.  A good place to start might be 131 Rosedale Rd SE, Cedar Rapids or 3682 Douglas Dr. NE Solon. For more information please call Jackie Allsup 319-934-3665 or visit: www.eips.org

 Here are other garden walks coming up next weekend:

      Friends of Hickory Hill Park will have a garden walk in Iowa City from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 11, 2009. The walk benefits the group’s stewardship fund for maintenance and restoration work. Four gardens will be on the tour, plus tornado recovery areas on Hotz and Rochester avenues. Speakers will be at each site to discuss prairie plantings, Backyard Abundance and organic lawn care.    Start at 1167 E. Jefferson Street to purchase tickets and pick up a map. Cost is $10 per person or $8 per person if you bike or walk to 1167 Jefferson St. Families are $15. To volunteer or for more information, phone 319-338-5331 To make a donation:  Anyone unable to attend the Garden Walk but wishing to make a contribution should make the check out to LEAF and mail it to:  LEAF, P.O. Box 1681, Iowa City, IA  52244-1681.

    The Fairfax Parks Committee will have a walk, rain or shine, at five Fairfax gardens from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, July 12, 2009. Iowa State University Extension master gardeners will be available at the gardens to answer questions. The walk includes the garden of Megan McConnell Hughes, which is featured on the cover of the summer 2009 Country Gardens magazine. Tickets can be purchased at Fairfax State Savings Bank or Guaranty Bank in Fairfax. Tickets can also be purchased the day of the event at the Fairfax North welcome sign at Williams Boulevard and Prairie View Drive. Cost is $5 for adults and $10 for families. Proceeds will be used to buy playground equipment for Hawks Ridge Park.

    Also on Sunday, July 12, Project GREEN will have a garden walk in Iowa City from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you want to know how to garden with deer, this is the walk for you. Four large gardens at the edge of woodlands are featured on the walk, including one property that covers nearly four acres. All gardens are located north of Interstate 80, off Dubuque Street. Cost is $5 for adults. Children under 16 are admitted free.    Start at any of the following sites for a map, which becomes your ticket for the other gardens: Pat and Stan Podhajsky, 3817 Cedar Drive NE; Maggie VanOel, 8 Oak Park Lane NE;   Twila and Dick Hobbs, 9 Oak Park Lane NE; Bill and Michelle Welter, 15 Oak Park Place NE. Wear comfortable walking shoes. The weather may be hot and buggy, so bring along a bottle of water and bug spray .  To learn more, see: www.projectgreen.org

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And the winner is…

Debbie Walderbach of Cedar Rapids was the winner of the drawing for

Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods

Dandelion Earth -Friendly Goods

organic cotton and corn-made items from Dandelion Earth-Friendly Goods this morning at the Gazette/KCRG tent at the Downtown Farmers Market in Cedar Rapids.

Because several people asked about the products in the drawing, here is the link for Dandelion, where you can find more information: www.dandelionforbaby.com

 

It was nice meeting everyone who stopped by, even in the rain.

Umbrellas, the must-have accessory for this morning's Downtown Farmers Market in Cedar Rapids/ photo, Cindy Hadish

Umbrellas, the must-have accessory for this morning's Downtown Farmers Market in Cedar Rapids/ photo, Cindy Hadish

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Meet me at the market

   The first Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market of this season will be Saturday, June 6, from 7:30 a.m. to noon and I plan to be there. Stop by the KCRG/Gazette table in Greene Square Park sometime between 9-10 a.m. and say hi! I’d like to hear what you’re interested in reading about on this blog and in The Gazette.

  As reporters, we occasionally receive products from companies that we cannot keep. Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods recently sent several items that the eco-conscious readers of this blog might enjoy, so I thought it would be fun to have a drawing. If you stop by our table – remember, just between 9 and 10 a.m. or so – sign up and you could win some of these cute Earth-friendly products. 

   Here is some information that Dandelion sent:

Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods

Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods

At a time when “organic,” “green,” environmentally-friendly,” “renewable” and “sustainable” is a part of our everyday culture, consumers are sincerely moved to help preserve the planet and the health and well-being of their families. With the desire to champion an emerging “green” awareness, Re-Think It, Inc., is launching its collection of Dandelion Earth-Friendly Goods that turns living green into easy living.
   Dandelion Earth-Friendly Goods are made entirely using eco-friendly materials and processes, from organic cotton grown without pesticides and chemicals, coloring process and right down to the plant-based fibers used in filling the plush toys. The ReUsables – the divided plates, bowls and utensils – are made from corn, rather than conventional plastics comprised mostly of petroleum.
 
Stop by the table on June 6 to see these items and let us know what’s on your mind. For more on Dandelion, go to: www.dandelionforbaby.com
 

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Using (free!) compost to restore flooded yards

 

Screening equipment and compost piles at the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency's site in southwest Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

Screening equipment and compost piles at the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency's site in southwest Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

   Stacie Johnson, compost expert extraordinaire, sent me a note about getting flooded yards back in shape. Stacie, education coordinator for the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency, said owners of flood-damaged homes have been calling the agency about using compost as fill as they begin work on their yards this spring.  Last June’s floods wiped out the vegetation of thousands of homes in Eastern Iowa, especially in the Cedar Rapids area. One caller wanted to put compost 4 inches deep on her lawn, but Stacie advises against using compost as fill or topsoil. The grass might sprout, but would have long-term problems growing. Also, it would make a very soft spot in the yard, as compost is mostly organic matter with little mineral content. 

      The Agency is giving away free compost for Linn County residents and Stacie wants it to be used so it’s most beneficial to these homeowners.

Here is what she says:

    Compost is a good source of soil organic matter and shouldn’t be used as you would topsoil.  The three compost applications recommended by the Solid Waste Agency are mulching, amending and top-dressing.

Mulching: add one inch of compost as a mulch layer, no need to work in and can be topped off with wood mulch for a formal landscape.

 Amending: (most likely the best approach for flood homes)  work one to two inches into the top six inches of existing soil.

 Top Dressing – spread 1/4 to ½-inch layer of compost over existing lawn; best to aerate before top dressing and reseed after.

A rule of thumb for how much compost is needed to complete a project:  square footage x depth x .0031 = cubic yards needed for your soil amendment project.

The agency’s Web site: www.solidwasteagency.org has more information on hours and where you can pick up the compost. The compost is made from the leaves and other natural materials collected in Yardys. It is aged in piles and unwanted materials are removed with a heavy-duty screening machine. The result is rich, dark compost that is great for the soil.

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Farmers Market season begins

Perennials for sale by Betty Decker at Hiawatha Farmers Market

Perennials for sale by Betty Decker at Hiawatha Farmers Market

 As of this afternoon (Friday, May 1, 2009), the Cedar Rapids farmers market season will begin. The schedule apparently has caused some confusion. This might be the reason:  There’s the Noelridge Park market, which begins at the same time and place as usual. Then there is the market in the city parking lot on Eighth Avenue SE, which was relocated after last year’s flood and is almost, but not quite the same otherwise as last year, and one in Greene Square Park that replaces one day of the Eighth Avenue markets, but only from June through August. And then there is the large-scale Downtown Farmers Markets, which is only on certain days throughout the season and preempts the Eighth Avenue market on those Saturdays. Pretty simple.

   I was at the Hiawatha Farmers Market on Sunday. If you haven’t been to that one, it’s worth your while to go, not only because it’s one of few markets on Sundays, but they offer great produce, plants, baked goods, organic meat and more. That’s where I shot the photo, above, of perennials for sale by Betty Decker, from Decker’s Hobbies in Walker. Look for more photos from the Hiawatha market and a “clip and save” listing of area farmers markets in the Sunday, May 3, Gazette. It’s in the Money section, in its new location behind the sports pages.

   You can find all of those markets under the Linn County heading in the farmers market category on this blog, plus many others. New this year is a farmers market in Shellsburg and the Downtown Farmers Market in Cedar Rapids (the big one that’s just on certain days) has some new additions, too. This is from Quinn Pettifer, from the Cedar Rapids Downtown District:

   New features this season include open mic sessions, a Green Space sponsorship and recycling program, and a pet policy offering guidelines for patrons that bring their pets to the market. The pet policy includes a maximum 4 foot leash requirement, as well as basic health and social interaction guidelines.  Another noteworthy addition to this season includes the acceptance of WIC checks by those vendors participating in both the City and Downtown Farmers’ Markets. The WIC approval process was led by Representative Tyler Olson who took the initiative to Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey for special approval.  

    Quinn also notes that 4th Avenue and 5 Seasons Parkades will be free and open to the public, with additional on street parking available. Handicapped accessible parking will be available in the True North Parking lot along 5th Street SE.  The market (remember, this is the large, downtown one) will be in a slightly different location than it was last year after the flood. It will be along 3rd and 4th Avenues to include 2nd and 3rd Streets SE and Greene Square Park.   

That market is on June 6, June 20, July 18, August 1, August 15, September 5, and October 3. Entertainment for the June 6 market includes Pan-Delirium Steel Drum Band, Theatre Cedar Rapids, MOvMNT, Library Story Time, Iowa Children’s Museum activities, a roaming wine tasting, cooking demonstration, and street entertainment from Mark Brown and Junk Funk.

     Bob Shepherd also sent some info (as well as the photo below) about the Washington Farmers Market, which begins Thursday, May 14th:  The market starts at 5pm each Thursday evening and closes at 7:30pm. Growers, bakers, and artists set up their displays in downtown Central Park, under the tall shade trees, along the new sidewalks leading to the Memorial Fountain. Vendors number from 20 in the spring to 45 during the summer as produce reaches its peak maturity. We are a certified Iowa Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program market with a number of eligible growers. Starting in June, ‘Thursday Night Live’, offers entertainment from 6:30pm to 7:30pm, local artists including; Catfish Keith, Patrick Hazell, suzuki strings, dance studios and the Richland Old Time String Band to name a few, perform on the Washington Bandstand. The Washington Muni Band follows with rousing concerts from 8pm to 9pm. Such is the usual fare in downtown Washington on Thursday evenings throughout the summer. Special Market events include; the12th annual Smoker/BB-Q/Grill Challenge on the Thursday following Fathers Day June 25th , The 11th annual Tasters’ Choice Salsa Contest will be September 3rd the Thursday before Labor Day.

    Duane Randall, Director of Parks & Recreation in Vinton, sent information about the Peal or No Peal night and other fun stuff going on at the Vinton Farmers Market this summer. You can find more info and photos on that market at: www.vprdzone.com

Customers snatch up baked goods at the Washington (Iowa) Farmers Market last summer. Photo by Bob Shepherd

Customers snatch up baked goods at the Washington (Iowa) Farmers Market last summer. Photo by Bob Shepherd

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All about lawns

   It’s spring and attention is turning to lawns. Two things today about lawn care. The first is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith and the second came to me from Dustin Vande Hoef, communications director for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey sent the message to remind homeowners that spring is an ideal time to improve soil quality in our yards and that restoration of the soil can help retain water, prevent erosion and protect water quality.

 

This is from Claire Smith:

 

   Are you ready for some mowing?  Depending on the weather, your summer lawn mowing and maintenance can begin anytime in April.

Did you service the mower last fall?  If you didn’t have time then, you should take time now.  Beg or bribe your favorite spouse or relative to change the oil, kick the tires, replace the spark plug and air filter, and be certain the blades are sharp and not bent. 

If the ground temperature is 55-60’ you can commence any necessary re-seeding and repairs. Lawn repair kits that will contain seed and mulch can be purchased.  But remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is so do not succumb to terrific sounding no maintenance grasses and groundcover.   Apply the patch after you have removed the dead turf and loosened and amended the soil.

   Pizza or ice cream treats may create some enthusiasm to have the kids or grandkids help you rake and remove clumps of leaves and other debris left over from winter ice and snow. Initiate a game of pickup sticks (branches). Tamp down runways created by winter vole activity and fill in holes. 

  Hose off lawn areas along walks, drives and roadways that have been exposed to deicing compounds or your grass may not reappear.  Keep newly seeded and sodded areas moist to reduce stress on young and developing root systems.   Watering an established lawn is not necessary now.  Wait until May to fertilize.  Over watering and over fertilizing does more harm than good on your lawn:  strike a happy medium.  Excessive use of insecticides may reduce nature’s aerating machines, the earthworm. Monitor your lawn for any insect damage prior to spraying. 

   Proper mowing is a real key to a healthy lawn.  The suggested mowing height is 3-3 ½” Taller grass forms a deeper root system.  Stronger plants are more likely to fend off insects, disease and weeds.  Remove only 1/3 of the total height of the grass and leave the clippings on the lawn to decompose. Clippings add nitrogen, moisture and organic matter to the soil.  Varying the direction and pattern of mowing will reduce the wear and tear on the lawn.

   So, are you ready for some mowing?  Grab a bottle of lemonade and your hat and sunscreen. Hop on the mower and enjoy the spring weather and the start of a beautiful lawn.

 

From Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship:

 

    Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today encouraged homeowners to consider incorporating soil quality restoration efforts into their annual spring yard work.

   Often in urban areas, especially new developments, the topsoil has been removed and what is left is compacted.  Restoring soil quality helps yards and green spaces absorb and infiltrate rainfall, which reduces the homeowners need to water their yard while protecting water quality and preventing runoff.

   “Iowa is known for it’s great soil, and rightfully so, but we need to make sure we are taking care of that soil so that it is healthy,” Northey said.  “What made our soil so productive was the high organic matter content and porosity that absorbed rain and allowed roots to grow deep.  Soil quality restoration helps recreate those conditions that allow plants to thrive.”

   If you are establishing a new lawn, perform deep tillage (8-12 inches deep) before seeding or sodding to breaks up compacted soils.  Add compost to increase organic matter.  It is recommended that soils have 5 percent or more organic matter before sodding or seeding, which can be achieved by incorporating 1 to 3 inches of compost.

   If you have an existing lawn, consider aerating the soil and then apply a blanket of compost in the spring or fall.  An application of one-quarter to three-quarters of an inch of compost following aeration will help fill the holes with organic matter to amend the soil and allow existing turf to grow through the compost amendment. If your turf is patchy, add seed to the compost application to thicken up the vegetation.

   “Improving the soil quality in your yard will make your lawn healthier, require less water and reduce the need for fertilizer and pesticide applications,” Northey added.  “A better looking lawn and improved water quality in the state are possible when we better manage runoff through soil quality restoration and other measures that allow water to infiltrate.”

   There are a number of other lawn care tips to help care for your soil and promote infiltration of water and prevent runoff.

  • Begin mowing after the first of May and end near Labor Day.
  • Set the mower at three inches high. The higher the grass shoots the deeper the grass roots, making it better able to survive dry periods.
  • Use the mulch setting on your mower to leave the grass clippings on the yard. Don’t lower organic matter content by removing clippings.
  • Consider using native plants for accent in planting beds or in rain gardens to minimize the amount of turf grass.
  • Seed your lawn to a native turf mixture that has deep roots and thrives in Iowa’s weather conditions without extra care.

   More information about urban conservation, rain gardens and a soil quality brochure are available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at www.IowaAgriculture.gov

 

 

               

               

 

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Sen. Harkin served (rBGH-free) milk and cookies; Sen. Grassley makes “Biggest Biofools” list; UPDATE – Grassley’s response

 New Thursday: see Sen. Chuck Grassley’s response to “Biofools” list below…

Milk and cookies outside Sen. Harkin's Cedar Rapids office

Milk and cookies outside Sen. Harkin's Cedar Rapids office

Photo: Paul Deaton, of Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility; Angela Gadzik, University of Iowa student and volunteer with Food and Water Watch and Stephanie Rynning, UI student and intern with Food and Water Watch, listen Wednesday as Theresa Carbrey, at right, addresses the benefits of organic milk outside Sen. Tom Harkin’s Cedar Rapids office at the Wells Fargo Building, 150 First Ave. NE. Carbrey is education and member services coordinator for new Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City. 

 It wasn’t Sen. Harkin himself, but members of Food & Water Watch, along with representatives of New Pioneer Co-op and Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility, presented hormone-free milk and cookies and more than 1,000 petitions today to Sen. Tom Harkin’s Office in Cedar Rapids. The petitions call on Harkin to support including language in the Child Nutrition Act that allows local jurisdictions to choose milk free of artificial hormones for school lunch programs. According to Food & Water Watch, the United States is the only industrialized nation that still uses rBGH – recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone – despite major concerns about its links to cancer. As major retailers have moved away from rBGH, “this risky milk is being dumped into our public school system,” members said.

According to Roberts Dairy’s Web site, the genetically engineered drug, injected into dairy cows to induce them to increase milk production, is estimated to be used in 15 to 20 percent of the cows in the United States. It was approved by the FDA in 1993. As of Feb. 1, 2008, Roberts Dairy uses only milk from dairy farmers who have pledged to not treat their cows with artificial growth hormones. While the FDA has found no significant difference between milk from treated and untreated herds, “some of our customers prefer their milk to come from untreated cows,” the dairy’s Web site says. Others, including Anderson-Erickson and Swiss Valley, have also gone rBGH-free.

Caitlin Seeley, field organizer for Food & Water Watch, said that Harkin supports local farmers and child nutrition. “We’re urging him to support (the language change) and really be a champion on this issue,” she said.

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. The group challenges the corporate control and abuse of food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what people eat and drink.
More information about the School Milk Campaign is at: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/school-milk

Also today, Friends of the Earth and the Rainforest Action Network singled out Grassley with other policy-makers and corporate leaders as the top national “biofools” in a contest sponsored by the two organizations. The grassroots contest is part of a nationwide effort to highlight the dangers of industrialized biofuels as a false solution to climate change.

The groups noted that Sen. Chuck Grassley supports claims that biofuels are “contributing to a cleaner environment,” ignoring the scientific evidence that biofuel production is contributing to the rapid destruction of rainforests abroad and the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico here at home. I have an inquiry in to Grassley’s office, but haven’t heard a response yet.

NEW – This just came today (Thursday) from Sen. Grassley’s office:

“The International Energy Agency just released a report that corn-ethanol reduces greenhouse gasoline emissions compared to gasoline by nearly 40 percent.  They also say that number will improve to 55 percent by 2015.  So, if being pro-biofuels, pro-farmer, pro-Iowa, pro-environment and pro-jobs and anti-imported foreign oil gets you recognized like this, then Senator Grassley is happy to have it.” 

 

Here is more from Friends of the Earth and Rainforest Action Network:

Three policy makers and three corporate leaders were singled out today as the top national “biofools” in a contest sponsored by Friends of the Earth and Rainforest Action Network. The grassroots contest is part of a nationwide effort to highlight the dangers of industrialized biofuels as a false solution to climate change.

Despite growing scientific evidence that they contribute to air pollution, deforestation and climate change, industrialized biofuels are being promoted by government and agribusiness as a ‘clean’ solution to climate change and to our nation’s fossil fuel addiction. Replacing just 10 percent of world demand for diesel for road transport with biodiesel would require 75 percent of the world’s existing soy, oil palm and rapeseed crops. Even current government mandates for these so-called renewable fuels will create enough demand for biofuels to cause food shortages and environmental catastrophe around the world.

The online contest will be held on April 1, 2009, as concerned citizens vote online to determine the nation’s biggest biofool. The winner will be announced on the group’s joint webpage: http://www.biofoolsday.org.

Nominees include:

Linda Cook, Executive Director, Shell Oil. Citing economic concerns, Cook recently announced that Shell Oil will no longer invest in wind and solar energy and focus their energy solely on liquid fuels, hugely increasing the oil giants investment in biofuels.

Hugh Grant, CEO, Monsanto. The global biofuels rush has provided a perfect new market for Monsanto’s genetically modified plants, an inevitable ingredient of biofuel feedstocks. The agribusiness giant dismisses evidence that biofuels are harmful for the environment or have anything to do with food price spikes and shortages.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Senator Chuck Grassley supports claims that biofuels are “contributing to a cleaner environment,” ignoring the scientific evidence that biofuel production is contributing to the rapid destruction of rainforests abroad and the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico here at home.

Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD). Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin has been a strong advocate for reducing global warming pollution, but supports attempts to strip federal forest protections from biofuels policy, claiming that prohibiting the clear-cutting of our federal forests for biofuel production keeps us dependent on foreign oil.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD). A longtime proponent of biofuels, Senator John Thune recently advocated increasing the amount of biofuels that can be blended into gasoline, removing critical forest protections, and potentially eviscerating the global warming standards in biofuels policy.

Patricia Woertz, CEO, Archer Daniels Midland. A former Chevron executive before her tenure at ADM, Woertz is leading the agroenergy charge. ADM is a leading importer of palm oil, a popular biofuel feedstock and a leading cause of deforestation in Southeast Asia.

Friends of the Earth – http://www.foe.org – is the U.S. voice of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 70 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has been at the forefront of high-profile efforts to create a more healthy, just world.

Rainforest Action Network campaigns to break North America’s oil and coal addictions, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action. For more information, visit: www.ran.org

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April events (and two late March additions)

Area events for late March/April 2009. If you know of others in the coming weeks, add a comment below or send an email to cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com

 

Sat. March 28 – 1-3 p.m., Grant Wood Elementary School gym, 1930 Lakeside Dr., Iowa City – Building your home’s curb appeal: free landscaping seminar shows what it takes. Now that spring has arrived, you may have noticed that the nicer the weather gets, the worse your lawn starts to look. A little yard work may help spruce things up. If you’re interested in learning more about how to improve the appearance of your property and the curb appeal of your home, plan to attend a series of informational presentations. There is no charge to attend, and door prizes will be given away each hour. Presentations will include Curb Appeal, Easy-to-Care-For Landscaping, and information on the Iowa City Area Association of Realtors (ICAAR) Tool Shed, a garden tool-loaning program.  This event is sponsored by ICAAR Fair Housing Ambassadors, Iowa City Landscaping, Grant Wood Neighborhood Association and the City of Iowa City Neighborhood Services Division. It was funded in part by a City of Iowa City PIN grant (Program for Improving Neighborhoods) awarded to the Grant Wood Neighborhood Association.
For more information, contact Marcia Bollinger, Neighborhood Services Coordinator, at 356-5237 or e-mail Marcia-bollinger@iowa-city.org.

 

Tues., March 31 – 1-3 p.m., Converting a traditional planter to adapt to no-tilled fields isn’t as costly and difficult as some might think. The Iowa Learning Farm is hosting a planter clinic at Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, to demonstrate how to convert to a no-till planter. The clinic will include a presentation by local NRCS staff about the benefits of no-till and residue management, a demonstration by Mark Hanna, Iowa State University Extension Agricultural Engineer, on how to convert to a conventional planter to a no-till planter and a panel discussion with farmers who practice no-till. The clinic will be held at 6301 Kirkwood Blvd. SW at the Tippie Beef Education Center arena, located on the southeast side of campus.  The planter is the key for no-tillage as it is likely the only machinery that moves the soil for seed placement. Seed depth and seed-to-soil contact are keys to emergence when planting through residue, says Hanna. The benefits of no-till are numerous. Equipment needs are minimal, labor costs are reduced, and there is less soil compaction when field passes are eliminated. Also organic matter builds in the soil over time. The farmer panel at this clinic may address some of these issues and how they overcame the barriers to no-till. The planter clinic is open to the public and there is no charge for the event. Registration begins at 12:30.  To RSVP or for more information about the clinic, contact Farm Conservation Liaison Erin Harpenau, 515/509-4768, email: erinharp@iastate.edu

Wed. April 1 –  6 p.m.,  Hiawatha Public Library, 150 W. Willman St., Starting Garden Transplants. Linn County Master Gardener Zora Ronan discusses growing vegetable and flower transplants successfully at home. Call (319) 393-1414.

Thurs., April 2 – 7 p.m., Tiny Gardens, Lots of Food. Are you interested in less expensive food that is also fresher and safer? Join Judy Kash at the Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids, for suggestions and encouragement for growing some of your own food—even with limited garden space, time, money, and experience. Explore ideas for combining production and beauty in your new edible landscape. For questions or to register, call 362-0664. Member fee for this program is $5, nonmembers are $8.

 

Fri., April 3- Sat., April 4, The largest All-Iowa horticulture exposition in 100 years will be held in Ottumwa, Iowa at the Bridge View Conference Center.  The exposition, billed as the state fair of horticulture, is sponsored and coordinated by the Iowa State Horticultural Society, and supported by over 20 in-state horticulture associations and Iowa State University Extension. Nearly 100 vendors are expected to exhibit plants, art, garden supplies, and lawn equipment.  A wine village featuring Iowa wineries is also planned.  Additionally, the Expo will feature three concurrent educational seminar tracks featuring experts from around the state and region.  Topics will cover the gamut of horticultural specialties including honey production, growing herbaceous perennials, panel sessions of wine and arboriculture experts, rain gardens, organic lawn care, sustainability in the home garden, children’s gardening, and much more.  The Expo will offer anyone, novice to professional to engage in Iowa’s diverse and vibrant horticulture industry. Elvin McDonald, renowned horticultural author and former editor-at-large for Better Homes & Gardens® will be the keynote speaker for the inaugural All-Iowa Horticulture Exposition on April 3.  His lecture “Why I Love to Garden” will begin at 10:00 AM. Twenty-four breakout sessions on Friday and Saturday will offer attendees a wide variety of topical information that showcases the diversity of Iowa horticulture and gardening.  Top speakers for these sessions include Susan Appleget Hurst, senior associate editor at Better Homes & Gardens® and Kathleen Ziemer, known throughout the area as “the butterfly lady”.  A number of ISU Extension personnel will also be present including Dr. Jeff Iles, Dr. Eldon Everhart, Dr. Cindy Haynes, Dr. Patrick O’Malley, Dr. Nick Christians, Dr. Kathleen Delate, Andy Larson, and Dennis Portz.  Please visit www.iowahort.org for more information about speakers, topics, and times.  Single and two-day registration packages are available.  Visit www.iowahort.org for registration forms or contact your local ISU Extension Office.  For more information call 641-683-6260.

Sun., April 5 – 2 p.m., Chickens in the Yard. Before the advent of industrial agriculture and long distance food shipping, many families kept small flocks of chickens in backyards… even in the city. Join Indian Creek Nature Center Director Rich Patterson to learn how you can do the same. “In this day and age when incomes are stretched thin and costs are high the Nature Center is hosting a series of programs that may help people become more self sufficient in food,” said Patterson. Discover how to convert table scraps and garden weeds into delicious eggs. Learn the ins and outs of keeping a few chickens for fun and food. The member fee for this program is $5, nonmember fee is $8. Please call 362-0664 with any questions or to register for the program.

Tues., April 7 – 6:30-8:30 p.m., Using Prairie Wildflowers and Native Grasses in Iowa Landscapes, Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Hall Room 234, 6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids. Neil Diboll will present the process of establishing prairie gardens and meadows using either plants or seeds, in both small and large venues.  He will highlight the top prairie wildflower and grasses for landscape use, along with specific step by step procedures for achieving success.  Diboll is a Prairie Ecologist for Prairie Nursery and produces native plants and seeds and designs native landscapes.  Since he began in 1982, he as devoted his efforts to championing the use of prairie plants, as well as native trees, shrubs and wetland plants, in contemporary American landscapes.  The session is free.  See web site: www.extension.iastate.edu/linn

Wed. April 8 – 6 p.m., Hiawatha Public Library, Garden Lighting. Why only enjoy the beauty during the day? You don’t have to be an electrician to be able to enhance your garden in the evening!  Linn County Master Gardener Deb Walser will discuss placement, types of lighting, and transformer options – let there be lite!

 

 

 

Wed. April 8- 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and Thurs. April 9, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Mount Vernon. Come get dirty down on the farm while learning from an expert how to construct a hoophouse. Practical Farmers of Iowa is hosting a two day hoophouse training build workshop at Laura Krouse’s Abbe Hills Farm near Mount Vernon. Adam Montri will lead the workshop. Hoophouses are structures that extend the season on fruit and vegetable farms by providing a protected environment. This training build will address hoophouse construction through an actual build of a 35 foot by 96 foot double poly hoophouse. Participants will learn techniques and tips to efficiently and effectively build a hoophouse, and will have opportunities to ask questions related to design and construction of the hoophouse as well as how to grow vegetables 12 months out of the year without supplemental light or heating. Wednesday will start with a light breakfast at 8:00 a.m., and the workshop will begin at 8:30. Participants will break at noon for lunch. Meals and refreshments will be provided, including dinner at 7:00 p.m. when work is done for the day. Thursday will commence at 8:00 a.m. with a light breakfast. The workshop begins at 8:30. Lunch will be served at noon, and the field day will end at 4:30. Adam Montri is the Outreach Coordinator for the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm. He works with farmers around the state on year-round vegetable production in hoophouses through on-farm economic research projects, one-on-one production consultations, and hoophouse training builds in rural and urban sites. He and his wife Dru and daughter Lydia own and operate Ten Hens Farm, a year-round farm, in Bath, MI.  Laura Krouse and her summer workers on Abbe Hills Farm produce vegetables for a 200-family CSA from June through October. She hopes the addition of the hoophouse will extend the garden season until Christmas. Laura also grows seed for an open pollinated variety of corn that has been selected on the 72-acre farm since 1903. A number of soil conservation and water quality practices have been established, including a restored upland wetland surrounded by native prairie. Primarily chemical-free practices are used to manage soil fertility and pests. Directions to Abbe Hills Farm: 825 Abbe Hills Road, Mount Vernon. From Highway 30 and Highway 1 south of Mt. Vernon: Go north at the 4-way stop of Highways 30 and 1. Go uptown to the stoplight. Turn left and go west to 8th Ave/ X20. You will be in front of Cornell College. Turn right and go north a little more than 1 mile out of town. Turn left and go west on Abbe Hills Road a little more than 1 mile. There are two red sheds on the north side of the road (and soon to be a big HOOPHOUSE). The address is 825 Abbe Hills Road. From Highway 1 north of Mt. Vernon: At the stoplight in downtown Mt. Vernon, turn right and go west to 8th Ave/ X20. You will be in front of Cornell College. Turn right and go north a little more than 1 mile out of town. Turn left and go west on Abbe Hills Road a little more than 1 mile. There are two red sheds on the north side of the road (and soon to be a big HOOPHOUSE). The address is 825 Abbe Hills Road. This field day is free, and everybody is welcome. RSVP is required by April 3 to Sally Worley, sally@practicalfarmers.org, (515)232-5661.

Fri., April 10 – 8:30 p.m., Spring Moon Walk, Indian Creek Nature Center. Enjoy the smells, sounds, and sights of a springtime evening on the trails. Walk to a high point of the Nature Center to view the moonlit landscape below. Adults: M: $3, NM: $5. Children: $1.

 

Sat., April 11 – 1:30 p.m., Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center, 10260 Morris Hills Rd., Toddville, Iowa. Earth Month Wildflower Walk. Enjoy a leisurely woodland walk, celebrate spring and learn ways to have less impact on our planet. Cost: $2.50/adult, $1/child 16 and under or $5/family.

319.892.6485

Sat., April 11 and Sun., April 12 – 11 a.m., to 5 p.m., Easter Open House, Noelridge Greenhouse, Cedar Rapids. Features aquarium display by the Eastern Iowa Aquarium Association and Indian Creek Nature Center displays, along with a beekeeper. Free plant for first 500 children under age 12.

 

Tues., April 14 – 6:30-8:30 p.m., Don’t Fence Me In – Creating Garden Rooms Without Walls, Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Hall Room 234, 6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids. With colorful slides that Shirley Remes has taken of garden rooms in historic public gardens as well as delightful homeowner gardens, she will demonstrate how to create easy and affordable garden rooms in your own yard, large or small.  Dividing a landscape into garden rooms not only creates more enjoyable living space but solves practical space problems.  Photographer, journalist, lecturer and treasurer of the national Garden Writers Association, Remes is field editor for Better Homes and Gardens magazine and writes for Cottage Living, Organic Gardening and Victoria magazines. The session is free. See web site: www.extension.iastate.edu/linn

Tues., April 14 – 5:30-6:30 p.m., Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse, 1682 Dubuque Road (Highway 151 East), Marion. Veggies and Herbs in Pots and Containers. The free seminar will focus on growing vegetables, herbs and more in containers in order to enjoy the benefits of homegrown produce, even in limited space. Participants are asked to RSVP by calling (319) 377-4195.

 

 

Wed. April 15 – 6 p.m., Hiawatha Public Library, Revitalizing Your Garden. For the novice or experienced gardener, this class covers beginning or re-working the soil prep, planting, transplanting, and pruning for your beds. Linn County Master Gardener Lori Klopfenstein will also cover tools, design principals, and “go to” resources for all your garden needs.

Sat., April 18 – 9:30 a.m., Earth Day Tree Planting, Indian Creek Nature Center. Help diversify the woods as part of a wetland restoration. Bring a shovel, wear old clothes, and be prepared to get dirty. Participate in a tree planting ceremony “on behalf of Sacred Mother Earth,” facilitated by Wha’la, a Cree man from Squamish Territory. The ceremony is a Chanupa or Pipe ceremony. He will offer songs and direction to us from his traditional way of life. Trees Forever Field Coordinator Matt Nachtrieb will demonstrate the best way to plant a tree. Free.

Sat., April 18 – 8:30 a.m., Herbert Hoover National Historic Site will kick off National Park Week with a spring restoration project in the 81-acre tallgrass prairie. Volunteers are needed to help remove weeds from a recent planting of native prairie grasses and flowers. Volunteers interested in helping at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site should contact Adam Prato at (319) 643-7855 by Friday, April 17. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable work clothes. Water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats are recommended. Meet at the Visitor Center at 8:30 a.m. for an orientation and to get signed up. Work in the prairie will be from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum are in West Branch, Iowa at exit 254 off I-80.

Sat., April 18, Habitat for Humanity Restore Go Green expo., 725 N. Center Point Rd., Hiawatha.

Sat., April 18 – Creative Gardening Hands ON Workshops, Linn County Extension, 3279 7th Avenue, Suite 140, Marion, Iowa. Register and pre-pay materials fee  by April 10th, call: 319-377-9839

9:00am–10:30am • Twig Art

Have fun using garden prunings to create a pot trellis. The project will include the pot, soil and plants.  The participant will supply a hand pruner, wire cutter, needle nose pliers (optional) and scissors. Shelby Foley, Linn County Master Gardener, leads this class. Materials fee: $10 (due at time of registration) Class is limited to 20 participants.

11:00am–12:30pm • Build a Toad House

Parents, delight your child with this fun filled morning. Accompany your child as they enjoy the hands-on experience of making a mosaic toad house with Linn County Master Gardener, Karla McGrail. Materials fee: $10 (due at time of registration) Class is limited to 25 participants, age 7 and up.

1:00pm–3:00pm • Building A Gourd Birdhouse

Members of the Iowa Gourd Society will share their expertise and provide sturdy gourds for this fun project. All materials will be furnished to construct and decorate a unique, functional birdhouse. Won’t it be fun to watch the birds flock to their new home this spring? Materials fee: $30 (due at time of registration) Class is limited to 25 participants.

Sat., April 18 – 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency – 1954 County Home Rd.  Marion,  Earth Day Dumpster Dive

 Bring a load of waste to the agency and let the staff show you what can be recycled.  All loads chosen as recycled, will be recycled and disposed of free of charge.   No appointment necessary and Linn County Residents can bring their items from 10am to 2pm.

Sun., April 19 – 3-5 p.m.,

Iowa City Environmental Film Festival, Iowa City Public Library, Room A, 123 South Linn Street, Iowa City. Blue Gold:  World Water Wars Host:  FAIR!  Film Overview:  www.bluegold-worldwaterwars.com In today’s world, corporate giants force developing countries to allow privitization of their public water supply.  As water enters the global market place, corporate giants, private investors and corrupt governments vie for control of our fresh water supply.  A line is crossed when water becomes a commodity.  So the stage is set for world water wars, with a new geo-political map and power structure, and the possibility of military involvement.  The film shows numerous worldwide examples of people fighting for their basic right to water.  As Maude Barlow proclaims, “This is our revolution, this is our war.”  Will we survive? Based on the groundbreaking book, “Blue Gold:  The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water” by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke. Winner of the Vancouver International Film Festival Film Audience Award.

Wed. April 22 – 6 p.m., Hiawatha Public Library, Container Gardens. Container gardens do not have to be three geranium, asparagus fern and vinca vines. Come see what can be done with the newest annuals for your containers. Linn County Master Gardener Deb Walser’s own containers will be featured along with planting instructions. You will never have a plain container again.

Wed., April 22 – noon-4 p.m., Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center, Earth Day Guided Hikes. AmeriCorps Naturalist Sarah Hinzman will lead a 45 minute spring-themed hike every hour on the hour beginning at noon. The last hike of the day is at 4:00 p.m. Meet her at the kiosk area on the lower end of the long sidewalk. Donations accepted.

Wed., April 22 – 4 p.m., Hiawatha Public Library: Kids and Worms: Composting. First-Fourth graders, get you hands dirty and learn how composting with worms can help our Earth. Space is limited to thirty kids 150 West Willman St., Hiawatha, Iowa  319.393.1414

Thurs., April 23 – 6 p.m., Welcome the changing of the seasons by joining the Brucemore gardeners for the Spring Landscape Hike. Brucemore, Iowa’s only National Trust Historic Site, is located at 2160 Linden Drive SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The 90-minute hike will emphasize the renewal of spring through the sights and sounds found on the Brucemore estate. Experience a sea of budding bluebells, wildflowers sprouting, and the pond awakening after winter’s slumber. Brucemore gardeners take participants off the beaten path into the natural areas of the 26-acre estate. The tour will explore current issues of preservation and public use as well as the seasonal chores spring requires. Hear stories of the spring activities of the Brucemore families, like picking wildflowers for May Day baskets, and much more. Participants will have ample opportunity to ask questions and seek advice about their own gardens. Admission is $10.00 per person and $7.00 per Brucemore member. Space is limited, call (319) 362-7375 to reserve your spot or register online at www.brucemore.org

Sat., April 25 – 6-8 p.m., Mid American AeroSpace – 280 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE, Recycle in Style. Join area resale shops for a fashion show like no other.  All models will be sporting clothing from consignment, thrift and resale shops.  Get some great money saving ideas at this one of a kind event.  Ticket information available by calling 319-377-5290.

Tues., April 28 – 6 p.m., Natives: Planting, Caring, and Options Workshop. Spring has arrived! Learn easy and effective ways to “go green” in your gardens and landscapes this year by utilizing native Iowa plants. Planting indigenous flora is the most effective way to create sustainable and healthy gardens and landscapes. Join Master Gardener Becki Lynch for a native Iowa plants and prairie history workshop,  in the Brucemore Visitor Center. Brucemore’s own gardens and grounds were originally designed in the 1900s by O.C. Simonds, a founder of the Prairie School landscape movement, who advocated a strong conservation ethic in landscape design. Simonds planted local forbs and grasses to develop the Brucemore grounds into “outdoor rooms.” Using indigenous flora exemplifies environmental stewardship and helps to curb natural resource depletion. Planting with natives is also a great way to preserve Iowa’s unique prairie history. Lynch shares how to identify and incorporate indigenous plants in your own gardens and landscapes. Join the many Iowa gardeners who are preserving our beautiful Iowa heritage. $15 per person and $10 per Brucemore member. Space is limited call (319) 362-7375 or register online now.

Wed. April 29 – 6 p.m., Hiawatha Public Library, Lawns Green With Envy. Linn County Master Gardener Jerry Schmidt will give you advice on how to turn your grass into a lawn.  Find out the best ways to rid your lawn of weeds, mushrooms, bare spots, and all those digging critters.

 

 

 

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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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“Compostales” part deux

More “compostales” from entries to our composting contest:

 

Gloria Overton of Cedar Rapids

 

My family loves to compost! We got started about 10 years ago when the previous homeowner left boards with notches cut in the ends. We decided it was a compost bin and assembled it. We have used that bin ever since. We compost our fruit and vegetable scraps like apple cores, banana peels, cornhusks, and our shredded paper. Our biggest surprise was diced melon rinds decompose in less than one week. We also add coffee grounds, tea bags and yard debris. Now it is filled to the top with tree leaves.

 

We love to compost because it makes wonderful dirt and is so relaxing. You can always move the compost around to make it break down more quickly. We are also very pleased with the quality compost it makes. Wow does grass seed ever germinate when they are planted in compost! My container garden is entirely planted in compost. The remaining compost goes into the garden or lawn. When you plant something in compost, it is like planting it in dirt on steroids!

 

 

Pam Kautz
and Eliza and Henry and Greta and Ben of Marion

We love compost!  We are beginner gardeners and compost is saving our sorry vegetable garden.  This year we started adding egg shells and this year is the first that we haven’t had a problem with blossom end rot on our tomatoes.  Compost is our friend that seems to cover our inexperienced missteps and is turning our sad, hard clay into a fruitful, lush source of organic produce for our family.  And digging the compost into the soil is a great job for little diggers.  Kids love it and really love the worms that love it too!  We only wish we had more (oh yeah, and some horse manure too).  Yeah for compost! 
 

Lauren Overton of Cedar Rapids

 

     When I compost I feel like I’m in a fun contest. I judge myself on how much I’m putting into the compost pile, how well I’m turning it, how often I’m turning it, and evaluate how good the soil is as a whole. The more variety of ingredients I put into the compost pile, the better the compost. I like that I have a ready supply of rich compost full of nutrients, rather than needing to buy packaged soil.

     Our “green” ingredients are: coffee grounds and filters, vegetable scraps, grass clippings, banana peels, apple cores, and the like. Our “brown” ingredients are shredded paper and fallen leaves.  I use my turning fork to mix the green and brown ingredients.

     We have one compost bin made of wood. My family has been composting for ten years. Now I am 15 years old and I do a lot of the composting for my family.  I love the process of making compost. I love the feel of the soil and being able to use it in my garden.

 

 

Jackie Meier of Robins

 

My family has been composting for many years. I learned from my mother that the outdoors is self contained if we just keep recycling.   She has her compost right next to her garden and keeps it full.

 It is such a reward to know you can create your own soil for growing plants.

 

Our backyard is full of many kinds of perinials and annual plants that go through the seasons along with clippings from mowing the grass, to leaves falling from the trees.  

 

We keep a bucket just outside our patio door for all our vegetable and fruit peelings.      It’s always fun to see how the seeds will sprout in the spring in the compost pile to produce a cucumber or tomato plant.  

 

We have filled many of our landscaping projects with the compost we create.  It is such a reward to be able to keep all the environment in it’s correct place,  WHERE IT ORIGINATED FROM!!! 

 

We not only keep compost processing but also all recyclable items. 

We do allot of traveling and will keep all recyclables with us until we return to process them correctly.

 

God gave us one earth and it is up to each of us to nurture it and keep it alive and healthy,  just like we do raising our children,  we need to care for our special planet.  

 

 

Thanks to all who enteredJ 

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