Our Mission:

Our Mission: To enable individuals and communities to take an active part in the cultivation of systems that provide the highest quality fruits, vegetables, herbs and other yields, in a way that benefits themselves, cares for the land and environment, and provides a surplus to use, share and reinvest into the system.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Saving Seeds and the Fall Garden

This week I've been saving some seeds from our older sugar snap peas, calendula, borage and wildflowers; including blue flax, black eyed susan and bee balm.  I've still got a week or so for my two reserved lettuce plants are ready.  I trialed a few varieties and found a new one we all seemed to like.

I probably should get some tomato seeds sometime, but there is plenty of time for that yet.

Are you saving seeds? The plants in the video below are perfect ones to begin your seed saving adventure.  Look for our Seed Exchange event in late winter too!
Some of the peas we replanted for our Fall Garden, with just enough time to get some pods by the end of September or early October.  Now is also a good time to plant another round of cool season crops, like spinach, lettuce, broccoli and radishes.  You might be able to sneak in another batch of sweet tasting carrots too.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Shady Pollinator Garden

A couple project pictures from the last week or so include a shady pollinator garden to screen a septic system access as well as a few extra plantings.  Besides heavy shade, deer pressure was also a factor in plant selection.  Hellbore, Pulmonaria, Lobelia, Columbine and more were well represented.
The fence will come down once they are a little more established.
Pollinator planting for shade

Other plantings included replacements of dead or struggling plants, rethinking plant selection and splitting some others.

Before: Grasses struggling with waste heat from the AC unit

After: Lavender will be a better choice with a relaxing fragrance

Red twig dogwoods will fill the gap in the privacy hedge and the red stems will glow in contrast against the white snow in winter.
On the opposite side of the driveway, replacing the dead euonymus, these winterberry will compliment the dogwoods with their red berries.
On the homefront, our second peach tree is ripening nicely and the Japanese Beetle traps have done well protecting them.  Had my first Macoun apple today as well, the Aronia are ripe, and the Seaberries are leafing back out.


Another new kid in town!

There's another new kid in town!  In my house actually!!!  ...which might explain my delayed blog update :)

And if you happen to be born during Breastfeeding Week, you get a free t-shirt.

Short and late post this (?) week, but these times are always an adjustment :)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Say "Hello!" to our Summer Intern

I'd like to take this week to introduce Michael who has been helping out and learning with Abundant Design this summer.  I should have written earlier this summer, but there's still some time yet before he has to get back to school.
After plantings the day before in Adel,
Michael digs a trench in Johnston

Could you share a little about your background?

I grew up on my family's corn and soybean farm in central Iowa.  After completing my Bachelors in Sociology and Communications, I spent several years in the mortgage industry.  Currently a student in Ag Business Management (At Hawkeye Community College), I was looking for an opportunity that fit my interests better than say, following a seed rep around for the summer, and that's what lead me to Abundant Design.

What interests do you have that make you a good fit at Abundant Design?

Well, I'm really interested in growing fruits and vegetables, agroforestry, permaculture and vermiculture.

What is vermiculture?

Worms... worms for speeding up compost and you can do it year round.  They are really interesting.

What are you most looking forward to this summer, and what has been your favorite project so far?

Observing the machine saving our backs

I really enjoyed learning about rain gardens, and then taking some of what I had learned for the rain garden I had been planning for my own home.
Almost done, ready for rain
I'm looking forward to helping with some edible landscaping designs using permaculture principles. 

'I hope I can move a bunch of rock in really hot weather...'

Privacy screen incorporating natives, pollinator plants and edibles

I've really enjoyed getting to know Michael this summer, and appreciate his passion for the environment and good food.  He will be an asset to an evolving agriculture, whether that's urban or rural.  Michael is a hard worker and an eager learner.  He's even taken a week off to complete his own Permaculture Design Certificate course this summer.

Thanks for all your help so far Michael!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Chop & Drop - pruning, mulching and so much more

Chopping and dropping plants, is a great way to maintain your plantings.

The resulting layer of organic material acts as mulch; retaining moisture, shading the soil and hindering weed seedlings.  Over time it is broken down by bacteria and fungi, or gobbled up by earthworms.  These processes change it into nutrient rich organic soil.

Check it out in the video below-

Whether your overgrown favorites, unwelcome weeds or specially designated mulch plants, these all can add to your soil.
  • The Echinacea in the video is pretty close to the blueberry plant. I might relocate it if it were farther away, but I don't want to damage the blueberry roots.  A few of these will eventually fade out of the blueberry patch, but no worries I have plenty for pollinators and goldfinches.
  • Most weeds aren't spread by runners, but if they do I'll leave them on a stone or board for a couple of days to dry out, or you can skip dropping these.  If any have gone to seed, skip these too.  Spurge is one I really take precautions with.  All the others can just be pulled and dropped into the garden bed.  Invading lawn grass can be tossed back into the lawn, if it roots great, if it dies I just added organic matter back into the lawn. 
  • Comfrey is one of my designated mulch plants since its such a great mineral cycler.  It is very popular in permaculture circles and has many uses for the herbalist.  Other designated mulch plants could include horseradish and sorrel.
Timing is another factor with Chop & Drop.  Done when it is cool and rainy, your mulch plants recover well.  Done after flowering before seed set and you can end annual weeds life cycle, preventing weeds the next season. If its hot and dry, and done multiple times you can really hinder regrowth from tough perennial weeds.

Chop & Drop is a basic, yet core skill when establishing permaculture landscapes.

Stay cool and hydrated this week!