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.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Rain Gardens are Popular!

Once most of the vegetable gardens were in and a couple bigger projects were completed, the focus of work shifted to rain gardens.

Rain Gardens are yard features focused on reducing the immediate surge of storm water during rains.  They also are built for filtering pollutants and providing pollinator habitat.  With cost share available from many different cities and other groups, they are also growing in popularity.

Organizations like the Easter Lake Watershed Project can provide qualifying homeowners with significant cost share.  As part of the Easter Lake Watershed Project, residents, businesses, and other landowners  located within the watershed are eligible for 75% cost-share for rain gardens. Contact the watershed coordinator for more information. We were actually there last week on a patio and rain garden installation, with a couple more in the wings.

Easter Lake Watershed Project Rain Garden

I was excited the Polk County S&WCD shared some of my work on their Facebook page!

This rain garden is right in the front yard of this Waukee home.  Photos include
The newly finished rain garden, 
as the native plants first take off in the summer,
highlighting the armored spillway for major rains,
and following a late summer rain event.

You need to be quick for a photo, as the basins are designed to empty over 12-24 hours.

With a short duration of water in the basins they cannot breed mosquitoes.

This project in Ankeny had a few challenges - many, many roots from the former tree, and to bore the downspout tile under the sidewalk.

The basin was adjusted for the stump, but remained near to the original design.
Basin sculpting complete

You can see the boulders that disrupt water flow around the inlet
Newly Finished Ankeny Rain Garden
Rain Garden retaining stormwater, reducing stress on municipal facilities
Ankeny also has a Stormwater BMP program, more information click HERE

I checked in with a customer in Johnston (more info) from last season for any learning opportunities about Rain Gardens to share:
The garden is looking great. In general the garden is very low maintenance, I remove weeds once I a while and had to replenish the mulch after the last big rain. I cannot tell you much about the amount of pollinators visiting because of the garden location; I guess I need to set up a little bench or something near it and watch. What I love the most it's looking at the garden after a big rain.  It does gets full  of water which attracts mallards in the spring (that took me by surprise) and drains slowly but by the same day is empty even in very heavy rains.
Several more are currently in the works, both consultations and design and installations!  If you are interested stormwater best managment practices Abundant Design can help you with your projects!

Enjoy the Fall weather!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle

Here's a quick video detailing the Monarch Butterfly's life-cycle, enjoy!

Once an egg is laid, it should take 3-5 days to hatch.

Over the next two weeks (11-18 days) the caterpillars grow in size eating milkweed leaves.  Monarch caterpillars can eat almost 200 times their body weight in this time!

When grown they will form a chrysalis, where they will spend the next 8-14 days.

During this time they metamorphose into the adult orange and black butterfly!

It's been a great year for Monarchs and Pollinators in general read more here, or contact us about installing pollinator friendly plants for you!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Prairie STRIPS Consultant

Last Fall I had the opportunity to train to become a Prairie STRIPS consultant at the FFA Enrichment Center on DMACC's Ankeny campus.  STRIPS stands for Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips.

The STRIPS project began through a multidisciplinary group from Iowa State University and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.  The STRIPS team, comprising scientists, educators, farmers, and extension specialists, conducts research on the prairie strips conservation practice.

These strips of prairie, should consist of a diverse mix of native perennials, and be placed at the base of a slope with another (or more depending on the field) higher up on the slope.  Together making up 10% of the field, these practices will reduce soil erosion by 90% and nitrogen loss by surface runoff up to 84%.

Here's a quick video for more information about the program-

Prairie strips can also provide potential habitat for biodiversity, including wildlife, pollinators and other beneficial insects.

My hat has gotten a little "weathered" since then, but the certificate is crisp and new!

If you are looking for ways to reduce nutrient loss and soil erosion on your farm, contact me and we can start planning a customized strategy to implement prairie strips on one of your fields.  Prairie strips are a great way to assist commercial growers help the land and waters of Iowa.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

End of Summer Offer, Tree+Planting!

Apple Trees planted for $49+tax!
Pears, peaches and more too!
#3 sized pots or similar sized grow bags, ~4-6'+ tall
-Cortland, Gala, UltraMac (~improved Macintosh) Golden Delicious, GoldRush, JonaFree, Pristine, Antonovka, Empire, Zestar (more?) Apples 
-Bartlett, Starking Delicious and Honeysweet Pears
-FlamePrince, Golden Jubilee and Reliance Peaches
-ask about cherries, blueberries, elderberry and more! 

Make it a micro guild with chives, white clover and an Ozark Beauty strawberry for 
Only $15 more!

Of course we can do a larger planting for a backyard mini-orchard or full scale food forest as well, with many ecological services provided by customized companion plantings! 

Fall is a great time to plant potted trees. Soil temps are still warm enough for root growth yet days are cool enough for less stress.

Offer valid in the Des Moines metro area, from now through September 2018, or while supplies last, get on the schedule today!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Good Year for Pollinators!

This year has been a great year for pollinators!

At least from what we've seen in our yard, and on projects, the numbers of Monarch butterflies are WAY up.  We've raised dozens of larvae and even observed visiting adults lay eggs.

Six larvae (do you see them all?) can make short work of smaller plants.  I even relocated two or three to a larger common milkweed growing nearby.

Some neighborhoods maybe have more adults than milkweed to lay eggs on.  I was building a rain garden and within minutes after planting, a new swamp milkweed plant had its first egg laid on it!

This Monarch Momma laid an egg on a Swamp Milkweed minutes after I planted it!

I haven't noticed as many honeybees this year (still some), but the clover in our lawn was stunted by dry conditions.  Very thankful for the rains this last week!

Native bees abound however!

Bumblebees foraging on borage flowers in the strawberry patch

Along with Monarchs, we've raised a good number of black swallowtail too. We leave an area in parsley and dill mostly just for them.

This butterfly was evidently pretty thirsty as it stopped for a salty drink while I built these raised garden beds.

I've seen more hummingbirds than I ever have in the backyard.  I have more columbines, woodland phlox and cardinal flowers now, one of their favorites, which probably has a part to play.

And although not pollinators the goldfinches are numerous and feasting on purple coneflower seedheads, and a Cooper's hawk flew through looking for a meal on the wing this morning; a probable indicator of a ecologically healthy yard.

I hope you are enjoying more and more butterflies, as well as other pollinators, and as always if you need help providing habitat give us a call!  We love to design and install designated habitat, or many other features like rain gardens and more include beneficial plants and habitat for pollinators!

You can also learn more by browsing Abundant Design's blog  Search: Pollinator

And your local Menards might still have these bee houses available on Clearance-

Have a great week!