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, December 27, 2015

What a Great Year!

As 2015 comes to an end I hope you are feeling as thankful as I am.

As we celebrate the Holiday Season I look back and realize what an exciting year it has been.  Enjoy this quick video that highlights some of the different projects, partnerships and friendships that made the year special.

The winter hasn't really hit, but that may change tomorrow!  That gave me a chance to get a little more done than I was expecting... but of course as the nice weather lingered I made more plans for my own yard that are going have to wait for Spring.

If you are coming to the Waukee FamilyFest stop by our booth for a fun activity and say Hello!

Happy New Year!
Stay tuned for another exciting announcement and contest in the next couple weeks!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Warm wishes for you and yours on this special holiday!


A very Merry Christmas to you from Abundant Design!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Well ok, our open fire was in the gas oven :)

This week Winter officially begins, although we will be enjoying high temperatures near 50°F.  The Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, will come and go, marking the beginning of increasing daylight hours!

Also, Christmas is upon us again!  And as The Christmas Song starts out, this week I'll share a recipe for roasting chestnuts.  Enjoy this classic Nat King Cole version as you read more.

American Chestnuts are being back-crossed with Chinese Chestnuts to be resistant to the chestnut blight.  The American Chestnut Foundation has dedicated decades of work to this task.  But as I posted on Facebook this week, researchers may have found a wild resistant line of American Chestnut trees in Maine!

Chestnuts are a highly prized nut tree in many permaculture, silvopasture and agroforestry systems, along with hazelnut, oak, butternut and walnut.

Ours were collected in October at the Brenton Arboretum, West of the Des Moines metro between Dallas Center and Adel.  (I planted some trees there way back when!)
Thanks girls and Ms. Lee
  1. Preheat your oven to 400° while you cut the shells
  2. Lay the nut on a cutting board, flat(-ish) side for stability
  3. Using extreme caution cut an "X" across the top.  Get all the way through the shell and skin avoiding the flesh.  A bigger knife than the little cheap one in the picture would work better.  My thumb was pretty sore from pressing down to cut through the tough shell. Also the wider X's seemed to peel easier.
  4. Place them X-side up in a cookie sheet, baking pan or dish and roast for ~15-20 minutes. 
  5. After ~10 minutes rotate/shake the pan a bit to help them cook evenly and continue roasting. Also, check to make sure the inner skin is not drying out or it will be hard to peel off. 
  6. Check every ~5 minutes and remove when the shells start to peel back and the flesh turns golden, or if any skin looks to be sticking.
  7. As soon as they have cooled enough to handle start peeling the shell back.  If they cool completely you warm them back up to make it easier to peel, saving your thumbs a bit.
Photo Courtesy NYC2 & Outdoorlicious

You might also want to try soaking them for thirty minutes to an hour in salt water. 

Supposedly the street vendors in New York city boil them and only roast them a bit for looks. 

I have not done it but either way is supposed to make them moist and easier to peel.

They are a unique treat, kind of a lot of work, but very nostalgic!  They are pretty starchy with a somewhat sweet taste with a hint of mapley-butter flavor.  Maybe I can experiment a little on the recipe too. 

May your Yuletide be gay! And...

Have a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Conserving Soil, Water and Nutrients with prairie strips

STRIPS stands for Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips.

Made up of a multidisciplinary group, comprising scientists, educators, farmers, and extension
specialists, the STRIPS team 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%.

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

Follow this link for more great information and resources to assist commercial growers help the land and waters of Iowa.

Reviewed by the STRIPS science team at Iowa State University for science/economic content related to prairie strips on August, 15, 2018.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Prairie STRIPS presentation

A couple weeks ago through my affiliation with the Central Iowa Permaculture Guild, I had the pleasure to invite Tim Youngquist, Iowa State University Agronomy Specialist, to present on the STRIPS program through Iowa State University.

STRIPS stands for Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips.
Made up of a multidisciplinary group, comprising scientists, educators, farmers, and extension
specialists, the STRIPS team conducts research on the prairie strips conservation practice.

Enjoy this presentation on the STRIPS program given at the November 2015 Central Iowa Permaculture Guild meeting.

Spreading Prairie STRIPS to Iowa Farms for Improved Water Quality,
Soil Conservation, and Biodiversity

Have a great week!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Last Minute Bulbs

Its a quick post this week because I want you to get a great deal with perfect timing!

This weekend's forecast is perfect for some end of the year tasks in the yard with highs near 50°F

The ground hasn't frozen yet either, so we still have an opportunity to plant!  Last minute deals on trees are an option and this late in the year, if you can even finds them, trees and shrubs will be on DEEP discounts. 

It would also be perfect for transplanting deciduous trees.  The cold weather early has most of these trees in a dormant state so they transplant with less stress.

Speaking of deep discounts, I encourage you to head over to the Habitat ReStore and pick up a great deal on flowering bulbs.

Early Spring flowers are great companion plants as they grow early, grabbing nutrients.  These nutrients might otherwise wash off site during Spring rains. As the season progresses they die back releasing these nutrients back into the soil, which are then used by your summer plants.

So get out there, get dirty, get healthy and prepare your beds for an easy, and cheap, burst of color this Spring. 
Then later you can Cheer on the Hawkeyes!

Remember if you want a great landscape, that includes edibles and/or plants for pollinators, with a design that optimizes your property for sustainability contact Abundant Design.

Have a great week!