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, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend

The unofficial beginning of summer starts this weekend.  Many schools have finished the year, or soon will.  There will be BBQs and picnics as the weather has been warming steadily.

A great way to kick off the weekend will be to head over to the Forest Avenue Outreach Community Orchard and help out with the pollinator planting event.

This family friendly event begins at 10am on Saturday and goes until 1pm.  2600 seedlings were provided by People for Pollinators (Neil Smith Wildlife Refuge) who will also be teaching about pants and the need for prairies.  Bring your work gloves!  Drinks and refreshments provided.

But let's not forget why we have this long weekend.  It is a somber occasion, to remember the sacrifice of too many young men and women in the service of our country. Many have given their lives for the United States.
My hometown has always had a wonderful Memorial Day observance.  Dad would often present the colors with others from the VFW and the American Legion.  This will be the first year without Dad.

The Clarion American Legion and VFW Posts will hold their annual Memorial Day observance on Monday, May 25, beginning at 10 a.m. in the Clarion-Goldfield-Dows High School gymnasium.
Other observances around Iowa can be found here or here.
Twenty-five years ago, I was honored to give the Gettysburg Address at the service.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 
Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863
I encourage you to attend a Memorial Day observance, to honor and remember the fallen.  Also take time to reflect on other loved ones that have passed on, remembering their influences on us and the good times with them.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Want Larger Fruit?

This week I made a short video showing how to thin or prune your blossoms and fruit to promote larger, even tastier, fruit.

Thinning fruit, or fruit pruning, is typically done when the tree is in blossom or when the fruit is very small.  This can prevent fruit drop, remove potentially diseased fruit and can even help your tree avoid "masting".  Masting is when your fruit tree has a bountiful year followed by a poor fruiting year.  Its also known as Biennial Cropping.

I like to wait until the blossoms drop and fruit starts to appear.  That way if pollination was poor for some reason, or a late frost nipped the blossoms reducing the percentage that will produce fruit, I don't inadvertently pull the good blossoms and leave the poor.

Along with removing all but the largest healthiest looking fruit, you can also thin the branch if fruit spurs are really close together.  All of this thinning will let the tree give more of its resources to each of the remaining pieces of fruit.

I hope you can look forward to LARGE apples this year.  Don't have a backyard orchard or even a fruit tree?  Well now is the time to give Abundant Design a call so we can get something started for YOU!

Have a great week!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Keyholes & Composters

This week I finished up an installation that included a couple raised garden beds, a rain barrel and two rotating composters.

The homeowners had been wanting to get more into gardening.  The location they were thinking of was already being used for tomatoes in years previous.  It had good sun exposure yet was protected from the afternoon rays.

They were also wondering how to blend raised beds in to the existing landscaping without it becoming an eyesore.

Initially we had discussed using boulders to border the beds, but were concerned about them collecting excessive heat and drying out along the edges.  Cedar was the final decision for its physical properties and rot resistance.
We decided that a "keyhole" design would be a great way to maximize planting area and keep the area contained.  A keyhole bed is one with a small access way into the middle so that you can reach all parts of the bed.  Sometimes there will be a small circle area right in the middle which gives them the appearance of a keyhole from above.

The original estimate was for beds that laid flat and followed the contour of the ground.  This would have been okay but the slope was enough that it could look a lot better if the top of beds were all one level. After a brief discussion with the homeowners, the project grew to include the flat tops.

This made them look really sharp!
Tying into the existing retaining wall with the boulders and then transitioning to a boulder edge worked out quite nice too.

Since it was right by a downspout a rain barrel was included in the plan.  Rainwater is the very best water we can use to irrigate our plants.  Overflow was directed under the beds and out into the yard.  But first it passes two T's where it can also flow into corrugated pipe under the beds retaining moisture in the subsoil.

Also concerned about sending food scraps and other organic waste to the landfill, they wanted to begin composting.  After discussing their expected volume and time/labor budget for turning piles, a pair of rotating bins were selected so they can have one to add material to and another that is finishing the composting process.

Just in time for the plants they were buying at the Clarion Sage Market Garden & CSA plant sale this weekend!

I hope you have a GREAT week!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mothers' Day! 2016

Looking back at last years post I was surprised to see how similar our herbs are doing.  Did we even get some snow last May?  Or was it the year before?

Horseradish and Chives in Bloom

What would Mother's Day be without flowers?  Here is a virtual bouquet that will last almost forever on the internet, and continue to thrive in the backyard.
Columbines from Mom & Dad's

Short white Irises
The dainty Blue Flax

How about these FREE things to do with Mom!
You could also go for a Bike Ride, have brunch at the Zoo or maybe just spend the day with her in a backyard oasis.
Happy Mother's Day!

Apple Blossoms

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May 1st


Daffodils and Tulips in our home gardens 

...May Day!
May Day has been celebrated through the centuries to commemorate the growing season and fertility.  Many of the crops had been planted and it was a convenient day off work for farm laborers. 
Our soil temps have remained fairly warm even with a chilly and rainy week!

Much controversy has occurred over the years with everything from workers rights to communism(affiliate) to immigration.  But I will always think of it as making small baskets of candy and popcorn to leave on neighbors doorsteps; then knocking or ringing the bell and running off before they could catch you.
...International Permaculture Day!
Recently the Permaculture Day theme has coincided with the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) theme for the year.  2016 has been designated "The Year of the Pulse"

For more information and events go to http://permacultureday.org/

Read more on how Permaculture fits in with Abundant Design!

...International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day!

If you go, maybe make some seed bombs (how-to video) and beautify some neglected open spaces while providing for pollinators and butterflies.
Lots to celebrate but also some sad news this week.  Waterfowl artist Terry Redlin and Square Foot Gardener Mel Bartholemew both passed away.  My thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.
Do good things!