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, June 26, 2016

National Safety Month

June is designated National Safety Month by the National Safety Council.

Last week was Pollinator Week, unfortunately we ended up with a bee sting :(

Barefoot + clover + bees = Sting!

We got the stinger out right away, applied a plantain leaf poultice, then ice and an essential oil blend.  Still hurt for awhile, but thankfully we don't have any allergies.  So be careful out there, especially if barefooted, watch your step.  Stay Safe!

Read this article to keep mosquitoes, ticks and more away!                                                  

Another way to stay safe, is ALWAYS "Call Before you Dig!"  You can Dial 811 from your phone or in Iowa visit IowaOneCall.com to schedule a utility locate online.  It's FREE and it's the law!

I cut through this old cable TV line last week.  It wasn't marked by the service but I called it in just to be sure.  Had I not called 811 before I started working I would be paying for it, and had it been a live electrical wire I could have lost my life!

A old coworker on the county bridge crew hit a live powerline with boom arm once, and a family member was in the hole when another worker hit the gas line they were working on causing it to explode!  Both survived but had to endure severe injuries and treatments.

ALWAYS use One Call for any excavation you do from trenching to retaining walls, and even planting a tree!  Stay Safe!


For on the farm safety, here is an episode of the "Small Farm SUSTAINABILITY PODCAST" put out by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

So for the rest of this month and always,
be aware of your surroundings and consider your tasks.
Take a moment to consider SAFETY!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Its Pollinator Week!

Celebrate National Pollinator Week!  June 20 - 26, 2016!

Abundant Design is Celebrating with a Special
Details below but for now lets talk Pollinators!

Did you know that pollinators, like bees, butterflies, bats, birds, and more, are estimated to play a key role in one of every three bites of food we eat?  

Plus they are beautiful!  Enjoy this clip from filmographer Louie Schwartzberg

National Pollinator Week began nine years ago with unanimous approval in the US Senate highlighting the urgent need to address the declining populations of pollinators and the ecological and agricultural roles they play.

Monarch butterfly populations have been critically low for the last several years.  Honeybee population and health troubles are regularly in the news and our native bees are also facing many challenges.  30% of our 45 species of native bumble bees are at risk of extinction.  These losses can also have serious implications for our agriculture systems (=our food). 
I've mentioned a study before showing increased yields in Blueberries, and research out of Texas has demonstrated cotton yield increases of 18% with improved pollinator habitat.

But Corn & Soybeans?
Iowa's largest commercial crops corn and soybeans don't rely on pollinators like many other crops.  However, new research by Iowa State's Matt O'Neal suggests growing more bee-friendly habitats could prove to be a worthwhile goal for soybean growers looking to improve yield. 

"Three examples of earlier research include:
  • A short-term Canadian study found bees’ presence was associated with much higher yields in food-grade soybeans.
  • Australian researchers demonstrated yield increases of 10-40% in honey bee-pollinated soybeans, compared to self-pollinated beans.
  • In 2005, a Brazilian research project compared soybean seed production with and without honey bee colonies by raising plants in cages, and reported 50% higher yields when bees were present."

What can YOU do?
1. Plant Food, both nectar plants and host plants for butterfly larvae.  The flowers of many culinary herbs are attractive to pollinators, like the Sage, Chives and Thyme pictured.  Milkweed is a great plant for monarch larvae, and Swamp and Butterfly varieties are quite attractive in plantings.  Echinacea, or Purple Cone Flower is a favorite of many pollinators.
2. Provide Water as they get thirsty too.  A water feature or birdbath with a few stones can provide a shallow drinking area and also a place to bask in the sun.

BONUS - Supplemental food, like nectar feeders, sliced oranges or jelly can also attract colorful Baltimore Orioles or Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.

3. You could also Share a Home like this bee hotel.  You can build or purchase many different styles to fit your landscape.  Also, consider delaying Fall clean-up or doing so less extensively as some pollinators and other beneficial insects hibernate in hollow stems or leaf piles,

4. Avoid Pesticides as many are as harmful to good bugs as well, even "organic" ones like diatomaceous earth.  Clover is good for your grass and a favorite of honeybees.  Dandelions provide an early source of nectar.

For even more tips visit these great resources.

The Xerces Society has a handy list of native plants that are quite attractive to butterflies, bees and more.   These plants are targeted to Iowa and other parts of the Midwest.  Visit Xerces.org for more information or if you would like a plant list for your area.

Any design & install scheduled this week will include a FREE Host Plant and Nectar Plant that will qualify your landscape for the Blank Park Zoo's Plant.Grow.Fly program!

Have a great Pollinator Week and Be a Friend to Pollinators!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

New Landscape Trends & Products!

Application Cover ImageI was excited to read this article in Des Moines Build magazine.

"Top Ten Design Trends for Residential Landscape Architecture"*

"Sustainable design is the big trend for residential landscapes, according to the 2016 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey"
  1. Rainwater/graywater harvesting 88%
  2. Native plants 86%
  3. Native/adapted drought tolerant plants 85%
  4. Low-maintenance landscapes 85%
  5. Permeable paving 77%
  6. Fire pits/fireplaces 75%
  7. Food/vegetable gardens (incl. orchards, vineyards, etc) 75%
  8. Rain gardens 73%
  9. Drip/water-efficient irrigation 72%
  10. Reduced lawn area 72%

These Top Tens are exactly what Abundant Design has been ALL ABOUT from the beginning!

Abundant Design has always offered custom and unique landscaping that focuses on producing food, medicinal and cooking herbs and wildlife habitat, all while doing it organically with reduced inputs (time, money and toxic chemicals). 

We promote healthier yards and landscapes, focusing more on making your desired plants stronger and healthier by increasing their competitiveness with weeds and pests.  Healthy soils, proper placement and partnering them up with good companions can do so much.

Compost bins, raised beds and rain barrels have been a few of the items you can just call to order.

Abundant Design now offers these great steel planters for a more formal look to the front of your home or business.

     Single planters are available for $199, or Three for $499
          Also available with thick, long-lasting Powder Coat for $300 each or $800 for three

Another new offering this custom Wine Cask or Whiskey Barrel styled upgrade to our standard rain barrel. 

Made from cedar to resist the elements, it has steel bands to hold them in place.

These wine cask/whiskey barrel style versions are available for $549.
Includes Deluxe Installation!

Did you know Abundant Design has access to a wide variety of natural flagstone & manufactured pavers, including Belgard Mega-Arbel that we used at the Home & Outdoor Living Show, to get just the right look for your edible oasis, patio and firepit area?

 I hope you have a great week!
You are also invited to the Central Iowa Permaculture Guild Meeting next Wednesday evening, June 22nd, at the Waukee Public Library.  Suzan Erem of the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust will be presenting.
*BUILD magazine referenced this original article  

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Week In Pictures

Last weekend we headed over to the Forest Avenue Outreach Community Orchard to lend a hand with the prairie and pollinator plantings there.  The rain came just a bit early but it was estimated we got ~90% of the nearly 2000 plugs planted that were donated by People for Pollinators (USFWS Neil Smith Wildlife Refuge)
This last week I got to look at a few properties for projects including a follow-up on the Western Hills project from last year.  Here is a custom 'whisky' rain barrel set-up we did using one from Rain Barrels Iowa for the base.

 Here are some pictures from my own backyard and 'forest garden'.

Irises, blue flax and strawberries under one of the peaches.  Might be a columbine leaf photo-bombing the lower left corner.

A Candy-striped Leafhopper visits one of the Milkweed and the seasons first Black-eyed Susan blossom takes a peak. 

FYI - Just these two plants would qualify a garden for the Plant.Grow.Fly program through the zoo.  Do you have one?

Sadly I won't get to taste these cherries... A bird cleaned every fruit off of the tree in one day.  Netting might be used next year.  And for now a 'cobra' is protecting our strawberry patch from robins and other birds.  It seems to be working if I move it every day or two. 

My kids sure were impressed to find this 'Ozark Beauty'

 Have a great week!