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.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

It's Sunday!

I've long been an advocate for healthier people, cleaner water and protecting our soil!

That's why I'm super excited to partner with and share Sunday, a newer lawn care company that helps empower everyone to grow better, healthier, greener spaces today, and for generations to come. 

Sunday is dedicated to changing the world one yard at a time!

Each Sunday product is created to support the entire lawn ecosystem - by working with nature, not against it, and using leading-edge science to get back to how nature is supposed to work.

Sunday lawn care products use better, simpler ingredients (with names you can pronounce) to boost active grass growth and cultivate rich, living soil for a healthy, more self sustaining lawn.


Sunday also has effective and easy to use products for weed and pest control that use carefully selected ingredients with your family in mind.

Go to getsunday.com now, use code

ADESIGN20

and you'll get 20% off your cart!


Monday, April 25, 2022

Save Money, Secure Food, Start a Garden

This is a great year to start that garden you've always thought about!

Bill Mollison, co-founder of Permaculture

With rising inflation, due to a multitude of issues - supply chain problems, lost productivity during the pandemic catching up, and efforts to stimulate a lagging economy - growing a garden can help reduce food costs.


Sure, brand new stylish cedar raised beds will cost a lot to get started, especially with current lumber prices.  Wood scraps can also be found if you know where to look, or build one out of used pallets.  Look for the "HT" stamp which means Heat-Treated for durability instead of chemically treated.  The gardens built with these may not last as long, but they will get you started and can be replaced easily after a few seasons.



But also skipping that step and adding new in ground garden, or adding soil on top of cardboard can be a great lower cost option.

Lasagna Beds in Beaverdale

Upcycled garage doors used in raised beds

Increasingly bare shelves, with a seemingly random rotation of available products, eggs and chicken (even before the bird flu) to fresh fruit and vegetables, are causing some to think of new/old ways to get through temporary, but increasingly longer, grocery shortages.  This can definitely can be alleviated with some homegrown produce, neighborhood veggie swaps and farmers market items.

Also, with a stressed food supply, every calorie you grow and consume, is one less calorie this system has to provide. The more people do this, the more pressure it takes off the food system and supply chains - our friends the farmers, truck drivers and retail workers.  Even if you live in an apartment a few herbs or tomatoes growing on a sunny deck or patio makes a difference.

A few dollars in seeds can yield many, many times that in food savings!

You can take pride in what you've helped provide, get the health benefits of soil & being outside with dirt on your hands, and you may even pick up a new hobby!

Raised beds in Windsor Heights


Geoff Lawton Online



Friday, April 22, 2022

Happy Earth Day 2022

Happy Earth Day!

It's a 'soggy' one out there today!

One way to help care for the planet is by putting in a Rain Garden like this one in Johnston.
They capture stormwater and soak runoff into the ground, instead of letting it rush into the storm sewers.
Full Rain Garden in Early Spring

That helps prevent chocolate milk looking streams (below) that pollute rivers downstream with sediment.
Sediment laden suburban stream

For more Earth Day posts from previous years, click

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter 2022

 Happy Easter everyone!

These are such a fun plant to grow, and due to the loss of shortgrass prairie ecosystems, the population of Pulsatilla patens, or Pasque Flower, is declining.  Growing some in our yards can help support the native insects that rely on them.

Pasque flower on our sidewalk prairie

Blooming early makes it a nice addition of color to somewhat drab, early native landscapes.  


The Pasque Flowers common name is derived from the Hebrew word for Passover, "pasakh", and refers to it's Easter flowering period.


I hope you have a blessed week!

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Wine Caps in Larger spaces

As we covered in our previous post-

Wine Cap mushrooms are an incredible organism that have the ability to turn cardboard, straw, and/or wood chips into a rich, loamy soil. Wine caps are usually planted as the soil warms up in the spring after the last frost date until several weeks before the first frost date in the Fall of the year. While the Wine Cap mycelium grows specifically on woody plant material (wood chips, straw, or a mix), the mycelium will reach down into the soil and pull up soil-water nutrients into the developing mushroom cap, which eventually forms the vehicle for dispersal of Wine Cap progeny... the spore! This is why Wine Caps are anecdotally known as "The Recycler" as Wine Cap mycelium engages in movement of nutrients from soil to surface... a great asset in the garden.


Building a Mushroom Bed for Larger Areas:

Guidelines from Phoebe Krawczyk at Field & Forest Products

This is a great bed installation method if you are putting in large beds or creating new garden spaces over perennial weeds, like quack grass . This usually does not give complete control of the weeds but will significantly suppress their survival. In the end, you have a nice mushroom bed and the cardboard (except for the strapping tape) will have disappeared. This method includes three ingredients in the layers, plus the spawn. 


Layer 1: Wet Cardboard

Cardboard dries quickly and can inhibit growth at the soil surface. Soak it or sprinkle it until it is thoroughly wet just prior to inoculation. Lay out the cardboard to make up the base of your bed. If your cardboard sheets are big, poke some holes in it with a pitchfork or poker to allow excess rainfall to drain away.

Cardboard goes fast once you start laying it out


Layer 2: Soaked Straw

Soak the straw. Just getting the straw thoroughly wetted (24 hours) will suffice, but leaving the straw for up to 72 hours can soften the straw and speed spawn run. One small square bale can cover 50 sq feet. The straw can be wheat, oat, barley, rye .... even old straw that is just starting the decomposition process if let out in the rain. The straw layer should be 3 inches deep.

Bales can make good benches to take a break on, too


Layer 3: Woodchips

Use wood chips that are fresh or show only minor decay from composting ( 1 - 12 months, sometimes older, depending on location and species). If the chips come to you bagged and dry, soak or hydrate them first. Spread the chips over the straw to completely cover the straw by several inches. You will want the straw to stay covered, lest it dry out before the spawn runs. Usually for a 50 sq ft bed you will need 3 wheel-barrows of chips.

Tree service woodchips fresh off the truck

Bed maintenance is very low-key but the important indicator is if bed is dry at soil level. The top layer of a bed will almost always dry out, but when you plunge your hand into the bed to feel the moisture at soil wood chip interface, it should feel very moist. Your watering regime should aim for maintaining that moist layer- this usually translate to about 1 inch of rainfall or garden sprinkler fall per week.

Your first harvests can come as early as 4 weeks after inoculation, especially if you use straw in the mix. Straw/ Wood chip beds usually last 1 and 1/2 seasons. 

Thanks Phoebe!

Now is a great time to purchase spawn as you plan your garden or food forest.  Following the link at the sidebar, or off their website here!

Field & Forest Products


If you follow these tips, you'll have lots of delicious mushrooms PLUS an area with super rich soil, with most of the weeds & grass under control, ready to plant with flowers, vegetables or even a new food forest or orchard

Wine Cap spawn can even keep running and fruiting with regular additions on fresh woodchips in the food forest understory.


If you want a food forest, mixed orchard or ecological landscape, we would love to help you make it happen!



Tuesday, March 22, 2022

World Water Day 2022

This years theme for World Water Day is

GROUNDWATER – MAKING THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE

Groundwater is invisible, but its impact is visible everywhere. Under our feet, and out of sight, it supports drinking water supplies, sanitation systems, farming, industry and ecosystems. 



Almost all of the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater.  In many places, human activities over use and pollute groundwater. In the driest parts of the world, it may be the only water people have.  Groundwater is a hidden treasure that enriches our lives.

You can read more about Groundwater & World Water Day at worldwaterday.org

Abundant Design encourages people, and helps our customers, reduce runoff and infiltrate stormwater into our groundwater through approved Stormwater Best Management Practices as well as customized solutions for less straight-forward problems.

More about what we do can be found here Water & Stormwater

Also, the local Rain Campaign has more resources for homeowners in Central Iowa.


Thursday, March 17, 2022

Job Openings for 2022

It will officially be Spring in a few days ! ! !  Site consultations, designs and tree pruning & grafting is ongoing and soon bigger installations will begin.

Are you motivated, hard-working, and seeking to join an award winning landscaping company?

Pergola build at the east side Healing Gardens & Food Forest

Abundant Design LLC is a small, but growing, permaculture based landscaping design & install business located in central Iowa.  At Abundant Design, we help people build resiliency through edible landscapes and gardens, establish wildlife habitat and conservation practices.  We help provide experiences with nature and enjoyment of Creation in customers' backyards, properties and communities. 

Abundant Design is looking for motivated individuals to help bring these projects to life.

Positions involve lots of digging, planting of native and edible plants, shrubs and trees; moving compost, rock and mulch; some hardscapes, walls and other builds.

Fresh rain garden installs


Seasonal Installers & Laborers

Perform landscaping and light construction for properties as directed.  Tasks may include, but not limited to - shoveling rock, sand, mulch and other materials on the job site; moving boulders; trenching by hand or with a machine; operating a laser level for grading; plantings ranging in size from large balled and burlapped (B&B) trees to delicate transplants

  • Must be physically able to work hard outside in various conditions
  • Must be able to communicate clearly and follow instructions
  • Must be respectful of customers and their property 
  • Must be able to get to and from job sites
  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • Knowledge of, or experience in gardening, landscaping, horticulture, a plus
  • Experience operating power tools, equipment and small machinery, a plus

Great summer experience for students in conservation, natural resources, regenerative agriculture, and sustainability fields, or anyone interested in the same.  

Pay ~$13-16/hr, depending on experience.

Mulching a new multi-species orchard on a southern Iowa homestead


Full-Time Assistant & Crew Leader

Perform and lead team members in landscaping and light construction for properties as directed. Tasks may include, but not limited to - shoveling rock, sand, mulch and other materials on the job site; moving boulders; trenching by hand or with a machine; operating a laser level for grading; light grading with mini-skid steer, hauling materials; plantings ranging in size from large balled and burlapped (B&B) trees to delicate transplants

  • Must be physically able to work hard outside in various conditions
  • Must be able to communicate clearly and follow instructions
  • Must be respectful of customers and their property 
  • Must be able to get to and from job sites around the Des Moines metro 
  • Knowledge of/experience in permaculture, gardening, horticulture, biology/ecology, and regional ecosystems 
  • Experience operating tools, power tools and small machinery safely and efficiently
  • Interest in permaculture, conservation, regenerative agriculture and sustainability
  • Experience in permaculture, conservation, native plants and/or regenerative agriculture - Preferred
  • BS/BA/AA Degree in natural sciences, Permaculture Designer's Certificate, or Stormwater Best Management Practices training - Preferred

Primarily working and training side by side with me through the early Spring, then independently or as a crew leader through the busy summer season.  Additional training opportunities possible.

Compensation commensurate with experience. 

To apply for these positions, email your Resume/CV/Work Experience and references to Abundant Design.


Friday, February 18, 2022

The Garden Giant

Wine cap, or King Strophoria, mushrooms are great companions in your home garden.  Depending on the amount of wood chips you have in your pathways, they can get BIG - The Garden Giant!

Easily identifiable wine caps have a red/wine colored caps and a veil that breaks away from the gills and leaves a ring around the stem.  The wine color will fade as they age, as will the quality.  High in nutrients, low in calories, these delicious mushrooms can be used in a variety of recipes, or are great all on their own sautéed with a little butter.

Enjoy this guest post loaded with information for growing your own mushrooms in the garden by Phoebe Krawczyk at Field & Forest Products

Wine Cap mushrooms are an incredible organism that have the ability to turn cardboard, straw, and/or wood chips into a rich, loamy soil. Wine caps are usually planted as the soil warms up in the spring after the last frost date until several weeks before the first frost date in the Fall of the year. 

First crop in my home garden,
you can see the mycelium fibers too

While the Wine Cap mycelium grows specifically on woody plant material (wood chips, straw, or a mix), the mycelium will reach down into the soil and pull up soil, water and nutrients into the developing mushroom cap, which eventually forms the vehicle for dispersal of Wine Cap progeny... the spore! This is why Wine Caps are anecdotally known as "The Recycler" as Wine Cap mycelium engages in movement of nutrients from soil to surface... a great asset in the garden.

Tell tale veil around the stem

Wine caps will leave a dark purple to black spore print

Building a Bed for Smaller Areas:

You can easily build Wine Cap beds in garden areas by creating spaces in partially shaded areas or areas that will have plentiful shade later in that growing space when mushrooms are most likely to flush plentifully, usually August through freeze up time. 

Freshly mulched garden paths with spore along the north edges

North sides of buildings, Asparagus beds that naturally frond over later in the summer, landscape plantings with trees and shrubs, under fruit trees, under tomatoes, zucchini, blueberry bushes are just some examples of great spots to apply a wood mulch and grow some Wine Cap. You can inoculate several inches of wood chips over soil or over moistened cardboard to help with weed suppression, or into straw beds that are covered with wood chips.

More Wine Caps!

Bed maintenance is very low-key, basically keeping the beds from drying out.  An important indicator is if the bed is dry at soil level. The top layer of a bed will almost always dry out, but when you plunge your hand into the bed to feel the moisture at soil wood chip interface, it should feel very moist. Your watering regime should aim for maintaining that moist layer- this usually translate to about 1 inch of rainfall or garden sprinkler fall per week.

Your first harvests can come as early as 4 weeks after inoculation, especially if you use straw in the mix. Straw/ Wood chip beds usually last 1 and 1/2 seasons. 

Thanks Phoebe!

Now is a great time to plan your gardens, and consider adding Wine caps to your garden paths or beds and tree guilds or food forest understory!

You can purchase Spawn following the link at the sidebar, or off their website here!

Field & Forest Products


Monday, January 3, 2022

Shoreline Planting & Stabilization

 This project was challenging, but sometimes...

the challenging ones can be the most fun!


 
Backyard - before

Lake edge - before

After clearing the existing vegetation (which had grown in a bit more since these pics), we went to work building in the ledge features and mainframe supporting boulders.  


With the yard slope, and not wanting to damage the fresh sod, we opted for wheel barrowing the boulders down from the front.  This really beat up our wheel barrows and with some new helpers, we got to go boulder fishing...

Not Noodlin' just recovering boulders after a tippy wheelbarrow incident



The steep bank and rapid drop off at the waters edge made it hard to get a secure footing for the lowest boulder edges.  After leveling a space, we planted Soft Rush, with Arrowhead accents, to secure the bottom at the waters edge.

A mix of mulching the stepped areas, and adding rock to the waters edge and traffic areas, gave us a more natural look as well as future functioning per the plan.

Local wildlife giving us an ins-s-s-spection, a
massive snapping turtle checked in often, too.

I really like the way this project turned out, and the selection of native plants will continue to fill in and protect the bank from erosion, by both wave action and runoff.  The plant palette was narrowed a bit to keep it looking less weedy, but we still kept enough variety for season long color, diversity and ecological benefits.


closeups of detail


After planting view from "Across the Pond"

I can't wait for it to fill in and start blooming.  The neighbors on the other shore said that they will get to enjoy it just as much as the homeowners will!