At the AWESOME price of $45 each!!!!!  Recycling Minnesota is offering a price of $65 and then the Capitol Watershed District is giving another $20 per barrel of after that.  There are other deals for Ramsey/Washington County residents, too, so make sure you look at the Recycling Association of Minnesota‘s webpage if you are interested.

I got one to go under each downspout.  We will see if it is overkill, but at this price, I knew I would kick myself if we didn’t max out the deal now.  DH is none too keen on modifying the downspouts, but at least we have a month to get that done.  I can ruminate on how to do it efficiently because I know we’ll have to attach the long spouts again for fall/winter/early spring (freezy times).  If it’s too much work or something only he can do since I’m Ms. Shorty, then that wouldn’t be good!

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So many exciting things are happening!!

  1. The tulips are poking up!
  2. The snow is gone!
  3. My brain is going crazy with gardening stuff to do!

I plan to build some stuff this week:

  1. A window-box type holder for the back porch railing
  2. Trellises for the alley garden
  3. Maybe work on converting some planters to self-waterers

Also need to further plan my beds!  Also need to figure out how to get the manure from my parents’ down to my house!

I have a call in to the Capitol Region Watershed District about their rain barrel grants.  I am hoping we can install several since they match what you pay dollar for dollar.

My thoughts are also turning to hardscaping – flagstone paths and edging in the front yard.

My wildest dreams are trying to figure out how to espalier a fruit tree on the front of the garage.

Some bummers, too:

  1. The bunnies chewed off the climbing roses so we only have one cane of old wood now.
  2. The hydrangea planted last fall is not showing any signs that it plans to come back, though I may not be looking for the right signs.
  3. No crocus or daffodil action yet.  I am, however, encouraged by the tulips.

Today’s item of research has been organic lawn care.  Should I aerate or not?  Should I apply fertilizer (Ringers was recommended) or just compost?  Bah!!  Although in the process I did find a nifty new permaculture forum that seems pretty active and welcoming.

Overall, though, a Yippeeeeeeeeee!

We just went to a rain garden workshop sponsored by Friends of the Mississippi River. I am overwhelmed, but we have some ideas, plus we found out about some good grant opportunities through the Capital River Watershed District. We think we will try out the little triangle formed at the corner of our sidewalks (we are a corner lot) and then maybe a long, skinny one in the boulevard to capture water that runs off a little down the sidewalk. I’m thinking maybe we can develop a grant proposal that includes both rain gardens and rain barrels since I’m not sure we can place rain gardens up on the top of the retaining wall.

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more about “Alley Dreams“, posted with vodpod

I am hot and heavy into Gaia’s Garden right now and there was one section I thought deserved further reflection.  The author, Toby Hemenway, outlines an “ecological design process” involving the following steps:

  1. Observation
  2. Visioning
  3. Planning
  4. Development
  5. Implementation.

I am totally in observation and maybe in visioning, and that’s good.  When I set my goal earlier this summer on 43 Things to “Make our yard a place we love to be while not bite off more than I can chew,” I knew that I needed to take this summer not to get too eager but rather to figure out the eccentricities of the yard, particularly the light situation.  I knew this wasn’t the summer to be putting in shrubs or trees, etc., or spending tons of money on perennials (plus I’m cheap 😉 ).  We knew we wanted a fence and so that is going in soon!  Once that’s done we can do a lot more visioning, or dreaming.

The other morning during a hard rain I got a chance (finally!) to go outside and observe how the water flowed on our property.  It was interesting to note what was going on.  Rain puddled in areas I didn’t know it would, and that gives me some ideas for making mini rain gardens or mulch basins or something to store that in the soil rather than having it run off.  Particularly along the edge of the boulevard, the rain gushed along that grass and ran off.  If we kind of sank that edge down and made a mini swale and berm type system, or even some raingardens (I once read a raingarden shouldn’t be located in a boulevard, but have also heard it’s fine, so not sure – but we are going to a class on raingardens in a few weeks!).

I am also visioning (dreaming) a lot about next year’s garden, particularly the edible portions.  Berries on the back of the garage, shrubs (hopefully also with berries for the birdies) along our new fence, using our vertical space better and also our sunny front yard for something other than grass, how to best (and legally) use the boulevard, since we’re on a corner lot and it comprises a lot of our surface area, what kind of soil amendments would be the best to do this year to make some of this a possibility for next year.  Lots to think about!

I will tag my entries according to these phases of the ecological design process to help myself organize these thoughts.