Mini-nurseries!

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This past week we started miniature nurseries in five neighbors’ yards to get a head start on seedlings for next year’s gardens.

Hannah donated part of her vegetable garden. We planted zigzag goldenrod, foxglove beardtongue penstemon, golden alexanders, Canada milkvetch, and wild quinine.

Cynthia had a perfect spot in her yard where she had already killed the grass in order to install a patio next year. We planted Canada milkvetch, Joe Pye weed, wild quinine, silky aster, butterfly weed, one of the blazing star species, and the penstemon.

Daphne has a great seed starting set-up and a shadier garden, so we planted some shade-liking plants including cardinal flower, wild leek, big leaf aster, penstemon, and zigzag goldenrod, plus meadow blazing star, butterfly weed, and amsonia.

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Kim volunteered a section of her garden for pots of plants including Culver’s root and echinacea.

anne's

While I was planting seeds at Kim’s, Anne happened to walk by and mentioned that her son, who lives next door, had a patch of dead grass from some roofing materials that had been left on his lawn. She offered the patch as a seed-starting spot. It’s right next to the pollinator garden we planted there in July! It has now been seeded with plants including two kinds of milkweed, stiff goldenrod, and leadplant. Thanks, Anne and son!

 

 

Neither I nor any of the mini-nursery hosts had started perennials from seed before, so it will be exciting to see which plants do well. All of the seed we used was gathered from gardens in the neighborhood. Many seeds came from Julia’s garden, and Cynthia and Terry also contributed seeds.

One thing that helped our seeding efforts was having taken a field trip to Terry’s lab to clean and count them. Terry, our neighborhood’s resident botanist, has a massive garden experiment underway in his backyard and needed to know how many seeds of each plant he was working with, so we used the lab’s sieves and scale to separate seeds from chaff, then used published values to estimate our seed numbers, which ranged from 110 (Amsonia tabernaemontana) to 20,145 (Penstemon digitalis). Terry donated his extras to CPP–thanks, Terry!

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On October 15 we had our last garden installation of the season at April and Simon’s.

 

Simon had already prepared the site, and April had plants ready to go, so it was mostly a matter of popping them in and eating banana muffins.

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April and Simon’s yard is somewhat shady, so we used a lot of shade-loving and shade tolerant plants including cardinal flower, meadow rue, columbine, harebell, bishop’s cap, big-leaved aster, penstemon, and alum root.

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garden #10

On September 30 we had our tenth gardening day at Peggy’s.

Peggy had already started a large garden on the side of her house, so we filled in with plants including anise hyssop, echinacea, obedient plant, golden alexanders, penstemon, black-eyed susans, and sedge.

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Garden #9

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We had our ninth group gardening day September 23rd at Sandy’s house.

garden #8

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This weekend we planted a garden in the boulevard at Jeanell and Ben’s place.

About eight neighbors planted white asters (possibly Symphyotrichum lanceolatum), monarda, culver’s root, ironweed, stiff goldenrod, smooth ox eye, obedient plant, sedum, and yarrow, all donated by generous neighbors Cynthia, Nancy, and Kari (thanks, neighbors!).

Most of the plants are at the end of their life cycle and look pretty terrible, but they should come back strong next year. One question that came up was about whether goldenrod is bad for allergy sufferers. According to the U of M, this is a common misconception and it is actually ragweed that is the main culprit in fall hay fever. Here‘s an article about it.

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Here’s the mulched garden before we cut some of the tall plants to encourage them to establish their roots. You can almost imagine how it will look next year–beautiful!

 

garden #7

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We had our seventh gardening day last weekend at Kyla’s!

This was another boulevard garden. During the sod-removal phase we unearthed our first piece of city infrastructure–the pipe to the water shut-off valve–and thanks to a quick 311 call we learned that everyone has one somewhere in the boulevard, and it’s ok to garden around them. Phew!

Thanks to our generous neighbors Julia, Dillon, and Cynthia we had thirteen species to plant, including heath aster, monarda, hoary vervain, virginia waterleaf, golden alexanders, sedum, stiff goldenrod, ironweed, rudbeckia, yarrow, wild senna, and partridge pea. It’ll be fun to see these plants get established over the next few years!

One cool part of the day was getting to talk about how we are tied to the land through food. Kyla’s house is the urban partner for Racing Heart Farm, and Kyla has several food projects going, including raising rabbits, which we got to see.

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All in all another fun and educational gardening day!

 

garden #6

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On Tuesday we had our fifth garden installation (sixth group gardening day) at Katie’s!

Katie opted for a boulevard garden–the first one on her block– so first we removed the sod. Like many yards in Corcoran, hers had the soil replaced in the 2000s because of arsenic contamination. We found some netting under the grass–evidence of the sod replacement.

After a thorough watering we planted about 15 species of plants, including spiderwort, ironweed, echinacea, bee balm, liatris, anise hyssop, yarrow, rudbeckia, and virginia waterleaf. All the plants were donated by neighbors (thanks, Julia, Kim M., Dillon, Cynthia, and Marissa and Lindsay!).

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Although early August is not the ideal time to transplant, hopefully with a little extra watering most of these tough prairie plants will do just fine.

Mapping the gardens of Corcoran

We have officially started our neighborhood garden coverage mapping!

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The goal is to make a visual representation of which areas of the neighborhood have gardens at all and which have pollinator gardens, and to get a rough estimate of garden biodiversity from block to block in the neighborhood. Step one is for our intrepid garden surveyors to record their observations of each yard in the neighborhood. Tonight Ann and Dillon and I tackled 22nd Ave.

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Our final maps will help us get a sense of the overall pollinator friendliness of our ‘hood and help us target future garden installations. Stay tuned!

garden #5

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We had our fifth garden installation this past Saturday at Janet’s!

Seven brave gardeners showed up despite the heat. We cleared out a bed that had been taken over by day lilies and the invasive creeping bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides).

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Just as we were remarking how nice it is that the bellflower is easy to pull up, Julia from Wild Ones and Pollinator Revival arrived and showed us how the plant actually has deep, long-lived corms ten inches under the soil. Point being, if you really want to get rid of bellflower, it’s best to dig up the corms.

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So we did some extra digging.

We also learned some tips about rain gardening from Sean, who’s getting certified as a Master Water Steward. Sean showed us how to grade a section of the bed, route the downspout there, and plant thirsty plants in the depression to help reduce the stormwater load.

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This is the finished garden, which ended up with sixteen species and plants donated by six people (Thanks, Dillon, Julia, Kim M., Kim K., and Marissa and Lindsay!)

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After mulching, it was time for all of us (people and plants) to drink a lot of water.

 

group gardening day #4

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A group of us headed to Cynthia’s on Saturday to help weed and mulch her beautiful native garden, which has supplied dozens of plants for our project so far.

 

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After we finished with the work portion, Cynthia led us on a tour of her plant species, including this wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium):

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Since a number of knowledgeable botanists were in attendance, we rounded out the day with some nerding out about aster family plants. By the end of the summer we should all know our Ratibida, Rudbeckia, Heliopsis, and Silphium species!

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