Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What's Blooming in the Horton Park Native Plant Gardens?

Early summer is a beautiful time in oak savannas and prairies. The oak savanna garden in Horton Park has many plants blooming right now. Purples and oranges are especially vivid. For purples, leadplant (pictured under the pollinators blog entry)and harebells are in full bloom and attracting insect pollinators. Butterfly milkweed is its gorgeous orange self, preening to attract monarch butterflies. Other blooming plants are

Grab a wildflower book and visit the park to identify and enjoy these beauties!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Home Energy Squad knocking on doors

Home Energy Squad Street Teams Arriving in Hamline Midway

Energy Bill Savings are coming to your doorstep! The Neighborhood Energy Connection, a local nonprofit group, will be door-knocking in Hamline-Midway during the weeks of June 28 and July 5 to sign up residents for their Home Energy Squad program. A visit from the Home Energy Squad is the easiest, fastest, and most effective way to start saving on utility bills. The Squads will install key energy-saving products in your home, such as exterior door weather stripping, a programmable thermostat, a great new showerhead, and bathroom and kitchen faucet aerators. Residents who schedule a Home Energy Squad appointment will receive a discounted Home Energy Squad visit as well as a gift certificate to a great neighborhood business. It’s a win-win: save money on your bills and save energy resources for the planet! For more information on the Home Energy Squads and the Neighborhood Energy Connection, or to sign up to join the door-to-door campaign as a Street Team volunteer, visit or call (651) 221-4462 ext. 111. Watch the campaign roll out on the Neighborhood Energy Connection’s Facebook page!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

HMEG is Talking Trees!

Hamline Midway Ash Tree Inventory Underway!
The Hamline Midway Environmental Group Tree Team has recruited 18 neighbor volunteers to help count the number of ash trees in our neighborhood. We want to know how the residential ash population compares to the known public (boulevard, park) ash population of about 17%. This will help us identify areas in the neighborhood that are more susceptible to ash tree loss due to the Emerald ash borer (EAB). We could still use volunteers (of all ages) and would be happy to teach you how to identify ash trees and conduct a very simple inventory by August 1! If you'd like to help, please contact the Tree Team at treeteam@hmeg.or or Tanner at 651-917-1248.
Trees for the Hamline Midway Neighborhood!

Fall Tree Planting
In conjunction with the ash tree inventory, the Hamline Midway Environmental Group Tree Team will be offering trees this fall to neighborhood residents to plant in their yards. Funding is provided by Councilman Russ Stark from the Community Organization Partnership Program (COPP) and the HMC Board from the McKnight Foundation. This summer, the Tree Team will be determining the species of trees to be offered and developing the project. If you are interested in a tree, please contact the Tree Team at or Barb at 651-646-5568 to get your name on the list. More info to come!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The importance of native pollinators

The importance of native pollinators as posted on MidPoint Green

The Midway community gardens are hatching a plan for the August event called the Parade of Community gardens on 8/21/2010. Its too soon to let you know about all the fun details, but it will involve six Midway community garden sites, and will give visitors a peek at pollinators. Even in our urban area, pollinators are vital. In this photo, my Leadplant is being visited by bees. at the Midway Greenspirit garden, the beehive there are increasing yields of tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, strawberries, , raspberries, apples, melons, sunflowers, pumpkins, plums, and squash both in the garden and for miles around. Native pollinators can be even more efficient at the job, such as bumblebees increasing yields even more. The Xerces Society is an organization looking into the importance of invertebrates. Below is some quality information from Xerces on how to encourage native pollinators which were developed for roadsides. While a small residential urban yard may need to be selective from this list of practices, most are applicable for our cities too. I see it in my own yard and in my community gardens regularly. Xerces research show that using native plants in a landscape can double the number of bee counts and increase the types of bees found there by 35%. So you want to get the most out of your food production gardens? Plant for the bees too!

From Xerces:

Eighty-seven of the world’s 124 most commonly cultivated crops are insect/animal pollinated. Between 60 to 80% of the world’s 250,000 flowering plants depend on animals for pollination.
In the United States, the National Research Council (2007) reported noteworthy losses of both managed and wild pollinators. Habitat loss, pesticide use, diseases, parasites, and the spread of invasive species are the major causes of pollinator decline. Threats to pollinator communities affect not only pollinators themselves but also natural ecosystems and agricultural productivity.

Key design factors & practices to enhance flower diversity for bee habitat around farms, gardens or roadsides include:

Planting choices
1) Use native wildflowers and grasses, with high densities of flowers.
2) Plant a minimum of 3 blooming plant species during each season.
3) Aim for season-long blooming plants, early and late season blooming plants are especially important.
4) Plant a range of wildflowers of varying colors and shapes. Bees mainly visit blue, white, yellow, and purple flowers.
5) Plant flowers in single species clumps for best results.

Providing Nest Sites
6) Warm season, clump-forming grasses provide bumble bee nest sites.
7) Have a mix of forbs and shrubs.
8) Don’t mow or hay entire grassy meadows or roadsides, leave some for pollinators.
9) Conserve habitat for rabbit burrows and groundhog burrows for bee nesting sites.
10) Reduce tillage and avoid plastic sheeting for ground nesting bees.

Reducing the Impact of Mowing and Spraying
11) Intensive mowing or grazing impacts abundance of bees.
12) Avoid or minimize the use of insecticides.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Time to garden this weekend at Horton

Time to garden this weekend at Horton. Paul and Steph will be poking around our plants, sniffing out undesirables and planting a few grass and shade plant donations from the Friends School Plant Sale. Our butterfly weed may be making an appearance along with harebells and bedstraw. We welcome you to join us. Tools, gloves and light refreshments will be on hand as usual.

Second Sunday at Horton Park
Sun, June 13, 12pm – 2pm

Further, we are excited to preview a second June session, this time with a little twist! We are hosting a Happy Hour time at a midway backyard prairie that will occur after spreading woodchip around our park gardens. Community gardening isn't just about the plants! The date is Friday June 25th, in the early evening. We will send more details as the date approaches, but please make note.

Note on the picture: Paul is being helped by a Girl Scout Daisy as they root out weeds during the May session at Horton Park. The Daisy's attended the May session at Horton and had a great time weeding, watering, clipping and planting! We planted a few large flowered beardtongue and saw columbine, prairie smoke, pussytoes, downy violet and wild phlox in bloom.

Friday, June 4, 2010

City of Minneapolis Takes a Position on Chemical Treatments of Ash Trees

The decision to apply chemical treatments to ash trees is a personal choice that is largely influenced by economic considerations and concern for the health of the surrounding environment, as well as by our emotional attachment to certain trees. Even then, it is a decision that should be made thoughtfully and with the benefit of having read what is known about the different treatment options

However, many have taken the position that it is best not to further expose communities to the risks associated with pesticides - that we should focus our efforts on planting diverse trees in available spaces and plan for the future of a healthy urban forest. Will the City of Minneapolis have any influence on the approach we take in Saint Paul to address the loss of our ash trees?

The Minneapolis City Council recently passed Resolution 2010R-268:

“Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved by The City Council of the City of Minneapolis:

That the City of Minneapolis urges residents to protect the city's soil, water, flora, fauna and human health during the emerald ash borer infestation by refraining from applying insecticides to trees on private property.

Be It Further Resolved that the City of Minneapolis encourages residents to join the City in focusing our efforts and resources on growing the next generation of the City's urban forest, filling open spaces on private and public property with diverse trees, bush and native grass species, replacing both infested and non-infested ash trees with other tree species, and caring for our entire urban forest with careful monitoring and watering of all yard and boulevard trees.

Be It Further Resolved that the City strongly cautions Minneapolis residents not to use pesticides that are applied directly to the soil or sprayed on the tree bark or canopy, due to the high likelihood that the chemicals will drain into surface or groundwater and the increased risk that these applications pose to children, pets, beneficial pollinating insects, and nearby plants. Adopted 5/28/2010”

Here are just a few sources for more information on Emerald ash borer-related topics:

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

University of Minnesota Extension

Recycle your garden pots through October 1st

You have got your seedlings transplanted (mostly) and now have a pile of greenhouse plastic. It's a good idea to reuse pots, trays, or baskets whenever possible to save money and reduce waste. However, the volume of pots can add up and these plastics can not be set out for curbside recycling pickup. You do have an easy recycling option set-up by the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association and Choice Plastics. Select garden centers will accept plastic pots, trays, and hanging baskets for recycling from April 15th through October 1st. Just bring clean, plastic garden pots to the registered drop sites listed on the MNLA website. (Please note that some sites will take pots only on June 19-20 and September 18-19.)

• Do not bring household plastic or clay pots.
• Dump all soil and remove metal hangers.
• Your garden center will only take plastic for a limited time. Ask a staff person for more details.

The closest location to the Midway appears to be Linder's Garden Center - 270 W Larpenteur Ave, Roseville, MN 55113. Mother Earth Gardens is not too far either - 3738 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406.