THE GARDEN STORY

Retail Construction Services, Inc. is dedicated to giving back.

We give back not only to those in need within our community, but also the future generations of this wonderful community. What started out as a great idea has grown exponentially and has become an amazing reality. Here at the RCS Giving Garden, school groups, master gardeners, corporate volunteers, and our own employees work together for the common good of teaching children the art of gardening and the importance of healthy eating. Click Here for Full Story.

LOCATION:
Retail Construction Services, Inc.
11343 39th Street N.
Lake Elmo, MN 55042

From HWY 36 - go south on Lake Elmo Ave, turn left onto 39th Street, garden is at corner of 39th and Laverne.
From HWY 5- going west from Stillwater take right onto Laverne (near Fury dealership) garden is on the right at corner of Laverne and 39th street.

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The RCS Giving Garden

The RCS Giving Garden

3/23/10

SPIN Kids back in the Garden!

During spring break we were fortunate to have the SPIN kids red and white bus pull into our parking lot again! Yeah, the kids are back! For those who were not in the garden last summer, we talked about the garden and some of the activities that the kids did last year. We shared with the group the new garden plan that the ALC High School completed, and then rolled up our sleeves to get dirty.

With our average last frost date around May 10th, the earliest crops we can plant from seed are broccoli and cauliflower. While the recommendation is usually to plant transplants of these crops, the SPIN kids are going to test planting these from seed. They will be sending us progress photos on their seedlings as they begin to stretch their legs and grow. We also had a friendly competion start amongst a few Retail staff members who also planted seeds to see whose will be more fruitful. (I think the SPIN kids will win...)

Spring is here, and not only did it bring the sunshine and unearth the garden from the snow; it also brought back the most wonderful crop of kids! Thank you SPIN Kids!

3/12/10

2010 Garden Planning with the ALC Students!

On Thursday, March 11th, three employees from Retail Construction Services, Molly Brendmoen, Joy Grognet and Joni Fletty, met with Washington County Master Gardener Paul Richtman at the Stillwater ALC school.

The overall objective was to come up with a new 2010 garden plan with the following considerations;

  • The garden is 60' x 110'
  • We need to rotate the crops
  • Last years production was 1,800 lbs, and we would like to meet if not exceed those donations
  • What we had too much of last year
  • Wish list vegetables & fruits for this year
We had decided that last year we had too many tomatoes; 6 rows of several plants, with three of those being cherry tomatoes! This year we will be adding; Carrots, sweet corn, spinach, peas, radish, green beans, green onions, strawberries and some herbs that recipients can use with the produce.

We had a blown up map of the 2009 garden with where each crop was planted and how much. We also had a blown up blank garden layout for the new 2010 garden. Paul Richtman then reviewed with the students the reason for crop rotation;

Reasons to Rotate Crops

  • Disease Prevention: The main reason to rotate crops is to prevent the spread of plant disease. Disease organisms can build up over time, resulting in eventual crop failure. Rotating crops keeps these organisms in check.
  • Insect Control: Crop rotation also helps reduce insect infestations.
  • Nutrient Balance: Different families of plants require different nutrients. By rotating your crops, you keep the soil from being depleted and can target soil amendments to keep your garden balanced.
  • Nutrient Enhancement: Some plants actually enhance the soil, so rotating them through the garden can produce free organic soil conditioning.
Simply put, crop rotation involves dividing the garden into sections, and planting a different plant family in each section every year. A systematic rotating schedule ensures that every section eventually receives each plant family. Most crop rotation systems have at least four sections, with four rotating plant groups.

Once the plant groups were identified with a color coding system, then we began brainstorming with the students on how many of each vegetable & fruit we would need. From there, pencils were picked up and the students started sketching out the new 2010 garden layout.

Because space is limited in a garden, a French method of mixing seeds will be tested this year. Combining spinach and carrot seed and sowing together will better utilize the space. The spinach will also soften the ground, making it easier for carrots to grow. In about 6 weeks the spinach will be finished and carrots will develop. Combining radishes and lettuce in the same row will also give good succession. These two test areas will be planted in 4 x 4 boxed areas at the edge of the garden. We then figured out which plants would be best planted as transplants and which would be better started as seeds.

The completed garden plan will be brought back to the RCS office to draft and the finished plan brought back to the school. The next plan is to calculate which plants can be donated as transplants in order to figure out what plants the students will start from seed in the near future. The ALC Students will be working in a mentoring program with the SPIN program kids from the Stillwater School District to work together in the garden. The SPIN kids will be out at RCS on March 17th for their very first visit of 2010.


Thank you ALC Students, we look forward to our continued partnership in the RCS Giving Garden!