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.

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


Front:  Lauren
Back L to R:  Elsa, Bree
(Click any photo to enlarge)
Click on this link for this week's lesson!

After taking a week off for the holiday, we were ready to get to the garden! New friends joined us today.

Gardeners begin visits to the Giving Garden by scouting. We look for pests, diseases, crops ready for harvest and overall appearance. Our eagle eyes spotted:
1. Japanese beetles, green lacewings and ladybugs on the raspberries.
2. Cabbage butterfly larvae on the underside of leaves of Brussels sprouts.
3. Aphids on the underside of some kale leaves.
4. Crops ready for harvest: Pak Choi, Kale, Basil, Parsley, Rosemary and 5 Strawberries.

Harvesting the Pak Choi was tricky. We cut off the outside leaves of the plants while leaving the inner crown so that it can grow more leaves for another time. We did the same with the kale. Our new friends learned how to harvest the herbs, and cut off branches above where we cut last time. We all saw that the herb plants made two branches at the old cuts. Our harvest yielded 8 pounds of produce delivered to our neighbors at Valley Outreach.

At our last visit, The SPIN kids asked to learn about weeds. As we thinned carrot seedlings, we talked about weeds and the saying “A weed is a plant in the wrong place.” We imagined the lawn at the White House. If a dandelion grows there it is a weed.
We then imagined the beehive at the White House vegetable garden. A patch of dandelions there would be good because the flowers provide pollen in the spring.

We also compared milkweed growing in the farm field across the street where it would be a weed and milkweed growing in patches alongside the field. We took a short walk to a wild area on the RCS property to identify milkweed. Milkweed plants are the only larval host plant for monarch butterflies – the state butterfly of Minnesota.

We talked about wild areas of flowering plants called “Pollinator Recovery Zones” which are like vacation spas for insects.

The discussion lead to pesticides, particularly insecticides. Insecticides kill insects. Examples we used were our potatoes or raspberries. If we use an insecticide it will kill the good and the pest insects and it’s important to keep the insecticide away from blossoms.

A warning on insecticide labels says KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. Children don’t use insecticides. That is the law.

We made our first “Japanese Beetle Bucket” which is a bucket with water and a bit of soap. The soap is used to break the surface tension of the water, which is something we remembered learning in school! The beetle bucket is held underneath a Japanese beetle chewing on a plant. The beetle is knocked into the bucket where it drowns. Japanese beetles eat plants and don’t have natural enemies here.The cabbage butterfly larvae and aphids were squished with our fingers.

As the Giving Garden gets growing we have so many opportunities for learning! We can take what we learn and help our families and neighbors with their gardens, too.
Family Means building in Stillwater.
It is a beautiful example of a Pollinator Recovery Zone that we talked about on Friday.
- Contributing Writer - Master Gardener Phyllis