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


Reclaimed Raised Strawberry Beds Installed!

L to R:  Curt, Dan B., Mike (half hidden), Bob
Not pictured:  Joy and Toni
Click on any photo to enlarge
The end of last summer, Curt and Joy in our office started transforming many, many used paper pallets that we had collected from blueprint paper deliveries.  In keeping with our 'reuse and recycle' theme in our garden, they turned these used pallets into some amazing raised strawberry beds!  A few weeks ago, Curt and Joy painted the outside of the raised beds to get them ready for planting.

As part of our office Earth Day project, a team moved the new strawberry beds into place, filled them with fresh new soil, and transplanted the strawberry plants.

We have struggled with invasive weeds and grasses creeping into our strawberry patch.  The berries have shallow roots that don't compete well with weeds and can be damaged by aggressive weeding tools.  A raised bed will help isolate this crop  from these pesky invaders.

Another advantage of these raised beds is that we can start with fresh soil that meets the needs of these wonderful plants. 

Strawberries need some special attention to avoid overcrowding and to prevent the fruit from rotting or being stolen by birds. Having a bed that contains just strawberries makes it much easier to tend the plants and protect them with bird netting.  Bird netting will be our next project.

Thank you to Curt, Joy, Dan B., Bob, Mike and Toni for all of your work on these raised strawberry beds!

- Joni Fletty, Contributing Writer


Dividing the Bee Hives

A.J. Moses showing us, through a safe window, the bees on one of the racks!
(Click any photo to enlarge)
Dividing the hive
Finding the Queen bee in the existing Hive
AJ Moses came by today to set up a new 2nd hive and divide the first hive.  He explained that the bees would be mad today with the hive divide, and with me wearing a a black shirt, it was suggested that I take photos from inside at a very safe distance!

Here is what AJ wrote about the process:

Our new bees ready for hive #2!
Dividing a bee hive:

As bee numbers in a hive increase, so does the hive’s output of surplus honey.  Too many bees can also lead to a swarm where about ½ the bees leave with the queen.  The swarm usually happens only after a new queen hatches in the hive.

There is another good reason to divide a hive – it increases the beekeeper’s number of hives by one.  Preparing the hive – the one main concern is dividing a hive only if it’s strong enough to divide.  This means a brood chamber population large enough to sustain two colonies.  

It’s also critical to have a second queen available for the new hive.  Don't expect the workers in the new colony to raise a queen.  That leaves too much to chance.

Introducing the new queen
1.  The first step is set up a new hive structure – hive stand bottom board, hive body with frames and a top cover.  It’s also critical to ensure adequate food supplies for the new hive.

The new queen bee for 2nd hive!
2.  Find the queen in the parent hive.  This ensures you don’t move the existing queen to the new hive.

3.  Divide the colony in one of two ways – move 3 to 4 frames of brood and bees to the new hive body or move one of the two hive bodies to create a new hive.  (Move the box WITHOUT the queen.)
Marshmallow plug!

4.  Introduce the new queen into the divide.  The queen is in a cage with a marshmallow plug.  If you simply release a new queen into a hive the worker bees will kill her as if she’s an invader.  However, it takes a day or two for the bees to eat away the marshmallow plug, and by that time they've accepted her as their new queen.
5.  Monitor the hive after about a week to ensure new eggs and brood appear.
- A.J. Moses - Contributing writer
AJ had picked up enough bees to stock 7 more hives and they were all in his truck!  A.J., thank you again for all that you do for this Teaching Giving garden!
A bee cage full with extra queen bee cages and Attendant bees to accompany the queen bees! 


Plowing Day

Neil Krueger from Krueger's Christmas Tree Farm!
There is something absolutely energizing about seeing the dark, rich earth uncovered in a spring plowing. Neil Krueger from Krueger's Christmas Tree Farm came over today and unearthed this beautiful soil!  We, in turn, every November, go down the road to their farm and help unload Christmas trees.  It is a partnership that has developed great friendships with like minded people.

They will be back twice more to till the soil.  Soon it will be filled with the color of plants and veggies, and the laughter of youth learning in this Teaching Giving Garden.

"Thank you" so much Deb and Neil Krueger for your generous time, talents, partnership with this garden and your friendship with our staff!

Joni Fletty - contributing writer