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

7/31/15

Taste Testing, Grocery Store vs. Garden Fresh Veggies... and the Verdict is? - Story to Post Soon!

Adventure Club and SPIN Youth
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Youth from both the Adventure Club and SPIN came out to the garden this morning.  What a GORGEOUS day!  Breezy, cooler, low humidity and lots of kids!  What more could a garden ask for?

We started by taking a look at our latest two spaghetti squash to climb the squash trellis.   We needed to
support the growing squash fruit because the grow large and heavy.  We made a sling out of nylon stockings.  We slipped the nylon from the bottom up, and then tied a knot on a close rung of the cattle pen.  

We also got to see the progress of our pumpkin patch and took a photo next to one of the boys foot to see in comparison how much they have grown.


We allowed a little extra room for adjustment as the squash grows. 

Then it was time for taste testing grocery store veggies vs. fresh garden veggies.  We compared cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots.  Hands down, the winner of the taste test was the fresh garden veggies!

Next we had a taste test between three types of our garden tomatoes.  We tried a Green Zebra tomato, an orange heirloom tomato, and a Redfield Beauty red tomato. 

The winner….?  Green Zebra!

Next we tried the different types of Kaleidoscope Carrots that we are growing.   Purple Dragon Carrot, a white carrot, a yellow carrot and a short and sweet orange carrot.  This time it was a tie between the Purple 
Dragon and the yellow carrots!

Our conversation then turned to extinction, and I asked “Did any of you know that we have food that is extinct?”  The question was met with wide eyes.  Everyone knows about the dinosaurs, but few know about food becoming extinct!

So the next question was “Who likes to eat strawberries in the winter?”  Almost everyone’s hand went up, so we shared the following;

“Andean farmers once grew some 4,000 potato varieties, each with its own name, flavor, and use, ranging in size from tiny to gigantic and covering the color spectrum from indigo-purple to red, orange, yellow and white. It use to be that people ate what they grew locally and what was in season. With the increased appetite for produce that was out of season (eating strawberries in December as an example), and the increased demand to ship produce all over the world, farmers had to start breeding varieties that held up in boxcars, trucks, or ship’s cargo. Now, even in the regions of Peru least affected by the modern market, only a few dozen potato varieties are widely
grown.” From Barbara Kingsolver’s amazing book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”  http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/

Here is an interesting website that talks about endangered food!

In an effort to help restore some of the heirloom varieties, the RCS Teaching Giving Garden introduces new heirloom veggies to the garden every year and we promotes Seed Savers http://www.seedsavers.org

Their mission is to, “ conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.”

This group was hard working with its harvest, and today we surpassed 700 pounds donated to the Valley Outreach Food Shelf!  The Patty Pan Squash that look like space ships seems to be everyone's favorite, and they enjoy recording the production count for the University of Minnesota's seed trial.

Oh, and one ambitious guy proved to be one of the best Japanese Beetle catchers.  With his cup of soapy water, he 
conquered many, many beetles today!

They finished the morning by finishing off an entire bowl of nice cold, very sweet watermelon, along with more  cucumber, carrots and tomatoes. 

There were a lot of watermelon smiles as the got back on the bus!

Thank you Adventure Club and SPIN – see you next Friday!
- Contributed by Joni Fletty





7/29/15

Beautiful Cabbage and Yuck Bugs!

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It was a beautiful, but windy day in the garden today with 3 kids from Summer Stretch at Woodbury United Methodist Church. 

We had 58 pounds of produce for the food shelf.  What a wonderful day in the garden!
We started by going through the garden and seeing what needed to be harvested and then we went to work!  Lots and lots of cucumbers and squash were picked, as well as two beautiful heads of cabbage, green peppers and some broccoli. 
We also found some bugs in the garden - Japanese beetles on the soybeans and squash bugs on the zucchini.  We squished some of them and put the rest into some soapy water.  Yuck!
- Submitted by Liz Nordling

Washington County Master Gardener

7/27/15

And the Winner Is...Green Zebra!



On the hottest, most humid day we have had yet this season, our enthusiastic group picked 95 pounds of produce and found our first ripe tomato!  Of the many varieties we are growing, the Green Zebra heirloom tomato produced our first ripe fruit ready for the picking!  The others aren’t far behind!  We picked a rainbow container of ornamental peppers for the first time, too!


Landing on his behind
picking carrots!
The heat has been a friend to our summer vegetables!  We harvested zucchini large enough to become baseball bats from Friday to Mondays picking!  A  plant produced enough cucumbers to nearly knock over the picker!  Carrots released from the ground landed a little guy on his behind!  


This group of kids was proud to help with
the task of recording the patty pan squash collected for our University of Minnesota Seed Trials.  

Recording the Patty Pan!
Patty Pan squash come in such fun shapes and colors from ‘Eight Ball’ that look like a dark, perfectly formed orb to ‘Lunar Eclipse’ that resemble light green spaceships!
 
As we enjoyed our watermelon, we decided it would be important to sample the taste of our Kaleidoscope carrots as well.  Look at how beautiful they are on the inside and outside!  The opinion was that the purple dragon carrots had the strongest taste while the yellow carrots had the mildest flavor.

Finally, when one lends her calculator on her phone to an almost 11 year-old fun-loving and very smart boy so that he can calculate the total pounds of produce, one might find her phone returned to her with this boy’s face as her new screen-saver!  Love it!  We sure do have fun in this garden!

- Contributed by Master Gardener Kathy Luoma
- Assisted by Master Gardener Tricia Jorgenson
  

7/24/15

SPIN Kids Return!

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Victoria and I enjoyed all the helpful hands offered by the SPIN kids on Friday!  We buzzed through the garden like bees and harvested raspberries and lots of vegetables.  We had many root veggies like carrots, turnips, beets and rutabaga to wash, and the cold water felt wonderful!  Many of us chose to sample a freshly plucked carrot and thought the taste was better than those we eat from the store!  

Pest Hunting!
Soapy water and a container
Pest-hunting was high on the list for some in this group!  Thanks for helping to remove those pesky Japanese Beetles that are loving our soybean and raspberry crops!  
 
Some of us thought we would spice up the taste of our watermelon treat, too.  Basil on watermelon isn't too bad at all!

- Contributed by Master Gardener Kathy Luoma

7/22/15

It is the heart that does the giving; the fingers only let go!


It is the heart that does the giving; the fingers only let go.

— Nigerian saying

The RCS Teaching Giving Garden would like to give a big shout out "THANK YOU!" to Deb Lynch, one of our volunteer Washington County Master gardener teachers.  Deb donated 8 pair of vinyl gloves to the garden!  They were put to good use that very same day.

Thank you Deb!

Wednesday in the Garden

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Volunteers from Summer Stretch at WPGUMG arrived on this beautiful and sunny morning to help harvest (and pull a few weeds along the way).
 
The cucumbers are climbing the tee-pees making it easier to find the beautiful produce.  Yellow summer squash and green zucchini are abundant.  We thinned the rutabagas and beets a bit to allow the plants some "breathing room".    

The butternut squash and patty pans were looking a bit under the weather after the heavy rains so we bolstered them with a good dose of Miracle Grow fertilizer.   The round shaped "Eight ball" squash from the patty pan seed trials are very prolific producers.  

The volunteers enjoyed hunting for the differently shaped patty pans.  In all, we harvested 50# of produce! 
- Contributed by Deb Lynch, Washington County Master Gardener