A great resource as we head into a new season
Bringing Nature Home, How you can sustain wildlife with native plants.
By Douglas W. Tallamy
(A review by Karen Van Norman, Lead Gardener, Field Outdoor Spaces. Inc.)
I heard Douglas Tallamy speak at a conference in February 2010, and now two years later, I’m still inspired and motivated by his speech and this book. Planting native plants in our gardens isn’t a new idea by any means, but Mr. Tallamy does a wonderful job of explaining the importance of biological diversity in our own backyards.
The key word is “Insects”. Not only are insects important for pollination of plants but also as protein food for many animals. Songbirds eat insects. Native insects need native plants as their food source, so a backyard or neighborhood nearly void of native plants and trees will have fewer insects.
Most people would cheer at the thought of fewer insects but Tallamy says, “Our nearly universal animosity toward insects is understandable, but seriously misplaced. Of the 4 million or so insect species on earth (to put things in perspective, there are only about 9500 species of birds), a mere 1 percent interact with humans in negative ways. The other 99 percent of the insect species pollinate plants, return the nutrients tied up in dead plants and animals to the soil, keep populations of insect herbivores in check, aerate and enrich the soil, and as I keep stressing, provide food either directly or indirectly for most other animals.”
This book is full of beautiful photographs and has succinct and easy to understand explanations and examples of biodiversity, creating balanced communities, and what plants support the most insects. Did you know that an oak tree supports 534 lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) species? Late winter is the perfect time to read Bringing Nature Home. It will excite you about the wonderful ways gardeners can make a difference for the earth. You’ll want to sharpen your shovel in anticipation of spring.
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Part 1 of 2:
By Joe Larson
It’s almost spring, and at Field we’re hoping that our abnormally mild weather will continue into March and April. However in the back of my mind, the part I try to ignore, I think there is a chance that winter is waiting to release it’s pent up fury on us in March.
Spring is the one time of year that a lot of homeowners think about percent of impervious surfaces, surface water runoff, and soil infiltration rates. Well maybe they don’t know that’s what they are thinking about, but they are wondering why their basement is flooded as they check on the sump pump. Wet basements aren’t the only problem that water runoff causes though.
Infiltration Rates for Impervious vs. Pervious Surfaces
The “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey, and decreased aquatic life and increased algae in our lakes and rivers are all a result of surface water runoff. In a modern city when it rains, around 40%-70% of the water that falls makes its way into the storm sewer systems by means of surface water runoff. The water carries with it a good deal of sediment and pollutants that become nutrients for algae in lake and rivers. The same fertilizer that helps your grass grow enables algae to grow. The algae uses sunlight to process the nutrients and when they die they fall to the lake or river bottom. The decomposition of these “algae blooms” takes a lot of oxygen out of the water and can in extreme cases, such as in the Gulf of Mexico, create an area that is hypoxic, or void of oxygen and thus cannot support marine life.
Brown Water in the Gulf of Mexico
This is why there is a strong movement to filtrate and infiltrate storm water onsite. Filtrating the water removes sediments and can also remove contaminants from the water before it enters a lake or storm water drain. Infiltrating the water involves collecting the water into a depression and allowing it time to naturally seep into the ground. Rain gardens can accomplish both infiltration and filtration, and so too can permeable pavers which we will look at in the next blog.
Rain Garden at Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis
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By Jason Rathe
A Sample of Last Year's Crop
We are lucky to share our water supply with the extraordinary urban farmer, Stefan Meyer. Stefan runs Growing Lots Urban Farm and grows a whole lot of vegetables on the abandoned parking lot next to our yard and office in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. Go over to his blog (or stop by and see us) to see how he has transformed this derelict space into a highly productive farm.
Surprisingly, Stefan is already hard at work this spring. He has been augmenting his beds from last year and will be planting seeds soon. Since his beds are raised and sitting on an asphalt parking lot, his soil warms up fast. He has started spinach, and pea this past week and will follow that up shortly with lettuces (including the best lettuce on earth, arugula). His first CSA pick-up will be ready in late May.
Preparing to Plant
He still has shares available, so contact Stefan if you would like fresh, healthy vegetables from his urban farm. Also, Stefan has agreed to supply periodic information on urban veggie production for Field Notes – so look for more from Stefan here in the months to come!
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Modern adirondack chair from Loll Designs
- Vast Paver and installation grid
Do you ever wonder what happens to all those recycled plastic Evian and Coke bottles? How about using them to create products for your backyard? Each year there are more and more offerings for recycled products and many are even made locally. One product on our radar is the Vast Paver. This paver is made from 95% recycled products and the company is based in Minnesota.Another cool product is the furniture from Loll Designs: “Outdoor Furniture for the Modern Lollygagger.” Based in Duluth, Loll’s chairs, loungers, rockers and tables are all made from recycled plastic and manufactured here in Minnesota!
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