Archive for the ‘Neighborhoods’ Category

Belle Reve to close

I just heard through the grapevine that Belle Reve Boutique in Northeast Minneapolis will soon be closed.  While this will be a huge loss for the neighborhood and for those of us who prefer to frequent locally-owned stores, there is one bright spot on this sad day: Belle Reve is having an “everything must go” sale today and tomorrow.  So stop by and pick up some of the boutique’s lovely clothing and jewelry before it’s all gone, for good.

Belle Reve Boutique, 320 E. Hennepin Ave, 612-333-3148.

How Green Was My Garden: Gardening, Social Media & Bacon go to the Fair

Social Media Breakfast MSP 26 is being hosted at the Minnesota State Fair Progress Building on Friday May 21st from 8am to 10am discussing Urban/Organic/ Gardening & Farming.  Your venerable  blogger (yes me) will be trying not to embarass herself as the moderator of a very good panel of guests assembled to discuss how they use social media to promote their businesses, sell their products and connect with their communities.

Panelists include:

* Susan Berkson, Minneapolis Farmers Market (MPLS Farmers Market on Facebook)
* Debbie Morrison, Sapsucker Farms www.sapsuckerfarms.com
* Barbara Hegman, PlantJotter www.plantjotter.com
* Lee Zukor, Simple Good & Tasty www.simplegoodandtasty.com
* Kirsten Saylor, Gardening Matters www.gardeningmatters.org

Generous sponsors include Organic Valley and Mother Earth Gardens. At the event will be a mini-market with several vendors and organizations displaying their messages and wares. Please stop by for some bacon and lively discussion of how farmers, growers, advocates, markets and more are using social media in the vibrant world of sustainable growing.

Boom! Goes the Neighborhood: Spring means unexplained explosions return to South Minneapolis

For at least four Spring/Summers a series of unexplained explosions have rocked the Longfellow/Seward neighborhoods of Minneapolis.  911 Operators have been inundated with phone calls from concerned residents whose homes are shaken from these loud earth-shaking sonic booms.

These explosion noises began four years ago during  very hot summer and I shrugged them off as transformer explosions as they seemed to correspond to power failures as well.  But they have continued every season since.  A discussion with the Minneapolis Police Department reveals that there has been an ongoing investigation into the source of the explosion noises and while they have been able to rule out certain causes such as a natural source (river/sewer, etc) they have been unable to find a reason, person, cause responsible for them.

The explosions got much more attention when St. Paul was host to the Republican National Convention with Homeland Security very much involved in the investigation, setting up nighttime surveillance by the river.  Obviously neither they, nor the Minneapolis Police Department are willing to divulge specific details regarding the ongoing investigation but the explosions continue so they have been unable to “solve” the case.

While this is disturbing for someone like me, who lives two blocks from the Mississippi River which is the location from which these explosions are originating, between Lake Street & Ford Bridges, I am reassured by who is working on the case. The attention the Bomb Squad and MPD Third Precinct investigators are giving to this matter is the best for which Minneapolis and St. Paul residents (they are just across the river after all) can hope.  They have been thorough and Inspector Lucy Gerold & Sergeant Wally Krueger have been extremely responsive to my inquiries, living in one of the neighborhoods most affected.

Frustrating investigators is that the explosions can only be heard and they have been unable to discover much evidence, which is why they have asked for cooperation from anyone who may be able to help. If you see anything suspicious by the West River or East River Parkways at night you are asked to call police and if you hear the explosions you are also asked to first check  if you can see anything (a light flash, smoke, etc) then call 911 to report from where you think the explosions originated. Pinpointing the location will help investigators and responders.

Saturday, May 15th, the response to the explosions (there were two, one at 10:15pm and another at 11:30) was swift and this time the State Patrol helicopter was sent to the riverfront to circle to determine whether they could see any activity or evidence.

As Twitter expands you will see greater buzz there in response to these noises.  If you search my historical stream (@quick13) you will see a history of how often they have occurred with tweets like “another explosion tonight” dating back over two years.  Last night someone even created a hashtag for them: #bignoisempls.

The explosions follow a pattern, usually beginning at a specific time, like 10pm and if there is a second one, following at a specific time after, like 11pm or midnight. If the first explosion is at midnight then the second explosion is at 1am or 2am. There is always a regular interval pattern, and there are almost always two or three explosions. One explosion is usually louder than the other.  Rarely there are three explosions in one evening.

There is concern there is something dastardly behind these explosions, but after four summers of enduring them, I am beginning to believe there is a more innocuous explanation.  But then again, in today’s world we have too many reasons for doubt, especially when it comes to things being blown up.  Whatever happens, after four years of having disturbed sleep makes me hope that the investigation can be resolved, if not for my own personal health, but that of the foundation of my home, and perhaps the foundation of the fine City of Minneapolis.

Celebrate Record Store Day at Hymies


(Image courtesy of Hymies)

Do you want to get your Record Store Day on? There’s no better place than Hymies

Our building at 3318 East Lake Street has been home to a record store since James “Hymie” Peterson and Kent Hazen first opened shop in 1987. There have been a lot of changes over the years, but it has always lived up to Hymie’s modest goal: “I’m not interested in making a lot of money,” he is remembered saying. “I’m interested in having a good store, a store people like coming to.”

The rumor is they will be selling records for 25 cents and having live music.
Here’s the line up

11:00 Buffalo Moon

12:15 Adam Marshall of the Humbugs

1:30 Stepped Reckonner

3:00 Martin Devaney

4:00 The Twin Cities Ukulele Orchestra

5:15 Fort Road Five

6:15 Jezebel Jones and her Wicked Ways

In between acts we’ll have DJs spinning all sorts of great stuff, including our friend DJ Ohmz. We’re providing a variety of snacks and beverages, and welcome regulars to bring things they’d like to share, too. We’re also planning on letting everyone explore the building a little and see the whole basement and the apartment.

Check them out, it’s the last day before they close for two weeks and open in a new location just 5 blocks East.

Hymies Records

Saint Paul to lose Bicycle Advisory Board

In a story by the East Side review , Bon voyage, BAB? , it’s reported that Saint Paul’s Bicycle Advisory Board wants to disband and form a new transportation board.

St. Paul Ward 4 City Council member Russ Stark – also a bicycling enthusiast, as well as another onetime board chair of the BAB – presented such a resolution to the full council two weeks ago.

While he desires to dissolve the BAB, Stark’s hope is simply to start fresh with a similar citywide body, one devoted to deliberating and championing not just cycling but all manner of individual and mass transportation. And it appears the rest of the council has backed his move to approve a new transportation committee of the St. Paul Planning Commission, one that can consider transportation issues from the absolute beginning when the city takes a look at zoning, neighborhood issues, or major infrastructure investments.

Stark’s proposal calls for a new committee with eight St. Paulites interested in:

• transit, including bicycle and passenger rail

• pedestrian/walkability issues

• freight and logistics industries, including trucking, rail, and airports

• accessibility representatives or people with disabilities

• commercial corridor representatives, such as business owners

• downtown building or business representatives

When asked about disbanding the board, current head Rob Barbosa stated

“Some of the board members are extremists,” Barbosa says, “and they don’t understand there’s a grass roots process” to getting stuff done.
“I told Russ that I’m all for moving BAB into another organization that has more teeth. I would say that BAB is dysfunctional,”

I’m not certain how a new board with a broader objective would have any more power than the BAB or be more effective in representing bike transportation, but I suppose the devil is in the details.

How Green Was My Garden: The Big Cover-Up

Last year the biggest trend in gardening & garden supplies was container gardening, specifically in specialty bags (see HGWMG post “Its In the Bag”) for everything from lettuce to potatoes. This year it is crop protection tools, everything involving row covers.  From pop-up insect screens to season extending hoop houses & cold frames, it seems the crop cover business is exploding.

Crop protection tools are exploding because they help gardeners achieve many goals. One of the most important in Minnesota is season-extension.  By using a cover to insulate your plants you can help to warm the soil & keep the plant protected from chillier temperatures, thereby allowing gardeners to plant earlier & get plants to their full potential without as much concern for the weather.

  

Too much sun & heat can also be an issue, causing delicate plants to wilt or bolt too early so a shade cover can be used to shield those plants from the elements.  For organic gardeners who would like to prevent insects (like the dreaded squash vine borer or cucumber beetle) from attacking plants, covers can be used to help prevent them from landing on your crop, but remember, the covers also prevent beneficial insects from landing, especially bees, so this tactic must be used judiciously.

In some areas birds are the biggest pest, in others rabbits or squirrels, with a crop protecting barrier these pests cannot penetrate to your plants, allowing them to thrive.

Some of the easiest row covers to install are floating row covers, basically specially made fabric you can lay over yourcrops to prevent insect damage or insulate the plants to protect them from extreme temperatures (hot or cold).

There are a few methods for using row covers, you can just float on top of plants & tack into the soil with landscape pins or you can build a structure to lay the fabric upon.  Hoops are the most common support structure, which can be made from several materials, everything from half hula-hoops to more sturdy conduit.  I purchased a hoop bender from Johnny’s Seeds to make tunnel hoops. Garden’s Alive sells different types of protective fabric that can be draped over the hoops from lightweight insect covers to frost protecting fabric.

Also available are numerous ready-made products like pop-up covers & tents that can work like greenhouses or can be kept up all season to prevent damage from insects or animals.  The pop ups work especially well on raised beds, especially smaller ones which can be very convenient for short season extension and seasonal insect prevention and allows for easy storage of the tents when not in use. These also come in different fabrics, the polyeurethane plastic for greenhouse effect and then the mesh fabrics for either insect or bird protection.

If you are really ambitious and have a large garden space you can construct a hoop house, which is basically a permanent structure like a greenhouse, but is made of polyethylene instead of glass. Crops like tomatoes, peppers and strawberries, which generally need hotter, extended growing seasons are grown in hoop houses or high tunnels

Commercial growers have been using the season extending row covers for years and now they have found their way to the home gardener.  With so many options for so many purposes you should be able to find one that suits your needs from container gardening to larger production gardens, so get out in your garden & Hoop it up!

 

How Green Was My Garden: Let’s get it started in here

“Everyone who enjoys thinks that the principal thing to the tree is the fruit, but in point of fact the principal thing to it is the seed. — Herein lies the difference between them that create and them that enjoy.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Seedstarting. Not too long ago it was only for hardcore gardeners with casual gardeners usually purchasing seedlings ready to plant from big garden centers.  But the rebirth of vegetable gardening, especially urban gardens, has caused a huge surge in seed sales & folks trying their hand at seedstarting. 

Locally Mother Earth Gardens has offered seminars on seedstarting for years but in the past two the free seminars have reached capacity for reservations as soon as they are announced.  Their beginning seminars are full of people who are just starting their gardens as well as those who have never started their garden from seed before.  The seminars were so successful the neighborhood garden store added an advanced seminar. 

Advanced Seedstarting Seminar from Mother Earth Garden

During the advanced seminar we shared stories about how long we’ve been gardening, the best gardening books, and most of the time was spent sharing each gardener’s tips for everything on fruit trees, pruning raspberries and of course pest control. 

Seedstarting is simple once you have the right tools.  The most common mistake is hoping that sunlight in Minnesota is sufficient for good germination & plant growth.  The spring sun locally is not good enough and must be supplemented with grow lights.  There are many more options this season than ever before for setting up the best light system for your seeds.  I purchased hanging lamps  and just use a wire rack shelf from Target for all the trays but if you would rather have a ready-made system there are many options available, though they tend to be a bit expensive. 

The other key to good seedstarting is heat.  I keep my seeds in the utility room next to the water heater & furnace so it gets very warm in there. But there are many heat mats available as well to help you maintain that warmth. 

Humidity control is also important for good germination of your seeds, so making sure you have the plastic greenhouse lids on your trays until they are big enough for thinning out is key.  Different shapes available from large domes for bigger plants & short ones to greenhouse shaped units

Moisture is the final key to good seedstarting.  The plastic domes will help you maintain good water levels in your soil but you need to maintain tht with proper watering, not too wet (seedlings will rot & be suceptible to damp off) and not too dry.  Watering from above is okay as long as the spout on your watering can disperses the water without disturbing the soil.  Or you can water from below in the trays, just make sure you only water enough for the plugs to absorb & they aren’t sitting in standing water. 

Seeds at Mother Earth

The biggest advantage to seedstarting yourself is the increased selection of plants you can choose.  There are so many heirloom varieties and unique hybrids to choose from when using seeds that would never be available at your farmer’s market or garden store.  I usually purchase some seeds in stores in my neighborhood like Minnehaha Falls Nursery or Mother Earth & supplement those with ordering from garden catalogs.  The best part of February is pouring over my seed catalogs to choose what I will grow this year. 

 

This year I am adding some new lettuce varieties as well as a melon, interesting cabbage & brussels sprouts & filet beans to my garden, things that would only be affordable and even found through seed catalogs. 

Some good choices for organic seed catalogs include  Minnesota’s own Peter’s Seeds, TomatoFest, Botanical Interests, John Scheepers, Seeds of Change, and Seedsavers

It is a bit late for starting some veggies from seed, like onions & leeks, which I started in late February.  But in the right conditions you should be able to still get your seeds started on most all other vegetables now and early April.  The University of Minnesota Extension service has a great guide for a good seedstarting schedule. 

Because of our early warm weather you can get a jump start on direct sowing on things like peas, lettuce, radish, spinach and carrots.  You can just put those directly in your pots or raised beds, or in the ground if it is in a sunny location and has warmed up enough. It is best to wait just a bit longer on things like squash & beans because as we all know in Minnesota there is always a chance for more cold, including a hard frost or snow. 

So if you have never grown your plants from seeds, it is very easy & affordable with a few tricks & tips.  There will always be crop failures, it happens to nurseries too. But you can still be successful & have the great satisfaction of growing your own food from seed to table and have a fantastic variety of flowers too! So what are you growing from seed this year?

How Green Was My Garden: SciGirls go gardening at Dowling

From a TPT Press release, the SciGirls, a Public Television nationally broadcast program, filmed a recent episode at Dowling Community Gardens, one of the oldest Community Gardens in the Twin Cities.

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We’re pleased to announce that Dowling Community Garden, the oldest continuously gardened community garden in the Twin Cities, was featured in an upcoming episode of the nationally-broadcast SciGirls.

WHEN:

Friday April 2, 5:30 PM on tpt 2

Sat. April 3 7:30 AM on tpt 2

Sunday April 4 10:30 AM on tpt Life

WHAT EPISODE:

108 Science Cooks!
Izzie cooks up a taste test with Claire and her friends, who make comfort foods more nutritious (without sacrificing the delicious).

WHAT IS SCIGIRLS? A new weekly series that premiered on PBS stations and online nationwide February 13, 2010. The bold goal of SciGirls is no less than to change how millions of girls think about science, technology, engineering and math – or S.T.E.M., the hottest topic in U.S. education today. Each half-hour episode follows a different group of enthusiastic, real SciGirls, who collaborate, communicate, engineer and discover. SciGirls is funded by the National Science Foundation with additional support from ExxonMobil. To learn more visit pbskidsgo.org/scigirls.

We’re especially pleased to have Dowling included in this episode that features smart eating among our children, and to support this important series that empowers tween girls to embrace science, technology, engineering and math.

We were thrilled to partner with our own Public Television station, tpt, to make this series possible. The episode will air nationally, but is created and filmed completely in our Twin Cities. We love that a show empowering girls to embrace STEM utilized the Dowling Community Garden – a gem of a historical resource located on school property!

TONIGHT: Ladies’ Night Out!

If you’re looking for something to do tonight – and if you’re a lady – head over to 50th and France in Edina for the neighborhood’s Ladies’ Night Out event!  Voted the best Out and About Event by Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine, the event will feature sales and specials from more than 45 retailers, as well as chair massages, makeup touch-ups, drinks, freebies and more.

Free drinks and shopping?   I can’t think of a better way to spend a rainy Thursday!

Minneapolis Parking Ban

If you live in Minneapolis I’m sure you’ve already heard about the extended Snow Emergency until April 1st.
Minneapolis posted about it on their Facebook page and the comments are adding up, as you can imagine, mostly people are pissed.

Here’s the Facebook posting.

Minneapolis Snow Emergency Winter parking restrictions begin tomorrow, Thurs. Feb. 11, at 8 a.m. Have questions about the restrictions? Check out the Frequently Asked Questions on our Web site.Winter Parking RestrictionsFrequently Asked Questions
www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us
During some winters, snow accumulations can reach a point where streets become too narrow and difficult to navigate. Public safety is jeopardized when this happens because fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency vehicles are slowed down or are prevented from responding to calls for help. …

This seems to come down to a few basic camps.

1) Why didn’t the City enforce Snow Restrictions better and tow cars that didn’t move so the street could get plowed?
2) Where the F-Bomb am I supposed to park now?
3) Thank god I have a driveway

I think we know if the City were to have illegally parked cars towed prior to plowing people would be super pissed and call it a racket. Also, I doubt the impound lots could handle all the cars.

The where am I to park arguement is semi-legit, but it’s not like Minneapolis is always at capacity parking. I recall a few years in the 90’s when the city did the same thing and I managed to find parking, even when I lived in an area that required a permit because the parking was already so limited. It was a hassle, but living in the city and owning a car is often a hassle.

It does seem that Minneapolis and Saint Paul both fail at snow removal, but this is coming from someone that is from Duluth. A city on a hill that gets twice the snow we get here and they do a great job at keeping the roads plowed.

What do you think about the ban?

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