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Getting Buggy with it

The Permaculture Research Institute Cold Climate is offering a fantastic seminar series on Gardening with Insects. The Permaculture Research Institute-Cold Climate began as the Permaculture Collaborative in 2003 and has transformed from a community organization to a nonprofit group, offering unique educational and outreach programs and events.

Details for the Insect gardening seminar this fall are as follows:

Event Date:

9 Sep 2009 7:00pm23 Sep 2009 9:00pm

Insect Management in Gardens and Edible Landscapes
Presented by Entomologist Neil Cunningham, MDA

Production Assistants: Daniel Halsey and Julianne Love

Register online for this 3-part lecture series and save over 33%!  Or attend 1 or 2 of the lectures and pay at the door.

When and Where : All lectures are 7-9pm in the Auditorium (Room #150) on the main floor of MCAD (MN College of Art and Design), 2501 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis

Wednesday, September 9
INTRODUCTION TO INSECT MANAGEMENT
A bit of biology, a bit of ecology, basic overview of biocontrols.

  • Insect characteristics and life cycles
  • Plants we love and the pests that eat them
  • Species identification and stages of management
  • Common insect pests in local gardens

Wednesday, September 16
BIOCONTOL REGIMES FOR PEST MANAGEMENT
Specifics of solving pest problems using predator/parasitic wasp complexes and/or multispecies releases of predatory mites; the process of ordering bio-agents from biocontrol suppliers; and how alternative pesticides like insecticidal soaps, hort oils, and kaolin clays work physically on insects – in contrast to synthetic pesticides that function as nerve toxins.

  • Natural pesticides, soaps, and clays
  • Beneficial insect predators and parasites
    • Multi-species release and biocontrols
    • Seasonal management techniques
    • Sources for beneficial insects

Wednesday, September 23
PLANTING HABITAT FOR BENEFICIAL INSECT MANAGEMENT
A long-term view of biological control : the importance of creating habitat, and how plant diversity enables the insect diversity needed for natural control of pest populations.

  • Fall and Spring garden prep for insect management
  • Building habitat for beneficial insects
    • Using plant diversity for insect diversity
    • Attracting beneficial insects with Insectory Islands
    • Building an Insectory Island and insect habitat

Death of a Salesman?

Everyone knows the story of Willy Loman that’s been characterized time and time again, from Glengarry Glen Ross to the Simpson’s poor old Gil.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YghqNhMhnnc[/youtube]

Have you ever been bothered by door-to-door sales people that refuse to take no for an answer?

Local columnist James Shiffer has the answer in “How I made a door-to-door alarm salesman vanish. What do you do?

Is this your home?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered, antennae twitching. I noticed his gray tennis shirt had a corporate logo on it, and that he held a binder in his hands.

“How long have you lived here?”

“Who are you?” I said. I’m sure he could almost taste the hostility in the air, but he kept smiling. He said he was selling alarm systems for Pinnacle Security and that in this neighborhood –

“I cut him off. “Do you have a city solicitor license?”

Mr. Pinnacle Security, who still hadn’t told me his name, opened his binder and out came the scripted response, “Yes, I know that the city of Minneapolis requires a license for soliciting, just like many cities…” He flipped through his binder, “Okay here’s the one for Blaine.” He flipped back and forth a few times. “It must have slipped out,” he said, his grin never waning.

“You know, it’s illegal to go door-to-door in Minneapolis without a solicitor’s license,” I said. “I could call the cops on you right now.”

“But I’m in a good mood,” I lied.

“I’ll make sure I get the license before I do any more soliciting,” he lied.

I’ve been tempted to put up one of those “No Soliciting” signs, but everytime I get close to buying one I decide that they are too ugly. Although I’m sure it was kind of funny for my neighbors to watch a “home security” sales person, that had walked into my yard uninvited, be slowly backed out by two large dobermans as I rushed to stop the chaos; it’s not the kind of humor I want repeated.

I’ll usually tell them we don’t take surveys, answer questions, or accept solicitations. The few exceptions are people selling candy and/or cookies. The wife and I are always open to sweets.

How about you?
How do you keep solicitors from bothering you?

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Price Is Right Idol comes to Shakopee

Come on down….to Mystic Lake where you can compete for the chance to be on the Price is Right.

The last time I was in LA we were walking by the studio when the PIR crowd was let out, and it was insane to see all the crazies with their homemade shirts and giant nametags. I’m glad to see the historic gameshow is branching out for its talent.

From the Chaska Herald:

Well, come Saturday, Aug. 1, people will have that chance as “The Price is Right” will conduct a national contestant search for the first time in the show’s 38-year history at Mystic Lake Casino, 2400 Mystic Lake Blvd, Prior Lake.

Producers for CBS’ popular daytime television game show will interview contestant hopefuls in major U.S. markets.

From those interviews, three participants will be selected from each location to fly to Los Angeles and attend a taping of the legendary game show between September 2009 and February 2010. A bidder’s spot on contestants’ row will be guaranteed to one of the three participants, who will learn if they are selected to “come on down” when they hear their name called during the show’s taping.

It doesn’t say how the competition will work, but I assume points — for what I’m calling “Price Is Right Idol” — will be awarded on the basis of:

  • Gaudy clothing with clever verbiage
  • Bad makeup and/or perm
  • Military haircut
  • Shout-outs

But seriously, I wonder how many markets they’re doing this in? It kind of sucks they pick three people to fly to LA and then only have one go on stage. Sorry mom.

Totally Doin’ It with Art and Emily: State Fair: The Great Minnesota Get-Together

This year’s Minnesota State Fair is less than two months away, and we’ve started our Fair preparations with State Fair: The Great Minnesota Get-Together, a collection of photographs by Susan Lambert Miller.

State Fair

Art’s Part

Ok, so why not just go on Flickr and look at pictures of the State Fair? I mean, there are over 12,000 of them. Why should you buy a book of pictures?

Well, let me tell you something. This is a coffee table book. As it’s just like Stephen Colbert said: when you’re moving, you can’t wrap your dishes in a blog. And you can’t set Flickr on your coffee table. Seriously, your coffee table needs this book. I’ll go so far as to say your coffee table is ugly without this book. UGLY.

So, let me tell you about this book. First, the puns. Oh, the puns. A two or three word caption is associated with each picture, and many of them are great puns. My favorite caption in the whole book is for the first picture, on page two. (See? Now you have to pick the book up to see it. Unless you’re a total asshole and just look it up Amazon.)

Ok, so maybe you’re one of these people I’ve heard about who isn’t totally into puns (I know! I didn’t believe it either). But you’re on the internet, so that means you love a good lol. This book (which sits on your coffee table, remember) also has a fair share of genuinely-lol lols. Also, there are some creepy (read: hilarious) chickens as pets/chickens as food and pigs as pets/pigs as food juxtapositions.

Oh yeah, and the pictures are all top-notch.

So, I swear to you, this book will make your ugly coffee table beautiful and it will make the ugly coffee table you think is beautiful actually beautiful. Anecdotal evidence: I don’t even have a coffee table and my sister picked it up and flipped through it when she came over one time.

Emily’s Part

I’m not sure how qualified I am to write about this book. After all, I’m not from here, I’ve only been to the Minnesota State Fair once, and I’ve never even been to the fair in my home state of Wisconsin. (Despite its world famous cream puffs, Wisconsinites seem to prefer Summerfest over their state fair. And while the Summerfest experience is more focused on music than food, both events feature large crowds of women in tube tops they probably shouldn’t be wearing, so let’s try to focus on our similarities rather than our differences, okay?)

Anyway, during my first summer here, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about or why all of my coworkers were asking me whether I’d “been to the fair yet” as if it was a given that I was attending. Because I was most certainly not.

I did make it last year, though I was still a little freaked out by the whole thing. My trepidation even made me express disgust toward bacon, which is totally unlike me.

And while I definitely had a nice day at the fair (other than the fact that the fat content of the food I ate made me want to die later that night), I don’t think I’ll ever really understand or identify with the fair the way native Minnesotans do. I think it’s one of those things you have to grow up with, something you have to do every year for the better part of your childhood, to fully embrace. No amount of Pronto Pups is going to change that.

That being said, I really liked this book. I thought Susan Lambert Miller did a great job of capturing the many sides of the fair, from livestock (cute little piglets!) to food (mmm . . . corn on the cob!) to rides (vomit!) to the just plain bizarre (busts sculpted from butter?) and juxtaposes the images in a way that highlights just how weird the fair really is.

If nothing else, I’d highly recommend the book to first time fairgoers who need a preview of what they’re getting themselves into.

Oh, and there are also puns. But I’m sure the “Punsultant” has already filled you in.

Stone Arch Festival of the Arts

stonearch

It’s not too many weekends in the summer where I have some extra time to get away from family events, yard work and other obligations. I found the time this weekend to head to the Stone Arch Festival of the Arts that is taking place this Saturday and Sunday from 10 – 6.

Nestled in the shadow of the Stone Arch Bridge on the North side of the river, the festival seems to have been growing steadily each year it happens. It happens right down on the waterfront by main street and St. Anthony Main.

There are hundreds of artists displaying their work, lots of great live music, a car show and lots of other activities and stuff to do.

Me and the family plan to head down there on Bike which is not too far of a ride from Northeast. Maybe I will see you there.

Check out the full details here – stonearchfestival.com

V is for Victory!

Victory Garden
During World War II Eleanor Roosevelt encouraged American households to plant their own “Victory Gardens” to supply their own produce.  Remember this was a time when ration books were the staple and supplies were scarce.   By the end of the war, more than 20 million home gardens were supplying 40 percent of the produce consumed in America.
Previously many people’s only familiarity with backyard gardens came from  PBS television show Victory Garden which has highlighted this tradition for decades.
Now when the country is in the midst of an economic crisis and food prices are soaring the “Victory Garden” movement is growing again, this time in the war against financial ruin.    There is a a great upcoming seminar in Minneapolis about how to join in the movement and how you can get local government to help support community gardening efforts.
Victory Gardens: Join the Garden Revolution
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Join Rose Hayden-Smith, IATP Food and Society Fellow, national Victory Garden expert from University of California for an in-depth workshop about Victory Gardens and what history can show us in how government can better support community gardening.  Rose will review historical case studies and current national policies, and work with participants to articulate public policies for today.  The workshop is sponsored by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Gardening Matters.

Where:
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2104 Stevens Avenue South, Minneapolis

Registration: $10; Scholarships available upon request.Please RSVP by June 18 to Anne Walters at awalters@iatp.org or 612-870-3408.

Breakfast refreshments will be provided.

Its in the Bag

Find yourself with little space but wanting to grow some veggies?  How about this nifty idea from Whole Foods? Take your reusable grocery bag, preferably the ones with Tyvek or some kind of plastic, not canvas kind as those will go moldy, and poke holes in the bottom, fill with loamy soil, and BAM!  a movable pot to grow some lettuce or herbs.  You could also grow a small tomato plant this way as well, or pepper plant, or even some carrots or beets if the bag is tall.

Gardeners.com sells something similar called a Salad Planting Bag for almost $20 but I like the Whole Foods idea since right now I seem to find myself awash in reusable grocery totes that everyone and their mother is giving away for free (including me!).

The idea is similar to this year’s hot garden product the Potato Bag which I am actually giving a go myself.

Potato Bag

Potato Bag

The idea with a potato bag is that instead of digging the potatoes in the ground they are protected from pests and it is more convenient to harvest.  With the bag it can also be stored flat at the end of the season unlike a trash can or barrel, which also work well.  With the bag, you just place four or five seed potatoes cut into pieces at the bottom of the bag, cover with compost, wait for them to sprout, and when the plants are a few inches high, fill with more compost.  As the plants keep growing you keep filling with compost until the bag is completely filled.

Then you just need to keep the bag watered and fertilized (organically of course) and monitored for the pesky potato beetle.  I have had great success with K+Neem spray but one of my favorite sites for organic garden remedies, GardensAlive, recommends Pyola Spray so that is also a good solution.

At the end of the season you can simply tip over the bag to harvest all the potatoes.  I’m growing fingerlings, Yukons and red potatoes.  I’ve never had trouble growing potatoes before, but this seemed like a good way to do so in less space, with less effort and digging, which for me and my aching back, is a huge bonus!  Plus, these bags will fit between my raised beds or anywhere they can get good sun and drainage.

Looking forward to seeing how my potato bag experiment works.   Though if I was in the UK, I may think about these fancy plastic potato barrels which look like you can harvest while they are growing.  All the best gardening tools come from Britain but it usually takes a few years for them to make it stateside.

If you are looking for a local source for Potato Bags instead of mail order, my local garden store, Mother Earth Gardens, in the Longfellow neighborhood, had some left the last time I stopped by.  They are also selling some of the natural canvas grocery totes that I have made (like those pictured below).

Natural canvas grocery totes

Natural canvas grocery totes

So if you want to use some of your boring reusable bags for your lettuce, stop by Mother Earth and pick up one of these lovely ones to use for your groceries instead. And if you’re making the trip, you can also drop off your supply of plastic pots for recycling and check out Mother Earth’s fantastic selection of sustainably, native and locally grown plants and flowers.  There is a reason Mother Earth has been chosen the Twin Cities Best Garden Center several years running.

And don’t forget your reusable bags to transport your purchases, or (another shameless plug) you could always buy one of mine while you are there!

Urban Guerrilla: Stealth Gardening to beautify public spaces

Are you like me when you pass by a public space that has been left to become overgrown or is need of desperate TLC from a green thumb and wish you could do something?  Well then you too can become an Urban Guerilla.  Guerilla Gardening is a movement that began over three decades ago by noble community-driven green thumbs who wanted to green their public spaces in an undercover way.

The Green Guerrillas were the first to coin the term guerrilla gardening.   But it was thanks to Richard Reynolds whose diligent Guerrilla Gardening efforts in England and  book “On Guerrilla Gardening” which has sold thousands of copies worldwide has popularized the movement.

On Guerrilla Gardening

On Guerrilla Gardening

Reynolds has a website which documents his stealth efforts and how he has enlisted thousands of people throughout the world to help beautify public areas of their neighborhoods including several videos documenting stealth Guerrilla Gardening efforts. Like this one showing efforts to green a corner London Guerrilla Gardening Elephant & Castle, London, Richard Reynolds

Reynolds and his efforts can also be followed on Twitter now where he regularly Tweets about his worldwide exploits about making the world a prettier place through adding gardens.

I have tried join in doing my small part; scattering several seed packets at the LRT stations and in abandoned flower boxes in Downtown Minneapolis.  Unfortunately we haven’t had much in the way of rain to help them germinate so this year they may not have been as successful.  But if all of a sudden you see a burst of color you know why, unless the hungry pigeons got them first.

A Minnesota Community for Guerrilla Gardeners on Reynolds’ website has been started.  Posted on the forum is an upcoming seminar on how to make seed bombs which can be tossed easily in an attempt to cultivate an area.  On June 7th the free Seed Bomb Workshop will be hosted at ARISE! begginning at 7pm.

Does the Guerrilla Gardening movement inspire you?  Perhaps you have left over plants from seed starting, or perennials that need to be split and can be shared with your community.   When you pass by the 38th Street LRT station or the corners of Nicollet or Hennepin in Downtown Minneapolis and start seeing flowers (those are areas I have been able to seed bomb)  maybe you will be moved to take action.

I always keep a packet of Sunflower, Cosmos, Columbine or Allysum seeds (the latter three from my own garden) in my purse to scatter in a place that could use a little colour, knowing those are easily direct-sown seeds and also, the flowers will re-seed themselves each season if given a chance to thrive.   It is a small start but there is always a chance to do more.

Are you ready to join the ranks of the Urban Guerrillas or even Suburban Guerrilla Gardeners?


What’s in a name?

When it comes to plants names can be complicated botanical Latin names (Semiarundinaria) or common names (Bamboo).   For this blog, I am hoping for something in between.

Being the daughter of Welsh parents, I grew up in the garden, picking carrots from my grandfather’s allotment in Laleston, Bridgend, Wales and eating them right out of the ground, not bothering to wash them off.  I didn’t have to worry about any pesticides or herbicides; he was organic before anyone knew what that meant.

“Become green” in Welsh is “Glasu.”  Naming this blog Glasu would be a tribute to my heritage and would be a good representation of what it will discuss, gardening, environmentalism, “green” things.

But my last name is also Quick, so something funny, or pun-ny combining Quick, and Green/Gardening does seem appropriate as well. Because although I am passionate about organic gardening, environmentalism, green topics, I do like to keep things lighthearted.

So I will open the naming to creative minds of Minneapolis. If you can combine “Quick” and Green/Gardening in a pun-erific way or perhaps, with a Welsh spin, you get to name the blog, and even better, will win one of my handmade full-size natural cotton grocery totes like this:

eggplant-tote

Submit your suggestions in the comments below and if there is something that takes root, you will not only win the tote, but also bragging rights and my thanks!

A Question for the Ages – Target vs. Walmart

In Target vs. Wal-Mart: Readers sound off the Strib does some investigation on the difference between the two stores and the results suprised me, the prices were near identical.

The comments varied from which company is better due to wages and charity to downright insane.

My favorite being being from hard working lunatic mikelson47.

I think they both suck!!
Screw corporate America!! You can find everything you need at local or privately owned stores. I know this is a lot to ask of our lazy country though!

Nice use of the exclamation point, mikelson47. I told you people exclamation points were back!

Do you have a preference?
If so, what do you think is the difference?

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