Harvesting Native Seed

Following our graduation and final Master Conservationist class, we headed out to the Hitchcock Nature Center trail system in search of native seed. We grabbed some paper bags and followed Michelle Biodrowski’s lead on how to find seed that was ready for harvest. The native seed is used for prairie restorations and similar projects. At…

Master Conservationist Graduation

Last Saturday, our class graduated from the Master Conservationist program at Hitchcock Nature Center. If you missed my class recaps, find them here: Iowa Ecosystems: ForestsIowa Ecosystems: PrairieIowa Ecosystems: Wetlands The program was hosted by our local Golden Hills RC&D, Pottawattamie County Conservation, Pottawattamie County Soil & Water Conservation, Pottawattamie County NRCS, ISU Extension and Outreach West Pottawattamie over the summer….

Using Hops to Shade a Chicken Coop

We wanted to find a fast-growing bine (yes, bine) to help shade our west-facing chicken coop run from the hot afternoon sun. After some research, we went with hops because they are completely safe for chickens, fast-growing and perennial, meaning they come back year after year. I ordered the Top of the Hops Collection from…

Garden Journal 8/23/19

We went on a canoeing and camping trip on the Turkey River this weekend near Alpha, Iowa. We had a great time with friends and enjoyed spending time on the water. If I didn’t have to actually leave my house, I would camp all the time. Just when I think things can’t possibly be any…

Lauritzen Gardens in August

I wanted to get some exercise today and at the same time check out Lauritzen Gardens in the summer. It was a hot and humid day and I went in the middle of the afternoon but it was wonderful once you got down into the shady areas. “Lauritzen Gardens is a living museum of unique…

Becoming a Certified Monarch Waystation

One way to help pollinators AND support an organization that is helping pollinators… is to have your garden become a Certified Monarch Waystation through Monarch Watch. Monarch Watch is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration….

Raising Black Swallowtail Butterflies

If you’ve seen a Black Swallowtail in your yard, you’ll probably want to find out how to have more of them. They are gorgeous. The male and female Black Swallowtail butterflies are very different. The males are mostly black with a lot of yellow while the females are mostly black with a lot of blue…

Garden Journal 7/28/2019

We have definitely entered the high summer and the summer perennials are thriving. Last week it was brutal and in the 90s all week but this week we are seeing 70s and 80s. Thankful for this break in the heat for the RAGBRAI riders this week. We’ve been at this house for two and a…

Iowa Ecosystems: Wetlands

This month, our Master Conservationist class was held at Heron Haven in Omaha, NE to discuss the wetlands ecosystem. Heron Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary. The sanctuary features one of the last oxbow wetlands of the Big Papillion Creek and it is within Omaha’s city limits. You may remember my recap of a Master Gardener…

Healthy Soil, Healthy Planet

I attended a lecture titled Healthy Soils, Healthy Planet today at Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Iowa. It was the third installment of their 2019 speaker series. Today, Jean Eells discussed the importance of soil health and its impact on every day life. From cover crops and no-till to how adopting those practices widely…

Butterflies, Bees and More

The farm is bursting with life. I’m seeing something new every single day. It’s amazing how quickly things change in just a short amount of time. All of these photos were taken within a 48 hour period when I was trying to find as many different species as possible in our yard, I found a…

Interview with Benjamin Vogt

I first heard Benjamin Vogt speak at a Council Bluffs Noon Rotary lunch last year. A friend had invited me because she thought I would be interested in the topic. Vogt’s passion for what he does quickly became apparent. He urged the audience to re-think their grass lawns and instead plant low-maintenance native plants. I…