It's been a long time since I have managed to get to this part of the website. Glad to say part of the reason is that we have been very busy this spring. We did 5 Home and Garden events, two in Des Moines, one in Minneapolis, one in Ottumwa and one in Sioux City. Plus we were back at the Ames Eco Fair the first of this month and will end the month in Altoona at the Enabling Gardens Arbor Day Celebration. We have added 4 new retailers to our growing list and are always talking to others about joining us.
One of the highlights of the season is the interest in the larger tanks. We have moved a number of the 150 gallons tanks and have sold our first 2500 gallon tank. It will arrive next week and we will definitely have photo opts with the whole crew.
Speaking of the whole crew, we're very pleased with where we are at this time of year and that is due to all the hard work by the people who are part of this experience. Jim is doing the barrels and talking to customers, Gabe is doing the stands and sales, Kristi is keeping us honest, Christine has helped at shows and at the shop, Todd has helped on Saturdays, I had a great time at the shows and love to meet new people and get new ideas from you.
One last little note for the day If you happen to get whiff of garlic when you enter the shop, it's due to the last shipment of barrels. Almost a third of them were marked as having contained garlic products and while the barrels are cleaned before they get here, that smell does hang around for a while. So just think pizza and you'll be fine.
I have trouble sitting down to do this section. Not the sitting part mind you, just the writing. I see all the profound statements that are posted on social media and wonder how they come up with them. Fact of the matter is, they just write and/or talk and sometimes something really great comes out of it. So it would appear that while my chances of greatness are few, I at least have the opportunity to express myself.
With that, where to begin. Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with three classes of third graders at a Des Moines school. They were doing their unit on water and I was invited to come in as the "expert" and talk about water harvesting, this after having a working rain barrel in the hall way for over a week. They were well prepared with questions and I was amazed at their vocabulary and understanding of the water cycle. More than once they put me on the spot of not knowing the answer and turning it back to them, asking them what they thought. It was a humbling and most enjoyable experience for me.
So these students are learning the value of water and how it affects their lives. I hope it is a lesson they take with them daily and share with their families and those around them. Water is precious and we need to use it wisely.( No long preaching about Iowa's polluted rivers and streams, just a request to think how each of us can do better.) We are to be the caretakers of our natural resources. I do not want to be remembered as the generation that scarred the earth beyond recognition. Use it well.
Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center http://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/oceanography/ocean-earth-system/ocean-water-cycle/
Holly has convinced me to allow our milkweed to grow and this little visitor was the result. We were happy to see quite a few monarchs and swallow tails around the yard toward the end of the summer. So next year will see a growth in our butterfly garden with more common milkweed and other varieties planted among the butterfly bushes. Whatever we can do to provide a place for these dwindling beauties we hope will be of benefit. There is just something special about watching these delicate creatures flutter around the yard.
So the end of the season is coming and you can see fall approaching. Unlike the last two summers we have had more than adequate rains since spring. Plants have thrived and the harvest of most produce has been decent to abundant. It's going to be hard to empty all the tanks and barrels soon, we were ready for the long haul, but now we will focus on the shrubs and trees to give them a last good soaking before winter sets in.
We're looking back on the summer of good sales and the introduction of the larger harvesting tanks. It was wonderful to have people returning to expand their systems and new harvesters just beginning the process. You are the reason we are here, whether you have our systems or have built your own and need the accessories to make them work.
As we move into the planning stage for next season, give us some ideas of what you would like to have available here at the store. We are looking for ways to provide better serve and a wider variety of products. Check out the raised beds we are working on and the revised cedar and wire trellis (loved the natural fibers but they don't last). We'll have pictures on the site soon so you can see what is planned.
Thank you all for the support you have shown us and the kind words when we see you at various events. Joel and Holly
....Well, Holly and I have converted our front yard to a garden, veggies on one side, semi-jungle on the other. The veggies side had a cobbled together fence last year but this year we pledged to do better. So after the attack of the bean eating bunnies I finally got to work and we finished a nice cedar and rabbit wire fence. Only one night of deer prints after that but the beans and beets were still being wracked nightly. So the other day we were standing out front and figuring out what project to do when we noticed one of the fence sections seemed different. Sure enough, I had put it in with the little rectangles at the top and the big squares at the bottom, giving the bunnies a front door with private eating inside. The section was duly removed flipped and screwed back into place. We are now fully protected (yes we checked all the other sections again) and the beans have survived and the beets have been replanted (again!)
The heat of summer has come just in time for the tomatoes to ripen. Our new raised beds are doing great, probably planted a few too many of everything (OK, not probably...) but a nice addition to the garden areas. Kale chips have been the main crop so far, with plenty to share and more leaves coming on daily.
With the heat comes less rain in the forecast so now is the time to being making good use of the rain water you've been saving. If you don't have a system in place, it's never to late to get started. Come in and see us or call the shop to see how you can get set up.
Remember, we'll be at the Iowa State Fair in the Varied Industries Building, just inside the main doors and turn right. Stop and say hello and take advantage of the Fair specials. By the way, if you have pictures of your Rain Barrels Iowa setup please send them to us so we can begin posting all the ways people have found to harvest rain!
As a last note for the day, you can see from the second picture that we have our first canned beans of the season, waxed and green. I'll share a story about why there aren't more after I get past the "head slap" moment that it involves. But for now they are starting to get new leaves and produce again. Happy harvesting.
Well, we had spring rains to get the season off to a good start plus all the rains through the month of June. So many people have come in to get their barrels set up and ready to go, new harvesters and returning old hands all gearing up for getting away from using city water. We can all make a difference in the amount of water we use and how we treat this precious natural resource.
On another note, the new design for the front yard is working great, finished the fences since the bunnies decided to invade. Amended soil and mulched paths are making this season so much better than the last two. Also have the raised beds in the back up and running, not as much soil as needed but will fill them to the top for next season. All in all a great start to the projected harvest to come.
Let me know if you are coming up with new ways to save water and slow runoff from your property. We can all benefit from what others are doing and sharing ideas. Happy gardening.
Hard to believe we are already halfway through April. People are out planting early cool weather crops and yards are looking healthy. Please keep the environment in mind as you care for your lawn this season, it's not just farmers who are adding harmful chemicals to our water systems. Be careful to not over-fertilize or use more herbicide and insecticide that you absolutely need. Sweep up any pellets on concrete to use next time; if spraying chemicals keep close the ground to avoid drift onto things that will be harmed, like your neighbors' plants; set your sprinklers on low so that water has time to soak in and make sure the water is hitting the grass and not the sidewalks and streets. And see your county Soil & Water Conservation District - they have powerful information that will save you money! You may learn to adore native plants with deep roots and rich flowers, as we have, instead of non-native turf grass. Mow less, grow more food & beauty.
If you are harvesting water, don't forget to clean out your gutters before harvesting. Allow the first rains to help clean out the dirt and residue from the winter, the rain this past weekend was a great one for flushing things out. Having algae problems? Put a piece of silver (spoon, fork...) in the barrel. I have had "how it works" explained twice but if you want to know, ask a chemistry teacher!
As you read this realize I'm still trying to figure this blog thing out. What do you want to know about, besides the rambling of an easily distractable gardener? I'm not an expert but we could easliy make this a dialogue, so sound forth and suggest.
The Iowa Flower Lawn and Garden Show for 2014 is history. Great three days for meeting people and vendors and talking about life and spring. Now things are back to normal, Holly's at work and I'm looking forward to being outside this afternoon to do some yard clean up and garage reorganization!
Keep checking the seeds we started, fun to see new ones each day and hoping that they all make until transplant time. We have big plans for all the garden space and would love to actually have these give us a head start on the harvest for the season. If not, there will be plenty of starts for sale out there.
Any interest in a plant exchange system? We always have things we are thinning out, moving or just changing in the landscape and hate throwing them on the compost. It could be like Craig's list.....who knows. Let us know what you think. Enjoy the week and the beginning of spring!
First day at the Iowa Flower Lawn and Garden Show. Got to see some friends and meet lots of new people and continue to spread the word about harvesting rain. Holly and I did our first ever stage presentation today and have another one on Sunday. Fun to have people say they came just to see us. Stop out at the show if you have a chance, some new vendors and many of your favorites as well. Show special of 10% off barrels at the show so stop in and take advantage of the first of many opportunities to save.
OK, this blog is sounding way to "advertisy". Holly and I are trying seed starting again this year, better planned and executed so far. Kale, kohlrabi and brussel sprouts currently up and doing well; have them closer to the light so they don't get so spindly this time. Great admiration for all of you you come up with those full trays of healthy thriving plants. Someday....
So spring is setting in and hopefully you have plans to take advantage of every moment. May you find something wonderful to delight in after being cold for way too long.
Well, we opened yesterday snow and everything as you can see from the front yard picture. But the season is on and we had people dropping in, braving the cold, knowing that it would eventually end and the seeds they were taking home would get planted and the joy of gardening would begin again. Sometimes we wonder why we live in Iowa, but as our newest employ, Gabe, who was born in San Diego said, it gets boring (hard to believe, right?) without the changing of the seasons. And that's why we stay. Spring does come, followed by the heat and humidity of summer, to be followed by the harvests and the joy of knowing that you have enjoyed the beauty of blooming new life and that you will be eating the bounty of your gardens on that next series of winter days while you begin the plans for next year's garden. So keep planning for the coming thaw and the first flowers of spring peeking up through the snow. "To everything, there is a season....."
Joel Gettys is the co-founder of Rain Barrels Iowa. He is our resident gardener, product designer, chief of installation at our Rain Barrels Iowa store.