Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where to Recycle?: Plastic bottle caps, wine corks

Here are some recycling options shared by HMEG members. Through our 5 years, we often take up the topic of waste reduction, including applying for grants. This is the first in a series where hard to recycled items are featured. To see all the posts, click our label "waste reduction.

  • Recycle all "twist on" plastic bottle caps at an Aveda salon!
    From the Ramsey County A-Z Disposal Guide:
    Recycle Caps with Aveda is an ongoing recycling program that accepts plastic bottle caps. Caps that are accepted include any plastic "twist on" caps such as water bottles, soda bottles, milk bottles, ketchup bottles, shampoo bottles and laundry detergent bottles. Caps that are NOT accepted include metal caps and any "snap fit" plastic caps such as margarine and cottage cheese caps.

    Bring your caps to an AVEDA store near you. Please call ahead to confirm they are participating in this program.


The Neighborhood Energy Connection (NEC) is offering a FREE workshop on saving energy and money in your home.

Tuesday, May 25 at 7 - 8:30 p.m.*
Central High School auditorium
275 Lexington Pkwy N, St. Paul

Workshop attendees can sign-up for a home visit from the Home Energy Squad with up to $400 dollars worth of goods and services for only a for only a $30 co-pay. The Home Energy Squad will visit your home and recommend several energy-saving measures. You choose which improvements to make, and the Squad will install them--on the spot! Choose among exterior door weather stripping, programmable thermostats, compact fluorescent lighting, water-saving shower heads and faucet aerators, insulating water heater blankets, and more.

Make sure you ask for a blower-door test to determine how weather-tight your home is and to find out where your biggest air leaks are (this test is included in the $30 co-pay, but you have to ask for it).

Most of our feedback about the program has been very positive, but we missed a lot of neighbors in Hamline-Midway so another workshop has been arranged. Most participants are expected to save over $100 a year on energy just based on the materials we’re installing.

How Do I Sign Up?
Walk-ins are welcome, but RSVPs are appreciated, call:
Carl Samuelson
The Green Institute

*If you need childcare, please RSVP your children at least a week in advance or childcare will not be provided. Call Carl @ 612-278-7123.

Please bring your checkbook (or $30 cash), calendar, and a utility bill (if available) to the workshop to complete your registration.

Program Partners
The Neighborhood Energy Connection (NEC) and the Metro Clean Energy Resource
Team (CERT) are teaming up with other non-profits, businesses and government to pro-
vide this program in Saint Paul. Partners include The Center for Energy and Environ-
ment, Xcel Energy and the Saint Paul District Councils. Funding is provided by the Min-
nesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. This program is only available to Saint Paul Residents.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What's blooming at Horton Park?

Like gardens and natural areas everywhere, the native plant gardens at Horton Park are lovely with the blooms of this very early spring. The shade garden has carpets of downy yellow violet; you can also see the delicate white flowers of false rue anemone and the drooping yellow flowers of large-flowered bellwort, also called merrybells. The serviceberries, the small trees we planted to provide more shade, are in bloom too.

The oak savanna gardens have golden alexanders about to burst into bloom. Next to the sidewalk the prairie violets have purple flowers and the pussytoes and prairie smoke are in full bloom.

Featured plant: bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Today's featured plant is the bur oak. You can see one in flower in the smaller of the oak savanna gardens. Bur oaks don't generally produce flowers and fruits until they are about 35 years old, so you know this tree has been around for awhile. The flowers of bur oak are separate; what you see are the male catkins, which are long, graceful inflorescences producing many small brownish flowers without petals - they are pollinated by the wind. The female flowers are in much smaller catkins. When they produce fruits, you can tell a bur oak acorn by the fringed cap covering it. Bur oaks were once one of the most common trees in Ramsey County, occurring throughout the area in oak woodlands and oak savannas. They often grow far apart, so their branches tend to spread out and create attractive open-grown forms - great for climbing on. They have thick corky bark which is highly resistant to fire. This feature helps them survive in oak savannas, which burned frequently in the 1800s and earlier, both from lightning fires and from fires set by native people to produce good forage for the bison and elk that once lived here. Bur oaks also have deep tap roots, which help them find water even during droughts. If you visit the park, see if you can find two other bur oaks, smaller trees planted by the Friends of Horton Park in recent years - too young to produce flowers.

Friday, April 23, 2010

HMEG now on Facebook

Hamline-Midway Environmental Group

Our Service Learner Nick got us rolling, Erin has amped it up a bit... but its true! HMEG now has a Facebook fan page and as we pass Earth Day, the numbers of fans are growing. Are you on Facebook? Like us, and ask your Midway friends to too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pagoda Dogwood planted at Library last fall by HMEG

I went to check on the pagoda dogwood at the Library today and was surprised to find that not only had it leafed out, but the baby tree had friends! The tree was planted during the fall 2009 Hamline Midway Library celebration event. HMEG was there with information about trees and emerald ash borer (EAB). We also brought along a tree and with fellow neighbors' help, planted in front of the library where the ground's crew had approved. I am not sure who planted the tulips, but the act of volunteers planting a tree proved to be contagious.

Pagoda dogwood is a native Minnesota tree that is smaller in stature and is often found in understory situations. It has a horizontal branching that give it a Japanese feel. This particular pagoda came from the Como Corner Community Garden in SE Minneapolis where the pagodas there often produce seedlings.

Watch this blog for more opportunities to plant trees over the next season.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Library series: Eating, Reading and Living Well

Another free, food-focused event series. Another chance to screen Food Inc.! If you have already seen Food Inc., Fresh and other similar food documentaries, the included author events could give a deeper dive. I will add the Midway-centric events to the HMEG calendar, but all of these dates are interesting to me.

If you want to find fellow HMEGers to attend with, the GoogleGroup is a good place to inquire with neighbors. The following information is from The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.

Eating, Reading and Living Well

Food Will Win the War: Minnesota Crops, Cooks, and Conservation during World War I

Monday, April 26, 7 pm
Merriam Park Branch Library, 1831 Marshall Ave.

Author and food historian Rae Katherine Eighmey will present her latest work, revealing the efforts made by "Citizen Soldiers" who observed Meatless Mondays and Wheatless Wednesdays to conserve food for the boys "over there."

Food Will Win the War

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Tuesday, May 6, 6:30 pm
West 7th Branch Library (in Community Center), 265 Oneida St.

In the second book by Dr. Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, they have taken their super-fast method of bread making and adapted it for the health-conscious baker. Featuring a dozen recipes with 100% whole grain, pita, pizza, and 10 gluten-free specialties. If you've wanted to produce the best yourself, this is your starting point.

"Food, Inc." - a film by Robert Kenner

Monday, May 10, 7 pm
Rondo Outreach Branch Library, 461 N. Dale St.

Featuring interviews with experts such as Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma; In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto), along with forward-thinking social entrepreneurs, this film reveals surprising and often shocking truths about what we eat and how it is produced.

Food, Inc.

Healthy Breadmaking Demonstrations

North for the Harvest

Monday, May 17, 7 pm
Mississippi Market, 1500 W. 7th St.

Zoe Francois, co-author of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, will lead a walk through the market to look at grains and ingredients, demonstrate five minutes of prep, and sample some recipes for you.

The Conscious Kitchen by Alexandra Zissu

Monday, May 24, 7 pm
Highland Park Branch Library, Hillcrest Recreation Center Auditorium, 1974 Ford Parkway

If you have wondered how to manage what is good for personal health, good for the planet, and still tastes great, this discussion will help you to easily make decisions you will feel good about - both physically and consciously.

The Conscious Kitchen

back to top

The Eating, Reading, and Living Well series is presented by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library and sponsored by Mississippi Market. Two Saint Paul Locations: 622 Selby Avenue & 1500 W. 7th Street.

Mississippi Market

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

low cost tree sale available to St. Paul residents, deadline for order 4/17

This sale is the The Friends of the Parks and Trails Tree sale where low cost trees are available to metro residents. Order today!


Buy a Tree Sale 2010. Order trees until Saturday April 17. Pick up trees 9AM-1PM Saturday May 1. To order trees: print the Tree Sale Form (PDF) and mail it with a check. Your phone and email are needed if you forget to pickup your trees.

  • Autumn Blaze Maple
  • Bicolor White Oak *
  • Black Hills Spruce
  • Pagoda Dogwood *
  • Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn
  • Mount Royal Plum
  • Honeycrisp Apple
  • Arrowwood Viburnum *
  • Little Lamb Hydrangea
  • Blue Velvet Hypericum
  • Miss Canada Lilac
  • Hope For Humanity Rose
  • Wisteria Aunt Dee

* Native

Online Donation of Trees to Parks Credit card only, your donation is tax deductible because we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Give trees to City or County Parks of your choice from our list.
Donated trees will be picked up and planted by the park system you choose.

Pickup Sites:

Highland Park Pavilion, 1200 Montreal Ave., St. Paul
Ramsey County Parks Garage, 2015 No. Van Dyke, Maplewood

For more information contact (Peggy Lynch) Telephone: 651-698-4543

Mailing address:
The Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County
1621 Beechwood Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55116

MN Dept of Ag offers new information for homeowners considering EAB treatment

The HMEG members at the April meeting discussed how treating a tree could be done in a community fashion. For example, if there is one valuable ash tree that shades many backyards, or neighbors together want to stagger the boulevard losses on their block, folks could together cover the cost of treatment. (Note, St. Paul's Forestry Dept. should be contacted if treating a boulevard tree is being considered)

Also note that treatment is not 100% effective, nor is it a 1 time commitment. More info is available in the
the 2 page pdf brochure. Regardless of your decision on whether to treat with pesticides or not, do plant a tree this year!

Information from the MDA:

Consider These 3 Things before Choosing to Use an Insecticide:

1. Identify if EAB is Near
To prevent unnecessary use of insecticides, first identify how close EAB is to your property. If you want to protect a high-value ash tree, the rule of thumb is to start chemical treatments when an EAB infestation is confirmed near your property. Your ash trees may be at risk if your property is within 15 miles of an EAB infestation, or if your property is within a county that has been quarantined for EAB (as of April 2010, the list of quarantined counties in Minnesota includes Hennepin, Ramsey and Houston Counties). Treatment programs that begin too early may be a waste of money and may have unintended environmental consequences. Check the MDA’s Interactive EAB Survey Map at for current EAB infestations.

2. Consider Removing and Replacing the Ash Trees on Your Property
Consider whether ash trees on your property are worth protecting. Trees enhance a property’s value, but it may be more cost effective to replace a small or struggling ash tree than to pay the cost of ongoing treatments. In addition, trees in poor or declining health are not likely to respond well to insecticide treatments. Treat with an insecticide only if the tree is apparently healthy or
less than 50 percent of the crown is discolored or has sparse foliage. Consider tree removal if your ash tree has:
  • Greater than 50 percent crown dieback
  • Extensive mower or trimmer damage
  • Existing EAB damage (see
  • Poor location such as under power lines or too close to a structure
  • Poor planting
  • Previous topping or extreme pruning

3. Remember Treatment Requires a Long-Term Commitment
Once EAB arrives in an area, it will remain a constant threat to ash trees for many years to come. It is likely that protective treatments will be needed for the rest of the tree’s life.

Monday, April 12, 2010

EAB Interactive Map

Thanks to Amy Sparks, Executive Director, St. Anthony Park Community Council, District 12 for this great info!

There is an interactive map of the Emerald Ash Borer infestation at You can search by address (use the Find button in the upper left corner). It shows removed trees, standing awaiting removal, removed no EAB found and more.

It took me some time to figure out how to find stuff so I'll give you a clue: In the upper right hand corner, click on Legend. Then click on the + sign next to Emerald Ash Borer Detection so you find out what the symbols are. If you click on a the info button (an I with a circle around it), then click on a particular dot, you can get an address most of the time.

Permaculture Research Institute offering classes nearby the Midway

"Permaculture Research Institute-Cold Climate" is certainly a mouthful, but they are in important volunteer supported organization here in the Twin Cities who teach sustainable small scale food production. Their instructors are well practiced and have a lot to share. I am profiling their current offerings here for a couple of reasons.

First off, they have a class series running in Frogtown starting this week, which is much closer for Midwayites than their usual venues. Secondly, this series is being taught by fellow HMEGer, Courtney Tchida! Courtney promised us last year she would get a St. Paul class series going and happily that has worked.

Note, PRI classes are not free. There may be some scholarship arrangements for some of their classes. However, these classes are an investment and will arm you with enough information to gain a return on your investment.

Below is the information recently sent by PRI to their email subscribers:

April 13, 20, 27 6-8:30 PM and
May 4,11 6-8:30 PM
Learn small-scale techniques for growing food in urban areas, for your own family’s use or for urban markets. In response to widespread demand, we are repeating this updated Urban Farming series taught by Courtney Tchida.

… choose any or all! $15 per class ($20 at the door) or all 5 for $60. (Click a course topic above for more details and registration.)


May 1 9 AM - 4 PM
In one day, learn all you need to successfully grow food in our cold temperate climate, with special focus on urban gardens and African crop varieties. $60
more details

April 16 7-9 PM
Lecture by entomologist Neil Cunningham gives an overview of biological strategies for insect management in edible landscapes. $15

April 17 9AM - 3PM
Neil Cunningham and Dan Halsey lead a day of combined classroom and hands-on experience. Learn more about options for organic and biological pest controls and how they work. Design and install habitat for beneficial insects. $35

Receive a $5 discount when you register for both the lecture and the workshop!
more details


May 15 1-5 PM
Join others in the Twin Cities area as we continue to shape the permaculture collaborative's role within PRI Cold Climate and bring small groups together around specific permaculture projects. Free and open to all.
more details

See all Upcoming Events on the front page left column of the PRI Cold Climate website.

Friday, April 9, 2010

New feature: What's happening in the Horton Park community gardens?

Remember to join us in the Horton Park community gardens tomorrow, Saturday, from 9:00 to 11:00 am when we will be raking and clipping, cleaning up the gardens to get ready for spring! I visited the gardens today, and this early spring is showing itself in the park. In the prairie garden on Hamline and Minnehaha, the prairie smoke is in bloom, and the pussytoes have flower buds. In our shade garden, the bloodroot and wild ginger have flowers.

Featured plant of the month: wild ginger (Asarum canadense)
If you have never taken the time to get down on your knees and look at wild ginger flowers, you've missed a treat. Wild ginger is in the Aristolochiaceae, or birthwort, family. The most visible part of the flowers is the elongated sepals - there are 3 of them, spreading and sometimes twisted, and colored a rich dark red. The flowers grow close to the ground, where they are pollinated by beetles. The plants are easily identifiable by the thick, hairy, heart-shaped leaves. Wild ginger spreads easily by rhizomes (which are stems that creep along the ground). The rhizomes smell a bit like ginger, though the plants are not related to the ginger we buy in the store. It is possible to make a candy or spice from the rhizomes of wild ginger by cutting them into short sections, boiling them for an hour, then simmering them in a sugar syrup for 20 minutes, then separating them and drying them. (But please don't dig up the plants in the garden!). Wild ginger grows in rich mesic forests with lots of shade. Look for them in sugar maple-basswood-red oak forests, such as those in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park or on north-facing slopes in Frontenac State Park. They are easy to grow in shade gardens and are readily available from many native landscaping shops. Here is a link to the University of Wisconsin herbarium website page that has great pictures of this lovely plant.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Saturday at Newell Park: Professional Tree Climbing, activities like ziplines, tree planting and more

Midway and folks nearby- Newell Park should be your destination on Saturday, May 15th! Park visitors will find the Arbor Day tree planting and Festival of Trees event.
including the professional tee climbing competitions. Could this be extreme reality TV happening right in the Hamline Midway? Schedule is as follows. HMEG will also be in attendance with information on composting, energy workshops and how to participate in the 2010 ash tree survey that we are conducting (surveyors needed!).

The event will begin at 9:00 with a volunteer welcome and opening remarks followed by a planting demonstration and the planting of 32 trees around the park. Please bike or walk to the event if possible. On street parking will be available around the park and there is a small parking lot at the north end of the park.

After the tree planting event there will be an Emerald Ash Borer presentation given by a Tree Care Advisor who can answer questions about the insect and its potential impact on Saint Paul's urban forest. The Festival of Trees and Tree Climbing Championships will concurrently run during the day on Saturday. Check out the climbers, vendors, information tables, and kids activities including a zip line, climbing wall, scavenger hunt, and face painting.

2010 MSA Tree Climbing Championship
Saint Paul Festival of Trees and Arbor Day Celebration
at Newell Park, 900 N. Fairview Avenue

Saturday May 15th
8:00-4:00……. Tree Climbing Championship Events
Work Climb
Belayed Speed Climb
Secured Footlock
Aerial Rescue
9:00-11:00…... Arbor Day Volunteer Tree Planting Event
11:00-11:30…. Emerald Ash Borer Presentation
10:00-2:00 ….. Kids Activities
Scavenger Hunt
Climbing Walls
Bucket Rides
Zip Line

Sunday, May 16th
10:00-2:00…... Tree Climbing Championship
Masters Challenge

Monday, April 5, 2010

The compost hunt is on

The compost hunt is on. The county sites are stocked, but will go quick. Community gardens are jostling for a complimentary delivery. Residents all over are looking at their woeful soils thinking, "I need some compost". Yes you do!

This is a perfect segue to highlight the compost bin sale that is happening now. Its also a great opportunity to reveal that the Hamline Midway Environment Group is hot on composting too, so much so they are working on a compost Google map much like the original community compost map of Philadelphia.

In this vein, I want to share a post written by Kirsten Saylor of Gardening Matters. It appears they have noticed the compost cries too.

"It's the time of year (spring), when folks start asking us about how to get some compost for their garden. This question comes up every year on the listserve. I recommend people checking out the COMGAR archives (search on keyword "compost") for additional advice and insight, but basically here's my quick recommendation...

If you're a community garden in Minneapolis or Ramsey County, there's instructions for compost on If you're a community garden not within Minneapolis and Ramsey County, then contact your city or county to see if they have any resources or policies about providing free or deeply discounted compost to community gardens.

If you're private/home garden, then here are some options for you...
1) ask neighbors if they have more compost than they can use. You may be surprised.
2) just advertised that they are trying to help people with surplus compost connect with those that need it.
3) make your own -- worms or a bin out back -- and I don't mean to be flippant, gardeners need to be on the vanguard of keeping valuable nutrients in their "ecosystem" and not letting any of that good compostable stuff get away and stuck in a landfill or burned for energy. If not gardeners, then who will?"

Happy Planting! Kirsten

Occurring now are two notable trends nationwide - 1) a rabid and valuable desire to grow-your-own food which requires good soil, and 2) a needy trash system which is overburdened with food waste. Compost intersects both of of these trends, each satisfying the other.