ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Fish Hook site now home to raised garden beds

Larry Cwiak's gardening advice is: Build a raised bed.

GardenStroll22.PRE.CwiakSunflowers.jpg
Larry Cwiak’s sunflowers head skyward at a rate of six inches a day.
Contributed / Jean Ruzicka
We are part of The Trust Project.

When Larry Cwiak and wife Linda began eyeing sites to retire, the Californians scoured New Mexico, Oregon and Utah, soon to discover housing prices had skyrocketed.

GardenStroll22.PRE.CwiakTurtles.jpg
Turtles march off to sea, an artistic touch in Larry Cwiak's garden.
Contributed / Jean Ruzicka

His children, having grown up in Fargo with their mother, steered them east, specifically to an abode on the Fish Hook River in Park Rapids.

“There’s nothing like this for the dollar,” the East River Drive kayak enthusiast said. “On a river. In town.”

The fourth garden of his lifetime was about to sprout, having gained tutelage from his grandfather and father, despite being a grumbling weed puller as a kid.

The house underwent a bit of renovation at the hands of the ceramic tile and stone installer, the couple moving in the summer of 2020.

ADVERTISEMENT

The considerable property area was one of the selling points, but use of a tractor was out of the question. A wheel barrel became his mode of transportation for dirt hauling

GardenStroll22.PRE.CwiakRaisedBeds.jpg
Raised beds are Larry Cwiak's signature horticultural endeavor.
Contributed / Jean Ruzicka

The site next to the garage was not ideal from a sunlight perspective, “but enough for pretty to happen.”

He mapped out the amount of sun each spot in the garden received and studied the “limiting factors” inherent to gardening – sunlight, soil, water, air and nutrients. He’s testing sites to determine where tomatoes do better.

Ten raised beds, each one to host its own garden, began to emerge. He’d originally drawn different configurations for them, and considered using cinder blocks. But corrugated metal bottoms with a cedar top was the choice for the structures. Wood from the transfer station was repurposed for the bottoms. And sphagnum moss and cow manure were introduced. Worm castings and chicken compost, replete with azomite for minerals, acts as fertilizer.

His first Minnesota winter was spent conducting research, deciding to plant a variety to “confuse the insects.”

Larry was not frustrated by Minnesota’s short gardening season but emboldened. “The fun part is that you can do something different every year.”

He’s pleased with the bees’ response to his endeavors, arriving in number.

Sunflowers, heading skyward at a rate of six inches a day in July, reign supreme, shading lettuce.

ADVERTISEMENT

Carrots, onions, cantaloupe, purple basil, bare root strawberries, potatoes, bush beans and peas, corn, squash, watermelon and arugula sate Cwiak tastebuds.

His advice: build a raised bed. They are easier to weed.

MORE RELATED COVERAGE:
Fresh fruits and vegetables, when harvested, continue to undergo chemical changes that can cause spoilage and deterioration of the product. This is why these products should be frozen as soon after harvest as possible and at their peak degree of ripeness.

Related Topics: GARDENINGHOME AND GARDEN
Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
What to read next
Answer when God knocks. There may not be another opportunity to meet Him.
Readers are invited to submit their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to lskarpness@parkrapidsenterprise.com.
"Minding Our Elders" columnist Carol Bradley Bursack says distance makes keeping track of your parents' health harder, but barring dementia, they get to choose where they live.
After a lifetime of emitting a Stihl MS 881-worthy respiratory buzz that could cleave through a sequoia like butter, columnist Tammy Swift learns that her apnea could be much easier to detect these days — thanks to a compact, at-home sleep test.