Schroeder was a first-time gardener a few years ago when she got an unpleasant surprise while inspecting her produce. Many of the melons she had so carefully planted and tended had developed "one yucky side, with bugs and grubs," from lying on the ground.
"I didn't know you had to turn melons," she said.
Someone suggested setting her cantaloupes on cinderblocks, to get them off the ground. But the cinderblocks were heavy to haul, and sometimes her melons rolled off the flat surface of the blocks, breaking their stems.
"With the economy the way it's going, you hate to spend money to put in a garden and not reap the rewards," she said.
So the MnDOT snowplow operator got an idea: Why not create a lightweight support structure for heavy garden produce?
Backed by a loan from her mother, Schroeder had a mold made, then a prototype of her design, which includes drainage holes and a concave surface to cradle the melon.
Now her invention, RotNot, is available to other gardeners on her website, and at several garden and farm-supply stores.
Photo by Michael Schreifels