Wednesday, December 4, 2013
- Fresh Eggs– Many new chicken owners took the plunge solely to reap the benefits of having a steady supply of fresh eggs. What often comes as a surprise is just how many eggs you can actually collect. If you want a reliable stream of fresh, additive-free eggs, keeping chickens is a wise move, indeed.
- Reducing Waste– A single chicken can recycle roughly four pounds of kitchen waste in a single week. If you're not a composter and have several chickens, you'll find that your kitchen waste is reduced dramatically with the addition of these feathered garbage disposals.
- Fertilizing Vegetable Crops– Chicken manure is a nutrient-rich source of fertilizer for all manner of crop plants, and is an absolutely organic growth-boosting solution. Cut the chemical fertilizers out of your gardening routine and opt for the plentiful resources right in your own backyard, provided that you have chickens on hand to supply your needs.
- All-Natural Pest Control– Insects are a special treat to chickens, who will forage for them endlessly. That means that the Japanese beetles decimating your tomato plants will be gone in short order when there are a few chickens flitting around the backyard.
- Additive-Free Meat– While some families may not relish the idea of eating their pets, those who do raise chickens for meat are able to enjoy fresh protein that has not been contaminated by antibiotics, steroids or hormonal therapy. You'll know exactly where your meat came from and what it contains, and most cities do have slaughterhouses where you can get someone else to do the dirty work for a relatively small fee.
- Teaching Kids Responsibility– Children who care for animals gain a sense of responsibility and compassion. Keeping backyard chickens and getting kids in on the effort of caring for them not only helps to lighten the workload for you, but also teaches kids the benefits of animal husbandry.
- Instilling Good Stewardship Skills– In order for kids to learn the importance of caring for the environment and the world around them, they need to have a practical application of stewardship. Knowing the cycle of life, where eggs come from and how important it is to take care of the animals that supply their food is a strong lesson in stewardship that will instill those values.
- To Do Your Part for the Environment– The eggs at your local supermarket have been shipped by truck, releasing fumes into the air and gobbling finite fuel sources the whole way. Kitchen waste that isn't composted goes into a landfill. Fertilizers contain chemicals that can contaminate groundwater. There are a host of environment evils that can be reduced significantly on the personal level by keeping chickens.
- Sourcing Cruelty-Free Food– When you grab a carton of eggs and a bag of frozen chicken breasts from the grocery store, you have no way of knowing whether or not the animals who supplied them were treated humanely and ethically. Knowing where your food comes from and raising your own chickens allows you to source it from cruelty-free methods. Keeping chickens is good for your family, good for the environment and good for your conscience.
- For Fun!– The surfeit of eggs and high-quality fertilizer that comes with keeping chickens aside, they're also fun and entertaining pets. Their social hierarchy is firmly established, which can also be a learning experience for kids and adults alike.
Article submitted by http://savings.whitefence.com/
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
As Halloween is soon coming to a close, make sure you save your carved pumpkins for your compost pile! These will serve a much better purpose in the compost pile than in your garbage can. Before you compost them remember to:
1. Remove any non organic materials: Candles, aluminum foil, etc. These will not decompose.
2. Remove ALL pumpkin seeds: The seeds will not decompose. When you spread your compost over your gardens in the spring, you will have unwanted pumpkins growing in between your flower beds! You can't turn those into carriages, Fairy Godmother!
3. Break up the pumpkin, if desired: Most children would love to help break them up by smashing them. Just make sure they will help pick up all the pieces and put them in the compost pile.
4. Cover the pumpkins in the compost pile: Like all green material, if you want to keep away bugs, then make sure to cover them with carbon-rich materials such as sawdust, paper, or all of those dried leaves you just raked up.
Here is a recipe you can use for all of the pumpkin seeds you took out of your jack-o-lanterns.
Soaked and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Your garden has been working hard all year, and so have you! With the chilly weather closing in, you should begin to put your garden to bed for the winter. Your plants will naturally pause their growth - because of the cold temperatures and less light - but we need to make sure that they do not stop growing forever! If you cannot start putting your garden to bed right away, use old sheets or bedspreads to cover your plants. This will help protect unharvested food from nighttime frosts until you can start taking care of the following:
Your root/bulb vegetables - such as carrots, garlic, horseradish, leeks, parsnips, radishes, and turnips - can be left in your garden for harvesting in the early winter. Mark where each plant is located so that you can find them easily in the snow. Plus, if you cover the ground with a layer of mulch, it will keep the ground thawed so you aren't breaking out the pick axes to harvest your food.
Pull up your tomato, pea, bean, and squash plants. If your plant is not diseased, compost it. If the plant is diseased, then burn them or dispose of them separately.
Cover your strawberries with a layer of straw (or hay.) Maybe this is how they got their name?
Prune your raspberry and blackberry plants. Leave approximately six of the strongest brown canes for every square foot of your rows.
If they are perennials, cut them back. Most herbs can stay in the ground through the winter. If you would still like to enjoy your annuals, dig them up, put them in a pot, and bring them inside!
Trees and Shrubs
Prune your trees, if needed, making sure to remove broken limbs with a clean cut near the trunk of the tree. Protect the small plants by surrounding them with snow fencing.
Don't Forget Your Tools!
Empty out your containers to prevent them from cracking. Store upside down.
Drain your hoses and move them inside your garage; you don't want to be getting mad at kids for cracking one because they stepped on the hose when you left it out! Store the hose attachments and sprinkler parts in a bucket in your garage.
Empty the fuel tanks to your lawn mowers and other power equipments. Read the manuals provided to you for more instructions.
Scrub your tools and put them away. Rub some vegetable oil on your tools to keep them from rusting.
Prepare Yourself For Next Spring
Continue mowing your lawn for as long as it grows! If the grass gets too long, and then snow comes, you may get brown patches next spring.
Rake your leaves up. If you put them into small piles, and then mow over them, you can create mulch to use on your gardens.
Cover your compost pile with plastic, or a thick layer of straw, before the snow comes.
Till the soil to expose insects who are trying to make their winter homes in your garden. This will reduce pest problems next spring.
Remove all of the weeds. If you have an area conquered by weeds, cover it with black plastic so that any baby weeds that will try to grow will die before the spring.
Add layers of compost, leaves, or manure on your gardens. If your garden needs it, gently till in some lime as well.
I hope that you are all able to preserve the gardens you have been working hard to upkeep through the warm seasons. Take a break for the holidays and say, "goodnight," to your garden!
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Cucumbers seem to be one of those vegetables that always do well for us. In the past we have grown many varieties with success. This year we might have found a new front runner for coolest cucumber in the garden.
|Lemon cucumbers with crookneck squash|
- They are very prolific. I think we are getting more cucumbers from the lemon cucumber than the double yield.
- They are unique. Not everyone has them. They might be good for those of you that want to sell unique products at farmers markets. It's fun to give them away to neighbors and have them rave about how interesting they are.
- Our kids like to eat them like apples so they are eating more of them.
What new vegetable varieties are you growing this year that we need to try?
Monday, August 12, 2013
Do you grow vegetables in your flower garden? We have been growing herbs in the front flower garden for a while. The last few years we have grown cabbage as edible decoration and find it to be a very beautiful plant. Here is a picture of one of our cabbages next to it's neighbors, mint and petunia .
On a side note, does anyone else think that the word cabbage is one of the weirder sounding words. Say it ten times. Just seems so unnatural.
Read more about edible landscaping here and here.
What edible plants do you like to add to your landscape?
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
I have given a name to my pain, and that name is squash bug. If you aren't familiar with squash bugs, they are angry, petty little pests that are just trying to get revenge by eating, and killing the squash plants in your garden. They are mad that they have a dumb uninspired name and they insist that in this world of political correctness we call them what they really are "Squash Insects." The term bug is just insulting to them.
|Blurry image of squash bugs. It's hard to take pictures of the bugs as they curry away at the first sign of movement|
|Plant damaged by squash bugs|
I found some good information on squash bug at this link managed by the Colorado State University extension. It gives good information on the life cycle of the squash bug and it lists some methods for getting rid of the pests.
Squash bugs are very hardy so the best way to get rid of them is to check your squash leaves early in the spring. You will see patches of eggs on the underside. I just squish the eggs and wipe them off of the leaves.
|Squash bug eggs on the underside of leaf|
According to the CSU article you can also spread Diatomaceous earth/pyrethrins applications around the base of the plan. This is an organic method, but I can't vouch for it as I haven't used it. There are also insecticides and pesticides that might work but I am not a fan of them as I want my bees to be safe.
What do you do to rid your garden of the vile squash bug?