Saturday, October 3, 2015

Garden Lasagna

Yes, you have read that correctly....Garden Lasagna, not the kind you eat of course...silly gooses!

Two of our raised garden beds have been infiltrated with bermuda grass for years.  We are over it and ready to really use our garden beds to be as self-sufficient as we can be on our little 7,000 sq. ft. lot. 

We have tried several times flooding the beds and pulling as much as we can with the soil being soaked and it still continues to return....URG

Doing research and asking other members on a few gardening pages I follow on facebook, several people recommended layering the beds.  AKA Garden Lasagna or the Lazy Gardener method by Ruth Stout.  

I weed whacked all the bermuda grass down as close to the soil as I could get so that there is a nice somewhat flat surface.

First layer is cardboard, paper bags, newspaper or other type of barrier you are choosing to use to block the weeds/bermuda from returning.  (we do not recommend the landscape plastic unless you are planning on removing it).

The second layer is straw about 3-5 inches thick.  This breaks off into about 3-5 inch flat plate type chunks this also helps to make sure that you have it tight in the garden bed. (fewer weeds to sneak through)

Third layer is manure, the stinky kind, whats the point of having a garden if you can't enjoy the smell of manure.  Boy oh boy, did my eyes burn layering this down, it also didn't smell real pleasant up close and personal either, but keeping fingers crossed this method works, if it does in the end it is well worth it.

I see one of our dogs photo bombed the picture, silly girl!
Water a little each day, this will help it to start breaking down and turn into a compost. Whatever barrier you used will "hopefully" kill off the bermuda grass, and any other weeds, while providing nutrients back into your soil.  This is a hot compost so make sure you water it daily to keep it hot so it breaks down.

We are only trying this in the two raised beds that have the worst amount of bermuda grass.  Since this is an experiment only at this time, we left the other beds be, that way we can definitely plant our fall garden in them while this breaks down.

We've tried just paper bags in the past, with no straw or manure, just the paper bags seemed to work to control the bermuda grass in the other planters, only purslane (which our girls loved) keeps returning, but it isn't too bad and we can stay on top of it.

Total cost for this reconditioning was about $30, and covered about 120 sq. ft. with a thickness of about 4-5 inches when all was said and done.  We used 2 bails of straw (@ $8.50 each) we bought at our local stock shop and 16 bags of manure ($1.09 each) that we bought at homies.

Here's hoping we can keep the dogs out of the beds now....and that this method works, we promise to keep you updated on the bermuda grass issue in these beds, and hopefully you can try it too!

M & S
Uptown Grange

Essential Oils (Oh My! The Excitement)

One of my favorite days!!! Well, anyone's favorite day really, at least I think so, getting a package in the mail.

I ordered some new essential oils, I've been buying my essential oils from Edens Garden  for close to a year now. For me they are #1 in affordability and as close to perfect on quality, you can buy through them directly or through Amazon.

If you are skeptical, (I was too) they really do work, we've been using oils for everything: dogs kennel cough (eliminated in 4 days) we used them in a humidifier to help with their coughing, bug infestations, breathing issues, ingrown toe nails, rashes, relaxing or to even make the cars smell nice and of course the house. They really do work, these are just some examples of what we have used them for in the last month.

For a clean smelling house, I normally mix them and diffuse them in the house, placing the diffuser in the most central place. I will also put essential oil drops on a cotton ball and vacuum it up and as I am vacuuming it will leave a pleasant smell (we usually use lemon for this) this helps invigorate us to continue cleaning.

If you are unsure of which brand to go with, make a small investment and test the 2 big brands against whatever brand you are thinking about going with, no pressure from me to choose the same brand that I use, this brand I have found is what my family can afford. The most popular essential oils for beginners are Lemon, Lavender and Peppermint they are usually the most affordable from each manufacturer as well.

The guys call me a witch doctor. Our oldest said the other day, "Mom, I'm not sure how, but whatever is in those oils is taking care of everything." (he scored extra points for that remark) our youngest is waiting for me to bring out the shaking stick with the head on it and do a dance each time I break them out to use...he cracks me up!

Of course whenever I get in an order I have to open each one and smell it! Oh my, I can just never decide which one I want to use first, I become overwhelmed.

I am not receiving any money from them, I wouldn't recommend anything that I wouldn't use for my own family and I would be honest if I didn't care for a product. Also, I do not recommend that you take any essential oil internally, no matter what the manufacturer may say about it being safe.

M & S
Uptown Grange

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hard Decisions

They say the hardest thing and the right thing are the same thing.

On Saturday, we moved our girls to their new and final home. Taking care of the girls was beginning to take a toile on the hubs, with them not living with us where we had them on our property. It was difficult to get over to where they were every day to make sure they had fresh water and food. If we couldn’t make it our son would take care of them, he works 10 hours a day and goes to school full time, so it wasn’t fair to him.

We’ve hummed and hawed on this for several weeks before making this decision. They are the hubs girls, he loves each and every one of them, but in the end he knew it was the right thing to do.

The hubs has a friend at work who really wanted chickens, but didn’t have the means to build a coop and house for them, so we gave him our hen house and coop and everything that he would need to get him started. Once they are used to their surroundings they will have a bit of land to roam around on and have the life once again that they deserve. The hub’s does have visitation rights though, that was a condition to moving them.

We are only changing pages in this backyard chicken raising chapter of our lives. We are hopeful that one day again we will have chickens, legally. We are turning over every rock and locating every resource that we can find to make them legal in our city and/or state if necessary.

This was one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make, but it is also the right decision for our girls!

M & S
Uptown Grange

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Note to our Senator's

On Friday (9/25/2015) I sent this to our state senators.  I've since been contacted by Senator Farnsworth, the creator of SB 1151, and he wants to meet with us to discuss backyard chickens.  I'll update when that happens...finally getting exposure!

Good Evening,

I am writing to you about backyard chickens. I am hoping that since SB 1151 failed in April 2014 some of you may have had the opportunity to learn more about backyard chicken keeping and how they are no more of a nuisance than a feral cat or a dog barking.

There are already many cities in the Phoenix metro area that allow chickens. The codes vary from city to city such as: distance away from neighbors back patio, number of chickens a resident is allowed to have on their property,to not being allowed on residential property at all.

I’m not sure I understand how or why having backyard chickens is even an issue. They are one of the most harmless creatures on the planet; they can do so many different things for so many people. They are therapeutic after a long stressful day at work, they are quiet and pretty much keep to themselves unless they are laying an egg, they are a complete joy to have and have some of the best personalities, please see below for more examples:

Top 10 items you may not know about chickens:

1. you do not need a rooster for a hen to lay an egg

2. production of eggs slows down in the winter time as there is not sufficient sunlight for the chicken, they need 14-16 hours of sunlight to lay an egg

3. their coops are a mess and stink, only if they are not cleaned regularly, and I might add, that if they do stink it is not as bad as a cat’s litter box

4. they are loud and obnoxious all day and night, they are only loud when they are laying an egg generally and they put themselves to bed each night as the sun goes down

5. in the early 1940’s the government encouraged people to be self-sufficient, including raising their own flocks of chickens

6. pest control, yes they will eat scorpions that many of us have here in Arizona, along with spiders and ticks just to name a few

7. weed control, they will eat most weeds, they are smart, they know which weeds they can and can’t eat

8. eggs from hens raised with access to your backyard are tastier and more nutritious, they're not only higher in omega-3s, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, D, and E, but they're lower in cholesterol and saturated fat.

9. they will eat most of your table scraps

10. they are easy to care for, believe it or not, they are a very low maintenance animal, give them fresh water and food daily and they are happy

Chickens are an inexpensive way for families to try to be as self-sufficient on their own property on a small scale, they just require a bit of care to check their water and food each morning and night. More and more families want to be self sufficient, they have vegetable gardens, they grow their own fruit trees, they can their own food, they want to know where their food is coming from. Raising backyard chickens is an easy way to be a bit more self-sufficient.

I personally want to thank Representative Boyer, when he received my original e-mail he was concerned and continued to keep in touch with me throughout the process of us trying to fight the city of Glendale to keep our girls. It really meant the world to me and gave me some hope that maybe just maybe something could be worked out with the city.

Unfortunately, the city did not see things our way and we did have to move our girls, they live about 6 miles away from us, on a family friends property, but they do not look after them the way that we did. My husband has gone over at least once a day to give them fresh water and make sure they have food, if he isn’t able to someone else in the family takes care of it, needless to say this could have been avoided had SB 1151 passed, we could have kept our girls with us. We were heart broken and still are, the day of the move we lost 2 girls due to the stress of the move and heatstroke and then another one of our girls died a week later after a feral cat attacked her, when we found her she was completely plucked of her feathers on her back and chest and covered in ants, and again this too could have been avoided had SB 1151 passed. We've made the difficult decision this week to move them to a new permanent home within the next month with a new family, they need to be at a home that they are looked after every morning and night like they were when they were on our property, it just isn’t fair to them.

I’m sure you think this isn’t your problem and your right it's not, but truthfully, there is no realistic reason that backyard chickens are not allowed, if they are allowed in some of the cities and towns in Arizona then why aren’t they allowed in all of them? Why do some cities have certain codes that will allow them while other’s have complete opposites, I know this isn’t your question to answer, but it is something that you can do for your constituents, by creating a something similar to SB 1151 and it won't cost the state a penny.

Thank you again, and I hope that something similar to SB 1151 is brought up again and passed, I know it would make a lot of people in this state happy, after all, those that want chickens already have them regardless of any city code, they just haven’t been caught or turned in to code yet, which means that their neighbors do not have a problem with them raising backyard chickens.