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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chicks!


We've raised chickens more years then I can count and for many years, got new batches of chicks each spring. But for these last few years we haven't gotten any new ones and our older ones quit laying years ago.

I've been paying for organic eggs lately, and even at Costco, the prices are pretty outrageous, especially when I know how cheap and easy it is to raise your own!

So, this last weekend we loaded up the kids and headed to the feed store and bought just under a dozen Rhode Island Reds and Ameracauna's.

Of course, the kitty cat thinks they are her new playthings as she is rarely more than an inch or two away from them. But lucky for them they are headed out into the little house tonight to finish their growing before moving them out in the coop. I just couldn't resist sharing this picture of our Samantha Kitty with her little "friends."






Container Gardening


On our quest to eat better we've been really trying to grow as much as our own food as we can. Years ago we intentionally looked for homes with property with gardening and animal raising in mind. We do now have just under five acres, but we don't have the mini-farm we envisioned. We have been fighting pests, bad soil and extremes in weather for years.

Our soil is mostly either really sandy, or thick, hard and clay like depending on which part of the property you are on. Neither is really great for growing. Not only that, but we have rather large amounts of rabbits, gophers, squirrels, birds and other pests that literally have taken down a rather large garden area in one night alone! For years after this incident we didn't even try to plant a garden.

We did have an old grape vine though on the property when we moved in, and for the first couple years I watered it faithfully, and nothing really ever came of it. It grew, and looked rather pretty but the grapes never took off so I just gave up.

Then one year, after no watering for about two years, guess what? GRAPES!! We have gotten plenty each year since!



After lots of thought, reading, and asking around, we decided to start planting in containers. That way we could purchase good soil, and have the plants kept safe from the over abundance of bunnies and gophers we have around here!

We use everything from old detergent containers, kitty litter containers, wheel barrels and more!

Years ago, we got a great deal on old wine barrels and purchased several. These are by far my most favorite containers, but normally they are pretty expensive and not easy to come by. I am always keeping my eyes open for more though!

We also use old animal water buckets and old Christmas Tree pots.

Kitty litter buckets don't make the prettiest containers, but they work and will get the job done!

A wheelbarrow is cute and functional!

Even old plastic bins are great for things like herbs.

We've been able to grow great peppers in just a five gallon bucket we got free for asking at our local garden center!

We currently have garlic growing in an old plastic water barrel we cut down. In that we also have some seeds starting in small planters, kept out of the dogs reach(who has turned out to be the BIGGEST garden pest of all!)

Our inherited grape vine!

A small grape vine we planted last year.

Green onions in the other half of the water barrel that the garlic is in pictured above.

A view of the larger containers lined up.

Swiss Chard in our old water bucket.

Tomatoes

Our kitty litter containers with stuff actually growing in them!

Most of these ideas can work anywhere regardless of the space you may have. It just requires a little creativity. I am sure it can be done on a small porch, balcony, stairs, just about anywhere. It's nice because you can control the soil, water, and pests so much easier in these small confined areas.

We have grown zucchini, squash, cucumbers, radishes, beets, a variety of greens, tomatoes, strawberries, onions, garlic, peppers, carrots and more in these containers.

You can save money on your produce, limit your trips to the grocery store and eat healthier by growing your own food. By purchasing organic and/or heirloom seeds and controlling the soil and what I use or don't use for pest control, I also know my food is poison and toxin free.

It's a great way to involve the kids too and teach them about where food comes from. Makes a great homeschool or afterschool project. Just give them a container or two and some seeds and let them grow their own little mini-gardens. They might even eat a veggie or two that they normally wouldn't even try if they grow it themselves!