An Update on my Gourds

As most of my readers know about six months ago I started to dry some gourds that I had grown in the fall. This process took about four-five months in totality and I followed the simple directions I listed in my post about Arizona Gourds.

Following the drying process I tried leaving some of my gourds as is, giving them a natural look, while I painted others different colors, in this case I chose the color green because it went with the decor in my home. Finally, I tried lacquering them as well to give them a shiny look.  My personal favorite was the lacquered style but see for yourself!

Urban Farms in the Summer

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As the summer months approach, I finally fall back into my blogs. Although this blog has been ignored for a few months Fear Not! I hope to be back with a more constant stream of information for my readers!

During the summer it’s harder to keep your urban garden alive, especially in places like Arizona where temperatures can hit as high as 120 degrees. This makes it difficult to keep plants healthy and unfortunately, any live stock or poultry you may have. There are a few things you can do to help take care of your urban garden.

1. WATER, WATER AND MORE WATER…. make sure to provide your garden, live stock or poultry plenty of water. A good way to keep poultry and livestock cool wet down the ground where these animal are housed. As a general rule of thumb I water down that area about twice a day and water my garden around three times a day, if possible.

2. SHADE…make sure your livestock and poultry have shade for the hottest parts of the day. Shade can create an area that is around ten degrees cooler than areas that are in direct sunlight.

3. MONITOR…make sure you continue to check up on your urban farmer, if you see signs of heat stress on your plants, livestock or poultry take action, continue to give them lots of water and contact a veterinarian if signs get worse.

Arizona Gourds

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Gourds grown in my garden

This year, my garden has been a little bit behind on it’s growing cycle. Instead of receiving pumpkins and gourds in October and November around Halloween and Thanksgiving, we had gourds popup in December right before Christmas.

We had so many different size and shaped gourds that we decided to pick them and learn how to dry them out for crafting and decoration.

According to wikiHow there a several ways to dry gourds:

Method 1 of 5: Drying Gourds in the Field

Method 2 of 5: Drying Gourds off the Vine

Method 3 of 5: Hanging Gourds to Dry

Method 4 of 5: Greenscaping Gourds

Method 5 of 5: Cleaning Gourds after They are Dried

for more detailed information about these methods visit the wikiHow page about drying gourds.

Have a happy New Year!

Volunteering at the Growhouse

Growhouse is a community garden in Downtown Phoenix that is a part of the Roosevelt Row District.  On November 17th, 2013 I had the chance to volunteer at Growhouse with students from Downtown Barrett. Growhouse has partnered with the Roosevelt Row District to create a community location for community members to come together and work to grow a garden that benefits them.

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Growhouse consists of a community garden, private plots for gardeners in the community, a boutique called the GROWop boutique, a chicken coop, a compost area and a beehive.  The GROWop boutique sells handmade vintage and local goods as well as houses local artists art work.

Kenny Barrett, the co-founder of Growhouse and programs manager for Roosevelt Row CDC,  started Growhouse with another artist, Kelly Placke in 2008.  “We didn’t have any experience when we started” he says. “Phoenix is super accessible, especially right now, it’s an exciting time of year because you can really get in and start something right now.” He spoke to BLAST’D, The Barrett Leadership and Service Team Downtown, before they went out and volunteered at Growhouse where they weeded plants, helped paint the house, and planted plants. “Once we started growing enough we started selling our vegetables at the farmers market and now we sell to local restaurants and cafes, like Carly’s” Barrett says. “We get all kinds of people out there volunteering…doing this has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had and it has led to a lot of interesting things.”

“The Growhouse itself is just a magnet of awesome, there is so many beautiful things that have happened as a result of having that place for people to go, to learn about the community and in retrospect to really understand that there is growth within gardens in Downtown Phoenix” says Nicole Underwood Director of operations for the Roosevelt Row CDC, who also spoke to students about Growhouse and Roosevelt Row. “Growhouse kind of comes underneath the A.R.T.S Market Program…and that stands for Activating Temporary Reusable Space and basically we [Roosevelt Row CDC] as an organization saw the dirt lots, not as a deficit but as an opportunity for growth, to activate, to get people involved downtown.”

Bailey Scalise, a student who volunteered at Growhouse, says “It was nice to do volunteer work that was more physical and had an immediate impact on the community.”

Growhouse has many opportunities to volunteer. Every Sunday from 10 am until noon, August thought May, they have a Garden Day at Growhouse. On these days volunteers can help with preparing garden beds, planting, weeding, building things to use within the garden and other projects. To sign up to volunteer contact Kenny Barrett at kenny@rooseveltrow.org.

An Update on My Urban Farm

ChickenMy urban farm has had some ups and downs over the past couple of months. We have had many attacks on our urban farm by different predators who have attacked our chickens and even our garden. After several attacks on our chicken coop (including a cat prying the side of the coop open) we have a total of three chickens left, all from our original flock.

We plan on raising more chicks at some point so that we can increase our egg production. Currently, we only receive about two or three eggs a day. In the past, we have received about ten to a dozen eggs a day. We were to the point that we had no idea what to do with so many eggs, so we gave them away to neighbors and friends.

Our garden is currently producing lots of different plants. We have a large crop of okra and have a bunch of gourds growing in our backyard. One of the plants that we wanted to grow a large crop of was pumpkins, but unfortunately they did not flower.  One of the biggest problems we had with our garden was birds. We have birds lurking in our backyard because of our chickens and the chicken feed we have near our garden. When the birds had finished off the chicken feed they decided to go after the newly planted seeds in our garden, which caused lost of problems when we were trying to grow plants. We also had lots of volunteer plants from the last few years of harvests.

Besides the chickens we also have rabbits, cats, and a  tortoise. In the past we have also had ducks. I hope to expand my urban farm to include many other animals. The animal aspect of urban farming is my favorite part because I have a passion for animals.

*UPDATE 11/13/13*

We have now added these 9 little ones to our flock.

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A Local Urban Gardener

Kim Kunasek lives in the Phoenix Metro Area and has her own urban garden in her backyard. She has cultivated and tended to her garden to the point that she wants to share it with others. She decided to do this by joining a group of individual families who put on urban garden tours.  Over the years she has participated in many different urban garden tours and had hundreds of guests tour her garden.  Kunasek has a passion for gardening and growing edibles, plants that you can eat, and raising chickens. Kunasek and her garden were even featured in the Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine. Her garden started off with just plants and then grew to also have chickens as well as other animals. Check out her story.

Urban Farming in a Dorm Room: Part 1

Many people who live in apartments or dorm room think that they cannot participate in urban farming, here are a few tips about urban farming in that situation.

There are a few things you can do:

1. You can always start your own kitchen/balcony/window seal garden. This is fairly easy to do, you can go to a home improvement store such as Home Depot or Lowe’s and purchase a pre-made kit.

2. You can also go to local farmers markets a purchase fresh produce, here is a list of local farmers markets in Arizona.

3. You can always volunteer at a local community garden or even buy your own plot to farm in.