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!

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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.

Feed Stores

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Feed stores are a very important aspect of urban farming. Without feed stores it would be very hard to maintain your urban farm, especially your poultry and live stock. In the Phoenix Metro area there are over 50 feed stores. These stores offer a range of products for urban farmers.

Personally, I have been to a lot of the feed stores across Arizona. I’ve been to so many it is almost embarrassing.  From this experience I have learned that no two feed stores are the same, even the same chains all have different products and set-ups.

There are higher end chains and then there are the “mom and pop” stores. In some cases the chains have better stock, but once in a while the “mom and pop” stores have unusual products.

The “mom and pop” stores often have different breeds of animals and more local products. One of my favorite local feed stores is Gordon’s Feed and Seed Store.  This store has local farmers contributing to their animal stock. They often purchase and resell chicks from local breeders and even animals that no longer have homes, such as roosters that can no longer live in certain urban areas.

One of my favorite chains that just started opening stores up in Arizona is Tractor Supply. Tractor Supply is the ultimate farm store.

This store has anything and everything related to urban farming. It attracts people with small farms and big farms. The innovatory of this store ranges from pet food, to clothing, to home improvement supplies. Tractor Supply has a huge selection of supplies and sells feed for almost any type of pet including dogs, cats, chickens, goats, and sheep.

Feed stores offer an array of supplies for urban farming and there are many stores in the Phoenix Metro area. They are also a lot of fun to visit!

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 2

In an earlier post I gave you some ways to participate in urban farming, if you live in a dorm room or an apartment. Urban farming in a door room is not hard and in order to prove it to you I am going to give you some examples of people who have participated in urban farming in someway in a dorm setting. Emily Lierle is a student at Arizona State University and she urban farms in her dorm room because she fell in love with agricultural farming over the summer. Lierle worked in Williston, North Dakota, an oil boom town, at the North Dakota State University Williston Research Extension Center as what she calls a “machinery girl”, which she says is basically a farmer.

Photo curtsy Emily Lierle

Photo curtsy Emily Lierle

She says that the research center takes “different varieties of plants and testing them out and tell farmers, that this is the best yield of corn variety.” She says that she got to work out in the fields some days and even planted potatoes and helped harvest some plants. Lierle says she enjoyed the experience and got to meet lots of people that she grew close with “It was just really nice cause like I’m usually in the concrete jungle, Phoenix, and I got to be out in nature.” She enjoyed everything being more laid back and being able to go out into a field and just be alone enjoying nature.

Emily Lierle

Lierle participating in the harvesting of potatoes
Photo curtsy of Emily Lierle

To reminder her of her summer experience Lierle has a few plants in her room. “I worked a lot with plants this summer and I was inspired to keep something in my room. I really wanted to keep basil but I can’t just eat basil” says Lierle.  “This summer I just learned how to take care of plants.” She learned how to care for different kinds of plants and likes they way they liven up the room. Lierle is now thinking about getting her Masters in Agriculture because of her experience over the summer.

Emily's Plants

Lierle’s Plants

Emily's Plants

Lierle’s Plants

Roommates Sarah Atchinson and Alex Scoville both participate in urban farming in their own ways, even though they live in a dorm. Atchinson has a few plants on her windowsill in her room and takes care of them because she enjoys it. “I like the idea of taking care of something other than myself, plus I think its nice to have some vegetation in a room, it adds a little color” she says.

Scoville regularly attends the Phoenix Public Market and says “Usually I go every Saturday, first of all it’s nice to wake up early in the morning and go grocery shopping, there’s a lot of people and music and lots of good smells.” She says one of her motivations for attending the farmers market is that she is supporting the local community by purchasing groceries and crafts there. She added that “there is something there for everyone.”

There are many ways to participate in urban farming when you live in a dorm room or apartment and these three women are only a few examples.