Cheryl Caldwell - William Raveis - The Dolores Person Group

Posted by Cheryl Caldwell on 4/30/2021

Photo by Zen Chung from Pexels

Despite the more recent interest in sustainable lifestyles, the practice and concept of urban agriculture has been around for centuries. Two of the most common forms of urban agriculture are allotments and community gardens. The term allotment is a term originating in Britain that refers to a piece of land cultivated by many people. Many use the terms interchangeably but there are some key differences. Both are important examples of urban agriculture and worth considering as part of a sustainable modern lifestyle.

What Are the Differences?

Though there are some fundamental differences in the setup of allotments and community gardens, both work toward the common goal of small-scale local agriculture on otherwise unused land. While community gardens in North America are managed and maintained by an entire collective, allotments have specific “tenants” who lease their own small portion of the land.

In an allotment, each tenant has their own small piece of something big. According to TripSavvy, the land is usually owned by local council churches, allotment associations or private landlords and leased out to local individuals or families. They cultivate their own particular plot of the land but help maintain shared spaces.

American community gardens are on public land or land owned by non-profit entities. The labor is largely volunteer-based with varying levels of organization depending on the specific garden.

What Are the Benefits?

Urban agriculture has multiple benefits regardless of location. Some of the biggest advantages include:

  • Allotments and community gardens help foster a sense of teamwork and pride among residents and neighbors working on a common goal.

  • Urban agriculture can increase the air quality by releasing oxygen and filtering toxins from nearby pollution. While it might not be a large-scale impact, it can positively affect microclimates and improve quality of life.

  • Community gardens provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables to “food deserts” and low-income areas. Allotments produce food for tenant families and other members of the community at large.

  • Urban agriculture provides a sustainable alternative to foods with high transportation-energy costs. In many urban areas you might have to drive or take public transportation to reach your nearest grocery store. Even organic foods you buy have probably traveled a long way to make it there. If you get your fruits and vegetables in a community garden, it not only saves time but saves energy as well.

  • Both allotments and community gardens offer an opportunity to teach gardening skills and share knowledge with those who might otherwise never have access to it. Children and others who have lived in cities their entire lives can benefit from useful skills and nutritional knowledge. Residents with mobility issues or disabilities can become involved in the garden's care to stay active and social.

  • Urban agriculture puts “unusable” land to good use without loud construction or outside business involvement. This means more peaceful neighborhoods and a cleaner environment while eliminating waste.

While urban agriculture has been around for a long time, it’s more important now than ever. The rise in awareness and popularity of sustainable living and food habits has made them easier to find and gain support for. This makes it easier for you to get involved in one yourself—or start a new one for your own community.

Posted by Cheryl Caldwell on 6/14/2019

Are you trying to keep cats out of your garden to protect your birds or to stop them from defecating in your yard? Or perhaps to keep wandering cats from mingling with your cats. Whatever the reason, with the correct approach, you can successfully keep cats out of your garden for good and stop them from using it as their private litter box.

1. Preventative planting with chicken wire

Place chicken wire down on top of your soil or mulch, across the garden bed before you plant. Cats dislike walking on the chicken wire, so this will keep them out. Using your wire cutters, you should be able to open up pockets in the chicken wire sufficiently large for your plants to grow.

2. Cat repellent plants

Some plants give off smells that repel cats. One good example is the plant known as scaredy-cat plant. Other plants that work just as well at keeping cats away are rue, lavender, and pennyroyal. You can plant these and also the other plants in your garden for all-around effectiveness. 

3. Ultrasound devices

Some ultrasound devices function on a high frequency that is imperceptible by humans but is rather intolerable for cats. You just position the device so that it faces the garden. A motion sensor detects the intruder's presence, and the device gives off its high-pitched sound, frightening off the cat. 

4. Smelly substances

Cats apparently don't like dried blood as is present in blood meal fertilizer, or citrus scents. Place peels of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit in your garden to repel stray cats. You can also use mothballs or cayenne pepper flakes although they sting.

5. Keep your yard, garden, and property clean. 

Clear gardens decrease visits from all stray and wandering cats. Be sure to avoid feeding your own pets outside as the food odor serves to attract other animals, including cats. You should also keep your outdoor grill and any other outer eating areas clean to prevent food smells. Secure your trash bins so cats cannot gain access. If you observe urine spray on your garden walls, wash them with odor neutralizer to stop the cats from returning. 

If your community has laws, ordinances, or homeowner association restrictions, that prevent you from taking any of these steps, you can ask what can be done legally to stop wandering cats.

Tags: how to   cats   garden  
Categories: Gardening   how to   cats  

Posted by Cheryl Caldwell on 1/5/2018

If you keep a garden but find yourself throwing away leftover food, you're probably missing out on the opportunity to reclaim the nutrients of that food through composting. When you compost, you're essentially speeding up nature's process of breaking down organic matter into fertile soil. The compost can then be used to nourish the soil of your garden or lawn. Today you'll learn how to make a compost bin, mix the compost, and then spread it into your lawn and garden so you can make the most of the extra waste you have at home.

Making a compost bin

There are endless ways to make a compost bin. In fact, a bin isn't even necessary to make good compost, and some people choose to just keep a pile that they turn throughout the year. Making a bin has many advantages, however: it keeps the compost pile warm and moist (two essential elements that speed up decomposition), it keeps pests out of your compost, and it keeps your neighbors happy who might not want to smell decomposing food when they go outside. Compost bins are commonly made from wood, chicken wire or plastic. Some towns even subsidize compost bins to encourage people to compost rather than throwing their compostable waste in the trash. Old wooden pallets are a great product to build compost bins from.

Adding compost to your bin

People who are new to composting often worry about what can be composted. Once you get started, though, you'll soon realize that almost any organic matter will break down in a compost bin. Beginners often stick to vegetables, coffee grounds, grains, and materials from your yard. Greens and Browns Compostable materials are often broken down into greens (nitrogen-based materials) and browns (carbon-based materials). Your compost bin doesn't need a perfect balance to be effective, but using some of each type of organic matter will produce the best results. Too much brown matter in your bin will be hard to decompose. Too much green matter will make the compost slimy. Here are some examples of great carbon and nitrogenous materials to put in your bin: Brown:
  • dry leaves
  • straw
  • newspaper
  • sawdust
  • wood chips
  • fruits and vegetables
  • weeds from the yard
  • fresh grass clippings
  • flowers
  • coffee grounds

Maintaining the compost pile

To create a good environment for decomposition you'll need three things: heat, moisture, and air. This makes compost bins relatively low-maintenance, but here are some tips to speed up the decomposition process: Heat In the spring and summer, nature will provide this for you, but having an enclosed bin that receives plenty of sunlight will help you out. Moisture The bacteria that are doing the composting in your bin require water to live. But too much water will make your bin a slimy mess. Shoot for moist, not wet. Air A compost bin needs to be aerated to blend the ingredients together. You don't need to turn it often; once every two to three weeks is fine.   Now that you know all you need to about making great compost for the lawn and garden, it's just a matter of mixing it in and reaping the rewards. Mix compost into garden soil and lawns early in the spring and in the fall after harvest to keep the soil healthy year-round.