What are the Pros and Cons of Having a Rain Barrel?

Those that already have a rain barrel installed at their home, will know that the pros and benefits are a lot more than the cons and negatives. However, there are still many that doesn’t have the rain barrel installed or that are just thinking about it.

What are the Pros and Cons of Having a Rain Barrel?

The moment that you know why this is something to consider, and knowing the pros and cons, you will be able to make the decision to purchase a rain barrel easier.

With these pros and cons, you will get to know why this is important to install the rain barrel. Why you need to make sure that this is something that you seriously are considering. These are everything that you need to know about having a rain barrel at your home.

Pros: Great way to Get Additional Water

The most important benefit is that this is a great way to get additional water for your home. You can use it to water your garden, even if there are drought restrictions.

The water can be used for anything outside your home. You can use it whatever you need the water for. It can be for your garden, for filling up your pool, or for filling up the birdbath.

Cons: The Water Isn’t Clean Enough for Drinking

A con and problem to remember are that the water isn’t clean enough for drinking. Not without installing the recommended filters and cleaners. With a filter or cleaner, this is the only way that you can use the barrel inside the home as well.

And, then you will need to have a large barrel installed. And, with the larger barrel, you will need to make sure that it is connected to your home and that there are high-quality filters and cleaners installed as well. To ensure that your family doesn’t drink filthy rainwater.

Pros: Great for Watering Garden

As we said before, this is great for watering the garden. The water is full of nutrients and without any harsh chemicals that are harmful and dangerous to plants and that can delay growing.

Rain Barrel for Watering Garden

The water is all-natural. The only thing to remember is that if you are living in an area where air pollution is high, you need to consider using a filter. Even if you are just watering your plants with the rain barrel’s water. The cleaner the water, the more beneficial it will be for your plants.

Cons: You can Struggle to Fill up the Barrel During the Dry Season

During the dry season, you will struggle to fill up the barrel and to keep water inside. You will use the water more than what it will rain. By the end of the dry season, you might not have any water left for use.

This can be a problem, if you want to water your plants, even during the dry season. And, you will need to consider installing a bigger barrel that can take more water that will last you a lot longer.

Pros: Save on Water Means Safe on Money

When you save on water, it will mean one thing. That you are going to save on money. One of the most common reasons why people are installing rain barrels. They don’t always have the money to spend on the water. Water that is getting used for watering the plants and for other cleaning purposes.

With the rain barrel, you can still use water, without paying for it. By installing a rain barrel outside your home. You can use the money that you have saved on other, more important things for you and your family. And, always have water at hand. In the rain barrel outside filled with rainwater, ready to use.

It is important to know the pros and cons of having a rain barrel before you are installing it at your home. For some people, this is worth the money spent to purchase the equipment to install the barrel. However, for some, this isn’t really worth it at all. With the pros and cons, you will get an idea if this is something that you can use without any problems, or if this is something that you need to reconsider.

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How to Make Solar Garden Lights Brighter?

You have purchased your solar garden lights, and you are excited about seeing how it works during the night. But then you realize that it isn’t as bright as what you hoped it would be. Or, it worked great for a couple of nights, and now the lights aren’t as bright as what it used to be.

How to Make Solar Garden Lights Brighter?

Is it possible to make solar garden lights bright again, and will it be possible to do it without spending a lot of money on it?

The good news is that with just a couple of changes, you might have your lights shine as bright as new. These are the things that you should check so that your garden lights shine bright again.

Make sure that the solar panel is getting enough sunlight during the day

This is one of the most common reasons why solar garden lights aren’t shining as bright as what they did before. This is because the solar panel isn’t getting enough sun during the day. It might have worked a couple of months ago, but now the trees and plants have grown, and something might be blocking the panel.

So, during the day, make sure that the panel is getting sunlight. The more sunlight the panel have, the longer and brighter it will shine during the day. You should make sure that the panel is getting sunlight during the hottest part of the day.

Make sure that the solar panel is clean

Solar light panel

Another reason why your solar garden light might not be bright anymore. It might not be clean. Even if the panel is in the sun throughout the day, if there is dirt on the panel, it won’t be able to get sunlight. The dirt is blocking the sun.

This is why a solar panel should always be clean. And, you need to make a point in cleaning it on a regular basis. To ensure that the panel is always clean and charging correctly. Then, you will have your lights shine bright again.

No debris and dirt on the lights visible

On the light itself, there could be debris and dirt that is blocking the light. Making the light seem not as bright anymore. This is why you should make sure that you are cleaning the light from any debris and dirt. This will ensure that you see the real light shining through, and not only just part of it through all the dirt and debris from years of standing outside.

Sometimes just a good clean is all that you need to ensure that your lights are shining as brightly as before. Making sure that you are enjoying your bright solar lights again.

Replace the solar power batteries

This might be something that you might not know. Even solar garden lights are working with rechargeable batteries. The solar panel is charging the batteries that are being used at night so that the lights are going to shine brightly.

Over time these solar power batteries are getting broken as well. They just don’t charge anymore, no matter how long you are charging the batteries. And, this will require you to purchase new batteries for the solar garden lights. Then, you will see that the lights are shining bright again.

Consider purchasing higher quality solar garden lights

If nothing else works, then there is just one solution that you can consider. You should consider purchasing higher quality solar garden lights. The higher the quality, the brighter it will shine. And, it will make sure that you are getting the results that you were hoping for.

When you are purchasing higher quality garden lights, you should ask a professional for the lights that are shining brighter for longer. It might be more expensive, but it will be worth the effort and the money spent.

Now, you know how to make your solar garden lights shine brighter. These are simple cleaning hacks that might be influencing the brightness of the lights that are shining. You should start by the solar panel and work your way down to ensure that everything is clean and in perfect working order. If nothing else works, then you might want to replace the lights will something higher in quality.


10 Best Solar Garden Lights – (2020 Reviews & Guide)

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How to Take Care of Succulents Indoors?

If you read this, you might have tried to grow succulents indoors, and most probably failed. This is because no matter how beautiful it is, they can be tricky to take care of indoor.

How to Take Care of Succulents Indoors?

However, we have some good news. There are some ways that you can take care of succulents indoors and ensure that it stays healthy and not die on you.

You just need to know where to start and what to do to take proper care of your succulents indoors. This is how you should take care of succulents indoors.

Only a couple of succulents can be kept indoors

This is the most important thing to remember. You can only keep a couple of succulents indoors. This might be the main reason why your succulents are dying. You are trying to keep those that need to have sunlight, indoors.

It is recommended that you are doing your research, and make sure that you are finding the right succulents that are able to be kept indoors and that will be able to stay alive. You can also talk to an expert to make sure that you know which succulent you can purchase for keeping it indoors.

Give succulents as much light as possible

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what type of succulent you are buying. You need to make sure that it is getting as much light as possible. If you are lucky, sunlight is the best light that you can give. But, if sunlight isn’t coming into your home, then normal light is also a possibility.

The only thing that you need to know is that your plant needs more than 6 hours of light in order to stay healthy and alive. If your succulent looks like it is dying, it might be because it isn’t getting enough light during the day.

Watering tips for keeping your succulents alive

Watering Succulents Indoors

The second thing that you need to know about how to take care of your succulent indoors, is the amount of water that you are giving it. The succulent doesn’t need as frequently water as your other house plants. However, it needs to have a lot of water when you do give it water. This is to make sure that the leaves of the succulent are sucking enough water for staying healthy.

Most people think that a succulent doesn’t require a lot of water, and doesn’t need to be water all the time. However, this isn’t the truth. Don’t need to water it as frequently, but a lot of water each time you do give it water.

Needs containers that can drain water

We all have seen the glass containers in the stores that have the succulents in. It is beautiful and most people are considering having one. However, did you know that this isn’t the recommended container for a succulent? This is because you need to have a container that can drain water away from the plant. And, with a glass container, this is a lot harder to achieve.

You should make sure that the container has draining holes in and that it can drain access water after you gave it the required amount of water.

The right soil and fertilizer is also essential

Besides, the light and the right container, you should also make sure that you are using the right soil and fertilizer. Even something like a succulent need to have the right type of pottery soil to grow successfully. And, you need to fertilize the soil at least once a year.

There is much information online about the soil and fertilizer needed for a succulent, or you can talk to a professional.

Keep your succulent bug-free

Because your succulent is indoors, you might not have problems with bugs. However, a newly purchased plant might have bugs that you don’t see yet. So, you should make sure that you know how to keep your succulent bug-free. This is the easiest way for a succulent to die.

Most people like to have a succulent in their homes. It is a beautiful plant, and it is easy to take care of. However, then you need to make sure that you know what type of succulent you can have indoors, and you need to know how to take care of your succulents.

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How to Prepare Soil for Tomatoes?

So many of us love eating tomatoes or using it in our food. But, buying tomatoes can cost a lot of money.

And, there are people that have tried to plant tomatoes, but they are failing with growing tomatoes successfully, because of lack of knowledge and information about growing tomatoes.

The moment that you know how to prepare the soil for growing tomatoes, you will never have to purchase tomatoes anymore and you will have more success with your tomatoes.

How to Prepare Soil for Tomatoes?

The first step. Check for sunlight. Tomatoes needs lots of sunlight

This is the first step in preparing the soil for growing tomatoes. This is to make sure that the soil is getting enough sunlight. The soil needs to get more than 6 hours of sunlight. The afternoon sun is much better than the morning sun.

The only way that the tomato plants are going to grow in healthy large tomatoes is if they are getting adequate sunlight. This is normally the first thing that people are doing wrong when they are planting tomatoes for the first time.

The first step in preparing the soil for planting the seeds

Now, you can start preparing the soil for planting the seeds or seedlings. Tomatoes needs to have a special type of soil to grow healthy. This is normally not similar to most other fruit and vegetables. The soil needs to be a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. And, it should be an equal mixture of these ingredients.

Yes, tomatoes are normally growing easy, as long as it is getting water and having enough sunlight. But, to get large tomatoes, you need to consider the type of soil it is growing in.

You can use potting soil for tomatoes. That is the best soil for tomatoes in container or pots.

The soil needs to be more acidy than for other vegetables

The number one secret to growing tomatoes successfully. The soil needs to be acidy. It should have a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. These acid testers can be purchased almost anywhere. It is just important to make sure that you are purchasing a high-quality tester.

You don’t want to get the wrong reading and make the soil to acidy. Then, you will get your tomatoes to grow.

Adding the right type of fertilizer

This is now the time to start adding the fertilizer. The right type of fertilizer. You will be able to get the right fertilizer at the nursery. It is essential that you are purchasing the right fertilizer and you should make sure that you are using the right amount of fertilizer and work it into the ground.

The richer your ground is in fertilizer, the more and healthier tomatoes you are going to get. Yes, you can make use of your own compost to grow a more organic tomato. You should just make sure that you are adding the right amount of compost to your garden.

Planting the seedlings or seeds

Tomato seedlings

Now, you can plant your tomato seeds or seedlings. You should do this is the coolest part of the day, when there isn’t any sun shining on the soil. This is to give the seedlings some time to settle in the ground, before the sun is starting to shine on them, making them hot.

Giving them water just after planting them is really important. However, the ground should just be wet, not soaking wet. You don’t want to drown the seeds or seedlings with the first watering.

Watering and keeping the ground warm is essential

Watering tomato plants

Keeping the soil wet and the ground warm is essential for the tomatoes to grow. Covering the ground with soil plastic is ideal if the weather is on the colder weather. Don’t let the soil dry outs as well. Especially during the first couple of weeks after planting the seeds and seedlings.

It isn’t as hard to grow tomatoes as what you might think. You only need to make sure that your soil is perfect for the tomatoes. With following this guide, you will be able to grow the best, largest and the most tomatoes you ever have grown before. And, if you have tried growing tomatoes before, unsuccessfully, it will not happen again.

Now, you will the guide in preparing your soil, making sure that it has the right pH levels and that it is fertilized correctly. With growing your own tomatoes, you will not have to purchase tomatoes ever again. Letting you save a lot of money for the more important things at the end of each month.

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How Does a Mold Test Kit Work?

Many homeowners are making use of a mold test kit to see if the mold in their homes is dangerous. But, how do these mold test kits work?

How Does a Mold Test Kit Work?

And, is this the best and only way to test mold in your home? We all know the dangers of having certain types of mold in your home. Especially, if you have small children and pets at home.

With this guide, you will know how does a mold test kit work, and you will know about which method is going to be the best for testing mold.

Why is it important to know how a mold test kit works?

As you might know, there are different types of mold. And, if you found some mold in your home, you need to make sure that you know if this is the dangerous type or not.

Because there are different ways of testing the mold, you need to know how a mold test kit works. This will give you the insight to see if the test kit is a high-quality kit or if this is just another waste of money.

If you know how the mold kit works, you will be able to know if this is a high-quality test kit or not.

Is mold testing kits the best options to use?

In general, it is a great option to use a mold testing kit for testing mold in your home. However, this depends on the type of mold test that you are purchasing.

When you are purchasing the cheapest mold test, you need to know that this might not be the best way to test mold. However, if you are purchasing the mold test that is similar to the ones that professionals use, then this might be enough to test the mold correctly.

So, there isn’t really a correct answer to the question if mold testing kits are the best option to use or not. It depends on the type of mold test that you are purchasing.  With a high-quality testing kit, you will get the best results.

Different kits have different testing methods

Mold Testing Methods

It is hard to explain exactly how the mold testing kits work. This is because different testing kits are using different methods to test the mold. Some are a lot more complicated to explain than other kits.

Basically, the mold testing kit is telling you what type of mold you have in your home. If this is the dangerous one or not. You should make sure that you know how the testing kit works before you purchase it. And, the best way to know this, is to ask a professional for some insight.

Three different ways that you can test your mold

There are basically three different mold test kits that you can choose from. It is working differently. The first test kit is the indoor air quality mold test. The second test that you can do is the air conditioning and heating sampling method is looking for mold in your air conditioning and heating systems.

The third test that you can do for testing mold is the surface sampling testing method to know what type of mold you have.

The best way to test the mold in your home

You can test mold in your home with a mold testing kit. Some are really accurate and you will know if you have mold, and what type of mold you might have. However, this isn’t the best way to test mold in your home.

The best way to be for sure what type of mold you have, and if there is any mold, is to hire a professional to come to your home and to test it professionally. This is the best way. This is also the most expensive way, but if you want to make sure that you are getting the right information, these guys are the best way to test mold.

By knowing more about the mold testing kits, you will understand better on how these kits are working, and if it is really as accurate as what you might think. With all this information, you will know now, that finding the right mold test is essential to get the right information. And, this might mean that you should hire a professional.

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FREE Backyard Barnyard Workshop Saturday 8/16

Interested in keeping goats or sheep or pigs? As part of the Bernalillo County Open Space Backyard Farming Series, I will be teaching a free workshop on dairy goats at the Gutierrez-Hubbell House this Saturday, August 16th, starting at 9 am, and Robin Miller will be teaching a workshop on sheep and pigs starting at 11 am.

RSVP to Colleen Langan to secure your space and don’t forget to register when you arrive to be entered for our giveaways at the end of the workshop. Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Upcoming Events In Albuquerque

Happy new year, dear readers.

It’s true. I’ve been remiss in posting. While you wait for more recipes and farm animal lore, here are some (mostly) FREE events happening here in Albuquerque.

1. Bug Love

Wednesday, February 13th, 6-7:15 PM at Bachechi Open Space. FREE. A fun talk with my favorite entomologist Dr. Tess Grasswitz. Details here.

2. Beekeeping 101

Saturday, March 2. Erda Gardens. Details here.

3. ABQ Beekeepers Meeting

Thursday, March 7, 6:30-8:30 PM. FREE. Details here.

4. Empowering Women in Agriculture Seminar

Friday, March 8th. FREE. MRGCD Agricultural Collaborative. Register and details here.

5. Edible Landscapes

Saturday, March 9, 9 AM-12:30 PM at the historic Gutierrez-Hubbell House. FREE. Part of the popular Bernalillo County Open Space Backyard Farming Workshop Series. Details here on this and other workshops this year.

And don’t forget…now is the perfect time to plant your spring garden (under row cover, of course). Plant lettuces, greens and spring root crops for an early April harvest. While I don’t use straw bales anymore (I simply use two layers of row cover and wire wickets), here is a blog about an easy way to create a quick cold frame to grow spring greens.

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NM Native Pollinator Pocket Guides

My favorite entomologist, Dr. Tess Grasswitz, has published new and FREE guides to beneficials in New Mexico. They are available for download from NMSU’s website and have great photos and descriptions. Go to the above link and scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link for either IPM for Home Gardeners or the Guide to Beneficial Insects of New Mexico.

There is a ton of great information on Tess’s Integrated Pest Management website, and the information is applicable to more than just New Mexico. Take a look. Thanks, Tess (& thanks, Rebecca, for sharing the link!)!

sunstone dill ladybeetles

Lady Beetles and larvae on dill that’s gone to seed.

Here is one of my favorite tips for increasing beneficials in the garden:

Let plants go to seed. Especially dill, wild carrot, cilantro, basil, fennel, etc. This can be tricky when you have a small garden, but try to include a row for pollinators. The benefit of doing this really hit home a few years back when I let the collards that I grew over the winter go to seed in the spring.

I briefly worried that I would be creating habitat for early populations of the cabbage moths, but what I discovered instead was that although the cabbage moths had an earlier food source, so did the parasitic wasps that preyed on them. What I noticed after a few years of letting collards go to seed was that not only were my populations of cabbage moths reduced, the large branched collard plants provided seed (and insects) and perches for birds, habitat for spiders and lady beetles (which I typically see more in the Umbelliferae plants but perhaps early in the spring they take what they can get). And, I had “free” new collard plants growing without having to do any work on my part.

Again, this is really only practical in a “wild” type garden, but I always keep some wild areas along the micro-managed gardens for beneficials and have noticed very minimal pest pressure on the veggies (except for squash bugs, but that’s another post!). I’d love to hear what others are doing in smaller gardens to encourage beneficials.

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I Wanna Go To Farm Camp!

How cool is it that such a thing as “farm camp” exists? No endless weeks of daycare, uniforms, and kumbaya for the modern set. Now young’uns can learn about farm animals, growing food, and all sorts of things that were, let’s be honest, probably chores way back in the day. I can imagine my 98-year old grandmother who couldn’t wait to get off the farm at 16 shuddering at the thought of actually wanting to do all this fun farm-y stuff. (In fact, I do think she’s a bit amused at how I like to spend my time!).

Desi says she wants to go to Farm Camp!

These days, however, our youth are in critical need of connecting with nature and where our food comes from. Farm Camp may just be one of the more important movements (along with school gardens) happening in the “nature deficit disorder” scene.

Here in Albuquerque, we are lucky to have our own farm camp at Erda Gardens, a biodynamic CSA and Learning Center. In their third year of hosting farm camp, they bring in local experts to make the experience so much the richer. This year’s sessions start the first week in June. Find out more about Farm Camp at Erda Gardens on their website. Looks like so much fun!

Amanda and the Amazing Above Water Farm Camp Basket Weavers

Posted in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Permaculture, School Garden, South Valley - Albuquerque, Urban Homestead, Workshops | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cuckoo Marans Chickens

We get a lot of blog hits from people searching for information about Cuckoo Marans chickens, an older breed that is newly popular. There isn’t a lot of information about Cuckoo Marans out there, so I thought I would add a post about my experience with the breed.

Cuckoo Marans Chickens

Cuckoo Marans Momma Hen and Her Just Hatched Chicks: “Oh My Stars!”

I’m not going to write about how this is a heritage breed from France, their history in the United States, etc. I’m going to tell you about my experience with the breed. If you just want the details in a nutshell: they are a good dual-purpose breed, average egg-layers (don’t go for them if you’re looking for serious production), dark eggs IF you get good genetics, good mothers, the roosters are good meat birds, and they’re pretty but don’t have spectacular plumage.

1. I wanted dark brown eggs. After reading about the different dark brown-egg-laying breeds, the Cuckoo Marans seemed appealing, especially since I like dual-purpose birds.

2. I ordered 25 Cuckoo Marans, straight run, from Murray MacMurray hatchery, which is my favorite hatchery. They all survived and were healthy, BUT only a handful of the hens ended up laying the really dark eggs that MM advertises. Some were darkly speckled as opposed to entirely dark. (By the way, when you get the chicks, those with a larger whitish spot on the head tend to be the roosters. The hens tend to be darker).

I think this is because A) MacMurray’s got the breed, but they’re just pumping out the eggs, not raising them up and selecting for egg color and B) word on the street is, over the years, Cuckoo Marans were crossed with Barred Rocks to improve their egg production. So, the breed produced more eggs, but the eggs had an occasionally lighter color. Don’t get me wrong, the eggs are still darker than, say, a Buff Orpington, but I’ve had RIR’s lay darker eggs.

So…if you really want dark eggs right away, I recommend buying from a breeder, not one of the larger hatcheries.

3. Barred Rocks and Cuckoo Marans have similar coloring, but the barring and coloring are really different if you pay attention. There was one hen of the 25 who had coloring more similar to a Barred Rock than a Cuckoo Marans, which reinforced my supposition that there were Barred Rock genetics present.

That hen’s name, by the way, is Chatty Kathy, because she used to make so much noise -cackling at me when I milked the goats. I think she was trying to say “I’m not a Marans. I’m not supposed to be here.” But, unlike Barred Rocks, she stopped laying her first moult and never started up again (I think that was two years ago). That’s an early retirement if I’ve ever seen one! She’s also mean to her fellow hens. She’s been on the list to cull, but Tree likes her, so she’s still part of the flock. For now.

4. So, back on the ranch, I selected the darkest eggs from the hens with the darkest coloring to hatch out. We had good first hatching of chicks. Our Buff Orpington named Crazy raised them up (she was a broody machine, going broody again a few weeks after each clutched was raised…even in January). Sadly of that first clutch, more than half were roosters. More sadness, several of the female chicks drowned in the goat’s water bucket (we’ve since put it up on blocks when we have chicks), so we had a small number of hens that were raised up from that first batch. Many were already promised to friends, so we kept only two.

Those two hens had the dark feather coloring and dark eggs that I wanted, however, when I went to hatch out their eggs, many of the eggs were duds (they didn’t hatch). That has never happened. What that was all about I don’t know: did the rooster really not ever mount them? Or was there something structural or genetic at play?

I ended up being so enamored with a Marans/Araucana cross name Lulu (from a favored white Araucauna (Whitey) who was an incredible layer with a great personality), that I decided to stop breeding the Marans and just raise the offspring of Whitey and Lulu.

The Marans roosters were large and for the most part good roosters (in my book a good rooster doesn’t attack people, is not overly amorous with the hens, good fertilization rate, and takes care of his hens (finds them food, protects, etc.). The last purebred Marans rooster, however, ended up being mean with the girls, so I made the decision to keep a hybrid Marans/Araucauna cross and no longer raise pure Marans chickens. After all, there’s something to be said for hybrid vigor.

So, for all of you who find this blog looking for information about Cuckoo Marans, I hope this is useful to you!

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