High Soil PH

This year is our first year in our house, and the first year we’ve used this garden space.  The raised beds in our garden were a big selling point of the house.  Last winter we bought our seed for the year, the garden tools we were lacking, and some soil test kits.  Busy with life, we got much of the garden planted late (not terribly late, just later than we wanted) and skipped the soil tests.  Bad idea.

About half way through the growing season, the lackluster performance of some of our veggies prompted us to pull out the test kits and check our soil out.  The most important discovery is that throughout our garden the soil PH is far higher than it should be, over 8 in some places.  Most plants perform best in a range of 6 to 7, with some acid loving plants performing well as low as 5.  An elevated soil PH can keep plants from absorbing available nutrients, which inhibits growth, invites pest problems, decreases yield, and makes the food produced less rich in micronutrients.

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Financial Independence

To us, financial independence is a large part of self-sufficiency. Debt is a claim on future labor. When a substantial part of your income is going towards debt, you are working for your creditor, not for yourself.

We have been following the method presented in Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey to reduce our debt and build wealth.  The basic idea behind the method lies in the seven steps of the program:

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Seed to Seed Book Review

Seed to Seed Book Cover
Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners

For the home seed saver, this might be the most useful book you can have.  Since we’re growing all open pollinated and heirloom varieties, this book has been particularly helpful to us.

Seed to Seed provides essential information on how to germinate, grow, and save seed from almost any plant you could want to grow in your garden. This book is a necessity for the home gardener that’s just getting started with saving seed from heirloom and open pollinated varieties.

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Chicken Rotation

Chickens lay best in their first year of production after they’ve begun laying. Most chickens will slowly decline in production until they stop laying sometime in their 5th or 6th year, though this can vary a bit by breed.

Our long term goal is to have a gradient of ages among our flock, so we’ve always got some at the peak of their production, and some that are tapering off. Those that are culled will be put to good use, and all new birds rotated in will be hatchlings that are certified as pest and disease free.

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Identifying Good Layers

We have 13 hens at the moment, 7 that appear to be laying, 3 that are old enough to lay but don’t appear to be, and 3 that should begin laying by October.  Our judgement of the number that appear to be laying is supported by the fact that the highest production for a day yielded seven eggs.

This brings about the question of how to determine which ones are laying.

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