Chemical-Free Lawn Care

Did you know that the average family yard can have more chemicals acre for acre than the average farmland?  Lawn and garden chemical fertilizers and weed control products are the main culprit.  While it's convenient to have a lawn service treat your grass periodically throughout the season, over time what is the health affect on your family and pets who come in daily contact with those chemicals.

You can decrease the toxicity of your lawn by not using the nitrogen-rich, fast-releasing fertilizers.  In its place, use a mulching lawn mower so that your soil is fed by the clippings.  In addition, applying compost once or twice a year also helps keep your lawn's soil healthy, and a thick, healthy lawn will choke out weeds over time.  Raking the larger bare spots and applying grass seed is also helpful.  Seeds need to be kept moist by rains or daily watering until the grass seed sprouts and the roots are well-forming.  Spring and Fall are the best times for seeding as we get many good soaking rains which will cut down on hand watering.

There are organic lawn care products you can apply yourself that work well.  Some of the most common yard weeds in our area are crabgrass and dandelions.  Both of these weeds thrive in poor and compacted soil.  Aerating your lawn is helpful, as well as testing your soil's PH, and using lime or sulfur to adjust it.  In the case of dandelions, your soil most likely has a calcium imbalance.  Corn-gluten meal is a natural pre-emergent herbicide that is best applied in early Spring.

Dandelions have many herbal health benefits so you might want to dig them up rather than kill them.  When I was young, my grandma used the flowers to make wine, and the leaves were used in a wilted salad with bacon, onion and a vinegar dressing.  Dandelions are rich in Vitamin A, C, iron, and calcium.  It is a great detoxifier, and is often used for liver, kidney, and urinary tract and digestive issues, as well as skin ailments such as eczema, achne and ringworm.



Homemade chicken strips for your pets

If you're sick of all the recalls on pet treats, these homemade chicken strips might be just what you're looking for.  They take a little bit of work, but it's mainly just slicing the chicken, and you'll be sure the treats you're giving your dogs (or cats) are safe.

These chicken strips can be dried either in a food dehydrator or your oven on low heat.  They will remain fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, or in the freezer indefinitely.  I keep a small bag of them in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer.

Start out with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, removing as much fat as possible.  Slice the chicken with the grain into 1/8 to 1/4 inch strips (the thinner they are, the faster they will dry). 

In a food dehydrator:  lay the strips on the trays, and try to keep them from touching.  Run the dehydrator for about 6 to 8 hours.  They are done when they are dry and hard to the touch.

In the oven:  Lightly spray a baking sheet and lay the chicken pieces out flat, keeping them from touching.  Cook for approximately 2 hours at 200 degrees, or until they are dry and hard, with no soft spots.

I hope your dogs (or cats) love these chicken strips as much as our Rosie and Lucy.  I don't dare run out of them, or we have 2 very sad and disappointed dogs at treat time.  Your cats may or may not like them. Over the years,  I've had 2 cats that do, and 2 that do not.  Cat lovers know how finicky they can be!