Chicken Keeper. Organic Urban Gardener. Advocate of REAL food. Meet Kati, the Urban Lady Bug!
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How did you get started with your blog?How I got started with my blog, The Urban Lady Bug, was through Facebook originally, I posted pictures of our garden on my personal page almost everyday and had dozens of my friends and their friends, comment, tag and ask a bunch of questions. So I figured I should create a page where people who might not know me or be my friend on fb, would still "like" my page and gain gardening information or advice from me! Once Instagram took off (follow The Urban Lady Bug on Instagram), I decided to make a IG for my blog as well and because of hashtags, it has really become popular!
Did you start your blog when you started your transition to live this life style?Once I had completely transitioned my life over to home gardening and homesteading is when I created my blog. Although I had began this life transition about 2 years prior to creating my blog.
Have you always been this way?No I have not, I grew up in a military family. My mother worked all the time and didn't have much time to cook us wholesome dinners, my father being in the military didn't have much time either. So we often settled for hamburger helpers, sloppy joes, anything that was quick, easy and inexpensive!
After moving out of my parents at 19 and into my first home is when the transition to this lifestyle really started. I began to like cooking and wanted to be able to walk into my own backyard and pick dinner, instead of having to drive to the grocery store and pay for it! Even with such little knowledge back then, we knew the importance of using only organic soils and seeds.
What sparked your passion?
Then about a year after I built my first garden, I unexpectedly lost my mother to colorectal cancer. Absolutely heart broken and convinced it was all caused by the foods she ate & unhealthy lifestyle she lived, I was determined with a fiery passion to change my life completely. She was only 51 years old and wasn't a drinker or a smoker, her kryptonite was processed foods & the doctors say the cancer started when she was in her 20s.
The transition soon became an obsession which was kicked into high gear, focusing on repairing and preserving my health and body. So after purchasing my mother's home, I planted our second garden. Which was a lot bigger than the first but was hardly an educated decision. I dug holes and planted directly into the grass (that was the bad decision). It ended up being such a pain to maintain throughout the season because of the overgrown grass and bugs that the grass attracted. This is the reason why most people and why I eventually built raised beds to plant in!
I also got our first two chickens,
The next year, which was last summer, is when my passion for gardening and self sustaining really took off, I decided to invest the money and time needed to create the dream backyard garden that I have always wanted. I researched a local lumber yard that had rough cut untreated redwood (one of the most durable and long lasting) and ordered them to my house. With the help of my boyfriend, Kyle. Together we measured cut and built the raised beds by hand. Then I researched a local organic soil provider and had organic sandy loam soil in large quantities, I ordered 5 cubic yards and filled all of our beds up. Then added organic compost, organic peat, perlite, a bag of OG Tea per bed, and organic chicken manure. I ordered the Patriot Seeds "Survival Seed Vault" which contains a large variety of organic, non GMO, heirloom veggies and fruit, which we sowed our entire garden when. I also installed drip lines from my automatic sprinkler system so I could vacation or work and not worry about having to water my garden and saving massive amounts of time everyday from not having to hand water the entire garden!!
This summer...is where my blog and passion for organic home gardening and homesteading has really really blossomed into something fun and educational. I have learned so much over the years and the progression is clearly noticeable via the pictures!
Time is everything, so don't worry about rushing into a large undertaking. Even a few potted herbs and tomatoes can help prepare you for a garden like mine!
What are some of the other things you would like to have other people understand about living a healthier and self-sufficient lifestyle?It's not an overnight thing, it is a gradual life change that you don't want or need to rush into. It takes time to learn how to properly read labels, make better eating choices, grow your own food, and then learn how to cook the food you grow from your garden. It is impossible to learn that amount of information overnight.
Many people are super eager to jump in head over heels, without understanding that becoming self-sufficient is all about learning and experiencing through trial and error. Gardening and being self sufficient can be extremely frustrating & overwhelming to someone who has yet to live this lifestyle, so jumping too much into it will often lead to giving up. Take your time, read a lot, ask lots of questions and gradually change your life, at times when your ready!
Another thing to keep in mind is that it is an investment. It does take money & time to invest if it is something that you want to last more than just one summer. Once the initial investment is made you reap the rewards and benefits from your garden, for years and years to come!! Saving you tenfold of your original investment!
What tips and tricks could you share with other people?DONT GIVE UP! Gardening can be so frustrating when you have no idea what to do or where to begin. I always tell people to start small, then build after you gain some experience. There is no way I would be able to successfully care for what I have now without the knowledge I have slowly gained over the last 4 years through experiments, trial & error and failing!
Have you ever made mistakes or failed doing something?
make mistakes! That is how you learn what works and what doesn't! The important thing is to never beat yourself up over a mistake. It happens to everyone, just remember you learned something from it and that will all come into play at some point later in your gardening!
How did you overcome any obstacles?I have overcame many obstacles in gardening, that is when you learn the most I believe! A large obstacle I have encountered and have overcome is root knot nematode. Which causes extreme scarring on the roots of your plants causing them to suffocate and eventually die. Gardening in unknown soil can lead to a lot of issues, and this is one of them! Even though I built raised beds with my own hand built super soil, the nematodes made their way into the new soil. These nematodes are not beneficial and can destroy your entire garden! I use Monterey brand "Nematode Control" which is OMRI listed, to help kill and control our nematode problem. Many obstacles like this can be very easily addressed and shouldn't ever be stressed over!
Have you ever dealt with a person who disregards your lifestyle?Oh my gosh!! All the time! Often time it is family! Educating them is the most important thing you can do! With education comes understanding and with understanding comes knowledge, which is what sparks desire to want to also live the same lifestyle!! Although I haven't been able to convince all of my friends & family to live this lifestyle, I have been able to change a lot of them! Including my entire immediate family, all of which are now tending to their own backyard gardens!!
I have learned the easiest way is to lead by example. To show them what a healthy person looks like and how I healthy I feel on a daily basis! People ask me all the time what my secret is to looking 16 years old when I'm actually 26 years old, and I tell all of them what I firmly believe is the reason, the pure, clean food & water I put in my body every single day! Balanced, wholesome & organic meals made from home, straight out of the garden!
My biggest motto is - You are what you eat!! Most people don't realize the reason they feel and look like crap is because they literally eat crap!
What are some of your greatest rewards with a lifestyle such as the one you live?Gosh, how do I just pick a few? The rewards are so endless.. But I guess if I had to name a few, the first would certainly be the money saved. What an incredible amount of money I have saved because my grocery store is my backyard! My initial investment into my backyard garden was probably around $1500. Now because I am able to garden all year long, through the summer, fall, winter and spring months it has been over a year since I've had to buy veggies from the grocery store! Saving me thousands of dollars on organic foods & hundreds in gas to drive to the store! I also raise my own backyard chickens and ducks and it has been over two years since I've bought a carton of eggs, saving me $850 alone just on eggs!
My garden will be here for years & years to come and we have already made back our investment in food alone!
A second huge reward is that when you grow your own food you have ability to grow your favorite veggies & fruit and know without a doubt exactly where they came from, that they are farm fresh, you know how they were grown, what fertilizers were used to grow them, what pesticides were & weren't sprayed on them and if they are really Organic, Heirloom & NON GMO!
So many times, we over pay for "organically" labeled veggies and fruit, that have still been treated with some sort of pesticide! An "organic pesticide" but a pesticide nonetheless!! When you grow yourself, you control what goes into your body!
A third but certainly not the last reward that I get to benefit from, is that gardening has become an extremely therapeutic activity for me. Losing my mother to cancer has been the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. So being able to nurture and grow plants which produces me, my friends and family wholesome organic clean food, brings me a sense of fulfillment and pride that cannot be obtained by anything else! It has also been scientifically proven that the microbial life inside of soil is beneficial to our mental health and over-all well being!
Summer squash! I love summer squash of all different varieties! Crook-neck, straight-neck, zucchini. Etc. There is a million and one ways to cook summer squash! From soup, to lasagna, you can make summer squash into noodles or even just as a simple side dish! You can cook them for breakfast, lunch or dinner! There are endless ways to prepare them and they are so tasty, good for you, very low in calories and the easiest plant to grow! Not to mention you can harvest tons and tons of squash off of just one plant!