saving money & time
7 April 2013, by gj
If you look at your garden as if it were your only access to food, it may change how and what you plant. Think about how each veggie can be stored to feed your family beyond the growing season.
Cold storage closet.
Five ways to hold food are freezing, canning, dehydrating, lacto-fermentation, and cold storage. It is possible you may not be able to have a freezer, so try to grow more of what can be stored fresh or processed. Fresh items, whether in a root cellar or basement, or in our case, a cold storage closet, would include potatoes, carrots, celery, rutabagas, the cole crops and winter squashes. These items will keep fresh for months when stored properly.
Learn to can, really its easy and a pressure canner is nothing to be afraid of. Food stored this way has a shelf life, according to the USDA of 2 years. That being said, it can last longer. An additional benefit to canning is that the food is ready to eat. Sure, soup tastes better when it’s hot, but if you’re hungry enough, right out of the jar works too.
Putting up food is easy.
Lacto-fermentation is a very old method of storing food, using salt and the veggies own juices. It requires no refrigeration and can keep food fresh a long time. We make a veggie slaw and pickles this way, but there are numerous other recipes on the internet. This is actually a very healthy way to eat.
The way to hold food the longest is by dehydrating. When you remove the water, bacteria and mold don’t have what they need to grow. Dehydrating food may not look as good as frozen, but that’s not really a consideration at this point. Pretty much any veggie can be dehydrated. The down side of dehydrating is that it will need liquid to be rehydrated, in most cases. You can purchase a dehydrator or DIY a solar one. I’ve even heard of people placing cut veggies on a tray and leaving it their car on a hot day. See, this doesn’t have to be expensive!
A word about protein, if you can have chickens in your backyard that’s great. Really though, you do not need eggs or meat to have enough protein, and in fact those who consume little or no animal products are just as healthy and often healthier than those who do. For more on this, watch the documentary Forks Over Knives. Most veggies contain protein as well, some more than others. Dry beans for example, are simple to grow and very high in protein. They dry on the plant so require no preparation other than to remove them and store. Leftover beans can then be planted the following year.
Extending the season.
So consider planning your garden with food storage in mind. And unless you live in a year-round warm climate, or have unlimited growing space, consider using inter-cropping, succession planting, season extenders, and vertical gardening to get the best harvest possible. Of course, you should know how to save seeds.
Learn to start your own.
Look to the list of links to your right- there is much more information here on everything I’ve mentioned. You can also use the search bar at the top right to find more.
What we have changed this year is we have added more perennial fruits and veggies, are growing more things vertically, are using cloches and the mini greenhouse, and intend to dehydrate more.
Just in case.
Categories: preparedness, saving money & time
6 April 2013, by gj
How things will play out down the line is best left to the experts to try to predict, though I think they would all agree on one thing: the cost of goods will continue to rise.
Most of what we have read predicts a slow change to our economy rather than, or at least before, a dramatic crash. We have seen some examples of economic problems happening in Europe. It’s a good idea to pay attention to what happens there.
When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, we saw numerous pictures of stores with empty shelves. It wasn’t long before there was no longer any alcohol to be found, and there were lines of people at the gas pumps. This was a different circumstance, a natural disaster that we knew was coming.
Still we might be seeing similar results at some point, so its best to be prepared.
There are numerous websites and Facebook pages that look at many details on how to go about it. A simple search using the terms ‘prepper’ ‘survivalist’ or ‘off the grid” aka “OTG” will take you to all the information you could possibly want. I also added a link at the end of this post that has some interesting thoughts on the subject, take a minute to read it.
The main things of course that you need to consider are food, shelter, and water.
Shelter is not only your house, but how you run it. Do you have more than one heating source? A backup generator? Would you be able to close down rooms to conserve fuel in cold weather? Do you get sufficient sunlight to help heat your home? Do you have enough blankets and warm clothing to keep your family warm indoors?
Under shelter I would also include needs for daily living, such as first aid and medicines, personal hygiene, eating utensils and so forth.
Take a walk through your house, open cupboards and closets, bring a pad and pencil. Make notes of what you might want to stock up on. Also look at what you can get rid of to make space.
Learn to make things yourself. It takes less room and money, for example, to stock up on the supplies to make soap, than to stock up on soap.
Here are some How-To’s on Pinterest.
Free water source.
We use a lot more water on a daily basis than most of us realize. I read once you should have 3 gallons of water per person per day. This would include water for flushing, cooking, and cleaning as well as drinking; and is a conservative estimate. Even if you cut this back to 1 gallon per, it would still be 28 gallons per week for a family of 4. That’s a lot of water!
If you are using municipal water, this may or may not become a problem. For those of us running a well on electricity it’s a different issue. Either way you should always have a supply of water on hand, and look into ways to collect if either from precipitation or a nearby waterway. There are a lot of good DIY videos and sites that could help you to build a rain collector.
I don’t want to inundate you with too much information here. It’s Saturday. It’s spring! Go play in the garden.
So in Part 3 tomorrow we’ll look more specifically at what you can do as a gardener.
When you do take a break, take a quick look at this post.
Categories: preparedness, saving money & time
26 March 2013, by gj
The winter that won’t leave.
Technically it is spring, but only technically.
I will not complain though, Dear Journal, but rather look on the bright side of things.
Although I’m not playing in the dirt yet, I can count my blessings:
Ready when the weather is.
Seeds: $10 donated to a non-profit, the rest were exchanged or saved.
Solo Cups: recycled
Jiffy Pots: $5
Potting Soil $15
Free Sweet Potatoes.
Sweet Potatoes were started from last year’s crop, the pot is recycled as well.
Likewise the potatoes, though the pot was purchased new. $10
All together the cost this year is $40. Not bad when you consider I spent that much on heirloom tomato plants alone last year.
Taters also free.
And growing something indoors while the snow flies?
Yeah… you got that right.
Categories: dear journal, gardening people, places & things, saving money & time
15 March 2013, by gj
100 years apart
While putting away the china I inherited from my Grandmother over the holidays a few months ago, I happened to notice the difference in the size of the dishes from her day to ours.
If you look at the picture above, it may seem like the yellow dinner plate with the china plate sitting on top of it are about the same size. Likewise the two bowls and two sandwich plates. If you closer you might see the difference in the actual area allowed for putting your food.
The china dinner plate has a 6.5 inch diameter serving area, where the fiestaware plate has 9 inches. The sandwich plates likewise vary from 4 inches to 5.5 inches.
The china bowl has a 1 cup capacity. The fiestaware? Double that.
Now this has nothing to do with gardening, but has everything to do with your health; something most of you are also concerned with.
It’s no wonder there is a weight problem in this country, as we become increasingly removed form how much we actually should be eating. Portions in restaurants are more than enough for two people, not just one. If you think ‘Supersize it’ is an effort to save you money, it’s not. Think about it- the restaurant is already paying the overhead bills, the more food they can sell you the higher the profit they’ll make.
Think of a restaurant serving, and now picture the Recommended Daily Allowance for a meal instead:
3 pounces protein, or less than 1/2 cup
4 oz. each fruit and/or vegetables, or 1/2 cup each
Here’s how you can save money and lose weight at the same time. Don’t serve or eat meals like a restaurant would, downsize to the right amount.
Of course I would add that when it comes to veggies, have at it.
Check out this great link that does some portion size comparisons.
Categories: fast food, saving money & time, you are what you eat
4 February 2013, by gj
The You Can Grow That! theme for February is love, an easy subject for a new grandmother.
From the very moment the upcoming birth announcement was made my life was forever changed, more than I could even imagine.
Stealing Grammie's heart.
“You are what you eat” is much more than just an expression, and I knew right away I wanted to help ‘Sprout’s’ food be as healthy as possible.
Organic baby food is incredibly expensive, yet so simple to make.
A jar of carrots should contain carrots, maybe a little water, and nothing else.
The only way to really know what is in a baby’s food is to make it yourself.
Here’s one Grammie’s tips for healthier baby food:
1. Grow or buy organic the vegetables most likely to have higher doses of pesticides. Here’s the list.
2. If space is limited, plan your garden based on what foods you expect the baby to be eating. Carrots, peas, beans and squash are much more likely to be in his diet than eggplant and peppers.
3. Learn to safely can foods and how to properly freeze, and which foods can be stored fresh the longest. Check some of the links to the right under ‘How to Store’ to learn more.
4. Follow your pediatrician’s recommendations for introducing new foods to the baby.
5. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Look at the grocery store shelves for fruit and veggie combo ideas. Trust me, a lot of research went into it already.
Aww, look at that face… I just may have to give over more of the garden.
Here’s a great resource for recipes and tips.
Categories: grandkids and kids, saving money & time, you are what you eat, you can grow that
3 February 2013, by gj
As a gardener it’s not surprising we no longer purchase many fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.
There are a number of other things we consume, but now make ourselves.
Spend time not money.
2. Jams & jellies
3. Bar soaps
4. Some juices
5. Dry beans and baked beans
6. Laundry soap
Not milk, not Tide.
7. Pizza (we do buy the cheese)
8. Pickles and relishes
12. Most sauces, inc. applesauce, marinara, salsa and hot sauce
13. Dishwasher detergent
14. Pancake mix
16. ‘Instant’ or “just add” anything
17. Window and multi-surface cleaner
Of course we buy the ingredients we can’t grow.
Still, ten gallons of laundry soap made at home costs less than one in the stores.
A homemade bar of plain soap costs 60 cents and lasts longer.
What do they run in the stores these days?
Find many of the recipes for the food items on our recipe page above, and for the cleansers on pinterest here.
Categories: preparedness, saving money & time
2 February 2013, by gj
People have actually asked Mandolin and I if growing our own food was really worth the time and money.
“Why go through all that when you can just relax and shop at the local farm stand?”
organic beets $2.99
It is so much more than just saving money, they would understand if they tried it.
Not only do you get a chance for great exercise, it’s meditative, affords a sense of accomplishment, and when done well, more nutritious.
organic leeks $3.49
The dead of winter, as our supplies of fresh are dwindling, is when we are most reminded of the financial savings, something we don’t have to think about from spring until now.
organic peppers $9.97
So when friends and neighbors ask you if it’s ‘worth it’ just smile and respond: “If only you knew.”
Categories: addiction, saving money & time
27 January 2013, by gj
Most gardeners know that you can save the seeds from many vegetables to plant the following year.
Ginger to be started indoors.
Many also know you can buy things like horseradish and ginger at the grocery store to plant.
Did you know that you can buy a celery stalk, cut off all but the bottom end, and replant it? Sure enough a little celery plant will spring up from the center.
Likewise you can replant the bottom portion of onions, both large and scallion. As long as you have the root end, the plants will regrow.
We also keep our smallest onions to replant the following year, giving them another chance to get bigger. It’s also because nobody wants to peel the smaller ones.
Ready for planting.
Potatoes that are leftover from the previous harvest, or store bought ones that have started to sprout, can be replanted. If need be, they can even be started indoors, giving you a bit of a jump on the season.
Sweet potatoes are a crop you should only ever buy slips for once. Save some of your harvest to grow over the winter indoors, and replant when the weather is warm.
Sweet potatoes waiting for spring.
Of course you will want to get them into the ground as soon as possible when the weather is right. For potatoes and onions, that’s early in the spring; about 10 weeks before your last frost. Sweet potatoes and celery prefer the warmer temperatures.
You can try this with store bought herbs as well, if they still have the roots intact. Often though these are grown hydroponically and don’t adapt easily to transplanting.
Categories: extending the season, how to grow, saving money & time, techniques
25 January 2013, by gj
Many gardeners find themselves limited as to what they can grow.
It might be because of the amount of room they have, the free time to spend in the garden, or the physical demand a garden requires.
Of course there are gardening techniques and practices that can help in each of these areas.
For today though, let’s look at how to decide what to plant, and what not to. It all depends really on what you want your garden to provide:
1. Financial savings. If saving money is your top priority, you are not alone. So what veggies are expensive in the stores but easy to grow? Raspberries would probably top the list, expensive mainly because they are difficult to ship. Herbs are another food item that can be quite pricey, yet most do well in pots or hanging planters. For some odd reason lettuce has become expensive, at least in our area. A small head sells for almost $2, are they serious? Conversely, dry beans and potatoes are relatively inexpensive all year.
2. Fresh eating or long term storage. Are you mainly looking for a variety of fresh produce or do you want to load up the pantry shelves? If its the former, then one or two tomato plants, a variety of fresh greens, one cucumber, peas and beans growing up a trellis, etc. can provide you with a mini produce department from spring until fall. If winter storage is the goal, potatoes, garlic, onions, and sweet potatoes can be held through most of the winter. Dry beans will last for years, and there are pole varieties that save space.
cold holding sweet potatoes and squash
3. Self Sufficiency. If your concern is more for the future you would probably want to plant heirloom and open pollinated varieties of plants, so the saved seeds will continue to produce true to the parent. A variety of veggies that includes at least one protein, such as a dry bean, will offer the most nutrition per garden. Shoot for color- orange sweet potatoes, carrots or squash, a red tomato or berry, purple eggplants and dark green broccoli. This will arm you with a good balance of vitamins in your diet. Also consider some perennials plants or those that can be replanted like onions, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
4. Food Safety. This is becoming an increasing concern for many, and is one of the reasons they are turning to their own yards. Some of the veggies with the highest levels of pesticides were found by the FDA and USDA to be Celery, Peaches, Strawberries, Apples, Blueberries (Domestic), Nectarines, Sweet Peppers, Spinach, Kale & Collards, Cherries, Potatoes, Grapes (Imported), Lettuce, Blueberries, and Carrots. Here’s the complete list.
This list is now 5 years old, and since then I have read that summer squash is also loaded with pesticides. Geesh.
In addition GE corn, which is now headed to some markets, is very heavily sprayed with pesticides. If you’re looking to grow food that is safer to eat, keep this in mind.
choose organic what you can
This subject came up a few times lately, and after much consideration here’s what we would grow if for some reason we had to downsize:
A few raspberry canes, 2 blueberry bushes, 1 small vining summer & 2 winter squash and peas & beans on trellises, carrots, kale, a few strawberry plants, ‘garbage can’ potatoes, pole dry beans and 2 celery plants. If there was room, then a tomato or two.
We would buy organic corn just to be safe.
How and what would you choose?
Categories: faq's, gardening, organic, preparedness, saving money & time, you are what you eat
20 November 2012, by gj
We were talking the other day about saving money by stocking up on food that is on sale for particular holidays.
Problems with our sweet potato crop this past season left us with only enough for starting slips, so this week we took advantage of the sale price of 69 cents/pound to stock up.
Then it hit me.
Sure… suggest to everyone that they stock up on sweet potatoes but don’t give them any suggestions as to how they can eat them all year round.
What kind of a friend am I?
just add taters
So out to the kitchen I marched, and putting together a few of my favorite things, came up with a new recipe to share:
Sweet Potato Salad
1 sweet tater, 12 oz.
A dollop of Mayo (we use Nayonaise, a vegan sub)
A dollop of Pickle Relish (homemade, of course)
Some finely chopped Almonds
Some Lemon Zest
Some Toasted Coconut
Peel and cut the taters into chunks. Cook in boiling water until fork-tender, almost 10 minutes for us. It depends on the size of the chunks.
Drain and cool in cold water, drain again.
Now I admit it would have been smarter to mix the other ingredients together and then add to the taters.
That’s what you should do, but that’s not what I did.
doing things the hard way
I added the relish, almonds and mayo and tossed the cubes in it.
Really pecans would probably have tasted better, but if you’ve been reading here a while then you know I try not to go to the market and, well… I had almonds on hand.
Then I thought a little lemon would taste good, and while grabbing some fresh zest from the freezer, saw the toasted coconut.
so much flavor for just one mouth
Honestly I thought it came out wonderful and Mandolin, who does not really favor sweet potatoes, agreed.
To be double sure I took some to work and got a taste test from Shirley Mae (that’s not really her name, that’s just what I call her) and she really really liked it… so much so that she asked me to write down what I did. I’ll take that as a thumbs up.
Have you ever had sweet potatoes as a salad?
It’s nutrition you can smile about!
Categories: recipes, saving money & time, vegetarian