Category Archives: garden

Mulching the Garden for Free

Bermuda grass in my flower beds is relentless.  I hate to admit it but the last few years it was so out of control I was embarrassed for anyone to see my flower beds.  This year I was determined to get rid of it or at least get it under control.  I prefer not to use the commonly used spray to eradicate Bermuda grass for reasons I won’t go into here but it was the only way I was going to stand a chance.

First, I used garden scissors to cut huge amounts of the offensive grass out of the beds so I could at least see the ground that it was covering.  Second, I sprayed the base of the grass as close to the ground as I could get it.  The final and very important step was to cover the ground with thick layers of mulch.

Here is were the frugal part comes in.  I had a load of wood chips delivered for free from a tree trimming company that was looking for a dump site.  I also acquired several bags of pine needles from a friend.  (Best part about that was I didn’t even have to rake and bag them myself.)  Additionally I picked up all the pine cones I could find and obtained a few pieces of used brick that was going to the dump from a construction site.

The pine needles and pine cones were used in one section of the flower bed.  The wood chips were used in another.  I partially buried sections of brick amongst the wood chips for a decorative effect and while the Bermuda grass might manage to come up through all that mulch,  I dare it to come up through that brick.

I have to admit there is still some grass in my flower beds but for the first time in several years I can enjoy my flower beds instead of feeling disgust at how bad they looked.  As an added benefit the mulch also helps hold in moisture which results in a less frequent need to water.

Thanks for reading.  Have a frugal day.

 

 

Almost Free Basil Plants

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I plant basil every summer. Not just for culinary uses but for its medicinal value.  A little research on the internet about basil will reveal that it has properties that help draw venom out of bites and stings but that a blog is for another day.

Since I usually don’t get around to planting basil seeds in the spring I end up buying a   plant at the local home and garden store.  This year there happened to be three plants in the planter instead of one.  So being the frugal person I am I gently divided the roots of the three plants and replanted them into separate planters.  And presto I now have three basils plants for the price of one.

Once the plants reached full size I took several cuttings and put them in water for a week or two to root.  Once each plant had a fair amount of roots I transferred them to planters to give away.  At this point I have lost track of how many plants I got from the one that I bought.  I have shared with friends and at the end of the summer plan to take one of the smaller ones I rooted and bring it indoors for the winter.  If all goes according to plan I won’t have to buy one next spring.

Thanks for reading. Have a frugal day.

Foraging for Dinner

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I love being able to go outside and “pick supper”.  Selection varies from night to night and season to season but it sure beats going to the  grocery store.  You can’t get much fresher than “just picked”.  Last night we had fresh picked asparagus sautéed in butter with mushrooms and carrots along with a salad filled with freshly picked lettuce.  No pictures of that though we ate it all up before I thought about it.

Tonight we had crappie caught by my Dad out of our pond, wild onions which were great in the hushpuppies and an infusion of peppermint tea. All organic, chemical free and loaded with nutrients.  Wild onions are full of minerals and peppermint has many known health benefits including improving digestion.

I spent the afternoon digging up garlic and onion chives as well as peppermint to plant in containers so that I can have fresh herbs indoors next winter.  The chives are fabulous  in salads and on baked potatoes.  The peppermint tea is useful for helping fight off  winter colds.  My tomatoes, bell cayenne, jalopeno, and habanero peppers are ready to plant as soon as the weather cooperates.  I couldn’t resist planting a few cucumber seeds but I brought them inside to germinate.  A few days head start will allow me to have fresh cucumbers just a little bit earlier.

Hopefully I have inspired you to start growing your own food if you aren’t already doing so.  Let me know how it goes.

 

 

Easy Peasy Water Conservation

I have been reading a lot about the wide spread drought lately.  Oklahoma has been hit hard as have many other states, most notably, California.  Experts are predicting that California will be out of water in 12-24 months unless something is done. California is the number one food and agricultural producer in the United States.  If there is limited or no water our food costs will skyrocket.

I am no expert in what large scale system changes might be needed to fix the problem but I do know that if just one fourth of American citizens would save one gallon of water a day it would equate to approximately 75 million gallons of water a day.  There are approximately 38 million people in the state of California.  If just half would save one gallon of water a day that would equate to 19 million gallons of water a day.  That would definitely make an impact.

For those of us in drought stricken areas, one of the easiest ways to conserve water is to collect the water that is going down the drain while waiting for bath water or dishwater to get hot.  In our house it takes about 2 gallons of water before the shower has hot water.  I collect it in a jug or bucket and use it to water the garden.  It could also be used for flushing the toilet, mopping floors, rinsing the tub after it has been washed, or watering pets/livestock.

I realize my 2 gallons of water I save a day isn’t much but if everyone in a drought stricken region would do the same it would make a difference.  It doesn’t take much effort or time. You are just standing there waiting on the water to get hot anyway.

Anyone out there want to give this a try?  What other ways do you conserve water?

Starting the Summer Garden Indoors

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When starting seeds for the  summer garden I planted seeds in cardboard egg cartons.  These are free. I love free and can be cut into sections and be planted directly into  a larger pot or into the garden.  Since I start so early I  transfer the plants to a larger pot and then later into the garden.

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Next I put the egg cartons in a plastic container and cover it with a clear sack from the dry cleaners,  in a clear plastic disposable lettuce container with a lid or a clear shoe box storage container. It needs to be covered to keep the moisture in and create a greenhouse effect.  Even covered it will probably need to be watered occasionally. I use an repurposed dish soap container to water.  It is gentle on the young sprouts and less likely to knock them down than pouring water on them. Next I put them on top of the freezer where the defrost cycle keeps it nice and warm.  That way I don’t have to spend money on a warming pad or electricity to run it.  Most seeds do not need light to sprout.

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Once they are sprouted I move them to the light box the wonderful hubby built for me out of lumbar scraps (gotta be frugal).  It can be seen in the above photo. It is enclosed on the top and three sides. I lined it with foil to  help reflect more light.   It is open on the front for watering and to allow ambient light in.  When the plants are small I place the containers on a box to bring them closer to the light. As they grow I go to a smaller box.  Once they are big enough I move them to a wire shelving unit with a fluorescent light attached and set it In a south window so the plants also get sunlight.  Once the box is empty I move the next batch of sprouts into it.

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These are lettuce and tomatoes I started in January.  I will be able to move them to the unheated greenhouse in a few weeks.