Country Living & Penny Pinching

Getting back to "Little House on the Prairie" living

Category: Vegetables (page 1 of 2)

I might not like to eat them but I do like to grow them

Lessons From a First Time Gardener

 1. Research all of your options

I knew about raised beds and the old fashioned method, straight in the ground. There are many more ways than those. Permaculture, square foot gardening, containers (even for the big stuff), etc. different methods are everywhere. I will be implementing permaculture and square foot gardening next. They are opposites but I want to experience both to see which one is better and why.

straight in the ground and a short fence

straight in the ground and a short fence

2. Observe the wildlife

Look at all of the creatures of the sky and ground. Will you need a scarecrow, rubber snakes, gopher wire, short fence, tall fence, or no fence? I know its awful to wait but even watching your land for a week or two will give you some insight on the best ways to protect your garden.

3. Ask around

Good neighbors love to help. Some might even have extra materials to have/borrow. Now don’t get me wrong, all neighbors love to give advice but be wary of the naysayers who tried once and failed. They will have advice but it may only be what NOT to do. No matter what don’t poo-poo what the neighbors have to say.

4. Prepare the soil with out breaking the bank

According to experts my garden was not going to do well. The pH levels weren’t just right, the soil was on clay-y side, i had quite a few little rocks mixed in, and I did not perfectly measure out the fertilizer. Making everything ideal would have cost WAY TOO MUCH money. Just get out there, do your best with what you have, and there is always next year. My crops could have been much bigger if I had used the chemical fertilizer but we don’t want to use chemicals so we suffered through a smaller crop and learned more this year that should allow a bigger harvest next year.

5. Plant a garden for the Littles

Keeping kids out of a fenced garden is quite difficult unless…they have their own space. Giving kids their own garden responsibilities makes them feel good about themselves and helps them not step on your precious plants. I do recommend getting the dollar store fences to place around their garden so they know the borders and the house pets and even littler Littles don’t walk in the garden.

6. HAVE FUN!

Starting Eden Part 2

I’ve got some bad news… I killed my seedlings. All of them! It wasn’t my fault though, out of sight out of mind right? Ok, it was totally my fault. I put them outside because I was tired of trying to find sun in the house. Remember how I complained about moving them twice a day everyday? It got to be too much.

seedlings in the wheel barrel

seedlings in the wheel barrel

I kept them in a wheel barrel. It had wind protection, and I was using the soak up method to water them. Well seedlings aren’t supposed to dry out at all…during the heat of the day and three Littles who would need me to put their shoes on for a 3 minute venture just didn’t sound worth it. The seedlings dried out faster than a run away train.  Obviously I did not use good judgement, next year will be different.

There has been some debate about just buying grown plants but…there has been no wiggle room in the budget and this blog is about penny-pinching so…we are not going to buy $4 plants.  By the way the bell peppers never sprouted. I googled the brand and it turns out they were an all bad batch. So for now we are waiting until we can plant straight in the ground.

If I till it, seeds will come! (I’m a big movie buff, so get used to movie references)

How did your seedlings turn out?

Planting Eden (part 2) The Seedling Mystery

our first corn

It’s happened…CORN!!!!! Houston, the corn has sprouted. OMG we are so excited that something is growing. The oldest Little came running from the garden screaming “Come see, come see! There are plants ACTUALLY growing!” she says this as if it was completely unexpected, which in her case was probably true. As for me that’s exactly what I wanted to see happen. Although I did think I had a black thumb, especially after growing the seedlings inside failed. None the less we have multiple corn-growing.  My garden, the Littles garden, it seems to be sprouting everywhere. when people ask how the farm is going we like to reply with “We are corn farmers.”

Now don’t get me wrong we planted other seeds, these seeds did sprout, but as soon as they sprouted they were gone! The Littles had it happen in their garden too. The seeds sprouted one day, someone would come by and we’d show them our newly sprouted seeds but they had vanished. So we asked around because none of it made sense. We would tell the seedlings good night, wake up to water them and there was nothing. Houston, we have a problem.

Turns out this was one of the easiest problems to solve. No spraying, no chemicals, no hunting for bugs, all we needed to do was eat some tuna. What? Eat tuna? Yep, we used those tuna cans to put vegetable oil in them, slightly bury them in the garden and then wait and see…turns out, PINCHER BUGS (or as the Hubby says, Ear Wigs) love vegetable oil and because of the oil they can’t get back out of the can again. These pincher bugs were eating all of our seedlings. There were so many after just one night I had to empty the tuna can and refill it, this went on for about 3 days until it was only a few after each night.

Before moving out here I had never seen so many pincher bugs in one place in all my life. We have deemed the winter pincher bug season. They cover our entire back porch area where the carpet is, every pillow and blanket must get shaken before using it, dump your shoes for at least one bug is in each of them, and if there is a straw anywhere DO NOT USE IT! These bugs were everywhere, so why didn’t I think they would be in the garden as well? Who knows, consider it a city girls mistake.

Anyways, back to the garden. I placed the tuna cans throughout the garden, planted a few more seeds and viola! Houston we have take off! Seedlings sprouted and we were no longer only corn farmers.

*Caution* only place the tuna cans inside a fenced garden. After placing a tuna can filled with oil in the Littles garden so their plants could grow it took me a couple of days to figure out why their oil disappeared. The dog ate it! There was diarrhea EVERYWHERE. So beware, must keep out of reach of household pets.

Have any of you had this problem? What did you do to fix the problem with your seedlings?

Stay tuned for more pincher bug free goodness!!!

Starting Eden Part 1

After spending a whole week worth of studying at night and a solid day taking notes I came up with all the information needed to plant my seeds. When, where, how far apart, pH level, days to maturity, and any helpful hints other bloggers have posted about. The Hubby’s new school notebook is now filled with everything seedlings related. He was super thrilled, not, but he will reap the benefits of fruits and veggies so it was ok.

all plotted out

all plotted out

Now is the time the Littles have been looking forward to, playing with dirt and tweezers in the house. Just a heads up we do not have a special light, trays or pots. We salvaged tuna cans, egg shells, orange peels, and egg cartons.  Pretty much anything we thought could hold a seed as it grew. The only thing we bought was seed starter.

2015.2.18 4 seed starting

top to bottom: just egg carton, half an egg shell, crushed egg shell

2015.2.18 2 seed starting

tuna cans and oranges

Here we are packing dirt, using tweezers for the tiny seeds and planting. The seeds chosen for inside were lettuce, tomato, red pepper, bell pepper, cucumber, and spinach. This has been their favorite part so far, getting dirty inside.

2015.2.18 6 seed starting

this is a plastic table cloth not a fancy lace one

It took a couple of weeks! Ok, maybe a week or so for the seedlings to sprout. I am so excited that the seeds grew but I am more afraid of keeping them alive. Everyday I have been moving them twice a day (for sun exposure)…EVERYDAY! Did I already say everyday? Well it was everyday. Moving them around was getting old and next year I will come up with a better way to do this. Time will tell what happens to the seedlings and by the way, the bell peppers have not sprouted at all!

all bagged up ready to grow

all bagged up ready to grow

How have you started seeds inside? How did you get them enough light?

Tune in to see if I can handle keeping seedlings alive indoors.

 

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