A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Who doesn't need to save some money?

Having been out of a job for just under 4 months, saving money has become not just a necessity, but an obsession for me.  I grow as much of my own food as possible and then can, freeze and dehydrate all I can.  This is a constant.  This year, I am taking that a step further and starting many of my garden plants from seed.  For the cost of just one to four plants (depending on variety and how they are sold), I get enough seeds to start anywhere from 20 to 100 plants.  My largest cost is time spent caring for the seedlings.  Of course, electricity to power their lights and under tray heat is an expense as well, but I regard this as nominal.  I thoroughly enjoy watching them grow and tending to them.

The added bonus is that I have a small stand I set out near the road.  Any extra seedlings that I do not use or share with others will find their way out to that stand and hopefully pay for the seed packet.  Incidentally, it is a rare occasion when I plant ALL the seeds in the packet in one season, thus my seeds last for several seasons.  I order heirloom varieties whenever possible as well.  What this means is that I know the seeds will be true to the plant I harvest them from, so I can save seed and no longer have a need to buy more.  This is not the case with hybrid seeds that have been crossed and are not likely to produce "true" seed.

Additionally, whenever possible, I choose organic seed over conventional.  This, too, gives me an advantage.  Since I sow them in organic seed starter soil, these seedlings will be truly organic and can then be sold and distributed as such.  It also clears my conscience with regard to the quality and health of the produce.  SO!  Growing my own produce from plants I start myself makes my grocery bill MUCH smaller year round.

Along with produce, I also began growing my own herbs.  Last year we planted a multi level container full of assorted herbs and were thrilled with the results. (Incidentally, I picked up this container from where it was being stored for the winter- my mother's pole barn - to discover that the rosemary had survived the winter, as had the thyme and, evidently, the parsley.  BONUS!)   I am starting a number of herbs from seed this year, but I have also recently learned to take cuttings to further augment my harvest and available plant surplus.  I read a blog about multiplying your herb harvest a couple weeks ago and became rather inspired.  Many herbs respond well to rooting in water from cuttings, while others root well in soil with the application of a touch of rooting hormone dust.  As I read the article, I remembered having some leftover organic mint in the refrigerator that I had picked up on clearance at Kroger for making mojitos with. Out of curiosity, I retrieved it and stripped the lower leaves.  I set the little pieces in a little bottle on the windowsill and in just days, tiny white roots were apparent.  EVERY cutting rooted.

I picked up the mint on clearance for 99 cents.  I used some for mojitos and will now have 7 or 8 mint plants happily growing.  Don't I feel clever!?  I must confess, I enjoyed this so much, I recently returned to Kroger and snatched up another clearance priced organic mint pack.  (They mark them down when they get close to their freshness date.)

I have made a habit recently of picking up another often marked down item at Kroger.  They regularly mark down floral bouquets.  Every time I stop in, I look to see what is marked down. I always limit my self to less than 3 dollars and am never disappointed.  Here is what I put together this last week.

I bought three carnation bouquets priced at $0.63 each and used what was left (mostly daisies and mums) from the bouquets from the previous week.  I love spending less than two or three dollars a week to have fresh cut flowers in the house during the winter months.  It is a small price for the bright spot they create in my day during the dreary days between Christmas and gardening season!  Saving money at that same time is hard to argue with....

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