Seed Saving and Frugal Gardening

Seed Saving and Frugal Gardening

Seed saving is a frugal way to garden.

You plant a seed, care for it, watch it grow, enjoy your bounty and in the end, are presented with a seed to start all over again.

You hold in your hands the circle of life!

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This year, between saved seeds, free seeds my hubby picked up for me and seeds I found on sale, I only spent about $20.00 on my veggie garden.  Of course, I forgot to weigh all the beans, tomatoes, carrots, and other yummy veggies as I picked them, so I have no idea how much money I saved by growing my own, but I do know I would have spent a heck of a lot more than $20.00!

I have been saving peas and beans for years.  The peas and beans are eaten by us and put into Doggy Stew, so those free seeds are paying big dividends.  Plus, legumes fix nitrogen in the soil and work wonderfully as mulch when they are done producing.  I just pull them and drop them back into the garden!  All for FREE!

If you haven’t saved seeds yet, I would recommend Heirloom seeds.  You get the same plant year after year.  With Hybrids, you won’t necessarily get that.  Heirlooms can be a bit more expensive, but I consider it a good investment.  For the price of one packet of seeds, you can continue growing that variety for years, by collecting and saving seeds every Fall.  After the first year, I consider the seeds for each following year to be free because of the money you saved growing that veggie in the first place.

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Starting seedlings is a bit of trial and error, as anyone who has ever tried it will know.  In spite of a few failures and disappointments, it is the most amazing feeling to collect tomatoes from a tomato plant that reaches up to your chin, and know that you started it from a tiny seed!  That feeling is worth a million bucks!

Speaking of tomato plants; they can be really expensive too.  I know I saved about $40.00 by starting mine from seed this year, plus I had extra plants I gave away!

Seed saving can also be done with flowers, of course.  I grow a TON of zinnias every year from saved seeds.  I enjoy the bright, cheerful zinnias and they attract tons of bees, that in turn, pollinate my veggies!  I also grow Geraniums and Petunias from seed.

Geranium

There are many good websites explaining how to collect various seeds, so I won’t go into that, but  if you are excited to try, start with something easy like zinnias,beans or pumpkins. Beans are easy to collect seeds from; just let them dry on the plant!  When they are dry, crack open the pods and keep the seeds!  Zinnias are easy too.  Just cut the heads off the plant after they have lost their brightness and start to turn brown.  If they feel a little moist, lay them on a screen (like in the photo above) until they feel dry.  I keep mine in paper bags over the winter and come Spring, I break the heads apart and collect the seeds!  This site has good tips for saving pumpkin seeds.

Hope I’ve convinced you to try some seed saving.  I’ve gone a bit overboard with it, myself.  I find it hard to throw dead plants when I know there are seeds there, free for the taking.  I think to myself, “I can’t throw these, they will grow!” I feel a bit like Dr. Frankenstein….”It’s ALIVE!!!”  ;)

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Photos From the Back Yard

Grow Your Own Birdseed

Anyone who feeds birds black oil sunflower seeds knows that good seeds end up on the ground.  It’s obvious by the big piles of shells under the feeder; you know all of those shells haven’t been cracked open.  It’s even more obvious when a field of sunflowers starts growing around your feeder!

Photos From the Back Yard

Volunteer plants.  You have no work invested and sometimes you’re surprised by what comes up!

Any sunflowers that start growing, are usually allowed to grow around here.  The bees are attracted to them and the birds don’t mind the shelter they provide.  This year, I’ve noticed that the Goldfinches are really drawn to the sunflowers.  It’s been a lot of fun watching them try to get a good footing on the flower as they attempt to dislodge a plump seed to devour.  Bunnies wander around under the flowers, eating seeds that have been dropped.  The squirrels usually sit on top of the flower and ride it in the wind, like a bucking bronco.  It’s pretty cute.  My husband says it’s like a Disney movie in the back yard!

Besides the free entertainment and the micro eco-system it provides,  I’m guessing there are at least 1000 seeds on most of the heads, so there’s not a lot of waste.

When the seeds look fully developed, you can let them dry on the plant or cut the heads and dry them.  The birds and squirrels will usually get to them first, so again, not a lot of work involved.  In the fall, before the frost, I pull the plants and strip the leaves off the stems.  The leaves go into the compost pile and the stems can be shredded for mulch.

If I had more room, I would take a few handfuls of sunflowers and plant a small field.  It seems like a good investment…1 seed into 1000!  🙂

How to Make a Decorative String Holder

How to Make a Decorative String Holder

From gardening and cooking, to everyday chores, there are 101 uses for string.

Whether you use cooking string or twine, there is a cheap and easy way to make a decorative, portable string holder you will enjoy using!

How to Make a Decorative String Holder

This winter, my hubby surprised me with a thoughtful gift.  He converted an old kitchen canister into a string holder.  I use a lot of twine in the garden and his gift allows me to transport my twine where ever I need it, in a decorative, easy to clean and mostly waterproof container.  What a joy!

I don’t know if you haunt the thrift stores like we do, but if you do, I’m sure you’ve noticed a variety of kitchen canisters for sale.  There is seldom a whole set, but you can always make some use of the old canisters.  I personally like the old metal ones, even if they’re rusty on the inside.  The patterns are old fashioned and very pretty, plus they can be used for keeping critters out of seed, for storing a bunch of nails or screws, or for a string holder!

How to Make a String Holder:

  • Find a canister you like
  • Take the lid off and lay it top side down on a piece of wood (that will keep the lid from denting when you pound the nail through)
  • Find a nail about the side of the string you’ll be using
  • Locate the center of your lid (or just eye-ball it!)
  • Pound the nail through the lid
  • Sand around the hole with a metal nail file (so your string won’t snag)
  • Pop your string into the can, feed the string through the hole, replace the lid and enjoy!

How to Make a Decorative String Holder

If you can’t find a canister you like, buy an ugly one and decorate it!

Also:

  • If you have a shop and have a need for tying packages with string, a decorative canister can easily be attached to your counter!
  • If you are a crafter, the canisters can be used for ribbon, too!

Online, string holders average about $15.00.  Our canister cost us $.50!!

MONEY SAVED: $14.50!!!

Cheap and Easy Thermal Shades

Cheap and Easy Thermal Shades

Last summer, after our big, sick Elm tree was taken down, we immediately noticed a difference in the temperature inside the house.  Without the shade of that big old tree, it was a scorcher!

We have large windows facing south, so the summer sun affects the comfort of three of our most used rooms.  I have blinds in one room, so we can avert the sun’s rays there, but in the other two rooms, I have curtains.  The windows are three large panes across and it is not only hard to find a single shade that wide, but it is also extremely expensive!

I checked into shades that would fit each panel, which are easier to find, but still very expensive.

So, online fabric store to the rescue!

With the help of my daughter, I found thermal shade material and a coupon for free shipping!  I spent $15.00!!

Cheap and Easy Thermal Shades

I got enough material to cover each pane of the windows.  All I had to do was cut the material to fit.  No hemming required, because the backing on the material is kind of rubbery.  Then, I sewed some metal washers onto the top edge of each panel and pounded a couple nails for each panel, into the window frame.  Voila!

Cheap and Easy Thermal Shades

I used metal washers simply because I had a lot of them, they would work, and I didn’t have to spend money getting something else!

Checking on the price of a variety of thermal shades, I found the average price to be around $50.00 per panel. (Yikes!)  For six panes, that would be $300.00.  I spent $15.00!

MONEY SAVED: $285.00!!

Photos From the Back Yard

Photos From The Back Yard

Photos From the Back Yard

Adorable gray squirrels!  They keep us entertained.

Photos From the Back Yard

Drying my garden gloves.  They’ve got holes on both sides of the fingers.

Photos From the Back Yard

Lots of volunteer Sunflowers this year!

Photos From the Back Yard

Love the patterns the seeds make.

Photos From the Back Yard

Lots of Hops starting to form!

Photos From the Back Yard

My grapevine is focusing on world domination.

Photos From the Back Yard

Parsnip seeds are getting ready to harvest.  I don’t like parsnips very much, though 😛

Photos From the Back Yard

Kind of a tangled mess!

Photos From the Back Yard

Love these huge flowers!

Photos From the Back Yard

Raspberries have been delicious and prolific this year! 🙂

Photos From the Back Yard

Waiting for the Brandywines to ripen!

Photos From the Back Yard

Swamp Weed.  Butterflies and bees love it!

Saving Money Starting Tomatoes From Seed

Starting Tomatoes From Seed Saves A Lot of Money

This year, I will admit, I got a little carried away with starting seedlings.

Saving Money  Starting Tomatoes From Seed

I started lots of herbs, flowers, grapes (from cuttings), peppers and tomatoes.

Among the tomatoes, were Yellow Pear (because I love eating them as I wander around in the garden), Pink Brandywine (best BLT’s ever!) and Romas (sauce).

I over-planted, with the thought of leaving the best looking seedlings and pulling the others.  I wanted 10 tomato plants for the garden this year.

Saving Money  Starting Tomatoes From Seed

Well, that was the plan, anyway.

All of the seedlings looked healthy and I couldn’t stand the thought of throwing any of them away, so I transplanted all of them. 😛

Saving Money  Starting Tomatoes From Seed

I ended up with 10 Yellow Pear, 17 Brandywine and 48 Roma….that’s 75 tomato plants!

I lost about 12 plants by experimenting with putting them out in the garden early, but covering them overnight.  That did not work so well.  I think I needed a more secure structure and heavier plastic.   (Good to know for the future.)

I gave a few to my daughter, who is also an avid gardener.

I planted the 10 I wanted in my garden, which left me with a huge bunch of tomatoes with no place to go.

After about a week of deliberation, I decided to plant the remainder of the tomatoes in a variety of open spaces; around a tree stump, by a rose bush, in front of the veggie garden and in a flower bed.

I now have 43 tomato plants growing vigorously and setting beautiful tomatoes.  I can hardly wait to see how many pounds I’ll end up with!

Affording 75 tomato plants would have been impossible for me, but being the frugal person I am, I used left over seed from the year before and bought one packet of seeds when they went on sale.

Dirt was free (from my garden), seedling cells were free (saved from other plants I’ve gotten).  All the seeds cost $7.50 total.

Heirloom tomato plants at greenhouses would cost about $4.00 each.  75 plants @ $4.00 each = $300.00.

MONEY SAVED: $292.50!!!

Plus, I got the joy of sharing plants and expanding my knowledge with the ability to experiment with low cost plants!

Uses Egg Cartons in Your Garden

Use Egg Cartons in Your Garden

About a year ago, I started saving egg cartons with the thought that I would maybe have chickens someday and would need the cartons.

Uses Egg Cartons in Your Garden

It didn’t occur to me that the cartons would accumulate rather quickly and I would end up looking like I’m hoarding them. 😛  It’s a little embarrassing.

Fast forward to now…..summer is in full swing and like most summers, the weeds are winning.

I’ve been reading about No-till farming and Lasagne Gardening and they sound like fantastic ideas!

So, here comes the idea with the egg cartons.  Possible future chickens are going to waaaaaay in the future, so it’s better to use the cartons now and I don’t see why the egg cartons wouldn’t work for blocking out the weeds.

I have a circular flower garden where I grow a variety of Sedums and a Clematis.  Since I started feeding the birds with black oil sunflowers, (the feeder is right beside the garden) the sedums are struggling and thistles have taken over.  I wonder if there are some thistle seeds in with the sunflowers?

Uses Egg Cartons in Your Garden

I weeded the garden and laid down egg cartons and put the pulled weeds on top (being careful to pull off the flowers first).

Uses Egg Cartons in Your Garden

This fall I’ll add leaves and if I can get some straw, I’ll add that too.  Keeping my fingers crossed that this will work, but I may have to move my Sedums and do something else with this garden.

That’s the cool thing about gardens…they are a work in progress.  Always evolving!

I’m also trying this technique in the veggie garden, around the squash.  This fall, I’m planning on laying cardboard over the whole veggie garden, plus adding a bunch of leaves.  More on that this fall!

Uses Egg Cartons in Your Garden

Is anybody else trying this?  How is it working for you?

I like the idea of the cardboard breaking down and everything that’s used, eventually being nourishment for the soil.  Much better than weed fabric, plus you save a lot of money!

Weed fabric is about $105.00 for 750 square feet.  Cardboard and egg cartons you can get for free!

MONEY SAVED: $105.00!!

July Garden Photos

Photos From the Garden

My hubby wandered around the yard, enjoying the fresh air and scenery, taking a few photos.  I thought I would share them with you.

(I saved the best for last!!!)

July Garden Photos

July Garden Photos

July Garden Photos

July Garden Photos

July Garden Photos

July Garden Photos

July Garden Photos

July Garden Photos

July Garden Photos

If you click on the photo, it will enlarge it a bit and you can see the little hairs on its body and detail in its eyes!

🙂

Home Canning, Frugal Living, Jams, Jellies

Old Recipes for Interesting Jams and Jellies

Old recipes are things of beauty.

Looking through old recipes books is a lot like reading pages of history.  Recipes are a history of our tastes and habits as they change through the years, as well as a history of our economic and social changes.  Think of the differences in cookbooks from the 1930s, compared to now!

My hubby bought me a bunch of old recipe books at the thrift store and I found a home canning book to be especially wonderful!

I’m excited to share these recipes and found some of them to be quite curious, like Tomato Butter.  I’ve never heard of it!  Does it sound good to you?  Would you eat it?

Some others that sound fun are….Apple-Pineapple-Coconut Conserve, Gooseberry Conserve, Quince Honey, Elderberry Jam, Prickly Pear Marmalade, Bar-le-Duc, Ground Cherry Preserves and Maraschino Cherries!

Every winter, I enjoy jams that I’ve made the previous summer, and I’m definitely going to have to make some of these.  What better way to spend a crisp, winter morning than by sipping coffee, looking out over the snow covered gardens and daydreaming about spring, while eating homemade jam on toast?  Cozy!

These recipes are from the Ball Blue Book Home Canning of Freezing Recipes and Methods, 1956.  Please note that not all the recipes mention a hot water bath for preserving.  Please use safe and up to date home canning methods.

Hope you find a new favorite!

Home Canning, Frugal Living, Jams, Jellies

Home Canning, Frugal Living, Jams, Jellies

Home Canning, Frugal Living, Jams, Jellies

Home Canning, Frugal Living, Jams, Jellies

Home Canning, Frugal Living, Jams, Jellies

Home Canning, Frugal Living, Jams, Jellies

Home Canning, Frugal Living, Jams, Jellies

Home Canning, Frugal Living, Jams, Jellies

Home Canning, Frugal Living, Jams, Jellies

Home Canning, Frugal Living, Jams, Jellies

🙂

 

Harvesting Daisy Seeds

Harvesting Oxeye Daisy Seeds

Yesterday, I spent part of my morning harvesting spent heads from my Oxeye Daisies.

It was a beautiful morning.

Heidi was laying in the shaded grass, listening to the birds singing, reveling in the light, sweet smelling breeze as it blew across her and standing at attention whenever the sudden movements of a rabbit caught her attention.

I was doing much the same, as I was sitting on the front steps, picking through daisies, plucking the petals off the flowers and stripping the leaves from the stems.  The thought of the thousands of seeds I was gathering was mind boggling and I couldn’t help but be excited by the possibility of all those future plants!  It’s very empowering to know you can take seeds and produce more plants and when you’re frugally-minded, it’s also empowering to know how much money you can be saving!

To the best of my knowledge, these daisies are Leucanthemum vulgare, which are field daisies and naturalizing perennials.  In fact, they are invasive.  I started out with one small plant and this is what I have now.

Harvesting Daisy Seeds

They are even growing in the grass!

Harvesting Daisy Seeds

After stripping the leaves and petals from the flowers, this is what I end up with.

Harvesting Daisy Seeds

I then hang these bundles upside down in a paper bag and wait for them to dry out.  When they are completely dry, all I’ll have to do is give the bag a pretty good shake and I’ll have the seeds gathered in the bottom of the bag!

I’m not sure how to quantify the savings (or possible earnings) created by all these seeds, but seed packets are at least $2.50 per packet of 500 seeds and quarts of daisies can cost as much as $10.00 per quart.  I am going to go with a moderate estimate and say I would save/earn $150.00 from all these seeds!

MONEY SAVED/EARNED $150.00!!!

Feeling of empowerment by collecting Mother Nature’s bounty….priceless!!