Did You Know?

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Did you know that you can start your garden even if you are on food stamps?

Yes, any seeds or plants that are edible can be purchased with your EBT card. You can use containers and such you have to start your seeds. Compost and newsprint to start your no-till garden.

What seeds to buy to start

Some things are easier to grow from seeds than others. For the beginner I recommend peas, beans, cucumbers, lettuce, squash and melons from seed. They will grow in anything. And are great for direct sowing.

I recommend bush varieties so that they are easier to care for and take up less space. A few well tended plants will provide enough for your family.

Herbs that grow well from seed are basil, parsley, dill, and coriander. If you are feeling adventurous you can pot a few peppercorns to grow indoors. This is one of my experiments this year. We will see how it goes. My family just loves fresh ground pepper.

What plants to buy

Tomatoes, peppers, brassicas, and cabbages all do best for beginners if purchased as started plants. They will give you a bit of a headstart on your summer garden.

Many grocers offer a limited selection of plants. Go with what you can find. It is money well spent since vegetables are so expensive in the grocery store and there have been so many recalls recently. Another option is to use some vegetables that are in the store already.

Many times you can save the roots from bunching onions, celery, lettuce, tops of pineapples, etc. Place them in water to get the roots started again and you can then place them in pots.

Starting plants from seed

If you cannot find started plants then you will need to start from seeds. I have been lucky enough to have a small greenhouse. If this is not in your budget you can either purchase the seed starting kits or make your own.

The key is to find a sunny spot that you can leave the seeds in to grow. You also need to make sure that the growing medium stays moist. Too much water and mold will grow. Too little water and the seeds will dry out and no longer be viable. I love the self watering cells that come with starter pellets. They make it very easy and do come in window sill sizes as well.

A quick note on soil

Plants need healthy well drained soil to grow. A quick easy way to do this is to use newspaper and/or cardboard and compost. I like to layer with cardboard in the fall to kill weeds. I lay the cardboard down and cover with compost.

Spring I will use newspaper and compost. I can plant directly and weeds will be controlled at the same time. I do like to add straw over top when possible to help maintain moisture.

One tool that I have found invaluable when I am doing a no-till garden is a cultivator. It will help keep the soil loose and aerated throughout the growing season. It is a pricey investment but has saved my back, knees and hands in countless situations.

 

Check Your Local Code Before You Get Urban Chickens

IMG_1197Looking to keep poultry in town? Here is an example of our local code that says yes, we can keep chickens within certain limits, such as keep your chicken house clean. It even says that pygmy goats would be permitted as pets. So are you allowed to milk pets to keep them healthy? Hhmmm…something my urban and town living friends need to look at. I just wish we could do it in our apartment complex!

While most of us would like to do what we want but when you live in town or a city it doesn’t hurt to check out the local codes. Avoid becoming a news item because someone who doesn’t like gardening and such turns you in, become a news item for doing it according to code or working to change code so that everyone can enjoy gardens and such.

Busy Mom Menu Planning Tips

mom cooking

Pre-planning your menu will do several things for you. It will force you to double check your calendar. It will force you to go through your pantry, fridge and freezer (helps keep things fresh). It will also force you to make a grocery list (which will help you stay in budget). Quick note about budgets, I know they are hard but we will discuss those another day. 

This is where I start. I get paid every two weeks so typically that means 42 meals (3 meals per day for 14 days) need to be planned out. You guessed it, breakfast, lunch and dinner all need to be planned. So now that we have figured that out I check out what I have on hand. If I am lucky I have some things left from my last grocery shopping. I try to add one or two extra meals to my budget each week and/or bulk items. 

Next I get out my calendar to see what is going on during those two weeks. What is my work schedule, what is on tap for the kids, what is on tap for Daddy aka Papa. That will also determine what gets made on what days. 

By now I am using what limited “extra” brain power to see what I have on hand to make and write down those meal ideas. I have a habit of starting with dinner ideas. Now I take a piece of paper and divide it in thirds. One column I put the day of the week with the appropriate date on it. List what I know I have for dinner, list what would work on each particular night depending on our schedules. Now in the third column I start writing my shopping list. 

The next thing I do during the school year is pull out the lunch calendar. Lunches are frequently left overs when school is out but in honor of going back to school I am going to add this tidbit. I ask the kids which days they are buying and which they are taking. From there we get down to the nitty gritty and figure out what they want for those days they are taking. I write these down on the calendar so that I know what they have planned (yes they some times change their minds, too bad it gets carved into stone). I make sure to add any extra items to the grocery list. 

Next we look at breakfast, ours is usually pretty basic. I need to have pancakes on hand (make them and then freeze them for future use). Eggs, bread and/or biscuits, cereal and the like. Though honestly if there are “favorite” left overs they will get eaten for breakfast as well. Mac and cheese anyone? If I am running low on any necessaries they get added to the grocery list as well.

Ok, so dinners are on the calendar, lunches are on the calendar and breakfast is fly by the seat of our pants. It really all comes down to schedules. Are these plans written in stone no, except for planned school lunches, those are written in stone. Now you have not only planned out your menu for two weeks, you have a realistic working grocery list and perhaps a budget!

Light, Love and Peace!

What is Your Favorite Seed Company?

Time to plan next year’s garden!

It is that time of year for me, I am going through my left over and saved seeds (not many this year) so I can plan my garden next year. I have a ton of heirloom and old fashioned plants to grow for next year but I can’t help myself. I have started making a wish list for next year already. I tend to order from a variety of places. A few of my favorite companies are:

I am also very big on getting together with friends and neighbors to trade seeds. I think I might be able to start a small seed exchange program for this spring, I need to assess what I have and what I can purchase.
What are your favorite seed companies?
Light, Love and Peace!