Waste not, Want Not.. Steaming your starting soil

I have a very large bag of potting soil that I did not use last year, but of course I had cut into it and needed just a bit out of it to finish my started plants. This bag had been moved from the greenhouse to the shed and that shed door had been openned.

Bringing it in to thaw out was no biggie but the fact that it was open meant that it had been exposed to all the bugs (and I normally adore my bugs) and even possable wind lifted seeds.

To be honest the seeds did not bother me, really pick them out and on a normal year I would have held out using that bag until I was doing the pots in the outside greenhouse, because it has bugs and so its very much alive and doing its thing.

However this is NOT a normal year, and while I have a good amount of soilless seed starting blend, I am in need of potting soil as I want to transfer over my sprouting pawpaw seeds into their next size up deep grow unit.

We do have curbside pickup.. but what we do not yet have is the soil shipment in at my local store, I called, they are waiting.. I have checked the website, and if I wanted to drive 45 min, I can order and get it.. but we are in lock down and soil is not a good enough reason for me to consider doing that..

BUT! I do not want to introduce buggy soil in my inhouse greenhouse, so I went looking, I have baked regular soil and I have never liked the end result.. hit my soil book and its said I would have better results if I steamed it.. hmm

Interesting.. now how would I steam larger amounts?? Got it.. why redo the wheel right.. could I use my steam juicer?

https://www.facebook.com/valerie.johnstone.5/videos/3431747223618632

The answer is Hell’s yes you can.. I set it up, filled the top section that you normally put the fruit in put the lid on, checked it with my temp gage, adjudged my burner to control the amount/seed of the boil and it came up to the 180 and held like a dream for the full 30 min.. took it off, set the pot balanced on the handles into the big blue waterbath canner to allow it to have full access to air to cool down.

Check that carefully, do not think that because the top is fairly cool that that the middle is not still hot! I will need to do a few batches in order to do the whole amount needed but its something you can work around fairly easily into your day to get it all done.

Two points that I really liked is that by only aiming for 180, it means that your soil can come back quicker into being a living soil again, I am not sure how they know this, its one of those.. just because I read it does not make is so.. but each of the little sprouting pawpaw seedlings will come with their own soil which will help restart the steamed soil..

The other point was one I was quick to realize how little soil came out of the holes in the steamer and I will use that water to not waste any of it, it will be poured into my 5 gallon bucket that stays by the greenhouse and how little water that the soil took up. I expected it to “suck it up” but while its very nicely damp in a healthy way, its not wet..

I would never plant seeds in it and expect it to have enough moisture as is.. for sure you need to water it.

Have you baked the soil, did you use the oven, a friend says she does her’s in the slow cooker, I have seen folks do it in VERY small amounts in their pressure canners to create a medium for mushroom growing but I do not know anyone that has done it for potting soil and it would take way to much energy for value to me considering how small amount they recommend to place in it.. have you steamed soil?

I did have the thought that on the right day that you could use a solar cooker to get the job done, I have had some very cold days but crazy heat on the sun, if you boxes it up right and let it get full sun, I would love to play around and see if I could get the solar cooker to do the job?

Posted in Gal in the Garden Series, Garden | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

No Buy Feb 10 years strong..

Now I have always adored No Buy Feb because it leads into my Pantry March Challenge.. these two combined have let me find so many weakness and build in strengths into my homestead.

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What is No Buy Feb?

Its pretty simple.. Only buy what must be got (clearly you are going to need to buy your pet food) most peaple do allow themselves to buy basic food items but not all do.. and otherwise, anythign that is a want/wish/would be nice is NO BUY..

I am stunned to realize that I did my first No Buy Month (feb) in 2011.. that means this is my 10TH year for doing some version of this..

Anything that is a need, as in I need to X, then you can get it.. On average in a non-pandemic year you should be able to save at least a couple hundred dollars over the month.. its a way to put up a little extra, pay off those last of the christmas bills and so on.

I am leery this year to put a No Buy Feb full stop on the farm as a whole.. A good friend of mine was going to host the No Buy Feb and then decided that it was not a good idea due to the fact that here were we live that we will most likely only have a small window in feb when the lock down ends, the stores open with regs in place between the next lockdown with the coming varient waves.. (which for my area the general thought is it will start to pick up in mid-march and roll on strong though the spring.

However I have been mulling this over hard and I am going to do a No Buy Feb.. because of the very above.. and something ValB said..

Which in a nut shell was, its hard to have had the nose to the grind for a year, always trying to figure out the next “what is going to be hard to find”.. and that it wears on you.. I agree it does..

Now I am darn happy that I can and did see the writing on the wall and moved ahead of the base pop and I am sure she is as well..

However it went in the old noggin and stewed there.. I think that having the No Buy Feb in place, which means I have to report my success or failure on the blog is a great way to keep me from spending more then I need to..

I mean, honestly, I fully believe 2 is 1 and 1 is none, and in a very well stocked pantry, farm and so on but there is a temptation to get more then you need..

The feeling of worry in regards to what I believe is coming and I am beyond grateful that there are places and friends that will not have this effect and I want to be wrong.

I need to prepare like I am right.. but I also do not want to go over board.. I will to stay the course, straight and true.. No Buy Feb will help with that..

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So Here is my No Buy Feb Rules

No Personal wants!

This right there cuts out any chance of me doing a add on to a online order or asking for a few extra things on the once or twice monthy go to town get it done shopping

Local Food programs is allowed but I will do my best to limit myself this month to fresh fruit/veggies/grains.. no extras unless it comes with the basket. They often sell add-on’s and that is where I will look for extra savings.

Extra for hubby that fit into his requirements for his diet requirements are allowed, example Nuts or his order of pork rinds etc.

When it comes to the farm, the same rules have applied for the past 10 years.. if the farm or the farm critters need it.. its allowed.. period..

Now comes the far more tricky part.. the above are standard rules and while they can be surprisingly harder to live by then you think.. a little buckle down and it happens pretty well..

How do I work in future needs/restocking/back orders?

I heard someone say on a meeting chit-chat.. “I got a tent for camping this year.. and someone else says.. o did you get it on sale? and the answer was.. no, I paid a high price for it but its ok because it was on backorder for 6 months.. and it was finally available”

This little 45 second chat is a sum up of my issue.. In years past we used to talk about sale cycles and how some things came on every few weeks, some in 6 to 8 weeks and some only twice or even once a year and you can’t miss that “sale” for the years stock up.. and so flex was given in the no buy and the pantry challenge to do the stock up but you could not use it until after the challenges were done.

This year, there will be no sales.. I think its going to be all about.. stock and back orders..

So here is my general rules in this regards.. If its been on my pick it up list for more then 3 months and its been not available and or on back order and shipment came in..

I am allowed to get it..

If I know I need it for something within THIS YEARS coming projects and I KNOW just! what it will be used for and when, then if its stock and I am not sure at how long that might remain.. then if I can find it this month, I can get the amount I would need for 2021 and 2022 but I have to own why I feel it would need more then this year..

That really narrows the window of what I can consider but keeps some flex and common sense in there..

Wish me luck and Keep you posted!

Posted in 30 day challanges | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Jan Updates Frugal and Declutter..

The 2021 budget is wide and vast, some area’s are super lean, some area’s are like a fat cat that wants heavy cream and the good fatty fish.. Thankfully some are one off’s! Other area’s are unknowns..

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Budget/Frugal or Fat Cat..

Lets break that down a bit and see how we did in Jan..

Our one off was the vet bill for having Uther altered, chipped, his cone and pain meds etc.. Tax in at $405.. Thank goodness for my vet.. friends in the city are reporting that the same size male with both boys down can easily cost upwards of 1000 or more..

Our Frugal Wins for Jan..

We did not buy any cloths, I did get gifted cloths though a community program.. and they are wonderful, got 3 new bra’s (with tags still on) 2 new shirts and 2 pairs of summer to the knee pants.. All from Pennington’s and all with tags still on them.. (someone got them on sale and then did a purge, lost weight, I am not sure) I have put the summer cloths away and the fancy bra as well but the work out bra is awesome.. its got hold power, I will for sure pick that one and try it for when I am riding this spring and summer..

I got two lovely winter vests but I gifted them forward to a lovely older lady who will put them to good use.

We did our own hair cuts (but of course) and I dragged out my curlers so that I can get some lift to the top of my now longer hair (its to short for the pony, but to long to just hang there lol)

The only cloth/wear buy was a pair of heated gloves for hubby, he has been having really hard time with cold hands, I mean really bad and even with double layers and heavy duty really wam glove it was just not doing it.. now he has rechargeable battery heated gloves with four heat settings and his hands are much better.

When it came to household goods, we bought nothing this month that was extra.. (we will get to the greenhouse/gardening stuff further down) so that was a solid win. The farm was the same.. we have everything we need and you just keep moving on.

Now the FAT CATS..

Grocery bills..

O my.. O my.. $394.00 was spent in the month of Jan on outside food..

this includes my 2X a month fresh fruit/veggie/a small amount of grains sometimes basket, the box of pork puffs that is hubby’s favorite snack that he rations (but man they are crazy good) and pretty much extras like nuts, mixed nuts and other trail mix types and seeds like pumpkin/sunflower and a few other extras for his new diet and coffee. There was a bit of smaller household items in there as well, a extra bag of toilet paper, a new tube of toothpaste, a box of q-tips and another bottle of shampoo

In 2019.. my food/household budget for “out” was 50 every 2 weeks.. for a flat hundred or under for the month..

That means for 2021.. my real life spend in Jan 2021 is just shy of 4X the amount or looking at it the other way a increase of 300 percent.. OUCH!!

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The Second FAT CAT spend item this month.. anything and everything related to the seeds, garden, fruit production, propagation, trays, labels, soil and so on.. now I know that when this is spead out over the year itself its not to crazy and some things should get a 5 to 10 plus year spread cost out..

BUT.. I have spent $639 in Jan of 2021 on a host of different garden stuff.. stuff for the indoor greenhouse, stuff for the big seed starting push for the 3 season greenhouse, new kinds of seeds for different flavours and textures for the main garden, items for creating new plants, items for working in the food forests, and the list goes on..

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On the flip side as the Indoor Greenhouse is gearing up, we did grow/harvest and eat $51.50 worth of green salad greens, pea shoots, Mung bean sprouts and micro sprouts.

I am looking forward to seeing what we can do in Feb in this regards..

Now I expect I need another 100 yet to finish out the garden/3 season greenhouse and then I have everything I need for the garden/food forest and so on.. so lets round it up to 200 to safe.. so that puts me at 839.. so lets round it up to o.. $900.. (what you know its going to happen, I am going to find something that has broken and needs to be replaced)

Which still even if you only break it down over the 2021 year comes in at 75 per month, it would put me under my normal “garden allowance of 1500 max” per year.. but that typically covers my garden courses, books, tools, seeds, and so

The yard rebuild was a whole different budget.. and the indoor greenhouse/lights and flooring went into the 2020 budget and be glad of it or that would be alot higher.

Moving on to the Declutter..

I have done two drawers, one big closet and some general all over the house this and that.. we have thrown out, put into the recyle or giving box or re-gifted out a whopping!

WAIT FOR IT!.. 178 items.. of my ideal 365 items for the year or 2021..

Now I admit that i counted small stuff but if it was a little kit or bundle, it was only counted as one item.. it was crazy how fast these things added up.. and I need to clean my junk drawers more often..

Now the great thing about this was finding “keep” stuff and being able to sort it and still get it out of the house.. Small box of screws size.. to the build it area in the one outbuilding.. New bottle of cement glue.. to this house repair kit box.. so many things we got extra’s of, so that we know we have backups but many of them ended up on the main floor of the house, when they should have been sorted and put into working areas, working kits and so on..

This is also proving to be a boon, in figuring out what we should be adding to our lists.. example.. shower cocking replacment tubes.. great.. when was that last done.. ok, lets add that to our winter to do list and use these, and add these to the “replace/increase the backups” shopping list for when we come out of lockdown before the next “varient” wave lockdown hits in march..

I figure we will locally in my area have around a 4 to 6 week open window to get everything we could need for the next 3 to 8 months and or next 1 to 4 years depending on what it is..

So the declutter is going amazing but I did bring items.. so I am not going to count the little compost seed starters or seeds.. but if you are just looking at trays, garden related items and so on.. I added in 47 items.. 47!!! can you believe it.. and I am not even going to touch the 500 plant tags.. because then it would be 547 items.. did you just laugh.. I did.. add in the 500 plant pots and I added in 1047 items..

Opps, going the wrong way lol..

I am only giving myself credit for 131 items of my required min of 365 for 2021.

as I am taking off the bring in items.. If you bring things in.. its not decluttering lol

or if you want to count the 500 tags and 500 pots, then I am in the you suck at this.. so bad! its not even funny! (ok its funny)

There you go.. my end of Jan round up.. I truly hope you did nto see a 300 percent increase your grocery bill from per-pandemic spending.. I hope if you are decluttering in jan that it went better for you..

Onward and Upward!

Posted in Life moves on daily | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Friday Rambles -Putter

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The Indoor Greenhouse is filled with salad greens, radish starts, a couple baby tomato seedlings, cucumber babies already on its first true leaves, the mircogreens are doing well and I have added in another set of trays, I like the greens coming better if they are done in the soil but that cost increase in regards over price point when I need to factor in the soil and while I can feed the roots/soil into the chicken pen and it comes back to me in the compost, so I know its not wasted per say..

Still I am exploring ways to grow at least 50% of the salad mirco’s in a water only sprouting system so that I do not have the seed starting medium.. or I need to find a cheaper way to create that seed starting soilless soil.

The bigger push on some more seedlings will occur over the next two weeks and in the coming week, I will be making a post on different ways to find heat to help start those picky pepper seedlings. I read a funky way on the net and want to figure out if it will in fact work because it if does.. it means that you can dual purpose something alot of homesteads already have for a short term use in regards to starting this heat loving seeds.

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In keeping with finally having mature fruit trees (for those that are new when we moved to the farm, we had three spruce trees, a couple maples and one massive crab apple and the two huge massive grandfather Black Willow Trees. So every single fruit tree, bush, cane and so on the farm has been planted by us.. Our oldest fruit trees are coming 16 this spring.

Every single year we have been here, we have added in more and more.. this year have lots of mature and different but related fruit trees that I am looking forward to trying grafting, even if its just for adding in increased pollination in regards to blooming and fruiting. Example, I have a very hard strong apple tree that takes 10 to 15 years to produce that is 8 years old, I am going to graft on some of my faster producing trees in different trees and or the slower growing trees..

I have a number of different plum types and I am thinking it would be a good use of my learning curve to try and take my cross pollinator cuttings and graft them on the different plum trees across the farm so that ideally, there is that one extra branch per tree to help make sure the amazing mason bees help make sure I can lots and lots of plums.

I want to do apple, plum, cherry, pear and a few more.. I am going to do some research, I want to find out if you can use High Bush Cranberry as a root stock for any kind of grafting.. It could be fun to find out.. (as long as I am not counting on it)

One of my plant orders just came in and I did a opps, I thought I had ordered in 500 small sqaure peat pots but instead I have 500 of the little jiffy pellets.. Pellets are not pots.. I will need to go over my invoice and see if the issue is mine or theirs..

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I hate those little flat disks that puff up.. but this might not be the year to send them back.. it might be the year to keep and use them.

I hope that my last sets of seeds have come in for the year.. (well other then the switch grass seed, which I am still waiting for yet) These ones are all different kinds of things that are normally grown here on the farm but are just slight modifications for different flavours or textures so that I can create meals with them for hubby and myself.

Where did the month go.. poof.. but at least the sun is coming back.. so bright and so cold today.. The birds are going crazy on the feeders. I have not shared the Common Redpoll’s with you yet.. we got a lovely little flock of maybe 30? of them.. a nice mix of adult and 2020’s offspring..

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Otherwise, no lambs yet, the chicken breeding flocks will be split out into breeding pens and the incubator will need to be given a freshing and a run though and testing to see how its holding.. The good news is I have just the place to set it up in the upstairs of the older part of the house.

Normally on Friday Rambles I can get some snark in this posts but I am refusing today.. we all know what a “#$@&” week its been in the news.. The sunlight is pouring in, the cold is deeply bitter making me put on the oven for a slow roasted meal, baby plants are starting and growing, the yard is FILLED with bird tweets and twips and chirps.. the horses and sheep flock are on double rations to keep those belly’s filled and those internal engines keeping them warm with dry outer winter fluffed coats. the small stock is all spending the day in their inside pens

I am beyond grateful for the ability to order things online and have them deliveried.. I can not imagine how some peaple with no credit card, no internet and so on are trying to keep to the safety rules.

I am so darn lucky that we are able to just go online, order and within a matter of days or weeks.. it appears on the farm with no contact, just a nod/wave.. no contact. I can not tell you how many times this ablility keeps us from leaving the farm..

Posted in Life moves on daily | Tagged | 3 Comments

Air Root Pots

If there is one thing you will read me saying this year, Bringing it in house.. This means that If I can find a way to make things work based on what I have or based on a very small local circle that I am working with.. The less I need to leave the farm, the better.

In this case I finally got something that has been back ordered for months.. 10 of these air rooting pots from Europe finally arrived at Lee Valley Tools here in Canada and have been shipped to the farm.

I have a large selection of different fruit trees and many of them are so wonderful that I would LOVE to have another one or two..

However in few cases there is no way to get them again as I snagged from the wild and they are one of kind.. In other cases, the places that sell them are sold out this year and in some cases they already say they are sold out next year. Last but not least, I am not keen to spend another 29.99 to 59.99 per tree or more if I can find a way around it.

In comes that very old way of creating new babies off the parent trees that will breed/product fruit tree..

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Both photo’s credit go to Lee Valley Tools.. NOT MY PHOTOS on this post.

Air layering.. scoring the bark and adding rooting and covering with soil and letting them grow roots and then cut the whole thing off and potting it up.. sounds so simple and in a way it is..

Of course real life is not as easy as it is to write it out.. first while some trees, bushes and plants do well with this, others do better starting from seeds or do better if put on root stock etc.

Also you have access to the starter stock, I will admit that I do plan to put a few at higher risk in the “edge line” of a few local farmers fields to take off babies from some old apple trees, from a amazing huge hawthorn tree down the way that I would like to get into my own yard.

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These pots are very cleverly made and I hope they will give me a good leg up.. The cup goes around and you put the cut in the middle with a soilless medium but it has a water reserve cup in the bottom, this will go a long way to making sure things do not dry out but you only need to check them around once a week on average (weather dependent) and they come with a dark peel on and removeable sticker that lets you write dates and so on you need the darkness for the roots but you need to be abel to move it to check the root growth.. once the roots are reaching the edge of the cup, time to get it out

Now It would be very temping to go to the full max of 3 feet.. but my own thoughts are that is a lot of top to be suppored on not alot of root once it loses the partne tree support..

So I am aiming for 18 inches as the idea.. I want enough to support the plant well, I want enough “plant” to make the effort worth while but I also want to give it the best chance of making its first winter.

I figure that the first round of these started in the spring, I plan to plant into the gardens themselves.. but the second round if the timing works right (and it might not) because to me weather does matter.. they will go into 3 or 4 gallon pots and given a helping hand and overwintered in a cold but draft free place and hardened off in the spring before planting them in 2022.

So lay it on me.. haha..

Have you done this? What was your result? Did you like it? if not, why not? What did you have the most success with? Share your stories, helpful hints and so on.

Posted in gardens | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

One year in..

Can you believe that its been one year since we first “offically” heard that we had our first case in canada? Regardless of your feelings on the subject, its very safe to say that pretty much no matter where you live, you have felt the effects.

So STOP.. right here.. if you want homesteading, livestock, recipes, garden and so on.. THIS IS NOT THAT POST.. This post is about turning that one year mark living a world that has c-19 and its effects.. Ok.. see you tomorrow or read on..

Maybe you are very lucky and no one you know has gotten sick or worse sick and died from it. (they say here in canada, that 50 percent of us now know someone who has gotten it, as of the poll done in the second week of jan 2021)

I know peaple that have been given the formal notice of having had it.. and I have had both friends with mild cases ( a couple days of feeling off, loss of smell or taste), I have had three that were very sick and one that is being called a long hauler..

I have had so many peaple that have never had it but have spent weeks in “waiting” for results, I have had friends that have had to have themselves or their children tested 2, 3 or 5 times waiting out those days for test results to come in.. missing days of work, the last couple months of 2020.. the words.. I have no sick days left and have to take unpaid days off while waiting was something I was seeing far to often.

However I have had much fewer friends that had elderly loved ones that have passed on.. Sadly I have had 5 friends have family members or in the one case.. the social garden friend that took their own lives in the past six months.

This was related to the what has been happening in regards to loss of job, struggles with what has happened in regards to lock downs, and so much more. While clearly there is many layers to this, it has been very hard indeed to see the pain these choices have left in the loved ones.

Sadly, I have also had two peaple who where “covid” medical side death, this at least in our province is now listed in the thousands, these are peaple who have health issues that did not get the normal medical care and therefor passed faster due to lack of treatments, being sent home and so on.. This was seen here in the hardest hit provinces in ontario and Quebec when they were keeping everything as closed as possable in the first wave push.. I am beyond grateful that this did not effect some of my loved ones in alberta that ws able to get their needed cancer and other medical care.

The past year has pushed a number of relationships and marriages in ways that have proven to much for those in them.. I have seen this go both ways, some marragies are even stronger for it, but sadly others are ending..

I have watch the K happen within my own friends and family across canada and N.A. and outward.. While some folks are working from home and have more funds in their accounts, others have been laid off, others have taken pay cuts, hour cuts, small business’s have been pushed to the brink and in some cases lost. Other small businesss are booming and tell me that they have had their best year to date..

Across Canada at least we are seeing such a uneven spread of the pain in many ways but the ripples are never ending.. and I regret to say that many of the ripples will be felt this year in 2021 as they were softened by CERB and other programs that helped keep a number of peaple afloat in 2020..

We are all feeling the increase in pricing, with the reduction of availablity, I guess its possable that the .001 percent are not but I am pretty darn sure everyone from the low income to the middle to the higher are all feeling it.

The low interest rates are a double edged sword.. in some way its pushing bubbles, I mean honestly the housing bubble in my own area is going to “pop” the average house price has increased a min of a 100,000 int he past year..

It means that the other increases are being hidden a bit more but they are so there.. I guess I have to at least touch on the vaccine.. I know one person a PSW at a retirement home that now has her two shots done.. that’s it.. I guess by the end of year two, I will know more..

Its a very touchy subject to say the least and I know 8 peaple so far that have been offered and at this time declined.. (yes they all also work in health care) I know that others in their places of work have said yes..

I have had a few folks that have come to me in the past couple weeks to have a phone or video chat in regards to the coming year in 2021.. I will share the advice I gave them.. yes the varients will be a factor here.. no it will not evenly felt the K will be in full force

But we are not walking in blind, there should be NO one with their head on their shoulders saying.. o.. just a few weeks.. o this is the last lock down, o, the kids will be back to school in person by next week.. Life will be normal by sept 2021..

However there is NO POINT in have a AHHH moment ( yes you are allowed them.. of course you are, I had one myself on sunday.. it was a total blargh day for me) but as I said to my friends and family..

Keep on doing what you are doing.. take the lessions learned in the past year.. and put them actively in place this year and repeat..

I know, I know.. its not that easy for some.. I get it.. if you have been living on reduced income.. things will need to be figured out.. if you are part of the what they are calling the “she-cession” were we are seeing huge numbers of women under employed or even leaving the workforce to raise their kiddo’s at home, or home schooling and so forth.. I get it.. I do..

However, at this point, you should be looking as a unit/family/couple/support group at getting together and working monthly or quarterly and sorting out what you need to do next for the coming year..

Be flexable.. Be willing to think outside the box!

This one is really hard to hear..

we have had 20 or 30 years and whole generations of “you can be whoever you want to be” and “live your passions” focus on your “happiness first”

We need to ourselves have permisson to say..

Its hard

I am unhappy

I am not where I want to be

I have lost… I mourn… I am hurt.. I am angry..

I need help with this, I do not have this, I need to learn how to do this..

I need to make do..

and still get up every single day and slog it.. one foot in front of the other.. we need to reach down and grasp that we must live for the small things, the small moments and that its just going to be HARD..

2020 was one huge “WTF” learning curve.. and its done.. the future.. the future will have so many moments of beauty, moments of caring, moments of laughter.. but those will between plain old hardship.

Posted in Life moves on daily | 7 Comments

Are you a Seed Snob?

Never thought I would write that.. but this year I have seen peaple asking questions like

I am on a budget? Where can I get the most reasonable priced seeds?

I am looking at getting a bulk seed kit?

I am getting seed from the dollar store 3 packs for a dollar

I am deeply saddened to see replies that I feel are off-putting to the honest questions being asked..

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When I was a child at the age of 8 years old, I got my first garden seed bucket.. it was a pink bucket with a adorable strawberry shortcake type little girl with flowers and a watering can. In that bucket kit was flower seeds for my own little flower bed and basic seeds for my own little garden inside my mom’s big (acre plus) garden..

I had pea’s, beans, beets and so on.. that garden kit in a bucket with the most basic seeds, helped create the passion I have for my gardens.. I would dance with excitement for a number of years after that looking for my bucket of seeds..

Yet this week I have been sad to see so many peaple come down on seed buckets/kits like they are a) new b) bad.. o my gosh, how dare you buy from a company that put together a kit of basic seeds for a basic garden.

Now I would like to say that its just a intense dislike of the fact that they said the words “amazon” in regards to the kit, but its beyond that.. I mean I have seen them get just as worked up by the garden kits offered by solid company’s.. Big company’s that have bulk seeds and are looking at zones.. I have seen many of them offering a basic garden kit and yet the Seed Snobs are fully out there saying .. No

The kind gardeners are explaining in ways that matter.. a solid example of a kind and thoughtful answer could be

Grow what you eat.. no point in having hundreds of a kind of plant you and your family will not eat that came in a kit.

Watch your garden zoning in terms of the kit.. fair point

But the seed snobs are focused solidly on buying small, buying local and yes I am sad to say.. they are the seed version of keeping up with the jones..

It started about 10ish years ago when we had a huge push for open pollinate heritage seed saving, and what a wonderful thing that is! O my gosh, Seedy Saturdays are amazing and awesome!

But like so many good things its gone to far for some.. It used to be about buying good seed..

This past while on different homestead groups, garden groups and so on..

Its like they are trying to out do themselves.

I only buy from a local small company..

Well I only buy from a family owned small company

Well, I only buy from a this does not even have a website, came down from grandma, pay 5 dollars a package for 10 seeds of this special seed saved for X gens on this Y land.

I do not buy seeds at all, I only use my local seed saving libary..

O my gosh peaple.. Stop it! Do NOT become a Seed Snob!

Be proud of being a seed saver, Bless you

Be proud of being a plant grower, Bless you

Be proud to grow heritage seeds, Bless you

Be proud of Supporting small seed houses-Bless you

but its about growing food! The child that pulls a fresh raddish out of the ground does not care if that seed came from a dollar store package of seed, from a tiny seed grower, from the mid size grower or from the biggest 100 plus year old seed house in your state or province..

If it not been sprayed, if its not been owned gene wise by a company if its not a GMO and you can grow it in clean soil, with clean water and save its seed.. then its all eqaul across the board..

I know that you can buy all kind of “different raddishes” and that is awesome and its worth it to try new colors, flavours and so on..

However in todays world, in this pandemic its more important to put food on the table and in the belly for many peaple in the most economic way possable.. that means for a lot of peaple, the good old red radish is that can be picked up for a fraction of the cost of the fancy new green/white one is not just good enough.. its perfect..

The good news is that most old time gardeners are kind sharing souls.. we are so happy to reach into our seed collections and gift out seeds.. the plants give so freely.. one saved perfect tomato can gift us dozens of saved seeds and we remember that plant that grew just a bit fast/bigger with the amazing fruit with the texture and color and o the flavour.. and we want to share and save.

It seems to be the newer garden folks that are on a learning curve, and I am glad they are on the path.. but no.. I hate to break it to you, the goal is not to pay the most for the smallest, biggest, most different, oldest and so on..

The goal is fresh food, healthy soil, time spent with nature, learning to work with the season’s, learning about a plants life cycle, harvesting and using it to create lovely melas that nurish our minds and body’s

Like so many things this past year, everyone has more time on their hands and are online so much more and they want to feel that they are HEARD and I get that.. I do..

Whenever possable.. please be kind, be thoughtful, expand your mind just a little and remember that not everyone right now has extra money to spend, please do not make them feel bad when they seek to find ways to grow food within their means.

Posted in Life moves on daily | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Switch grass panicum virgatum

http://ontariograsses.com/main/species.php?id=3080

I have ordered in enough Switch Grass Seed to do a Quarter Acre worth of plants, I have a Multi level  Multi Year plan for them.

This year, I will be starting a number of them and then transfering clumps of them onto the top edge line (down about 18 inches or so on top of my ditch line along the front of my food forest front yard.

The county cuts the front ditch line and the middle line but does not cut my side of the ditch line, which tends to grow a number of things including small fruiting native bushes seeded by the birds.

I touched on this before but in case you missed that post, my county closed a local bridge due to age and that means that everyone on this side of the river is now funneled up or funneled down to the other two bridge crossings and this means that the traffic coming past my farm has massively increased as if you are funneling downward, you are now coming right past my farm..

This also means that the local ATV trail club has needed to change their route and yup, its now coming down my road in droves.. we used to see the odd local on their ATV, right now, we are seeing groups of them, up and down our roads daily, I can see between 20 to 50 of them right now daily..  and soon with the snow, the snow machines will be ripping around behind the farm.. they are to swing wide and for the 90 percent that do so, no issue with them.. have lots of fun but there is always that 10 that do not want to take the longer way around, and will cut across and race up my fence lines freaking out my expecting ewes or making my lambs go bonkers and will roar as they come round.. and I will take their photos and turn their ass in or if its local, I will growl a touch to the land owner and he will remind them that they are to follow the sign paths and not run my fence lines..

I really do not mind them at all when they follow the rules and take the paths marked out.. but back to the new ATV pathway, they seem to love to slow down and be neck crankers and that I do mind..  Not that much to see in winter but I love to putter and I like my dogs out in the yard with me..

So we need to fence in that front line of the yard this year but I also plan to put the switch grass in a line on the outside of the fence line, it grows on average 5 to 6 feet tall, so it should create a living fence cover, it is flower from late summer into the fall, its said that the little wild birds love the seed and that it stays up and tall and helps catch snow..  All good things

Then in the spring, its biomass, as its to be cut down to 6 inches, and it is said to produce a massive amount of biomass once its growing well.. I want that biomass.. I have lots of manure but I am buying a lot of straw..  I am hoping? that the birds will do a great job on cleaning up the seeds in winter, and that way I can cut and use the switch grass both in composting and in layering in the gardens

The second amount of seed is going into a swath down the fenceline in the very front pasture to again give me a living fence cover as the bonus but its going to be cut younger/greener for the biomass, and will ideally once in full growth, 2 or even 3 cuts is possable. Time will tell me how good this will go..

On the other hand I am also on the look out for the smaller more clump, less spreading version called Praire Fire as I want it to be the hair on a project coming for the garden this year LOL.. I love the idea of it.. but more on that later 🙂

Do you have Switch Grass in your back edging in your garden? Do you have it in your landscaping? Are you using it to hold slopes stable? Have you used it as a biomass in your compost? Have you cut it down in the spring and used it as mulch>? Have you cut it in green form to use as Feed? and or dried it and used it as bedding?

Posted in Food Forest | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Garden Center Closures

tenyardstopsoil

The Local company that I bought my soil from, my mulch from has closed and while I am digging, I have yet to find a company even somewhat close to me that has or is planning to open to replace it..  They closed last fall and it was on their website.. 

I have no issue making my own compost and I can get sand delivered, I have lots of extra grown here on the farm but honestly I had planned on jump starting by buying another 20 tons of soil.. not sure that is a choice I get to make this year.. I am pretty sure I can get another 20ish tons of cow manure/wood chips blend delivered to the farm again this year and I will ask for the most aged possable..  its aged enough that its rough soil but not weedy at all. If I mix in a couple shovels of sand into the blend with a hand full of kelp and turn it, it will not look as pretty as the above but it will certainly get the job done.. 

However I am going to have to either rethink the plan to finish out cedar mulching the last of the walking paths in kitchen garden or I am going to have keep calling till I find someone that will deliver a load of natural cedar blend..  I do not need the pretty ones, I am hoping to find the landscaper blend as that will work like a dream and save me a little on cost which will help with the delivery fee.

Last fall on of the biggest locally greenhouse in our area annouced that they were moving from open to the public to being a whole sale only.. this was a planned move as a response to covid, it allows them to move sideways, use their greenhouses in a more effective way, removes curbside pickups and allows them to meet a very active and large local landscapers market..  

While they will be missed in our garden groups and peaple will certainly miss being able to shop at better prices by doing it themselves at least they have not fully closed..

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However the other BIG greenhouse/nursery/plant center in the big city (50 min away) that has been around for 60 years and 3 gens just annouced they are retiring, i was listening to the on the radio this morning..  they made the choice based on covid, normally they have 27 staff and last year due to covid, they were in order to meet the legal requirements down to 7 staff and they said they were working up to 18 hours a day (so assume all family) and that they promised themselves they would never do another Covid season with curbside pickups. 

Clearly they meant it as they annouced their closure, they are done..  They are not the only ones.. I have watched so many other ones sell out early and or off very limited sales and I have seen three places that just did a one year pause.. sold out.. come back next year.. 

The one thing that i was not expecting was the comments from a couple different folks that were interviewed as they offered two other interesting points.. 

a) that all the local big box stores that were allowed to stay open, now have smaller plant sale sections and that peaple tend to pick up a few packs (even at higher prices and lower quality) while getting their groceries..

b)  That in the time of lock down less want to drive to the garden centers and that without the take your time look at everything and buy extras that just the order means many less sales (this one I can understand, how many times do I go for X and come out with Y Z and B lol)

c) Peaple are home and so they are buying seeds and starting their own plants..  I was a bit surprised by this one to be honest.. but three of the places closing all touched on it, they said.. with peaple working from home, having more time and with the online sales from company’s with seeds, that they were losing a huge amount of their sales to peaple starting and growing their own plants.

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Now that one got me lifting a eyebrow because most peaple do not want to start their own, most struggle to grow them, the garden groups are filled with leggy, floppy, issue ridden starts.. no I am sorry to say that the main reason you are seeing peaple buying seeds and starting their own is not because of time or being home, or covid.. 

Its PRICE..  I know its hard to hear it when you are the one paying though the nose.. the seeds cost more, the pots cost more, the soil costs so much more and then staff, greenhouse, trucking and so on.. I get it! I totally get it. I do.. 

BUT last year a 6 pack cell of regular tomato’s last year was 5.99 .. I have no idea what they will be this spring but i can tell you that I know hundreds of peaple that are starting at home this year that normally go and buy.. 

So I will own up that I am also starting at home this year..  for the past couple years I have ordered my tomato’s, peppers and last year eggplants from a outstanding local grower.. and i love his plants!  They are amazing.. 

However with the cost output for my new indoor greenhouse (I have extra growing space for really early starts, I have extended my 3 season greenhouse) but the biggest issue this year is cost savings.. 

20190131k www.lovethegarden.com

While I fully respect his price increase per plant and the pot price per plant (and I have always gotten a amazing discount due to bulk buying) the truth is what i can save by starting my own is kinda of crazy..  I am saving about $300.. 

That is a huge savings, it pretty much can pay for a different garden project this year, so be it.. I can only hope that they will be lots of folks that do not want start there so he will have no issues filling up his space and selling out again. 

So are you seeing your garden centers close? Are you seeing them move from public to wholesale? Are you seeing a increase on your area’s garden groups moving over to starting their own this year? Have you seen a increase in the big box stores bringing in the garden sections? Where the garden centers open in your area last year?

Do you think more peaple are starting from seed because they are home and have more time? or do you think cost is a huge factor?

 

Posted in gardens | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Garden Records

gardenplanner

Now normally I use a ruled lined book from the dollar store and i do love my farm books.  However I figure that I am putting so much effort into the gardens, the food forest and so forth that this year, I would step up my game. 

This book came highly recommended on the homesteading groups and I liked that it kept a page on costs out, but really liked how much room there is for reporting each day and that it has harvest total place. 

It has two pages for the fruit and I have them filled out and even added in one more spot on the bottom.. I wish it had three full pages instead of the two.. as it only has 24 slots of the fruit orchard and of course I have more then that.. so I had to decide what I would add into it and I was not able to break them down into kinds.. but it has a good note section so i will do more follow up in that regards into note.. 

Example, I had to just go with Apples and then I will need to use the note page next to it to break it down into the 9 kinds of apples I grow and their harvest numbers. I am not sure I can hold this to much.

I expect I will find the same issue with the veggies grown section, not enough pages there either but i do grow a big garden and a lot of different things..  I do think for the average garden/yard that there is enough space.. 

However given that it is for a family large garden, I stand by would be nice to have one more veggie page, and one more fruit page..  

I do love the monthly at a glance spare, and the weekly area looks great! I really like the break down though the day because its true, we putter and I like that it allows you to putter record lol

Saladgreens

We started our baby greenhouse at the first of the month and we are harvesting salad greens already, we have pea’s up, radishes up, and the patio tomato seedlings are up as well. I will need to transplant them into 4 inch pots today. They came up in 5 days.. 

I have hit a snag I didn’t expect.. the cost of soil in regards to microgreens, I have soilless sprouting trays and they would great but they are sprouts, not mircogreens and I used my main soil for doing the mircogreens trays but I figured out very quickly that it will cost to much to do them in soil..  because the soil is full of roots and the bits of stems left after means you can’t just reuse it.. so the chickens are very happy campers and that soil will come back into compost for my garden at a later point.

So I hit the internet and I have a large set of 4 trays including the stand coming that is a two part tray system that is to be used as a mircogreen tray that does not use soil.. I am of mixed hmm on it. I mean the seeds themselves only have so much that they can grow on their own without extra imputes so I will see how this goes.. 

Keep you posted on it..  I should have my first sets in full producing by the end of the month. Do you use the soilless microgreens trays, how have they worked for you?

On one hand I am not happy for another 50 dollar output this month but if it works, then overall it will be a big money saver and pay for itself within the year..  I have heard that soil is hard to come by this year.. I know last year that many peaple by the end of last season where really having issues with the soil that was being sold, and many were sold out, I have a feeling that its going to effect the ability and for sure the cost for buying soil this spring.. 

Mean while it appears that at least here in ontario that trying to find onion sets this year is going to be harder then normal.. So I will be starting Onions and Leeks in the next two weeks.  Its been a good while since I have needed to grow onions from seeds.. but I was able to buy onion seeds for ones that I would never be able to get locally in sets so that at least is fun and interesting.. 

I will share as it goes, I have a interesting bunching Russian one, one that is to be a huge onion, it is said that it can by fall reach up to 5 pounds each (i will believe it when I see it lol) its not a keeping onion but i laughed and said to hubby. dang, those are the onions for sauce making.. one five pound onion per sauce batch haha and a few more.. 

What is the most fun onion have you grown? If you grow onion from seed, do you have a hot tip on a successful outcome!

Posted in Garden | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments