Wednesday, July 21, 2010 Part Numero Dos: Gardening & Such

Let me set the stage for this post by saying, my husband would NEVER guest post on my blog, but he deserves most of the credit for this post.  Our garden is the fruits of his labor, with a side of adorable pint size helpers.  I have 'helped' on the occasion, but have made the inside of our home my domain.  I'm working on being more of a helpmate in this area, but wanted to be honest and give credit were credit is DUE!

As I mentioned in the last frugal post, this is a journey. One that we learn more as we press on.  We are not experts, but rather are learning to perfect our skills.  We started our garden last year.  We saw some success and we saw some fails.  Randy started by plotting out what part of the yard we wanted to use.  He used close to a 1/4 of our yard which was pretty substantial.  We rented a tiller for the day and I somewhat helped dig up our yard.  He built a fence out of a FREE old fence my parents replaced and offered us.  Randy used research from blogs and sites along with a few books to guide his planting process.  This year he changed it up some.  This year we borrowed a tiller and eliminated the rental cost.  He also implemented several methods.  Take a look:

This is a full shot of our garden.

This is a close up to show you the Square Foot Gardening Method. Just behind that is our compost pile.  We also have several trash cans we use for a homemade compost bins.  Randy simply drilled periodic holes for irrigation and turns them frequently.  You can also put casters on the bottom for more mobility.

These are 5 Gallon buckets with tomato cages.  Some are tomatoes, bell peppers, peppers, pole beans and squash.  You can't see it, but hanging from the awning on the far corner is a homemade Topsy Turvy made out of a 5 gallon bucket as well.

This is a potato plant using a Tire Method.  (I would need to locate the source if you are interested in specifics.) You basically start with the first tire and cut out a flap.  Plant your potato, water, and wait for the plant to sprout.  Then repeat.  The idea is to force the plant upwards and begin harvesting at the bottom from the flap you created...all the way up.  This method would allow for harvesting in intervals.  This one wasn't fruitful, but we plan to use it next year.

Here's a shot of our Junior Gardeners , giving you an idea of the height of our corn.  In case you are wondering we do not live in the country.  In fact you would never assume we have the size garden we did based on our neighborhood or it's location.  This goes to prove anyone can do this!  Start small, the 5 gallon buckets are a good one to start with.

So I'm sure ya'll are wondering...I would do you water that and stay in your budget.  Enter ghetto, but genius water system.

Randy made these with barrels and pallets he got from work, for wait for it...FREE!  We have two eave's in our back yard and no gutters.  He took the pallets to make a platform for each set of barrels to utilize both eaves.  Each barrel set has metal screening affixed to the top to keep out debris.  The water barrels, then have a PVC pipe attaching them to make water from both barrels accessible from one.   The barrel closest to the outside has a PVC faucet. We in turn use the rain water supply to water the garden.  We are able to fill a watering can or attach a hose.  We have been blessed with quite a bit of rain, but still supplemented with good ole city water.  

In either case the bounty of the garden and the minimal cost of water has greatly benefited our family and our budget.  Here are some reasons we feel our garden is of benefit to our family.

* cost effective on budget to eat from our garden instead of store bought produce

* pesticide free, we garden organically 100%
* Family time, my hubby LOVES to be in the garden and the kids love to be his helpers

* As homeschoolers, my kiddos are getting hands on teaching on so many subjects

* teaches our kiddos to be good stewards to the Earth

* Our family, friends, and neighbors can attest: we SHARE!

I will say we want to be the best example of stewardship to our kids while protecting them.  We try our best to be Eco conscious with in our budget.  Here are some other ways we help the Earth while helping  S-T-R-E-T-C-H our budget!

This is our adorable in door Compost Bucket that saves me from tossing scraps in the garbage disposal or trash can.  So when I bypass the disposal I save on electricity and water.  When I bypass the trash can I save on space so it creates less waste and I use less trash bags.  And lastly our compost makes FREE soil for our garden.
These were freshly laundered in this picture.  That is a regular occurrence each week.  We do our best to use cloth napkins at every meal and clean and dry with rags and dish towels.  The exception would be in the event I receive any free items that would eliminate the use of these items and if we have a function that would require more than we have.  Keep in mind if the items are free then that cuts down on the water, electricity, and detergent used to launder them.

Speaking of laundry is ours.  Randy (yep that guy again) makes ours.  He adapted a recipe he found online with a couple of You Tube videos and we were all set.  And I assure we smell just like store bought! I would have to figure the math again, but it's something crazy like $.08 a load and we use 5 gallon buckets that do over 80 loads.  That would be a 1 to 4 ratio of the cheaper version of detergent that most stores offer.  (If you are interested in the recipe/videos let me know and I will get back to you.)

These three shots are our edible goodies.  The first is canned peaches, the second peach jam, and the third okra, squash and onions from the garden.  We all got a chance earlier in the summer to go pick FREE peaches from Randy's Uncle's property.  Again, Randy is the gifted hands behind the peach creations (I swear he's related to Julia Childs!)  We helped in the picking, boiling, peeling process, but he cranked out the yummy goodness in each jar.  I think he's a keeper?! Then the veggies are of course from the garden.  We have also enjoyed pole (green) beans, strawberries, mint, oregano, rosemary, basil, chives, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, cantaloupe, potatoes, red potatoes, corn, peppers, bell peppers and tomatoes.

The heart of this post is that being frugal is SOOOO attainable.  Most of the suggestions I have posted can be implemented  simply by taking a look at what you ALREADY have at home and DOING IT!  I promise you can!  The other thing I want to highlight is FREE!  Be creative.  If you don't have someone who has items to give freely ask around.  One of the things I'll be talking more about are resources to get the things you need for a more frugal lifestyle for free or very little out of pocket and/or time.  If I could give you one tip to get started, it would be be humble.  Don't be afraid to ask, the worse someone could say is no.  Become the person (not tacky, overtly expectant) who people think of when they get rid of useful items they no longer need.  As far as gardening and canning goes, acquaint yourself with someone who has the knowledge, skill set, and garden and/or supplies.  I'm sure if you can find a friend who has an abundance of something like the peaches they would be happy to exchange it for manual labor, a few canned jars, etc.   Or maybe a farmer who needs free labor in exchange for experience and free produce.  I hope this is a blessing and welcome questions or tips you may have on these suggestions.

Linking up to Works For Me Wednesday

Disclosure: I have no affliation, nor am I receiving any compensation to any companies mentioned in the above blog post.  Opionions expressed are based soley on my personal experienes.


Adam and Julia said...

You guys should go visit my parents on their farm. They both retired 3 years ago and started a farm...on the land where we had They grow tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, cantaloupes, squash, zucchini, watermelons, corn, onions, beets, and a lot more. I am sure they would be more than willing to share and they can always use more help. The garden looks great. I am proud of Randy...and you for dealing with him. Hope all is well.

Heather @ Life Made Lovely said...

i think our husbands would get along famously! he's our gardener and water harvester. we have rain barrels all around the house, except the one near the front porch i made him come up with something aesthetically pleasing (haha) so we used a galvanized metal garbage.

i love all the earth friendly and budget friendly things you guys are doing!!

Harrell Hijinks said...

hey there! found you randomly:)

wow! another christian homeschooling family that is serious about stewardship of more than tithes! hmmmm, me thinks i can learn a lot from you!

you rock!

Stephanie said...

This is great information! Thanks! Most gardening info I've found is from gardeners in the midwest and doesn't always fit the weather/situation in central TX. I have a few questions though, if you have time. How do you keep from having a mosquito problem with the standing water in your barrels? Also, the containers we tried dried out so fast and everything died. How often do you water the plants in the 5 gallon buckets? (We're in McLennan Co.)
Thank you!!