Category Archives: Gardening

Weird Ways to Save $, Mostly in the Garden

I’m always looking for ways to implement my 3 basic ideas to save $ (use less, find a cheaper subsititute, or do without), here’s a few.

  • Manila Envelopes: Seem to fail most often on the T-shaped clasp. Use one side at a time instead of both. When one fails/breaks off, use the other.
  • Lawn:  1) Deliberately let a part of the lawn go to moss, if it wants to do that. Will you win a house beautiful contest? No, but moss usually stays green without fertilizer and doesn’t need to be mowed. 2) Fill in bare spots with a no-mow grass seed mix. 3) Deliberately let the edges of the lawn (or a patch) go to seed and collect the seed to use on any bare spots. 4) Change part of the lawn to something else, a patio or path, using stone, pavers, mulch, etc.
  • Plants: Get more plants by getting out of the way and letting them do what they want! For something like forsythia, put a rock on the middle of an outer branch and it will grow roots where the branch hits the ground. Two bushes for the price of one! (It’s called layering.) Divide bulbs and plant both bulbs slightly farther apart. Works with day lillies, daffs, etc. Or, let the plant go to seed. We have an edge of “cup of gold” day lilies lining part of our drive. Most of these were grown from seed, obtained from the one plant I bought or other landscaping. We have a layer of bracken (ferns) along the top of a stone retaining wall. Cost? Nothing. I layer leaves of the bracken where I want the ferns to be the next year and there they grow!
  • Fertilizer/Mulch: 1) Compost your grass clippings and use the compost. 2) Make use of your community’s leaf pile/shrubbery pile for compost or as a source for items to compost. 3) Find a farm who will sell you soiled straw or composted manure. Not so easy in the city, but pretty easy where we live. I have found chicken farms who would let you haul off their soiled straw for free, folks who raise beefalo who would deliver it in small area, etc. 4) Use your coffee grounds or spent tea.
  • Trellising: Find ways to reuse what you have. At one point, the bean trellis here was made from 2 paperback spinners, a TV antenna, and various card rack bits, because it was what we had to hand.

I hope there’s at least one thing in there you haven’t thought of yet!

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Using What You Have & What Works

We have a large lot with a lot of trees. The trees dump a lot of pine cones, acorns and oak leaves on the property. Clean up requires much work, and a large volume of space to gather the leaves, cones, acorns, and compost same or haul them to the town’s leaf  or brush pile.

Because I am on a “clean up” jag, I’ve been working on the yard. I have no panic attack issues (that I know of) with the garden.

We only have 2 plastic trash barrels. They’re too big to go into my car. I have a few smaller metal trash cans, but they too would likely have to be put on their sides, and would probably leak leaves, etc. into my car. The better idea seems to be to bag up the leaves and take them to the dump that way. The leaf paper bags work, but are expensive and wasteful.

Because I’m not all that tall, hauling trash barrels and/or full leaf bags gets to be comic for everyone other than me, as the bags are nearly my size. They’re difficult to deal with, full.

Accordingly, we went looking for easier ways to haul the assorted leaves, twigs, etc.  DH brought home one of these:large concrete tub

It’s a concrete mixing tub. After using it a while, it cracked on the corner, so he bought another. It also cracked on the corner, but both are still usable, so we use them, cracks and all!

Last fall, we bit the bullet and bought a package of reusuable plastic bags. These are also made for construction. They’re called “Demo Bags” and we bought them with the idea that we’d use them over & over, for yard waste. So far that works!

The bags fit over the ends of the tubs. It’s not a loose fit, but it’s do-able.

I can push the contents of the tub right into the bag. This was completely unexpected, and welcome — it makes the job much easier!

The bags are big enough for me, especially with my “iffy” elbow that I don’t fill them, but put 1-3 tubs of leaves in them, about 1/2 the bag’s worth. I can then lift them without a problem.

I have a place to put away the tubs, but don’t have one for the previously used bags, yet. That’s the only glitch about this “system”. I’m using what we already had (the tubs), getting the yard cleaned up fairly efficiently, and I’ve cut down the amount of money spent on single-use supplies.

Definitely a win!

(The used bags are being stored right next to where the tubs are stored when they’re empty. Hurrah!)

 

Friday’s 5 & Tuesday’s too!

Okay, okay. Catch up. Today is hyper busy! The tile HAS to go into the basement today,  it’s supposed to snow tonight.  Also various other yard clean up things have reached criticality because of that. Not negotiable.

Organizing my day accordingly. I’m fighting off a cold, and will be so dirty after going in/out of the basement, hauling things to the sheds, etc. I will *have* to bathe. But I can’t go in/out of the house or up/down into unheated basement with wet hair.Guaranteed to make me sick. So the plan already started is:

Prep veggies for lunch/dinner soup. Get them started. (Done!)

Eat breakfast (Done.)

Move tile into basement. Do other yard clean up until 10. Work on pantry. Bathe, Make/eat lunch, then see what needs to happen the most!

Last Friday, I used the day to eliminate a chunk of the backlog. That won’t happen today! Although I will use the list, if it fits, to include the chores I’ve just talked about.

Today’s Five:

  1. Get the sand set up. Fri. 9 a.m.
  2. Get the onions stored properly. Fri., don’t know the time.
  3. Deal with the excess yams. Fri., don’t now the time.
  4. Get the trellises upright, again. (They fell down in the storm we had a few weeks ago.) Weds. 11/15
  5. (fill in) Clean the entry. Fri. 2:20 p.m.

Tuesday’s Five:

  1. Add labels to the pantry crates. Thurs. eve.
  2. Clean part of a bookcase, any bookcase. Fri. 2:35 p.m.
  3. Deal with the farm food. Fri. don’t know the time.
  4. Grab last-minute food from the garden. Missed this, we had a hard freeze.
  5. Make sure there’s enough storage containers for the last glut.

Backlog:

  • Dust the cuprack.
  • Get some of the cleaned laundry hung up which isn’t.
  • Do a short inventory of the meat in the big freezer. (Probably something like 1 chicken, 3 lbs ground round, and 1 other package of mixed chicken parts. . . but I don’t know exactly!)
  • Get the rice in one place, instead of 2-3, as it is now.
  • Clean, wax, organize the snow scoop, shovels, etc.
  • Use the commercial napkins for their intended craft, or get rid of them!
  • Dust the stair fan. Sat. morning, don’t know the time.
  • Get the odd pieces of insulation into the basement.
  • Check the water heater’s filter, does it need to be cleaned?
  • Sand some of the marks from the floor, at the edges.
  • Deal with the squashes from the farm.
  • Make room with the cold cereal for the hot cereal to go too.
  • Get the island/kitchen side cleared.
  • Update linked in.
  • (fill in) Send checks to publisher and BIL. Tues.
  • Work on the house binder.
  • Clean out the small ice box.
  • Get through the last of the tomatillos.
  • (fill in) Get things put away in attic which need to go there and pull something out which needs to go elsewhere. Sat. 11-3 pulled something out.
  • (fill in)Put laundry away.
  • Clean the oven, so it’s clean before Thanksgiving!
  • Dust the electronics in the office.
  • Eat the last watermelon.
  • Cull or add to the candle collection, as needed.
  • Get the mittens, etc. (winter gear) out of the attic and swap in the summer bill caps, etc. Fri. got winter gear from attic. 9 a.m.
  • Get the salt & sand next to the front door.
  • Clean the couch.
  • Get the coffee ad framed.
  • Clean part of the upstairs that hasn’t been touched in some time.
  • Double check the emergency supplies. (fill in)
  • Put away the canning supplies if not in use.
  • Put up the 3 missing hurricane clips
  • Put the grill away.
  • Put the tile in the basement. (I recently acquired a LOT of mosaic tiles.)
  • Get the ladders put away for the season.
  • Get the supplies for the knitted pillow all in one place so you can finish it!
  • Clean the office chairs.
  • Find a place to put away the dehydrator racks and do so when appropriate.
  • Recaulk the bathroom as needed.
  • Figure out a new way/place to store the yarn and put it away.
  • Look at the stored snow tires. Need new ones? In the budget?
  • Examine winter coats for flaws, etc. 
  • Find a new home for the cat towel basket. (Old towels used for car washing, spill clean up, whatever!)

    Chores on hold or in process, for whatever reason

Pick up the yard, put more items away for winter. 11/3 Chairs put away, hoses, hose table. (All need to be covered.) Also not-so-great paint in the shed. Raked around the house, or most of it. (Need to pick up leaf piles.)

Make up/try the Naval Academy brass polish. Deferred because I have THREE containers of general metal polish. I want to use up at least one of those before I make up more. I sure don’t need 4!!!

Go thru the record collection, cull. First part done. Moving to in-process 10/27, 2nd piece done 11/2

Wash the net curtains. First pair pulled from over the dry stores 4:30. Washed Tues. 10/24 a.m. One pair to go. Two pairs to go.

Fertilize the lawn. Did the dooryard lawn and the lawn on the street side of the bulb bed. Tues. 4:30 p.m. Lots more to do! Finished Fri. 11/10 

Cull books from one “holding pattern” bookcases. Either they’re out or they stay!, in process Thurs. a.m. (I did the 1st shelf.)

Put family photos in the album. Can’t be done. Photos located, album missing!

Clean off DH’s desk. This is going to be delayed until he and I catch up. I pulled everything from the top drawer on his side of the dresser, we’re still going through all of that.

 

Finish the freezer/fridge cleaning. More done, but not complete. 7:00 p.m. Move to on-going.

 

5/35 or 14.3% 6/35 or 17.1%

 

Friday’s Five & Backlog

I did something which shows me how things are different these days. Yesterday I gave away brand new packages of lunch bags and staples, to two different businesses. The lunch bags were given to an antique store who uses them to wrap china and glassware. The staples were given to the antique store where I have a booth.

In both cases, I have more than I think I’ll use in a reasonable time, without them.

I use about 1/2 package of lunch bags a year for drying herbs/spices. (And I reuse them sometimes too.) I had come to the end of a package and bought some, thinking I was out. When I went to put it away, there was another new package! I sure didn’t need another 50!

The box of staples came from a box of shop office supplies. I thought I’d folded in or deleted extras from the shop’s supplies long ago, but I found a box a few months back filled with labels (mostly tossed), the box of staples, and a few miscellaneous pieces. When I cleaned office shelves last week or so, I realized we had 2 complete boxes of staples, more than we’d likely need until oh 2050. I don’t expect to be alive or wanting staples by then anyway!

Previously, I would have kept them; in fact I did. These days? They’re clutter I can get rid of easily, and that’s great!

Friday’s Five:

  1. Find something to do with the extra eggs.
  2. Make pepper jelly.
  3. Figure out a new way/place to store the yarn and put it away.
  4. Look at the stored snow tires. Need new ones? In the budget?
  5. Make cookies with the frozen oatmeal.

Much of this is dealing with food, obviously. Partly because farm day was yesterday. But it’s partly because the other chores in/out are so far behind. I have to cook no matter what else happens most of the time, so this is an “easy” way to get the list pared down. If it’s a cheat, it is — sue me!

BACKLOG:

Thursday:

  • Empty my desk, again.
  • Cut more sage and other such from the garden. Kale Fri. 10/13, most of the rest of it 10/15. Need to pull some tarragon and that’s it.
  • Make up/try the Naval Academy brass polish.

Wednesday:

  1. Clean off DH’s desk.
  2. Cull books from one “holding pattern” bookcases. Either they’re out or they stay!, in process Thurs. a.m. (I did the 1st shelf.)

Finish laundry room clean up.

Tuesday:

  • Weed the brick path around the veggie garden, edge it. in process, 1st quarter done 1:30 Fri., 2nd quarter and 1/2 the 3rd done Sunday.
  • Move the lumber which needs it from the shed so it can be put away in the loft.
  • Work on grading the last pile of dirt.Fri. 1 p.m.

Monday:

  • Put family photos in the album. Can’t be done. Photos located, album missing! 

Friday:

  • Examine winter coats for flaws, etc.
  • Do the last gather of flea market materials, last market is Saturday 10/14 date changed to 10/21

Thursday:

  • Put ice scrapers in the cars, examine and see if they need replacement?
  • Ship the box to the BIL, make up more boxes of things which should be shipped and get them sent! I think I did this, although I’m not sure. I cannot find the box anywhere!!! Refound and shipped, sometime later. He got it mid/late Oct.

Monday’s Backlog:

  • Clear stuff from my car and run a vac through at least part of it!.

Overwhelmed Gadfly

Basically, I took about a week off. I had so many things to do, endlessly that I just got completely overwhelmed. When I took a day off to go to a party, I just didn’t start again the next day — last Monday.

Being lazy and unproductive hasn’t helped getting anything done, but it has lowered my stress.

Anyway, the result is that I still have an overwhelming “to do” list.

  1.  Deal with food, both home grown and from the CSA.
  2. Clean/cull the house.
  3. The construction is on-going because we’ve had so much rain. The two week job has become a 4 week job. Hopefully, it will be finished this week, oh, wait, there’s a holiday — next week, sigh.
  4. Yard work.
  5. Writing.
  6. House Decorating.

None of these are single item, do it in an hour jobs. They are on-going, long-term, intensive and have many pieces.

drowning

Food:

  1. Summer squash (from the CSA) is currently in the dehydrator. Finished. A new batch started.
  2. The latest batch of rhubarb is chopped on the cutting board. I need to figure out what I’m going to do with it. Froze it.
  3. I have the rest of last week’s food from the CSA to deal with. Need to figure a rough menu for between now and Wednesday and deal with the rest. Thursday we get more. No menu, but in process of using up and/or deciding to store the excess.
  4. One way I deal with food is to freeze it. I need to make a new inventory. What I have is completely out of date. In process.

Clean/Cull the House:

  1. I’d love to take a chunk o’ stuff out of the house, put it on the lawn and go through it. I may, if I have time today. But having time is strictly deciding that I’m going to do this rather than something else.
  2. I still have about 3 or 4 batches of laundry to do. I may break down and go to the laundromat in town to get them done, maybe. There are many places I could find enough “stuff” to make this worth doing: the living room, the kitchen, the attic, our bedroom, the office.
  3. Keep working on the “dump” areas: my office and the attic. My idea with this is that if I get these cleared out then I can move some of the excess stuff from the other rooms there. Especially the attic, as that’s what it’s for — right? [Started working to clear out one of the two sheds. The sheds are the outdoor “attics” and they need to be culled and cleaned as well.]

Construction:

  1. Most of this isn’t on me, but they’ve unearthed a lot of rocks and I want to use them elsewhere in the garden. They’ve also covered over a lot of bulbs and they need to be moved to the bulb bed before they’re all dead. In process.
  2. Finally, the big equipment moving across the space did in my stepping stones and the wildflowers I was trying to cultivate as ground cover. This area when they finish will need to be relandscaped.

Yard work:

  1. I need to weed the veggie garden plot. I’m not growing much this year, but it doesn’t do to let the weeds get a firm hold on the space, ‘eh?
  2. Finish distributing the old compost.
  3. Add the new L to the compost heap and organize the leaf pile.
  4. Make up the tutorial for and redo the kindling stand for next winter.

Writing:

  1. Finish the memoir (again).
  2. Write the new novel, at least a draft.
  3. Finish the article for your friend.

House Decorating:

  1. Get the shower curtain liner done.
  2. Get the bookcase boxes painted, if they’re going to be.
  3. Paint the stairs and baseboards in the living room.
  4. Repaint the bathroom.
  5. Move things in the hearth area as per the new design.
  6. etc.

First commentary added 7/4/2017. Includes all 4 food items, cleaning one of the sheds (partial), and moving some of the rocks.

Today

DH is working on upgrading the electrical system on his motorcycle. He helped me with some of the leaf moving (rake, then relocate). Later today, we’re off to the storage to work on that.

There are probably more books here ready to be gotten rid of. I gave one  to a neighbor. Have another to ask a second neighbor about and the yard is tidier than it was. All good.

The fertilizer I used up (we’d had it for 2 years, why?) was rained on for the next two days. A lot of it went into the bulb beds, and the daffs. and other bulbs are shooting up green sprouts all over the place. Partly because it’s time, but partly because they got fertilized just as they were starting their spring push. The rain was a blessing for them.

So we need to buy more mulch for the bulb bed to keep out the weeds (grass), but the bulbs should spread out quite a bit this year because of the timely fertilizer and rain.

I’ve been working on the spring/summer food/garden plans,  Between the farm we belong to and the garden I grow (sometimes, didn’t last year) we are usually drowning in green stuff by June. I want a better plan for what comes in/when and what I intend to do with it this year! I’m about 25% done with this piece. Finished the initial data gather yesterday. Pulling it together.  There are 2 or so more data gathering steps before I can make an actual plan, but it should get there.

Off to the storage — ho!!!!

J

We took a file box full of books and a few besides to the market which has the book bin. Gone! I have gone through one box since we got home and have started the 2nd. There’s about 10 more books in a bag to be donated, wherever it is we go next that will take them.

Revised To Do List 3/6

to do list 1

Keep using pantry goods. Empty the freezer before June 1. Should be as empty as is practical to make it!

Finish the doormat.

Box up the rest of the stuff for the flea market in April

Finish getting the tax info to the tax person before the appt.

Get ahold of my student and tell her when I’m available this week.

Get at least one piece of one item off of the long-term list!