Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2015

mylarIt’s getting to the time of year when gardeners and homesteaders in many parts of the country are trying to figure out what to do with their leftover seeds or seeds they’ve saved from the summer.

If properly preserved, seeds can last many years. While there are urban myths about seeds from King Tut’s tomb that have germinated, those ‘ancient grains’ stories are all unconfirmed. There is, however, a documented date palm seed discovered at Herod the Great’s palace in Masada that sprouted. This date palm is roughly 2000 years old. How cool is that?

My point is, seeds can remain viable for a very long time. Chances are, you need to keep yours for somewhat less time than Herod’s Date Palm seed and the very best way I know of, is in an ordinary freezer.

I recently ordered a package from  The Seed Guy to be used for long term emergency. The seed packets are already in a Mylar bag, so I will simply write a date on the bag and stick it in the freezer. Simple.

Similarly, as soon as I have finished planting my fall and winter garden for this year, I will go through my leftover seeds and put them into labeled envelopes. I will place the envelopes into Mylar bags like the ones in the photo accompanying this update. I will label and date the bags and into the chest freezer they will go.

If you don’t have access to a freezer or Mylar bags, I recommend wrapping your seed envelopes or packets in aluminum foil and putting them in a tote, tackle box or even shoebox to keep them from being exposed to the sun.  It’s not rocket science and doesn’t have to cost a ton of money.

Sometimes, seed companies offer end of the season sales that can save you a ton on the ever rising cost of seeds.  By storing them properly you can have a great head start on you future gardens.

Finally, in 2016, we’re going to start saving our own seeds. In the past, seeds have been cheap enough that I haven’t wanted to put in the effort. In recent years, however, some seed prices have gone through the roof.  Careful planning and storage can help stave off impulse buying in January when all the catalogs start hitting our mailboxes.

One last tip before I go; check out deals at your local feed store. They often have fantastic prices on bulk seeds. I’ve saved a packet over big box stores by purchasing certain seeds from our feed store.

What are you doing to preserve seeds for future use? I’d love to hear from you. After all, we’re in this together.

Read Full Post »

 

Read Full Post »

seedsOver the weekend, I had a couple of people ask whether or not it’s too late to plant some things like squash, tomatoes and pumpkins. Someone also asked about lettuce. I was able to advise them to ‘go for it’ (although here in Georgia, I’d wait until September for the lettuce). August is a great time to plant a second harvest of many vegetables and in some more northern areas it’s time to get your fall crops in. Here in the south, we’re just getting started. August and September are both fantastic month for planting. I did some research and came up with the following list of crop ideas, depending on what part of the country you live in. The list is not exhaustive by any means, but should give you a good start. Don’t sit back and say, ‘Darn, I have to wait until next spring for my garden.” Heck no. Go get some dirt under your fingernails TODAY.

Remember, we love feedback. Please send us your comments, questions, suggestions and idea. Remember, we’re all in this together.

August Planting Ideas:

CENTRAL U.S./MIDWEST REGION
Arugula
Basil
Beans
Beets
Broccoli (Transplants)
Brussels sprouts (Transplants)
Cabbage (Transplants)
Carrots
Cauliflower (Transplants)
Cilantro
Cucumbers
Kale
Lettuce
Mustard Greens
Peas
Parsley
Radishes
Rutabaga
Spinach
Summer Squash
Swiss Chard
Turnips
Winter Squash

NEW ENGLAND + MID-ATLANTIC REGIONS
Arugula
Basil (Transplants)
Beans
Beets
Brussels sprouts (Transplants)
Cabbage (Transplants)
Calabrese Broccoli (Transplants)
Carrots
Cilantro
Collards
Cucumber
Kale
Leeks (Transplants)
Lettuce
Mustard Greens
Parsley
Radishes
Spinach
Swiss Chard
Turnips

NORTH CENTRAL U.S./ROCKY MOUNTAIN REGION
Arugula
Beets
Carrots
Cilantro
Dill
Kale
Kohlrabi
Lettuce
Parsley
Radishes
Rutabaga
Scallions (Transplant)
Spinach
Turnips

PACIFIC NORTHWEST REGION
Arugula
Beans
Beets
Broccoli (Transplants)
Brussels Sprouts (Transplants)
Cabbage (Transplants)
Carrots
Cauliflower (Transplants)
Cilantro
Collard Greens
Dill
Kale
Lettuce
Mustard Greens
Parsley
Peas
Radishes
Spinach
Swiss Chard
Turnips

SOUTHEAST/GULF COAST REGIONS
Arugula
Basil
Beans
Beets
Carrots
Cilantro
Collard greens
Cucumber
Dill
Eggplant (Transplants)
Southern Peas
Bell Peppers (Transplants)
Okra
Pumpkins
Summer Squash
Spinach
Tomato (Transplants)
Watermelon
Winter Squash

SOUTHWEST REGION
Arugula
Basil
Beans
Beets
Carrots
Cilantro
Collards
Corn
Cucumbers
Dill
Kale
Peppers (Transplants)
Summer Squash
Swiss Chard
Tomato (Transplants)
Winter Squash

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Full Disclosure: I was trying to figure out how to keep my YouTube videos from being letterbox. The good news: it worked. Stay tuned for more hydroponics information.

http://tinyurl.com/qfy83jp

 

 

Read Full Post »

budget groceriesLast week I was speaking with a young couple who are trying to get serious about living on a budget and eliminating debt. Hooray for them. I’m in their corner. I wish everyone would get serious about such things (and maybe buy my book about that in the process J ).

During our conversation the subject of groceries came up, as it always does in budget talks. These two young people are passionate about eating well and are very conscious of eating organic and grass fed. As parents of two small children, they want to make sure those kids are eating healthy, whole and natural things. How awesome is that?

The need to be on a tight budget for a while, though, means they may have to make some compromises in their food budget, so they wondered what advice I had on matter.

I thought it might be a good idea to share my thoughts on this issue with all of you, as well. Especially since it comes up in conversation all the time.

First, what usually happens is a family either, A. gives up on organic entirely, saying it’s just not affordable or B. gives up on the budget because they can’t bring themselves to make any sacrifices at all on their eating plan and can’t make a budget work without sacrifices, so they choose to keep steering the ship towards the rocky shoreline of debt.

Yikes! I don’t find either of those choices appealing; or wise. Let me suggest a better way.

Most people don’t get into financial difficulties because of their grocery shopping. It’s usually because we make poor spending choices across a wide spectrum of categories. I know this is going to sound harsh, but most of the time, we get into debt crisis because we selfishly want what we want and we want it NOW. We don’t want to think about things like, ‘delayed gratification’. We want our big house, our nice car, our fancy vacations, toys and clothes, and to heck with those who counsel moderation.

When you add in student loan debt and medical emergencies, and many of us are in a heap of hurt. I feel deep empathy for anyone in that situation. My wife and I have been there. I feel your pain. The tough truth, though, is there’s no way out of debt without sacrifice and compromise.

I can’t begin to count the number of individuals and couples who are just not willing to pay the price to gain real financial freedom. But…that’s another topic for another blog.

Since this is food post about groceries, I’ll stick to that issue so that this article will not become a book.

What do we do when our desire to eat right collides with our desperate need to live on a budget and eliminate debt? Does one category have to lose?

The answer is no. We can win at both, but sometimes, when we’re taking the long view, we make some short term sacrifices for a lifetime of happiness and health.

Chess players know that occasionally a piece on the board has to be strategically sacrificed to set up a winning plan. Military strategists are familiar with a ‘strategic retreat’ in order to gain a long term advantage and victory.

Keep in mind, when eliminating debt; many of our most extreme sacrifices are short term. Once we’re debt free we’ll have more expendable cash to invest in our healthy diets, so I recommend getting focused and getting the tough job done as quickly as possible.

When we’re on a tight budget, we are going to stop eating out, or at least seriously curb the practice. We are going to buy cheaper cuts of meat and have a lot more casseroles rather than surf n turf dinners. It’s just part of the process.

There are going to be some foods we will have to eliminate for a while or choose traditional rather than organic options (remember it’s temporary).

There are some things I would recommend NEVER compromising on, if at all possible. Those would be root vegetables and soft fruits. This is because they are most susceptible to transmitting chemicals to you and your children.

Root vegetables, like potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc. sit in the soil and soak up all the chemical soup that is sprayed on them, whether fertilizers or pesticides. For those kinds of foods, I would not eat conventional, even if the conventional options are considerably less expensive. The risk is just too high for my tastes.

The same is true for soft fruits, like berries, apples and peaches, etc. Those fruits are sprayed like crazy and the chemicals are absorbed into the flesh of the fruit. This is not as true for things we shell or peel like nuts, bananas melons.

Most veggies, like, lettuce, cabbage, peppers, etc. we can wash thoroughly and be ok with for a period of time, while we get ourselves on financial track. Root veg and soft fruit, though, I’d adjust my budget to account for.

I also recommend growing your own, when possible. It’s pretty cheap to grow carrots, turnips and potatoes. You’ll save a ton of money, get some exercise working in the garden and home grown food just plain tastes better.

(Side note: I did an experiment with purple potatoes this spring. I planted 4 seed potatoes in a small garden bed and got ten potatoes for every one I planted. That is a terrific rate of return by anyone’s standard. If I’d planted earlier, I would have had an even BETTER return. Think about it.

For the record, this is the same advice I give everyone who says organic is just too expensive. It bears repeating one more time. If you can only spend a small amount on organic food, start with root vegetables and soft fruit. Later you can begin adding other things. And, of course, growing your own is always a win/win.

Remember, I crave feedback. I’d love to hear your tips on how to transition to a healthier way of eating while on a budget. Also, feel free to send your budget questions as well as your gardening ones. Send them via the comments section, or email me. Please follow this blog and recommend it to all your friends and family. After all, we’re in this together.

Read Full Post »