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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How Much Does a Garden Grow: April 2015

Spring is a time for preparation, not harvest.  This is certainly true of my tomato plants, which you can see in this picture from about three weeks ago.  I have three varieties of tomatoes growing currently, along with one pepper variety.

We finally return to our monthly tallies with a modest expenditure on seeds and soil of $55.64 this month.  This is far less than I typically have spent by this point each year, but I am growing more plants from saved seed, at a substantial savings.

However, it's not all in the negative, as I harvested 0.5 ounce of leek (I know, I know...) for a value of just under $0.10.

Cumulative Totals

Harvest, Ounces: 0.5
Harvest, Pounds: 0.03125
Harvest Value: $0.10 

Expenditures: $55.64

Totals Saved: ($55.55) (Total accounts for rounding)
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ordering vs. Store: The Seed Purchase Debate

Usually, I order my seeds in mid-winter from a variety of seed houses; I've written about this before.  This year, between one thing and another, that order didn't happen, and I'm glad.  It's given me a chance to see how much I can save on starting my garden.

For many of my favorite varieties of seed, I've had very good luck going to the hardware store and buying Burpee seed.  They are the same varieties I can order by catalog, but they are much cheaper for a somewhat smaller pack.  These packages in the photo were on sale for $0.68 apiece, and I got a substantial number of my favorite varieties.  It's true that there's less seed per pack here, but so far that hasn't been much of an issue.  And, at $0.68 per pack rather than over $3.00 from Burpee, I can always go get more if I run short.

I have ordered some specialized varieties of seed at full price this year (have to have my Burpee Pickler cucumbers), and I ordered some tomato plants and onion starts, but otherwise, I'm trying to economize a bit without sacrificing quality.

Most of my tomato plants I have started from seed I saved, and they are happy under the grow lights right now.  I'll be reporting as I go along as to the difference between store bought, ordered, and home-started tomato plants.

What are you doing to get your garden off to an economical start?
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mr. FC&G's Soupy Beans


I'm not a legume person, which is actually a real tragedy for someone who is into sustainability, into saving money, and mostly vegetarian.  But Mr. FC&G is, and when he recently had a craving for a cheap and healthy way to use up the ends of our Easter ham, he called his mom (MIL FC&G) and got the recipe for Soupy Beans, which he made.

Soupy Beans
1 lb organic Navy or Great Northern Beans

Boil beans the night before and drain.  Cover with more water, and prepare as directed the following morning.

8 cups water
2 or more cups ham
1 cup finely chopped celery (which Mr. FC&G omitted)
2 Tbsp. dried marjoram (as a sub for the parsley we didn't grow)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf

Cook in slow cooker for 12-14 hours until beans are soft.  If you are doing this before leaving for work, put the cooker on high until you leave and then turn it back to low before you take off for the day.  That will get them ready a little earlier, in time for dinner.

The Analysis

Fast:  The recipe came together quickly and was easy to cook; the time was all slow cooker time.

Cheap:  Organic navy beans were $3.59 a pound, and a large organic onion was about $1.00.  We already had our leftover ham, so a huge pot of beans was about $5.00.  I'm not sure how many servings Mr. FC&G has had, but he's had about 6-8 bowls full and there's still some left in the fridge. He says this recipe used to comfortably feed a family of 6, so there could be 10 servings here.  Win!

Good:  Mr. FC&G thinks so, and that's what counts.  Now, to find a lentil recipe I will eat with him, because I do like lentils......


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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Seeking Reader Input on Etsy

As most of you know, I work a "very part-time" job running an Etsy store, Carrot Creations.  I've always loved Etsy because they make it so easy for small artisans to sell their work to a worldwide audience.

Recently, in pursuit of an IPO, Etsy has made the decision to allow more manufactured items to be listed, which has resulted in the site hosting many mass-produced items in addition to its original handmade creations.  I'm not sure how I feel about this just yet, but it has made many of us concerned that our products will be lost in the mass of "normal" goods.

I'm trying to decide if Etsy is still the best platform for my hand-crocheted goods, and I thought I'd poll my FC&G readers for your opinion.  If you have a chance, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments about any/all of these factors:

  • Are you visiting Etsy more or less now than you used to before the influx of manufactured goods?
  • Do you find it hard to find the artisan-made goods you want?
  • Would you prefer to go to an artisan's own web site rather than Etsy, or would you prefer to go to Etsy to shop?
  • Other considerations?
Thank you in advance for your input!  And thanks for your readership and your support of FC&G and Carrot Creations!
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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

How Much Does a Garden Grow: First Quarter 2015

Every gardening year is different.  While last year I was diligent about growing greens in the sunroom over the winter, this year kind of got away from me. That's why I haven't been reporting on my gardening progress much; I haven't done much to report.

As of today, I have three varieties of tomatoes growing: Cuor di Bue, San Marzano, and a volunteer strain that my friend named Yulia.  I also have paprika peppers growing from a strain that I have yet to name.  Obviously, none of these have borne fruit.

On the expenditures side, I really haven't purchased anything yet.  I'm due to buy some Neptune's Harvest liquid fertilizer, and I will no doubt buy some more peat moss when we start broadforking up the garden in earnest.  I also need to start laying in garden seeds; I'm due to put in a round of peas, although I tend to put those in later than most folks because they don't sprout as well in spring as they should.  I also really need to get the lettuce bed up and running.

So there you have it.  We stand at zero for 2015 so far, but we are poised to get going:

2015 Tally to Date:

Expenditures:  $0

Harvest:  0 oz.
Harvest value: $0

Net: $0
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