Mar 152014
 

Garden Update 2014

This past week has seen me doing very little in the way of gardening.  I was able to take a few minutes here and there to thin out the seedlings I have already started.

So what was I doing instead of gardening?

  • Catching up on over a week’s worth of laundry – something that is possible now that it isn’t 5 degrees outside
  • dental appointments
  • having required home visit for our foster care license
  • finished patching kids’ jeans
  • making the spare bedroom visitor friendly again.  It had become a catch-all room plus a DIY project in progress.
  • making our bedroom visitor and kid friendly (chose to place these visitors here due to the work we are doing in the spare bedroom.  It is very much not kid friendly right now.)
  • making meals for the freezer
  • finding an outfit to wear to court
  • updating my wardrobe (if I was going to toss out clothes I needed enough left to actually have something to wear, by choice I don’t have a lot of clothes – I decluttered 9 shirts)
  • setting up and going to MOPS
  • entertaining 2 different sets of overnight visitors
  • watching a friend’s kid (my kid loved the impromptu play-date and lunch out)
  • going to an all-day conference

Oh, yeah and ADOPTING OUR KIDS!!

I was hoping you all would understand why this just wasn’t the week to be doing a lot of gardening and why my posts have not been my normal schedule.  It has definitely been a full week, and the house looks so much better for it.

picked up bedroom

This upcoming week has a lot more free time, very few required places for me to be or things to accomplish.  I  plan on making the most of it while I can.

Gardening and Home Goals for the week of March 16, 2014:

Call school to inform them this will be the last week in preschool for my youngest.

List all the start dates for the seeds I have.

Start seeds that should already have been started.

Work on removing 2 lilac bush stumps.

Plant peach tree? – I may hold off on this one for another week.

Add mulch to areas around the yard, if the mulch pile is no longer frozen on top.

Declutter 49 items.

Cook and freeze pork roasts in refrigerator.

Create more omelette kits for freezer.

Plant 200 – 300 onion sets – if ground isn’t still frozen.

green onions in raised bed 2I am very ready for the 2014 gardening season.  However, if I don’t start now with my garden jobs, soon it will be an overly busy time and I’ll get behind.  The warmer weather will appear before we know it – though I’m not convinced we are through with snow storms or freezing temperatures.

How are your gardens or garden preparations coming along?

Mar 082013
 

 

Putting in a garden can be an expensive ordeal.  This is especially true if this is your first year and you  have to get everything to start out with.  Each year I try to minimize the cost of starting a garden.  (There is no reason to spend $200 starting a garden every year, when it would be cheaper to buy organic food from the grocery store.) Each Friday for the rest of the month I am going to be talking about ways you can save money in your garden.  This may be ways to save when starting your garden or during the gardening season.

This year, I have been able to use gift cards to buy several items for my garden. These have come from a variety of places.  Which lead me to my next point: there are several ways to obtain a gift card.  Here are four ways to do so:

  1. Receive them as gifts
  2. Win them
  3. Earn them
  4. Buy them at a discounted price
Receive them as gifts
Has anyone ever asked you, “What would you like for your birthday/Christmas/mother’s day/father’s day/grandparent’s day?”  If you are like me, there isn’t much you actually need.  Often I think in terms of items for me or the house, but why not mention the garden?  A gift card to your favorite gardening store or seed company is a great way to be able to try something new or lower the cost of your garden.
Being as these will be gifts, this is not the most predictable way to obtain gift cards, but it is one option.
Win them
Just like receiving them as gifts, winning gift cards is also not the most predictable way to get gift cards, though you could potentially win some large ones or even several smaller ones.  “Gift cards for gardening stores?  Are you sure you have seen these?”  Well, actually, yes.  However, you may not have thought of some of the stores as gardening stores.  Think about it.  Doesn’t the big retail store near you sell gardening supplies?  And your large grocery store?  They may  not be at the top of your list to shop at, but you can still find items there you may need.  Pots, gardening gloves, hoes, spades, canning jars, freezer containers and bags, fertilizer, seeds, bird netting, bird seed, feeders, etc. can be found at most of these stores.
How about sweepstakes to redo your back yard or redesign a room in your house?  I would love to redesign the area of my home where I start seeds and grown them into transplants.  Even more I would be thrilled to be able to redo my back yard, which also contains my vegetable beds and soon my berry bushes.  You may need to think a bit outside the box when looking a sweepstakes, but I have seen a lot that could be used for gardening or garden related activities.
Now we come to the last two methods I mentioned.  These are a bit more predictable as you have some control over if  you will get them and how often

Earn Gift Cards

There are many ways to earn gift cards.  Here are a few of the ways I use currently.

Recycle bank – earn points by learning about living a greener lift style and by doing certain actions.  A lot of the actions are not available in my area, but I have learned a lot over the years.  The rewards vary, but there is an option for gift cards.  Remember what I said while talking about sweepstakes, think outside the box.  Right now I see three different gift card rewards that could be used for gardening items.

Bing – You earn points by searching online and then get to choose your reward.  You can earn up to 15 points each day by doing searches, and sometimes a couple more by completing daily offers.  It takes me just over a month to earn a $5 Amazon gift card, with less than a minute worth of time spent on the website each day.

Swagbucks – Not only do you earn points randomly by searching the internet, but also by watching ads, printing and using coupons, daily polls, No Obligation Special Offers, surveys, shopping through their site, playing online games, installing their tool bar, doing tasks, and finding special SwagCodes.  It is very easy for me to earn a $5 Amazon gift card from this site.  Again, you can choose which reward you like.  Amazon gift cards are the ones that happen to fit my needs to most.  If I were to put in more time, earning $10 – $15 each month in Amazon gift cards would be very doable.  There have been times I did this, but it took more time than I have right now.

Inboxdollars- This isn’t exactly a way to earn gift cards, but they do send you a check once your balance is more than $30.  It used to take me a long time to reach that amount.  Then I started paying attention to the ways I could earn money on this site, beyond reading emails.  If I am looking to print off coupons, I check out this site first.  They also pay $.01 for every two qualified searches, up to $.15 per day.  There are more ways, but those are two way I often use.  Also, if you are new to Inboxdollars click on the banner below and get a $5 signup bonus.



Buy gift cards at a discounted price

This is probably the most reliable way to get gift cards, though it is also the most costly.  Yes, you will still be saving money as the gift cards are discounted, but you will have to still spend some money.  There are several gift card exchange sites.  As I haven’t personally used one  yet, though plan to do so for my next major garden project, I can not personally recommend any at this time.  One site has a savings of 7% for a card from a major home improvement store.  7% may not sound like much, but if you are planning on spending a fair amount of money on a garden project or to get things going, then 7% can add up.  Also, if you can pair this with a coupon, you will have even larger savings.

Before buying a card, make sure you know what the shipping fees are.  These will vary by site.

Now, I know I have talked a lot about Amazon gift cards.  In case you had the same thought I initially did, “You can’t find garden stuff on Amazon”, let me show you what a quick search did.  And just for the record, I am not an affiliate with Amazon though I am for some of the sites above.

12 Heirloom Varieties of Vegetable Seeds

Ferry Morse Heirloom Tomato Collection

Summer Squash Black Beauty Zucchini Certified Organic Heirloom Seeds 25 Seeds

Herb Garden Plant Pot Row Markers – 15 Green with Pics

Women’s Garden Gloves, 6 Pair Pack, assorted colors. Women’s Medium

Worm Factory 360 Worm Composter

These are the results from a few quick searches I did.  Imagine if you took your actual “need to get” list and looked through here!  Or one of the larger retailers that you can earn gift cards to from one of the actions above.

How do you usually keep the cost of gardening within reason?  Leave a comment with your favorite tip.

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Jan 062013
 

We are working our way through a series called “Creating a Garden Calendar“.  If this is your first time joining us, welcome.  You are not too late to join us.  Grab a calendar, pen, and beverage of choice.  You will be right where we are in no time.

Wow.  You have come such a long way towards getting your calendar together.  Is it starting to look filled up?  We are almost done with this series, only a few days left, and I am getting so anxious to actually start my garden.  However, there is snow on the ground outside and temperatures are currently in the 30’s  (that is around 0 degrees Celsius for those not in the U.S.).   Not exactly gardening time now is it?  However, that is exactly why I wanted to create the calendar now.  Seed starting time is just a few weeks off for me, for certain plants that is.  Okay, now I’m starting to wonder and day dream.  It doesn’t help that I checked out videos on seed starting this morning.

The details we are adding to our calendars today have to do with garden preparations.  This is a bit hard for me to write specifics on as every garden and gardener are different.  It is impossible for me to say that you, personally, will need to remove old limbs and leaves, add a certain kind of compost and then till up your soil.  What if you live in an area that has no limbs or leaves?  Or it is possible that you have no need to till your soil due to gardening in raised beds.

With that in mind I am going to give you an idea or activities to add to your calendar, but the bulk of the thinking will have to be left up to you.  As you go through the list below, ignore what doesn’t apply to you.  Think of this more as a list to start from and perhaps jog your memory and just get you thinking about the process.  Also, these are in no specific order.  Some people prefer to do things differently than I.  For that reason I would encourage you to first write your list on a scrap piece of paper.  Once you have your items in order you can add them to your calendar.

  • add compost, lime, ash, calcium, etc.
  • turn soil over – till or with a trowel
  • add soil – for me this means that I need to make my raised beds taller.  I have been in other places where a garden has a low spot that just needs soil added.  Again, think about YOUR garden.
  • trim bushes, shrubs, and trees – those nearby and those that may be part of your garden.  Note your spring and fall times or reminders for this
  • remove debris – limbs that have fallen (compost these if possible, don’t thrown them away), old markers that were missed last year, etc.
  • take stock of: tomato cages (number and condition), landscape fabric or mulch, trellises, cages, markers, seed starting materials (pots, soil, trays, light bulbs, space), watering post and other materials you will use along the way
  • note a day to send in soil for a soil test
  • canning supplies – jars, lids, pectin, canners (what condition are they in, do you need/want to get your pressure canner checked, do you need more/bigger/smaller ones this year), shelving for jars (do you have space to store what you will preserve and for empty jars)
  • add drainage solutions
  • paint or waterproof decorative items

There are some items I will need to do in certain parts of the garden (till up soil from an area that used to be part of a flower garden) but not in others (raised beds).  It is easy for me to focus on just one part of my garden and ignore the others until it is too late. Don’t forget to think about your whole garden.

What is something you forgot about or forgot to do last year until it was too late?  Are there areas of your garden/yard that get neglected?  Is there something you think should be added to this list?  Please leave a comment so we can all be reminded of what needs done.