If you’re like me and happen to have a lot of milk cartons laying around, you might want to put them to good use by using them as planters. Just make sure you fill them with good soil, and cut a hole in the bottom for drainage. This is a great way to upcycle and re-use your food containers.
The pole beans are growing quite well and seeing significant growth. The cabbage is looking healthy too. This morning, we inter-planted more onions between the bigger plants. Mrs. SNH is finding containers to catch some rainwater as it looks like we might see some rain today.
Just a quick post to talk about our COVID 19 Victory garden. Since planting last week we have the following things popping up:
* cow peas (black eyed peas)
* green beans (pole)
* pickling cucumbers
* tomatoes (roma)
* 1 yellow zuchini
* yellow straightneck squash
* red onions
Harvested items this week:
*2 Bell Peppers
* about ½ cup of blueberries
I am a bit concerned about the beans in the grow bags since they are getting yellow leaves. It could be iron deficiency or ph imbalance.
Have a great week, stay safe.
It has been a while since a post, mostly because a lot has been happening in real life! As the corona virus makes it’s mark upon the world, it is undoubtedly affecting you or someone you know. Since this blog focuses on finances, gardening and eventually the occasional fishing report it might be time to explore how I and the SNH family are dealing with it.
You may have noticed that food is in short supply at the grocery stores due to the panic caused by corona virus. It seems a run on toilet paper is in effct and you might not have gel alcohol based hand sanitizer. What are we to do!
Hopefully you had a great planting of winter vegetables and are seeing a harvest from your cold frames if you are in a cold climate. If you are in a subtropical as I am here in Florida, the oranges are in harvest and your spring garden should be in full swing! I am not yet harvesting anything out of it, but still maintain the goal that when we get to our permanent house we will produce about 1/3 of our own family food needs. In the meantime, find out if there are local farms that you might be able to get some fresh produce instead of your typical grocery channel. They can have great deals, don’t gouge and it supports your locals. We were able to score some great Oranges the other day from an ex-sunkist farm.
Just for fun, these are things we have growing: Bell peppers, Italian sweet peppers, blueberries, turnips, cantelope, a single zuchini, tomatoes, a few failing bush beans and cabbage. Oh, there are also a few bulb onions growing in a bin that we planted the other day as well as a handful of bunching onions that I threw into a grow bag with a blackberry bush. The truth is that the volume of these items is very small and we have poor soil, so if there was a genuine food storage issue, we would not be able to cover the need for the 6 people in our house. It is good practice for the next time. I’ll continue to learn how to read plants and ammend soil when it is “go time” for the bigger effort.
On the upside, the stock market crash has taken a huge tumble which represents a great buying opportunity! I can’t wait to get a big discount on some my steady dividend REITS and equity REITS. I am personally looking at putting into OHI, STOR or STAG as great stocks that kick out high dividends and have good upside potential. I also thought about O or FRT, but I still think O is overvalued even with the dip and FRT while attractively valued doesn’t match my growth need. Those two will make great income generators when I get close to retirement, but not now with my 30 year horizon to market exit. You might also be able to get into a good solar stock since solar is now a requirement in California for new buildings and you get to buy in at a low low rate!
While CV19 might be on your mind, remember to keep your wits about you, keep building, investing and growing. Think of fun ways to stay busy if you are on lockdown and help others when you can.
Wash your hands and say your prayers because Jesus and germs are everywhere.
I am back with another good way to do things just a bit smarter. Passive solar heating ideas have been around for a long time. If you are new to the concept, then this might spur on a great idea for you!
Passive solar heating uses the sun to heat something without a 3rd party interruption. For example, a passive solar pool cover will help heat the water in your pool by focusing energy from the pool cover directly into the pool. A non-passive method might be using your electric pool heater with energy generated by the solar panels on your home.
Do you have a location around your home that is consistently a few degrees cooler that other portions of the home that you want to heat during the day? You can build a low cost passive heater for these kinds of spaces whether they be a garage, outbuilding or a spare bedroom. All you will need is a 2×4 frame, some clear plexiglass or clear corrugated plastic sheeting, black tubing commonly available at your local hardware store and a bit of time with your construction skills.
Step 1. Build a frame that can sit on the outside of your building that you want to heat.
Step 2. Cut a hole at the top and bottom of your building to support the in and outflow of air from your solar heater. The top will serve as a location for hot air exit, the bottom will serve the cool air entry into your heater. Some folks like to install a mechanical fixture to open and close the vents when they want to “turn on” passive heating in cool weather and “turn off” when weather is warm.
Step 3. Put your tubing into the frame. Weave the tubing from the bottom entry and wind it up to the top of the entry. This will allow the air to heat from the base. As the sun energy heats the air in the tubing it will rise through the tubing gaining additional heat through the frame. Once the tubing is affixed inside the frame, seal it with your plexiglass at the edges of the frame. If you are using the corrugated plastic method, ensure that the ends are sealed. “Great Stuff” sealant can be used for this purpose.
Step 4. Attach the cool side entry of your solar heater with another section of tubing to bottom entry of your building. Do the same for the top.
Step 5. Enjoy the great free heating you get during the daytime. The size of your frame and the volume of the space you intend to heat will determine your performance. I would recommend that an 8’x4’ passive heater frame be used for a 10×10 space for moderate gains. This is a very smart way to save some heating costs on your home during the cool spring and cool fall weather. It can also give your heating system a bit of help in the winter.
One great site with some good examples of a passive solar build can be found here: https://greenpassivesolar.com/2013/06/passive-solar-air-heater/. I like that they take the basic construction a bit farther and make the frame look like it belongs to the home.
This site, a bit more advanced, examines the incorporation of passive heating techniques in building design. This is a great read if you want to take the passive method up a notch. https://www.wbdg.org/resources/passive-solar-heating.
If you have any pictures of a passive solar heater that you have built, please share them!
Today, I had a nice bit of cool weather and planted some of the blueberries that I received for Christmas. Sams club had a great deal on some whiskey barrel look-alike planters. Berries are one of the best “smarter not harder” things you can plant because the cost of berries in the grocery store are very high. Blueberries and Blackberries can bring between 4 and 6 dollars a pint!
The first step was to plant them with some basic soil, add some manure and acidifier since blueberries enjoy a slightly acidic soil. I then added a top layer of planting/potting mix with some decent drainage. Lastly, we used an organic fertilizer to keep the plants fed for a bit.
If you are in the southern part of the US, it’s time to start making your spring planting plans. I am planning to plant tomatoes in starter pots with the kids as a way to push some extra funds into their 529 plans. I’ll do a post when we get those going!
Happy Christmas SNH’ers,
It has been a pretty crazy couple of weeks, thus my lack of posting. Let’s run down the list:
* I suffered a severe back injury that laid me up for several days and had to go to the emergency room!
* Little SNH’ers got sick before the Christmas holiday.
* Christmas school events were attended.
* Santa’s lap was attended by the youngest SNH lady.
* Lots of good home cooking was done – chili information below.
* Cabbage ended up getting a leaf miner and will likely die out completely unless it is treated and tended.
* Grow bag seems to have 2x growth versus standard plastic planters.
* I had an injury to my foot, rather, an attack of psuedogout. It swelled my right foot to double the standard size and needed some quick treatment. I am currently on the mend, but will likely take about 5 days to be really walk-able again per the fine staff at the walk in clinic.
The Garden has had some interesting items happen to it. First, Little SNH’er #2 planted a cabbage for a school scholarship progress. The winner was to submit the cabbage for a chance at a $1000 scholarship. Unfortunately, it has secumbed to leaf miner and the growth is very slow. Likely not a winner. Here is a picture of the leafy pathways it has made through the plant:
I have battled with leaf miners before when living in Florida about 15 years ago. They can be treated effectively with organic solutions, but can damage plants to a point that they cannot recover. With my foot being out of commission, it may have gone too long. I plan to get some this weekend to try.
The grow bag with the turnips are outgrowing the plastic bins with Parris Island Romain and Beets. I think the water regulation (soil drainage) of the grow bags is far superior to that of the plastic bins producing a better environment for soil consistency in a container garden. I removed the water retainer in the beets to allow more water to flow out of the container in hopes it will regulate better. I have never done will with beets.
It really is time to get my metered gardening solution up and running. I have 1 more major component to order, a vegetronix VH400 meter (https://www.vegetronix.com/Products/VH400/). It is in my scientific and engineering opinion, the best option for long term soil metering. It uses TDR to read moisture vs corrosive annodes as are most of the low cost solutions. TDR ignores the salt content (a big issue in coastal Florida where I am at) as well as maintains a long lifespan sitting in the soil.
I made a great chili and seem to be honing in on a style that I really like. I apologize, but I put beans in mine. Here goes the latest version:
- 1 lb micro cubed steak
- 2 serrano peppers, finely chopped
- 2 jalapenos finely chopped
- 1 poblano finely chopped
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 white onion finely chopped
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 can of red kidney beans
- 1-4 cups water depending on how soupy you like.
- Saute the onions, peppers and cubed beef together until brown and creating a lovely “spicy” scent through the house.
- Add your favorite chili spices. With this recipe, the peppers do a pretty good job, but some paprika, 2 tbsp of generic chili powder, 2 tbs salt work well.
- Add in your tomato sauce and beans and simmer on low for about 2 hrs.
- Serve with sour cream and cornbread.
Have a blessed Christmas, praise Jesus.
I have decided to build my own storage shelves today. Let’s see how it turns out. Here is the sketch.
I was realizing today how much more time we have during lunch breaks if we use what we have in the fridge for a quick meal. For example, this weekend I used a crockpot for some delicious adobe style chicken which fed the family a great dinner on Sunday. On the flip side, we were left with about a pound of chicken in leftovers. I simply wrapped those in a tortilla for a quick lunch yesterday and wrapped 2 up for a late-night dinner tonight. The amount of time saved by having such a quick meal was great! I got to spend more time with my 4 year old at lunch after she returned from preschool and I got to spend some extra family time with the kids this evening by opting for a delayed burrito wrap with the leftovers after the little SNHers were in bed.
The savings is two-fold too! Not only do we gain the time, but also save on our food costs. We are nearly at crisis level with how much food we (Americans) throw out in the trash each year. According to this article (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-why-americans-throw-out-165-billion-in-food-every-year-2016-07-22) we waste about 40% of our food! That is simply astonishing considering how much we pay for that food. In my household, our food budget is about 30% of our monthly spending.
The more we eat our leftovers, the more we do for our food system, our time and our wallets! Have a good night.