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
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
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.
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!
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.
If you ever looked at the detailed
economics of growing a few plants for their harvest, you might want
to be careful about your purchase. With the Florida move now
complete, I thought it would be great to get in on the March
strawberry haul and grow about 10 plants myself. The Florida
strawberry season sets plants in October and harvests between
February and March, so it was a perfect time to get a quote. At
$2.95 per plant at the local garden center I started to think about
the average haul from each plant. Usually, it is about a pint or so.
Locally, the in season Florida
strawberries usually host prices between $1.50 and $2.50 per pint
when in season. At $2.95 a plant, I can’t justify buying the plant
for the potential yield. While I love gardening for the excitement
of great quality fruits and vegetables, I like to ensure that it is
worth my dollar. It really is disappointing. Unfortunately, in
Florida, the strawberry is grown as an annual and dies out fully
during the summer months, so I really can’t re-populate through
division or suckers. If anybody is out there who knows a bit more on
this or other resources in the space coast for local varieties that
are under the threshold per plant, please leave a comment as I would
like to get the cost under control to make it worth growing
strawberries. The 3 little snhers can’t get enough of them.
Greetings fellow gardeners, I have been keeping a database of plant varieties for a while now and wanted to make it available to you. This will never be a completed item as I scour varietal information across the internet. If you have more data to contribute, I would love to add your info to it.
For those who don’t know, I don’t use excel at home and prefer open office. All files that I put out (here) will be in open office formats. If you need other formats, just post the need and I’ll get in contact with you.
As the Fall season starts to come into view, many of you are eyeing a mountain of yard clippings full of leaves, grasses and small trimmings from your plants. Don’t throw that stuff out, start using it for compost to feed your garden next year.
If you aren’t in the habit of composting, now is a perfect time to build a 3 bin compost system in your yard and start with your fall stock. Make sure to put a healthy mix of green stuff (fresh grass clippings, clean food scraps, egg shells etc) and a mix of the brown (twigs, leaves, paper products like egg shell containers).
The compost still has about 6 months to cook until you need it for spring to feed your plants. Nothing beats free compost for your garden and now is the perfect time to get on it. It’s also a great way to reduce the amount of waste you put out to the curb every week!
Here are some great YouTube videos about composting:
Gardening is a past time that I have used over the last few years to relieve stress. I think is it genuinely one of the few activities that can be a positive on your belly, body and mind!
There is of course the first benefit of feeding yourself. Who doesn’t love the freshest and tastiest grouping of fruits and vegetables delivered minutes from the vine? There is no comparison between a tomato brought to a deep red on the vine vs a store bought tomato picked at the “peak of green-ness.” Yes, I have coined a new nonsensical phrase. The flavors are rich and sweet where a store bought tomato is often mealy.
Growing your own also benefits your body. It encourages you to eat higher quantities of the good stuff we should put into our bodies instead of the inner circle of grocery store goods which arguably contains nothing good we should be eating. Little monster SNH’er #1 completely decimates my pea plants each year, leaving nothing for me. Little does she know, I plan for that and encourage it! #3 loves to raid the fresh organic strawberries before anybody else. I also love that little monster #2 ate more cucumber that he ever did with grocery store produce!
Gardening gives our brain a chance to decompress from long doses of the workday routine. If you are in the retired community, it can give you a bit of a gardening high to brag among your friends about the biggest zucchini or heaviest bean bush that you have grown.
If you haven’t started a garden, it really is easy. Since I have been a renter the last few years, I have stumbled on a great way to create a temporary patch of real soil. Just get a set of 6 to 8 tomato cages, some plastic ribbed 3′ high mesh fencing for a few dollars at your local big box. Mark out an area around with the tomato cages as if they were fence posts and attach the mesh with some zip ties. In about 30 minutes, you can have a great patch to start planting and likely a bit lower in cost than the same equivalent for potted plants. The cleanup is quick too so you can return the ground to its original state when you move out!
That is all for now. Happy gardening. Oh, and since winter is coming up, might be a good time to get some red russian kale in the ground!