Homegrown Saving: How To Create An Indoor Greenhouse, Week II Update!

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Calling all my frugal gardening friends! For this weeks Garden Update, I wanted to share with you this weeks progress in my Indoor Garden Greenhouse set-up! This first week has seemed to fly by, and the seedling are off to a fantastic start! They have grown taller than their lids, so they are no free-standing under the grow lights for 16 hours daily; they are also being misted daily as well.

Take a look at the seedlings so far:

Here the seedlings, both the container green beans and yellow squash, are up close:

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In addition to the container green beans and squash, this week I also planted rye, barley, and catnip seeds in a cute, coffee cup pot for my cats, which can be seen here:

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The garden is coming along well, and next week all of the shelves and lights will be up, as well I will start showing you all the progress in the outdoor garden, tilling of the garden, and we start the selection of pots for the upper patio container-variety of plants for this summer.

Here’s to growing!

Greener Living Tip: Make Your Own Miracle Grow Potting Soil Mix, For Under $2.00 A Bag!

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Good morning, savvy, green-savers! For this weeks Greener Living Tip, I am going to post about a topic that I am currently in the process of making for own home again this week, homemade potting soil mix! I traditionally had purchased Miracle Grow Potting Mix, but last Spring when a mid-size bag of this mix skyrocketed to $12.98 at my local Lowe’s, I knew I needed a new alternative! What’s even worse, upon closely inspecting my remaining mix at home, which I blindly purchased for years,  noticed a small warming label stating that the potting soil can cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract or respiratory tract if ingested and to prevent accidental ingestion, store it out of the reach of pets, and restrict pets from the area while you are using or mixing the product; the product also stated to not touch the soil, and as hard as one might try, sometimes dirt gets inside gloves! I then wondered if I should even use a product which tells me not to directly touch the soil, for fear of illness? How could I have this product around my pets and family?

At once, I set out to create my own soil mix, and today will be sharing with you my recipe! I purchased all of the ingredients for around $20.00 and this makes 10 large bags of soil mix, which is a savings over the Miracle Grow Mix of $10.98 a bag! Also note, I make my own compost, and to add it to the mix, simply place a piece of screen over your containing tub and sift out your compost; for those wanting to learn to make compost, I will be posting about later this season. If you do not have a compost pile, you can purchase screened compost for under $3.00 a bag at a local warehouse or nursery as well; some cities also offer free mulch and compost, which you can screen at home, for free.

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Basic Container Mix:

1 bucket (2-1/2 gallons) peat moss
1 bucket(2-1/2 gallons) vermiculite or perlite
A half bucket (1-1/4 gallons) compost
2 cups fine sand
2 cups epsom salts
1/2 cup lime powder

Combine all ingredients, mix well, and store in tub containers; I used rubbermaid containers from Lowe’s, purchased on Black Friday, for $1.98 each!

Here are a few tips for using the mix, from what I’ve seen at my home:

1) 20 quarts of potting mix is needed for a window box.

2) For cacti, succulents, and scrub bushes, such as lavender, add 1 cup extra sand to your mix.

3) For primrose and rose bushes, add 1 cup extra peat moss.

Also, to estimate how much dirt, and supplies you will need, I have created a size guide below:

Pots, Tub, and Container Size:

8-inch        3 quarts
10-inch      6 quarts
12-inch      8 quarts
14-inch      12 quarts
16-inch      20 quarts
20-inch      24 quarts
24-inch      28 quarts
30-inch      72 quarts
36-inch      96 quarts

Hanging Baskets:

12-inch       6 quarts
16-inch      10 quarts

Window Boxes:
24-inches by 6-inches      12 quarts
36-inches by 6-inches      20 quarts

These measurements are based on how much mix I use at my home, and should work for you as well. I hope this recipe will help inspire you to Greener Living as well!

Here’s to saving!

 

Homegrown Saving: How To Create An Indoor Greenhouse!

Good afternoon, fellow gardeners! Today, I wanted to bring you the second installment of my Homegrown Savings Series, How To Garden On A Budget, Part II! If you need a to take a look at part I, click here.  Today, I am going to show you how I started my indoor greenhouse area for my seedlings, which will make up my various summer and fall gardens this year; this series will span 16 weeks so please check back each Sunday!

Step 1: I purchased my green shelves from Walmart for 12.98 each! The shelves are simple to put together, and are light enough I can carry them loaded with plants by myself. The shelves are placed in front of my dining room windows, without any window coverings to maximize light and promote seed germination. As a side note, I am redecorating my dining room and that’s why it looks so empty!

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Step 2: Install Lighting. I add greenhouse lighting by hanging fluorescent under cabinet light strips, purchased at Walmart for $5.98 each, by 4 inch s-hook, below each shelf. I plug each light into a surge protector, which is plugged into the wall. The seedlings will needs the light strips turned on for 16 hours a day, turning them off at night, when I go to bed, and back on in the morning when I begin my day.

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Step 3: Creating mini-greenhouse stations. I find that growing my own seedlings works best for both my desire to organically produce frosh pesticide-free produce for my family, as well as my need to stay with my budget for my envelope savings system monthly budget. With that said, I produce my own garden plants by creating mini-indoor greenhouses! I start by using disposable covered baking pans from the Dollar Tree, which come in a 2-pack for $1.00.

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Step 3: Create seed pots. I use newspaper to create my seedling pots, which is an awesome savings, as seedling pots cost $3.98 for 12 at my local Walmart, and I make mine for free using recycled newspaper; as well, my local newspaper uses soy ink, so the ink will not be toxic to my germinating seeds. Below I will show you the steps to create my pots.

First, gather a sheet of newspaper, laid fully flat, on a flat surface.

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Next, split your sheet of newspaper in half, along the crease.

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Then, tear the half sheets in half again, creating quart-size pages.

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Next, fold an one inch section, away from you, of the quarter sheet; be sure to crease the page once folded over.

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Next, fold the sheet in half, lengthwise again; again making sure to crease your line. Then flip your sheet over and fold the uneven edge one inch up, away from you; be sure to crease that fold as well.

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Now you will need a can; I use a small aluminum can. Take your sheet, place you can on one end of the sheet, making sure to align the end of the paper, one inch down the can, with the crease in the fold, and then roll the paper around the can. At this point, secure your can roll with a piece of tape, along the lose seem, and I used packaging tape; it was a couponed freebie!

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Now, you will need to flip your can over, and secure your seedling cup bottom with another piece of tape. Now, invert your can and in a circular motion, loosen your cup away from the can, sliding in a spiral motion down, until the cup comes fully away from the can. At this point, fold a 1/2 inch section of the top rim of the cup into itself, creating a smooth, rimmed edge.

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Repeat these steps, creating a total of 12 cups. Take the 12 cups and place them into the cake pans.

Step 4: Planting Your Seeds. For this step you will plant your seeds for germination; I used seeds from my local Dollar Tree, which to my surprise were non-GMO seeds, and many varieties were heirloom quality as well. You will need to purchase a potting soil mix, or make your own; I will be posting this week a recipe to make your own, but for this tray I used a commercial blend soil. When filling your cups, you will then fill your cups with a basic, light potting soil mix, leaving 1/2 inch space from the top of the cup.

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Next, take a sharpie marker and punch holes in the soil of each cup, making sure to go 1 inch down. Then place on seed in each hole, in each up, then re-cover with soil mix.

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Step 5: Watering your cups. You will then need to saturate the cups. You will do this by placing 2 cups of lukewarm water in the bottom of each tray; the water will be absorbed within 5 minutes. The water will be absorbed up the newspaper cups. This is very interesting to watch! Also, do not be concerned of mold or rot, as the water being poured into the tray will help keep the seeds moist, but not damp.

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Next, move your tray to your shelving unit. Next, using a clean spray bottle, mist the tops of your cups, with an even mist for 30 second, or until thoroughly wet. A tip is to tilt the plastic cover top, backwards away from the shelf, at an angle, to prevent the mist from touching your lighting. Then place the packet cover, indicating which seeds you planted, on the side of each tray, and then firmly secure the plastic cover to your tray. Condensation will form on the tops of the trays, but this is normal, and precisely what you are aiming for; remember you are recreating the greenhouse effect, indoors!

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Step 6: Repeat the above, until all of your shelves are full. As well, please note that seeds will need to be misted daily, for a full 30 seconds a tray.

Please stay turned as next Sunday I will unveil my full shelves, and the next steps towards my budget-friendly gardening system!

Gardening: Reusing Autumnal Hay As Grass Seed Blanket Update!

Hello, again savvy savers! Today I wanted to share in my first of two gardening posts of the day, the progress being made on my backyard grass reseeding! If you remember, from my post here, that I used last years Autumnal hay, stored in my shed, to reseed my backyard. The grass has been watered daily, using a fine mist hose attachment, other than the days it has rained.

Here is the backyard upper tier two weeks later:

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The germination process is slow, but steady, and its going to look great this Spring! Also, last years mums are starting to spring-up. Remember with mums, to pluck any flower heads that form until September, so to prevent the bushes from flowering, and eventually going to seed too early; I check for flowering buds weekly! As you can see from the photo, the previous owners left exposed, and poorly patched, cement on part of this bed, but I plan to cover this up with English Ivy from another part of my yard!

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Another update is that several new varieties of crocuses and lilies are starting to form in one of my flower beds, and will look awesome this Spring once my new birdhouses are installed!

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So, there’s the progress on my backyard thus far! Keep in mind I am starting eleven new projects this coming Spring and Summer, and will be posting updates as well!

Stay green!

Ways To Stretch A Dollar: Homemade Liquid Miracle Grow Concentrate For $0.35 A Container!

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Calling all my fellow gardeners! Today I wanted to share with you another way I stretch a dollar at my home. I make homemade Liquid Miracle Grow Concentrate!

Ingredients:

1 gallon of water
1 tbsp Epsom salts
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp powdered milk
1/2 tsp ammonia
2 drops blue food coloring

Here’s how to do it! Simply mix all ingredients together, and use once a month on your plants; 1 ounce of concentrate should be mixed with three cups water when added to the spray containers, and 1/2 ounce of the mixture to 1 gallon water for manual feedings. I add two drops of blue food coloring, which is non-toxic for your lawn and plants, as I put this mixture back into the original containers, and no one has been the wiser for years as to the origins of my Miracle Grow Liquid Concentrate, until now I suppose! This formula works as the original, and costs $0.35 a bottle to make, whereas Miracle Grow costs $9.98 a 12-ounce container! I have never had an issue with this mixture clogging my home attachments, and my plants seem not to notice either!

Here’s to saving!

Gardening Update!

Hello again, my frugal farming friends! So, this morning I wanted to post about the updates that have been going on in and around my yard and garden this week.

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First, the tulip trees are in bloom, and are gorgeous! They received their first feeding treatment of the year, which as I previously posted is my homemade blend of soaking egg shells in water for one week, straining, and using one cup of this concentrate to one gallon water. How affordable is that? Also, I am starting to clean out the flower beds in front of my home; all deluge goes into my compost bin, and the decorative pine cones that fill my front window boxes in the fall and winter, are used in the fire pit on my patio! I am always on the lookout for new ways to cut costs on kindling and fire wood, and keep your eyes peeled for a later post on just that in the months ahead!

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As for the garden itself, I am done seeding the first two tiers, and the butterfly garden seeds have been laid; the square bed in the center of my top tier.  I found a mix at my local Tractor Supply Sor under $3.00, which works well for my envelope savings system! I also found new bird feeders at my local Walmart, for only $1.50 each, which as pictured as well!

Onto the garden itself, as I am starting actual seeds indoors this year, I am in the process of writing up a post on this topic, which I will publish this time next week, and in the meantime have a challenge for those who want to start gardening, or are following along with my gardening progress this year with their own. This week, do the following:

-Buy a Farmer’s Almanac from your local Dollar Tree

-Look online here to find out your specific climate zone.

-Create a list of what you want to plant.

-Decide where you garden will go; actually walk the area off and map this out!

-Once you have decided what you want to plant, map out where ceratina beds will lay in your garden; map out areas for melons and spreading plants like pumpkins, designate areas what will receive full-sun for corn and taller pole beans and tomatoes, figure in areas for hanging containers and potted plant containers, and decided if you will have areas for herbs and long-term seeding plants like garlic and asparagus.

With all of this in mind, keep a look out for next weekend update, because seeds will be planted and my homemade seed starting system will be posted!

Happy gardening!

Gardening Tip: Reuse Autumn Display Hay As Seed Blanket!

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Calling all my fellow gardeners! I wanted to share with you this tip for an affordable grass seed covering, used Autumnal Display Hay Bales! Yes, that’s right the four month old hay bales that I had leftover from my Autumn displays, have found a new form and purpose, as a seed blanket in my backyard tier garden; making my own seed blanket will save me $80.00 this Spring! This is an ever so easy project to complete, and all it requires if the ability to have a place to protect and store your hay; in my case I stored it in large plastic bins in my garage, without lids, to allow the hay to breath! Most gardeners say to seed in the fall, but my grandparents always seeded in the Spring, and now, as do I!

1) Clear your area. I used a blower and mulched under all debris left from the Winter.

2) Rake your area. Rake, till, or shovel your area until the top soil is loose and easily moved.

3) Purchase seeds for your yard; find the appropriate type of seeds based on the amount of sun, wind, rain, and what forms of recreation will occur on your seed.

4) Spread your seed! Lightly and evenly is key here!

5) Cover your seed with hay!

6) Water your seeds daily. In my case, I layed seed today as it was going to rain. Be diligent and water daily, by hand, and do not use a sprinkler.

7) Lay the Hay! That’s right, shake it up, shake it loose, shake it down to the ground! I danced my way to a covered first tier!

8) Do not walk on the seeds. Like tile work, work your way from corner to corner, and work your way backwards, and away from your projects!

9) Allow your seed to grow. Your lawn will begin sprouting in 2-3 weeks.

10) Maintenance. If you grass has patches where seeds have not grown, use emergency my tried-and-tested seed repair kit, bird seed mix! Take two cups bird seeds, add water until its porridge-like, and apply to the ground! The water will detract birds, and help jump-start the seed germination.

11) Grooming. Yes, grass should be groomed, too! Be sure to wait a full two months to mow your new lawn for the first time, and when you do so, make sure your mower is not adjusted down too low, and be sure to be even in your cutting!

12) Aerate your lawn. Use cleats, spikes, or the like to aerate your soil twice a year as well. I bought cleats, second-hand at a yardsale for $0.50!

13) Water your lawn. Water your grass three times a week in Spring and Fall, and daily in Summer, unless prohibited by drought; if drought is an issue consider other means like rain barrels or collected bath water.

14) Feed your lawn. Be sure to feed your law appropriate lawn-feed in Autumn, and a grass-supported food, bi-monthly in warmer weather. Another great tip is to budget-version Miracle Grow is to soak egg shells in two cups water, covered for one week, strain, and store for future use; half cup amounts can be used to cover a 3,500 square foot feeding area.

15) Weeding. If you need to remove weeds, use white vinegar in a spray bottle! Round-up, nah! Vinegar is the way to go; its non-toxic, natural, cheap, and the best weed killer I have ever used!

All-in-all, I had fun with the project and I will continue on later this week! So, be sure to re-use your hay and get your lawn-on!