Friday, March 25, 2011

Organic Gardening, Does it Cost too much? ( Part 3)

How to garden organically without spending a lot of money
So You have decided to give organic gardening a try?
Where do you start?
Start small, if you want. No matter what size yard you have, you can always start small, whether you have just a balcony or 10 acres. You have start somewhere. container gardening works very well for organic gardening. You don’t need to buy any special containers, just use what you have. Tomatoes can be grown on the patio in  a topsy turvy planter.

When Green daddy and I were first married we lived in a t townhouse with a small patio. This patio had a little strip of dirt about four square feet.  Between containers and this little strip of land I grew enough tomatoes and basil to make my own spaghetti sauce.  Yum,  yum. nothing tastes better than fresh pasta sauce.

Where do you plant?
You can begin by planting in containers or as Frugal Granola did plant in your existing flower beds. If you choose the later then you are  following a time honored tradition of English gardens.  Some people prefer to make raised beds, but you do not have to have special beds for herbs or vegetables.  Green daddy’s grandma puts her tomatoes in with her zinnias and marigolds. They  have a fancy name for this now, Edible Landscaping.
If you want to start small try containers.  They are a great way to start you can move them, keep them close to the kitchen or back door, wherever you want them.
Every day items make great containers for planting in.  I might have to try some of these.
Lucy-garden-3water buckets as plant containerscontainer_gardening_1_0container gardening

What to Plant?
So you ask, I am ready to plant what should I plant?  In no particular order  here are some of the easiest to  grow, yes even from seed. 



beans all types

lettuces and spinaches 



swiss chard 



I planted my onions, red and yellow, kale, spinach and some lettuces this past weekend in our new garden bed.  We also planted some chives and cilantro.  After a long absence from fruits in the garden, my 6 year old convinced me to try raspberries and blackberries.  We will be adding tomatoes basil. probably sage and rosemary too. I am hoping to have a beautiful vegetable garden that fits into our front yard. I know I have 5 acres but I have decided that I like my garden close to my kitchen.
More to come be sure to check out the next posting in this blog.  How much do I spend a year gardening?



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Organic Gardening, does it cost too much? (part 2)

How to garden organically without spending a lot of cash

Recycling your yard and kitchen waste

my son adding to the compost bucket
Okay, so you have collected your kitchen and yard waste and have built a good compost pile. NOW what do you do with it?  Some people will buy a composting bin.  I use an old trash can with holes in it, for drainage that gets dragged around the yard till full.
( I have had to train the garbage men not to take my yard waste. )
In the past I had my dear husband build me a compost bin. We wisely used old pallets to build it so that the air could circulate around and it.

open pallet compost bins easy to make 

As time went on I found that turning a pile this size was not always easy, and in the fall I would outgrow the bin. For  ideas on various methods of composting look here.
I soon changed to the compost pile method and I hid the pile out of view of visitors This worked for a while until I wanted to landscape a new area. So I turned that hillside into a compost pile. After about a year I moved the compost off that section onto a new section of the hillside and started filling in the newly uncovered richly amended soil. I had discovered composting in place. Each year I would move the compost pile to the next area to be landscaped.
turning compost .jpg
open compost pile in an expansion area of garden
Composting in place was an efficient way for me to utilize the compost pile and amend the soil at the same time. . This is also called lasagna gardening.  Patricia Lanza has written a great book on this gardening method.   Lasagna Gardening is not designing a garden for the purpose of making lasagna. It is is in a nutshell the layering of your organic matter in a particular way to build raised beds.  No you don’t need to buy fancy railroad ties to build your beds because you are not filling them in. Your will be building from the ground up.  If you are thinking about starting Lasagna Gardening is a great, easy, cheap way to get started.  If you already garden it is a great adjunct. No real materials are needed, just yard waste and kitchen scraps and you have those already. The best part of lasagna gardening is that you don’t have to wait for the beds to decompose. You can go ahead and plant right in the compost piles. I always have volunteers pop up in my compost piles.

I am participating in The Family  Blog Hop over at Family Friendly Frugality
Family Friendly Frugality

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Organic Gardening, Does it cost too much?

How to garden organically without spending a lot of cash.

This is the first in a series of posts on Frugal Organic Gardening

images (2)
I have just spent most of our Spring Break working on our garden beds. Cleaning out perennial beds turning one garden from an ornamental garden into a “pretty”, we hope vegetable and herb garden.  Need I say that I believe in organic gardening? Earlier I was discussing with some acquaintances that I was putting in an organic garden.  Responses varied from I couldn’t do that the dogs would dig it up. to doesn’t that cost a lot to do?
It occurs to me that my view of organic gardening is different from some others out there. For me organic gardening is not that expensive in terms of resources. I suppose if you purchase  your basic supplies, but in my mind that is not in the spirit of being green. Remember Reduce, Reuse Recycle ? For me organic gardening starts in the kitchen. What you ask? I compost, so therefore for me I garden while I am cooking, while I am cleaning out the fridge.  Huh?  Well, let me explain as I was telling my kids compost is an organic gardener’s best friend, well at least mine. For me in starts here. 

Ceramic Compost Crock
kitchen composting crock

I have one of these sitting on the kitchen counter. It is called a kitchen composting crock.  I simply save my kitchen scraps each day, minus any meat and bones.  When the crock is full it the next step is to take it here.
images (3) My compost pile. This is where I put the kitchen scraps. ashes from the fireplace, coffee grounds, tea bags, paper, cardboard boxes (broken down), dust from the vacuum cleaner, debris from the garden, yes even the lint from the dryer.  All this costs me next to nothing.  I did purchase the crock but until this year I used a bowl or a plastic pitcher. I figure this not only is being a good steward by recycling my waste but it saves me money int hat I don't have to buy any organic material to amend my soil.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My New Solar Dryer

Here at the Green Family we like to keep things easy while being green.  Some of our green activities this spring have included hanging up laundry to dry. I usually drag my feet each spring getting back out to do this but once I get in the habit of hanging up the laundry outside.  I was lucky enough to inherit a clothesline with my house.
And oh what a clothes line it is. It has four  lines to it. When weather conditions are right I can dry clothes faster out here than in the dryer. We all know that a washing machine finishes a load faster than the dryer.  Given that fact, I can have two loads of laundry out on the clothes line dry faster than I can have one load of laundry in the washing machine.  As a matter of point. today I had some of the clothes on the line dry faster than I could get the next load out there.  We expanded our clothes line last year from the two lines you see to four and since then I have never been able to completely fill the line, as the clothes dry faster than I can wash four loads.
I could go on about the joys and benefits of line drying but instead I will highlight only a handful
  • Line drying saves you energy = cost savings. The dryer is one of the top three energy users in your home.  You can figure your cost to run an electric dryer here.  In my case it costs me about $206 a year to run my electric dryer.  I happen to live where energy costs are low but I do more above average laundry. Go figure 3 active kids, live on a farm. (I just don’t know where the dirty clothes come from –hehe).
  • Line drying saves your clothes.  Clothes that are line dried last longer. Did you ever stop to think about what lint really is or where it comes from? It is from your clothes. The dryer is causing wear and tear on your clothes.
  • Hanging up your clothes is an excuse to go outside a couple of times a day, and when the weather is nice we need all the reasons we can get to go outside
  • Even if you only use your clothesline when the seasons and weather permit, you will save significantly, we figure we have prolonged the life of our dryer but letting it sit idle most of each summer. ( In order to keep up with laundry I need to wash at least one load a day, therefore on inclement weather days I will use the dryer to keep my sanity.)
  • When you line dry your clothes, they smell great.  IMG_3148
  • Line drying your whites is a great alternative to bleaching them. If you clothesline gets a lot of sun the sun will bleach your clothes for you. No more using liquid bleach! Whoo Hoo! Alternatively if you have dark clothing that you do not want the sun to bleach dry them on a line in the shade, turning them inside out works well also.
  • If you iron your clothes line drying will eliminate or reduce your need to iron.  Drying your button down shirts buttoned up and upside down will leave them mostly wrinkle free.  As for pants hang them folded at the crease and from the bottom for dress slacks. I have found that this does not increase the drying time significantly and one does not have a folded crease across the legs.
  • Folding laundry is so much easier when you are taking it down off a line versus pulling it out of a dryer. No stooping.
  • There is no need to buy dryer sheets = another money $avings  If you find the clothes a bit stiff to your liking simply add about a half cup of white vinegar to your washing machine. Bonus – The vinegar will disinfect and remove some of the lingering  odors glaubig-familyjpg-0bf9f534ac7b2939_large
  • You just might be able to get the kids to help.  At least my kids think hanging the laundry up to dry is infinitely more interesting than putting it in the dryer.  If they do it on their own it might end up looking like this
  • IMHO line drying does not take up any more time than using a dryer, as previously stated I can dry more loads quicker than in my dryer. If you were to total the complete amount of time line drying takes versus machine drying and added in the time it takes to walk outside hang up laundry and take down laundry, line drying comes out ahead.  Yes there is a convenience factor in using the dryer but it takes less than 5 minutes for me to get the laundry out of the washing machine and hang it up. If I have another load out on the line I take down one hang up one. Use two baskets or your dry clothes will end up damp again.
Happy secher au vent season as we like to call it here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Real Food For Real People


I have  always been a proponent of what I call REAL FOOD for Real People.  I am not a a fan of prepackaged , processed food.  In my opinion real food, cooked by real people should be eaten by real people. No one should have to settle for so called cheap food just because it is convenient. Convenience foods are neither cheap in the long run, or really that convenient. Studies have shown that people who eat a diet high in refined carbs and processed food have a higher BMI, suffer from high blood pressure, and diabetes just to name a few. 
But what does real food have to do with being a Green Family? Well, considering that food is a big part of our carbon footprint we can do a lot about that. 

How can you make an impact on your Carbon Foot Print with Food?


gardening with kids
Perhaps the biggest way you can make an impact and be more green with your food is to grow and cook your own.  I know that everyone does not have access to acres and acres of land that where they can farm sustainably, but you can always find a window sill and and plant some greens, or if you have a little more room plant herbs and lettuces, spinaches and the like in containers. 


is a great way to not only reduce your carbon footprint to put it to good use.   I like to use a container like this one on my kitchen counter to hold the kitchen scraps. I empty it as needed, usually once a day, sometimes more, sometimes less.
kids cooking

Farmers Markets

famers market
Supporting your local famers at your area farmer’s market, is a great way to go green. Produce is fresher, the nutrition is a better quality and you are helping the local economy. Not only that you lower your carbon footprint by not having to transport food over hundreds of miles.

Cooking Your Own Food

I can think of no better way to have an impact on your food and become more green than to cook your own food at home.  Compared to eating at a restaurant you don’t have to drive there; you don’t have any styrofoam take-out containers to bring home, and you get to choose exactly what ingredients you want to go into your food ie, organic, gluten-free, vegan – whatever you choose.  Perhaps the best part of cooking at home is that you are truly sharing a meal with your family. Invite the kids in to cook.  You will make cooking with kids
many memories and pass on more than good recipes to your children.  I would love to see your favorite green recipes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Quinoa and Kale with Cannelli Beans

Three Stars (based on 5) --5 being the number in my family, 3 being how many liked/loved this dish.

A recent addition to our recipe files. Here is a dish I served up last night. This was my second time cooking with both of the main ingredients and I think it went well. I decided to combine both of these great superfoods - Kale and Quinoa. The tumeric and ginger which you all know I have plenty of, both add thier great anti-inflamatory properties to this dish.  This was so good that my husband and 10 year old went back for more.

Super easy recipe.


One box of Veg Broth
One clove of Garlic, I used some from farmers market- much better!
One can of organic white beans
One bunch of Kale
A shake of tumeric
A shake or two of powdered Ginger
A shake of Lemon Grass
A shake of allspice

( I simply shake the powdered spices over the broth, while heating it)

Saute garlic in olive oil.
Add broth and spices ---bring to boil
Add 1 cup of quinoa cook until done -it will absorb all the broth when done.
Remove from heat and add one bunch of Kale  well chopped, mix in and recover pot. The heat will "cook " the kale

Enjoy as a main course or side dish.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Paperwork Clutter part two

Having conquered the family message center the other day. I have started to tackle other areas of paper clutter. How much paper clutter do you have in your house? It seems to multiply here.  Bills, coupons, important papers from school and those magazines and books you picked up just meaning to read.  I have been spending most of this week tackling and being tackled by paper clutter. I have to admit PK (that is pre-kid) I was uber organized. Made sure everything was filed away everyday.  But really how much of it do we really need? Paperwork is like laundry there are many ways to manage it. I find daily is best. Everyone has their own way to organize paperwork. Personally I find it works best for me to keep financial and tax documents separate from other papers like photos and kids memorabilia.  There are plenty of organizing blogs and websites out there to help you organize your paperwork and house.  I am not going to recreate the wheel here. Just make you pause and think. How much of this do I really need?  I will recommend disposing of financial and medical documents in a secure manner.
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