Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weekly Savings April (So Far)

The weather has greatly improved in my part of the country.  I have spent the majority of this month working in the garden and yard.  Just getting the greenhouse emptied is an overwhelming task.  It is great to get outside and dig in the dirt though.  I have managed to save a bit of money this month.

Gardening in raised beds requires dirt.  We compost year round and are blessed with rich, black dirt.  We filled several raised beds, buckets, and containers with this free dirt.  Among the free plants I have this year are a pear tree which W is rooting, an apricot tree I grew from seed, and several vegetable plants from seed I saved last season.  I also had catnip sprout in an area I used to grow it as well as a piece of spearmint.  Both of these herbs went into containers.  I swapped a variety of pepper that I had for a variety that I needed.  I also harvested some food from my garden already.  This week I got a pineapple, lemon, and several radishes. 

My $5 yard sale Cuisanart ice cream maker works perfectly.  I am not certain that homemade ice cream is cheaper, but I know exactly what goes into the ice cream I make.  My family often gets together for homemade ice cream so this will be an easy way to make it without the mess of ice and salt. 

With the nice weather we have not needed to use the heat or A/C which will save on the electric bill next month.  We finally came in under budget this past month on the electric bill.  I set the extra money aside for the hot summer months when it will be higher.

We used a coupon at a home improvement store to purchase items that we needed for some repairs and a few lavender plants.  It came out to an overall savings of $10. 

I got 8 bars of soap for the cost of tax for the Christmas shoeboxes.  A few other people also used coupons to get the practically free soap.  This money saved means money that can go toward other items for the shoeboxes. 

Meals were eaten at home this month, and I made an effort to use up any leftovers.  I will be glad when the garden really starts producing.  This will be a huge savings for the grocery budget.  It also means that we eat more organic foods.  Nothing beats produce that is picked moments before it is eaten.

I purchased vinyl to embellish a cake cover for a wedding gift.  These are quite popular here but cost $25+.  The cake cover was bought with a coupon, and I purchased the vinyl from eBay.  I think it turned out lovely for less than have the cost of buying a premade one.

I am sure there is more, but these are the high points from April thus far. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tomatoes - Preventing Blossom End Rot

Tomato plants love calcium.  Have you ever had a lovely tomato plant loaded with tomatoes only to have those tomatoes start to rot on the bottom end?  That is blossom end rot, a sign that your tomato plants need calcium.  I am not big on commercial fertilizers and do not use pesticides on my garden.  I prefer to try to prevent blossom end rot rather than treat it.  Eggshells are great sources of calcium.  With all of my chickens, I have plenty of eggshells.


You can find various methods of how to use eggshells on your tomato plants.  This is simply the way that I do it.  I wash the eggshells and allow them to dry.  Eggshells tend to get a bit smelly if they are not washed.



Once dry you can put them in a container to store them until needed. 



Storing them whole, as seen above, takes up a bunch of room.  This is fine if you are only planting a couple of tomato plants.  I plant many so I crush the eggshells to save on space.



Now how do you use these eggshells?  When I dig a hole to plant the tomato plant, I add a good handful of shells to the bottom of the hole.  This gets the shells and all their calcium right to the root of the tomato plant and prevents blossom end rot from occurring.