Friday, March 26, 2010

Garlic, Budgeting, and Meal Planning

So last weekend, I finally got my seeds planted. So far, no signs of germination, but that's normal. I planted cilantro, basil, tomatoes, and soapwort in small containers. The parsley went in the hanging tub, to keep it from taking over, and the peas are supposed to be directly sown, so I put them in one of the big tubs. I'm waiting on the beans, as they're supposed to be directly sown, once chance of frost is past. Since it's getting below freezing tonight (have to bring my parsley pot in), it was a good choice to wait on those. Perhaps next weekend, when it will (hopefully) be warmer.

The little brown things in the middle are toilet paper rolls. I wish I could say I thought of it myself, but alas, like most good ideas, I got it from another blog. The trick is keeping the soil moist. I expect when I finally do get to planting them (four tomatoes and a basil, hopefully), the paper itself will be pushed aside by roots and eventually biodegrate into the potting soil. At least that's the plan, anyway. Not sure how it'll work, though, since I don't plant in the ground. Guess I'll find out!

In other news, the garlic I planted back in January or February (yes, I know, later than the winter equinox or sometime in November) is coming up! I hope it will be do better than last year's did (though I planted that set very late - May, I think.) Regardless, this time I'm more on the proverbial ball.

I'll also plant one or two of the eggplant seeds that I received free from the seed company. Admittedly, I'm not much of an eggplant fan (alright, I admit it, I haven't actually ever had eggplant). Hopefully having 'Thai White Ribbed Eggplant' will convert me.

In financial news, I've started a budget. I downloaded a 'Personal Monthly Budget' spreadsheet to use with Excel and I've now planned out my budget (loosely, since some months I'll need more gas or fewer groceries) for the next few months. I know when (when!) I'll have my credit card/student loan/other charged things paid off, and I know how much I'll start putting away in the savings account, which I've actually started! *gasp* Hopefully, I'll have several months' worth of expenses tucked away, with a bit of planning and not spending my extra on ordering out.

And that brings me to the fact that, along with the budget, I'm also doing meal planning. I went a bit off script today (getting fish tacos since I had $5 free, so my meal only cost me $2.33!), but the macaroni and cheese in my freezer will keep. So far, I'm really enjoying it. It's a weight off my shoulders not to have to wonder what I'll be having - or if I'll have everything I need. That was usually half the reason I would order in (the other being laziness).

So if anyone has any tips on gardening, budgeting, or meal plans, I'd love to hear them! :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Wow, sorry, blog. It's been nine months or so since I last posted. A lot's happened in that time period, in my personal life, and suffice it to say that I got very distracted and overwhelmed, and the blog was the thing that fell by the wayside.

An update on my garden from last year:
  • Beans did fairly well. I didn't have enough to can, but they were tasty while they lasted!
  • Tomatoes also did well.
  • Herbs ... were a mixed bag. I fail at rosemary (I think it didn't have enough room for the roots), but basil, parsley and sage did pretty well. Cilantro bolted early and often due to the heat. I'll try to keep it inside this summer.
  • Lettuce - did well until it got hot. Bolting lettuce is very interesting to see, though!
  • Garlic - failure! I didn't plant early enough so they didn't form bulbs.
  • Cucumbers - epic failure! Although they were the size of cucumbers, they were very very bitter. I don't think my porch gets enough direct sun.
  • Sunflowers - I got another couple flowers, which were very pretty, but I did not harvest seeds.
One of the main reasons why I didn't have enough of anything to can is because I went on vacation in August and the plants didn't get watered once a day. I had asked someone to look in on them, but I apparently wasn't specific enough. Alas. The plants were wilted and shriveled by the time I got back.

This year so far, I have ...
  • Planted garlic in January (alright, a bit late from winter equinox or November, but it was bitterly cold in February so I think it'll be okay).
  • Ordered seeds!

Top (left-right): Blue Lake Bush Beans, Golden Wax Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, Soapwort (new to me - I'm curious about using it for making shampoo).

Bottom (left-right): Riesentraube tomatoes, basil, parsley, and thai white ribbed eggplant (a freebie from the seed company).

I also plan to use my cilantro seeds from last year and see if I can get any plants from it. I also want to buy a sage plant (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, where I bought seeds from, was out of sage seeds). Overall, it's a bit tamer than last year's garden, but most of last year's insanity was due to getting free plants. Well, and a little over-buying on my part!

As I don't plan on taking trips this summer (then again, I never do ...) they should produce enough for me to have some to can. A friend has agreed to teach me to can in exchange for some seamstress work on his shirts. Fair trade, I think!

I want to start my seeds this weekend (at least those that recommend indoor starts). It's a pouring, depressing day, and expected to last all weekend. I guess I've found the plus of a covered porch garden - bad weather isn't necessarily a deterrent!

Happy gardening!