Category Archives: Frugal Gardener

Unemployment is capitalism’s way of getting you to plant a garden. ~Orson Scott Card

My dear friends please excuse my long absence. It was a long hot summer in which we faced many challenges and changes at (what a dear friend of mine has dubbed) Fungus Ranch, and I am long overdue on a “catching up with MsGrubbyFungus” post, it will come I promise.

One of the changes is that I am now officially unemployed but allow me to allay any concerns. We are very blessed, privileged, lucky, fortunate, however you interpret it in that MrGF makes an excellent living that keeps us safe and secure (especially given our mutual squirrel like nature). That said, I have a number of friends who have struggled with job loss and underemployment over the years, including my now former boss. So with that in mind I wanted to share this post from The Morris Tribe.

Until we meet again, I wish you health, happiness and success.

The Homesteader’s Guide to Unemployment: 11 Steps to Take Control

Unemployment is capitalism’s way of getting you to plant a garden. ~Orson Scott Card

Being unemployed, underemployed or laid off is no joking matter.

Millions of Americans are out of work today, many with few prospects for work without moving their family or retraining for another career.

While we are blessed to be not only employed, but also an employer, I never get too far in my thinking about how we could make it without an income.

The worldwide economy is suffering right now.  When and if we’ll see a recovery is anyone’s guess.

Yet, there’s another economy out there.  It’s the economy of the homesteader and there’s no recession going on there.  That’s because we play by a different set of rules.

The homesteader’s employer (besides God) is the soil and the weather.  While these two can be harsh employers at times, much of the time they can be modified and adapted to.

The soil and the weather do not lay people off, nor do they require much in the way of credentials.  Further, once you get the hang of how things work, you’ll be on your way to providing your family with nutritious food and cheap energy!  

If I can do this, so can you.

Plant a Victory garden:  Regardless of where you live, there is something that you can grow and put in the ground now.  A few packs of seeds and you can at least grow some greens for salads.  Get a little more organized and you can start growing your own food!  I cannot tell you how fulfilling this is!  Fall is a great time to plant perennials as well, for free!

Learn how to pressure can:  Canning is a skill that will enable you to preserve the food that you come across, without using the freezer.  Look on Craigslist, thift stores, garage sales, etc. and find a decent water canner, pressure canner and jars.  They will pay for themselves in no time.

Call your local deer processing plant:  Many times, you can put your name in for venison that hunters don’t want.  I scored two deer last year, enough to feed our family much of the year.  For just the processing fee, I got the venison for free.

Start hunting:  This is how our forefathers did it.  You want meat, you go hunt for it.  Check your local laws and ordinances, but think of all the fresh meat you could bring home.

Get rabbits and a hutch:  This is easily done by looking on Craigslist, for little or nothing.  Rabbits can serve as meat for your family as well as give you excellent fertilizer for your garden!  Learn how to raise your own meat here!

Barter your skills:  Skills are just as valuable as product these days.  Use your skills in exchange for goods and services.

Get chickens:  Urban chicken keepers are cropping up all over!  Check here for your local ordinances.  While many counties won’t allow roosters, to have a few laying hens could be perfectly acceptable.

BIG cities, like San Fransisco, are allowing chickens in town, with limitations.  How can a city deny a family’s right to grow some of its own food?  We’ve done it for centuries, even encouraged to do so by our own leaders during WWII in terms of a Victory garden!

Consider wood heat:  Do your homework, but if there’s anyway you can make good use of your fireplace or get a woodstove on the cheap, you should consider it.  I see free firewood all the time.  Save the money from your electric/gas bill for something else.

Get Your Goat:  Goats are cheap (even free!) and hardy animals.  Buy a dairy goat, who is currently milking, and you now have your own milk source.  Learn all about goats, A-Z, right here!

Glean:  I love gleaning.  It’s a skill that all homesteaders love!  We thoroughly enjoy bragging about what we got for free. Read here for tips.

Forage:  Once again, homesteaders relish in the joy of foraging food that we didn’t even plant.  Free, organic, nutrient packed food.

Oh, clever!

I was reading a recent post from cyber friends at Milkwood Farm and this handy little diy gadget caught my eye; I thought it was just so clever (definitely came as one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments) that I just had to share.

“Nifty aid of a piece of cutoff re-bar has squares of precisely 10x10cm, which makes planting without a seeder possible while ensuring the rows don’t wiggle or the space between pea plants truncate.”

See the full post at the Milkwood Permaculture Blog

One Misty, Moisty Morning…

One misty, moisty morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
I chanced to meet an old man clothed all in leather.
He began to compliment, and I began to grin,
How do you do, and how do you do?
And how do you do again?

It’s been a misty, moisty day here, (though the sun has just broken through) so this old tune my dad used to hum to me has been going through my head all morning.

Yes it’s been raining again, and I’m very happy for that. I “should” be cleaning the house, but… well, I’d rather chat with you, dear friends.

As promised a couple of weeks back, I’ve updated the Cast of Characters page with some better pictures –I love the new camera. In addition to the regular motley crew we have a canine house guest at the moment. This is my dad’s new dog Alex. Isn’t he just the prettiest thing? And such a sweet-heart too.

Alex

I’ve been in love with Alex for over a year now but I can hardly keep up with the pack I have right now. So I’m very happy that dad adopted him; I think they will be fast friends and hope they have many happy years of fishing together.

Dad is heading back up north for the summer, so we have a few months to catch up in the remodeling projects he’s started for us. I’m really pleased with how it’s all turning out; it’s nice when you see your vision come to reality. I have a functional laundry room once again, yippee! There is still a lot to do though – onward and upward.

On the gardening front, spring planting season is fast coming to a close in this part of the world and (as usual) I haven’t got all the plants I wanted to in the ground; so time to plan for “over summering”.

On the blogging front, I have a number of draft topics simmering away in my brain; I just need to find some quiet time to put them to paper. In the meantime I have run across a number of items that I wanted to share with you. My cyber-friend Deborah at Romancing the Bee wrote an excellent post on the nitrogen cycle (sigh, another post someone else beat me to). She’s also posting some excellent recipes (but I’m trying to ignore them so that I can continue to fit into my new smaller clothes).

For those of you who have/are considering chickens I also have a couple of “for the birds” items you.  First, I found another article on feeding your flock – how to make your own chicken feed; and I found this interesting post on Nesting Box Herbs – Chicken Aromatherapy. If you need housing for your feathered friends I may have found the perfect coop for you. Isn’t this the cutest thing? (I know you’ve been racking your brain on what to do with that old playhouse!)

Little Tikes Chicken Coop from: cluckingaround.blogspot.com

If this isn’t quite up your alley I have some other interesting ideas posted on my Pinterest; and if you just have to experience real coop envy then you’ll have to visit BackYard Chickens.

Ok, the house isn’t cleaning itself.

I hope you have a great weekend!

How to make your mark…

From: HardlyHousewives.com

From: puglife85.blogspot.com

Plastic Knife Plant Labels by Apt Garden

From: aptgarden.blogspot.com

From In My Own Style

From: inmyownstyle.com

Stop this garden tour, I want to get off…

Off the bus, the garden tour bus, come on people get your minds out of the gutter. I mean I know it’s spring and gardening is all about sex right now (yes, and asexual reproduction, etc. too) but I’m trying to keep this blog “G” rated. Seriously though, UNCLE, I’m crying uncle. I really thought I’d nearly got the garden in and then yesterday I cleaned out the greenhouse and discovered flats, and flats, and flats of seedlings – some varieties I haven’t even planted yet. I tell you, this garden better produce otherwise I’m going to be very, very grumpy!

Enough whinging though, I really want to talk about chickens. You may remember that I made a pun about fodder in a previous post, but said you’d have to stay tuned to get the joke. Well, I’ve been wanting to follow-up since then but… well see above. Anyway, spring has been glorious here – mild with nice steady rains – so we’ve been doing lots of lawn moving. For years we’ve been throwing the clippings into the chicken run; the girls love, love, love them. However, occasionally we get more than even they can deal with and the clippings go into the compost heap. I got to thinking though (I know, that’s where the trouble starts), wondering if there was a use for these excess clippings a little higher up the food chain? So I got on trusty ol’ Google and started looking into it. The first thing I found was a fellow who discussed making hay (which he uses for bedding) with his clippings. I thought this was pretty clever but wondered “could I use the hay as food, rather than just bedding?” This led me down the rabbit hole to silage. Ideally chickens (and rabbits) should have access to greens year round, and I try to make sure they get at least some by way of scraps and cole crops during the summer and winter, but I know that they aren’t really getting enough. Now I knew about putting up silage for cattle, but I never thought of putting it up for chickens. (If you don’t know what silage is, it is essentially high moisture vegetation that has undergone some aerobic, but primarily anaerobic fermentation in order to be used as fodder.) Mother Earth News has a short article with some excellent resources on the hows and whys of small-scale silage production. Things are starting to get hot and dry here so I think I’ve missed my window for this year, but I’m definitely going to remember it for next year.

In other chicken news, one of the things I least like about keeping chickens is the whole “how to keep their water clean” issue. I tried traditional waters, I tried large bowls but inevitably I ended up with poop soup (and now you all know why the Kale right outside the coop is so big and vibrant). In addition to wanting to keep the water clean and reduce maintenance I also have to be able to add ice or super cold water to the waterers in the summer to ensure that the chickens take on enough fluids; I have the same requirement for the rabbits. Now there are all sorts of commercially available or DIY products (such as the one pictured below) that will address my needs, but to be perfectly honest with you I didn’t want to spend the money to buy one, or time to make one.

I’d remembered reading a couple of articles about watering chickens with rabbit bottle, so I tried it. Result! Poop soup problem solved, but it was still a pain to take them down and fill them up every day. So I went in search of bigger bottles and I stumbled upon flip-top waterers.

I love it when a plan comes together! The chickens took to them quickly (I was a little worried as this uses a nipple instead of roller ball). Yippee… easy, clean water that I can easily add ice to. Now if I could only convince the rabbits to use them.

No more pencils, no more books, no more…

So it’s another grey, chilly, rainy day in these parts. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining, we need the rain and I’m not quite ready for the “heat” just yet, but for some reason days like today seem to zap me of any ambition to get up and out and do things. When I’m in these moods one of my favorite ways of procrastinating is to read (I think I’ve got myself convinced that it’s not really procrastinating if I’m working my mind) and every once in a while it turns into a productive endeavor of its own – like today!

In my mental bumbling about this morning I came across Horticulture Magazine’s  Garden How-To University and I know that I’ve mentioned Cornell University’s online Horticultural distance learning courses. I have no doubt that both of these courses are well worth the time and money but, the thing is, I’m sure for many of us spending the money for these courses just isn’t an option. So what’s the alternative? Sure there and books, magazines, text books, etc., but if you’re anything like me every now and then you like to take a class. And then it hit me — all the great “classes” I’ve taken for free through the power of the internet.

Now my first “go to” place is iTunes U, where you can find such courses as:

“Plant Growth and Development” by John Harada of UC Davis
“Southwest Yard and Garden Series” by New Mexico Stanten University
“Southwest Home Horticulture” by Urban Horticulture, College of Technology and Innovation, Arizona State University

I also subscribe to a number of podcasts that, although not “course based”, I find educational. These include:

Paul Wheaton’s Permaculture Podcast
You Bet Your Garden
The Self-Sufficient Gardener
The gardening and permaculture episodes on The Survival Podcast
Growing Your Grub

Then there is YouTube:
Camarillo Gardens
Thrifty Gardener
The Permaculture Channel
Eat The Weeds
Midwest Permaculture

These are just a few of the many, many videos available.

Other resources I’ve found useful include:
The Victory Garden
The UK’s Open University, Open Learn
MIT’s OpenCourseWare
The Open Education Database lists several courses in Botany
Wikiversity

Now if you would just like to sit down and read a book there are a number of them on my goodreads list that I recommend, and if you only have time to page through a magazine some of the ones I turn to are:

Texas Gardener
Horticulture Magazine
Fine Gardening
Mother Earth News

If you’ve found any great resources, please let me know so that I can add it to the list.

Have a lovely day.

This post (and the blog overall) is a feast for the senses and the imagination!

Fairegarden


That’s me, the tightwad gardener. It’s not that I don’t spend some treasure on plants and garden stuff, because I do. It’s that the garden is of a size and diversity now after eleven plus years of blood, sweat, tears and broken fingernails that there are other options besides buying when it comes to adding to the zoo or sprucing up the hardscape. (Above shot taken May 1, 2011.)


Use, reuse and reuse again and again and again can be spoken of rocks and stones. The original stone purchase for the front facade of the addition, read about it here, yielded mass quantities of overages due to my husband, The Financier’s calculations. In truth, we both agreed that too much stone was better than not enough. Many were used for the rebuilding of the pond for the umpteenth time. Many were taken away to the North Carolina garden of…

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