We started our seeds this week. I once heard a a so-called frugal expert on a podcast say that gardening didn't pay because by the time you buy the plants and all the soil amendments, you could have just bought the vegetables anyhow. Well, I don't know how this lady gardens, but I beg to differ. Firstly, you don't buy plants, you start them from seed, many of which are saved from last year's fruits. Even if you have to buy seeds, a packet can be had for as little as 25 cents at the dollar store. How many vegetables can you buy for 25 cents? Plus there's the added pleasure of discovering truly old-fashioned goodness. Fresh vegetables are the best. And when you start your own plants you can experiment with the heirloom varieties, which I've found to have much better flavor then the commercial varieties. People that say they don't like vegetables probably have never tasted an heirloom tomato; such as German Strawberry or Opalka (my two favorites) or a nice heirloom squash such as Mooregold.
I don't know what soil amendments the expert was speaking of, but the only additions we make to our garden soil is good old-fashioned compost from leaves, peels, ashes from the wood stove, and garden debris. It costs nothing to make, just patience. For the sake of your health, I'd caution anyone from using commercial compost or manure, many of it has pesticides and herbicides in it from what the cows ingest. I've even heard of people's gardens being ruined from it. I do put compost on my flower gardens that I get from the village, they compost the leaves in the Fall, but I don't like to use it on my vegetable plots. I always say error on the side of caution. If you don't know what's in it, don't use it. You can plant a cover crop in late Fall and till it under in the Spring, also. Start small with just a little plot, big enough for a couple tomato and pepper plants, a couple of rows of lettuce. Amend the soil with your own compost and extend the plot as you become more experienced, a bit at a time. What you are working for, is nice dark soil that is friable; you should be able to stick your arm into the soil up to your elbow. If you have a lot of clay in your soil, you can add sand to make it less dense. In a way, we were very fortunate, because our area has some of the richest soil around. But on the other hand, I wouldn't buy a piece of land without looking into the soil first, which is why I would never own beachfront property. Too sandy! But I suppose if you own beachfront property, you can afford to buy your fruits and veggies from the farmer's market.
I never can resist buying those cute little embroidered doilies that I find at garage sales. I'm always thinking about how much time and love someone put into them. Unfortunately, most have either stains or holes in them. But for a dime or quarter, who can resist? The other problem is that I live and have always lived with a household of men and boys. Men and boys and doilies don't mix. So I cut the good parts out of the ones I had and made them into the vintage-looking banner.
temperature blanket. My dear friend Matty introduced me to the idea. In a nutshell, you knit a row (I'm knitting two rows) each day, a different color me each ten degree increment in temperature. By the end of the year, you should have in interesting patterned blanket. I'm using the knitting pattern I gave here for the dishcloths, except on a much larger scale, of course. It sounds like a fun way to use up some of my yarn stash. I might have to figure out a color for fifty degrees by the end of the week!
Cabbage is cheap, cheap, cheap this time of year. I've seen it as low as twenty cents a pound and three pounds for a dollar is common around here, any time of the year. One of the ways, I learned to make it, growing up was in Polish cabbage. I grew up in a community that consisted of mainly Poles and Germans, two very thrifty ethnicities. It was where I learned how to make a penny stretch.
4 C. cabbage, chopped
8 oz. egg noodles, boiled
1 large onion, preferably yellow, chopped
1/4 C. butter
1 tbsp. caraway seeds
1/2 C. sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onions in a skillet with the butter until brown and translucent. Add the cabbage and continue cooking until the cabbage is limp and cooked through. Stir in the egg noodles, caraway seeds and sour cream. Salt and pepper to taste. Add more sour cream if desired (and who doesn't desire that?)
This reminds me, the other day, I had purchased some sour cream from the reduced-for-quick-sale bin at the grocery store and it was the best sour cream I ever tasted. Now, I can hear some of you saying, "sour cream. big whoop." but if you can delight in the little things like tasty sour cream or pretty thrifted fabric, then you don't need to go searching for the next big thrill. It is the little things in life that bring me joy. You'll never see me jumping out of an airplane or rappelling down a mountainside!
THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THIS WEEK
Started a knitted blanket form my yarn stash.
Started our plants, many from saved seeds.
Sewed a banner from stained and torn doilies.
Watched some Yukon TV on YouTube. Finally! Some people that end their questions with "eh?" as much as I do!
Made a huge pot of refried beans . They are so tasty. Much better than the ones that come out of a can. And thrifty too!
Bought two and one-half yards of fabric for $1.
Found some more pop and beer bottles to return for the deposit. So far about $7 this month. That's enough for seven pounds of bean or rice for the pantry, for those that say they can't afford to stock up their pantries. And I live in a little village of of 200 people in Winter. Imagine how much more I could find if I lived in a more populated place.
Well, Ran is waiting for me to make some chocolate pudding (from milk I found in the reduced-for-quick-sale bin, intended for the cats). So there you have another week at the old Zempel boarding house. I hope that your week will be peaceful!