Productive Organic Gardening On A Budget

 

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The theme  of the weekly photo challenge this week is; Smile. Growing my own food makes me smile, in many ways. Literally because I enjoy working in my garden, and internally because it makes me feel good eating organic food. My conscious also smile back to me when I try to lessen my ecological footprint, by eating a more locally produced plant based diet.

The photo above is an 11 day old Squash seedling. My daughter was smiling while planting the tiny seed 11 days ago, and she’s been smiling while watering it, and checking the growth every day since then. Today we had to replant the seedling (photo below,) into a bigger (repurposed) pot, since it outgrew its tiny seed starting cell. I saw another big smile on her face (and I’m pretty sure I smiled myself as well,) when we carefully lifted the little plant, and saw the intricate root system already developed. That’s pure magic! Don’t you think?

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I believe that you are what you eat; mind, body and soul. I enjoy growing my own food.  My ultimate dream is to have a small homestead, and be as self sufficient as possible, producing the majority of my family’s food myself. I’m slowly working my way towards that goal, by growing as much organic produce as I can every spring/summer, and by continue my learning process about how to do it (by reading, doing my own garden, and helping out at farms in my area.) I love that gardening is a lifelong learning process. 

Yesterday when my daughter and I was making lunch, she was cutting celery, and started to ask me questions about why sellers is good for us to eat. We talked about how it is an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and I mentioned a study I read recently about its cancer fighting powers. I remember seeing a photo of someone (in a garden group I’m a member of,) planting celery leftovers. So we read a little more about that, and tried it. According to what we learned you can cut it straight off at the root, saving a few inches, and place it in water for a few days. You’re going to se it start growing new celery in the middle first, and a couple days later the roots are supposed to come.

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This was what it looked like this morning, already started to grow new celery in the middle. Maybe even a root under? Not sure. When it develops a root system you can plant it either in a pot, or outdoors if the temperature is right. Both my daughter and I, are very excited about this. It’s the first time we try growing celery like this. I try to expand my garden to some new varieties every year. Especially if I can find something my daughter really enjoys, it certainly makes it easier to motivate her to eat her vegetables.

I cook all the food we eat from scratch, and I use a lot of garlic in our food. You’re supposed to plant garlic in the fall, for a harvest next year. I didn’t know that you actually can plant it in the spring as well, with a slightly smaller harvest. I spent some time learning about that this morning. You can trick the garlic that it is still winter, by having the garlic in the fridge. Conveniently, I had organic garlic in my fridge. Having my soil and everything out already, after replanting some seedlings earlier, I decided to try my knew found knowledge. Nothing like learning by doing 🙂

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I took two garlics, that I carefully opened up, and then I choose the biggest cloves. It was suggested to plant three cloves in a small pot, carefully leaving the white skin on the cloves.

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Plant with the pointy side up. The soil is supposed to be loose, and moist. After planting them, water, and then sprinkle either airy soil, or shredded leaves over the garlic.

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I sprinkled seedling soil on top. Just a little bit. Garlic like to be moist, and have at least six hours of full sun when they are growing. I’m planning on transplanting mine outside when they get bigger. Did you know that you can eat every part of the garlic? The cloves, the skin (huge antioxidant,) the sprouts – everything. I’ve never planted garlic in the spring before, and I’m curious about what kind of impact this late planting, is going to have on the harvest.

I’ve been experimenting with organic gardening on a slim budget, for the past 5 years. I’m a homemaking, homeschooling mom, that for the most part been alone in my responsibility to raise a healthy, happy little girl. Especially during the first years my creativity was often tested to the max, when it came to providing healthy food, due to limited finances, and moving a lot. I’ve lived and I’ve learned. I’ve kept track of different methods I’ve tried, and how I adapted them to fit new places we moved to. I’ve had everything from an 80 acres ranch, to a small RV pad. I’ve tried regular gardening in fields (still organic,) raised beds, container gardening, and combinations of them. I’m planning on publishing what I’ve learned, along with photos, and Pro’s/Con’s with different methods in a book. Eating healthy organic food doesn’t have to cost a lot, and it is possible to build a productive organic garden even if you have a very small space, live in an apartment, or an RV. I’d like to share how. If you have more space, that’s wonderful, and you can grow even more, keeping your costs down when using a few tricks I’ve learned along the way. My goal is to have my book ready for publishing this fall, around harvest time. If everything goes well. It’s a fun project, that also makes me smile. I haven’t told anyone about it until today.

What makes you smile this weekend?

Love,

Ms Zen

Weekend Coffee Share

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This week is intense! Do you dare to have coffee with me? Nothing bad happened, on the contrary, it’s been an awesome week. Here, grab a cup, and I’ll tell you all about it. Last week I told you about how I’ve been looking at horses, to find a companion for my horse Ghost (pictured above,) that also would be a great match for our family. I didn’t find one last week, but this week I did! I decided to place an ad on Craigslist, and I got a few replies. My hope was to not only find a new family member, but to make a difference in a horse’s life, that really needed a home. It’s easy to just go and buy a horse, but there’s so many out there, good horses, that for different reasons find themselves in bad places. (I did not write that in the ad! I only wrote that I was looking for a friendly companion horse to my gelding, sound enough for light riding.) Through the years I’ve fostered around 20 abused horses, that I’ve helped nurtured back into good health, physically and emotionally. This time my intention is to keep the horse for life. Therefor I really needed to make a good decision. I wanted the horse to be gentle enough for my 5 year old daughter to be around, and preferably be able to (eventually) take my weight as well, so that I can work with the horse. (A horse that only has kids riding it, sometimes forgets some of its training/manners.)  

A woman emailed me about a mare that she got from a really bad situation, that now was gaining weight, but still needed lots of TLC. Everything she said about the mare, and the pictures she sent, it just felt right. I went to her place to meet her yesterday, and I’ve never met a sweeter horse. Fancy is a 12 year old, registered Quarter Horse, with a great conformation. This is not a backyard bred horse, she has a long line of excellent cutting horses behind her. She does need to gain more muscle weight, and her front hooves needs work. She is broke to ride, and extremely kind. I’m not sure if she ever had her own human caring for, and loving her. By the end of my visit I saw her eyes lit up a little bit. In the beginning, it was almost like she was sleep walking. I’ve seen this before in broodmares, that only been baby (money) making machines. I can’t wait until I see more light in those beautiful eyes. We have lots of love in store for her. Fancy is calm enough for my daughter to groom, and ride. I can already see her brushing Fancy for hours, and braiding her mane and tail. I’m going to let you wait for pictures of her until next weekend. Please keep in mind that the photos of her now is going to be very different, compared to what she will look like by the end of the summer. Her front hooves might give you nightmares. Please remember that her nightmare have ended. She is on the way up. When she first was rescued, she was so emaciated that it was only a question of time before her inner organs was going to give up. She doesn’t look that bad now.

Need some more coffee? I’ll get you a refill. I think I need one myself. Fancy, and Ghost, they haven’t met yet, are coming home next week 🙂 I pounded in a few extra t-post along the fence line, making sure that their new pasture is safe, and ready for their arrival. I’m looking at a round-pen tomorrow. I’m going to need a place to work with them separately. Hopefully it will be in place at their arrival, or shortly after. It is so exciting!! A fellow blogger asked me if I’ve considered starting a Youtube vlog. I have been thinking of one day making short videos of rescue horses, and mustangs I work with. Not as a professional horse trainer, but more what an ordinary person who loves animals, can do for animals in need. I don’t see myself as a horse trainer, I’m just a girl who loves horses, and enjoy spending a lot of time with them. In my case is my stubborn dedication, calm presence, love, and lots of time that is the key.

Is your coffee OK? How is your week? We had sun in the beginning, but it’s raining right now.

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I’m planning my vegetable garden. There will be lots of work for me to do there, as soon as I get the horses settled in. As you can see in the photo of my future garden area above, the area is currently covered in weeds. Below is some photos from the backyard, closer to the house. The vegetable garden is going to be behind the backyard, safe from playing children, and dogs (hopefully.) The horse pasture is next to the garden area, and I will be able to see my horse as I work in the garden 🙂

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Is spring in full bloom at your place? I love April, it’s one of my favorite months here, before we hit the three digit temperatures. Any fun plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear more about your week! 

 

 

Love,

Ms Zen

My Organic Garden – Seedlings Day 6

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6 days ago I started a variety of vegetable seeds indoor, under a grow light. I like to start them indoors for an even start. In our climate, (zone 9b,) you can actually start your seeds successfully planting them directly into the ground, in mid April. I will start some of my seeds that way, but cherry tomatoes (in the picture,) squash, and eggplants, I prefer to start indoors, to get an earlier harvest.

I plant 2 seeds in each cell, to optimize my chance of getting a plant in every cell. In some cases, both seeds are fertile, and I have two small seedlings competing about the same small space. That is not a successful way to grow them. When they start to come up, after a few days, I gently pull one of the seedlings out, if there’s two in the same cell.

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This morning, after watering my seedlings, I pulled these double ones out.

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Throughout the year I save small containers, just for the purpose of planting these. It’s important to keep the soil moist, but not wet. To make this easier I make small wholes on the bottom of the containers, and place them on a tray, to collect the excess water.

My 5year old daughter is very involved in the process of growing our food. She loves it. One of her jobs is to fill the containers with soil, when we plant seedlings. She takes it very seriously. Another of her standing chores is to make sure that all the young plants have enough water. That can be challenging in our (hot) climate, and especially when we move them outdoors I help her with this. It is however her chore, and she takes great pride in doing it well.

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One of the cherry tomato seedlings she planted today. Crazy to believe that this baby plant is likely to be 5-6 ft tall in a couple months, giving us hundreds of sweet cherry tomatoes. That is a true miracle! I am equally amazed every year 🙂

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Just wanted to give you a short update from our budding garden. I’m about to go outside and work on some fencing at our new place. Hard, but rewarding work. I’ll try to take some pictures of the area I selected for my garden, to share with you, while I’m there. Right now it’s covered with weeds, and tall grass. I have lots of work ahead of me the next coming weeks. I better get started!

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Love,

Ms Zen