Friday, January 16, 2009

frugality for the future

Last year we had a good garden, but still I wasted a lot of space on things that don't quite work, or take up too much space for their yield. I'm circling items in seed catalogs right now with my garden goals in mind.
This year I want the garden to be chock full of (1)things the kids like to just pick and eat- tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, peas, green beans (2) things we eat a lot of- tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, turnips (3) things that are expensive to buy organic- broccoli, salad greens, carrots, cabbage, peas (4) things to easily put up for winter- tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, green beans. I like growing sweet and hot peppers, but they're abundant, cheap, and organic around here. Peanuts would be fun, but frivolous. Melons I always waste space on, I'm going to resist this year, if I can. They're cheap and all over the place all summer.
I also want to put in a strawberry bed, an asparagus bed, and plant some high bush cranberries or currants. I think a cutting bed of flowers would be nice, too, and a bed of annual herbs. With the new baby and wanting to paint the house I think taking out the awful rose bushes may happen, but not planting perennial herbs and kiwis til next year.

This year I finally started making yogurt- so easy, so cheap, so yummy I can't believe I haven't been doing it for years. Thank you Jennifer for encouraging me to tr it. Can you believe I make a gallon of whole milk organic yogurt every week, and when I strain it we end up with 3 quarts of Greek yogurt for $5, when Fred Meyer sells one pint for $6?! It's amazing.
This year I want to learn cheese making- ricotta and chevre are easy I think, but it'd be nice to learn to make mozzarella and some other cheeses that are hard to squeeze into the budget regularly. The kids also like kefir, as do I, and I'd like to get started making that, too. $4.69 for a quart is too steep for us to buy except for a treat. We plan to buy a bigger freezer, and stick it in the garage, thus clearing up space for bookshelves in the office and making sure we have enough room for lots of blueberries, asparagus, fruit, a side of beef, plus the other animals I want to get- a lamb, pig, lots of fish, chickens, and some venison. Having the freezer full of food is wonderful, and knowing we have healthy pasture fed organic protein without having to carve it out of the weekly budget is great, but it would be nice to have something other than beef in there!
I'd also like to find someone to sell us fresh eggs and raw milk on a regular basis, but I doubt that we'll save any money, just get more nutrition for the dollars we do spend.

I also learned how to make laundry detergent. Again, a huge savings, and easy to do. This spring we're putting up laundry lines outside- I envision two T-posts with a hammock between and a shade cloth, and either a multi-line retractable clothesline from one post to the house/garage or a couple of clotheslines attached to the post with clips, so they can easily come down for the raucous playing that sometimes happens in the yard, maybe with cleats on the house to wind the line out of the way.
Getting Mymy out of diapers will be a savings, since he's been in 7th generation disposables for the last year+. The new baby will start in cloth, and hopefully not have the same skin and uncontrollable rash issues Mymy's had. I hope drying diapers in the hot desert sun will help that problem, as well as take care of the $10 a week for diapers we now spend.


Tara said...

I'd love to know how to make detergent. Would you mind sharing instructions?
Great garden plans. We're taking out some perennials and adding in a few veggies to supplement our CSA, also putting in a raised strawberry bed and making some portable lettuce flats from old dresser drawers for baby greens.

mama-aya said...

Old dresser drawers! That's great. I think we're going to do lettuces, carrots, herbs in wading pools in the driveway. The actual garden space fills up way too fast!

That lady with 6 daughters said...

I always wanted to use an old fish tank or a console TV for carrots, so we could SEE them growing. You'd have to put a curtain over the front so the roots wouldn't shy away from the light, but you could call it the carrot show. I envy your garden plans. My seed catalogs are arriving and everything look so yummy. Have you tried growing potatoes in a trash can?

mama-aya said...

I'm such a dork about thinking of NEW ways to use old stuff. Aquarium- BRILLIANT! I see people using trashcans for potatoes, but it weirds me out to use OLD trash cans, and I can't imagine BUYING new ones just to drill holes in them to plant stuff in. Maybe if we had less space, or grew more. Have you done it?
I always think back to the beautiful straw bale gardens that were at the Seattle Garden Show one year, but they use a ton more water than planting stuff in the ground, so that's out, at least for me, in this place. Water's kind of a premium, you know?