Friday, October 31, 2008


When I was a little kid, I remember my parents always hushing us when they had the AM news radio station on - WJON. They were listening for the Value Connection deals... I'm so glad I don't have to do that - I have the internet!

Don't forget to check out your area's radio station for savings vouchers. They work like a gift certificate that you buy a $10 voucher for $6 or something like that. I am even subscribed to my areas stations that do that so I receive their super-hot limited time deals in my inbox. Works great for those admission fees at places and oil changes.

Here are the two I know of that are available in central MN. You can pay online and have them mail them to you or pick them up.

WJON's Value Connection

Spirit 92.9's Shop N' Save

Don't know of any around you? Try calling one and asking if they know of any. Many times radio stations are owned by parent companies and a sister station might offer these deals.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ta-da! My Indoor Windowsill Garden!

Well here it is! I can't wait for it to start growing! While the seeds are germinating, I am misting it twice a day with a spray bottle and covering it with a wax paper "tent". Boy, this was a lot of work! The window is 58 inches wide. I live in a split-level, so I kept having to go from the garage up to the kitchen to try the fit, then when that was done, I was out of foil, so I got some down from on top of my kitchen cabnets (I had it all along the top for plants, but now I just have 2 up there, so thats where I got 60+ continuous inches of foil, lol! ). Then I had to get the rocks from outside... Then some dirt from my mound outside... This used about 1/2 a 5 gallon bucket full of dirt! Thats a lot to shovel in the box with the little garden shovel! But it will be worth it and now I just have to sit back and enjoy!

a look at the assembly. Rocks, straws, dirt. I hope my straw idea will work.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

While you're waiting...

This is a great book. Linnea's Windowsill Garden is a fictional first-person journal of a little girl who lives in a big city and does some very creative gardening inside her apartment. I found it at a secondhand store and thought of it being a tool to help my kids get into gardening.. but then I read it cover to cover and its currently sitting on my bedside table! Its really cute.

I assembled my gutter. Ours are aluminum, and I had some hesitation because they are rather large, but hopefully it will look ok. They look a bit like a piece of coving, so I figured I don't need to add any decorative wood box around them. Just the ends look a bit goofy because of the endcaps on the outside. I can always put a plant that will drape over that to cover them.

I used some silicone caulk. I didn't think to look at the store for some sort of food-grade sealer. I may line them in alum. foil or something. As for drainage I think I will just borrow some rocks from our landscaping and line the bottom inch with and and add some vertical straws though to help the bottom "breathe." I can't wait for the caulking to dry so I can plant it!

All and all, I paid a whopping $2.50 for the endcaps, so if this is a beta-version, thats ok by me!

Windowsill herb/salad garden

Me again. This is fun - in a way this keeps my thoughts organized! So after that last post I realized just how much we have benefited financially from having the garden, even if it was less than $50 (eventhough it was around $300 to put in, lol). When choosing what to grow I took into consideration how much it is in the store. Namely the celery. I usually would buy 2-3 stalks of celery in a year, and waste 90% of each one. I'd only need 2-3 ...sticks (?) for a meal here or there. At the greenhouse, they were selling 4-packs of seedlings for $1.18. That might be the cost of ONE stalk of celery. I really enjoyed going out there and grabing just what I needed for a pasta salad or soup or whatever.

So now I have a winter garden project idea. Many times lettuce goes to waste in this house. With the short shelf life and my Crohn's always being an issue, it dosn't get used up. Last year I grew lettuce, and it was "good" for quite some time, as long as it was in the dirt. So I am brainstorming a windowsill lettuce 'window box' and adding a little cilantro and basil too (and transplanting some celery). I hope you can grow lettuce indoors. I'm willing to try.

AND I mentioned to DH that a section of rain gutter would be just right for our windowsills, and then I'd build a decorative exterior to it and he reminded me we have extra gutter up in our garage! Yay! So I just have to buy a couple ends and I think we have a tube of caulking around here somewhere. Still trying to figure out the drain pan. I think I am going to try to rig up some self-watering/seeping system to keep the soil moist enough (esp. since it will be winter). Then the only problem will be where to put the plants that are currently on my windowsill...unless I take over DH's south-facing home office window, LOL! Hey, they say plants enhance your work morale, right?!

Ok, time to get cleaned up and go to the store!

Monday, October 27, 2008

My quirky organizational fetish

Ok, so I am an avid box tops-milk caps-Campbell's soup label-store brand UPC-poptab-earn-money-for-school collector. And I used to keep a ziploc sandwich bag for each in a basket above my microwave for it. Well, I went and bought several generic cornbread muffin boxes (made best use of the depth of my drawer) of muffin mix and made and froze the muffins. Then I carefully opened each of the boxes and covered them with some extra scrapbook paper I had, cut slots and put dividers in some. I re-glued them and put a brad on the flap on the end, and one on the long side of the box and folded in the flaps and secured with an infant hair rubber band on each one (I find lots of uses for those!). Now, it only takes less than 2 inches of depth of my drawer in the kitchen and the kids can help put the things away! I love it - but I need to replace the boxes now (this is an old picture!) Guess I gotta get more cornbread muffin mix!

Continue on to this post for step by step instructions and more details...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My garden

I love this garden. It's 12x25 (each terrace is 5 ft deep). This past spring, we added 2 more courses to the logs because it was too far into the ground (hard to work the ground that way). I do regret using treated timbers, as we are growing organic. Its all we could afford. We did line the bed walls, but still...

Anyway, here are some pictures!

staked out in the background - Sp. 2007
-Our dirt in our area is full of clay. When we dug in to start each bed, we were digging in clay that you could practically throw a pot with. We were planting late already, so we used our clay for dirt - nothing really grew - got about 4 pumpkins, a few meals of corn on the cob and very small potatoes. Oh, and some lettuce and peas and beans. And I forgot to thin the carrots.

Sp. 2008 after add-on, before dirt

Dirt. Supposed to be 10 yds black, then we were going to get 5 yds. compost. So much for that - the guy delivered WAY too much! We only could use 4 beds this year because we didn't get to the pile left in the bottom bed. Put it this way - after each bed was filled with 8 more inches of dirt, that pile didn't look much smaller! (We are storing quite a bit on the TOP of the hill now - ugh - lots of work!)

-is is just me or is the neighbor's grass GREENER? LOL (DH had just de-thatched)


2008- Harvesting pumpkins -- 22 0f 'em. Too bad moles got to most of them.

2008 harvest recap:

  • Apple tree died, but looks like it wants to resurrect itself as a bush. Need to transplant it though because its too close to the playset we just built)
  • blueberry vine never took
  • grape vine I thought died regrew - hoping the blueberry one will do that next year
  • 22 pumpkins (about 14 chewed by moles)
  • 3 squash (too many to count chewed by moles)
  • LOTS of Roma tomatoes (canned 4 spaghetti sauce, 4 pizza sauce and made lots of bruschetta! -- AND ketchup - the kids love it too - and I know whats in it!)
  • about 35 red potatoes
  • Lots of chives, celery
  • peas and beans had an early demise due to deer and a storm washing an avalance of dirt onto them from that surplus dirt pile.
  • 4 cantaloupe
  • 3 heads of Broccoli (didn't know it would regrow - but the plants were crowding out the peppers and celery anyway) -- WOW! This was the best broccoli EVER! (first time growing it too - i guess this is one thing that FRESH is definitely best!)
  • Onions... did ok. They fell victim to little toddler size 6 pink crocks stepping on them, though.
  • Forgot the thin the carrots (again). Used about 6 in soup, etc, the rest (scrawny ones) fed to some deer at the sanctuary
  • not enough rhubarb to do anything with (still planted in clay, though)
  • about 4 peppers. Enjoyed inviting parents out for Stuffed green peppers, as a thank you for sharing all their knowledge on canning/gardening with me (as well as helping put it in!)
  • Corn... this is embarrassing - I planted FEED corn by accident!! We always buy our seeds at the farm store that has chicks in the spring (as a thank you for letting my kids handle/maim/infect them, lol). I bought it out of a bushel basket that I could have sworn said Sweet corn. So...First meal, early season, was a little chewy...thought maybe we picked it too early. A few weeks later canned/froze several (like 10 cobs worth) and have 4 more cobs that evening for dinner and was WAY rubbery! Then I knew.....

Looking forward to an even better growing season next year!

2009 - plans

  • I am planting twice as many tomatoes, as the canning was fun
  • 4 broccoli instead of 3, I think
  • SWEET CORN next year, duh.
  • Want to get in a little 3x3 bed of strawberries (I'm the only one that likes them)
  • Transplanted the rhubarb already
  • Planting a little extra corn
  • Might skip carrots. I always forget to thin them and the grocery store always has them as the free item, or cheap anyway.
  • Thought about skipping the potatoes since we aren't real big potato eaters and they take up a lot of room -- and are cheap to buy.... But then my picky eater found she liked them pan-fried (I know I know, fried -- BUT she eats them with MY ketchup!)
  • Watermelons by special request from said picky eater.
  • and pumpkins, of course! (fun to grow, and MUCH cheaper to grow your own!)

I have this all drawn out on graph paper - I'll try to post that sometime.

Can you grow garlic? In zone 3-4??

I wanted to get that bottom bed cleared out but never go to it. Its getting kinda late to do it too - we had our first snow flurries today!

It's obvious that this garden is too small. When we were putting it in we debated about making it 16 feet wide, but I wanted to conserve the middle of the hill for sledding and open play area. There is not much room to add on on the top or bottom. We are planning on putting a terrace on the top with our fire pit and maybe eventually grow our grapes on lattice up there, for a privacy fence. On the bottom of the garden, it is low, and I was thinking about putting a dry "riverbed" garden there and try to grow some asparagus there as well as flowers.

Yes, eventually moving out to a hobby farm is a dream - but I like the challenge of making it all work on this city lot -- and I don't think I could convince my DH to put in another raised garden again!! (I LOVE it!)

Thanks for reading my mega-post!

Wow, I'm here. My blog. Where did the word "blog" come from anyway? Hmmm... Weird word. Anyway, so maybe I'll post my photo archive here... or shopping deals. I always think of emailing my great deals I find on to people, and sometimes do, but really, I might as well post them here and let people come check for them/subscribe for them. Lets see how this looks.