First Time Gardener-A Follow Up

DSC_0637You might have noticed that my series on being a first time gardener just trailed off. That is because the garden just trailed off…

As you can see from the photo, all I got was a few tiny squash, 3 mini zucchinis, and a handful of not ready for prime time tomatoes.The squash are sitting near a grapefruit for comparison.

But–I am not easy to discourage. This year I have not finished planting, but already have a DSC_0641row of very healthy string beans, three thriving tomato plants, and a large strawberry patch. I will be adding basil, cucumbers, and chilis. Also several types of squash, and I expect the squash to act like squash this year, so I can scare my neighbors and friends.

We figured out that the soil was not rich enough, and the area was too crowded. Both problems have been fixed. So stay tuned for First Time Gardener–the Sequel!

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle: The Art of Repurposing

Today’s post is on the second item in the Holy Grail of sustainability—reusing. For many Americans the default action for fulfilling needs has been “buy it new”. For some, it has been look for it used, which is an improvement. But—it may be unnecessary to buy anything at all. Why not look around at what you already have and repurpose something?

In the home it may be using empty jars for food storage, a rock as a doorstop, or a wheelbarrow as a planter.

In clothing it could be cutting a dress in half and making a skirt, or using a big scarf as a beach cover-up. There are things all around us everyday that could be used for something else if the need arises. All it takes is some ingenuity and a desire to live frugal and green. What have you repurposed? How did you get the idea? Share your stories here!

As inspiration I suggest the following links:

http://www.stampington.com/greencraft/

http://www.amazon.com/Restore-Recycle-Repurpose-Beautiful-Country/dp/1588167690/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346364207&sr=8-1&keywords=recycle+restore

 

How Much is Enough? Six Tips for Knowing when to Stop

If You Don't Know what you Want You'll Never Have Enough

The question “how much is enough?” is at the very heart of a frugal life richly lived. It is the backbone of frugal abundance. We live in a culture that resists the concept of enough. For the inhabitants of the “developed world”, the answer we must give is that no amount is enough. The economy we have created depends on MORE, and just enough is considered an ill.

But sensible people trying to live a good and pleasant life know that this is hog wash. Too much clutter in our material possessions or our time leads to a frenzied life where we don’t fully use or enjoy the things we have. So what is the cure? Try these six simple tips to get back to a state of happy balance:

  1. Before you bring in ANYTHING new, look at what you already have and ask yourself what the purpose is. Do you already have something that will accomplish whatever it is you are trying to do? For example, if you want to make crepes, do you really need to buy a special pan? Or would the cast iron pan you have work just as well. This also applies to time—before you add something to your schedule STOP and ask yourself why.
  2. Do you know the real cost of the things you want to acquire? Don’t forget to add in the cost of maintenance, repair, and auxiliary doo dads that you will need to make it work. When it comes to your time, remember to include travel and preparation time. These are things you need to know before committing yourself. If you don’t think it through you may bite off more than you can chew and end up with TOO MUCH.
  3. Where are you going to put the new thing? If it doesn’t fit in your house it won’t fit in your life. The same goes for new activities. When are you going to do the new activity, including prep, practice, and travel if applicable? Things without places create clutter and eventually misery.
  4. How does the new thing fit into your value system? If you don’t know, don’t buy it till you find out. You only have so much time, money, and physical space. If you let in a bunch of stuff that does not serve your value system, it just becomes a distraction. It also drives out the things that are in harmony with your values, and therefore robs your life of meaning to one extent or another. For example, if your values include bonding with your loved ones with a real sit down dinner, adding a lot of early evening activities is actually a form of clutter and will soon become TOO MUCH.
  5. Have a plan for buying things and committing your time. If you put the big pieces in first, such as travel or buying a house then the smaller decisions become easier. If you know that forgoing a new outfit will get you closer to a trip you want to take it removes some of the sting of saying no to yourself. This also works when dealing with family members. If you all agree that going camping is important it will help when you have to nix the new sneakers. Well, maybe not every time, but it will certainly help.
  6. Now apply these guidelines to what you already have. Do you need to purge anything? Cancel anything? Get rid of any time commitments, memberships, or subscriptions? Does all that you have serve you and your values? Be honest, and then start making a pile for charity. And don’t be too quick to fill up the spaces that get opened up. Open space and breathing room are essential to a happy life and a sign that you have just the right amount.

Try these six tips to create a life that is the right size for you. Not all of them will be easy, but the results will be worth it.

For more on this topic check out these links:

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2010/09/23/frugality-in-a-consumption-crazed-society/

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2010/08/30/false-economy/

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2010/11/01/time-and-money/

Frugal Gardening—Seed Saving Saves Money and is Good for the Planet

Seeds from this Year's Harvest

Now that spring is officially here it is time to really get moving on those gardening projects. As every frugalista knows, gardening combined with cooking at home is the most frugal, healthiest and most fun way to deal with the problem of feeding ourselves and our families. So, how do you do it? Unfortunately, as a culture we have lost many of the basic living skills that our ancestors took for granted. This is a huge loss, but there is a great movement to regain that lost knowledge.

The basic method of growing plant starts from a package of seeds is to put them in small biodegradable pots indoors on a sunny table. The little plants are very delicate at first and need to be protected from too much wind or sun. They generally need to be kept wet. But, if you are buying packets, there are directions. Just follow them carefully. If this is the first time you’ve tried this that may be the way to go. But—if you want to support the seed saving movement you need to find a seed bank unless you have friends that are seed savers already. A seed bank is a repository of seeds that other gardeners have contributed. You can make a withdraawel and plant the seeds that you receive.

There are is a large seed bank in the mid-west, and many regions now have small local banks. To find a local organization, try doing an online search for seed bank followed by the name of your region. Most seed saving groups have regular meetings and very helpful members.

When you graduate to actually saving seed it gets trickier. The best thing is to contact your local seed bank and get advice from them. If you have received seed from a seed-bank, it is also good to offer some seed back. The seed saving movement is a great example of the gif economy at work. It is very interactive—with the natural elements, with the plants and the soil, and with the people in the seed saving community.

If you want to give it a try, check out these links:

http://www.seedsavers.org/ go here first

http://www.seedsave.org/

http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/10380/seed-banks-and-seed-lending-libraries

 

Water-Too Important to Waste

This is Blog Action Day, and the topic is water. Considering the facts that water is second only to air as a basic need, and that half the world’s population have no access to clean potable water, wasting it would be wrong even if it weren’t so expensive. The Frugal Goddess will leave the politics to others and deal with ways of conserving and saving our precious water resources.

The Water Planet

The first thing to do is a water audit on your house. Are there any leaks in the plumbing system? How about outside faucets? These need to be fixed as soon as possible. Then think about ways in which you run water unnecessarily. Think about all the uses of water in your house. If your appliances are old they use more water than the new greener models. Find out about yours. By doing a little arithmetic you will soon see whether hand-washing your dishes is better than the machine. And remember to always fill your machine (dishwasher or clothes washer) to capacity. When it comes to car washing, do it less often, and go to a public wash. It may cost a couple of dollars, but the facility is regulated by law to keep the chemicals in the soap out of the watershed. And the actual water used is less then what would come out of your hose at home.

Then there is the bath versus shower controversy. Common wisdom says that the five minute shower is the most efficient use of water. But, if you prefer a bath, just run the water for five minutes from the low flow shower head, and step in. You haven’t used any more water that way, so don’t worry about it. Remember to turn the water off while you are brushing your teeth or washing your hair.

One area that needs discussion is toilet flushing. Depending on the circumstances you might not need to do it every time. This may be offensive to some, and if it is to you, just move on. But before you do, consider this: even a low-flow toilet uses about three gallons of clean water, an amount that for many of the world’s people is their total allotment for the day for a whole family. Yet in America we foul that amount and flush it without thinking multiple times in one day.

When it comes to drinking water, the whole western culture has been seduced by the lure of the plastic bottle. This comes at a huge expense to the environment. Plastic pollution is a very real problem, but the financial cost is enough to make tap water the better choice. If you are concerned about the quality of your tap water get a filter.

When using water for gardening and landscaping there are many ways to save. If you must have a lawn, make it a small one, surrounded by drought resistant plants and natives. For the food garden get a drip system installed, and consider rain water harvesting. The initial expense will be recovered quickly.

The most important tool at your disposal is knowledge. What is the name of your watershed? Where does your wastewater go once it is down the drain? What is in the water coming out of your tap and where does it come from? What is your personal and household water “footprint”? Frugality is more than just saving money. It is a principle of wasting as little as possible and being a good steward of the Earth’s resources.

Here are some links that may help:

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/water-footprint-calculator/

http://www.h2oconserve.org/home.php?pd=index two water footprint calculators

http://www.wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/indoor-tips/water-saving-products-indoor.php products to help you save water

http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/ the US government helps you save water

http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/bottled/ important information about bottled vs. tap

http://www.earthcrafthouse.com/documents/factsheets/27_rainwater-recovery-v2.pdf info on rainwater harvesting

http://www.harvesth2o.com/ a little more technical, but if you are serious about this technique it has good info.

http://cfpub.epa.gov/surf/locate/index.cfm find your watershed

http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watershed.html what is a watershed? Find out here.

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