Home Family Art Homemade Frugal Living Travel

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Today I learned a valuable lesson

Do not put a special day on the calendar if not prepared to fully celebrate that day.

Today is Superhero Day.  We only intended to play superhero music and movies but we were badgered all day to make capes!

I put the onerous on husband to make the capes because I'm working full time and he knows how to use the sewing machine better.  He just ignored them until they stopped asking.  Somehow they still managed to make me feel guilty for not providing capes.

Happy Superhero Day!

PS:  In writing this quick post, I learned that Superhero is one word, that really bugs me, I feel like it should be two words.

Update - youngest put on Batman jammies, because it's Superhero Day y'all!  She found a way to celebrate without capes!! 

Friday, April 17, 2020

Week 5 - Quarantine Life

We're at the end of week five, and it's starting to feel like the new normal.  I've read that if you do anything consistently for at least three weeks it will start to feel normal, that's usually in reference to diets and exercise but I think it applies here. 

I got into a rut of ordering things online because of repeated warnings to stay home except to shop for groceries so once we achieved our two week food run, we would stay inside with the exception of working in the yard or walks with the dog.  This week I finally broke quarantine by going to two garden stores with a face mask and hand sanitizer to buy garden supplies.  I just got so tired of searching online for stuff, then waiting for it to arrive.  I'm still waiting for most of my Etsy seeds to arrive and both garden stores were full of seeds!   The only run on seeds is through online suppliers.  I feel a little sheepish because I paid 3X for strawberry seeds which are hard enough to grow and I could have spent the same amount on 3 nice plants.  Some of the items ordered are unique and not in local stores so I feel okay about the specialty peppers, tomatillos, and purple sweet potatoes. 

It's a tough time in that we're being shouted at every day by someone on Facebook or the media to stay home, flatten the curve, yet we've been at this for five long weeks with no end in sight.  We have important things to work towards such as our summer garden that is not easy to do whilst waiting for online orders to trickle in.  Why is our garden important?  We use a canned or freezer item every week throughout fall, winter, and spring.  By summer we've run out of most items, this week we ran out of salsa! 

Our two week shopping trips are going well and it's a trend I might continue after this is over.  Pre Covid-19 I found that I was going to the store twice a week for extra milk and forgotten items.  Now I create a two week menu with a thorough grocery list that includes necessary ingredients plus staple food items.  I think it's great discipline to be satisfied with what is in the pantry/freezer/fridge.  We are so fortunate to have the ability to store food abundantly. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Seedling Update

Peppers  (shown below) - I gave up on these until husband suggested they need more heat.  After checking online, they need 85 degrees to germinate so I put them into a disposable cake container to help boost the heat and put them next to a window that gets the most sun.  Currently waiting for something to happen.

Beefsteak Tomatoes (shown below) - awesome progress, next step is to begin fertilizer once a week.  Around 4/19 we will check the roots and if they are progressing nicely we will replant them and back under the grow light until all danger of frost has past.  I've been following this video for reference.  Right now my only concern is to cut out the least performing seedlings because they all look great!

Pintos (shown below) - all 8 have sprouted!  You can see the first bean in the back of this photo with the tomatoes, I know the others have sprouted because I found roots on all and replanted them.  I had started 6 in an egg carton so they needed to move.  I used the egg carton so I could fit more plants on the plant shelf but once I have actual sprouts they become quickly too small and hard to keep moist due to size.

Mystery Plants (shown below) - these could be pumpkin, butternut squash or acorn.  They sprouted in our compost bin and why not take advantage of a viable seedling!  

Butternut squash (shown below) - after further research, I've learned they need 95 degrees to sprout!  That's not going to happen in our 70 degree room, so I put them in with the compost that's grown other sprouts.  Even though it's 50 outside, the heat builds up inside this can.  They should germinate in one week.  Actually this compost can is ready to be sifted and spread over the garden but we'll get to that once I'm finished using it for a temporary greenhouse.

Roma Tomatoes (shown below) - have finally sprouted a tiny bit of growth.  I've moved them up closer to the light as they look quite skinny.

Lettuce, Red Bell Peppers, Carrots and Basil (shown below) - absolutely zero progress, all planted on 3/30.  Time to actually do some research and figure out what temps these guys need to germinate.
  • Lettuce - need 70 degrees - guess I'll leave them in place for now
  • Red Bell Peppers - 65 - 85 degrees - might be a tad bit cold at 70, will put them in with the other peppers greenhouse
  • Carrots - need 55 to 75 degrees, maybe it's too warm?  Have read it takes 10-12 days but some varieties can take three weeks.  Guess I'll leave these guys alone for now.
  • Basil - need 73 to 81 so definitely too cool for them in the basement so putting them in with the peppers greenhouse
  • Zucchini - need 70, just started these a few days ago so I guess this is ideal temperature

I check on the seedlings once a day.  I add water if the soil is dry.  Otherwise I've left them alone since planting.  Today is the most activity I've done since planting to check on germination temps and make adjustments - all which should have been done first but no harm done.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Indoor Seedling Set Up

In prior years, I have done a few seeds with mixed results - example last year I couldn't get butternut squash to survive but the flowers did well.  For the bulk of our garden we usually went straight to Lowes, bought the plants and popped them into the ground.  Easy peasy.  This year, in an effort to save money, we're growing everything from seed.  It is definitely a challenge but fortunately we do have some equipment already bought and set up.  This is a good thing because I just checked on grow lights from Lowes and they are already sold out.  I was hoping to get a second shelf going but looks like I'm going to have to make do with what I've got!

Here is our set up:

We use a plant light from Lowes that cost $39.99.  We bought it three years ago and use it in January to kick start our amaryllis' followed by vegetable seedlings in March and then I'll do flower seedlings after we plant the veggies outside.  We've attached the grow light to heavy duty wire shelves that cost around $30.  We have a round thermometer that says the room is 70 degrees. 

We bought two sets of Jiffy-Strip pots in early March, and since we haven't been going as often to stores we've used whatever else we have available to plant in.  Paper egg cartons, seedling containers from past years, all sitting in paint roller trays to prevent water from getting onto the floor.  Pop-cycle or craft sticks work great for writing the seed name. 

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Victory Garden 2020

We've gardened for six years and this year we are calling it our Victory Garden, inspired from the gardens people had in WWI and WWII.  Gardens give hope and inspiration in times of stress and financial need.  I guess many others had the same idea because we've been reading this week that stores are selling out, sure enough our favorite Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has a message up that they are not accepting any new orders.

We've switched to these locations:

Filaree Garlic Farm - https://www.filareefarm.com/

  • Ordered - 12 purple profusion sweet potatoes $22.75 (more than I would have paid on Southern Exposure but this is one of my favorite garden items so it's worth it to me)

SeedGeeks on Etsy - https://www.etsy.com/shop/SeedGeeks?ref=shop_sugg

  • Ordered:  red onions, tomatillos, sweet banana peppers and jalapenos $14.98
Natures Potions Ltd on Etsy - https://www.etsy.com/shop/NaturesPotionsLtd
  • Anahiem Green Peppers $4.25
Total spent $48.15

The following seedlings are started based on our own collection:

  • 2 Poblano Peppers and 2 chili cubanelle peppers - from seeds we dried, but none have come up so I've given up on these
  • 8 beefsteak tomatoes - all are doing very well
3/30/20 - nothing has popped up yet as of today
  • 12 Roma tomatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 8 pinto beans 
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 basil
  • 2 lettuce
  • 8 butternut squash
  • We found sprouts in the compost bin from past squash, not sure which yet.  Trans-planted the healthiest looking plants to sit under our grow light.
I asked my cousin for Zucchini seeds and she took some of our Roma Tomatoes, Lettuce and Spinach.

Last year we started our garden in May yet despite starting early in March I'm completely astonished at how fast seeds are disappearing from stores.  It's great to see so many want to grow things, I only hope they are not disappointed.  Some soils do not have enough nutrients to grow things well the first year, there is a balance of enough rain needed and then there are the bugs and critters trying to get their share.  I wish everyone the best of luck and hope it's a trend that continues long beyond this current virus craze.  I personally love gardening during my lunch break.  It's a welcome change from sitting at a desk.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Week 3 Quarantine Life

On Monday, the governor of Maryland issued a stay at home order for the month of April.  For some reason the last three Monday's have been extremely stressful.  Work starts out rough, new announcements are made, stark reality sets in and the entire day just feels crummy.

The teachers at our kids school were stressed because they had been coming in on Monday's to prepare items for students to pick up, it's less than ten teachers there at a time.  They suddenly panicked over the new order because most were not set up to fully transition to working from home.  We acquired a fish tank, a bunch of plants, a plant shelf and some bags of food that no one was going to eat.  Our house got suddenly really crowded with many bags of stuff that still needs put away.

We then went to mom's house to pick up a stand for the fish tank and say our goodbyes for the month.

The stay at home announcement ended taking kids to school each morning and providing that much needed quiet time where everyone stays on a schedule.  We went back to having coffee in bed for an hour each morning and slowly easing through the day.  Home work was done sporadically throughout the entire day with at least one kid not being done yet.  I politely suggested to husband we needed to get back to a more structured schedule next week.  It's either that or I ignore them all and go about my day as I'm still working full time from home.

Tuesday we did a big grocery shop for two weeks for ourselves and mom.  We tried following the steps from a video on YouTube suggesting we wipe everything down that comes into the house and quarantine the dry goods in the basement for three days.  It was an exhausting amount of work and I didn't get to work until after lunch from first cleaning a huge area in the kitchen to put the groceries, making room in the fridge for groceries, then cleaning the groceries, then cleaning up the area after the groceries.  We later read something from a scientist that it wasn't entirely necessary so I don't think we'll be doing all that again.  Some things make sense like immediately throw away all the plastic bags, quarantine the dry goods for three days, but wiping everything down was just too much.  I'd need more evidence that it's necessary before doing that again.

All the fish died on Tuesday that had come home with the fish tank except for the snails and catfish so we left the tank running.

Wednesday and Thursday - no memories, no idea what happened both days.  I guess I worked and everyone just sorta lounged through whatever they did.

Friday was Violette's birthday!  I had to fight an overwhelming amount of sadness over not being able to invite her friends over, have mom over, get balloons, decorations, etc.  We made every effort to make it the nicest birthday we could offer and she really did seem to love her homemade cake and presents which were bought through Amazon!