Friday, May 27, 2011

Growing Money

One of my schemes to generate + cash flow or bartering opps is to grow plants.
Legal plants otherwise this would be a blog about comparison shopping of bail bondsmen.
My idea isn't a new one just do a search on the tomato mortgage lifter.
My goal is to reimburse myself for all out of gardening related expenses, funds for next years gardening and provide goods from bartering.

The cost of gardening last year was $45.90 for veggie plants bought. I think Woodsrunner started a few from seed like his fav heirloom salad tomato Bloody Butcher. He's out running the streets otherwise I'd ask him. In any case half a C note was unacceptable then and more so now. 
So far I've spent just under $9 on a bag of organic bone meal & numerous 4 packs of discounted French Marigolds priced @ 33¢ each. Marigolds along with Nasturtiums are for bug control.
Fortunately Nasturtiums are popping up all over the garden from last years crop so I'm potting those volunteers for now. None of the Marigolds that I started from seed grew. 
I was bemoaning the fact that we started seeds late but with this excessively wet weather, unless the week of our last frost date is dry no one will be planting.

Thankfully all but a few of the heirloom tomatoes plants sprouted. I potted them up using the last of the black 4" nursery pots that hubby had collected through the years. Will start collecting plastic yogurt cups from f&f for next year plants. For now when it's not raining I keep them on the garden cart so I can move them from one sunny spot to the next.

All total there is about 5 maybe 5 1/2 flats of tomato seedlings that I can offer for sale or barter. So far I have an assorted 6 pack promised to the guy who lets us store my tent trailer on his land. I also have some ear marked for my gf the coupon queen. Also a neighbor down the street has fancy pepper seedlings I want to trade with.

Cherokee Purple - my fav great taste, indeterminate, 12 oz. fruits, matures late season.
Valencia - cool weather tom good flavor, orange, 10 oz fruits, indeterminate, matures mid season. 
Black Sea Man Russian -purple-black intense flavor, skin melts in mouth, determinate potato leaf, mid season.
Bloody Butcher - salad tom deep red good flavor canner, 4 oz. fruits, indeterminate, early season (55 days).
Howard German - paste tomato with good flavor, indeterminate, 5 oz. fruit, matures mid season.
Mr. Stripey - 12 oz yellow& red striped beefsteak, mild flavor, indeterminate, late season.
San Marzano an Italian paste for canning.
Yellow Pear - used to make preserves, indeterminate, 1 oz., fruits in clusters, mild sweet taste.

Burpees Long Keeper - $3.25 for a pack of 13 seeds of which 5 didn't sprout & 2 died after sprouting. This is my first attempt @ growing and I have no idea how they taste. The idea behind this non-heirloom tomato is that you harvest fruit just before last frost then store wrapped in a cool dark place for fresh eating 6 to 12 weeks later.

In addition to tomatoes we also have a flat of cucumbers, Swiss Chard Rhubarb variety, and a third of a flat each of cantaloupe & muskmelon. Had to replant wax beans.  

Tomato seedlings moved to a cold frame hubby cobbled together due becoming water logged. As soon as it stops raining I'll put them out to catch a bit of breeze. Worried 'bout tomato blight.

Pulled what was left of the salad fixings growing in this frame so I could keep our stash of seedlings safe. 
In the front are 6 Burpees Long Keepers, Marigolds, a lone surviving Stevia plant (red headed step son da cat), and San Marzano. Paper coffee cups far upper right corner holds cukes & a few melons. 
Planning on growing melons vertical.
Purple Onions collected from other beds & replanted here. As soon as this area is empty I'll plant it with San Marzano, marigolds, basil & carrots. 

Rain rain go away, come back in August

~~ pelenaka ~~

Friday, May 20, 2011


Apparently the gods realized I have moolah because everything on the homestead is breaking.
It started a few days ago and is gaining speed.
  1. My oven died. And of course one only realizes it when one is ready to bake - in this case a two loaves of rye bread (still have 1/2 pound of Easter ham) and a few pies.
  2. I broke my lap top. don't ask I don't want to talk 'bout it. Suffice to say that apparently I can't fix everything. Hubby's net book has a virus that he can't fix so he's seeking professional help (we'll both be offline for a while). 
  3. My bicycle has a flat.
I don't no which to cry over first.
My circa 1949 Hot Point or the fact that I won't have access to the world and all that wonderful knowledge. Or that there's no fresh baked rye bread.
Or that in about another month & half I'll be broke. That what is left of income tax money will after paying the car insurance, co-pay for daughters wisdom tooth extraction (she vetoed a home procedure), and the down payment for her orthodontics, the cushion that I've been using to keep the homestead afloat will be gone.
Time to be gainfully employed.

On the backside the other half of my Amazon order came - 12 jars of Fisher brand creamy peanut butter, 28 oz. each. Expiration date is 07/07/11 but according to that website I wrote about in my last post the peanut butter is good for another 2 years - 2013.
12 jars is pretty much a year's worth stocked for free via swagbucks
I'm looking at buying a bulk order powdered milk next. Followed by tuna, then hmm what else can't we produce nor live without ? Coffee, creamer, mayo ...what other shelf stable items would u buy with free money ?
Yeah say it with me ... canning lids.

Spent yesterday in the backyard potting up seedlings for both our use and my upcoming plant sale. I also hope to have enough for bartering opps. Just as I was washing up to get ready to pick Violets for jelly it rained again.
I won't complain because the few inches in my cellar is nothing to complain about when u think about all the flooding tasking place down south.
This weekend is suppose to be dry so besides doing laundry (clothes line) I'll be working outside.
I might have a line on permission to forage for plants on a few city lots.
I also need to cobble together a solar oven. I picked Rhubarb from the garden and coupled it with a can of crushed pineapple out of the pantry. Gonna try and bake a pie using solar.

Pray that I can pay the computer guy in pie err pray that I can build a decent solar oven so I can offer pies.
Geez I need a hankie.
Did I mention my bike has a flat ?

~~ pelenaka ~~

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Greased the budget

Greased the budget a.k.a. free food.
I've been doing the swagbucks like crazy so I could convert them into free Amazon gift cards. My big plan was to use the accumulated gift cards for gift giving and other items that are on our wish list.
Then I found the manger's section on about the same time that I realized I only had half a container of lard and had an up coming pie orders. Did I mention my pocketbook is empty ?
Not to mention what's a Puerto Rican cook with out a supply of manteca.
Amazon charged $1.03 per pound for 15 pounds, no s&h. 6 tubs of lard Armour brand, made in the U.S.A.
No, it's not organic. USDA inspected for all that's worth.
I didn't have to rearrange our schedule so I could snag the family car, nor convince a gf to tag along out to the store to grab this deal. Actually I know that this deal isn't out @ my local grocery stores so that's a mute point.
I'm unsure about the carbon foot print of ordering food online other than the fact I didn't have to commute to purchase the lard. The lard after all is shipped to the store where I would then have to drive over to buy it.
Entire order was packaged in recyclable materials which have made their way to the recycle bin already.
Anyone care to give me the low down on this ?

Expiration date or the best by date is listed as Sep 28 2012.
However after researching on the website StillTasty the lard has an extra year of shelf life. Good to know because other than pie crusts, and making refried beans I don't really use allot of lard in our everyday cooking. Like I wrote, I'm Puerto Rican and we tend to suffer from high cholesterol.

I'm happy about dropping my cost per pie down due to the free lard. Add in the deal I got on Gold Metal flour for $1 per 5 lbs. bag, I think on fruit pies at least I've got the cost to around $1.50. That depends of course on  if I was able to can pie filling for cheap. I really need to do a price point calculation on my pies.

The other half of my order arrives in a few days.

Don't ya just love free food ?

~~ pelenaka ~~

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Violet Jelly

One of my many Spring activities has been to generate plants for the plant sale I will be having in June.
As you can see I've collected a large number of Violets from the side yard which is shady and moist.
I potted them in 2" plastic pots that I'd been collecting for a few years. I must have over well over 25 or 30. Whatever doesn't sell I'll use as a ground cover next to the foundation.Years ago I had a bed of Strawberries that did fair but now the landscape has changed with trees that give more shade in the side yard which greatly decreased my harvest.
The other pots to the far right are Swiss Chard. One or two 5" pots of Purple Cone Flowers and a few pots of Forget - Me - Nots.
Out of view is Yellow Wax Beans.
In the foreground is Marigolds that didn't sprout.

I was also planning on making Violet Jelly both with these and others that are growing in areas around my hood. But after checking my handy dandy Wild Edible Food Cards I'm not so sure. Apparently only Common Violets are edible.
Quick swagbucks search lead me to several websites that agreed.
Unfortunately I can't find a pic of a Wild Violet to compare. I'm pretty sure what I have growing in my yard is the common variety but still I'm uneasy.

Wish my ex was nearby for a quick taste test.

I'm really confused about telling the two types of Violets apart.
I really wanted to make up a few batches of jelly for both myself & gift giving. I'm trying to be a good girl and get a head start my making my holiday gifts, 223 days left til Christmas.

I can tell this wild food foraging isn't gonna be easy.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yo Mama

This was my Mother's day gift from Woods, a deck of Wild Cards by Author Linda Runyon.
Picked them up @ a gun for $7 and I gotta say this gift made me pretty happy.
I've been wanting to learn more about identifying, preparing, and eating wild foods. While we have a few excellent books in our urban homestead library such as the Peterson Field Guides Edible Wild Plants, these handy dandy little deck of cards I'll actually use. There are laminated so I can touch them with dirty hands. Small enough to take with. Included was a chain so I won't misplace one or two or three of the playing cards.
One side has a picture of the plant, it's common name, & Latin name along with a more detailed drawing showing flower & leaf pattern. There's also a map that shows growing areas in North America.
The back of the card lists alias, cautions, edible as in which portion of the plant, characteristics, uses, and hints.
I also got a bouquet of pink roses for my kitchen table.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Vinegar Run

Gf & I did a run to Save A Lot Store because we had a $5 off $25 purchase coupon.
We went there expressly for white vinegar since both us it for cleaning/laundry & cooking/canning. Unfortunately there was only 13 in house so we each got 6 gallons @ $2.19 each. Same as Wally World but anytime we can save $ & not support the whole Walmart disease then we do.
While there I also bout 11 one pound bags of dried pinto beans that were on sale for 79¢ each. Haven't seen those prices in three years or more.
I also bought a package of split chicken breasts meaty (3 breasts Purdue) for $3.
Couple Hersey's Dark Chocolate bars one for each of us because we deserved a treat.
After all was said & done as in 8.00% tax of 11¢ I ended up shelling out $21.32 after the $5 coupon.

So I either got 2 gallons of vinegar & almost a bag of beans for free or I got 6 bags of beans for free & 26 cents, or a package of chicken & two chocolate bars & change, or ...

Did we think that SAL was cheaper than Aldis, no but the choices are greater. Such as vinegar in gallon jugs.
My main goal was to score vinegar and if they had had enough on hand I would have bought $25 worth.
Plan B was to then see if there was any deals on meat, hence the package of chicken.
Plan C was to score any unadvertised deals that would yield the most. Pintos did the deal as I can both can them to provide a quick, healthy, & easy component to our diet or pack them up for long term storage.
Who knows what the price of dried beans will be in a year as now locally they run over a buck a pound.

If I'm able to score more $5 off coupons then I'll go back for more vinegar and what ever manufactures coupons I can get for items that they carry which isn't very broad. We did notice that they had Ball canning lids $2 sumting  but only wide mouth. Off brand of regular pectin was $1.

~~ pelenaka ~~


Congratulations Tonya.

Sorry I was late in getting this post out everyone.
I was @ a OGO party (Osama got Obama'd) celebrating our closure to a tragic event.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to have a good friend who happens to be the 2nd cousin of the neighbor who gave me those jars & Squeezo, pick the winner. 98 and still very active, she was in the middle of a resident council meeting. My fault I should have made an appointment. In her day that was how visiting was done. Unless she was out on her porch ...

How's everyone doing on collecting jars, rings & lids ? Did u sign up for the Food Preservation Online Class ?

~~ pelenaka ~~