April 2, 2017

Weather: 60, sunny and damp.

The last two weeks have been a strange pattern of warm days and cold or wet days. Perfect weather to be sick.

Thus I have focused my energies on planning and gathering supplies.

Freecycle gave me 2 lbs of sunflower seeds and 10 lbs of safflower seeds. I have posted on sites and have been mailing out safflower seeds to all who wanted them. I have started a few post of them as well in the Butterfly Garden. I still have 8lbs left. The sunflower seeds went into the feeders and were gone in two days. I had a yard full of Finches and Cardinals. There was a ruckus. Now I have random feathers, a pair of wings connected by a shoulder bone (deposited nicely into my truck bed) and a nest of Crows (or Ravens) in the top of a 20 foot oak tree by my house. I might move my parking space from under there if they plan on leaving me any more gifts.

One of the aspects of being frugal is to utilize everything you have, before buying something. This can lead to a hodge podge of decorating items.  I have used commercial seed planters for many years, and they all end up deteriorating after a few years. This year I decided to not spend money getting another one. More on this later.

Another important aspect of being frugal is knowing when to give up on an item. An old tea pot with a rusting bottom can be used as a watering can for a season, and then be a decorative planter or a cigarette bud holder. Plastic watering cans will develop holes over the years as the plastic wears out but can be taped up or still used. Unless the leaks are so plentiful that you spill more water along the way to the garden then you do at the garden. Hoses that have sprung leaks or have been run over by the mower, can be taped or turned into a watering system, but are not really practical. It is best to rebuy or find something else after a while. For example, we had a 30 foot hose that got run over multiple times and is now a 8 foot hose. It cannot reach my gardens at all. After struggling with water buckets for two years I have finally caved and bought a new garden hose. The old one is going up on freecycle for someone with a small garden to use. Taking a  day to go through your supplies and see what is nonusable, or needs to be repurposed is a necessary task to being a frugal gardener.

Another important aspect is making sure your tools are working. It is important to make sure your mower and edgers are tuned, your hand tools are sharpened and the handles ( if you have wood) are sanded and sealed before you need to use them. There is nothing like breaking a rake while using it and having to waste time either jury-rigging it to finish the task or having to go and replace it that day.

Finally, check your area for critters. Local animals can be a pain for gardening. Fences are great for people, but deer jump over, gophers and rats dig under and The Furry Overlords climb them.  A layer of rocks on both sides of the fence line will deter most diggers, stakes will prevent deer from jumping around, and lots of feeders far, far, far away from where you intend on planting will distract the Furry Overlords from coming over for a bit. If you find holes, be careful about investigating them. Wild animal bites are no joke. Take pictures and observe them to see what comes out. Check for tracks. Do some research and call animal control if you think it might be rats.  Other than that, LEAVE THEM ALONE. We invaded and took over their habitats, and now we need to share space with them. Careful planning can allow for cohabitation and a full garden.

Frugal does not mean cheap.

That being said, you can get garden tools & supplies at yard sales, but unless you know how to repair them, buy with caution. Bargain down the prices of the older ones if you can, and expect to need to replace them at the end of the season. Straw brooms are a good buy, no matter the condition. If the are too short to sweep with, you can always use them as stakes for your tomatoes or vine plants. Just bury the straw part in the ground and plant around it. It will take a season or two to deteriorate, but the straw helps aerate the ground and acts as a filter for water.

When buying supplies at yard sales, be careful about seeds and dirt. If the person is selling at their house, look at what they have in the yard plant wise & ask them why they are not using the items. It might be the wrong type, they might just not need it or it is too old. Seeds that are too old can be put in a butterfly garden or wild area. It will grow or not. Old dirt will depend on what is wrong with it. Buy with caution.  Some times it will have bugs, other times mold or it will not be viable anymore. Fill dirt is just dirt with no nutrients and might come from construction sites. If you are wanting to be organic, you need to know where it is coming from. I am not sure of how long it takes to revitalize an area, but if a factory was in the area for 20 years, I would say that the dirt from that area will not be good for at least 20 years. It depends on what was made there, how long it was open, how long it had been shut down and what is growing wild there. So do your research. I’m sure someone has a chart on this somewhere, but it is good to have at least a general idea.

Frugal does not mean being stupid.

Anyway, as it is a warm-ish day, I am heading out to check my fence line for critter signs. Grab daylight when you can.



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