My grandmother was a very frugal woman who often told me “if you will mind your pennies your dollars will mind themselves.” I hope to share here some of her wisdom and the wisdom of others I have learned over the years

Friday, April 5, 2013


It happens every spring.  We get a flash of warm weather, then some dreary cold days and of course the “crud” hits the household in one way or another—generally me.  I, of course, always recover but while I’m hacking my way back to the land of the breathing my thoughts turn toward the warmth of summer and the beckoning garden plot out back.

Oh, I’ve already heard that siren’s call earlier in the year—like January 1, but I’ve not really done anything about it.  Now as I cough and carry on I look over my budget for the coming year and feel panic rising at the cost of groceries and animal feed.  I know in my heart I’m probably over estimating the cost of those items, but the sheer numbers of it is enough to send me back to bed to pull the covers over my head.

So the natural segue for me is to think about gardening.  I have the area, I have seeds, or can buy them, and I have the time.  So why not?  Oh I could come up with a long string of why nots.  But the truth is the only main one is laziness on my part.  I’ve always got an excuse as to why not to get started, but there is always a work around that excuse too, if I’d just apply myself.

Acknowledging this publically is one way I am hoping to push myself to have the garden on my dreams this year.  I’ve decided to use Mind Your Pennies as a way to journal my path to what I hope will eventually turn into a year round garden. 

I invite you to come along on that path and to blaze a trail of your own.  Whether it’s an herb in a pot on a window sill, or a full blown garden let’s see how we can work together to help feed our families on a budget. 

Along the way I’ll list my excuses for not doing something, and how I dealt with those.  I’ll list reference materials, websites and give some recommendations. Or at least that is my plan.  

I would love to have your input along the way.

 So here goes.

EXCUSE #1: The birds are living in my garden, so I can’t start now, it will have to wait.  While it is a fact of life right now, it is also merely an excuse. REALITY CHECK: We have other places we could safely house the 18 geese each night IF we’d just do a little repair. 

EXCUSE #2: Gary is working overtime all weekend, so he can’t work on the other locations this weekend.  Sean and I are still recovering from our annual bout with the crud. Whine!  REALITY CHECK: There are other things I can be doing to prepare for gardening that do not necessarily require I be in the garden this weekend.  In fact most of those other things can be done sitting down and fairly still. 

So enough whining woman, get started!  Did I mention I often talk to myself?

So let’s look at those things I can do sitting in the warmth of my home and in fact at the computer while recovering from this stupid head cold. So pull up your favorite cuppa and let’s get started.

PLANNING:  Any good garden plan includes just that a plan. So let’s start with that.  Planning the garden.

All good plans start with a list.  Great, I’m good with lists, it’s the follow through I often have trouble with. So let’s go there. Just exactly WHAT do I WANT to raise.  Well I want to raise it all of course.  But that is where I generally get in trouble.  I over plan my garden area, and as a result end up with an uncontrollable jungle I am afraid to go into for fear of not seeing a snake until it is too late later in the summer. So much of what I plant goes to waste.  So I need to keep my urges under a reasonable control this year.

I’ll start out with my ideal garden list and then trim it down on paper to a realistic list as I go over the next several posts. 

So here’s what I’d ideally like to grow this year:

FRUITS: watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes (two types), blueberries, various other melons, gooseberries I love trying new fruits and veggies and Baker’sSeeds makes that all too easy.

VEGETABLES: green beans, garden peas, purple hull peas, black eyed peas, corn, snow peas, potatoes of various colors, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, turban squash, zucchini, crookneck squash, a variety of summer and winter squashes, cucumbers of various types,  Jerusalem artichokes, artichokes, asparagus, assorted beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, beets, radishes, lettuces, okra of various types, salad greens, onions of various types, spinach, rhubarb, tomatillos in various colors,

TOMATOES: Roma/paste, yellow, white, green, red, pink, slicers, grape, and cherry of various colors, lots and lots of tomatoes!

PEPPERS: Bell of a variety of colors and sizes, jalapeno, chipotle, poblano

HERBS: sage, oregano, marjoram, mints of various types, catnip, thyme, dill of a couple of types, stevia, cilantro, parsley of various types, chamomile, chives of various types,

EDIBLE FLOWERS: Pansies, Nasturtiums, violas, roses, calendula, sunflowers (for seeds)

Whew!  I’m already tired and I know I’ve missed some of the things I THINK I MUST have. 

REALITY CHECK: I only have a certain amount of basic garden space.  That is currently the following gardens (1 each) 24 x 24; 24 x 8; 24 x 4 (which currently have my grapevines in it) and 8 x 8.   I do have a lot of planters around the gardens edge inside the garden cage that herbs and similar items could go in.  I also have areas outside the garden that I could hang planters out of the reach of goose necks that could be used.

So my list is made—ha, ha.  Now how much of each should be planted to meet our needs. We are a family of three, plus I want to preserve foods for this coming winter and future needs, just in case I don’t make it to year round gardening.  Enough of that negative thought Jan, you must be positive you can do this AND do year round gardening (sorry had to take a time out to scold myself.).

So step #1 making the list, the subject of this post is sort of completed.

 I’ll end this post here by encouraging you to make your own ideal list and move on to step #2 where we’ll trim that list.

Jan who knows her list is far bigger than her gardening space and capabilities in OK

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