Monthly Archives: February 2015

Making newspaper seed pots

Seed orders are in (at least the first two rounds), which means, it is about seed starting time. I like to start in the middle of March, which means a few weeks to get things prepared. The seeds have yet to be delivered, but hey, let’s get started on the pots anyway.

I have tried different ways to start seeds. I have bought peat pots, little circles of peat that go into styrofoam, which then the styrofoam floats so the peat doesn’t get waterlogged, dixie cups, etc. All of these have the problem of: you have to buy them. They are also a little hard to get the correct water amount to the plants. I want to be able to water from the bottom and let the wicking action of the soil bring water up to the roots while they are inside. The newspaper gets soaked this way, but it is strong enough to hold on for the 6-8 weeks I need them too. I also don’t want to disturb any roots when I plant them, so I don’t want to have to take them out of the pot they were growing in. And, they cannot be root bound.

The answer: newspaper seed pots. Water from the bottom and you can control how wet the soil gets. Plant them out (after hardening off) without doing anything other than tearing any newspaper off that reaches above the soil line so it doesn’t wick moisture away into the atmosphere, and tear off the small bottom circle of newspaper at the bottom. No roots are disturbed this way. And, the roots will grow through the newspaper when in the ground and the newspaper will disintegrate by the end of the growing season. (We just pulled some spent tomato plants from the garden last week, and there was no trace of newspaper around the roots. My brother commented on how mom’s tomato plants didn’t have nice, big, expansive roots like mine did. She bought hers from the store, and they were in peat pots.) These are large enough for my purposes that I don’t usually have to transplant to bigger pots later on, either.

Also: you don’t have to buy a tool to make the seed pots. I’ve found a way to use newspaper and regular tape left over from wrapping Christmas presents.

First, the newspaper. Black and white, color, it doesn’t matter. All the ink is safe to use. I had a pile of the smaller newspapers around, but fortuitously, the smaller ones are exactly half the size of the regular sized ones, so one more cut on the regularly sized ones will get you down to the smaller size, and you can follow along from there.

I use clear scotch tape. It disintegrates in the ground with no trace.

Then, all you need is a form. I use a soy sauce bottle. It seems to be the perfect size. And scissors.
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One thing to remember: this is not fine furniture. You are creating pots to hold dirt and will be gone in 6 months, never to be seen again. Don’t get too hung up on what they look like. If they can hold dirt and can stand up with a little help with their friends, they are fine.

I will be putting these in a pizza box inserted inside a plastic garbage sack. I’m just making the pots now, but that is where they will eventually end up, so they might as well go in there.

So you take your newspaper and fold it in half. Hey look, that’s my cousin on the front page!
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Make sure the edges line up.
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Cut down the fold:
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Fold in half the other direction and cut down the fold. You should have sizes about like this:
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I use two sheets at a time. When you get done cutting, half of them will have two sheets still connected by a fold, and half of them will be completely cut apart. Use the folded ones as is, and use two of them if they are cut apart completely.

Grab your soy sauce bottle and wrap the newspaper around it. It is up to you to decide how tall to make it, but you need to be able to completely fold and close off the bottom, so take that into account. This “Good Housekeeping” icon makes a good measuring line. For the folded ones, I put the folded side on the measuring line. The free ones, it doesn’t matter. Put one piece of tape on this seam.
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Turn the bottle upside down and rest it on the table. We are going to fold the bottom. Find the seam, and push the seam across the bottom of the bottle.
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On the right side of that fold, push in again across the bottom of the bottle.
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Then, on the left side of the original fold, push in again across the bottom of the bottle:
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One more fold.
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And then, one piece of tape secures this. I fold it specifically this way so the tape both holds the fold down and tapes together the seam on the side.
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Slide it off the bottle, and you are ready for your next one. I did all these (64 of them) in about 45 minutes last night, watching TV with DH. And now they are just waiting to be filled with potting soil and planted.
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Don’t forget to wash your hands!
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It heals what ails ya

DH has been feeling pretty under the weather for the past couple of weeks with a head cold and stuffy sinuses, and I had a late meeting tonight after work…so it was a perfect night for some homemade chicken soup. Oh yes, a fast meal ready in, oh, I’d say 20 minutes.

Of course, I did most of the prep for this meal weeks ago. I had bought 4 2 lb packages of chicken quarters when they were on sale for $.98 / lb, boiled all of them and canned up the meat and broth. Cooking and canning the meat – PRESSURE CANNER ONLY!!! – took a Saturday afternoon (ended up with 6 pints canned and 1 pint we ate that night), and then Sunday, after church, I scraped off the chicken fat that congealed at the top of the pot (it was in the fridge all night) and then canned 14 pints of broth. And then made schmaltz out of the chicken fat. No waste here!

Last time I bought carrots and celery, I bought two packages of each, peeled all the carrots, washed the celery, and then used my food processor to cut all the carrots and celery into rings. Those went into ziploc bags, with 1 cup carrots and 1 cup celery in each bag, and into the freezer.
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So, making dinner tonight was just a matter of chopping up an onion. Used the schmaltz to sauté the onion in a sauce pan, then added the carrots and celery. I would have added garlic, but I was out. I let that sauté a while, and then just dumped in 1 pint of broth, then measured out 1 pint of water, added the pint of chicken, and salt and pepper (quite a bit of salt and pepper, actually. More than a few shakes). That’s it! I brought it up to a boil and let it lightly boil for about 10 minutes, and supper was ready. Whole40*, even.

DH ate a few bites and said, “Oh, that’s good. I am feeling much better!” I agree.
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Homemade Chicken Soup
1 chopped onion
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 pint home canned broth
1 pint water
1 pint home canned chicken
salt / pepper

Sauté onion, carrots and celery. When fragrant, add broth, water and canned chicken. Boil 10 minutes.

*I’m doing a Whole 30 for Lent, so I’ve been calling it a Whole 40.

Plastic white stars and shiny crescent moons

As I make the rounds of my favorite blogs, I see mention of different herbs, essential oils, magic green smoothies and other witches’ brews that can help with infertility problems. I’ve asked before, how does this or that interact with these medications I’m taking? Does it enhance or negate the effects of Metformin or d-Chiro Inositol? Does it enhance or negate the effects of Femara/Progesterone/HCG at strategic points of my cycle? Does it help or hurt PCOS? Do you take them all month? The 2 to 2.5 to 3 weeks (depends on the month) before ovulation? Only after ovulation? What exactly should be done here?

Inevitably, the answer is “ask your doctor.” Like a doctor will prescribe you essential oils or herbs, or even know what the interaction will be. I’ve been told to find a Naturopath. Looked for one, and found one 5 hours away. Not practical.

While browsing around amazon the other day to buy some Pre-Seed (yet another tool in the toolkit that isn’t sold anywhere within an hour of me), the “also bought” section showed some pre-conception tea. It is a mix of herbs, red rasberry leaf, red clover, nettle, alfalfa, chamomile, oatstraw, peppermint and dandelion leaf, and I thought I would try it. Since starting yet another Whole 40 (you know, for Lent), I can’t really drink anything other than water. Caffeine is a no-no, juice is a no-no, awesome, dark, full-bodied beer is a no-no, pretty much herbal teas and water are it.

It shipped out, and the same questions came over me. What if this month we actually succeeded? Should I start drinking it yet, or wait until the 2ww is over? Will it mess up my blood results? Is it going to taste awful?

I don’t know yet. I decided to wait.

But I did get the package, and in it, along with the loose leaf tea, came this:
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“This baby dust is Special and is being sent to you hoping it will help your fondest dreams come true.”

Dafuq is that? I know, it is something cute little 20 somethings who decide they want a baby, come off the pill, wait 3 months, try some hippy yuppy crap, and conceive in the next cycle find totes adorbs.

If only I’d known. If only I had realized the power of plastic white stars. Of silver and blue shiny crescents. Of glitter. BABY stamped out of blue and pink. Why, these past 7 years would have been totally different! We would have had to move into bigger accommodations twice over to handle all the babies spewing out of my vagina. 8 shots a month, half of them in oil which leave giant welts on your ass…and that’s just in the trying stage? Why no! The glitter is specially formulated to provide all you need in the hormonal department! A vaginal ultrasound every month to make sure that your ovaries aren’t being overstimulated by the high doses of Femara? Nope again. The twinkle off the stars will peer deep into your abdominal cavity and make sure only one egg is released at a time.

Ugh. I know it was intended as a nice gesture. It just utterly failed in this house.

Seed orders in!

This year, I have decided to cut down on varieties and some of the vegetables that “have” to go into modern gardens and fall back to what we will really eat. When I think of last year’s garden and what things we definitely need more of, green beans top the list. I canned 25 pints of green beans last year, and each load out of the canner only lasted about 2 weeks. Then strawberries (only one bowl made it to the house…Boobock ate the rest out in the garden), sweet potatoes, potatoes, and large tomatoes (for salsa, crushed tomatoes, etc). Definitely need less zucchini/yellow squash, winter squash and cherry tomatoes (omg, what was I thinking planting 6 of these?) No kohlrabi, radishes, or dill. Fewer eggplant, though still need some. Same amounts of okra, beets, cilantro, onions, though all yellow onions instead of yellow, white and red onions. 2 jalapeños and the rest the giant sweet peppers I found through Gurney’s, instead of three or four different varieties of sweet peppers.

Last year I ordered everything from Gurney’s, except I ordered one winter squash from Jackie Clay, and traded some seeds with a blogger in Florida. I was counting on using those seeds again…but I can’t find them anywhere! dun-dun-dun. I swore I put them in the refrigerator, but nope, can’t find them.

I waited for Gurney’s to put out a good deal. Usually they put out “buy $50 save $25″ or “buy $100 save $50″, etc, but I missed that sale. I waited for another sale, and today, I got an email about a one day, 50% off sale.

I was able to capitalize on that sale by having my list ready. I listed everything I want to plant this year and categorized it by who I wanted to buy it from, either Gurney’s, Jackie Clay, the local greenhouse, or from neighbors (yay neighbors!)

I also talked to my mom and asked her what seeds she needed. We can share the seeds and split the costs.

I decided to get the following from Jackie Clay, at seedtreasures.com:

  1. Provider Bush Green Beans (x2)
  2. Detroit Dark Red Beets
  3. Goliath Broccoli
  4. Late Flat Dutch Cabbage
  5. Homemade Pickles Cucumbers
  6. Bill Bean Tomatoes
  7. Alpine Tomatoes
  8. Box Car Willie Tomatoes
  9. Hopi Pale Gray Squash

She sells seeds for $2.50 a pack and then $3.00 shipping, no matter how many you order. There is no order form…so I wrote it out longhand and sent a check.

From Gurney’s, I got this:

  1. Purple Pod Pole Beans (x2)
  2. Improved Golden Wax Beans (x2)
  3. Black Magic Kale
  4. Buttercrunch Lettuce
  5. Waltham Butternut Squash
  6. Stonehead Hybrid Cabbage
  7. Cilantro
  8. Early Sprint Burpless Hybrid Slicing Cucumber
  9. Eclipse Hybrid Eggplant
  10. Gurney’s Gumbo Hybrid Okra
  11. Yellow Ebenezer Onion Sets (x6)
  12. Double Delight Hybrid Sweet Peppers
  13. Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow Pea
  14. Vegetable Spaghetti Winter Squash
  15. Winter Squash Primevera Hybrid (spaghetti squash)
  16. Golden Rave Tomatoes
  17. Multipik Hybrid Summer Squash
  18. Black Magic Zucchini Summer Squash
  19. Gurney’s Primo Jalapeño Hybrid Hot Pepper

The cantaloupe was $6.99 a pack (!) so we decided to get that locally, and then also, I am going to get sweet corn, strawberries and sweet potatoes at the local greenhouse.

And finally, I asked on the local buy/sell/trade facebook page if anyone had horseradish they would be willing to dig up, and had someone say they could share with me. (An aside: I told my dad that I was going to put horseradish in, and he said “If your Grandpa Ernie was here today, he would kiss you!” Grandpa loved hot, spicy things, and I am so glad my dad told me that…) I will try to get the roots in the next couple of weeks so I can plant them soon.

I was also offered some seed potatoes from my dad’s cousin, and I will certainly take those as well.

All told, I have spent about $100 on seeds. Which may sound like a lot, but, let’s consider it first of all a 6 month hobby, and second, let’s consider the food output from all these seeds, and third, let’s consider that some of these seed prices will be cut in half when I share with my mom, so yeah, out of pocket it is kind of steep, but long term worth it.

Now to find a place to start the seeds, since my previous years’ spot is now taken over by two toy boxes…

Update: Of course that can’t be the entire list. Before I got the envelope sent off to Jackie Clay, DH requested I grow carrots. So…add Kuroda carrots to the above list from seedtreasures.com

I’m sure I’ll order more from Gurney’s as well. Just waiting for another sale…