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Garage sales and locally adapted seed stock  RSS feed

 
Dan Boone
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Posts: 1786
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
195
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I know I'm not the first person who has gotten bitten by the food forest bug and suddenly started wanting to plant a zillion trees and perennial plants, despite a serious lack of ready cash. (I am lucky to have time and land, so no complaints here about being skint.) Like a lot of people wanting to plant on the cheap, I'm doing as much as I can with seeds, since there's no budget for started plants and trees. In my particular circumstances and early stages, that means using a *lot* of growing containers as nurseries for plants to be planted out later.

So I'm scrounging containers, scraping up soil and mulch from around the property, and hitting the spring garage sales *real* hard for necessary containers, tools, and anything else helpful that I can get for small change or a few dollars.

My first big score that I was desperately looking for was a cheap wheelbarrow. (Good new ones are as much as $200!) Got lucky and found one for five bucks. The tire was flat ($2.00 patch kit and two trips to the local $.75 air machine because my air pump turned out to be defunct) and the plastic tub was blown out with a huge crack the full length. But I stitched it together by drilling holes and weaving wire from an old piece of Romex my dogs dragged home to chew on (seriously, they are weird rescue dogs). And then I stabilized the repair with a $4.00 tube of LocTite dual epoxy for plastics. Now I can go *much* farther into the woods on our land to borrow container gardening soil, leaf mold, and old leaves and grass for mulch -- and bring a lot more back than I could carry in the 5-gallon buckets I was using.

This weekend has been great for large containers that can be used for planters. Found numerous $.25 flower pots at the sales, plus a variety of baskets, trash cans, and coolers of various sizes. (I find that old coolers work well in my hot climate for container gardening; my working theory is that the insulation moderates rapid swings in container soil temperature.)

But the best (and totally unexpected) score at the garage sales today was some local genetic material for cheap and free. One lady had a jar (maybe a pint?) of self-harvested dill seeds, priced at a buck. These are from plants that thrived in this climate last year, cheap enough for me to scatter throughout my nascent orchard Fukuoku-style. Score! Dill grows easily here so I'm thinking I may be able to get it established as a self-re-seeding weed, which would be lovely; I like it a lot as a salad herb and could never have too much.

But the BEST find was from the same lady; she had a box marked FREE on the side that was full of large but disreputable sweet potatoes. They were obviously left over from last year's crop in her garden, and these were cracked or had broken/dried spots or really odd shapes. But if you looked close you could see they were already starting to sprout, and they were BIG healthy tubers weighing close to a pound apiece. I was delighted to see them; all the sweet potatoes I've found in my local stores have been sprayed (presumably) and are very resistant to sprouting. So it was a delight to get my hands on some local, unsprayed seed stock. She obviously meant them for that purpose, too; as I picked one up to look at it she volunteered in her deep-country drawl "Just put that in some water, honey, it will sprout right up!" I thanked her profusely and took two.

Moral: don't overlook yard sales as a source of plantable stuff!
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Related, but only sort-of: Today, my toddler and I were walking along the snowmobile trail behind our property, and I looked over...in an overgrown patch of wood, unused by anyone, were several mullein stalks. I took one, giving it a shake to re-seed the area, back to my own non-mulleinated field....
 
Dan Boone
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Awesome! I've got some mullein drying now that I grabbed from a spot somebody else was about to mow -- and a sandwich baggie full of seeds from a spike on the back of the property.
 
Dan Boone
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Posts: 1786
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
195
forest garden trees woodworking
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Bumping this thread just to report that today I found another $5.00 wheelbarrow at a garage sale. Metal tub, somewhat bent, slightly cracked, and rusty. Sound wooden handles. Flat tire. I think I got the "get it out of here before my husband gets home" pricing. Woman running the sale told me "I bought my husband a brand new one, he wanted to put this one in the garage because it's still good. I told him no, I'm putting that old thing in the sale."

Works for me! You can't have too many wheelbarrows.
 
Mike Cantrell
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Location: Mid-Michigan
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Awesome. How'd the dill from spring of '14 do?
 
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