Michelle Heath

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since Feb 26, 2012
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Recent posts by Michelle Heath

We're always trying to increase our food production.  I'm constantly trying new things to determine how they'll grow in our climate and most important, how they'll taste.  I do grow a few things that we don't eat such as radishes, but my mom loves them.  Personally I'm not a big tomato fan unless it's warmed by the sun and eaten straight from the plant, but I do process them into sauce and hope to dehydrate some this year as well.  

I grow rhubarb, asparagus and alpine strawberries from seed, which can take a bit longer to harvest but for far less than the cost of buying roots/crowns/established plants.  Horseradish and comfrey are increased by root cuttings and although we don't use comfrey internally, it's value in the garden is tremendous.  Herbs are increased through division and cuttings.  Blooms from dandelion and wild violets made some wonderful jelly this spring.  

I do grow peas as my husband loves them cooked and I love them raw.  My biggest bean harvest last year was from a 4' row of cut short beans that have been saved by my family for generations and will now be a staple in my garden as well as they outproduced larger plantings of bush beans and half-runners.

A root cellar has always been on my list of things to build but we've yet to build it.  In the meantime we keep root crops such as potatoes packed in newspaper lined milk crates in our utility room which has a concrete floor and only enough heat to keep pipes from freezing.  My dream is to top our cellar with a cellar house that can be used as a studio/workshop.
16 hours ago
I invested in LED shop lights and refurbished a tiny hobby greenhouse for my vegetable plants this year.  I've babied my tomato and peppers and even supplied supplemental heat during the past week when temps dipped below 32°.  But I noticed that the volunteer tomato seedlings in one bed, though just getting their first set of leaves, have survived freezing temps which makes me wonder if I should cultivate these seedlings as they're definitely hardy.
We still have material things such as TV, DVD players and VCRs but my hubby repairs them and most of the ones we keep either have a cosmetic issue or a mechanical issue (DVD player has a tray that won't always close on its own.  However all are functional and were either free or low cost to us.  We ditched satellite TV probably fifteen years ago though I do keep an Amazon Prime subscription for my daughter and for the free shipping perk and books.

90% of our clothing is thrifted as the only things we buy new are underclothes and shoes for hubby and I as we both have large, wide feet and often can't find anything second hand.  My daughter occasionally gets a new outfit or toy but most is also thrifted.  I also recycle clothing that is too far gone to be donated into rags, quilts, tomato ties and sometimes even a new outfit for my daughter.

We downsized to one vehicle when the pandemic hit and we gave up our store to strictly sell from home.  That vehicle was purchased used and is maintained regularly for a fraction of the cost of what something shiny and new would cost.  A cargo hauler that attaches to our hitch gives us a bit more room for hauling items that won't fit in the cargo area.  

Our home is paid for and unlike so many of our friends, we're not looking to purchase something bigger and fancier.  I personally have twenty plus years invested in improving this property and though I keep planting and making improvements, I'm perfectly happy to live here until my time on this earth is over.

I have increased my knowledge of edible wild plants and am constantly increasing my garden area to reduce our food costs.  I grew all of my vegetable plants from seed this year and only purchased a few annual flowers, most of which will be overwintered and used for cuttings to start new plants for next year.  At one time I used to use lots of coupons but very seldom do now unless it's on paper products, soaps or shampoos.  I buy very little premade food but lots of raw ingredients as most of our meals are from scratch which is far cheaper and healthier.  

I also strive to learn something new everyday and to put that knowledge to use.  One can read tons of books on a particular subject, but nothing can replace actually doing it.

Two things I can't give up are the landline as cell service is basically non-existent here and the hairdryer as my hair has a tendency to do its own thing without it, but then I only use it on the occasions when I actually leave the property.
17 hours ago
Looks good Lorianne!  I'm still in the planning process on mine but hope to get started within the next month if all goes well.  What herbs are you planning to plant in it?
If it were me, I'd leave it as is and reposition everything after the growing season is over.  Why?  Because you've already planted it and later sowings might not work well for some crops.  Also this time of the year is extremely busy here and repositioning a garden for me would mean double the workload for someone who's already doing a majority of the outside work due to my spouse's injuries and inability to do much at the moment.

Depending on your view of cardboard, it would be excellent to throw down on the freshly trimmed paths and then cover that with wood chips.  Yes, the chips would need to be raked away when you reposition, but hopefully the grass will be gone by that time.  If you do use cardboard, make sure to remove all tape, labels, stickers, etc beforehand.  

You mentioned beds and I'm wondering if they have sides (wood, stone) or if they're simply mounded?  Also not sure of your growing area, but if the beds were repositioned early enough in the fall you could perhaps sow a cover crop on the newly moved beds or add some amendments that would be incorporated into the soil prior to planting next season.  

Daniel, I see my kindergartener isn't the only one that's hard on crayons.  

We also did the crayon shavings with wax paper and an iron in school (70s and 80s safety concerns were pretty lax) but I'd probably just melt them down into new funky crayons or use a hairdryer to melt them on a sheet of paper and let them run.  Alternatively the fire starter idea is ingenious.  
5 days ago
Malek, I had a Toscana strawberry in a hanging basket several years ago and it readily seeded for two springs afterward from strawberries that had fallen onto the ground below.  When I'm growing the alpine strawberries, I put the seed in the freezer for 4-6 weeks before planting to simulate winter.  In fact the two varieties I have ready to plant outside were actually in the freezer from last spring as I got busy and forgot about them.  I didn't have much hope, but germination was great!  After the initial seed sowing, I misted the seeds 2-3 times a day with fine mist from a spray bottle.  This keeps the seed moist, yet not oversaturated.  Of course inside time is more abundant in late winter and I imagine I'll enclose the seed I'm about to plant inside of a ziplock bag as I don't see them getting mist more than once a day now.  I also occasionally sprayed with a 10:1 solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide and water if I saw signs of mold or fungus on the soil.  
6 days ago
I grow fragaria virginiana but started with runners from wild plants growing on our property.  I am also growing alpine strawberries from seed this year with excellent results!  Does the variety you're referring to produce runners?  If so it might be worthwhile to obtain one for use as a mother plant.
1 week ago
Great score Dan!  I never thought of using those glass bricks in a greenhouse.

I'd love to have an actual glass greenhouse but will be constructing one out of greenhouse plastic, PVC and wood this fall and hope by the time it reaches the end of its life, I'll be able to afford something more substantial.  My rationale is that I'll have a few years of growing under cover under my belt and will have a better idea of what size I'll need for growing for my family and to sell also.  

On the topic of kids toys, I became a mother late in life and have a child with some learning delays.  95% of her toys are thrifted or yard sale finds and the ones we buy new are either wooden puzzles or a specific stuffed animal she likes.  Yes the majority are plastic but buy buying them used and either selling or donating them when she's through with them keeps them in circulation and helps out another family who can't afford everything shiny and new either.  

1 week ago
I've had pretty good luck soaking peas, beans and corn and even had excellent luck soaking spinach this year too.  I've never tried okra though.  

Depending on the temps, the peas may have rotted before sprouting since you mentioned flooding.  I actually used some old peat pots and started some inside this year to try and get a head start on the season and even then not every seed germinated.  Doesn't hurt to try again as maybe the conditions will be better this time.