Free Plant Markers

Free Seedling and Plant Markers

I grossly underestimated the number of plant markers I would need this year.  Actually, the number planter markers I bought online was reasonable enough, but then, as it always happens, I went crazy with the number of seedlings I decided to start.

Much like chicken keepers have chicken math (total number of chickens agreed upon, plus however many more you can justify and have room for), gardeners also have a hard time counting when it comes to plants. 😉

It starts out as an itchy, scratchy type of feeling from not having grown anything for months, exacerbated by the long hours spent searching through the mocking beauty of full color seed catalogs that promise delectable vegetables, colorful flowers and inviting fruit trees.  Time starts dragging.  It seems like spring will never come.  Finally, the happy time comes to start seeds, but when you get one whiff of that fresh dirt, it happens…..Seedling Madness!

So, that explains why I needed lots more plant markers :/

I asked my hubby if he could find some cheap blinds for me that I could cut up to make my own markers.   He said he’d come through for me and he did!  The place where he works was going to throw away some blinds and he got them for me.  For free!!

Free Plant Markers

Free Plant Markers

The biggest set of blinds I got were 57″ long and had 40 individual plastic slats.  I like to have 4″ markers, so I cut them using a scissor and a “real” marker as a guide.   I ended up with 560 4″ markers!  I even have a few left over. 😉

Free Plant Markers

BENEFITS:

  • Re-purposing something that was heading for the landfill
  • Saving money
  • Making do with what you have or what you find
  • Some good cord for use in the garden
  • Strong beams from the blinds that can be used in the garden like posts

Free Plant Markers

Free Plant Markers

Markers are sold in packs of 100 and average about $7.00.  That many markers would have cost me $42.00.

MONEY SAVED:  $42.00!!!

🙂

Free Plant Food from Dandelions

I love starting a big bunch of seedlings every spring. 🙂

There is something so magical about watching plants grow and knowing that it’s the beginning of another harvest.

When my seedlings a few weeks old, I like to start fertilizing them every 2-3 weeks.  I always look for the most cost effective way, which usually means I use compost tea.  However, you have to brew your compost tea and there are times I’m rather lazy or want a quicker solution.

I need plant food NOW!

Then it dawned on me…what do some people eat as a spring tonic?  A free food that grows profusely and is full of nutrients…..Dandelions!!

So, I went foraging for dandelions in my yard and came up with a nice bunch for cooking.

Free Plant Food

I took the dandelions, dirt and leaves and put them in a big enamelware pot, half-filled with water and started cooking them down.

Free Plant Food

The end result looked like this!

Free Plant Food

I mixed this with some rain water and gave all my plants a good soaking.  The leftover cooked dandelions made their way to the compost pile.

I’m happy to report that the seedlings are looking like they’re loving it!

I’m also happy to report that I saved time, didn’t use any gas by driving to a store and saved money by making my own.

BENEFITS:

  • Making do with what you have
  • Saving gas
  • Saving money
  • Satisfaction of finding alternatives

Money saved by not buying commercial plant food:  $8.84!

🙂

Grow Your Own Birdseed

Anyone who feeds birds black oil sunflower seeds, knows that good seeds end up on the ground.  It’s obvious by the big piles of shells under the feeder.  It’s even more obvious when a field of sunflowers starts growing around your feeder!

Sunflowers, Grow Your Own Birdseed

Volunteer sunflowers.  You have no work invested!

Any sunflowers that start growing, are usually allowed to grow around here.  The bees are attracted to them and the birds don’t mind the shelter they provide.   I’ve noticed that the Goldfinches are really drawn to the sunflowers.  It’s always fun watching them trying to get a good footing on the flower as they attempt to dislodge a plump seed to devour.  Bunnies like to wander around under the flowers, eating seeds that have been dropped.  The squirrels usually sit on top of the flower and ride it in the wind, like a bucking bronco.  It’s pretty cute.  My husband says it’s like a Disney movie in the back yard!

Besides the free entertainment,  I’m guessing there are at least 1000 seeds on most of the heads, so there’s a lot of food being provided.

When the seeds look fully developed, you can let them dry on the plant or cut the heads and dry them.  The birds and squirrels will usually get to them first, so again, not a lot of work involved.  In the fall, before the frost, I pull the plants and strip the leaves off the stems.  The leaves go into the compost pile and the stems can be shredded for mulch.

If I had more room, I would take handfuls of sunflowers and plant a small field.  It seems like a good investment…1 seed into 1000!

:)

Free Food, Frugal Living, Simple Life

Free Food

It’s always exciting when March rolls around, because that’s when I get serious about starting my seedlings!

Of course the whole process starts around Christmas time, when that first seed catalog arrives in the mail and my eyes get all big, looking at delicious varieties of veggies and colorful flowers.  In no time at all, I have picked my seeds I want to order and I have figured out my garden plan.

Then…..I wait.

Although the time between planning and action is excruciatingly long, there are a few uplifting moments along the way.  Getting seed orders in the mail, for instance.   A box containing packets of seeds will illicit squeals and erratic dancing.  (I don’t care who sees it, I’m going to celebrate.)

This year, after the squealing and dancing, I set about playing with my seed packets; putting them in stacks according to seedling start dates, cool season seeds, warm season seeds, etc.  While holding all this potential life in my hands, the idea came to me that I should start lots of seedlings and sell the extras to pay for my seed orders!

Now I know this isn’t rocket science, but I’ve always just started enough seedlings for my garden and a few to share with my daughter and son-in-law.  I’ve been quite shy about my seedlings being good enough to sell.  But, this year I’m going to hold my head up high and offer my extras for sale!

After finding all my seed starting supplies, deciding upon a pricing point and figuring out my break even point,  I decided I could utilize all my trays and even make a bit of a profit.  Which means:

 

FREE FOOD!!

With the exciting thought of free food from our garden this summer, I embarked on my plan:

I got my dirt out.

Free Food, Frugal Living, Simple Life

I always use dirt from my garden.  My soil is very healthy and I’ve never had problems getting my seeds to start by using it.  In the fall, I fill a bucket with soil and set it in a place that’s easy to get to when I need it for seedlings.  About a week before I want to plant, I bring the bucket inside so the soil can thaw.

I also got out my trusty seedling carts (aka Mid Century Metal Dining Carts).

Free Food, Frugal Living, Simple Life

These carts are just the right height for our windows, I can store extra gardening supplies on the shelves underneath and they are easy to move outside when I harden off the plants.   Nice way to re-purpose something, too! 😉

Then it’s time for the cells

Free Food, Frugal Living, Simple Life

I re-use cells and Styrofoam cups if I haven’t had any bug or disease problems in previous years.

Herbs are first on the list.  Later, I’ll start peppers, tomatoes and basil.

Herbs are first on the list, so I got cells ready according to my figuring I had done a month or two ago. I re-use cells and Styrofoam cups if I haven't had any bug or disease problems in previous years.

I got everything marked, planted, watered, and covered.

Free Food, Frugal Living, Simple Life

Free Food, Frugal Living, Simple Life

And now, once again….I wait.  😛

I’ll keep you updated on my project and I’ll also let you know around the end of May how my sales have turned out and if, indeed, we are getting free food from our garden this year.  Fingers crossed!

P.S.   I also did a little DIY fixing on one of my carts this year.  It was missing a wheel and I don’t have a replacement, so I went hunting in a junk drawer for something that would substitute for a wheel.  I found the insert of a donut cutter, some duct tape and a zip tie.  Problem solved!

DIY Fixes, Frugal Living, Simple Life DIY Fixes, Frugal Living, Simple Life

DIY Fixes, Frugal Living, Simple Life DIY Fixes, Frugal Living, Simple Life

Thanks for stopping by!

🙂