<![CDATA[Simplify & Save - Blog Save & Simplify]]>Fri, 20 Nov 2015 11:17:30 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Gardening Lessons for 2015]]>Fri, 20 Nov 2015 18:53:33 GMThttp://simplifyandsave.weebly.com/blog-save--simplify/gardening-lessons-for-2015
Each year we reviewed what worked and what didn't work, sometimes we decide again to try while other times it just isn't worth the work.  New crops this year were Jerusalem artichokes, French tarragon, fennel, cherry bomb peppers, shallots, and kohlrabi.  We also grew - carrots, beets, various greens, potatoes, sweet potatoes, various fruits including goji, grapes, currants, strawberries, blueberries, haskaps, blackberries and rhubarb, onions, garlic, brussel sprouts, broccoli, turnip, cauliflower, parsnips, squash of various types.  New preserves we did this year included pickled cherry bomb peppers, pickled jalapenos, Salvadorian sauerkraut.  Regular preserves - bread and butter pickles, dill pickles, green tomato mincemeat and salsa.

  • Mulch - we used seaweed mulch in the garden this year and it worked very well. Kept the slugs at bay, seemed to add nutrition to the soil and kept the weeds down considerably.  Will do this again!
  • Sweet Potatoes - last year we had a good crop and this year we used our own slips from last year's crop - even better crop this year.  We will expand our crop for the 2016 season.
  • Nematodes - the good kind.  We tried Scanmask from Richters on our trouble spots and it works.  Basically, it helps to eliminate cut worms and other bad critters from ruining your crops.  We plan on researching this more and using a spray for our entire garden in 2016.
  • Pickling peppers worked well and we plan to do more pickling in 2016.
  • Sauerkraut is easy and delicious...continuing to make more.
  • Cold storage - we set something up and it is working well.
  • Dug in ground beds rather than raised beds - had some success but learned it is very important on PEI to add peat or something similar to prevent soil from becoming too compact.
  • Shallots are a great crop.  We planted fall shallots and plan to also plant spring shallots.
  • Drying parsley is better in a dehydrator than hanging to dry. Other herbs work best hanging i.e. mint, sage, oregano
Lessons Learned
  • Turnips and rutabagas are two different crops both grow well but turnips are smaller and don't taste quite the same.  We will grow rutabagas in 2016.
  • Jerusalem artichokes - nope, not again.
  • Need to start seed earlier for brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage.

It was a fun garden year and this coming year we will focus more on herbs, as always, our focus is to grow our own food etc. adding more herbs will allow us to again save from buying in the store.  The big advantage besides the cost savings, which are huge, is that we know exactly where are food is from. We continue to work on storage methods.
<![CDATA[New Book - Homesteaders, Small Farms, Niche Farming...]]>Sat, 14 Nov 2015 22:09:54 GMThttp://simplifyandsave.weebly.com/blog-save--simplify/new-book-homesteaders-small-farms-niche-farmingSeeking homesteaders, small farms, niche farmers, urban farmers and all things in between.  Please review interview questions here.
<![CDATA[Pension Living for Seniors - PEI]]>Sun, 26 Jul 2015 13:10:32 GMThttp://simplifyandsave.weebly.com/blog-save--simplify/pension-living-for-seniors-peiPensioners are having trouble paying the bills due to increasing costs and decreasing pensions.  I was asked by a senior if there were programs he could tap into to increase his pension amount which at the moment is only $800 a month.  Below is a compilation of some resources I've found for Island (PEI) seniors.  

What Every Senior Should Know about Income and Benefits from the Federal Government?
Income assistance - Everyone not just seniors

Seniors Secretariat  

For Help contact: PEI Senior Federation
40 Enman Crescent, Suite 214, Charlottetown, PE   C1E 1E6

Tel. 902-368-9008      Fax 902-368-9006      peiscf@pei.aibn.com

<![CDATA[Easy to Make Sports Balls]]>Thu, 02 Apr 2015 10:48:04 GMThttp://simplifyandsave.weebly.com/blog-save--simplify/easy-to-make-sports-ballsThey are pretty easy to make and taste delicious - if you roll them into balls they are easy to take with you.
Makes approximately 12 balls depending on how big you make them.

Ingredients -
1 cup of toasted almonds      1/2 cup pumpkin seeds      1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut     2 Tbsps maca powder (optional)
1/4 cup honey or less just enough to have the balls stick together

Either chop almonds and pumpkin seeds or put all but the honey in the food processor and pulse until chopped finely then add in the honey and pulse until it starts to stick together.  Take out and roll into balls.

Maca powder is great for endurance and it sports this is a good thing. Learn more here.
<![CDATA[Making Garden Starter Pots - Start Planting Now]]>Mon, 16 Feb 2015 17:02:59 GMThttp://simplifyandsave.weebly.com/blog-save--simplify/making-garden-starter-pots-start-planting-nowPicture
It is pretty simple to make your own starter pots and very inexpensive.  It is storming pretty hard in the East Coast of Canada right now so made a short video on how to make your own using just a few simple items:

- Newspaper (on full sheet folded will make two pots)
- Scissors to cut the sheet in two....you could also just fold and rip if you like
- An empty can or if you like to be fancy buy a Potmaker
- Tape
- Sometime to help flatten the bottom of the pot i.e. a coaster will work.

Step 1 - take the one full folded sheet of newspaper and cut length-wise into two pieces, set on aside.
Step 2 - Take your can and start rolling the one sheet of newspaper around the can.
Step 3 - Fold in the excess newspaper in towards the can centre. Using the Coaster push to flatten it.
Step 4 - Put a small piece of tape to hold the bottom.
Step 5 - Put a small piece of tape to hold the side.

See video below - another way is using the Potmaker

<![CDATA[ Save Big - Make 2015 the year you grow a Garden]]>Fri, 26 Dec 2014 23:02:46 GMThttp://simplifyandsave.weebly.com/blog-save--simplify/-save-big-make-2015-the-year-you-grow-a-gardenPicture
This is the time of year I start looking at seed catalogues and start the planning of my gardens and ordering of seeds.  As I reviewed Salt Spring Seeds in BC Richters in Ontario and Hope Seeds in Nova Scotia it struck me - just how much we save in grocery costs because we have a garden.

If you want to save big then make 2015 the year you grow a garden.   Here are a couple of examples:

Leaf Lettuce or Swiss Chard - both very easy to grow and will keep producing if you keep them watered/nutrients and cut them regularly. 

Grow yourself - $3.00 package of seeds, plus possibly some other costs that will be utilized in future years. Versus buying one bunch a week at the store $3.00/week for 12 weeks or $36.00. 
Savings is $33.00 on one veggie  Honestly purchase a pot, add some soil and seed and grow it on your deck.

Carrots - 100 seeds in one $3.50 package compared to buying a bunch of 8 carrots at $3.20/bag - Savings assuming 80 carrot seeds grow would be $32.00

Strawberry plants - get some runners from a gardening friend cost free compared to $4.50/box at the store....10 boxes from a small bed of your own - Savings $45.00

and on and on.  Just those three garden items grown save $110! What are you waiting for, start planning what you can grow either as a community gardener, patio gardener or home gardener. 

Make 2015 the year you grow a garden and start saving.

<![CDATA[Sweet Potatoes in Canada you say!]]>Wed, 24 Dec 2014 20:47:13 GMThttp://simplifyandsave.weebly.com/blog-save--simplify/sweet-potatoes-in-canada-you-sayPicture
Sweet potatoes, we have been trying to grow them for years and this was year three - we ordered the slips from a local supplier again to try and when they died we tried our own version - going to the grocery store we bought an unknown variety that was organic.  Went to youtube to see how to make our own slips, planted them and waited.  The vines on top were lovely but we really didn't know what we would get in the end.  Pleased as punch we averaged about 8 potatoes a plant with 44 sweet potatoes harvested.  We will be saving one to make our own slips again in 2015

<![CDATA[Kids Cooking Class - Pizza and Wraps from Scratch]]>Sat, 11 Oct 2014 18:23:43 GMThttp://simplifyandsave.weebly.com/blog-save--simplify/kids-cooking-class-pizza-and-wraps-from-scratchPicture
What fun teaching the next generation to cook from scratch.  Peter, Lauren, Logan and Lucas all in the 11-12 age range came to learn in the local Community of North Shore kitchen.  While two had only ever had microwave pizza the other two had done some baking at home.  Everyone brought an ingredient plus two brought their own pan and some materials so they could take a pizza home.  Starting off with the yeast setting and all the important information around yeast and how it works followed by making homemade tomato sauce with real and fresh tomatoes from the garden and some spices to mixing the ingredients, forming a dough ball and letting it set for a bit.  While the dough rose a bit we made some quick wraps for small, quick, oven pizza and zataar pizzas.  Getting their hands dirty was definitely a highlight but spreading the pizza dough out was equally as fun....nothing like feeling your cooking first hand.  The kids left with full bellies from eating the quick wrap pizzas and took home a pizza ready to cook and share with their family. 

If you have time...teach a group of kids to cook something from scratch the rewards are immediate from the smiles on their faces and long-term as they now have a valuable life skill.  A child making a meal all by themselves can be very confidence building plus makes them more independent and helpful around the house.  For me, the smiles were the best!

<![CDATA[Natural Soap - Free]]>Mon, 18 Aug 2014 00:21:35 GMThttp://simplifyandsave.weebly.com/blog-save--simplify/natural-soap-free
You might notice these lovely wild, road side or field flowers that are tall and have light purple flowers - they are referred to as soapwort....rightfully named so as they can be used to make natural soap. 

So I checked it out.  I harvested two stocks and trimmed the leaves from the plants. 

Take 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of packed leaves and puree them, strain the leaves out and use the liquid for washing your hair or your clothes.

I tried it for shampoo and while it doesn't lather, it leaves the hair feeling clean and silky.

And then I used it to clean laundry - seem to do as good a job as my regular laundry detergent.

<![CDATA[Strawbale Gardening - for Squash]]>Fri, 09 May 2014 15:54:13 GMThttp://simplifyandsave.weebly.com/blog-save--simplify/strawbale-gardening-for-squash
Every year we try something different...this year we had strawbales around our greenhouse.  We have framed in our green house 'properly' this year and decided to use the strawbales to create our squash beds. 

We used six straw bales per bed - 2 on each side and one at each top.  Then we layered with newspaper, then 'leafs' of straw with the file layer of compost.  Squash are heavy feeders so they will be pleased.  Another few weeks and we can put in the squash plants.  I'll post some more pictures then. 

Happy gardening!