No Dig Potatoes Vs. Planting Bag Potatoes

I did a little potato planting experiment last year. It was late autumn when I was able to clearly see the results of my little experiment so I decided to wait and write about when planting season began this year. As many of you know, I have access to a small space where I can plant some food plants during the planting season. I had tried a put some potatoes to ground, but it required so much digging and preparing the ground that I had been looking for maybe easier ways to plant some potatoes that were a bit easier on the back.

I found so many information filled youtube videos from enviable homesteaders and I decided that I would try something simpler. So, I planted ‘no dig’ potatoes at the small outdoor planting space and at the same time I tried planting potatoes in a planting bag on the terrace to see which one, or if either, might work for me.

It wasn’t such a big surprise to see that neither really worked as well as the traditional planting method. However, I do want to try the ‘no dig’ planting method again because it seems promising, the only problem being that I am an amateur.

This is how each method worked for me:

‘No dig’

  • ‘No dig’ really should be ‘no till’ method because you can’t just put the potatoes on top of grass. The area must have a layer of earth, but no grass so if it is a previously undisturbed area, you will have to do some digging. Fortunately for me, the area I have for planting is in a space which is specifically used for planting so there was already a layer of earth without the grass for my use.
  • The process is quite simple. Put the potatoes for planting on the top of the layer of earth and cover with hay, compost or more dirt. I covered mine in a loose hay. Leave for growing and uncover in the autumn for your lovely potato harvest!
  • Results: Many potatoes were found and they were larger than I have ever grown before! (Not to be too excited, all the potatoes I have ever grown are all quite small. Think: new potato size) The bad bit is that the birds were attracted to the hay I used for covering and the little thieves stole much of it. I know now that I should have put a much thicker layer on the top because at least half of my precious potato harvest had green (toxic) spots from being exposed to sunlight and so had to be composted instead. 😦 In total, I retrieved 1 3L bag of edible potato. I would recommend this method to anyone with a small allotment for planting or if one has a planting space of their own at their home, and has access to covering material such as hay, dried grass cuttings or compost.

Planting bag

  • Planting bags have been quite the trend recently and I can understand why. Planting bags are perfect for use in small outdoor spaces such as the terraces or balcony of a flat as long as there is some exposure to sunlight. They might even be suitable for a sunlight-filled area indoors of a small flat, but I have not tried that because the planting bag I purchased allows for the water to drain through the fabric.
  • The process is even simpler than the ‘no dig’ method. I used one 15L bag of mixed earth and compost. I put half of the 15L bag into the planting bag, and then placed the sprouting potatoes in a layer with a few cm space between and when those were all played carefully with the sprouts up, I poured the rest of the 15L bag on the top to fit the planting bag. Then I just placed the planting bag in an area with good exposure to sunlight and let it be. Watering is necessary and it can really be more or less depending what climate you are in. I gave quite a bit of water when the earth on the top of the planting bag looked dry.
  • Results: This method is for certain the easiest one and recommended for the person who doesn’t have the time for entire days spent on planting. Potatoes did grow in these planting bags, though they were quite small. Smaller even than the new potato size I had previously grown with the traditional planting method. The good thing about planting potatoes using the planting bag method is that they can be started earlier in the season. As potatoes even begin to sprout in the refrigerator, I find that it is ok to put them out if the weather is still a bit cold. No problemo! Being able to begin the growing sooner and leave until autumn may result in larger potatoes. If you like the small potatoes, this is really a perfect way to get those!

If you have plans for planting some kind of things this spring, I hope that you have found this post helpful. I have hope that people will try to keep some kind of food plants this year, wherever you are and what kind of home you live in because having the ability to grow ones own food, even if it is 1 small tomato plant or a bag of potatoes, is an important skill to have.

Read more here about why potatoes are a recommended food for always having in the budget-friendly kitchen.

Do you have any planting plans for this year?

-Mliae

Back To Basics: Local Food / Own Grown Food Experiment Starts Now!

I am doing this experiment…again. I tried this 2 years ago, and did not last long with it.  I have been thinking it often due to the coronavirus restrictions, that we should try to have some food plants here for eating if there is another wave of cases and businesses close again, that we have something here. Then I thought that well, I am thinking foolishly, just do the experiment and look that can I even manage 2 days on the few things I am able to grow.

My goal in this experiment, is to reconnect with the source of my food. 100 years ago, people lived in a way that they knew how to grow and produce, preserve their own foods. There was a basic connection to food, a respect for it and a need to master the process oneself. In our current society, we have everything we could possibly want. We can access summer harvested foods from the other side of the globe, in winter, in the food shops. Not only is this very unnatural, but the fragility of logistics and supply chains in order to make such luxury possible is something that must be considered. As the coronavirus restrictions have exhibited; manufacturing, logistics and supply is not always reliable. This is when I had my ‘eureka!’ moment and that knew if I am ever going to make this local food and growing food work, I needed to do this experiment again. I want to share with you the possibilities for someone who is quite helpless with growing, cooking, baking – basically all things food-related (I’m quite nightmarish) – to learn and see that is it even possible to do. I have 2 goals in this experiment. Goal #1 is for me to learn & to be able in the future to not be so dependent on the shops for my food. Goal #2 is to motivate you to think about these things. For you to hopefully, even with small changes, to also feel a sense of independent ability and a closeness to your food as well.

So here we are, launching this experiment…again. If this is the first you have read about this, I will share the basic things:

  • If I can grow it, forage it or purchase it from local farms, I can eat it.
  • If it is produced locally by small producers/individuals, I can eat it.
  • If it is gifted to me, I can eat it. 

Aside from these, I have 2 circumstances which could be variable.  #1 – Although I am trying to avoid visiting the food shops, I will have to go. Some of the things I will need to purchase are items for food preservation such as: sugar, jam sugar, oils, vinegars, spices and salt.  I will also purchase dog food (of course. For the dog, not I) and I am allowing myself purchases of both fish and cheeses, wheat powder & eggs (for baking) and salad sauce – as my luxury purchases.  But that is when I do go to the food shops, which I am trying to avoid. So probably not making those purchases for some time.  Circumstance #2 – food & my husband. Doing an experiment like this can be complicated when the person doing it, does not live alone. Last time I did this, meal times were difficult. We adjusted to eating seperate foods, which was not difficult. The problem came when my husband wanted to surprise me with a nice meal and I was unable to accept. It was not a regular happening, but it did happen. As my goal is to make use of what we have, I do not wish to waste a good meal or a thoughtful gift from my husband. So I have decided that this time, if he makes a nice meal for the both of us, I will eat it. Before you get the idea that he will be cooking for me every evening, he will not. I am quite certain that he will make good use of the opportunity to eat all the delicious foods that I don’t like.

I do have some things I am uncertain about. I am hoping that you will share your thoughts about it, so that we can together decide that are these acceptable or no:

  • Navigating costs
  • ! Food items, example; late season grown food items that I purchased from farms outside the city, but still locally and had frozen or preserved in some way. myself for it to last longer. These are the foods I can purchase when they are available, so it does fit the experiment. These were purchased months prior to this experiment though, so I am unsure that is it ‘breaking the rules’  or not if I eat these vegetables?
  • Ice-cream auto: small local business, but not grown or locally produced food. How does it fit into the experiment, or does it?

I have little doubt that I will lose some weight during this experiment. My weight at the beginning of  this experiment, 31 May 2020: 74,4 kg / 164 pounds.

I am nervous and feel ill prepared. Local food experiment a go-go!

Luck needed!

-Mliae

I am Beginning The Local Food Experiment Starting 1 June!

This challenge/experiment is something I have created for myself. I tried it 2 years ago as a back-to-basics sustainable challenge.  I spent much time thinking about how different our relationship with food is, than it was example, 50 – 100 years ago.

As the economy is suffering greatly, and I try to avoid visiting the shops during Covid-19  as much as I just can, it seems to be that this could be an ideal opportunity to again challenge my relationship with food. I have been thinking quite often about trying my back-to-basics sustainable eating series that I challenged myself to two years ago.  I challenged myself to eat only those items which I was able to grow myself, purchase from local farms or buy locally made or produced items only. Aside from that, I did have set limits for myself of what I was ‘permitted’ to purchase at the food shops. As I was also trying to learn how to bake more in so to limit my need for prepackaged, mass produced, chemical laden ready food.  I learned how to bake 2 items: Flat bread and current muffins. It got me through, but 2 options is not enough for any extended time.

When I did the challenge last time, I was ill prepared and I was not able to keep with the challenge for long. This time, I am a bit more familiar with some of the challenges I will be facing and I hope that I can use this knowledge to better prepare myself. I understand now that locally made items will cost more, that just because you plant something does not mean it will grow food for you, that most recipes need too many ingredients (where are the simple recipes?!), that actually a lot more plants are needed to feed a person than one would think, and that eating berries instead of cakes makes me cranky.

I am waiting until the 1st June to start this challenge. That allows for a few days time that I can look up and contact some farms in the rural areas outside of the city and ask that are they even selling to people with the current Covid-19 restrictions. If I am unable to purchase grown food items from the farms, this challenge will be impossible. Rhubarb is growing, and I also can find dandelion easily.  However, a diet of rhubarb and dandelion sounds quite awful. I will order also few hanging planters of small tomato and strawberry plants. Also, as it takes time for the food to grow, it will take time that I can purchase the items from the farms also even if they are using grow house.

I will be setting limitations on my food shopping, same as the last time. This time though, I really need to think more about it because last time, it was only about the challenge. This time, its about pandemic, bad economy and the challenge. So makes those purchasing decisions a bit more important this time.  I will announce the food shop limitations on the first day of the challenge. I will be purchasing fish though. As much fish as I just can. Cheese & coffee also, for certain.

There are two exceptions I am making for myself. #1 – Last time, I ate meals separately and it seemed a waste. My husband is liking the thought of eating locally, but I am not asking him to do this strict challenge with me. I have decided, due to trying not to spend money, if my husband makes a meal enough for both of us, I will eat what he makes.  This was not something I allowed for myself last time and it seemed like unnecessary money was being spent to eat those meals separately on the occasions there was enough extra food for me. #2 Food gifts are allowed. If I find myself opening a package of food items or husband buys me an ice cream on a day out (Hah! He will remind me of this post instead), I am probably going to eat it. And enjoy it 🙂

I am not confident in my ability to do this. This will be incredibly difficult, more so than last time, and I can’t cheat with food shopping because well, what’s the purpose of doing this if I don’t do it? (Besides, I have some friends who found their way to this blog & I know that I will hear about it with quite loud voice.) I will, of course, be blogging about it. I will also share any new recipes (the simple ones that don’t ask for 30 ingredients), info about what kinds of food items I’m eating (no worries, I will not be sharing a list of meals), I will also share if it has helped me in losing the extra weight and probably a bit (more) of complaining also.

Thank you for reading and I hope that you will gain some interest about this journey.

Mliae

The Most Wonderful Season

When the sun is shining and the weather is warm, this is what I want to do! Planting 🙂

Maybe I am showing my age, but I love to put plants to grow. Oftentimes, I even have fantasies that it will grow into actual food. You know, the stuff you can eat! But, I fear that that level of success is quite far away. Perhaps not 🙂

HC garden

© Hugh Clack

I really love these box gardens! One day, perhaps, I will become a planting master! But for now, you can consider me the slow-growth charm to all plants…

I have recently been on a binge-search for those heirloom seeds. I think that those original plants are so much nicer somehow. Maybe next year I get my nerve to try them.

I would love to have one of those amazing gardens with cucumber, tomato, melon, squash, salads and herbs, peonies and gladiolus. How amazing would it be!

Learning, learning…all the time!

What do you enjoying doing in the warm summer sun?

-Mliae

*Photo credit: © Hugh Clack

 

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Our Rhubarb plants!

I really love it when I can say: ‘Spring has sprung and look what’s springing up for us!’  Fresh from our garden! YYYYEEEEE, I’m always so excited when I see good plants coming up! 🙂 🙂

This past year I have really been into planting, preserving and trying to make the most out of what we can gather from our own property (or at least trying t learn how to). So I’m super excited about our little rhubarb plants. I know these guys will grow big and strong and give us lots of rhubarb juice, rhubarb pie and rhubarb sauce! Do I sound like Bubba in Forest Gump?

Stay tuned for some fun recipes 🙂

How are your Spring plants growing?

-Mliae

 

Luffa gourd growing

I had to share this post. I love luffa, and given that I can’t hop into the ocean to find myself fresh sponges, THIS would be an AWESOME alternative! Anybody know where I can find these seeds?
Thanks to http://www.littlellewellynhomestead.wordpress.com for the fun post!

llewellynhomestead

I know, I have been posting way too many pictures of the luffas that I have been growing this year! But, despite being told they wouldn’t grow here, I have had a great crop! (For reference I live in a zone 6)

Quick background on this kinda cash crop: in World War 2, luffas were used for surgical operations, filters for the Navy’s steam and Diesel engines and for the Army’s helmet linings. They have also been used for pot holders, doormats, sandles and even mattress stuffing!

So, I ordered some seeds online in the winter and started them inside in April. But early Spring I had some nice seedlings that were waiting for the ground to warm up!

image Luffa seedlings!

I waited until the very end of May and planted them along the fence line. They vine very far! I think they would love a big trellis, but the…

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Holy Gladiolus, Batman!

Look what I did! As I mentioned in my previous gardening post, I planted lots…I mean LOTS of different kinds of bulbs this Spring. May of my plants have died from over-loving. But some strong ones have come out just magnificently! I have never planted bulbs before and had no idea what half of them would actually look like!

These beauties are growing tall and strong and GORGEOUS! I felt kind of silly, whilst walking through a flower shop with a girl friend, and saying ‘ooohhh…these are beautiful! I’d love to get some of these, but there 15€ a stalk!’. And what did I hear in reply? ‘Why don’t you just wait a few weeks for yours to bloom? You DO know they’re growing in you yard…don’t you?’ Talk about putting on the dunce cap…immediately.

But I must tell you, I’ve been so excited watching these bloom and grow, I just can’t stop myself walking by the flower beds and staring out the windows with a satisfactory smile on my face! 🙂

I am loving having fresh flowers in the house – ALL THE TIME! Winter will be so drab without them.

How is your garden growing?

-Mliae

Fresh from the garden :)

Hello everyone 🙂 I hope you are enjoying the last bits of summer!

I was so excited about this, I just had to share! Yours truly, has a very nasty track record of killing off almost every plant she comes in contact with. So you can imagine my fear and frustration when I spent a ton of money I didn’t have on bulbs and roots for pretty plants and flowers I feared I would ultimately murder.

But look-y what happened! I planted tons of lily and gladiolus bulbs (being consoled by friends and family the entire time that they would not sprout until next year) and 3 peace rose ‘bushes’ (nope, not bushes…really tiny sticks with a root-y part). I only managed to ‘over-love’ one of the rose bushes that just didn’t make it. But two of them did, as did some of the lilies!

So here is a photo of my first Massive peace rose from my baby stick and a beautiful lily next to it. No, the lily isn’t miniature, the rose is HUGE. YYYYEEEAAA! Who’s your gardening lady now?!

How’s your garden growing?

-Mliae

Let the wedding planning commence!

We have been throwing around A LOT of ideas. And thanks to pinterest and my frenemy: google, we also have a lot of other peoples ideas to play with. We are SO excited!

The problem here? Champagne taste and a beer budget. Luckily, my fiancé wants to be involved in the planning process, so I know that whatever we do, it will be a reflection of the two of us. Lucky me again, he loves me enough to not fight over the little details. He knows that if theres something I desire enough to actually admit to it, that its something I really want and he tries to find a way to make it happen. ❤

But now here we are. Standing at the abyss of wedding planning. Small or big? We both prefer to have only those closest to us on our special day. So, small it is.

Outdoors or indoors? Me? I am absolutely obsessed with the idea of an outdoor wedding and reception. He would be fine anywhere I’m just happy. (But I think he prefers outdoors too.) So, outdoors it is. Next step? A back-up plan for in climate weather. This is where I’m stuck. With tent rentals running at an average  of 500 for a small gathering, and then top that off with the cost of decorating yet another area, I can see my credit limit at max with just one small decision.

Where? Well, that gets a bit tricky. As wherever we are, only one of us will have our people there. For the most part.

Food? Cake? Decor? Trying, trying, trying…

Any helpful advice?

-Mliae

 

Our DIY Rural Engagement Party

I absolutely adore the outdoors…especially in the countryside! When my lovely fiancé informed me that he was planning an engagement party this summer, I got so excited!

True, like most couples, we made ourselves borderline insane trying to plan the perfect party. True, we argued about furniture placement and menu ideas. True, we both have champagne taste and a zero budget. True, we love each other and finally decided the best part of all of it was putting it together and enjoying the journey…not just the destination.

So, with all this in mind and an ever-growing guest list, we opted for the simple, self-hosted, beauty of the countryside outdoors. I mean, people run to the countryside for holiday…right? Why not make use of what we’ve got?

We have several picnic style tables and this gorgeous rustic tree table and bench, which we set up in the yard and also indoors. We made 3 ball jar bouquets of wildflowers. The only additions to the flowers I purchased, was 1 stem each of sunflowers and small lilies for each jar, plus a small woven metallic heart for a little extra – Umph. The wildflowers were picked from the yard the morning of and included; daisies, purple clover, some little white flowers I have no idea what they are, purple and white lupines, and bunches of red burning love.

For the food, we put out plates of mini doughnuts, white chocolate & cranberry cookies, Sandwich cake with roast beef florets, fruit filled truffles, fruit and cheese assortment, rice pies, cream filled pastry, stuffed olives / cocktail pickles and cheese assortment, coffee, juice & soda for the kids and champagne for toasting. Not surprisingly, there were basically no leftovers.

The party lasted about 6 hours if you factor in the early comers who helped setup, and the late stayers who helped clean up. It was fantastic and we didn’t slow down a bit throughout the whole thing! The weather was calling for rain the entire day and we were very fortunate that not only did it NOT rain, but the sun was shining beautifully and there was just enough breeze for everyone to hang out outside and have some fun 🙂

I must admit that I am more of a formal girl when it comes to parties and important engagements. Had I been left to my own devices, I would have surely planned a sit-down catered champagne and dancing dinner. However, it would have been a huge mistake! Being able to show people around, laugh, play with the dogs, play football in the yard, take my time straightening up afterwards, have access to a functioning kitchen, and be able to help serve my guests (even if only by making pot after pot of coffee) – which really made me feel like a good hostess, and watching people mingle and play freely (which they wouldn’t have been able to do given my ulterior ultra formal controlled setting) – I realized that having a fun beautiful happy day was more important than keeping appearances. And it turned out FABULOUSLY!

Please share any of your party or wedding ideas!

Thanks for reading 🙂

-Mliae

 

 

Now the major experiments are coming…

Prepare yourself for strings of profanity, tears, maxed out credit card and the occasional trip to the hospital.  It’s time for the DIY Home repair, home reno, and crash course gardening section of our blogging experience together!

As most of you well know, I purchased a small very old farmhouse last year. Well, through the past however many months its been and living through the annual seasons thus far, I’ve come to the realization that a lot more work needs to be done than I had originally anticipated. At first, I thought – ‘hey, its mainly just cosmetic stuff…we can manage this little by little – no problemo.’ Oooohhh….how wrong I was!

As it turns out, this would be a non-stop diy 10 year project if I had all the funds I needed for supplies and professionals (electricians, plumbers). But with my current budget (and the fact that a few weeks ago thieves stole my bank card and wiped out my entire account -> yet to be reconciled by the bank) I’m thinking 15, 30 years – tops.

The planned repairs/changes/beautifying:

  1. Full on yard do-over. This place was so overgrown from years of neglect, that even in several months, we couldn’t cut back the wilderness from the yard. The weeds had grown to small trees and were shoulder high. (Nope, not kidding) So this Spring/summer or plan is to create some serious curb-appeal.
    1. Continue cutting back the wilderness
    2. Plant grass
    3. Create some flower beds
    4. Straighten the drive
    5. Make a small terrace area to even out the front
    6. Replace entry stairs
    7. Replace front door to mudroom
    8. Replace mudroom door
    9. Make planting boxes to grow vegetables
    10. Build a small bridge
    11. Build a encasement for yard compost
  2. Sauna. Both the sauna benches need to be replaced, and the sauna oven itself. Plus its wicked dark in there so I’m thinking a new light as well.
  3. Attic. The attic needs newer insulation and I would like to create a space where its, you know, actual wall.
  4. Some of the fireplaces need repair, the chimney needs cleaning
  5. There is some seriously awful wood paneling. I would like to tear that down and make it a nice looking wall or even a lodge-like area with wood planks. Depending on what we find under it.
  6. We’ve got carpenter ants. Need to get rid of those and replace the floor and walls in one of the wet rooms because someone very bright put plastic flooring over wood floor and its not working out very well.

The list goes on and on and on… But honestly, I will be absolutely thrilled if we can even manage half of these tasks this summer.

Wish me luck and keep in touch, things are about to get very interesting!

And please, if anyone is willing or able to share some helpful or knowledgable advice, I’m ALL EARS!

-Mliae