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

10 Lessons From the Local Food Experiment

In June, I began an experiment where I had the goal of eating only foods purchased from area farms or that which I could grow myself in our small space. In these months, I have learned some valuable lessons.

#1 – Beginning this challenge in June was a horrible idea. Had I asked real people instead of looking online, I would have realised that nothing is ready in June. Even the grow houses looked at me like I was stupid when I asked about it. Seems that even the sun is shining brightly, really the only thing growing in our climate in the month of June is butter flowers and rhubarb…

#2 – You cannot eat rhubarb every day. Rhubarb contains a certain chemical which can be bad for the kidneys. As rhubarb can be very tart, it is always best eaten with some kind of cream or custard (which can also work to balance out this bad chemical).

#3 – While it’s a freeing feeling to forage butter flowers for food, they can also be quite bitter. Do not take the largest leaves. Those are the worst tasting and it doesn’t matter how much spice you put on it, it will not improve the taste. I learned that those small leaves, the beginning ones in the spring are the best tasting. Also, the flowers can be fried. Those first flowers in the spring are the best ones though.

#4 – If I had to trust my own grown food to feed myself, I would starve. I was excited to put lots of seeds to pots and watch them grow. They grew. And grew. And grew more. But nothing came beyond being a flower. We got about 2 small cucumber and a few mint-sized tomato. The squashes and aubergine made many flowers only. Kale is growing, for the first time. I have been able to take a few leafs for mixing with salads. It makes me happy 🙂 Chilis are the one plant that grow nicely. I have heard that the weather has been unpredictable all over the world, so I am trying to not dislike myself too much about it.

#5 – Farmers need sales this year. Something I had not considered, is the affect that the Covid-19 pandemic would have on small farms. I quickly learnt that many small farms have contracts with restaurants or their distribution. I always had in my mind that it would only be the large corporate agriculture which would carry these types of contracts, but I was mistaken. A side issue of the pandemic restrictions and closings of restaurants worldwide is that these farms do not have the sales they had planned for when planting. What this means is that farmers find themselves with an excess amount of food items ready for harvesting with nowhere to go and no pay for them + limited access to workers to help in harvesting. In this circumstance, many farmers are happy to sell their harvested items to customers visiting the farm.

#6 – In the middle of a global health crises, is the worst time to restrict one’s food sourcing ability. I re-launched the experiment this year because I wanted to stay out of the food shops as much as was possible. I did and purchasing larger amounts from farms in surrounding areas helped me to eat healthier and to stay away from the food shops for longer. However…. when I did visit the food shops I did not restrict myself. I tried, the first few times. But then I realised how stupid it was to not take home affordable food items like pastas, rice and porridge. Okei…. and maybe a few snickers bars for mental happiness 😉 (I have a snickers addiction. If anyone works with the Snickers business, please remember my appetite for the treats) So I purchased those.

#7 – Learn foraging from a person who has spent their life foraging foods. Going into the forest for searching berries, mushrooms and other wild edibles is really nice in theory until you realise that you aren’t certain if that plant is poisonous or no and then the whole thing goes to compost. Berries look very similar and if one is not well educated in natures plants, the result of eating these toxic beasts can really give you a night to remember. Best to learn from someone who knows it, and to doubt yourself until you are certain.

#8 – People will remember you. Visit a farm many times for purchasing food items and explain that you are trying to eat more sustainably – and people will remember it. Some looked at me as a crazy person But others began to try to help me. Example; one farm began to offer me possibility to purchase the second or third class vegetables. Those are which cannot be sold in the shops because … its that ugly fruit thing. That nobody wants to just buy ugly looking foods. So, I got them for discount and they taste just as nice. + I got to give myself a sustainable award (in my mind) for reducing food waste and for saving money.

#9 – Fresh food is seasonal. We all know this. But I more like mean very short season because no refrigerated trucks or those things. Want fresh strawberries? Okei, but you have 2 weeks when can take those. All berries seem to be the same. Some foods have longer times of constant harvest, others do not. So have plan with what you want to do with those and purchase them while it is possible.

#10 – Many people are planting this year! This is something I am very happy about, although it did frustrate my own plans. I am happy because I think quite often that if each of us – every person that has the capability to do so – could have at least one food producing plant on their terraces or windows, then it would increase our individual possibility for food sourcing by at least that much, that it could help with the current global food security issues. This is not a ‘let them cake’ moment, so don’t be angry. I do understand that in many places, growing anything is an impossibility. I am more meaning those of us who have the possibility to have some herbs growing or a tomato or child plant, even a salad plant, that overall it would help to lessen our dependence on food shops and online food orders – as well as the money spent on those. If there is any one lessen that I have learned in 2020, it is that disruptions happen and the way we usually do things in our lives may not always be that way.

Have you been planting? Do you have any wisdom for sharing? Please share with us in the comments!

Thank you for reading!

-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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Random Factoids 28.08.2017

‘There are over 20 000 species of edible plants in the world. However, just 20 species provide 90% of human food.’

*Source

Hmmm…food for thought. Literally! I wonder if these other 19 980 species of edible plant would help to solve the worlds food crisis as opposed to lab made frankenfood. Thoughts?

-Mliae

Random Factoids 28.07.2017

‘Figs are not always considered vegan. When a fig is pollinated by a fig wasp, the fig flower traps the wasp and then the enzymes in the flower digest the wasps corps.’

*Source

Ooookkkkaaayyyy, that went a little Adam’s Family, didn’t it?

-Mliae

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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Green Smoothies: The weightloss & detox secret #GreenSmoothiesTheWeightLossDetoxSecret


Greetings everyone!

As most of you know, I’ve been on a slow-boat voyage to healthier living. Diet, exercise, hard work and a smile 🙂 So, you can guess correctly that I was a happy thing when I got my hands on this smoothie recipe book. At first I thought it would be just like every other smoothie book out there: All kale, all banana, all the time… Buuuttt, Much to surprise, it isn’t! There are actually some really cool and creative recipes inside. Easy too! Good, because I’m not exactly the home-chef type. So, I tried a few of the vegan/vegetarian recipes and they turned out really yummy.

I thought I would share a few of my faves, as well as a short review from my perspective:

Some of my favourite recipes include: Arugula Raspberry smoothie, Almond and strawberry smoothie, beet and broccoli smoothie, spiced pumpkin smoothie (of course, it’s perfect for this time of year!), Gazpacho smoothie (This, I’m dying to try!), Tropical green smoothie, and a delicious dandelion celery smoothie.

What I liked about this book:

  • Fantastic, healthy alternative to fast food
  • Quick and easy to read
  • Interesting recipes, not just – put a whole bunch of stuff in a blender and drink it.
  • The recipes look GREAT!
  • Each recipe includes some nutritional information
  • Explanation of if it is or is not preferable for weightloss and why
  • Each recipe includes a short breakdown of what the special benefits of that particular smoothie are
  • The health benefits of chocolate are actually included…Yay!
  • It is suitable for vegans, as milk is almond milk & yogurt can be substituted for soy.
  • All the sweeteners included are natural. Agave, honey, cocoa

What reservations I have about this book:

  • Some of the recipes include natural sweeteners, which I feel is counter-productive. Although I understand that some readers may have a sweet tooth and naturally occurring sugars in vegetables may not be enough to satisfy the taste buds.
  • The suggestion to have the smoothies at approximately the same time daily. This leads me to the assumption that many of these ingredients are naturally occurring diuretics, thus the need for your body to adapt.

Before I got these good recipes, I was making kale and cucumber smoothies (good, but boring after awhile) with the occasional dessert smoothie of berries and ice cream – which is totally not the right thing for my diet. Now it’s replaced with the almond and strawberry smoothie. Yuuummm…

This book can be purchased here  by clicking on the link. The Kindle edition is $4.95, or free with the kindle reader.    Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial  There are also Hardcover and paperback versions available from $18 – $19.

OR, if you are in Europe:

Amazon UK:     Green Smoothies: The Weight Loss & Detox Secret: 50 Recipes for a Healthy Diet (Special Diet Cookbooks & Vegetarian Recipes Collection Book 3)

What do you think, are smoothies the way to go? Or just a nice way to have a quick serving of fruits/vegs on the go?

Thanks for reading!

-Mliae

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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

DIY Yard Waste Composter

Hi all and happy Sunday 🙂

As most of you know, we’ve been working, working, working…to make this place great and add some curb appeal at the new place!

This composter desperately needed to be done, as we have quite a bit of yard space and nowhere to put all the cut branches, grass clippings, etc.

I was so excited when my partner mustered up some old wood and put this beauty together! It will be full soon, and no doubt, we’ll have lots of good quality planting soil next spring! 🙂

Making yard compost is really easy, especially since you don’t have to be so super cautious about placement since it doesn’t use food waste. A yard compost pile really only needs a perimeter (such as this), lids or solid walls are not a necessity. Just toss all your leaves, and natural yard waste inside it. The outside will insulate the core and will help to excellerate the natural process of breaking down the material. In about a year this will result in a natural, nutrient rich form of soil and fertilizer (especially if you add coffee grounds). Because worms are naturally attracted, and necessary in the process, you must place your composter a reasonable distance from your home, as to not create  a pathway for creepy crawlies from the compost to your home.

Compost and enjoy!

-Mliae

Planting time is upon us!

WWEEEEEEEE!! Spring is here, spring is HERE!! We’ve been working quite hard to get the yard area even ready to do some spiffing up. Curb appeal is the name of the game this summer. So is self-sufficiency.

We are starting out with a whole bunch of berry bushes that were here when I got the place. Now we’re adding…ALOT!

There are plans in the making for a few flower beds which include multiple types of lilies, gladiolas, red poppies and yellow rose bushes. These have been ordered, but only the gladiolas and a few lilly bulbs have arrived so far.

Then there’s the good stuff: Food!

There will be 2 different types of apple trees, a pear tree, a plum tree and a cherry tree going into the ground when they arrive this month or next. Rhubarb is planted, and we have seeds – lots of seeds. We decided that planting boxes would be a good idea, so now that those are being created, I can start putting my seedlings and some new seeds in to watch them take root! Some of the seeds include: Portulaca, carrots, turnips, peas, kale, cherry tomato and chili peppers.

This year, I really wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible. This little guy you see pictured, is one of many kale plants I hope will grow and last me the entire summer of grazing and eating. I figure by planting the kale alone, I’m saving at least 80€ in what I spend at 3 -4€ a pop on small packages of kale at the market.

What are your summer planting plans?

Time to get dirty!

-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