Gardening: Top Secret Fertilizer Formula!

Okay, okay, there’s nothing ‘top secret’ about this formula and I won’t have to kill you if I tell you. But it is a super cool recipe for homemade fertilizer that was shared with me by a master gardener when I went to her gardening lecture.

Homemade Garden Fertilizer

What You’ll Need:

  • A large 20-gallon trash can (or something similar)
  • Super Thrive (you can find it at Lowe’s or Home Depot or other gardening centers)
  • Hasta Gro (you can try Lowe’s, etc but you may need to look at a local nursery or online for this)
  • Alfalfa Pellets (you can find these at a feed store… they’re rabbit food)
  • Epsom Salts
  • Fish Emulsion (she said you can also find this at Lowe’s or the like, but you’ll probably need to ask someone for help finding it)
  • Water
  • A watering can
  • And gardening gloves

What To Do:

  1. Pour 20 drops Super Thrive, 1 cup Hasta Gro, 2-3 cups alfalfa pellets, 2-3 cups epsom salts, and 1 cup fish emulsion into the bottom of your trash can. Fill the trash can 7/8 full with water (basically to the top, but if you fill it all the way to the top it will spill over when you stir). Stir it all together. (Helpful Hint: It may help to fill the trash can up only half way first and stir together until well combined, then fill the trash can the rest of the way and just stir lightly to mix.)
  2. Water your garden with this once every two weeks. Use approximately one pint per plant.
  3. Helpful Hint: Be sure to use gloves when working with this because if it gets on your hands they will STINK! And on the stinky note… your garden will apparently stink for about half a day each time you use this, but the smell will fade off and you will end up with beautiful vegetables as a result.

Don’t you feel like you’re part of a super secret gardening club now or something? I sure did when she passed this on to me! It’s like I have a secret gardening weapon that gives me an edge over the other simpletons of the gardening world. Bwahahaha! (That’s my evil laugh, btw.) 😀 Just Kidding. It’s something I hope EVERYONE can use and benefit from so we can ALL have awesome gardens!

Well, as always… Happy Gardening!!


Feature Friday: Eggshells in the Garden!

When I attended the gardening lecture at my local library, there was a tip that the lecturer threw out in passing and I almost missed it. She said, “Save your eggshells, crush them up and throw them around your trees.” Now that may seem obvious to some of you, but for me, who is still new to gardening and composting and the like, this seemed like a pretty random thing to do. But it intrigued me, so I wrote it down and came home and looked it up. And sure enough! Eggshells have a variety of uses in the garden. Let’s take a look at some, shall we? 😀

1. Sprinkle crushed eggshells around your vegetable plants to keep cutworms, slugs and snails away. (The crushed shells either cut them or just cause too much discomfort for them to crawl across and they almost always retreat.)

2. Use crushed eggshells around your fruit trees for a boost of calcium. (Did you know that 95% of an eggshell is calcium carbonate? Perfect food for plants!)

3. Mix crushed eggshells into your garden soil for a calcium boost. This is especially helpful in areas where you will be planting peppers, tomatoes, squash, or eggplant, which are susceptible to calcium-deficient diseases (like blossom end rot). You can even stick some crushed eggshells directly in the holes where you will plant the seeds. Granted, the shells will likely not break down fast enough to be of immediate help, but they will sure benefit a later season’s crops!

4. Use the eggshells (uncrushed) to make a potting shell. (Look for this on a future Feature Friday!)

5. Add the shells to your compost pile to add valuable nutrients to whatever your compost will eventually go towards.

Regardless of how you’ll be using them, be sure to rinse your eggshells and then allow them to dry out (otherwise you may end up with pesky animals in your yard who are attracted to the sticky residue). Then, for each of these uses (with the exception of #4), crush your eggshells by placing them in a plastic bag and hitting with a rolling pin, a cup, or anything you have on hand (awesome for getting out any frustrations.) 😉 If using the shells for pest control, leave them at this phase where they are small with plenty of sharp edges. However, if you are going to add them to the soil for calcium, place the crushed shells into a blender or food processor and process until the shells become a powder. (The finer you process it, the more quickly it will break down and become of use in the soil.) Then simply sprinkle it around your fruit trees, vegetable garden, and in potted plants as well.

And here’s another helpful hint: If you hard boil your eggs, save the water that you cook the eggs in. The water will have all sorts of nutrients in it that have leached out from the eggs. Allow the water to cool to room temperature and then use it to water at the base of your plants and vegetables.

Well, you just can’t beat free nutrition (or pest control for that matter)! So start saving those eggshells and best wishes in your gardening efforts!

Frugal Friday: To Clip Or Not To Clip Coupons

I am TERRIBLE at using coupons to help save money. By the time I’ve paid the money for the newspaper subscription and spent a ton of my time browsing through the Sunday paper and clipping coupons I might actually use, and then organize them into a ‘functional’ system, sort through all the older coupons for any expired ones, and then actually try to coordinate the ones left with a sale, all to get one jar of peanut butter for half price… forget it! My time is worth more than that. Then there’s also the online coupon sites (like where you can download and print your coupons. A little better… the site and service is free, but it uses so much ink… expensive ink, that I always wonder to myself if that’s worth it too. So using coupon has kind of fallen by the wayside for me.

However, I just came across two sites I want to share with you that are basically coupon clipping businesses. You browse through the sites, select the coupons you want, the quantities of each coupon you want, and then they mail them to your house for a small fee. The fee is determined on a coupon by coupon basis. A $1.00 off coupon may have a .10 fee. Or a .75 off coupon may have a .08 fee. Anyway, what I like about this is that if you find a good coupon for something you really like (and actually use), you can order 10 of the same coupon (or however many you want). And then, when there’s a good sale on your item (like peanut butter) and you have ten $1.00 off coupons, you can purchase 10 jars of peanut butter for an awesome price! And you didn’t have to buy 10 Sunday newspapers to get it either! 🙂

Anyway,  it’s still a new process for me, so there’s no telling on whether or not I will actually stick with this coupon method. But the concept sure seems great and I can see some great savings potential in my future.
Here’s some suggestions based on my first (and only, so far) use of one of the sites (Coupon Clippers): I noticed that there is a .50 ‘administrative fee’ and a ‘shipping fee’ (just the price of a stamp), along with an almost $4 minimum, so make sure you’ve got some coupons to stock up on whenever you’re going to make a coupon purchase. Also make sure you check the expiration dates on the coupons. None of the ones the companies list are expired, however some expire pretty soon… so make sure you’re going to use it quickly if it does. I also like to check my local stores weekly ads online and do some quick comparing to see if there are any items for sale that there is also a coupon for (this will generally only work for name brand items, so save yourself time by only checking for those items in the coupon sections). Okay, that’s probably it.

The two sites I found are: The Coupon Master and The Coupon Clippers. Go check them out and see if you can increase your savings potential as well! 😀 And I’ll leave you with a funny comic for your weekend.

Happy Shopping!

Frugal Friday: Clearance Shopping Time!

Happy Friday everyone! Let’s talk about one of my favorite subjects: Shopping! 🙂 Don’t forget that part of having a year supply of preparedness items is having at least a year supply of  CLOTHING. This is especially important if you’ve got little ones that are still growing. I can get by just fine for a year with no new clothes, but my little tots will be inches beyond their current clothes in no time at all. So what I like to do (since I don’t feel my sewing skills are up to par to make their clothes for a year) is to shop the online clearance items at the end of each season to snag up some great deals for the next year. And NOW is a great time to be looking for next winter’s clothes. Sure, it means you won’t have the latest and greatest and heaven forbid we’re wearing “last years style”, but it saves me a lot of money on some good quality clothes. One other thing I love about shopping online, I usually check for some Coupon Codes to use in conjunction with the sales.

So, for example, last weekend I shopped online for my kids at The Children’s Place (they usually have good clearance sales at season’s end) and was happy with the great sales I was getting (most of them lower than Walmart prices), but then to boot, I did a Google search for The Children’s Place Coupon Codes and found one that offered 15% off every item (including clearance prices)! So I was getting sweaters for three and a half bucks and long sleeve shirts for just over three bucks. I even got some yoga type pants for under four bucks. The most I spent on an item was just over four bucks for a thermal top. I couldn’t find a free shipping coupon to add on top of that (drat), but shipping there is minimal anyway. So I made out like a bandit! My oldest is almost 4 right now, but I got her some clothes that she can wear in 4-5 years from now! (Some deals I just can’t pass up. :))

I just love knowing that even though I spent a little chunk of change, it is going to save me BIG time down the road when I’m not having to pay full price to make sure my little ones are staying warm. Happy Shopping!

Frugal Friday: Homemade Pest Control

Well, I just spent a hefty chunk of change getting my house sprayed for bugs. I hate bugs. They do NOT belong in my home! Outside is another story… that’s their home. But inside is mine. (Although, I don’t particularly enjoy them outside either. :))
Anyway, I’ve heard of homemade bug remedies before but never really looked into them. But now, realizing how expensive professional help can be, I decided to give the homemade remedies a gander. So after doing some checking, here are some of my favorite homemade pest controls that use everyday household items and seem to solve the most common bug problems:
For Ants:

  • Use vinegar. Wash countertops, cabinets, and the floor with equal parts vinegar and water to deter ant infestations.
  • Flour and Borax*. Mix 1 cup flour and 2 cups borax in a quart jar. Punch holes in the jar lid and sprinkle the mixture outside around the foundation of your home.

For Flies:

  • Prevention: Keep the kitchen garbage tightly closed. Sprinkle dry soap or borax* into garbage cans after they’ve been washed and dried; it acts as a repellent.
  • Orange. Scratch the skin of an orange and leave it out; the citrus acts as a repellent.
  • Cloves. Hang clusters of cloves to repel flies.
  • Mint or Basil. Mint planted around the home repels flies. A pot of basil set on the windowsill or table will also repel flies (and well-watered basil produces a stronger scent).
  • Sugar and Syrup. You can make your own fly paper using sugar, syrup, and water. Click HERE and/or HERE for examples and instructions.

For Mice:

  • Mashed Potato Powder or Buds. Place instant mashed potato powder or buds in strategic places with a dish of water close by. After eating the powder or buds mice will need water. This causes fatal bloating. *Gross!*

For Mosquitos:

  • Prevention: Encourage natural predators such as dragonflies or praying mantises. Eliminate pools of stagnant water as they are a breeding ground for mosquitos. Perfumes, bright colors, flowery prints, and bright jewelry attract mosquitos.
  • Tansy or Basil. Plant tansy or basil around the patio and house to repel mosquitos

For Moths:

  • Note: If you can see moths, these aren’t the ones to worry about. Moths that cause damage to clothes are too small to notice. It is the larvae of these moths that eat fabric.
  • Prevention: Store items in a clean condition (moths especially like areas soiled with food stains or perspiration and will lay eggs in those areas– so don’t let your dirty clothes sit in the dirty hamper for too long) :); shake out your stored clothes periodically and hang in sunlight (this will kill the fragile larvae); keep your closet clean and dusted (moths love dust as much as fabric)
  • Rosemary, Mint, Thyme, Cloves, Peppercorns, Cayenne Pepper, Etc. Make a sachet out of a mixture or herbs and natural items such as the ones listed. Hang them in your closet, throw them in a drawer, etc. Be sure to tie them up well in the sachet so they don’t fall out and stain your clothes.
  • Dried Lavender or Rosemary and Mint. Make sachets of dried lavender or equal parts of rosemary and mint. Place in closets, drawers, and closed containers to mothproof garments.
  • Molasses, Vinegar, and Yellow Container. Make your own moth trap. Click HERE and/or HERE for instructions.

For Roaches: (my LEAST favorite! Yuck!!)

  • Prevention: Close off all gaps around pipes and electric lines where they enter the house. Caulk small cracks along baseboards, walls, cupboards, and around pipes, sinks, and bathtub fixtures. Seal food tightly. Wash food off dishes that will be left out overnight. Do not leave pet food out overnight.
  • Flour, Cocoa Powder, and Borax*. Mix together 2 Tbsp flour, 4 Tbsp borax, and 1 Tbsp cocoa powder. Set the mixture out in dishes. (Caution: Borax is toxic if eaten. Do NOT use this method around small children or pets.)
  • Borax* and Flour. Mix 1/2 cup borax and 1/4 cup flour and fill a mason jar. Punch small holes in the lid and sprinkle the mixture along baseboards and doorsills. (Caution: Borax is toxic if eaten. This method may not be for you if you have young children and/or pets.)
  • Oatmeal, Flour, and Plaster of Paris. Mix equal parts and set in dishes. Keep out of reach of children and pets.
  • Baking Soda and Powdered Sugar. Mix equal parts and spread around the infested area(s).

For Slugs and Snails:

  • Sand, Lime, or Ashes. Snails avoid protective borders of sand, lime, or ashes.

So if you’ve got a problem with any of the aforementioned pesky pests, you may want to give some of these solutions a try before you go shelling out the big bucks for a pro. Here’s wishing you a bug-free weekend! Ta-ta! 🙂

*CAUTION: Borax is toxic if eaten, so please keep it out of the reach of children or pets. You may need to use other remedy options if you have young children or pets in your home.

Source and additional homemade pest control remedies:

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Grocery Shopping Tips

Hey ya’ll! Since we’ve moved into our shopping portion of ‘The Plan’, I thought it might be a good idea to brush up on our grocery shopping tips and tricks to help us save a little time and money at the store.
Here’s a compilation of all the shopping tips I could find (well, the good ones anyway :))…

  1. Eat before you go! Duh. But do it! You’re far less likely to make impulse purchases if your tummy isn’t grumbling at you.
  2. Make a list of what you need before you go and then stick to it. Obviously if you see something at the store that should have been on your list but you forgot to write down, then go ahead and get it. But try to avoid any of those impulse purchases that you really don’t need and really can’t afford.
  3. Shop less. Try not to go to the store more than once a week. Not only will this save gas, but it also gives you fewer opportunities to make those blasted impulse purchases.
  4. Buy ‘Loss Leaders’. These are the real bargain items that are designed to get customers in the door (stores often sell these items at or below cost). You can often identify them because they will have a limit to how many you can buy. (But don’t just buy them because they’re there. Only buy them if you’ll use them!) So check the store circulars to see what incentives they’ve got and then add them to your list.
  5. Try store/generic brands. You may like them! And if not, most stores will refund your money.
  6. Coupons. Use them if you can handle it. Some stores don’t even need coupons. You can go online and upload sale prices to their ‘frequent shopper cards’ and then just scan that at the store. Either way, try to take advantage of the discounted offers out there.
  7. Stock up when items are on sale. I know some people say they never buy anything unless it’s on sale. Props to them. I’m not quite there yet, but it’s something I aspire to. 🙂 But I do try to stock up when there is a really good price.
  8. And on that note, know what a ‘really good price’ is. Just because something is in the advertisement flyer doesn’t mean it’s on sale. And 1 or 2 pennies off the regular price doesn’t exactly constitute a ‘sale’ in my book either, although the store will often tell you otherwise. So don’t get tricked by those little gimmicks.
  9. Shop the ‘Unit Price’. Sometimes buying in bulk is actually more expensive than buying the smaller/individual sizes! So check the unit price to find what is actually the better deal. (You can usually find the unit price on the sticker shelf label that lists the package price. If not, use a calculator and just divide the total price by the ounces in the package.)
  10. Remember that higher priced items are usually put at eye-level. So be sure to check the top and bottom shelves for better buys.
  11. Avoid ‘convenience foods’ when looking for the best deal (unless they’re on a fabulous sale). Sometimes I will buy pre-packaged or pre-sliced items because my time is more important than the money. But that is a rare occasion… or at least it should be. 🙂 It is much more cost effective to buy whole items and then cut them up yourself.
  12. Check expiration dates on dairy items as well as sale items. Frequently the items on sale are the ones that are about to expire. So don’t buy it if you won’t be able to use it before it’s gone bad. You’ll just be throwing away your money… no matter how good of a deal it was.
  13. Watch the scanner when checking out. This can be hard to do if you’re still unloading your cart (or if you have two wiggly toddlers running around), but errors occur more often than many of us think. If you catch an error in the price, some stores will give you the item for free. If not, at least you avoided overpaying. If you can’t watch the scanner, you could also check your receipt before you leave the store. But for me, once I’m out of the store, if I overpaid, it’s more of a hassle to go back and deal with the issue than to lose the amount of money I overpaid by (especially if I have kids in tow and ice cream that’s ready to melt). So try to catch it right when it happens.

Alright. Well that about does it. 13 tips. A baker’s dozen. Do you have any tips that work for you? Feel free to share it with the other readers in the comments. In the meantime, enjoy your weekend and happy shopping to ya’ll!

Frugal Friday: Homemade Air Fresheners

Wanna freshen up your home, but tired of paying for all those plug-in, candle burning, lasts for only 2-days type fresheners? Well try making your own! I can’t vouch for whether they last longer or not, but they’re definitely less expensive. And not only is making homemade air fresheners frugal fun, it’s also a great project to do with the kiddos (provided they’re old enough to actually work with the ingredients.) I came across THIS site that has several different ideas for homemade air fresheners. Click on the links for instructions on how to make them, but here’s a quick glimpse of all the fun you could have. 🙂

With these homemade gel fresheners, you can make a different color for each room in your house and a different scent for each season of the year. And go ahead and add some glitter, sparkle, rocks, or any cute little odds & end for a fun and stylish twist. (idea shared from Katie in Idaho)

These scented “rocks” are really more like a scented salt dough. You can color them any which way you want as well as give them all sorts of fun scents. Hang them up in your closet or throw some in your drawers to keep your clothes smelling nice. Or just put them all over your house. 🙂 (idea shared from Dixie in Carson City)

And here are some additional home freshener tips:

  1. Put a drop of perfume or essential oil on the top of a light bulb, and the fragrance is released each time the light is switched on.
  2. Pour a few drops of inexpensive perfume or essential oil in a small spray bottle and top off with water to make a spray air freshener that can be used on soft furnishings and bedding.
  3. For a lovely Christmas or winter air freshener, place a few cloves, some broken cinnamon sticks and a sprinkling of allspices into a small pot of water. Gently heat then simmer for 1 or 2 hours, leaving the internal doors open so the smell can travel through out your home.
    Other good ingredients are orange and lemon rinds, and sliced apple with a broken cinnamon stick ( this last one makes the house smell like apple pie.) just follow the same method as for the winter homemade air freshener (ideas shared from Mary in Maine)

Enjoy your scented home! 🙂