How to Build a Garden Bed in the High Desert

Growing vegetables is a big part of our spring and summer around here.  We like to grow our own food as much as we can.  Once you start you get spoiled.  The produce in the grocery store, while it looks good, pales in comparison when it comes to flavor and freshness.   We just had green beans last night from the store.  They looked great.  The taste?….Meh…..

Don’t get me started on Whole Foods Paycheck either.  You don’t really save money gardening unless you happen to shop there.  I don’t know why they have all those buttons on their cash registers since it seems that they simply take the number of items you picked out and multiply it by $20.

Back to gardening… » » »

How to Make a Soil Blocker

It’s seed starting season.  Yea!!

You can start seeds in any variety of containers.  People use everything from empty egg shells to the plastic six packs last years plants came in to just about any container laying around.  There comes a point at the beginning of the season when you have a lot of plants going and containers can get scarce.  Imagine if you didn’t have to deal with storing mounds of little plastic pots and just did without containers all together!  Well you can and the answer to your prayers is the soil blocker.  It compresses soil into…well…blocks.

Now you can buy a soil block maker.  They cost about 30 bucks from Johnny’s seeds but what’s the fun in that?   I decided to make my own.
You can too .
It’s not that hard. » » »

Homemade Sausage Stuffer

sausage and stuffer

Making sausage is easy and delicious.  Making it yourself comes with all the advantages of any homemade food.  You know what’s going in to it (what do you think goes into industrial sausage?) and you can adjust the flavors to your taste.  It’s also relatively inexpensive even with high quality ingredients.  All you need to make sausage is meat, fat, spices and a knife.  That’s all anyone needed for centuries.  Everything else makes it more convenient but isn’t necessary.

A meat grinder will definitely make your life easier.  I use an attachment that goes on the front of our Kitchenaid mixer.  You can also get an inexpensive hand cranked one that does the job just fine. » » »

The New Plant Starting Station (AKA the laundry room)

A few weeks ago Mike showed you how you can make your own seed light station and how to make seed flats.  That light station was our first attempt at growing seeds indoors.  The idea was to get a jump on the growing season and avoid having to purchase (those oh so pricey) vegetable plants at the store.  Molly loves flowers but hates the price so she spent a goodly amount of time starting flowers from seeds.

Mike:  The small seed station was a great start but we wanted to have much more going on.

Molly:  It just wasn’t enough space.

Mike:  I ended up building  a makeshift growing station under the large art desk we have in the living room.  I attached some lights to the underside of the desk and we started shoving seed starts underneath.

glowing table » » »

Craisen Love Bars

Molly and I are super busy trying to launch a  new niche site.  As we hustle over the next couple weeks to put it together we’re going to pull out some oldie but goodies and lean on some friends for guest posts to fill in around the edges.   This one is a re-post from my first blog- Stuff I Made This Year.

I like Crasins fine, wouldn’t say I loooove them but we’ll get to that later. I didn’t plan on posting so much about food when I decided to start this blog.  I thought I’d be posting about machines and other constructed stuff.  It turns out that making food is a great way to scratch the project making itch for me. Cooking neatly contains all the components I want in a project:

Inspiration- I used to have an hour and twenty minute commute to work each way.  If I didn’t have podcasts to listen to I would go insane.  Lately,  most of my favorites are food related.  Often when I hear someone describing a recipe or dish that sounds delicious I jot it down to try later. » » »

Seed Starting Flats

Back in the day nurseries used wooden trays to start their plants.  Rather than having plastic six packs with a cell for each seedling, seeds were sown in the tray and allowed to germinate.  Soon after the seedlings appeared the plants were separated and replanted into individual pots or transferred to a garden bed.

The idea of using durable reusable trays rather than flimsy disposable plastic pots appealed to me.  I wanted to try it out so I decided to make my own set of planting flats.

Scrap Wood

The scrap wood pile is always a good place to start for a project like this.  I happened to have a pile of short boards that our weird neighbor gave me. (I consulted with Molly and she agrees he totally goes into the ‘weird’ category). » » »

DIY Honey Lip Balm

Today I’m talking lips.  Out here in the desert it’s dry (I know, big surprise).  The lips seem to be the first thing to go when you come here from humid parts of the country.   The skin on your lips can get destroyed quickly.  A few hours out in the wind can leave them dry and chapped for days. I’ve learned that being a little proactive has helped prevent my lips from going from luscious to cracked and peeling!

» » »

Yurt Reborn!….slowly….in stages

When we last left the yurt it was still standing but was decaying and in serious need of repair.  The outer weatherproof cover had deteriorated again and the smell of mildew was pervasive.  The mice were ransacking the interior and the flooring was starting to rot.  The yurt needed help and lots of it.  For a while (quite a while) we just let it sit while we considered a strategy to deal with all of the yurt’s needs.

The first step was to take it down before it deteriorated any further.  In the spring of 2008 Molly and I disassembled the yurt and packed it up.   Most of the platform and the outer covering went to the dump.  Now we just needed a home for the rest.  Storing a building sized tent as well as the furnishings inside of it was a challenge but we managed to shoehorn it all into our various other outbuildings.

Molly:  It was a sad day when we took it down.  It had been this thing of beauty and now it was…not.  

Mike: Yeah, one more face lift was not going to recapture her lost loveliness.  It was just going to make her look permanently surprised. » » »

Veggie Seed Saving

It’s that time of year when we pull out the seeds and start some indoor gardening.  Even though we have snow on the ground and currently falling we have to start preparing our garden.

Currently our back garden

Wintertime in our back garden

When we (Mike) expanded our vegetable garden to 460 sq ft last year our intention was two-fold: 1) grow food so we knew where it came from 2) cut back on our grocery expenses.  The issue with the latter is that yes, we can spend less at the grocery store but we can easily see that savings go right into growing our own food.  Over the next few weeks we will share some ways we’ve been learning to keep our costs down.  It takes a little forethought- last year we learned so much we can’t wait to start this year’s garden. » » »

Are We Rich or Poor?

This year Molly started to notice a shift in the girls’ perception towards our standard of living.  Even with the two of us out of work for most of 2011 our spending has changed very little compared to the previous year.  When we cut our expenses back by 50% a few years ago they perceived us as a family who had money but chose not to spend it.  There’s an interesting interview Molly did with the girls 2 years ago about their take on our cutting back on Molly On Money.  In the interview they talk about their initial fears but in the end they were happy that we did cut back and paid off our debt.

Lately we’ve heard them make comments to the effect that we are ‘poor’ and cannot afford to have a nice things like so-and-so’s car.  So let us repeat…how we spend our money now compared to when we had much larger incomes has not changed but somehow we’ve become ‘poor’. » » »