Smoothies: Beginner’s Luck

Ladybean73 of Adrift in Crafts has been doing a lot of green smoothies and poor Liisa has been doing a lot of juicing and smoothies. And green smoothies seem to be all the rage right now. So, through some sort of weird internet osmosis, green smoothies sounded like a good idea one day.  I’m not sure what possessed me to do it, but I finally took the leap and blended up spinach.

And it wasn’t terrible.

It was actually kind of good.

And Rex loved it.

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I started with the Beginner’s Luck Green Smoothie off of Simple Green Smoothies.  It is easy and tasty.  I followed the instructions to a T, even blending the spinach and water up first for better texture.  I used frozen mango and pineapple, because that’s what I had on hand.  It came together quickly and hit the spot.

And did I mention that Rex loves this smoothie? Yep. It is toddler approved!  He actually makes this smoothie with me. I wish I had a picture, but I didn’t think to take one. He stands on his chair at the counter, putting in the mangoes and pineapple, one piece at a time. He takes a while, but when he’s finished, he looks to me and says, “Boop dis!” and points to the blender. He loves to push the button and especially enjoys the finished product. These smoothies have been serving as a stop-gap between quiet time and dinner time. They give my little man enough to keep going without ruining his dinner. Often he cries for more when his cup is empty.

Seriously, if you’re thinking of braving that first green smoothie, this is the one to try.

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Peas & Carrots

Over the weekend, my oldest nephew popped over and helped me with some heavy lifting and gardening labor.  He cleaned out the bed that will one day house cucumbers and other plants.  He also set up my new strawberry bed.

This simple bed (inspired by this post found via Pinterest) is made from the leftover cinder blocks after my large L-shaped bed was demolished.  Unfortunately, I can’t count, so I only purchased 6 strawberry plants.  The two plants in the front lower compartments are leftover spinach from the planting that went into the bed by the shed.  When it gets too hot for spinach, those two pods will house flowers or other warm-weather crops.  The bed is nestled neatly in some dead space between the back porch and the AC unit.

This bed now houses onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach, and sugar snap peas.  I’m hoping they will all play nicely together.  Very soon, I will be adding a trellis at the back of this bed for the peas to climb.  I’m thinking some modified hog panel will do the trick (an idea suggested by my Dad).  The lettuce, spinach, and peas were planted with the help of my five year old nephew.  He also weeded and planted carrots in the dirt where the L-shaped bed used to be.

The blocks were removed, but the dirt remained, so we simply put some rocks around the front and decided to give it a shot.  We planted Nelson carrots on the left side of this bed.  We ran out about halfway towards the right.  A trip to the Grange procured some Sugar Snax (chosen by T), but those will have to wait to go in until these ones sprout since I have no idea how far over we planted…

Worm Bin Part 2

Today is a continuation of the worm bin saga.  I originally posted about building a bin from recycled materials.  It took me a few days to source some local Red Wigglers, but I did it!  (I know, I know… I can lay some newspaper on the ground and wet it down and get worms, but I wanted this specific type.)  I found my worms at the local Extension Service for $20/lb.  Since my bin is so small, I requested a half pound ($10).  The money goes towards the local agricultural programs there at the Extension Service, so it’s a win/win for everyone.  During the few days it took to get my worms, I started filling my bin with yummy compost.

Delicious, eh?  Our bin is mostly egg shells and coffee grounds with some sad carrots, a squishy lemon, and liquifying lettuce thrown in for good measure.  It is lined with newspaper and also has a couple cups of dirt to get them going.  The bin is about half full at this time.

My worms came home in style in a recycled English Muffin bag, packed safely in their castings.  They also came with a short instruction sheet for maintaining the vermicomposting bin, including some trouble-shooting.

I gently poured the worms, castings and all, into their new home and then covered them with damp newspaper.

Then, I placed the bin on four small pots on its tray in the shed.

The bin will live here until temperatures get too hot, and then it will be moved somewhere cooler.  I’ll try to rotate the bin every week or so, ensuring that the compost isn’t always placed in one spot.

All in all, this setup cost me $10.78.  The extra $0.78 is for two more of those little pots so I could set it up with 4 for a more stable stand.  The pots ensure air flow and drainage so my wormies don’t drown.  The tray will catch any delicious worm juice that can then be poured onto the garden.  If this setup works well, I’ll either a) make a second bin or b) make a larger bin.  I’ll keep you posted!

Starting Seeds on the Cheap

I know I’m a few weeks behind starting my tomato seeds (sorry, Liisa!), but I finally got around to doing so today.  The problem I was running into was the lack of a starter tray.  My tray met with an untimely demise last year and I never replaced it.  As I ranted in my last post, I didn’t really like it anyway.  So instead, I got a little creative.  Let me introduce you to my $1 seed setup.

The seed trays are recycled egg cartons, tops removed, on a $1 lipped cookie sheet from the Dollar Store.  The tags are from a box in the recycling bin that I cut up and made into spikes, labeled with Sharpie.  I used a chopstick to make the seed holes and the soil bin is a dish washing bin I already had.  Not too bad, eh?  I had some old pony packs running around in the shed, but this seemed like a more compact solution.  They have been settled into a cat-free room under a slightly transparent dishpan I found in the shed.  I’m letting the egg cartons soak up the water from the bottom so as not to drown the new seeds.

What is in the trays, you ask?  Well, thanks to my labels, I can tell you (and I’ll be able to remember in a week).  All of my seeds are from Territorial.  I like buying from a local-ish company because they tend to carry seeds that grow really well in this area.

The back tray is all tomatoes, all the time.  Three different kinds, four pods of each.  From left to right are Brandywine, Gold Nugget, and Nova.  In the front tray are four pods of Parel Cabbage (I found the seeds in the shed and figured, why not?) and 8 pods of Marigolds (Brocade Mix).  I love Marigolds and they’re always so expensive to buy as plants.  I figured I’d give starting the flowers from seed a shot.

My total seed cost so far this year is around the $12 mark.  I have 4 pony packs of starts sitting outside that cost me around $10.  The cabbage and Nova tomatoes were leftover from last year.  I also have cucumber, carrot, and bean seeds from last year that will be planted at some point.  Since I tend to be an extremely negligent gardener, I’m trying not to invest a ton into this year’s garden.

What are you planting?

Worm Bin

Continuing the spring gardening saga around here… Hubby helped me put together a worm bin!

Made entirely of materials we had on hand, this zero cost composter is my first go at vermicomposting.  I followed the instructions here, subbing in a different size box and a recycled boot tray.  The tray had a bit of a crack, so I used some good old duct tape to fix it up.

Hubby drilled the holes so it has plenty of air circulation.  It will be set up on something (like recycled pots) so that there is plenty of airflow and the worm juices can drip out.  Now I just need some newspaper and worms and we’re good to go!