It’s always hard to give up a chunk of time to go do something during the summer when there is so much to be done at home. This past weekend was my second Seed Saving Class and I have to say it was well worth the time!

The gardens were so beautiful and it was amazing to see the difference in just a month.

Vermont, seed saving

Sylvia’s Gardens

So much was covered in the two hours I actually took six pages of notes! Sylvia has her various plants that she is collecting seed from well spaced out. She has several small plots of wheat and barley.

grains, seed saving

Maturing Wheat

These are heirloom varieties and not the more modern wheat, which is often not as tall. How pretty are the heads of wheat as they are maturing!

grains, seed saving

wheat

I have never grown sweet potatoes but I am going to have to give it a try. Sylvia has four varieties that she grows each year; Georgia Jet, Beauregard, Red Yam and Carolina Ruby. We spent some time going over the different way to create slips, which is what you use to plant sweet potatoes. Quite different from regular potatoes where you plant sections of the tubers.

slips, gardening

Sweet potato slips

There was also information on knowing when to harvest your seeds. For example tomatoes and melon seeds are ready when you eat the fruit unlike peppers, eggplants and cucumber where you have to let the vegetables over ripen before the seeds are ready to save.

Spacing was another topic that was covered, some plants need extra space if you are going to let them go to seed for example parsnips. Onion and leeks don’t require as much space.

seed saving, spacing

Leeks gone to seed

The number of plants to plant also varies. To collect a good sample of seeds from corn you need more than 100 plants to have a good gene pool to work from.

plant spacing, seed saving

Spacing of Escarole

I also learned that you can grow rice in Vermont! There are some varieties that do not require that they be grown in rice paddies. It will be interesting to follow this rice crop through the season.

rice, grains, seed saving

Rice plants

I really enjoy spending time with fellow gardeners. Especially when they are facing many of the same challenges you are. Here in Vermont we face a very short growing season with frosts as early as Labor Day and you really can’t start putting things in the ground until the end of May! Learning what other people are doing to extend their growing season is invaluable. Learning that by saving your own seeds you can actually develop seeds that have a better tolerance for the cold. Your seed viability also increases; Sylvia says she has seeds that are still 100% viable after five years!

gardening, Vermont

Another View of Sylvia’s Gardens

It was another wonderful class, I look forward to going back in July!

stone, walls

Garden walls

 

Linked to: AnOregonCottage, MsGreenthumbJean, ASouthernDreamer, BlissfulRhythm, Tootsietime.com, NaturalMothersNetwork

Several months ago I spent a weekend at the Prudent Living booth at the Hanover Home Show.

Prudent Living, Home Show

Hanover, NH Home Show

It was a great weekend with many opportunities to interact with local people and find out what they thought about “Prudent Living”. During my time at the booth I asked people if they would be willing to share a frugal tip. I was amazed at the variety of answers, everything from “what’s a frugal tip?” to folks that should be writing a book! I managed to collect over 35 different frugal tips. I’d like to share a few with you today.

Frugal & Prudent Living Tips From the Home show

1.  Grow your own vegetables.

gardening, vegetables

vegetables from the garden

2.  Recycle to have less garbage.
3.  Buy in bulk.
4.  Cook from scratch.
5.  Instead of buying egg replacer substitute a banana! (Used what was on hand)
6.  Use coupons every week.

coupons, frugal, price book, prudent living

Coupons

7.  Get all your Christmas presents from recycling.
8.  Shut off lights when not in use.
9.  Turn down your heat when not at home.

heat control, frugal tip, prudent living

thermostat

10. Buy chicken bones from the local co-op to make stock.
11. Re-use your plastic bags.

recycle, re-use

Re-use your plastic bags!

12. Use refillable water bottles instead of buying disposable bottles.
13. Hang your clothes outside.

clothes drying, prudent living

Laundry

14. Raise your own chickens for meat and eggs.

chickens, eggs, hens

Fresh Eggs

15. The funniest reply I got was a man who said he leaves his wife home when shopping!

shopping, frugal tips

Men and women shopping

Linked to: LearningTheFrugalLife, TheThriftyHome, WeAreThatFamily, Gnowfglins.com, FemineAdventures, Thrifty101

Every year our fields are full of wild strawberries.

strawberries, prudent living

Wild Field Strawberries

They are tiny but full of flavor.

fruit, wild, berries

Tiny Strawberries

However it takes a lot of time to pick a cup or two, which is generally what you need to make muffins. Our pug, Purtie, used to spend hours grazing eating every little strawberry she could find.

dogs, pugs

Purtie, our beloved pug.

We sure miss her but we are able to find a lot more strawberries this year.  My husband was sweet enough to spend some time and picked me a full cup of strawberries.

strawberries, prudent living, recipes

Cup of prepared berries

In exchange I made him a batch of his favorite muffins. I’m sure they would be wonderful with blueberries or regular strawberries but we just love them made with the wild strawberries.

Wild Strawberry Spice Muffins

1 ¾ cup flour
½ cup sugar
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1 cup wild strawberries

Topping (optional)

1 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon

In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Combine the egg and milk. Add the egg mixture and butter to the dry ingredients; stir just until moistened. Fold in the strawberries.

muffins, recipe box

Gently fold in strawberries

Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups two-thirds full.

batter, muffins

Muffin tin filled two-thirds full.

Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool for five minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Makes 1 dozen.

Enjoy!

muffins, berry, strawberries

Wild Strawberry Spice Muffin

Linked to: DesignsByGollum, NotYourOrdinaryRecipes, SimplySweetHome, HomeMaidSimple, AnnKroeker, MomTrends, SimpleLivingDianeBalch, ComfyInTheKitchen, JulieJewels1, AtThePicketFence, Stuff-and-Nonsense, 21stCenturyHousewife, Alli-n-Son, LilSurbanHomestead, Sweet-as-Sugar, CountryMommaCooks, SixSistersStuff, NaturalMothersNetwork, TheMorrisTribe, MyFavoriteFinds, MakeAheadMealsForBusyMoms, theBetterMom, RaisingArrows, DelightfullyDowling, MrsHappyHomemaker, MamalDiane, YummyInspirations, OurDelightfulHome, Nap-TimeCreations, BlessedWithGrace, MandysRecipeBox, InsideBruCrew, 33ShadesofGreen, Mamaldiane, CrazyForCrust, ItsABlogParty, PreMediatedLeftovers, RaisingHomemakers, iBlog4Me, TheKingsCourt, GingerSnapCrafts, Earning-My-Cape, BizzyBakes, DJsSugarShack, FrugalFollies, MizHelensCountryCottage, ALittleNosh, ThesePeasTasteFunny, AGlimpseInside, SomethingSwanky, AllieMakes, DelightfulOrder, Kadie-SevenAlive, LifeAsMom, GodsGrowingGarden, TheCountryCook, TwoMaidsaMilking, GooseberryPatch, IAmAddictedToRecipes, GooseberryPatch

Today I have yet another recipe using rhubarb! Last week’s chutney recipe was so delicious I decided to try another chutney recipe. This one uses dates, apricots and ginger. The dates and apricots are supposed to give a rich flavor to the sweet-sour taste of rhubarb. What’s not to like! The recipe is from my all time favorite canning book, Small Batch Preserving

preserving boks, prudent pantry

Small Batch Preserving

by Ellie Topp & Margaret Howard. I don’t think I’ve ever made a recipe out of this book that wasn’t absolutely delicious! As the title indicates the recipes are all for small batches. You will only end up with three to four cups. Some of the pickle recipes make more, so you might end up with 6 pints.  This Rhubarb, Date and Apricot Chutney is a perfect addition to my pantry!

Rhubarb, Date and Apricot Chutney

4 cups sliced rhubarb

chutney, prudent pantry

Rhubarb

1 cup chopped dried dates

chutney, prudent pantry

Chopped, dried, dates

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
½ cup chopped dried apricots
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup finely chopped onions

onions, chutney

Chopped onions

¼ cup finely chopped crystalized ginger

ginger, chutney, prudent pantry

Crystalized Ginger

1 tsp curry powder
¼ tsp salt

Combine rhubarb, dates, sugar, apricots, vinegar, onion, ginger, curry powder, nutmeg and salt in a medium stainless steel or enamel saucepan.

chutney, prudent pantry

Chutney ingredients

Bring to a boil over medium high heat; reduce heat and cook, uncovered, for 8 minutes or until thickened and fruit is soft, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile prepare your jars for canning.

Remove hot jars form canner and ladle chutney into jars within ½ inch of rim. Process 10 minutes for half-pints and 15 minutes for pint jars.

Makes about 3 cups.

chutney, rhubarb

Rhubarb, Date and Apricot Chutney

Linked to: HomemakersChallenge, AGlimpseInside, KatherinesCorner, DelightfulOrder, Gnowfglins, LauraWilliamsMusings, DeborahJeansDandelionHouse, CountryMommaCooks, HomesteadRevival, thePrairieHomestead, FrugallySustainable

It’s been a rainy week here in Vermont. Rain is good for the garden so I don’t really mind. Plus it gives me a chance to get caught up on those inside chores that I’ve been neglecting! In the meantime I thought you might like to see an update of my early June garden.

The seeds planted are sprouting along with the weeds! My garlic patch is very robust.

vegetables, gardening

garlic

Remember my new garden bed? It hardly looks like a new garden now!

perennials, garden bed

New Garden Bed

My poor peppers are doing well but not enjoying this cool week.

vegetables, garden

Peppers

Happy to see flowers on the tomatoes.

tomatoes, prudent living

Flowers on the tomatoes!

The first strawberry was also spotted, I’ll be able to enjoy fresh strawberries very soon!

strawberries, fruits

The first strawberry!

I also want to share an experiment I’m trying this year – growing potatoes in buckets. After checking out numerous videos on YouTube I thought I’d give it a try. We have a bunch of white five gallon buckets that I usually use for covering plants during an early spring frost. I figured I could still use the buckets in the spring even with holes drilled in the bottoms.

First we drilled holes in the bottoms of the buckets.

potatoes, gardening

Drilling holes in buckets

potatoes, gardening

Holes in the bucket.

I then placed a few inches of dirt in the bottom of each bucket.

potatoes, experiment, prudent living

My potato patch

On top of the dirt I then placed three pieces of potato. These pieces of potato had been cut the day before so the cut sides could heal. This way they are less apt to attract disease organisms.

potatoes, gardening

Planting potatoes

I then sprinkled another few inches of dirt on top of the potatoes. As the potatoes start growing I will continue to cover them with more dirt. Eventually when the potatoes are ready to harvest I will just dump the dirt out of the buckets and harvest the potatoes. At least that’s how it is supposed to work in theory! I will let you follow along with this experiment.

After a week of rain I am still waiting to see signs of growth!

potatoes, gardening

Potato Patch

Linked to: AnOregonCottage, MsGreenThumbJean, SideWalkShoes, ASouthernDaydreamer, TheBrambleberryCottage, BlissfulRhythm, TootsieTime

 

 

We are just about halfway through the year which is a perfect time of year to review your budget. If you aren’t following a budget it is a perfect time to create one!

I grew up and attended college and learned the skills needed to earn a living, but I was never required to take even one class on how to manage my money! I never learned, based on my level of income, how much I could afford to spend on housing, food, transportation, insurance etc. Instead my husband and I learned through trial and error, mostly error! I read numerous books and finally learned how to create a budget.

budget, prudent living

Financial Books

A budget is a written plan to determine how the income will be allocated in a proper balance to meet all the needs and goals.

It’s never too late to start living on a budget. Creating a budget really isn’t that hard and you don’t need to make it hard. Your first step is figuring out just how much money is coming in each month. Add in all sources of income, this could be salary, gifts, interest or tax refunds.

income, salary, budget

Figuring out your income

The next step is to figure out what you need to live on each month. Go through your checkbook and figure out all of your fixed expenses such as utilities, mortgage or rent, insurance, auto/transportation and groceries. Determine what you owe as well for credit cards, loans, etc.

budget, prudent living, frugal tips

Determining your Expenses

By adding up your total income and subtracting your expenses this will give you an idea as to where you stand. Ideally you want the income to be greater than the expenses!

Once you have the big picture down on paper you can take a hard look at where your money is going and areas of spending where you can cut back.

There are many books and online resources to help you have a balanced budget. One of the best books I’ve read recently on the subject is called The Money Saving Mom’s Budget.

financial, budget, prudent living

The Money Saving Mom's Budget

It is well written and easy to read and understand. If you’ve been putting off creating a budget this book may give you the encouragement you need. One of the best suggestions the author gives is that if you are new to budgeting give yourself time to work out a full-fledged budget. Start first with a single area of spending – a food budget, this will help you to shift your habits. You’ll see changes there which will help you to move on toward developing a full budget for your family.

budget, finances

Linked to: LearningTheFrugalLife , TheThriftyHome, WeAreThatFamily, FeminineAdventure

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