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Posts Tagged ‘Frugality’

  1. Claussen Refrigerator Pickle Recipe

    August 7, 2013 by Jocelyn Baker

    When it comes to pickles, I’m a bit of a snob. Sweet pickles? Yuck. Less that crunchy pickles? No way. In my life, I’ve only ever liked ONE of the numerous homemade pickles that I’ve tried. I’ve never tried making them myself, because I was convinced that even I couldn’t make a pickle that I would like. Until I discovered this awesome refrigerator pickle recipe, that is. And guess what? They’re delicious!

    Refrigerator Pickles

    At the grocery store, Claussen pickles are my favorite; they’re always crunchy and have a great flavor. So when I found a recipe for Claussen-like refrigerator pickles, I had to give it a try!

    I bought 1 pound of pickling cukes at my local farmer’s market for $2, and tested the recipe with 1 pint sized jar. The recipe below will work for about 2 pounds of pickling cukes.

    Ingredients for Refrigerator Pickles

    Ingredients

    1 1/2 c. water
    1 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
    2 Tbsp. pickling salt
    1 tsp. minced garlic
    1/2 tsp. onion powder
    6 large sprigs of fresh baby dill
    1/2 tsp. mustard seed
    1 tsp. black peppercorns

    First combine the water, vinegar, salt, and spices (not the dill) in a saucepan and set it to high. As that heats up, wash and cut up the cucumbers. I just cut the ends off and sliced them in half. Then fill the jars with the cukes and dill.

    Once your brine has heated through, and the salt has all dissolved, take it off the heat and let it cool. It works best if you strain out the mustard seeds and peppercorns then divide them equally among the jars. Once the brine has cooled a bit, fill your jars to completely cover the cucumbers, leaving at least 1/4 inch of space at the top.

    Put the lids lightly on your jars or cover with cheesecloth, and then let them sit out of sunlight on the counter for 2-4 days. I could only wait 2 days before I had to try them, and they were good, but not quite pickle-y enough. I ended up leaving them out for just over 3 days before putting them in the fridge. You’ll want to let them chill for at least a few hours to get the best pickle experience!

    Making Pickles

    Do you have any great homemade pickle recipes? Please share them in the comments!


  2. Organic Gardening: #4 – How to Thin Seedlings

    May 1, 2013 by Jocelyn

    Despite doing my best to ignore the never ending winter we’ve been having, I still can’t help but feel that summer is really far away! I suppose that’s what happens when it’s May and there’s still snow in the forecast.  

    So while I continue ignoring our terrible weather, I bring to you Part 4 of my Organic Gardening Series: How to Thin Seedlings. Below you can see a photo of my little tomato seedlings, which are doing quite well. I have cabbage and onion seedlings that should technically be outside already, but I’m waiting another week or so for that.

    Thinning Seedlings

    Why You Should Thin Seedlings

    When you live in a cold climate where the growing season is short, it’s very likely that you’ll be starting seeds indoors up to 10 weeks before planting them outside. That’s a long time, and your little plants will need a lot of room to grow before being transplanted. If seedlings are not thinned down to 1 plant per potting cell, there won’t be enough room for all of the roots to grow and none of the plants will thrive.

    I Know It Hurts

    As much as it pains me to snip the little guys down, I’ve come to realize that it’s something that needs to be done. It’s so hard when seeing the first little sprouts come up give you such joy, and then you have to go through and take a bunch of them out. I’ve gotten better about thinning my seedlings over the years, and my plants have been stronger for it. My recommendation for those of you that have a hard time with this is to take your little seedlings and put them right into the compost bin. This way their sacrifice isn’t going to waste!

    When to Thin Them
    I generally start 3-4 seeds per pot, and thin down to the strongest one as soon as the leaves start touching each other. At this point, they’re usually between 2 and 3 inches tall.

    How to Thin Them

    The easiest and least invasive way to thin your seedlings is to use a pair of scissors and snip them off at the base. If you’re careful and your seedlings are still small, you may be able to gently pull them out of the soil without disturbing the roots of the other seedlings.

    Before:
    Thinning Seedlings

    After:
    Thin Seedlings

    Voila! Once thinned out, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the remaining seedlings seem to grow! Next time, I’ll be talking about transitioning your seedlings to the outdoors, and getting your garden planting started. Hopefully after our record-breaking snow amounts in April, May will quickly turn around and warm things up for us. Here’s hoping!

    Thanks for reading, folks!


  3. Organic Gardening: Part 3 – Starting Seeds

    April 11, 2013 by Jocelyn

    This is Part 3 of my Organic Gardening Series: Starting Seeds. The series of images below is a really fast and basic guide to seed starting if you’re already familiar with some of the details. For those that are very new to gardening, I’ve elaborated on each step in the process below. If you still have any questions, please comment here and I’ll get back to you!

    Seed Starting Steps

    Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

    You will need the following:

      Seed trays with plastic containers and clear lids
      A spray bottle full of water
      Seed starting soil (quality is important)
      Paper and pencil
      Grow lights

    Step 2: The Dirt

    Fill your containers with your soil, and spray it really well so the top layer is nice and damp. A good seed starting soil will be loose and fine, not dense. After they’ve sprouted, your seedlings will require a lot of nutrients to grow as quickly as they do. This is why I use Fox Farm soil; it’s fine enough for seeds to easily germinate in, but it also has the nutrients they need to grow big and strong! I also don’t have to worry about manually fertilizing the seedlings this way, which is much easier in my opinion! If you want more information about choosing a seed starting medium, check out my previous post: The Importance of Dirt.

    Since I only sprayed the top of my soil, I add some water to the bottom of the tray so the soil can wick moisture up to the seeds as well.

    Step 3: Planting the Seeds

    I’m a lazy seed planter, I’ll admit. I don’t read the seed packets for every variety to see what their planting depth should be. I just sprinkle some seeds on the dirt, very lightly tamp it down, and then sprinkle a little more dirt over the top of the seeds. A good rule of thumb is to have your seeds at a depth that is approximately 3 times that of the seed’s diameter.

    For really small seeds like Petunias or Snapdragons, I just sprinkle them on top of the soil, tamp it down lightly and call it good.

    Step 4: The Lighting

    Without at least 12-16 hours of bright light every day, your seedlings will get tall, stringy, and likely fall over after a few weeks. We want strong, sturdy little seedlings that will be healthy enough to withstand their eventual transition outdoors! For this reason, I recommend getting some good grow lights, and connecting them to a timer. If you’re on a budget, these are great bulbs. It’s best to keep the lights between 2-4 inches away from the tops of your seedlings.

    Lastly: Ongoing Care

    Once planted, water, light, and air are the three things your seedlings will need to thrive.

    Water

    If you watered your seed trays from the bottom as well as spraying the top, you probably won’t have to water much for the first week or two, since the seedlings won’t have any developed root systems yet. If the top of the soil looks dry, just give them a good misting.

    Once sprouted, your seedlings will need a fairly steady supply of water. It’s just as important to make sure that they aren’t too wet, either. If you’re unsure of how much water to give your seedlings, I would recommend watering less. If you water too much, you risk mold, which means you could lose all of your seedlings. If you don’t give them enough water, you’ll likely notice their leaves getting a little wilted, and they should respond well to a good drink of water.

    Light

    As we discussed above, your seedlings will want at least 12-16 hours of light each day. They will also want a period of darkness to rest. This is why having your lights on a timer works so well. If you don’t have an automatic timer, just make sure to turn the lights off at night.

    Air

    Air circulation is important for two reasons. First, it is a preventive measure against mold and mildews. Second, it will help strengthen your seedlings so they will better be able to withstand outdoor winds when being transitioned outside. I like to put a fan near my seedlings once they’ve sprouted; it should be on the lowest power. If it still seems as though it’s creating too much of a breeze for your seedlings, then I just move it a little further away.

    Finally, it’s important to note that a little attentiveness can go a long way when starting plants from seed. I check my seedlings every day, sometimes every two if I’m busy. It’s definitely more important to watch them closely when they’re just sprouting. Once they’ve grown a bit, then you don’t have to worry about them as much.

    Well, that’s it folks. Thanks for reading! I hope all of you are enjoying nice spring weather! In the meantime, I’m wishing I could stay snuggled up at home right now.
    Spring Weather?
    PS – Stay tuned for Part 4, when I’ll talk about pruning and hardening off your seedlings!


  4. DIY Friday – Re-Growing Green Onions

    March 9, 2012 by Jocelyn

    Most people don’t realize that green onions can be easily re-grown; all you have to pay for is the first bunch! It’s a great way to be frugal while still using your green thumb (at least a little).
    Green Onions in a Jar
    Just stick them in a jar with water covering the white part of the ends. Place them in the fridge, or on a bright area in your kitchen- both will work.
    Re-Growing Green Onions
    Within a week or so, they’ll be ready again!
    Green Onions
    You can see in the last image where the onions were last cut. The new growth comes from the center of the onion; what you see here was grown in about a week. I’m a huge fan of doing this, especially in the winters when I don’t have an easy way of growing fresh onions.