Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Connie G. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.
I enjoy gardening and being frugal. I also have been prepping for many years, knowing that ice storms and cold weather happens here every winter, and often after paying bills the budget is stretched tight. Prepping doesn’t have to be in case of civil unrest or a pandemic, prepping can be for everyday life.
Use Willow Water
This gardening hint is straight from my grandma, who lived a long life planting just about anything. Here it is 55 years later, and I still remember her teaching me useful gardening information. Using willow water really helps to root cuttings faster and to water plants with to stimulate more root production. Willow water is easy to make, just take some soft, pliable branch tips of any type of willow and soak for a week or two in regular water.
Curly willow, pussy willow, weeping willow, Arctic willow among other varieties all work well, and to make it really easy, I put the branch tips right into my watering bucket. As it is used I just refill the bucket with more water. Scientists have discovered the willow water contains Salicylic acid, which is in rooting hormone for plants. Grandma didn’t know why, just knew that by watering her cuttings and transplants with willow water they would grow strong roots that reached out for water and helped plants grow sturdy.
Tepid chamomile tea sprayed onto the soil and on tiny seedlings can help prevent damping off. Damping off is so discouraging. Waiting patiently for days, your seeds finally germinate and emerge from the soil. A day or two later, you see your seedlings just tip over, with the stems looking like they were pinched. Heart breaking. That’s damping off, a fungal disease that includes root rots and molds. The tepid chamomile tea sprayed onto the soil and plants can help treat fungus naturally found in soil and air.
DIY Seed Starting Containers
Looking for cheap seed starting containers? Plastic flats are nice, but usually too big for window sills and way too big for starting 10 or 12 tomato seeds of each variety. I actually plant about 700 tomato seeds each year of all kinds of heirloom varieties, then give most away. This way i can enjoy planting lots of seeds!
I use plastic non compostable deli containers with clear covers that friends and relatives save for me. They are the right size for starting seeds, and by marking them with variety name and date sown, you have the info right at your fingertips. The clear covers act like a mini greenhouse, just be sure when the seeds germinate you open the covers up for air to get in and to allow the seeds some room to grow. When it is time to transplant, I just pull up a chair and carefully lift each seedling into its next home, usually a 4 inch plastic pot filled with potting soil. The deli containers can be used for 4 – 5 years, being sure to relabel the following year to keep things straight.
Have you ever tried sowing tiny seeds like carrots and getting them all over or way too close? If you take a sheet of paper towel or Kleenex and cut into strips, you can make easy to use seed tapes. Mix up some flour and water to make a thick paste. Make dots of paste on the strips and then place a seed onto each dot. The strip can be put into a small furrow then covered up with soil. After a short time the strip will decompose and the seed is already well on its way growing.
If you like the look of containers filled with lovely blooms, but wish they were more than just decorative, consider growing parsley around the edges as a pretty green accent plant. The parsley can be added to your cooking and dried for use in the winter. Not only is this a great way to frugally fill decorative containers, imagine how much iron, Vitamin A and C you will be adding to your diet. Parsley can be washed, dried then placed in a freezer bag in the freezer. It can also be dried and used that way as well.
Fruit Bushes instead of ornamental shrubs
If you are looking to add shrubs to your landscape, consider thorny edibles like raspberries and blackberries. You can harvest the fruit for jams and jellies, or just eating fresh. Not only that, the thorns can be quite painful, planted in sunny spots near windows it can help deter people from trying to break in.
Compost to raise fertility in your soil. Keep in mind animal bones, fatty substances and pet urine and manure should not be included in your compost pile. Coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit and veggie peelings, leaves (not black walnut), grass clippings (without pesticides and herbicides) can all be incorporated into rich material to help bring nutrients to your garden where they are needed.
Remember every year is different. Some years you may have bumper crops of tomatoes and peppers, while the following year is filled with more green beans than you can manage. Plant a little extra just in case.