A bountiful year of FREE!

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PostMon Jan 21, 2013 6:01 pm » by 99socks


Part of this New Year's resolution for myself was to stretch myself and see just how much I can save by getting things for FREE. I am tired of living more and more frugally year after year, I have quite the pipeline to wait for more income. So, part of the challenge is to make up for my woefully low salary, part of it is to learn how to ask for things, and part of it is just for the "what the hell, let's have an adventure!"

One of the main things I've always wanted to do is to have a backyard (garden?). Lol. The average daily temperature here is 105 degrees, there is no water, and the soil is 100% clay. Like... take out your potters wheel kind of clay. The main area (that is supposed to be "grass") is about 40x40 feet... and it (was :P ) covered in 2-foot high clover... ya know, the kind with stickers all over that sticks to everything and pokes all the way through your shoes. You could easily spend over $1,000 just to make it look "not terrible." The challenge: turn it into a nice backyard, with raised beds for a vegetable garden large enough to sustain a family... for FREE.

There are a couple of challenges for this... namely, my yard is a complete mess, and I'm gonna need a lot of dirt and other stuff. After two weekends, I have managed to thatch the entire yard by hand with a steel rake, leaving the clay ("soil") completely bare. What I have as a result, is about 3 cubic yards of dry clover stalks, and 3 cubic yards of leaves.

As for dirt... I decided, if I am going to have worthwhile dirt for the vegetable beds, I'm gonna have to make it. Two weeks ago I found a nice lady nearby with a horse and no place to put the poo. I now have a "free for the taking" agreement with her for free manure whenever I want. All I have to do is give her a call; she'll leave the gate open and I take what I need. Granted, this time around I did have to pay for the big brown paper yard waste bags to put the manure in, at 5/$1.88.

I also got 40 lbs of rotten fruits and vegetables from the local supermarket, and again, all I have to do is call in advance for more.

Now... I am saving the clover stalks to use for growing potatoes in, and since 3 cubic feet of leaves, 80 pounds of fresh manure and 40 pounds of yucky veggies isn't enough to fill two 4x16-foot raise beds by the time it all breaks down, I went garbage hunting yesterday and found for myself twelve 30-gallon bags of yard waste to get started making even more compost. I made the calls; more free poo and free veggies! (I will keep some of the dry leaves around in case my compost piles get too stinky :P ). I also managed to find a hose winder (a $70 dollar value), and a bookcase that was missing its shelves... perfect for laying on its back and using to support the bed, until I find the right wood for free. In the meantime, I am using some old garbage pails for rainwater collection. So far it has been enough to keep my compost pile watered; I am hoping to find some way to provide water-collection containers to involve my neighbors, probably in exchange for some zucchinis or tomatoes.

The used paper yard waste bags I will use for the potatoes (along with the clover stalks), and the black garbage bags from the yard waste I got from the trash pick-up is being used to suppress more clover growth until I can find an acceptable substitute for weed-n-feed and grass seed.

So far for free, I have enough stuff to make about 40-50 cubic feet of dirt (once the compost breaks down), support for a 2x8 veggie bed, enough black plastic sheeting to cover 1/4 of my yard for weed control, a hose winder for my poor kinked garden hose, and enough paper and stalks to grow a 4x10 plot of potatoes according to this:


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Not bad for January 21. :sunny:
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PostMon Jan 21, 2013 6:06 pm » by Spock


Excellent Sock! It was so nice yesterday and standing outside, my wife and I both wanted to start on the yard/garden - but didn't knowing it was waaaay too early for us in our neck of the woods.

However, our compost heap is doing great from all the juicing we've been doing.

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PostMon Jan 21, 2013 6:18 pm » by domdabears


Nice thread. I'll have to think of some things.
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PostMon Jan 21, 2013 6:21 pm » by domdabears


If you don't have room to grow potatoes, you can grow them in a bucket.

Get the bucket for free from restaurants. They throw them away.


:lol: This dudes accent.


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PostMon Jan 21, 2013 6:33 pm » by Harbin


You will need lots of compost, looks like your considering just growing things on top of the hardpan instead of conditioning it.


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PostMon Jan 21, 2013 6:59 pm » by 99socks


domdabears wrote:If you don't have room to grow potatoes, you can grow them in a bucket.

Get the bucket for free from restaurants. They throw them away.


:lol: This dudes accent.


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I have tons of room, but no dirt! Originally I was gonna try growing them in an old trash can or something, it seems to be quite popular. The problem with that is, things here really need to be in the ground by mid-February or else you aren't going to get anything.. If you wait longer than that to plant, the plants will die of the bugs and heat by the end of May, just before you can harvest. There is a second planting season in September, and that is what I am aiming for (even though if it gets warm enough here, my hot compost pile just maaaay be ready by the end of February). You can't grow anything in a trash can with no dirt. I was thinking to do the potatoes in a few weeks right where I am going to put one of the raised beds, and then after harvesting them, just compost in-place with what's leftover; it should be ready by September. :sunny:
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PostMon Jan 21, 2013 7:05 pm » by Spock


My wife made a little tier and filled each level in with dirt, compost. She did it with left over bricks from some construction we had done, but you could use rail-road ties or anything that will hold the soil in place.

One time we found an old house that had been demolished on a lot, the lot was overgrown and there was very little left, but there was a pile of bricks, so we loaded up a truck with those too.

Also, we'll go to creeks and load up with some good large rocks (that we can lift) anything like this, to make tiers, add some top soil and you have a place to grow potatoes.

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PostMon Jan 21, 2013 7:25 pm » by Cwmman


Horse manure can be true rich for some plants and is terrible for spreading weed thats why the old rotted down stuff is so good, but what you can do is chuck a load of it in a large bucket / wheely bin then fill it with water and use that to water your plants.
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PostMon Jan 21, 2013 9:06 pm » by Malogg


Got some great news a wee while ago = Should be ok to send the seahorses out next week its going to warm up a bit


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If they breed ima could be in for a little earner ,if not they are bonnie anyway


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