Seedlings!

I’m finally getting started on growing my own food! Last week Mark and I planted a few seeds in some old strawberry containers. We did one on of spinach and one of early cherry tomatoes. In the processes I accidentally got ALL the tomato seeds wet! In an effort to save some I put a bunch in a wet paper towel in  plastic zip lock bag (like in grade school). If they sprout, then my first plants in my aquaponics will be a TON of tomatoes!

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This is my very simple seed starting set up. Old (well washed) strawberry containers filled with fresh clean seed starting mix placed on plastic (water proof) plates. With this set up you can water from the bottom without needing to buy a seed starting tray from a graden supply, and you can’t beat free (well almost, I bought the seed mix).

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Here are the extra tomato seeds I’m trying save. 😦

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Here are our two little spinach seedlings that have sprouted!

Tomorrow I need to move my grow lights and get that set up so I can get these guys under them! At the same time as the seedlings are maturing I plan on fish-less cycling my tank so in 1-2 weeks its ready for plants and fish all at once.

New Years Resolutions

I don’t like New Years Resolutions, but I do them anyway. But to me its more of an “After Christmas Resolution” as I LOVE Christmas. I spend all year waiting for Christmas, and then when Christmas comes I eat whatever I want and do whatever I want “Because its Christmas!” This year this was compounded by a vacation 2 weeks before Christmas. Christmas + Vacation + a well intentioned Mother in Law giving you way too many sweets is a bad combo! 

Anyway, Christmas is my time to fall of the bandwagon, on EVERYTHING (well, at least I didn’t get drunk). So this is the week I pick myself off, dust myself off, and think “How am I going to fix this?” This year as a family we really have one major focus, becoming more self-reliant. We want to earn our own money, grow our food, buy our own stuff, take care of ourselves. There are two focus, finances, and health. 

Financially we are better off than most of the world. I realize this. We are in a good place. But we want to take better care of what we have, and make our money go further, so that we can do more, and help more with what we have. Ace has the goal of either doing music full time or opening his tea shop. My goal is to actually outright own our home, both take a lot of money.  I am working on a budget, and keeping track of ALL our spending. Our biggest waste by far is eating out, followed by entertainment and buying stuff we plain old dont need. 

Our second goal is to take better care of ourselves. I’m going to hit this one from many angles (most of which will benefit the first goal). First, we plan to grow as much of our own produce as possible. That means we have lots of healthy (organic, heirloom)  choices we will be excited to eat. We have a long growing season here, with lots of plants that do well. Our yard already has 2 kinds of fruit. Soon I will be starting, lettuce, tomatos, cherry tomatos, watermelon, strawberries, and peppers. I hope to add to those as the season goes on. I am also building an aquapoics system to grow fish and food together in a soiless medium (more on that in my next post). 

Second we are taking more walks and bike rides. I try to take Mark out everyday to walk or bike for a half hour (or more). I take one of the dogs along and we all get some good free exercise. So far, this has been really great! In the summer I hope to find some parks and hiking areas and bring lunch with. Its a great way to wear out Mark for his nap and help me stay active. 

Finally, we are tracking our weights. I made a chart and every sunday we are going to weigh-in. In 6 months we are going to take a little 1-2 night trip and who ever loses the biggest percent of weight is going to pick where we go. I’m pretty excited. 

Steps Towards Self-Sufficiency: Sustainable Urban Farming

I’d love to be able to be completely self-sufficient someday, in case of an emergency or disaster,  but that day is a long long way off. In the time being I can take steps to get us closer. My hope is have a healthier, more frugal, more sustainable way of life that we can keep up even if the rest of the world was to fall apart.

There are several things I’d like to do eventually, they include; learning and buying firearms, buying and installing solar panels, harvesting and re-using rain water, stocking up on basic necessities and food that can be stored long term (dired and freeze dried, canned, frozen), and of course, growing our own food.

I was going to wait till spring to start a garden, we have an area planned for raised beds that is currently coved to kill the grass and keep the soil warm through the winter, but now I’m thinking I may try a different approach much sooner (we’ll still start a summer garden as well). In fact if I didn’t have a sick toddler who’s been sleeping most of the day, I’d be out in the garage figuring out what supplies I have and what I need right now!

I’m going to try my hand at aquaponics. In short aquaponics is growing plants and fish in harmony in a relatively low maintenance environment that yields very high amounts of fish and plants for the food and energy put in. I’ve read that aquaponics uses 1/10th the water of traditional gardening in the soil, and the only food you put in is whatever you are feeding the fish (which I’ve read of many creative ways to feed your fish for cheep or free). I’m hoping to start a small system using either a fish tank or a plastic bin and ordering a few fingerling fish to start. The waste water from the fish tank would be pumped up into a medium sized growing tray where the plants can use the nutrients naturally created by the fish and the bacteria, creating clean water for the fish to grow in. The water would then flow down back into the fish tank. Some people use siphon system, but I think I’m just going to go ahead and use a fish tank pump on a timer to start. I plan on trying indoor and using grow lights. Even if I can just grow enough lettuce for Ace’s sandwiches and a few salads I’ll be pretty happy.

I have bigger dreams too. I got my hands on a free pool last fall that I planned to set up for Mark to swim in, but it may turn into a much larger fish tank. If I can get a few other people on board to help. I’d love to set up a large aquaponics system and share the fish with other families that help maintain and build the system with me. If I can figure it out on a small scale, why not a large scale? If we grow enough plants we could even sell them and make money. Currently selling homegrown aquaphonics fish is illegal, but you can sell the plants.

As I’m dreaming of this I think of all the things I wanted to do and haven’t, that’s why I decided to blog it. If I put it out there you guys can keep me accountable (all 3 of you that will read this). Either way it will motivate me to actually do it. If I can get this going along with a traditional garden we will be rolling in produce this year and it will save us LOTS of money!