The Home 
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Frugal Methods on Dealing with Garden Critters

My husband and I started a raised garden in April and our tomatoes are looking pretty good.  They are plump but are still very green and hard.  I was getting excited last week until I woke up one morning and something had taken big bites out of my best looking tomato!  It looked like gnaw marks, so our best bet is that a squirrel has been in our garden.  Here are a few frugal methods I have found to deal with garden thieves.

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 The Home 
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Most Profitable Backyard Garden Crops

My husband and I started our first raised garden in April.  We already have a couple of flower beds in the front yard, but we wanted a garden that could produce something we would actually be able to eat.  The idea of getting an edible benefit from maintaining a small spot of soil sounded fun.  In short, we wanted to grow plants with some extra value to us.  Here are some ideas for plants you may want to add to your garden to get that extra benefit too.

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 Frugal Living 
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Five Ways to Save Money on Food

KitchenThe number one way to save money is by learning how to cook. You might have a hectic schedule and be exhausted at the end of the day but push yourself to prepare a nice meal. You’ll get to enjoy it, expand your knowledge about cooking, and eat better than ordering it from some fast food place. You won’t be good at it in the beginning but over time your skills will improve and you’ll enjoy it even more.

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 Frugal Living 
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Plant Perennial Vegetables for Eternal Harvesting

ChivesYou probably noticed that I’m a big fan of growing your own herbs (all the posts about harvesting herbs and drying fresh herbs probably gave it away) because the little canisters seem ridiculously expensive in the store. Herbs and spices are also remarkably easy to grow, which is perfect for me because the easier it is the better, and when you add in dollar savings and better flavor, it’s a no brainer.

One thing I’ve noticed is that our oregano keeps coming back year after year. We first planted it three years ago and it’s come back every single year. One year, it actually fell off our deck after a snowstorm. We scooped the dirt back in, propped it up, and the oregano still came back! What’s better than saving money, tasting better, and easy to maintain? A plant that saves you money, tastes better, is easier to maintain and comes back year after year with no extra effort!

That made me wonder… what other perennial plans can we grow?

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 Frugal Living 
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How to Harvest Growing Herbs

Herb GardenLast week, I wrote about how to dry fresh herbs in preparation for when our garden shuts down for the season. Today, I’m going to explain what we do to harvest our growing herbs so we are able to get maximum herbage out of each one (yes, herbage is a real word but when I wrote it I thought I was making up a new word!).

How you harvest the herbs will vary from plant to plan.

No matter the herb, it’s always important to make sharp cuts with a scissor or knife, rather than tearing it off with your fingers. If you don’t have a scissor handy, pinching will work too but it’s less ideal. The time to do the harvesting is in the morning, most herbs are at their peak flavor at that time.

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 Frugal Living 
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How to Dry Fresh Herbs

Herb GardenThis year, we’ve decided to grow a bunch of herbs we enjoy on a regular basis because buying them in the store costs way too much and they lack the flavor of fresh herbs. Our basil, thyme, dill, mint and oregano are all growing like crazy in planters on our deck. If you’ve ever grown herbs, you know that you end up with far more than you could possibly use.

Herbs get their flavor from their oils. This is why you can get a good whiff of an herb’s flavor by rubbing your hands on the leaves and smelling them afterwards (much easier than trying to smell the leaves directly – that gem of a tip comes from my cousins Jonathan and Kate). This is why air drying herbs late in the summer is the best way to maintain flavor.

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 Frugal Living 
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Square Foot Garden

Square foot gardenReaders of Bargaineering probably are aware that my wife and I grow a garden every year. We live in a townhouse without much land so our garden consists of vegetable plants put into a variety of containers. Every year we grow tomatoes, eggplants, peppers (hot and regular), some spices (oregano, basil), and then some random ones we think would be fun.

If I were to do it over again, one option I would consider is building a square foot garden (inspired by Mel Bartholomew’s 2006 book by the same name), instead of buying all these containers. Container gardening is perfectly fine, but the containers themselves are often very expensive and they take up a lot of space. The pots themselves are usually wider up top so you lose a little space in that tapering. Square foot gardening avoids that loss and looks like a lot of fun. In fact, after a quick search I found that fellow personal finance bloggers Lynnae at BeingFrugal.net and Frugal Dad built their own square foot gardens already!

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 The Home 
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Poor Man’s Guide to Rain Barrels

Rain BarrelsFor those who have been following our exploits in gardening, you may recall that we put our plants in pots and leave them on our deck. This ensures they get the maximum amount of sun. There is a downside to our strategy, the spigot for the hose that sits on our deck is on the ground floor. To water our plants, we have to go down downstairs, turn on the spigot, walk up stairs, water the plants, then go back downstairs to turn off the spigot. Unfortunately we can’t get downstairs directly from the deck, we have to go back into the house, and through the carpeted basement.

At first, this sounds like not a big deal right? How lazy could I be?

It’s not that big of a deal but that, coupled with my growing appreciation for being as ecofriendly as possible, has turned me onto the idea of rain barrels. Why pay for water when I could be catching what falls for free from the sky? So, I started researching rain barrels and the first thing I learned was that they are expensive!

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