Thursday, January 23, 2014

Experimental Grocery Bag Garden

And here it is...Our "Grocery Bag Garden"!  As mentioned in my last post, we are renting a home here in sunny San Diego, so our best option for growing food is via container garden.  My husband challenged me to do this on a super tight budget of less than $50.  Since we had saved seeds from last year's garden, seed cost didn't count in the budget.   After hours of looking for inexpensive containers, I found some fabric "containers" called Smart Pots on Amazon and even found those to be pricey for what they were.

So, I started thinking about what I already had on hand that resembled the Smart Pots and thought about the fact that I have TONS of fabric grocery bags, many that I received free from the grocery store or as a free "goodie bag" from Half Marathon races I ran.  So I thought, why not use them?!  They allow water to seep through the sides so the plants can never be over watered.  However, I do need to remember to water them every day. These are not "self watering bags" as I wish they were ;-)

We started all of our seeds in a seed tray which you can buy for around $10 from Home Depot or Lowes.  You can also recycle your egg cartons, or borrow them from a neighbor that eats eggs.  Put Organic potting soil in them and place one seed in each egg place.  I used Miracle Gro Organic Potting Soil for Vegetable container gardens.  It's not the best, but it works for people who want to keep it simple in the beginning.   You can also make your own soil by mixing together separately purchased bags of Humus (not to be confused with Hummus that we eat!), Azomite, Vermiculite, Worm Castings, and Compost.  So some of our grocery bag containers will have the Miracle Gro and some will have the soil mix.  I know the Miracle Gro soil will eventually need to be topped off with some of my soil mix as the nutrients deplete.

My husband planted some of the seedlings into the ground, which I warned him was a bad idea for three reasons.  1. The soil is most definitely lacking nutrients (and may contain chemicals!), as apparent by the near death of our existing rose garden.  2. The dog will definitely pee and poo on them.   3. The garden/landscaping crew will eventually forget that the plants are food/ mistake them for weeds, at which time they will be plucked and tossed....which actually already happened.

Let's see which group of seedlings does the best over the Winter/Spring seasons.  If you found this idea helpful please leave a comment in the comments section below this post.  You can also follow me on Facebook.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Back to Blogging in 2014!

I'm back from blog death!  Well, technically my blog didn't die, but it was dead here for six months of not posting.  My last post was in July 2013, right after our trip to Barcelona, where I announced we were getting ready to move to San Diego in August.  Well, what a big change it has been for the whole family. Leaving all of our friends and family behind- all of the friends my kids have grown up with and homeschooled with, my daughter's gymnastics team mates, my close mama friends, and some of the neighbors we had become good friends with over the years.  Here my husband and I are at mid life, thousands of miles away, trying to form a new circle of friends that took us years to create.  It's really hard, really really it is.  Our kids will be fine, they will make friends quickly.  In fact, they already have, but for us big people, it's going to take more time. 

In San Diego there is traffic and large crowds of people every where we go. It makes Orlando seem like a rural farming town.  Even grocery shopping can be a rediculous time zapper.  But yes, it's beautiful here.  You cannot beat the near perfect moderate temperatures and sunshine pretty much year round.  Having access to lots of really fresh, organic food from mostly California farms. And being able to see the beach, the desert and the mountains all in one day.  Its' really fantastic.

When we arrived in August we started out in temporary housing at a condo on the beach in La Jolla.  This was a really good thing but it also spoiled us when we started searching for long term rentals.  Once you are on the beach, you really don't want to move to the desert. In fact, it doesn't even feel like you are living in San Diego from that side.  Families choose to live in the desert because it is cheaper, and you can get a big huge house with a big back yard in a neighborhood full of kids. My husband and I will take living as close to the beach as possible in a shack over that option.  And that's pretty much what we did.  Though our home is not really a shack, it is just old, or what I like to call "vintage".  It's a short 10 minute walk and a 3 minute drive to the beach!  So we go pretty much every morning to walk the dog and catch at least two sunsets a week. And guess what that means moving forward?  You will be seeing lots of beach photos like the one above!  Hope you don't mind :-)

You might be wondering what we have been eating all this time, since this is a food blog not a travel blog.  If I have to summarize it, I would say we eat a lot of food from Trader Joe's.  It's the best health food store here, hands down.  I can get in and out in under 45 minutes because the store is small and well stocked.  I can fill my cart to the top including the child seat for $150-160 and it lasts the whole week.  No need to go out for lunch or dinner.  I might have to buy fruit from Von's because their fruit is priced better, but that's my only other stop for groceries during the week.

While not everything sold at TJ's is perfectly Organic and Vegan (or even Gluten Free), their prepared foods section is so crazy convenient.  I mean who doesn't love their Japanese Style Fried Rice with edamame and carrots?   Their Spinach and Kale pies?  And what about their Stuffed Tofu Turkey?   Not having to think too much about what to cook and relaxing the "food rules" some days has helped to make life here a little less stressful for us all in the the past 5 months.  Below is a recent photo of most of the food from a shopping trip.  Missing in the photo are some sprouted wheat bagels, sourdough bread, a few packages of berries, a bottle of California wine called "Cocobon", sparkling water, hummus dip, frozen and fresh berries, bananas, and pomegranite "sherbert".

We are not sure how much of a garden we will be able to build since we have a rental, but I assure you, we will have a garden!!   We have space in the back yard, but we cannot build anything permanent.  So I'm looking into an idea I have about creating some planters out of something I will reveal in a future blog post.

Some other projects I have been busy with and may write posts about in January/February include:

  • Providing feedback to the proprietor of Panda Packs, a vegan kids meal service. (I won't be writing about this because the company is starting up and it's proprietary information, but you can check out their FaceBook page!)
  • Reviewing the book "Feed Zone Portables", a brilliant recipe book of portable packets of yumminess for athletes.
  • Writing a product review for Viva Labs Coconut Oil.  
And that about wraps things up! Thanks for reading this far down :-) I'm going to Home Depot tomorrow to get all the things I need too make awesome soil for the planters, so stayed tuned on FaceBook or subscribe to my feed!