Patio Gardening 2010: Week 21 – Summer Winds Down

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Things are getting back to normal here. I finally have my camera back so we’ll have some half decent pictures again.

Temperatures have certainly cooled off over the past week. Highs this week are in the 70s, so it seems like fall is settling in. The gardening season is winding down and soon we’ll be done for the year.

The pumpkin, all the cucumbers, and the lettuce are dunzo. The cucumbers had a hard fight this year, especially with the relentless powdery mildew. Next year we want to grow cucumbers again, so I think we’ll look for a powdery mildew resistant strain.

We didn’t expect much from the pumpkin, we just wanted to try it really. It didn’t work out but that’s okay.

Our squash plants are still going, but we’re not going to get any fruit out of them. Our hypothesis is that our patio just doesn’t get enough sunlight for the plants to thrive properly.

The tomato plants are still going, though they are still sickly thanks to the red spider mites. We’re just letting nature take it’s course with that one.

The peppers aren’t looking so hot, but there are still little peppers growing, so we’ll let them do what they do until first frost.

And the basil is trucking along. I’m willing to bet it will be the last plant standing.

No video yet this week. It’s unclear whether we’ll get one up before the next weekend. I swear we will post another video before the garden is done for the year!

For those who are new, this year the boyfriend and I are doing a little container gardening experiment where we are trying to grow various herbs and vegetables on our patio. We live in the city of Chicago, so traditional gardening is out of the question. You can subscribe to the RSS feed to instantly receive the posts each week and also check out our previous posts. Feel free to subscribe to our Youtube channel as well.

5 Ways to Keep Clean and Save Money

When looking for ways to reduce your budget and save money, the first things to cut are the luxury items like entertainment and other non-necessities. There are also ways to save money on the “must haves” in your budget.

Good hygiene is a definite must have, not only for social reasons but also for general health and well being. Even though soap and toothpaste can’t be eliminated from your budget, there are simple ways to save money and still stay clean and healthy.

Reduce Water Consumption

It’s easy to get some relief on your water bill (and help the planet) just by using less water. Anyone can do it.

Turn the water off. The faucet doesn’t need to run while you’re brushing your teeth. In the shower, turn off the water while you’re lathering and only turn it on to rinse. I turn it off while I shave my legs and just use a cup of warm water to rinse off the razor.

Install a low flow shower head. The average shower head uses 2.2 gallons of water per minute. Low flow shower heads and faucets reduce the amount of water used, saving money on water and the energy to heat it.

Don’t Take Baths. As luxurious and relaxing as they can be, opt for a shower whenever you can. The average bathtub holds 24 gallons of water. That can add up very quickly.

Shower With a Buddy. Showering with your significant other isn’t only fun, it saves water as well. One person can lather while the other person rinses and cut the time the shower runs in half. (And if things get a little frisky, make sure to turn the water off.)

(Check out 25 Ways to Save Water in the Home and Yard.)

Free Samples

You know those free samples I post every week. A lot of them are shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, etc. Each of those samples can last anywhere from a couple days to over a week, depending on their size. Though you probably can’t collect enough to last you the entire year, you’re saving money by using those freebies.

If you travel a lot and stay at hotels, feel free to take along with you the little soaps and shampoos they offer there, especially if you’ve used part of them. Housekeeping is going to throw them away anyway, so you might as well take them with you.

Play the Drugstore Game

I haven’t paid for toothpaste at all this year and that’s because I play the drugstore game. By matching coupons with sales and cash back opportunities, I stock up on toothpaste when I can get it for free. I’m no expert when it comes to saving at the drugstore, so I recommend reading Money Saving Mom’s post on the drugstore game.

Use Less Product

My boyfriend has short hair (less than an inch). He fills almost his entire palm with shampoo. My hair is thick and below my shoulders, but I only use a dollop of shampoo a little bigger than a quarter, which is enough to get my hair clean. One of us is probably using way more shampoo than we need to.

I recommend reducing the amount of product you use, whether it be shampoo or toothpaste (or even other household products like laundry detergent) and experimenting to find what’s the smallest amount you can use to get the job done. A pea sized blob of toothpaste works as well as an inch long strip and will help your tube of paste last at least twice as long.

Make use of what you paid for. Make sure you squeeze every last drop out of that tube and fill your shampoo bottle up with a little bit of water to get the last bits of soap.

Try Baking Soda Instead of Toothpaste or Shampoo

A box of baking soda costs under 50 cents, and that white powder is amazing. Besides being used in recipes and to clean around the house, it can also be a replacement for toothpaste and shampoo.

I’ve never tried it, but other bloggers have dared to try it as a toothpaste and shampoo alternative. Or you can just try no shampoo at all.

These are just a few tips for how you can save money while staying clean. What ways do you save money in your daily hygiene routine?

Patio Gardening 2010: Week 19 – Icky Red Spider Mites

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I’m sorry that I’m a day late on this post, but I was very busy yesterday with some other things and just didn’t get around to taking the pictures. Good news is, my camera will be back from repair tomorrow, so I’ll be able to take decent pictures again!

All right, I have to admit, I’m kind of burnt out on gardening. I’m actually the only one who takes care of the plants (the boyfriend just films the videos), and I’m kind of tired of it. I still water them and everything, I just haven’t been as attentive as I was in the past. I’m letting nature take it’s course.

As far as the squash plants go, they’re still producing flowers and growing, despite the powdery mildew, but I think I’ve given up hope on them producing any fruit. I don’t think we’ll try them again next year. It’s too bad, but I’m guessing our porch just doesn’t get enough sunlight for them.

We’ve had more deaths this week. We lost another cucumber plant and it looks like another pot of bean plants is on it’s way out. One of them seems to be making a comeback…

I think this just may be it for the beans though.

Our cherry tomato plant continue to produce, we harvested over 50 last week alone and we seem to be in a big of a lull again, though there’s more green tomatoes and flowers growing.

We’ve mentioned briefly before that some of the tomato plants were looking a little ick. Some of the leaves were turning yellow and brown and then curling up and dying.

They didn’t match any of the photos of tomato diseases online, so we just chalked it up to super hot and dry weather and inconsistent watering. Well the plants look worse this week, some of them really bad. Then today I noticed some webs on some of the leaves.

As I looked closer, I realized there were little dots on the webbing. Looking even closer, I saw they were moving around. I was then promptly freaked out and came inside to google it.

It looks like we have Red Spider Mites, which apparently thrive in hot dry conditions and can cause the icky appearance of our tomato plants. One of the treatments is to make everything very wet, so I’m going to try spraying the tomato plants frequently with water and see if that helps. If it doesn’t make a difference by this weekend, we’ll invest in some pesticides.

Hopefully this won’t get out of control, but who knows.

There is good news in the garden this week. The pepper plants are doing great, growing tall, and they continue to blossom. There are tiny peppers forming!

Now that we see how well they’re doing, I kind of wish we didn’t plant four of them. The thing is, I do not like peppers. The boyfriend loves peppers. I think one pepper plant would suffice, but considering we had 20 millions seedlings, 4 seemed like a reasonable number. We’ll definitely scale that down for next year.

The basil is still a powerhouse. We made more pesto this weekend and froze the leftovers. Hopefully we can keep that up and stock up on enough frozen pesto to last through the winter.

Here’s the video for this week. It’s short and sweet:

For those who are new, this year the boyfriend and I are doing a little container gardening experiment where we are trying to grow various herbs and vegetables on our patio. We live in the city of Chicago, so traditional gardening is out of the question. You can subscribe to the RSS feed to instantly receive the posts each week and also check out our previous posts. Feel free to subscribe to our Youtube channel as well.

Free Streaming Classes on Hulu: Yoga Zone & Yoga Fusion

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I will admit it: unemployment has made me kind of lazy. With so much spare time, I end up wasting it away pretty quickly instead of doing the things I should be doing, like laundry or errands.

One of the things I’ve been slacking on is exercise. I’ve expressed my fondness for yoga before, and I’m constantly looking for ways to enjoy yoga without spending a lot of money on yoga classes. I love going to yoga classes, but since I can’t fit it into my very limited budget right now, I have to opt for free ways to get my yoga fix.

One of those ways is through streaming video of yoga classes. Previously I’ve posted yoga downloads, streaming DVDs, streaming video, and yoga and pilates classes on Hulu. Well, this week I discovered more great yoga on Hulu.

I was poking around, thinking I should do some yoga, so I decided to check out Yoga Zone. This is a series which features a variety of yoga classes. Most of the videos are about 20 minutes long, perfect for those of us who need to fit yoga into an already busy schedule. There are also hour long episodes as well.

One of the best parts of this series is there is a huge variety of episodes, including focuses on weight loss, flexibility, evening stress relief, and sculpting. I started out with the Gentle Yoga videos, which helped to ease me back into yoga, and it was really enjoyable.

My goal now is to do yoga at least 4 times a week, but ideally I’d like to do it every day while I’m unemployed.

In addition to Yoga Zone, I also found Yoga Fusion on Hulu. It’s just 4 episodes: Beginners Basic, Strength & Sculpt, Great Abs, and Power. Free is free, so check it out if you’re interested.

Looking for more free videos? Check out free streaming yoga and workout videos on Amazon.

Patio Gardening 2010: Week 18 – Cucumber Casualties

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Well, this week is definitely bitter sweet. Last week, some of our cucumber plants were not doing so well and two of them succumbed this week. We also lost a pot of our bean plants (3 plants). The other ones are looking okay, but not their best.

I think the heat wave was what did the beans in. That’s finally ended. Today it’s much cooler and the high is only in the lower 80s. I even have the windows open right now to let in some fresh air, which is nice.

Here’s a lovely shot of our garden through the window:

There are more cucumbers growing on the plants that are still alive. Hopefully they’ll make it and we’ll enjoy more cucumbers this year.

On the upside we have tons of tomatoes, with new ones ripening each day and new blossoms appearing, so hopefully we’ll have a somewhat constant stream of tomatoes for the rest of the season.

We’ll harvest more tonight for dinner. This weekend we harvested 15 tomatoes and pruned the tops off our basil plants.

Thinking ahead to winter, we decided to make a bunch of pesto and whatever was left over from dinner we froze. We just put the extra in an ice cube tray to freeze it, then transferred the cubes to a freezer bag. We’ll keep doing this for the rest of the season and hopefully will have enough frozen pesto to get us through the winter.

We’ve used up most of the scallions, there’s just a few left. Next year we will stagger their planting so there’s a more consistent stream.

That’s it for this week. Here’s our video:

For those who are new, this year the boyfriend and I are doing a little container gardening experiment where we are trying to grow various herbs and vegetables on our patio. We live in the city of Chicago, so traditional gardening is out of the question. You can subscribe to the RSS feed to instantly receive the posts each week and also check out our previous posts. Feel free to subscribe to our Youtube channel as well.

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