I am getting ready to do my menu and grocery list. I already paid most of the monthly bills. I started a change fund for our Disney food bill. I thought it would build excitement for the kiddos. I am eyeing two super cheap clearance tents. I really want a nice set of camping stuff this year. Our tent died last year and I have been eyeing new stuff for two years. So, that maybe our Valentine’s gift to each other. Nothing says romance like sleeping under the stars.
This builds on the question I asked awhile back, re: how far in advance folks budget their money. Our existing method was proving to be woefully inadequate so I went back to the drawing board and came up with a new system. Starting in February, we’re budgeting with a hybrid system where we use the DR zero-based spreadsheet as our starting point, but then we’ve started to integrate our previous workhorse – the weekly cash flow budget – into the DR budget. The spreadsheet got to be pretty big and involved at that point, but now we can not only set up the columns for the monthly spending allocations, we can also assign how much of those allocations to each week. That way we can ensure everything gets paid, but spread out the pain a bit so no one week gets too bogged down with too many costs.
And while I was at it, I started to really look at how to manage the farm budget over the course of a year, along the same lines as the household budget described above. It might sound stupid but we’ve not done that previously. Farm income was so sporadic and unpredictable that it was hard to work out any sort of predictable cash flow. Part of that was us learning how to pace our production for more regular income; we’re still working on that part. But now that we’ve got some experience with the bigger “batch sales” like market hogs and hay, we can start to predict this stuff. So this weekend I started to work out “ok, if we know X amount is coming in during X week, and we’ve got related expenses for A, B, C and D weeks down the road, how do we make sure those future costs are covered?” As a previous email indicated, we’re still figuring out the “best” way to do that and it might just be to try different things and see which approach works best. But this new attempt at zero-based budget for the farm is a whole lot better than what we had before, namely NOTHING. Whenever money came in during 2011, we used it to put out whatever budget fire was burning at the time. Now, we can start to really have the farm pay for the farm. That’s a nice improvement.
So, the budgeting work continues, but we’re making progress. Jan – sorry to hear you got the bug. And I’m looking forward to the email from you that the comptroller has been let go. Sounds like she should be renamed Cleopatra – Queen of Denial.
Wondering if anyone here has read this book and what they thought. I checked it out on my Kindle from our library and am enjoying the read. Was pleased to see Dave Ramsey mentioned by at least two of the people she interviewed. It’s about prioritizing things in life and “downsizing” areas that take away from the big priorities. This gal went to living in a tiny house (129 ft2) but doesn’t suggest that it is the answer to all. But debt free living is definitively a focus.
hoping that it will result in a more successful garden experience this year (lol, since I’m usually in the negative, I can only go up!)
It takes longer for the wood chips to decompose than most people think, at a minimum, it takes about 5-6 months. We laid ours down in December, so i really should not have been planting in it until May ish, but I couldn’t wait 🙂
Paul (in the movie) lives up in Seattle where it rains a bazillion, so “eliminates the need for water” is probably not true for most of us, especially if you are like me and are starting with ****** soil. I would say that it is true that it greatly reduces the need for water, and the soil does stay moist (although the wood chips themselves stay dry…it’s the weirdest thing.
I did notice that within weeks the soil was much softer. Our back strip (if you go to my blog) we had to til-up, because we had taken out grass area. The front planter however, was compacted hard, can’t dig in it-dirt. I can now dig into it with my finger, and when I planted Kale transplants, the ground was very easy to work with in just a little while.
I did not water at all for the first few weeks–the plants survived, but I can’t say they thrived. I re-watched the film and saw he said you might have to water or fertilize the first little while, so I watered well and the transplants have been thriving ever since.
AND SO FAR NO WEEDS !! (Which is actually saying alot–my neighborhood is full of crab- and bermuda- grass!)
I am very pleased with the system so far. I am a very neglectful gardener but so far it is doing well. I am hoping to pull up my front yard in the next few weeks and put in a semi-raised bed system (I’m basically going to raise the whole front yard to be relatively level. My plan is to put fill dirt in for most of it, then put in 2-4 inches of compost, then put in wood chips on top of that. This front yard garden is going to be the primary source of juicing greens for us, so I need to make sure it gets a good start.
I can’t speak to going forward/results, but I am anticipating next fall before I put winter crops in, adding a smaller layer of compost and more wood chips.
Anyhow, let me see if I can answer your questions as best I can.. For those not familiar a farmer went out in the woods to pray and ponder about how to grow better garden without chemicals , to sustain drought etc… as he saat under a tree nd was playing with the pineneedles, leaves, dead limbs etc he noticed how the woods just tend to care for themselves, he took the concept back to his own garden and has used it for the last 19 years
1. If I understand the video right you start out basically like I normally garden with some basic soil, compost etc, basically my lasagna gardening practice. Then you top dress it with wood mulch. Is that correct? This is correct, except there is not tilling involved, if you choose to start in a non garden area you lay the newspaper base then woodchips, in the film they show 2 examples (maybe 3) of folks who are just starting out.
2. As time goes on you add more layers of wood mulch and maybe compost but not much else? Exactly, as the mulch decomposes it turns to rich soil, hence no tilling nd the weeds pull right out if there are any to pull
3. This does away with the constant need to water, is this correct? absolutely correct, last year in the NC summer we watered maybe 4 times.. the moisture stays trapped in the mulch /soil and sustains the root system…
4. How long have you been doing this system? This will be our 3rd year
5. Oh do the wood chips need to be from green trees? We have hundreds of dead ones we’ve got to dispose of and we have a chipper—it’s a small slow one but…. They can be from any tree, the mulch we put on last year was from dead trees and was almost soil, this was wonderful! Our red clay mud is dark soil in that spot now!!
6. Because of adding the wood chips the garden won’t erode down like I am having the problem with? very true, we use to have that problem too, frustrating when you are having to shovel bags of soil! Now the grden doesn’t wash away or pile up on one end 🙂
7. Are there any good books you can recommend on this? I don’t know of any books, I’ll ask a friend of ours who introduced us to this method…
On a side note, the same friend that hooked us on this method just called last night from HI, he is there for 6 weeks working on this method for Dole and their organic products..we are to have dinner on the 21st when he gets back and I am excited to learn what he has to say.. He was one of the ones who spent time in the Bio Dome ( do you remember that from the 80’s), very interesting fellow, and he knows his stuff!
All my life I had been told to avoid wood chips in the garden due to them sucking up the nitrogen. But in this movie they talk about using wood chips as mulch and it being super beneficial.
I’ve got to leave to go pick up dh soon and will have to finish the video later, but I have some questions for you.
1. If I understand the video right you start out basically like I normally garden with some basic soil, compost etc, basically my lasagna gardening practice. Then you top dress it with wood mulch. Is that correct?
2. As time goes on you add more layers of wood mulch and maybe compost but not much else?
3. This does away with the constant need to water, is this correct?
4. Online payday loans for bad credit PBCLoans.com?
5. How long have you been doing this system?
6. Oh do the wood chips need to be from green trees? We have hundreds of dead ones we’ve got to dispose of and we have a chipper—it’s a small slow one but….
7. Because of adding the wood chips the garden won’t erode down like I am having the problem with?
8. Are there any good books you can recommend on this?
I really don’t want to know that I’m raising the $47 tomato or the $10 egg.
I have decent luck with tomatoes, squash, and peppers. Some years my garlic does well. I seem to be an onion queen. I’m trying to develop a full asparagus bed but that means keeping the chickens out of the garden in the winter.
I’m a Colorado Master Gardener so I know enough to be dangerous. Luckily one of my volunteer activities is to man the Master Gardener booth at our local farmer’s market. I’ve decided this year I will buy my needed produce (over and above what my garden will produce) from the market. In the past, I’ve bought CSA shares but have found they are just too big for my husband and I.
We have tried tomato plants in the past, but they were too much work for what we got. I am lucky that a neighbor does garden a lot–organic–and it is just him and his wife, so we get the extras. we also got some when a different neighbor decided to go out of town and had just gone to the store….darn, his waste of money is extras for us.
For the irrigation, we do drip directly on the roots of the plants and most are in mulch, so you really don’t notice a “garden” in the front flower beds.
I’ve been researching Square Foot Gardening. I am using an old chest of drawers (minus the drawers) for the main garden.. and I have 4 drawers from it that I can grow in too, maybe? I am thinking about worm composting. I have started composting for the first time in my life.. I have almost unlimited supply of rabbit poop and I’ve read that it’s great for gardens and worms too!
I won’t be able to 100% do it by the book.
On the other hand, I was looking into joining a CSA this year and I found one that you can actually order *just* the vegetables you want to buy, instead of a share. I am very very interested in that (tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes)
I don’t have experience with a “crop”, so I don’t want to spend hundreds on Special Mix. I have poo, I have dirt, I have worms. All I need is some elbow grease and some seeds! I’ll save my money for to support local farmers, but I’m curious to see if I can raise food from seed, too!
Ashley in (tomato country) TN
PS, Shay, the only thing I managed to harvest 2 years ago (skipped last year) was cucumbers!! I figured they were fool-proof!
I had hoped for a large yield of strawberries, tomatoes, and cucumbers so that we wouldn’t have to buy these and I could make strawberry jam and freeze whole ones for smoothies. In addition we tried growing cantaloupe and watermelon, DH’s favorites. Not only did we not get fruit, but we didn’t even get plants. The critters chewed them up before they even had a chance. We even tried growing them in pots and transplanting them later when they got bigger, but still got eaten. The frustrating part is we have these elaborate cages over the garden and still everything got eaten by squirrels, rabbits, birds, grasshoppers? It’s an organic garden so we couldn’t spray anything.
I think we got 10 strawberries off our plants which were just eaten while the kids were weeding! Got lots of cherry tomatoes, but it seemed like a lot of work for a bunch of tomatoes. Never got a cucumber. They kept flowering and then no cucumber! We even tried pollinating them with a paint brush!
So, I give up. I’ll be buying all my produce at the Farmer’s market this year.
If we mulch properly the watering shouldn’t be too big a concern unless we have yet another summer of heavy drought. I do need to work on rabbit proofing more, so hardware cloth is an item that I had not added to my list, thanks for the reminder. I have most of my seeds from previous purchases, but I need to start my germination testing right away—as in today.
Unfortunately there are no really large produce producers in this area so I don’t have the options you do on that. Wish I did. Even the produce place in Bixby we normally purchase from has gotten sky high and they aren’t organic. We much prefer organically grown food.
I do know I will limit the amount of plantings I will do this year to those items we are very low on and will truly eat. It’s so easy for me to want to plant some of everything. Especially when I’m cruising the Baker’s Heirloom Seed catalog—Lordy their pictures are to die for!
I hadn’t considered the “bird food’ aspect of it yet either and good grief Frankie goose would NEVER forgive me if I didn’t grow at least some tomatoes—that goose is a tomato addict and will take you down for a ripe tomato!
I’m leaning toward doing a full garden and just biting the bullet on the cost of the compost and such I need this year. It’s been three years since we’ve put any cost into the garden and we could did soil from the woods, just as soon as dh fixes the flat on the wheel barrel. LOL!
That soil is heavy with leaf mulch already.
extra compost and water could be considered long term investments spread out over ? years, like deer fencing , hardware cloth etc… we do a type of lasagna gardening too, the Back to Eden method, we can get a truck load of mulch that is fairly decomposed already from the landfill for 20.00 a pick up load full. so for us, even at 100.00 for mulch ( yes, composting ourselves since we have woods is on the list for this year), and since I have the time it is worth the expense given the price of organic non gmo foods we can produce, not to mention the by products for the chickens…
That being said, there are somethings we are choosing not to grow because of the price… sweet potatoes are an easy to grow crop in our area, and in the fall we are able to glean from large farms or buy for 5 cents a lb locally… same with collards..and the farm land that butts end to our property is a large hot pepper tomatillo farm… they are generous with the neighbors…
So, tomatoes because we eat tons of sauces, salsas, ketchup, bbq sauce etc… green beans, peas, cucumbers,herbs…
We also live in peanut and cantaloupe country.. those will not go in because the prices re so low its ridiculous for us to grow them…
We haven’t done one yet for the garden, but that’s a darn good idea. I already have some Excel spreadsheet templates for that purpose for our other income streams, which would probably be useful. Let me do a mockup of what our 10-bed garden analysis would be (and we use lasagna gardening methods too so I’ll be able to match up to what you’re working on). I’ll zap that off to you sometime soon, hopefully this week. We can talk more about it if/as needed.
If anyone else has something similar, I’d be game to see what you’ve come up with. Always interested in The Better Mousetrap..