End of the Month Garden Tour – August was a BIG month!!!

Whoa!  August was a BIG month for us on many fronts.  We took a big 2 week vacation to Cape Breton with our extended family and friends and we left the garden alone to fend for itself for 2 weeks (thank you to my Mama who dropped over to pick and weigh our goodies).  Being able to spend 2 full weeks as a family, surrounded by friends, in the gorgeous outdoors and the freedom of being unplugged was a BIG blessing for us all. We had plenty of time to splash, hike, play, pick wild berries and visit many wonderful sites, including an heirloom 1744 garden tour (I posted about this the other night because it was really neat)!

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Lots of grass and weeds…

We returned to a lot of veggies waiting to be picked and a lot of BIG weeds around the plants without mulch or plastic film.  Thankfully the combination of mulch and the timer on the sprinkler worked well to keep everything healthy and happy! Before we left, we filled our picking buckets, loaded them into our truck and had plenty of fresh veggies for 2 weeks.  We were both pleased and surprised to find the entire countertop on the BIG kitchen island was covered with a great variety of garden treasures, including Kale, which we are trying very hard to learn to love…

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Big harvests before and after our vacation

We have decided to spend this year weighing and tracking the savings that come out of our garden in order to share with others some of the BIG benefits besides health and stress release that growing some of your own food can provide.  We are blessed to have enough garden space to nearly negate the need to buy produce from May until at least October and freezing/preserving allows us to enjoy our own food long after the snow flies. I would call our garden a “medium” sized garden – 46 feet by 24 feet, but certainly growing in any sized “garden” that we have had the pleasure of nurturing; from a few small pots, to multiple pots on a trailer (yup, I took my garden with me one summer when we had to move!!) right to a permastructure designed to last for years, has been extremely fulfilling. By weighing and tracking cost savings, the kids are secretly doing math and book keeping on top of learning about sustainability. That is a BIG deal for kids who openly declare their disdane for math homework. Since our minions…ahem…children have been big enough to help, they have always played in the dirt and it is so rewarding to watch them learn about their food sources, the science and art behind it and the passing of seasons and life. Now they are learning about budgets too!

The BIG part of this experiment is that this month, we were featured in MoneySense Magazine!!!  The girls were soooooooo excited to see themselves in print in a National magazine and to share with their friends!  We can’t share that link because of copyright stuff, but you could always pick up a copy or look at the online version in the “How I did it” section.

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The photoshoot was a big deal, but seeing themselves in a magazine was a way bigger deal!

On top of the magazine being published, they were also on the radio yesterday on the Weekend Gardener with Niki Jabbour, which pretty much blew their minds!  Here is the link if anyone would like to share, it is a BIG deal for our family and a pretty neat way for other kids to hear how exciting getting involved in a family garden can be!  Really. We are the 10:30 time slot, but the whole show is always great if you have time to listen.

Finally, as my husband would quote, we are “Putting up some big numbers, big numbers folks!”  I totalled up our weight and savings for August (see Picked and Planted – August 5th to 29th for more details) and we had picked over 100 pounds of produce and saved nearly $500 dollars this month alone!  That was a big shock and reaffirmed how important it is to us to grow our own.

Lastly on the BIG theme, we have set a big family eating goal for the month of September by joining the 50% Local September Club.  It is a local movement encouraging people to eat 50% local for the month. That can be 50% by weight, percentage of ingredients, purchasing etc, but it forces us to look at what we eat, where it came from and how much of a footprint it leaves.  The girls have already looked very hard at the pre-packaged granola bars when reaching for a snack and are asking some very mature questions, makes me proud.  I don’t think eating local will be a problem, you can’t get much more local than your own backyard.  I do foresee some interesting decision making at the supermarket when picking out dairy, meat and other staples that cost will play a part in.  That said, I was very pleased to see how easy it was to find products from our own province by paying a bit more attention to the labels, it is worth the extra seconds.

I think that is a BIG enough ramble for August, see you next month!  I have a big job to do planting the fall veggies and getting the frost blankets a hoop tunnels out again soon…but for now I will procrastinate reading the Garden Share Collective and the End of The Month Views posts!

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12 thoughts on “End of the Month Garden Tour – August was a BIG month!!!

  1. Great Season in so many ways! Must be a such a good feeling to know you’re inspiring others with something so healthy and rewarding. Such a great garden!! So happy it’s brought so much to you and your family:)

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    • Thanks so much for your kind words Cynthia! We have been surprised over and over with our experiments and our blog experiences this year – in the end, the 2 people I hope to inspire most are the little munchkins that help me so much – I don’t think there are many better life lessons than to understand hard work, to be proud of your efforts and that it costs nothing to be a kind, caring person. If no one else but them ever read my ramblings, it would be enough for me. The fact that other’s seem to enjoy it as well is simply a wonderful, wonderful bonus!!!

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  2. I just got goosebumps reading your post! Congratulations on all your efforts this month and I hope you had a wonderful trip away. I thinking growing your own food is rewarding not only for your health but for your pockets. The fact you saved $500 in a month is huge. We are getting our veggie patch organised for veggies we consume a lot of again so we can start saving money again. I never realised how expensive vegetables were until I didn’t have them when we first moved from the farm. Thank you so much for sharing your BIG month and I am stoked that you will spreading the word on growing your own and getting the kids involved. See you next month.

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    • Thanks Lizzie – I have to admit, for the few extra seconds it takes to weigh and record, our minds have been blown by the value hiding in our backyard! We knew we consumed a lot and that produce was expensive, but we have saved more than we would have imagined (and spent less on gardening supplies and plants, I might add too!). The bonus is that we eat so much more of the veggies we would never buy if we didn’t grow them! Good luck in your new gardens!!!

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  3. How fantastic! Congrats on all of the exciting exposure you have received this month. It is wonderful to be able to share it and inspire others. I love the way your whole family is involved in the activity. Fabulous x

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    • Thanks Kyrstie! It has taken us by surprise – gardening is just a hobby, we certainly don’t make any money from it and don’t ever plan to, but it has been a great experience being able to get the kids more engaged and sharing our trials and successes – this year’s blog has been an interesting experiment indeed!! Thanks for reading!

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  4. That is one big*ss haul, Lady! I’m loving the spread on the table. You have GOT to be happy about all the work you’ve put in. The photos are amazing, and I had no idea how expansive your garden space was (I have 1/5 of that, I’m guessing).

    What flower is that in the photo gallery? The white chrysanthemum one? And what of your ‘contraptions?’ Are they to keep out the critters, or to direct the veggie traffic to the inside? Did you make your raised bed frames, or buy as a kit?

    Try this with kale. De-stem and shred to chunky-sized pieces 6-10 leaves. In a large cast iron skillet, sautee mushrooms and eggplant in a bit of grapeseed (or olive oil) until your kitchen is smelling heavenly and like an outdoor grill. THEN…add a few tablespoons of veggie broth (or water) to the pan and when sizzling good, add all the kale, toss around for a bit in the pan until the leaves are good and bright green, then turn the fire down to simmer with the lid on for 3-4 minutes. These are my kids’ FAVORITE greens eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We usually top with lentils/brown and black rice seasoned Lebanese style (cumin, thyme, sesame seed).

    Now for my vegan plug: there’s absolutely no need for meat and dairy when you can grow your own or buy local veggies. Greens are both an inexpensive AND healthy way to bulk up any meal, making my grocery budget a fraction of others. No doubt you’ve already read my manifesto (http://wp.me/P28k6D-1vU); there is really something to it!

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    • Oh my gosh! I just listened to the radio piece. It was such a pleasure hearing your voices. What a delight to get to ‘meet’ you all there. Enjoy the rest of your summer. I so wish your girls and mine could meet. They’re right about the same age. 😀

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      • Thanks so much for listening – it was such a cool experience! I think my oldest could have rambled the whole time (she gets that from me!) The nicest month of the year is upon us, hopefully summer will last another 3 or 4 weeks. If you ever venture North, Nova Scotia is a lovely place to visit this time of year with kids, maybe they could meet for real one day!

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    • It was a big haul! I need to post a picture of our freezer and jelly cupboard one of these days!! The white flower is a Dahlia, I have red, purple and a white/pink one, I love them. I have to pull the tubers in the fall, but it is worth the work for pretty bouquets, my wee girl loves arranging flowers for me and everyone else she visits this time of year.

      I have many contraptions – the electric fence and new chicken wire monstrosity are for the critters – the shock is mild, the kids get zapped fairly regularly (on purpose sometimes, I think…) The others; cuke the trellis, teepees, bean cage, upside down tomatoes cages and stakes are all for vertical growing to save space and to keep veggies off the ground. The hoops are leftover from my spring tunnels.

      The raised beds are composite kits we found on sale for 50% off – they heave and settle a fair amount, but the composite has lasted well for the past 3 years – with our winters and moisture wood tends to to rot quickly.

      I love the kale idea – I will try it!

      Haha! I have read your manifesto Sharon 🙂

      I actually did not eat meat before I met my husband for a few different reasons, but I married a meat-a-tarian. We are very blessed to have many local small farms, free range, organic and open doored that makes more ethical dairy and meat choices easier. We certainly do eat many, many, many veg only based meals, but it works for our family.

      It is funny, we actually finished the raised beds across the back this year because I needed the barrier to STOP expanding the garden! Thankfully all the mulching keeps the weeds to a minimum and I seldom water more than once a week, if that. Thanks for the huge comments – I always love hearing from you!!

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  5. August was a huge month for your family! The photo’s of your garden are really great, there is a shot of something growing on what looks like a 45 degree frame? I was thinking of doing some tomatoes like that how has it worked for you?

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    • oh – that is my cucumber trellis. I do my cucumbers on upside down tomatoes cages and that trellis to save space, add shape and interest and to keep the cukes off the ground as they hang through the metal squares – it works great!! I plant shade veggies under the trellis – I have celery and lettuce under there right now. I have never tried tomatoes like that – I usually cage or stake. Try it!

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