Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Saving with Knowledge and Waste Less

Are there days when you go through your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator and just shake your head at all the food you're throwing out? What a waste! You're not alone. There is, however, something you can do about it, all by changing the way you store your foods.

I found this great site that gives information on what foods should be stored where. Some of this stuff I already knew, but I did learn a few things I didn't know, like the fact that potatoes give off a gas that ripen onions faster. And did you know that honey is one of the only foods that doesn't go bad? I knew it had a long shelf life, and that I could heat it when it starts to crystallize to get it running smooth again, but I had no idea I never have to throw it out. Cool! Where did I get this information? I found it in the article How to Keep Foods Fresh Longer. Be sure to check it out and learn how you can keep your food longer and waste less.

On another note, we've learned a lesson about our gardening. We found that the fluorescent light we bought, coupled with our warm closet where we ended up growing our garden seeds, worked very well--in fact, a little too well. I think we really should've held off planting some of the seeds until this weekend. Here's what I've learned:

Tomatoes and bell peppers should be started early, so the end of March or Early April, when you're planning on doing your outside planting in Mid-May is a good time to start those seeds.

Cucumbers, carrots, watermelon and Cantaloupe can all be started the end of March too, but they grow faster, so can even be done in mid-to-late April for mid-to-late May planting.

Peas grow fast! They are cold hardy and so can be planted directly in the ground as soon the soil is workable. Lettuce is also in this category. Because of this you can plant them directly in the ground, or if you're wanting to do starters, don't start them too early. A few weeks is plenty of time for the peas especially.

Corn, I've read, doesn't much like to be transplanted. We've done some starters for them (before we did all the research) and they did very well at first. But they're growing so fast that the roots are going outside of the containers. Also, they don't much like their roots to be wet, and it will cause them to rot, so you don't want to over water. It's best to just plant corn directly in the ground after the danger of frost has passed--which is mid-May here.

We've learned a lot in our first experience starting seeds. We'll do even better next year, I'm sure. I'm happy with what we've got so far though, and am excited to get our little plants out in the garden.

As for the compost, if you remember, I told you we were considering two landfills and the local sewer district. I did my homework before making the choice, and though the sewer district was much cheaper, I wasn't convinced of the safeness of using it in our vegetable garden. Expert opinions on this is mixed, but one common consensus I found was that vegetable plants where the roots are eaten (like carrots, radishes and potatoes for example) should not be planted in biosolids. Makes sense to me! If you're needing compost for your ornamentals though, you may want to consider biosolid compost as a less expensive option.

So we got our compost from the Bountiful Landfill for $30/truck load. It looks great! I'm impressed with the quality of it and have high hopes for our garden this year. I know I'll be grinning when I bypass the produce department at the grocery store! Haha!

Anyway, read up on your perishables and lessen your waste. And if you haven't already, think about doing your own garden this year. It's the perfect time to get things started. For tips and resources, go to my other garden articles.