Recent Articles

New logo for CheapVegetableGardener.com

CVGLogo2[1]

When I first created this blog 6 years ago I through together a simple logo with my very limited graphic design ability (or lack there of).  I had always intended on improving this in the future but had never gotten the opportunity to do this.

Fortunately our Danish friends at AxisCepromup were great enough to put a logo together to replace our existing one.  What do you think?

Groundhog Day: Is spring coming early?

Sorry, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow so six more weeks of winter.  Though for those of you with a blanket of snow on the ground and more coming this is probably not hard to believe.

Just for the record Punxsutawney Phil is only right 39 percent of the time so probably best to not put too much of your seed planning on his prediction. Keeping fingers crossed…

New way to use egg cartons for starting seeds

WP_20140201_010

I have used egg cartons to plant seedlings before but here is a slight twist, instead of taking the whole lid off I cut the top off the lid.  This not only gives you a neat place to label your seeds but more importantly, it provides an extra inch of depth for your seedlings to get a running start before being transplanted to your garden.

Multiple rain barrels hooked up with common garden hose connectors

WP_20140126_003

Last summer I setup some cheap rain barrels which I describe in this post which worked great though had one major flaw.  If you wanted to do some maintenance or add any new barrels you would have to literally have to saw them apart.  This time around I came up with a design that is not only simple but can be done with almost no tools and uses common garden hose connectors.

Materials needed

 

Construction

Knowing Pascal’s principle I wanted to take advantage of all the height I could safely get.  I chose to elevate my rain barrels by taking cinder blocks 2 wide and 3 high.  I then place two 4”X4” lumber cut at 4 foot lengths to provide a few additional inches of height, but also provide some room for my connections under the barrels.

Now I have a firm foundation not it is time to get these barrels hooked together so I can get maximum water pressure and access to the water in all of the barrels.

The caps on the barrels (pretty common) I picked up had a nice feature of including some nice threads on the inside of them.  This provides me a nice 1 inch thread I can get a nice tight seal.  The only problem these are sealed closed.

WP_001632

Not having a drill bit just under one inch in diameter I used a pocket knife to carefully cut the inner cap off being careful to not harm the threads.

WP_001633

Whats also great about this threads is they match that of standard garden hose connections.  So my taking the male end of one of the garden hose splitter with a 4-5 wrappings in Teflon plumbers tape and screw it into the cap you opened up in the previous step.  Repeat this process for all of your remaining rain barrels.

Note: This addition of Teflon plumbers tape is technically optional should be water tight without this but seems like a cheap insurance for the alternative of having a slow leak under your barrels.

WP_20140119_005

Next add one end of male the garden hose to the end you typically would hook up to your faucet and hook the other end (other male end created using Male garden hose mender mentioned above.  For this I cut an old garden hose which had a couple leaks in it to proper length since obviously 25 feet of hose between barrels would be some serious overkill.

WP_20140125_013 

If you have more than two rain barrels you can then use short lengths of typical garden hose (one male/one female) and link them together in a similar manner.

WP_20140126_005

For overflow I went with a pretty simple option of drilling a hole and manually threading a pipe fitting that attached to piece of tubing (easy finds at your local home improvement store)

  WP_20140126_001    

Better picture of overflow…this tube goes right down to the drain the water used to flow down with the drain spout.  So once all the barrels are full all the excess water will just flow down here.

WP_20140131_003

Speaking of the drain spout I used some cheap vinyl drain pieces to redirect the water into a 3 inch hole I cut in the top of the barrels.

WP_20140131_002 

I added a piece of screen to filter out the leaves and little piece of sediment that may come from the roof.  I also screwed on a plastic lid I scavenged from the recycling bin which I cut a matching 3 inch hole into.  This had a decent lip on the lid to help direct the water into the barrels when the rain starts coming down pretty hard.

WP_20140131_001

Overall I really like how this came out.  Not only does this allow me to easily add new rain barrels and I decide to add them but I also with the valves on the 2 way garden hose splitter I can easily start/stop flow from any barrel and do maintenance on another barrel without having to draining all of the water from the system.

Making your own potting soil

WP_20140125_004

The last few years have bought a bag or two of potting soil for my spring planting though each year I am disappointed when I open the bag containing a bunch of bark , twigs, gravel, and even several pretty large rocks.

This year I have decided to make my own potting soil with very little effort and much less cost.  Given I just recently harvested my compost bin and got about 15 gallons of screened compost as my starting point to make my own mix.

CVG Potting Soil Recipe

Ingredients:
Directions:

Add all ingredients to 20 gallon trash container.  Mix thoroughly with large shovel until everything is well incorporated.  Cover with lid with several holes drilled in the top (otherwise moisture+no light = mold growth)

 

WP_20140125_002

You can use a smaller container than 20 gallons but would not recommend one smaller or it can be a decent reach to get the last of the soil out of the bottom…

How to harvest your compost from your portable compost bin

WP_20140104_002[2]

When it comes to making compost I am pretty lazy approach to this process, no turning, no tumblers, just stack up material in the compost bin and let natural decomposition process and worms do their job.

Given I use a portable SoilSaver Classic Composter with just a bit muscle I can lift this off my pile of compost.  As you can see with the composter removed you can view the various layers of composted and completely raw materials with various levels in between. 

I then take the empty composter and move to a new location where not much is growing.  What is great about having the ability to move your composter location is it will rejuvenate the soil under it so once you compost there for a year or so and move it it would be difficult for something to not grow there.

WP_20140104_016[2]

Taking a shovel keep removing the material that still needs some time in the composter and place back into compost bin in its new location. 

WP_20140104_006

Keep taking a layer off at a time until you reach this stuff, nice finished compost. You may still have some uncomposted material mixed in there so I like to run this through my homemade soil sieve to filter out the larger material.  When I am running the material through I am not too careful to get every bit of finished compost out to leave some in the compost bin as a starter for the next batch.

WP_20140104_019[2]