#Saturday #Savings – #Free #Homesteading Materials

hen on eggs

Get your Homesteading Freebies!

On Saturdays I post a round-up of deals on homesteading materials. Some of these will be referenced in posts earlier in the week and some will be new ones I find today! I will always post deals I find during the week on twitter so if you are on twitter, follow me!

Home and Garden Items

  • Free Dinner recipes via email here

Free Books (Kindle/Computer) – these go fast at the free price point!

Giveaways/Contests

  • $500 Giftcard for Etsy (you have to click “like”)

#Soil #Solarization to Rid the #Garden of #Weeds

soil solarization can rid your garden of weeds

Soil Solarization can rid your garden of weeds!

Have you heard of soil solarization? Soil solarization is when you use the sun to kill all the weed seeds and pests (insects, nematodes, bacterial and fungal pathogens) in your garden prior to planting and it has the added benefit of increasing nutrient availability and you do not have to add any pesticides.

Soil solarization is simple to do. The biggest downside is that you will be unable to use the garden while you are solarizing it. Those of you in Arizona, and other parts in the West, will not find this to be a problem most years since our hottest months are in-between our seasons. You can garden for a season, solarize the plot, then plant for the second season. Those of you who are growing crops during the sunniest and hottest times of the year could still solarize the plots you are not using or plots that you had a lot of weed or pest problems with the previous season. If you are in a cool or cloudy area than soil solarization will not work for you.

Four steps to soil solarization:

  • Clear all weeds and old plants. Anything that could harbor pests must go!
  • Level the soil. It will be easier to apply the plastic at later if this step is done. Plus, you need all the parts of the garden to be equal distance from the plastic or you will not get a uniform temperature underneath.
  • Irrigate the soil down to a depth of at least one foot. You can use a rebar or thin pipe to determine how deep the water has reached. Push it into the ground until you hit resistance. Mark the pipe and see how deep you were able to push it into the soil.
  • Put a plastic tarp over the soil and anchor it down. 1 to 4 mil plastic works best. The closer it is to the soil the better it will work (which is why the leveling step is so important). Leave the plastic on for 4-6 weeks.

The top six inches of soil will reach temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and the soil will heat up as deep as about 18 inches. If you remember from the how to compost post, a temperature that high will kill off weed seeds and pathogens (which is also why you want your compost to reach high temperatures). It will also break down solid materials in the soil (just like your compost pile), making those nutrients more readily available.

Your garden bed will be ready for planting at the end of the soil solarization process (4-6 weeks) and you will have a lot less weeding to do in that plot! It is great for those of us who like to have an organic garden. Remember to pick a time of year where you get hot, cloudless days.

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Submitted to Green Thumb Thursday!

#Saving #Energy by Using #LED #Lightbulbs

See how much money you can save using LED's!

Will you save money with LED's?

Part of creating a sustainable homestead is reducing your energy costs. It makes it cheaper to use solar panels (because you will need a smaller system) and you can use the extra money that would be spent on your energy bill on more gardening supplies! Seriously though, why spend money on something that is not “fun”? My energy bill has never made it onto the “fun to pay” list so I would prefer to get it as low as possible.

One of the ways you can save money on your electric bill is by using LED light bulbs. Right now LED bulbs are quite a bit more expensive than incandescent (which are soon to be phased out) or CFL, but when you look at the expected lifespan they usually come out cheaper or the same as the CFL's. In the meantime, you can save a bundle on your electricity. There are ways to get LED bulbs cheaper (look to the bottom of the post for those tips).

On average incandescent light bulbs are rated for 1200 hours of use, CFL's are rated for 8000 hours of use, and LED's are rated for 50000 hours of use, so during the lifespan of 1 LED bulb you will need to buy 6 CFL bulbs or 42 Incandescent bulbs.

I am going to do two energy cost analysis so you can see the difference between a small and large room. I figured 5 hours of use each day and my electricity rate is $0.121.

The formula for figuring out your electric cost:

  • (Watts) * (hours used each day) * (electricity rate) /1000

Small Room Example – Bathroom, 4 bulbs above the sink/vanity, 15 watts each

  • Incandescent – four 15 watt incandescent bulbs will use 60 watts. The bulbs in this one room will cost $1.10/month to use and will need replaced every 8 months.
  • CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) – four 15 watt equivalent CFL bulbs will use 13 watt. The bulbs in this one room will cost $0.24/month to use and will need replaced every 4 years 5 months.
  • LED – four 15 watt equivalent LED bulbs will use 6 watts. The bulbs in this one room will cost $0.11/month to use and will need replaced every 27 years 5 months.

Large Room Example – Kitchen, 6 bulbs in recessed lighting, 60 watts each

  • Halogen – six 60 watt halogen bulbs will use 360 watts. The bulbs in this one room will cost $6.62/month to use and will need replaced every 8 months.
  • CFL (Compact Florescent Light) – six 60 watt equivalent CFL bulbs will use 78 watts. The bulbs in this one room will cost $1.43/month to use and will need replaced every 4 years 5 months.
  • LED – six 60 watt equivalent LED bulbs will use 36 watts. The bulbs in this one room will cost $0.66/month to use and will need replaced every 27 years 5 months.

Whole House Light Bulb Cost

As you can see, the savings can add up. I did this analysis on 10 of the bulbs in my house, but, I have 40 bulbs in my home. Assuming the usage in my house is about the same as these, electricity costs me:

  • Incandescent $30.88/month for the lights in the whole house
  • CFL $6.68/month for the lights in the whole house
  • LED $3.08/month for the lights in the whole house

I have switched over those two rooms and 4 of the bulbs in the master bedroom. For me, the benefits are good enough to purchase the LED bulbs in the future, but I will wait until my CFL bulbs burn out. That should mean that I should be using all LED bulbs in the next 5 years or so.

Not having to replace them as often is another huge benefit to LED bulbs. Especially in recessed lighting and ceiling fans. I do not mind changing a bulb in a lamp, but getting out a ladder to change out a light bulb is a pain. Only having to do that every 27 years is a pretty big plus in my book.

Saving Money when Purchasing LED Bulbs

Unfortunately LED bulbs can be expensive. The lifespan justifies them being 42 times more expensive than incandescent or 6 times more expensive than CFL bulbs, but it can still seem like a lot to spend on a light bulb. There are a few ways you can save when purchasing LED lights:

  • Always watch for sales at your local hardware stores and take advantage of them! Sometimes they run energy rebates and that is a good time to pick up a few.
  • I earned my 15 watt equivalent bulbs through Swagbucks (8 of them!) so they cost nothing. They do not currently have them as a prize, but they might always bring that prize back or you can redeem your bucks for an Amazon certificate and buy your bulbs using your free Amazon gift cards.
  • Amazon has a lot of options that are cheaper. I bought my kitchen bulbs for $8.99 each through Amazon (which isn't much more than the cost of the halogen). You can see the ones I bought here. I am very happy with the color and light they provide. I actually bought 50 watt equivalent instead of the 60 watt halogen and there is still plenty of light.

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Potato Recipe: EASY Scallion Champ

This is a delicious potato recipe (vegetarian) and so simple to make! Found at PintSizeFarm.com

Four Ingredients, Simple, Delicious

While it is easy to find a vegetarian recipe for mashed potatoes, many people still turn to bacon to for a potato dish. When you order your potato loaded it always comes with bacon. This mashed potato recipe will beat loaded potatoes any day!

I found this potato recipe in the latest issue of Vegetarian Times. Scallion Champ is mashed potatoes with green onions. Here is the potato recipe up for review:

{Click Here to See the Recipe!}

Cost of Keeping Chickens for Eggs

It can be hard to decide what animals you would to include on your homestead. Most people do not have enough acreage to have a full-scale farm so you have to determine what is worth the space. The cost of keeping chickens and other homestead animals might influence your decision  Do you want horses, cows, goats, sheep, rabbits, pigs, chickens, bees….?

Details to figure the cost of chickens for your homestead - do you want backyard chickens? Found at www.PintSizeFarm.com

The cost of keeping chickens on your homestead might influence your decision to get them.

Chickens can provide a seemingly endless supply of eggs. As long as you are not vegetarian (and are okay with the idea of raising your own meat), chickens can also provide a healthy supply of home-raised meat (although this post will look specifically at the cost of keeping chickens for eggs since the feed costs are different for meat birds).

[click to continue…]

#Sunday #Homestead Sum-Up

posted sign

Did you miss anything this week?

It’s Sunday, time to start a new week! This week Pint Size Farm is going to have posts about the differences between red wigglers and earthworms, how LED bulbs can save you money, discuss soil solarization and how it can help you, and write about a great new potato recipe (Scallion Champ). Sign up for the email newsletter (in the right sidebar) and you won’t miss a thing! I send out 2-3 updates each week and it will link to all the new posts.

This is what Pint Size Farm posted about last week:

Here are a few good posts from around the blogosphere:

  • List of Reasons to Avoid GMO Foods on In The Pantry
  • Who Am I? – The Human Angle on The Tranquil Kiwi

Do you have any favorites from this week? Tweet, email, or leave a comment and I will put them in next weeks Sunday Sum-Up post. Have a great week!

Click here to sign up for my mailing list!

#Saturday #Savings – Free Homesteading Materials

hen on eggs

Get your Homesteading Freebies!

On Saturdays I post a round-up of deals on homesteading materials. Some of these will be referenced in posts earlier in the week and some will be new ones I find today! I will always post deals I find during the week on twitter so if you are on twitter, follow me!

Free Home and Garden Items

  • Dinner recipes via email here

Free Books (Kindle/Computer) – these go fast at the free price point!

Giveaways/Contests

  • $500 Giftcard for Etsy (you have to click “like”)