Updated on 08.19.08

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Garden Update Edition

Trent Hamm

Several people have asked for an update on the status of our garden, so I thought I’d write a bit about it for all the gardening fans out there. Since we live in northern Iowa, our stuff is running a bit later than what you might find south of here. Right now, we have a ton of cherry tomatoes – I picked about four pounds of them yesterday and will be picking more in a few days. Our regular tomatoes are plentiful, but all still green. We’re beginning to harvest some strawberries, and all of the herbs are either being harvested right now or are already over the hill. We’ve harvested from the green beans four times and they’re starting to slow down. The carrots are still small – we pulled a small one on Monday night just to try it and it was very sweet, almost like candy.

That leaves the cantaloupe, which is the one down spot in our garden. It has a pretty significant blight issue, causing about half the plant to die off while we were on vacation. We watered it profusely and I trimmed away most of the dead material, so we think at least some of what remains can be salvaged.

We hope to have everything harvested by the end of September, and then in early October I’ll spread a batch of compost over the entire garden and give the annual section a tilling.

Anyway, here are some good personal finance articles.

Bartering – A Lost Art I think a big place to look for bartering opportunities is in your intrinsic skills. What are you good at? What skill do you need? Right there is an opportunity for bartering. (@ being frugal)

Young People Facing Increasing Financial Stress The most interesting piece of this post was a linked report entitled “Young People: Living on the Edge,” which surveyed more than a thousand 19 to 35 year olds and generally found that young people suffer more financial stress than their parents’ generation did at the same age. Interesting stuff, and I think that this increased stress is the reason that The Simple Dollar (and other sites) have attracted an audience. We’re feeling the stress together. (@ free money finance)

How to Become a Millionaire in Ten Years The “side hustle” is an amusing way to describe a small side business. My father had tons of “side hustles” and I’ve had more than a few along the way. (@ frugal dad)

Buying a Used Auto with High Miles If you just need an old car for the commute, this is definitely one way to go about it. (@ gather little by little)

I Married a Couponaholic This is really amusing and a good insight as to the personality conflicts between a person heavily focused on pinching pennies and a person who’s never done it before. (@ frugal in virginia)

Your Emergency Fund: What Qualifies as an Emergency? For me, an emergency is any completely unexpected expense that exceeds the flexibility in my current budget. Usually, it’s anything over $500 or so. (@ consumerism commentary)

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  1. Frugal Dad says:

    Thanks for the link, Trent. I’d say The Simple Dollar has been a pretty good ““side hustle.”

    Our square foot garden was largely a flop this year, but we’ve had another summer of incredibly hot, dry conditions. I’m going to have to improve my irrigation system next spring, or opt for a more hearty variety of fruits and vegetables.

  2. clint says:

    We are just now starting a garden in our married life. we had one every year as I was growing up but for some reason we have never got around to it lately. But we have been taking a good hard look at what it can do for the kids working skills and what it can do to help us live a debt free life. with the cost of everything these days if you can grow it yourself you can probably save a ton of money. We have also been buying local foods and the ones that are “in the season thereof” or the ones that are ripe and ready to eat the day you pick them. this has helped a lot with the cost and also the taste…who would have thought that a peach could taste so good. or an apple would be so tasty, and so cheap. we paid 39 cents a pound for apples and the peaches and they through in a 40 pound box of “seconds” on the apples that we are going to share with friends and dry.

    Life is good when it is a debt free life.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Clint Lawton


  3. Lynnae says:

    Sounds like our gardens are in about the same place right now. We have tons of cherry tomatoes, too. Nothing tastes better than fresh, home grown tomatoes, IMO!

    Thanks for the mention!

  4. Our garden, too, is coming into its own (in Colorado). But it will likely not be finished until mid to late October. Got to keep my fingers crossed that our butternut squash will get ripe — we’ve been pummeled this summer by searing dry heat and then dumping rain.

  5. Mister E says:

    Sounds good.

    I’m just a little ahead of that in Toronto, Ontario, I’ve had the first fruits off of my beefsteak and plum plants as well as tonnes of cherries.

    Jalapeno’s and chili’s have been harvested several times and I’ve had about a dozen cucumbers with several more ready to go. My beans have been exhausted.

    Not bad for a container garden on a balcony, I think.

  6. Tony says:

    I’ve got stupid caterpillars eating my tomatoes. Anybody know a good way to keep them off the vines?

  7. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Tony: do you have marigolds around your tomatoes? That’s what we do to keep away a lot of pests.

  8. A vole is steadily eating my plants. So far a tomato plant and a pepper plant, plus several flowers are gone. Sigh. Stupid vole.

  9. luvleftovers says:

    My tomato plants are dying from a fungus caused by a lot of rain in early spring.

    *big, sad sigh*

  10. Kevin says:

    My grandparents and parents’ plants must be doing well – we keep getting free tomatoes and green peppers.

    Can’t wait until we move to our new home next year – we’re going to reserve a little spot for a vegetable garden and are thinking of planting a fruit tree or 2 as well.

  11. Jessica says:

    i have a question for your mail bag. i just finished my MBA got married and started a job last month, we have 50K in student loans (30K at 1% and 20 at 6%) about 15K in credit cards (all at 8% or below) and 2 car payments (both at 8.25%) my question is what do we pay down first, and what do we not worry about , we already transfered some of our credit card debit to a 0apr card. any advise would be GREAT!!! thank you!

  12. Mac says:

    I’m wondering how much assistance you needed in order to have your garden maintained while you were on vacation.

  13. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Mac: none at all, actually. We spent a ton of time prepping things just before we left. We invited our neighbor to pick anything that looked fresh during the week we were gone, but that was all.

  14. Tony says:

    Thanks for the Marigold tip. I’ll try that next year.

  15. Karen says:

    I am thinking about doing a garden next year so love this post and the comments to help me get started. Do have a tomato plant that produced some great fruit and a hot banana pepper that just flourished. I will also try the marigolds but boyfriend rigged some netting over it.

  16. A.M.B. A. says:

    Jenn @ FrugalUpstate posted August 13 on what to do with green tomatoes. Gardens! Love ’em…


  17. Brandon says:

    After reading this post I went home and then to the grocery store. After checking out I decided that I’ll definiately grow a garden next summer.

    Thanks for the motivation.

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