Three things to do, which will MAKE you $’s

OK, OK. I’m sure you’ve heard the “scams” over the years…. follow MY advice and earn “millions” with very little effort! Of course, most of those guys… want a small “fee” to tell you what you need to do. If you operate on the theory that “you get what you pay for”, it does make sense in a way… to charge. I’ve paid some of those guys, and I did learn.  I didn’t learn about millions, that’s for sure, though.  But it did help me learn to think outside the “box”.

On a farm, in suburbia, in an apartment…. there are at LEAST three things you can do that will make you dollars. Most of us think in terms of “bringing MORE dollars home”, but just as useful is to think of it from a different angle.  Less dollars going out.

Cost of  Making Dollars vrs Keeping your Dollars

Usable Dollars

If you MAKE dollars, via wages, you must pay approx 1/3 or more, to the government.  Often, if those are the “last dollars” you make (i.e. on top of your regular salary), it may be taxed at an even higher rate.  If you factor in: taxes, social security, sales tax when you spend the money, and the higher tax bracket you’re  forced into…

I would guess you can only count on 50% of each additional dollar that you EARN as being actually in your hot little hand! (If you had to pay child care while you made those dollars, then you are probably in negative territory).

That was the cool thing about the stock market… you could let your money do the work while you stayed home.

Uhhh, except for a few details there… that again you can be taxed through the roof, if you do buying and selling within a year of purchase… in addition to the fee to actually buy and then sell and then buy. Hmmm, and if you did actually “make $’s” there is again that problem of being forced up into a high tax bracket.  When you went to use those dollars, dang it… there you are again, usually paying some kind of sales tax on it. How much of your dollar do you actually get to use?

So yes, I can double your useful money value. Maybe even triple it!  Well… some of your dollars. But it won’t be glamorous, or yuppy. You can’t whisper into someone’s ear how you made out big on “……” (fill in the blank).

Here goes:

Bag of Pinto Beans!

I went down and bought a bag of pinto beans… 99 cents.  Boiled ’em up (yep, it’s actually quite easy to do)… google it!

For that one dollar spent, plus the energy to cook them (let’s call it 10 cents), and then to store them in the fridge/freezer (which is already being used but let’s call that another 10 cents).  We’ll call it $1.20 total (and you’ll reuse containers so we won’t factor in container costs).

One lb of beans = at least 6-7 cups of cooked beans = 3-4 cans of purchased beans.

$1.20 vrs  $7.20 to $6.00  (4 cans/$1.80 each) or maybe you get them on sale @$1.50 = $6.00

Well, I knew you would NOT believe quadruple your money! but hey, that $6.00 you just saved… is a REAL Six Dollars… you don’t have to pay any more taxes, social security, child care, etc., costs on it.You would have had to “earned” $12.00 to have the same value that you just saved, if you “bought” those groceries at the supermarket .

You know, a knowledgable, skilled homemaker (cook, etc) is worth HIS/HER weight in gold at home!

The other pluses you get with this deal: less processed food, long-term storage, no exposure to cans lined with BPA, you know exactly what went into the making of the food, no preservatives.   Did I mention, you saved your dollars for things that you MUST pay with dollar bills… doctor bills, fuel, IRS.

Three Ways

ONE) make food from scratch… it’s much cheaper, you have control over what goes into it, less exposure to additives, customize to your taste!

TWO) what you must purchase, purchase now (prices on staples are skyrocketing and will continue to do so) in larger numbers and store. I used to get tomato sauce for 20 cents a can a few years back.  I now make most of my own but when I get it at the store, it’s up to $0.79 or more.  For now, I would buy on sale, and in bulk amounts.  Take $20/paycheck and allot it to your “investment account”. Track it, bet you’ll be surprised at your “annual rate of return”. Not quite as big a money investment but buying at today’s prices will buffer the sticker shock, as prices increase.

THREE) grow some things, on your own.  I was amazed at the production I got out of just a few plants.  I planted a 10 ft row of beans… and could NOT keep ahead of them. They just kept producing!  I finally decided I’d try NOT picking them.  I ended up with “dry beans” that I then picked and stored away to make winter soups!  That 10 ft row probably cost me $2/seed package for a bushel of beans. ($4 if I bought 2 cell packs of “starts” ready to put in the ground).

During a month of production I  got at least $4/worth of beans A DAY. Green beans… and then at the end of the season, another $5/dry beans. $4×30=$120 green beans, 5# dry bean x $6= $30.   $150 from a $2 pkg of seeds… well, you do have to account for some water, trellis, and your time.  But that is a heck of a deal… just not exactly glamorous!

Dried vs. Canned Beans
Canned beans are fast and easy to use. Or you can prepare dried beans from scratch. Here are some equivalents:1 lb dry beans = 2 1/2 cups dry beans = about 7 1/2 cups cooked beans
1 cup dry beans = about 3 cups cooked beans
14 oz/398 ml can beans = about 1 1/2 cups drained beans
19 oz/540 ml can beans = about 2 cups drained beans

Homemade lettuce box

You don’t need a 10 ft row of beans….

but try three different plants, a cherry tomato & a regular size tomato plant, green beans or peas or lettuce or onions or potatoes or cucumbers Things that you will actually eat, plus try one new thing. Plant a Salsa Garden… tomato, tomatillo, chili peppers, onions, cilantro!  DON’T plant what you DON’T LIKE!

Tomato Container Garden should be much larger!

Just don’t kill yourself trying to do too much… start small. It is truly amazing how little you need to grow to get a very productive output.  You will be absolutely impressed by how good your homegrown food can taste… amazing difference from store-bought!

Self-Watering Container (aka Earth Box)… I’ve included a unit you can put together!

  • that reduces the water chores, with its water reservoir,
  • it reduces weeding issues,
  • it reduces bending issues (for seniors who gotta watch out for the back!),
  • it doesn’t even need land; it’s great if you have a sunny patio, even in an apartment complex,
  • there is even a Yahoo group, ContainerGardening, that you can join… great at answering questions.
ediblecontainergardens@yahoogroups.com

You need roughly 6 hrs of sunlight for fruiting plants. Shade plants (lettuce, radishes, onions, beets) can tolerate much less sunlight.

Homemade self-watering Container

Basically, a big tub with a false bottom.  The false bottom has a wick down into the water stored in the base, to pull up the water it needs, when it needs it.  You use a potting soil(not garden soil… too heavy, thick, clayish) to fill the top-level, and then plant.  You do need to be aware of how big the plants will get, that you want to grow, and factor that in to the size of the container. You can get a small cherry tomato plant, that will stay small or one that will grow 4 ft tall by 4 ft wide. Do your research!  There is a refill spout to replenish the water drawn up by the plants.

NCAT SIFT Program sift@ncat.org

SIFT (Sustainable Intensive Farming Techniques) directions:

It doesn’t take a field, or even a greenhouse, to enjoy your own sustainably grown produce.

A sustainable “micro-farm” is a good choice for those who may have limited space or who might want to experiment with small amounts of different kinds of crops.

Choose corner containers that are the same heighth as the wicking cup.
Choose corner containers that are the same height
as the wicking cup.

And a microfarm is a great project for parents, teachers, and anyone else with kids looking for fun and educational things to do. It’s easy to design them with an efficient watering system, drawing moisture from the bottom instead of relying on watering from the top. That makes it a good first introduction to sustainable-agriculture practices.

Here are the materials you need and step-by-step directions to assemble a water-friendly microfarm of the type the SIFT project has used to introduce local 4-H members to sustainable agriculture. Have fun!

List of materials
• 18-gallon plastic storage tub and lid

• A 3.75–inch “wicking” pot, also known as a net cup, or a sturdy cup you have poked MANY holes in it, so water can move through it freely

• Four plastic individual-serving yogurt containers, plastic cups, or sturdy, similar-sized items to use as braces. They should be the same height as the wicking pot.

• Four locking plastic ties

• A 20-inch-long PVC pipe with one end cut at an angle. The pipe should have a large enough diameter to make it easy to use a hose to run water into it.

Attach the wicking cup to the lid with locking ties.
Attach the wicking cup to the lid with locking ties.

• 40 pounds of soil

• Compost or organic fertilizer

Process
• Punch a hole in the tub approximately 2.5 inches from the bottom. This is to allow any excess water to drain from the tub.

• The lid has a rim of thicker plastic. The following cuts will be made inside that rim:
–Cut a hole in the center of the lid that is the same diameter as the wicking pot.
–Cut a hole at the inside edge of the lid’s rim that is the same diameter as the PVC pipe
–Punch rows of small holes in the lid
–Cut out the area of the lid that is inside the rim of thicker plastic in one piece

• Make sure that the yogurt containers, plastic cups, or other items you use as a brace are the same height as the wicking cup

• Place the wicking cup in the hole at the center of the lid and attach it to the smaller holes in the lid with the locking ties. Punch new holes for the ties if necessary.

A completed microfarm.
A completed microfarm.

• Place the braces inside the tub at the corners

• Place the cut-out piece of the lid on the braces with the wicking basket on the bottom

• Insert the PVC pipe into its hole, with the end cut at an angle at the bottom to make it easier for water to flow into the tub

• Fill the tub with soil and soil amendments

• Use the PVC pipe to add water to the bottom of the tub once you have planted your crop. Be careful not to waste any water. You can make a “dipstick” with such items as a dowel or yardstick, or to check the water level in the tub through the pipe.

Posted on: April 5th, 2012  Make Your Own Sustainable “Farm”

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