Enjoying the Fruits of My Labor – Home Gardening the Final Stretch

Corn in the handToday I harvest my first ear of corn. This is the beginning of the end for my backyard garden. Unlike most endings this is a good thing. It all started back in mid-june, and now look at it. I’ve had a few bumps along the way and I’ve certainly learned a lot. Here is where things stand.

Howden Pumpkins: DISASTER! About three weeks ago we got a down pour of rain and it lead to the spread of a mildew that I have to admit, I can’t eliminate. Since I am organic I tried several remedies, Neem oil, a vinegar mixture, a milk mixture. Nothing seemed to work. Finally a found and organic fungicide that has helped me fight the spread, but I still can’t eliminate it. 

Organic GardenThe effects of the mildew have caused a huge die off in my once hearty pumpkin leaves and the loss of two pumpkins. The complications from this problem could cost me the entire crop. I have 5 pumpkins that seem like they will make it but I really don;t know. I have at least a month to go so at this point I will renin cautiously optimistic that I can pull through. 

Cucumbers: Since they are growing near the pumpkins they suffered at even worse amount of damage, the plants are fruiting but they look very sick. 

Golden Bantam Sweet Corn: Wow! These guys are doing great, I harvest my first ear less than an hour ago and will be eating it in mere minutes. Corn belowMy stalks are about 7 feet high, they are thick and healthy. I think I may have been a day or two early on my test ear so I will wait a day and begin picking my corn as the ears mature. I hope to get at least 15 ears of corn onto my dinner table this fall. Some of the ears are very small and might not reach full maturity. My wife and mother have already staked claims for the dead stalks and will turn them into Halloween decorations. I am very pleased with this crop and will be growing it next year. 

Tomatoes: I underestimated the space that these guys would need when I was planning my garden . They are 4 feet tall! They are break out of the cages I set them in! I have dozens and dozens of big green tomatoes that I am waiting on tot turn a bright beautiful red. It I can keep the squirrels away I am planning on giving almost everyone I know a bowl of tomatoes. What a great plant, it will also be in next years garden.

Sugar Baby Watermelons: I still have 10-12 more days before I begin harvesting these champs of my garden. No muss no fuss, they have been growing strong and steady. I can not wait to try them. More of them to come in a future post.

So I had some ups and some downs, I am fighting to keeps the pumpkins alive and the pests out. I am feeling confident and will share my more as the fall arrives.   

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Easy Garden BirdBlock

The Bride and I have two birds feeders, we love birds and we enjoy feeding them. We fill up our feeder several times a week, but that still doesn’t stop them from going after my freshly spread lawn seed! My bare spots on my lawn remain bare due to a dedicating and growing army of little bids that uncover my grass seed and eat it!

I am also a little concerned about my corn. meshSome of the sites that I have visited have suggested that birds will some time land on your corn and eat the upper kernels on the cob. This will simply not stand. I needed a solution and I found one in the form of Easy Garden Birdblock. This mesh netting is safe for the birds, affordable, and made in the USA. It very light so it won’t weigh down or crush your plants and it can be used over and over. 

This is good for crops, but I’ve also discovered that it could be good for lawns as well. Not only will the netting stop the birds from eating your seeds but it will provide a small amount of shading and could stop the newly forming grass from burning. 

Easy garden has been making ecofriendly, safe gardening products in the USA for over 25 years. You can find many of their products on Amazon including the BirdBlock for around $7 a tube.  A good investment, that will probably pay for itself in saved grass seed in its first year of use. 

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Building a Computer Deal

It’s time for millions of students across the country to get back into school mode. Colleges dorms are filling with new and returning students and the younger ones know that their summer is quickly coming to an end. Back to school shopping is well underway and the most expensive item on the list is often a computer. 

Selecting a computer grows more complicated each year. Do you get a tablet or a laptop or a desktop? Is it going to be used primarily for gaming or movie viewing or heaven forbid, school work. What if you could have it all? Even better, what if you could have it all at a very generous discount. 

My brother recently decided to throw in the towel on his old laptop, it was too old and too slow and it crashed a lot. He reached out to me with two requests. He wanted something that could handle several tasks at once and it had to be affordable. Armed with those parameters I set out on my task. 

I looked in my usual places, review sites, discounts, deal spots. I found a few candidates but none that rely impressed me.  I asked for 24 more hours and then, boom. I found what I didn’t even know I was looking for. 

I give you the Dell XPS 18. It looks DELLlike a fairly nice desktop bundle. You have a pretty big 18. inch screen, a wireless keyboard and mouse. If you were to look a little bit closer you would discover that things aren’t what they seem. That “Monitor” is actually a giant tablet. That’s right this desktop can covert into a portable tablet that you can use all over your home and still be connected to the inter webs. 

This computer gives you the usability and power of a desktop and the portability of a tablet. Windows 8 touch screen capabilities allow you to interact with the screen in very engaging and new ways. A computer like this usually retails for around $1200 dollars, but I found a nice deal. 

A Ebay daily deal to be exact. Right now you can have this PC/Tablet for $679.95. Now it is a referb unit, but it comes with a standard 1 year warranty. Some people may shy away from such a thing, but I have had good experiences with such devices in the past. 

Sure 43% off is great, but don’t go clicking that “buy it now” button just yet. Remember BigCrumbs is offering .5% cash back. That knock another $3.38 off. You should also enroll in Ebay bucks and $13.60 could be yours. No sense leaving almost $17 on the table. 

I shared this deal with my brother and he loved it, the reviews were good and it is just what he wanted. He ordered it yesterday and should be receiving it early next week. If this seem like something you might be interested in then check it out, but remember the daily deals don’t last very long. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Edsal Storage Rack – Assembled

Last week I wrote about my newly purchased Edsal storage rack. Edsal ShelfSince then it has arrived, been assembled by yours truly, and is residing in my garage. The storage rack in the picture is mine. If you look closely you can see my RainTrain sprinkler. 

Here are my impressions of this fine American made product:

  • Assembly – It was pretty easy, the instructions are not very detailed so I relied a great deal on the picture on the outside of the box to be my guide. I am pretty good at figuring this type of thing out so it may be a little harder for the average person.
  • Build Quality – One of the things that struck me was that the rails that make up the verticals corners are not one piece. This rack uses two separate sections that are joined together. At first I was worried that this would make the rack less sturdy. I can say that this is not the case. I have to give them credit it really feels like a solid item. 
  • Value - I feel that I got a lot for whatI paid for. This storage rack has excellent dimensions and is customizable for added versatility. This is something that will probably stay in my garage for many many years.

Over all I give this item a B+, it came as advertised and should las t me a long time. I recommend it for anyone who id looking to bring some order to their garage or basement. Toss those dirty old shelves and get an Edsal storage rack. 

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Five Bucks off a $25 Fandango Gift Card

I am sure you have seen the commercials and some of you have probably tried Fandango. For those of you who have enjoyed using theFandango-logo online movie ticket seller as well as those who may be interested in trying, Fandago and Visa signatures cards are offering you a deal. Right now you can buy a $25 gift card for only $20 if you use your Visa signature card.

Depending on where you live in the country that $5 might be a free ticket. For me, in NY, where movie tickets can be $12.50 a pop, it knocks the price of a movie night with my wife from $25 down to $20. Every little bit helps, right? Check it out.

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Made in the USA Monday – Edsal Storage Rack

One of the consequences of buying stuff is that you have to find a place to put said stuff. The solution of often to by more stuff in the form of storage stuff, more commonly know as shelving. With my recent foray into gardening and my new status as a home owner I have been in dire need of new shelves. I need some in my basement, I need some in my garage. 

Right now it my garage I have an old bookcase that just isn’t getting the job down. I plan to clean it up and move it to the basement where it will be better suited to hold groceries. With that aim in mind I decided to get some shelving for my garage. I went over to my favorite shopping site, Amazon, and looked up their #1 selling shelving unit.

I was pleased to discover that the top selling storage rack was in fact made in America. shelvesSolid reviews, good price, American made, BOOM sold. I pulled the trigger and two days later, thanks to Amazon Prime, it was at my door. It weighs about 70 pounds, I realized this when I tried to lift it. The “muscle rack” as the box describes it is the real deal, the steel deal. 

Built in Chicago for the last 50 plus years Edsal has been making office home and business storage devices that a built to last. My storage rack is made from 70% recycled steel, can be constructed to stand eight horizontally or vertically, and can support up to 4000 pounds! 

It easy to see that this is something you buy once and keep forever. For under $70 it seems like a great deal. I haven’t assembled it yet, but when I do I will follow up with some photos. 

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The PiggyBankBuilder Portfolio – Seven Month Update

With month number 7 in the record books its time to see where we stand. The portfolio has seen some changes, a major change came in the form of me closing out a position. Today I will reveal my replacement pick, but firs lets see where we stand as of right now. 

  • Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH) - Purchase Price – $47.98, number of shares 26. Sold on July 16th at $56.99 for $1481.74 a gain of $234.26
  • Cablevision (CVC) - Purchase price – $17.96, number of shares 68. Current Price: $18.17, a gain of $14.28
  • Microsoft (MSFT) - Purchase price $37.47, number of 33. Current Price: $43.23, a gain of $190.08
  • iShares Silver Trust (SLV) - Purchase price $18.92, number of shares 66. Current Price: $19.17, a gain of $16.50
  • BlackBerry (BBRY) - Purchase price $9.25, number of shares 160

A total profit of $455.12, which is down slightly from the last month. I attribute this to the stock market decline over the last month. Many are calling this an adjustment before the next leg up. I guess time will tell. 

As for the newest edition, blackberry.bbry I have been reading a lot about them, many investors had written the off for dead. I think otherwise, they have a great CEO and are poised for a turn around.  If my suspicions are correct, It think its possible that BBRY could rise to $15 a share. They have some new phones that should be releasing soon, much of the company’s success will ride on the quality of their new products. We shall see.

Going forward I maintain my cautious optimum. 

***Please not that I am not and investment advisor.Please consult your investment advisors before making any financial decisions that could result in loss.

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My Gardening Adventure – Halfway Update

Most of the vegetables in my garden take about 90 days to reach full maturity. The tomatoes move a little quicker, the pumpkins take about a month longer. Those two aside I crossed the halfway market for my garden some time around last week. I updated you on its status two weeks ago, but the growth since them is amazing. 

From 10 days out, to a month, and finally to today.  GardenAs you can see the growth has been explosive. Other than a few minor problems, my garden has been growing like gangbusters.  Here is where each group stands:

Howden Pumpkins: Wow! That is what everyone who comes by for a second look says. These guys have left the raised bed and are traveling across my lawn. I would say the vines grow about 3-4 inches ever day. They are robust and strong, in the day they open these big yellow flowers that attract a lot of bees. Sometime I will look down into a flower and see three or four bugs just going to town. The influx of bees has really helped the other plants in the garden so the pumpkins have proven to be a real positive for my garden. 

Problems: A few days ago I notice some white fungus on some of the leaves. I read that this is fairly common after a few rainy or shady days, which we’ve had. I bought some neem oil as a cure. I will try it out on one or two leaves and see how well it works, if it is successful I will use it on the rest of the plant. 

Cucumbers: The Bride’s cucumbers live under constant threat of pumpkins. I put up fencing to protect them, but the vines are growing stronger and thicker. I am doing my best to save them. As for the plants themselves, not much to report. They are a little bigger and now have some yellow flowers. 

Golden Bantam Sweet Corn: My plants are standing about 5 feet tall, they are strong and healthy. Some of the ears have started to develop, this is the part of the plant that will turn into the actual corn. I had originally read that one plant usually produced 1-2 ear of corn per plant. I later read that it is possible to get up to 4 ears on one plant. A few of mine have developed 3 ears. It still too early to tell, but its a good sign. My initial hope was to get 10-15 cobs of corn from my corn garden. Now it seems like 25-30 might be possible. 

This week I also learned about suckers. These are corn stalk off shoots that sap away nutrients from the main plant. My initial thought was that more plants meant more corn. A youtube video form a veteran farmer showed me other wise. Two days ago I took my shears and cut off all of the suckers. It felt like I was cutting down perfectly good plants and it pained me too do so, but I know it was for the best. No suckers means more corn. 

Tomatoes - They have really broken out, they are about 3 feet tall, flowers and little tomatoes are popping up all over. I’ve had some trouble with bugs, so I will have to watch out for that. 

Sugar Baby Watermelons - These guys are the come from behind champs of my garden. They have been growing and growing. Garden1Their vines are much thinner than the pumpkin vines so they are easier to move. I have counted 7 baby watermelons and I suspect that more may be on the way. I will consider 10-15 watermelons to be a huge success. 

Looking forward my biggest concern is squirrels and rabbits. I haven’t had any problems, but I fear that once they key into my garden they might find it very inviting. I just bought some eco repellent and will be applying into around my property. All in all I am very cautious but happy with my garden project.

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BigCrumbs has Some Big Offers For You

I mentioned BigCrumbs in the past. It is a great site that offers users the ability to save money on items that they were going to buy anyway. Now they have sweetened the pot even further with two new offers. 

The first is cash ebay logoback on Ebay. I was a little shocked by this when I first saw it. A company like Ebay is so massive I didn’t think they would be interested in this type of promotion. The people at BigCrumbs are clearly a hard working, persuasive bunch. The cash back amount is .5%. Not massive, but every little bit helps. Like I have always said, if you were going to buy something anyway, why not save a little more. 

The other offer is on referral commissions.  As you may know, if you refer someone and they make a purchase using BigCrumbs you get some cash back on that referral. If you know some serious online shoppers who bigwould be interested in this service you could make some coin. From now until tomorrow, BigCrumbs is doubling their referral commissions.    

So if you have already signed up tell some friends, if you haven’t join now and then tell some friends. A few crumbs here a few there really starts to add up over time. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Epco Bocce Set

I love Bocce. I don’t get to play it as often as I would like, which would be nearly every day. Still, whenever I go to a backyard party that has a Bocce Set I jump on the opportunity.  I don’t mess around either, when I play I play to win. The festive vibe of a weekend BBQ might lead some to believe that it’s all for fun, not here. In my family Bocce is practically a blood sport. 

I am aware that many people are unfamiliar with the game. I can best describe it as similar to a giant game of marbles, it’s most commonly played by Italians. If you don’t know any Italians you probably have never played Bocce. You are now faced with two choices, find some Italians or buy a Bocce set. Either is a fine choice. 

If and when you do deiced to by a Bocce Set bocceyou may be tempted to buy some cheap Chinese garbage set. Resist. Do so for two reasons. First you want a properly balanced and weighted set. Secondly you want a set that will last. True story, my buddy John bought a cheap set and we played a few times last spring. It was great fun until it all ended when one of the Bocce balls split open when  it landed on another ball. Game over, set ruined. 

You don’t want that, you want to get a tournament quality set made be a reputable American manufacturer like Epco. They have been making quality gaming products since the early 1950′s. With over half a century of experience this Massachusetts based company is an authority on quality made Bocce sets. From billiard balls to bowling balls to Bocce balls, theses fine people are the right guys for the job. 

One of their tournament sets can be yours for  $99.94. Hours of fun for all, a great addition to any outdoor party. Give it a try, I think you will probably enjoy it. The joy of Bocce, made in the USA by Epco. 

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