My Gardening Adventure – Corn

As my micro farm is coming to an end I thought it would be best to review each crop and focus on my experience. To recap I have planted corn, watermelon, pumpkins, tomatoes, and cucumbers. This first to be completely harvested was corn so I will focus on it in this post.

I planted some “Golden Bantam Sweet Corn” back in mid June. I harvested that corn in early september. Here is what I have taken away from the experience.

Yield:  I harvested 32 ears of corn. This number exceeded corn2the high range of my estimates and allowed me to share much of my corns with several friends and family members. Compared to traditional genetically modified corn, my “Golden Bantan” cobs were similar in length, but thinner. I did a little searched and found that corn thickness is measured by rows of corn. I may look for a high row count next time I plant.

Taste: Delicious! I realize that I am biased, but pulling corn from the stalked and cooking it minutes later was a real treat. For about a week I had corn as part of my lunch.

Problems: Honestly, none. I was always worried about bugs or blight, but nothing ever happened. The corn grew fast and steady. When it got to 6 get I added a small dance around the edges in case a storm came. The tips of many of my cobs failed to produce kernels, but this may have been caused by me. I read online about the need to hand pollinate corn to improve yield. I tried their techniques and it may have caused the pollination to fail at the end. When I asked an expert about this she told me that hand pollination was unnecessary, that the corn does a fine job on its own.

Secret for my success: This is my first year so I am far from a pro, but I think I did a few things right. First off was the soil, my raised beds allowed me to control the soil and create a great environment for the corn to grow. I used organic soil, compost, and dry manure. I also added earthworms and organic fertilizer. With that storm foundation I was able to grow storm tall plants. I checked on them every morning and watered them regularly, first with a hose and then switching to soaker hose to keep the water off of the leaves.

Conclusions:  I give this crop and A- and will certainly be planting it next year. The only changes I will make will be to move it over one bed so that it doesn’t shade any of my other crops. I will also plant the rows at different time so the row closest to the sun doesn’t shade out the further row. I may select a thicker cob variety and will add beans to the bed. Corn pulls nitrogen from the soil and beans add it so they work in harmony. I can’t wait till spring.

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Behrens Trash Cans

Garbage cans, clearly not the most glamorous purchase, but certainly not one that should not be made lightly. Nothing worse then dragging a heavy can full of garbage up to the curb and having the handle break off in your hand. Now you have to pull it by the inside lip, the filthy, smelly inside lip. It’s all down hill from there. 

Maybe metal is the way to go. garbage canA metal garbage can like your grandparents used too have. Like the one “Oscar the Grouch” lives in, he’s done so for the last 30+ years. Those things are built to last and Behrens is the one who builds them. 

Based in Winona Minnesota, Behrens has been making metal products in the USA for over 100 years! It’s an impressive feat when you stop to think about how much has changed in the country in that time, but metal garbage cans are hanging in there. 

A 31 gallon can like the on pictured is selling for $27.59. A fair price for an American made product that could last you many many years. 

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The PiggyBankBuilder Portfolio – Eight Month Update

Eight months down and four to go. stocksThe year has been good to my educational fictitious portfolio which has been performing very well. Let’s see what August brought us. 

  • Cablevision (CVC) – Purchase price – $17.96, number of shares 68. Current Price: $19.07 a gain of $75.48
  • Microsoft (MSFT) – Purchase price $37.47, number of 33. Current Price: $46.79, a gain of $307.56
  • iShares Silver Trust (SLV) – Purchase price $18.92, number of shares 66. Current Price: $18.22 a loss of $46.20
  • BlackBerry (BBRY) - Purchase price $9.25, number of shares 160, Current Price $10.21 a gain of $153.60

So year to day, net gains of $490.44 or just a hair shy of 10%. Silver’s slide is annoying, but I still maintain that it is an excellent hedge against disaster. Microsoft continues to impress and I am excited about its future. Perhaps is will touch $50 soon. BlackBerry, the newest edition to the portfolio, has been doing fantastically. 

Summer is usually the worst season for stocks, if we get a nice run into the end of the year I could see some great gains. Time will tell, as always I remain cautiously optimistic. 

***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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Made in the U.S.A. Monday- Key-Bak ID Holder

I use an ID card at my workplace, to enter the building, to access my gear, I pretty much need that card to do anything. As security systems improve and computerization grows more and more if us are using some form of access card at our jobs. Lose that card and you are in pretty big trouble. 

You need something that is going to keep it at the ready keybakand will prevent it from falling off or getting lost. You need a holder like the one from Key-Bak. Founded over 60 years ago West Coast Chain Manufacturing is a California based, employee owned company that make a wide range of key holders that include Key-Bak product like.

Made from durable materials and backed by a life time warranty these retractable key reels are an excellent option for those of us that need to carry and display ID cards or access fobs. Clip to your belt loop and its ready to go. 

This product would be a huge upgrade from the belt clip holder that I have now. Not only does the clip scratch up and ruin my belt but it also digs into my side when I am driving. It is a nuisance that has bothered me long enough. I will replace it shortly with and American made Key-Bak holder

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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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