Green and Thrifty

Back to green and thrifty again, an approach to life that is becoming more mainstream as prices of everything go up everywhere. This week the neighbours went on holiday, and I am bringing in their mail and taking care of the canary. Just before they left they brought me the contents of their vegie bin:

Notice I have been gifted a lettuce which probably cost more than their plane tickets:) And there's more:

This is so lovely as it covers a lot of my vegie needs this week. I have sweet potatoes, potatoes and carrots on hand and many greens in the garden, so I decided I was all set, but then I found some very cheap pumpkin at the shops, so I bought that to add to my winter vegie soup this week. So far I have made a salad with the lettuce, the capsicum, mushrooms and a tomato, and eaten one of the oranges for a snack. It was so sweet. Oranges are at their peak right now in winter time. I have more citrus for snacking on as I have discovered that one of my lemon trees is a lemonade, and it produces small sweet lemony fruit that you eat like an orange. Now there's a win. This was a tiny sad stick of a tree that I rescued from a thicket of weeds when I moved into this house six years ago, and now it is thriving in a half a wine barrel on my front path and producing delicious fruit (it took three years to discover that they weren't lemons, mind you).

Meanwhile, my potted Meyer lemon has ripened its first fruit, which makes me very happy. Meyer lemons are so juicy.

For once I actually planted out the winter garden, though could have done it a month earlier and I would have had much bigger greens now. But I am taking it as a win. Small spinach is better than no spinach, am I right?

I also have kale, rocket and parsley, as well as some baby lettuces. Plenty of greens to make up a salad, even if there isn't a lot of lettuce available. Remember you can eat the leaves of your broad bean plants.

And the leaves of your pea plants..

And also remember to take a close look at that carpet of weeds in your pea patch, as it is probably edible too.

This is chickweed, stellaria media. Look it up and see if you can find it in your garden. It is very common, and incredibly nutritious. Snip the leaves off the stems and nom it down. 

In non-garden thrifty news I have finished all four patches on my polka dot shirt and can now wear it again. Next project is a patch for a hole in my pyjama pants. This is why it is tricky to get through the entire mending basket - I keep needing to patch up new holes. I think I am going to have to step up my game and mend multiple items per week. Eek! 

It is deep winter here, so I have winterised the beds (the beds we sleep in, not the garden beds) by adding layers, both under the bottom sheet and on top as well. Double quilt weather! I have covered the couch with blankets for extra warmth, and it is now 'dry the clothes on airers in the lounge room' month, as the rain is somewhat persistent. It does make the lounge room more difficult to walk through, but I also argue that it makes it look cosy and lived in, and also the cat thinks it is his very own blanket fort.

Today I walked to the shops for groceries instead of driving (no excuse, it is only five blocks) and tomorrow when I am out in the car for other reasons I will stock up on a bunch of half price specials I couldn't fit in my shopping bag today. I imagine that like most everyone else all over the world we are all shopping the half price deals right now.

And lastly this week I have been trialling steel cut oats for my porridge instead of rolled oats. I read they are even better for our health, as they are the whole grain, slightly chopped. So I gave it a go. I have discovered they are more filling. I need half a cup of dry rolled oats for breakfast, but only a third of a cup of steel cut oats. They take more liquid - the oats to liquid ratio is 1:3 for steel cut versus 1:2 for rolled oats. They take longer to cook, which is not a big issue for me as I cook them on the wood stove, and they take longer to soak. I soak them a minimum of two hours, and could well soak them overnight, if I remembered, which I never do. Verdict? I like them! Chewy. I do like some chewy in my porridge, which is why I always slather it with chopped nuts and seeds. It is a yes from me, and I think I'll keep going with them for now.

Note I went op-shopping with Rosy a couple of weeks ago and found this adorable blue and white cereal bowl. I always snaffle them when I see them because I also break them quite regularly:(

Now over to you. Tell me about your green and thrifty projects. Are you tightening your belts with all the price rises going on? Do you have any budgeting tips on ways to live within your means?
If you want some inspiration, visit The Non-Consumer Advocate and look at her Five Frugal Things posts. They are great for starting the thrifty conversation with yourself, and the comment section is brilliant and full of good ideas.


Treaders said…
I've seen a couple of Australian bloggers mention lettuce at $12 a head but thought it was a joke!!!! Tell me that's not true!
simplelife said…
I’m interested in your oats, where do you get them from and where are the oats grown?
My mending pile is growing fast too, it seems I take one item out and two more hop in.
I’ve stopped eating between meals and that has made a difference to the grocery budget that’s probably my biggest frugal thing at the moment. Also going back to really simple basic old style meals and cooking, this was more because having been responsible for the family tea since I was in highschool I’m done!
Cheers Kate
Anonymous said…
I have several citrus trees on the property ( none producing yet), and I notice that in some, the leaves curl and look rather sickly. Any ideas?
I have a neighbor that is sharing his mango bounty with me, which is lovely. I am even saving the peels, and the seeds that have a lot of "meat" left over in the freezer, to make jam later on. I tried this last year with much success.
I am making my daughter a shawl/scarf for her upcoming birthday, realized I wasn't going to have enough yarn, but have adjusted the pattern to include lots of remnants from other projects in matching colors. The result is quite lovely, and I am thrilled no additional expense is required. The shawl will be lightweight, perfect for Florida "winters."
Still harvesting some sweet peppers and tomatoes from the garden, but not enough to really brag of a bounty. Continue to work and enriching my soil by burying scraps. It has been a very expensive couple of months with major repairs needed, so anything a can do for myself, or without I am doing.
Have a good week!
Jo said…
Anna, apparently lettuce is that expensive.. somewhere. All I can say for sure is it's not Tasmania! There are large areas of farmland in NSW and Queensland which have been flooded for months, and this is where so much of Australia's food comes from. It has been a disaster for crop production. Lots of veg is very expensive up there right now. Here in Tasmania we grow most of our own greens, so we haven't seen large price rises yet, but we are seeing days when there's no lettuce for sale, or no broccoli or what have you. Still, there is plenty of food available, just not all the food, all the time. I just wait and buy whatever is cheap on the day and there's my menu..

Kate, I get the oats from Wholesome House which is my bulk store of choice here in Launceston. Not sure where the oats are from - the rolled oats I get come from Kindred, so maybe the steel cut come there as well? I will double check next time I'm there.
My mending pile is doing exactly the same as yours. It needs a good stern talking to. I am so with you on the cooking thing. I have cooked dinner most nights for over thirty years now. Thirty years! Can I stop now?
And the no-snack budget, go you. I love to snack, but I don't buy anything yummy anymore, so I have to snack on oranges, which isn't so much fun. I try to only buy snacks for Red that I don't like so I don't 'accidently' eat them...

Patricia, I really want that shawl now..
Ok, your citrus trees, hmmm. So many reasons leaves might be curling. First, citrus trees are really shallow-rooted, and they hate competition from grass. They all need their own little garden beds, mulched. They need quite a lot of water, and water stress will curl their leaves. They get very hungry, and need feeding at the beginning of spring, summer and autumn. Also, add trace elements and epsom salts. Some nutrient deficiencies will cause leaf curling. Next, pests. Would you recognise scale and aphids, or leaf miner? All of them will curl up the leaves as they suck the sap. They can be controlled with white oil, making sure you spray under the leaves to get at them. Basically what I am saying is that nearly everything that can go wrong with a citrus tree will make its leaves curl. Let me know how things go!

simplelife said…
Thanks for the oats info Jo. I buy kindred oats too.
GretchenJoanna said…
Your lemon tree is beautiful! In my "new garden" that is now almost seven years old ! I planted a Eureka lemon, and this year my friend gave me a Meyer lemon tree in a pot, which she had started herself from a seed. I'm planning to put it in my front garden in the fall. Then I will have two citrus trees in addition to my two plums and a fig. I feel like a real farmer :-)

I don't think I had heard of a lemonade fruit. Is it as sweet as, say, a pink grapefruit? It sounds wonderful. The California citrus research station near my childhood home used to, before covid, have a fruit-tasting day early every winter, where you could try all the new varieties of citrus they had developed there. I wanted so much to go, it sounded like an exciting adventure... and now I wonder if it will ever happen again.

Steel-cut oats are one of my favorite breakfasts! The picture of your bowl makes me wish it were breakfast time right now.
Jo said…
Kate, kindred oats are so good. Apparently they don't steam the oats, just roll them, which is why they are so creamy. Supermarket oats are steamed which extends their shelf life but makes them not so yummy.

Gretchen Joanna, hope you enjoyed your breakfast today! I ave not seen steel cut oats here until recently. I believe they are a US thing? Traditional porridge here is nearly always using rolled oats. I am glad I found a source of steel cut to try:)
The lemonade fruit has a less strong flavour than a grapefruit. Think a sweet, slightly bland lemon. Hardly any sour. It's nice, but not my favourite citrus. My fingers are crossed for a citrus tasting day in your future (btw, that is my kind of exciting adventure as well:)
Mary said…
Would you please give my mending pile a stern talking-to, also? It seems to be multiplying like rabbits. Maybe I should leave the light on in my work room so I see what's happening. I love hearing about your lemonade citrus. I didn't know such a thing existed. I'd like to grow some citrus but it's tricky here because sometimes we have winter nights well below freezing, so I'd need a greenhouse.
Blueberry said…
Glad that you have both a Meyers lemon and a Sanbokan lemon. We like to save the Meyers lemon by placing the juice in a plastic bottle and into the freezer to enjoy in the hot Florida summers. Take Care
Jo said…
Mary, if a stern talking to was all that was required my mending would have been done ages ago! And I would gladly volunteer to resolve everyone else's mending as well. I can nag with the best of them..
We have frosts here in Launceston down to -3C but the lemons survive that. And the ones in the pots are next to a concrete wall so they get extra protection. Often a sun-facing wall is enough to keep frosts off citrus, but it does depend on the severity of the frost, of course! Posh people in cold climates wheel their citrus pots into the conservatory for the winter.. but probably a sunny window would also suffice..

Blueberry, I looked up sanbokan lemons, and that isn't what I have, although it looks very cool! The lemons in the top photo are Eurekas. They have that distinctive pointy bit on the end, but it is the opposite end to the sanbokan lemons.
If you look up pictures of lemonade lemons they look almost identical to normal lemons. I identified mine because they are liable to get a kind of scabby skin, which mine also do. I need to feed them more often! I am waiting for my Meyer lemon to get bigger and more prolific so I can preserve the lemon juice. I like your idea, it is very easy and straightforward, my favourite kind of preserving:)
Anonymous said…
It sounds counterintuitive, but I've actually reduced my food bill even though prices are going up....and up. It's made me far more creative with what I do grow and buy, and forced me to use up the pantry and all of the bulk beans, grains, dried fruits and nuts languishing in large containers in my hallway. The strange thing is, we are still eating really well with less money spent. And my town is one of the places where you will find lettuce for $11.50. I love eating and find it really gut-clenching when I have to walk away from the fresh ginger or a nice looking parsnip because the price per kilo is simply not viable ($50 per kilo for ginger, make that $75 for organic!!)

I'm collecting much more kindling for the fire and also saving every scrap of citrus peel to dry and use as fire starters. I'm making the dog a coat from a remnant of cotton fleece blanket (the main part of which was used to line my bedroom curtains). I'll use leftovers for the outer part of the coat too - perhaps she will end up matching the Chinoiserie fabric from the living room blinds! Hopefully she doesn't freeze before I get around to it.

I'm sure I'm doing other things because my wife told me if she hears me say 'frugal' or 'no food waste' one more time she will do something really awful to me.

Jo said…
Madeleine, aha, the $12 lettuce isn't an urban myth then. My condolences to your compatriots, but not to you as I am sure your garden is well stocked with greens!
I like your Using What You Have strategy to keep the grocery budget down. I have been doing the same, cleaning out the cupboards to see what I've got and using up the old stuff. I love that you are using your hallway for food storage! What containers do you use to store food? I have a bunch of big plastic buckets, and their lids are murder to get off.
If you lose your dog, make sure to check whether she is sleeping in front of the blinds. That coat sounds too cute:)
Anonymous said…
Hi Jo, I use some plastic buckets I got from Bunnings but the lids don't seem to go on tight. It's not a problem because the rice in bags inside the buckets. The laundry is full of galvanised steel bins with wheat (for making flour) and oat groats. Oh, and more rice! Again, I seal the bags inside the bins. Friends have a long timber kitchen bench they made themselves and keep all of their grains and beans in galvanised bins below it. Super handy, my kitchen just isn't big enough to do it.

Blueberry said…
Jo Growing ginger and turmeric is not all that hard. Take a piece about the size of your finger and plant in a 8 to 12L pot in late spring or early Summer cover with about 15-25 mm of potting mix. Place in a shaded spot will grow until late fall and died back for the winter. Takes about 2 years to get a good crop. Will Grow in the ground in places that get as cold as -5 just give them a good cover of mulch.
Jo said…
Madeleine, I keep my buckets in my bedroom, which is the coolest room in the house:)

Blueberry, I planted some ginger in a pot in the summer, but it hadn't grown much by winter, so I brought it inside. I am really hoping it will sprout again in the spring. I am glad to know I am sort of doing the right thing, as I had no idea what I was doing. You give me hope!

Popular Posts