Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spending Money on the Garden

Yesterday was a rainy day, so I took the opportunity to find a fluorescent shop light for my poor little seedlings. With me carrying them up and down the stairs everyday it is just a matter of time before they end up on the floor. After a little research I found that T8s were the way to go. They use less energy and put out about the same lumens. In the past I've used cool white fluorescent lights (for the same reason I picked blue LEDs). They work well to grow seedlings.

I did try to pick up lights earlier. As I was going by Lowes a couple of days ago, I stopped in. I didn't like their lights. Their shoplights were black and had a grey reflector on the top. That seemed very silly. I want one with white to reflect the light back. They also separated the bulbs by a rectangular metal piece. I didn't think it was well designed for optimal light so didn't get it. I did however pick up a 50' roll of 9 gauge wire for taller hoops in the garden. Some of my brassicas are taller than my old hoops so I needed to fix that. Cha ching $9.31.

Yesterday I stopped in at Home Depot. They had a nice light and it was on sale for $16.90. Yeah. $10 buck cheaper than Lowes too. Happiness is finding what you need on sale. The bulbs were $5.97. So about $24.01 for the lot with tax. Not bad at all.

On the way home I stopped by Wilson's farm to check to see if their seed potatoes were in. Nope. They said they had them on order to be shipped today, so by next week they ought to be there. I did orders some seed potatoes from Pinetree, but with their shipping slowness this year I decided to call and cancel. I didn't want them to show up in May. I need to get them in early if I want carrots there in the fall. I probably won't get them out early enough anyway, but I'm going to try.

While I was there I noticed that they sold grass seed by the pound. Whoo hoo! If you noticed in yesterdays border photo, the grass near the edging is looking very ragged. I figured I could buy a bit of seed and fill it in. I didn't add this into my veggie garden tally, but I was still pleased to only spend pennies and not dollars for a whole package on the seed.

So I got home and put it all together. I was quite pleased with myself for spending so little on the light and pleased that my tally still would be under $200 spent. That includes the fan pictured that I bought a couple of weeks ago at $9.99. Then I started to plug the light into the timer and couldn't. The fluorescent light has a three prong plug and my timer is only a two pronger. Dang. So out I went again. My local hardware store didn't have a three prong timer. Neither did Radio Shack. So back home I started calling around. It turns out these are hard to find. Weirdly the new garden center/hardware store that I found a couple of weeks ago had one in stock. $14.37 later my lights will finally turn themselves on and off.

However my tally (in my sidebar) is now at $208.99. Sigh. I still have fertilizer to buy this year. In the last couple of years I've been trying to use up everything I had since I had such a mish mash of things. I wanted to declutter my gardening shelves. Some of it might still last, but I really need bonemeal before I plant my tomatoes.

Come on spinach grow. I need some positives to offset my negatives.


  1. I'm amazed at the low cost. I really need to watch myself around the plants or the receipt can really get away from me. Your post also reminds me that I should get a grow station set up for all my seeds. Thanks.

  2. Daphne, I kinda went overboard with my yearly gardening investment. There's probably $750 in it just this year. Oops! Anyway, I'm glad you got your light issues solved, and thanks for telling about the LED's.


  3. You are so lucky! If it had been me they would have been out of stock! I think you got a great deal. I may have to check into lights, I think it could really increase my garden's output, especially for various greens. Mine always get so leggy.

    I hate those online retailers who just ship when they feel like it. Maybe you should leave them a negative review on garden Watchdog.

  4. Hi Daphne, I love that last sentence! Good to know about the lights too. I had the same problem with the two prong versus three prong issues so only one of my lights was on a timer and the other was done by hand. I maybe could have plugged one into the other but didn't want the cords across the doorway for me to trip on them. One set is down and put away now anyway. Next year.

  5. Hey Daphne!
    Have you used the 9 gauge wire before? I need to buy some sort of hoop material, I have been using over turned tomato cages.... time for an upgrade!

  6. Gardeness, It is so easy to spend money in the garden. Especially for someone like me that likes to keep trying new things.

    engineeredgarden, yes but you are setting up a lot of new raised bed gardens with trellises. That is something that needs to be amortized over the years they will be around. If you are putting in cedar they last 15 years. So it isn't as bad as it sounds.

    wormsandflowers, I don't always get lucky, but yesterday was good. As to my potatoes, I love Pinetree so I'm not trying to diss them. This year they have just been overwhelmed by the massive influx of new gardeners. They might have gotten it to me on time, but the smaller places seem to be having more trouble than the large ones and I didn't want to risk it.

    Frances, too bad they don't just make them all three prong so there is never an issue.

    Becky, yes I've used 9 gauge galvanized wire for 20 years. I still have the old wire in my garden. It looks almost like new. It is very nice. It didn't hold up over the winter. My tunnels collapsed (I'll try cross bars this winter) but for the seasons without snow just the simple wires stuck in the ground work fine.

  7. Very nice setup. I think you are still doing pretty well on your garden costs. I am sure by the end of the season you will be well ahead of your investment.

    I am thinking about getting a shop light to grow all my Brassica's next year. They really don't like my hot light. They are so cheap I don't see any reason to not get one.

    I mail order seed potatoes this year because apparently only late season potatoes will produce more clutches of potatoes up the stem. I was looking around the basement yesterday and found some red fingerling potatoes from last fall that have sprout so I am going to plant them as well.

  8. Your babies look really good, Daphne! Soil blocks look good too- I need to make some, just haven't had the time or room. I really need to set up a small table in my garage where I can make them in peace, without getting a soaking! I had to fiddle with my timer too- I just ended up putting a converter on it- we have those everywhere. DH is real handy with anything mechanical and always has those things on hand- good thing!

  9. Dan, no they don't like the heat at all. If you watch for sales, you can get the lights really cheaply. About potatoes, I thought mid season ones were OK for that too. Not that I've done it. I'll have to check to see which potatoes I get from the store.

    Tessa, I always figure that the grounding plug is there for a reason. I don't like the idea of getting shocked, so I've never used the adapters.

  10. Daphne - Rich over at Sinfonian’s Square Foot Garden was talking to the fella that invented these potato bins. He told him the only ones that will produce more clutches are the late seasons. I would recommend the company I ordered from but they are Canadian so they can not ship to the US. Here is there link though as they seperate each variety in season length which might be handy in finding particular varieties in your area:

    I am growing Banana Fingerling & Netted Gem Russet.