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Cheryl's Sensible Cents - 3/01/2006 Newsletter
March 01, 2006

Did You Know?

You can grow approx. 20,000 pounds of potatoes on 1 acre of land

The average person throws out approx. 1,500 pounds of trash anually. The person who composts can reduce that to about 375 pounds.

What's New?

Women's Health Issues

In this Issue:

Featured Articles:
Home Gardening Tips - by Cheryl Johnson
How to Get the Free Credit Reports you're Entitled to! - by Cheryl Johnson

Easy Meatloaf
"No Eggs" Rice Pudding
Ranch Salad Dressing

Saving tips

  • Health Care Savings
  • Beauty Savings Tips
  • Home Decorating Tips
  • Reader's Tips

Quotable Quote

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. - Alan Kay

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Featured Articles

Home Gardening Tips

- by Cheryl Johnson

Even though it's still cold outside, at least in this part of the world, the gardening season is fast approaching. Home gardening can save you money on your food budget if planned frugally and carefully. Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to gardening.

Most beginning gardeners have failed crops and should learn from them. Some produce just won't grow well or will be ravaged by uncontrollable pests year after year in your area. It's not necessarily a reflection of your gardening skills, just a matter of geography. Through your years of gardening, you'll weed out the problems (forgive the pun) and become a successful backyard gardener.

To truly save money through gardening, you must practice frugal gardening habits. Recycle and improvise whenever possible, practice frugal shopping strategies when purchasing garden supplies, make your own compost pile, and use homemade alternatives to fertilizers and pesticides whenever possible. Learn from other experienced gardeners in your area. Seek out gardening classes or information available through local gardening clubs or government offices.

If you're new to gardening, check out your local Department of Agriculture to see if they offer information on growing in your area. You may also find some free gardening classes in your area. In preparation for your home garden, should you decide to accept your mission, let's go over just a few home gardening tips.

1. Consider what to grow
Choose vegetables that your family favor and that will grow well in your soil. Most vegetables will do well in light, well drained, soil. If you have heavy, clay like, soil you should probably stay away from large root vegetables like carrots.

One of the best home gardening tips, for those with limited space, is to grow the most expensive vegetables, instead of those that are usually cheaper at the supermarket. This way you maximize the grocery savings reaped through home gardening! Of course, if you have plentiful gardening area go for all your favorites.

For example: According to HGTV's Gardening by the Yard "..... Tomatoes are the number-one food crop grown in backyard America today." I can understand why when I walk into the produce section of my local supermarket and find that tomatoes are on average between $2.98 and $3.98 per pound. I've gone so far as to try to boycott them, but always find myself giving in when the need arises for a favorite recipe. Like my kid's favorite, tacos! They love 'em, but they love 'em with those diced tomatoes. It's just not the same without them.

I've managed to all but cut them out of the salad ingredients, but sometimes I give in on special occasions. So, when my dad (he's the farmer in the family) starts placing fresh picked tomatoes from the garden on my kitchen counter during the summer months, I welcome them with excitement! My budget welcomes them as well!

2. Gardening Tools

  • Bargain tools - Keep your eyes open for bargain pricing on gardening tools. If you missed the after season sales, you can still find some bargains on your gardening needs. Watch for gardening pre-season sales at farm supplies, home and garden centers, hardware, and department stores. In the spring, yard and garage sales will start popping up all around. Take advantage of the opportunity to look for gardening tools. Many times people sell their older or unused tools to free up space in the workshop, garage, etc. Search local thrift stores for more great bargains.
  • Care for your tools - When storing, rub with mineral oil or a thin layer of petroleum jelly to keep rust free

3. Preparing and Setting up your garden

  • When growing vegetables, choose a sunny spot that will get at least 6 hours of sunlight. Avoid planting on the north side of the home or other shady areas.
  • Cultivate soil and let settle for a few days before sowing seeds.
  • Some gardener's prefer to run rows north and south for maximum sun exposure.
  • Plant fast growing produce (like lettuce) between rows of slow maturing plants (like tomatoes).
  • Start seedlings inside, while it's still too cold for planting, in preparation for your garden.
  • Recycle old ice trays and egg cartons for great seed starters.

4. Maintaining your home garden

  • Gently turn soil around plants and between rows to minimize the growth of weeds.
  • Rub a fabric softener sheet over skin to repel insects while you work in your garden
  • Tie up climbing or vine plants (like tomatoes) with old panty hose.
  • Pad your knees with a thick cellulose sponge. Attach to knee area of work pants with duct tape.

5. Pest Control

  • Repel garden robbers (deer, rabbits, gophers) with human hair clippings. Ask local hair cutting salons for clippings or gather from hair brushes. Make sachets of human hair using panty hose or cheesecloth. Hang on stakes all around the garden about four feet apart. Replace regularly to keep the human scent fresh. Or, use dog hair in the same manner to repel some of these garden pests.
  • Planting marigolds among vegetable plants and around gardens provide natural pest control.

The biggest mistake that beginning gardeners make is in being too ambitious. Gardening can be a lot to take in all at once, if you're just starting out. Beginners should start out small. I think you will find that as your confidence grows, so will your garden. And, during your first years, those failed attempts won't be so defeating if kept to a smaller scale.

Take baby steps until you feel confident to run with it. Before you know it, you'll have a full scale garden with all your favorites. Your garden will eventually yield enough to carry you through the summer, share with friends and family, and preserve for winter food storage.

More Home Gardening Tips

How to Get the Free Credit Reports You're Entitled To!

It is a great idea to monitor your credit accounts regularly if your budget allows for the extra expense. Especially with the threat of identity theft in today's world. Many credit monitoring services, such as FICO's Score Watch, will give you a free credit report, and credit score, for trying their service.

But, you don't have to subscribe to a monitoring services to get your report. There's only one source for the free reports, but you can request them online, by phone, or by mail.

Here's how:

Phone: 1-877-322-8228
Mail: Annual Credit Report Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

You can request one, two, or all three reports at a time. It's up to you. You'll have to give your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth to get your reports. You may also have to answer some questions with information that only you would know-such as the amount of your monthly mortgage or car payment. This is to protect the security of your credit information.

You're entitled to your free reports every 12 months. But if you want to check your reports more often, you can buy them. They cost about $9 directly from the three big reporting agencies, on-line or by phone.
Here's how:
888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
Trans Union:

If you're interested in monitoring your credit get a 30-Day Free Trial of Score Watch


Easy Meatloaf

2 lbs. ground beef
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. bread crumbs
3/4 c. catsup or chili sauce
1/2 c. warm water
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1 (8 oz.) can of tomato sauce for topping
Bacon strips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients well. Put in loaf pan. Add bacon strips or 1 (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce. Cook for 1 hour.

"No Eggs" Rice Pudding

1 quart milk, scalded
1/4 cup long grain rice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300. In a 1 1/2 quart baking dish, combine all ingredients. Bake for 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes.

Ranch Salad Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons finely chopped green onions, tops only
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons minced parsley
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 1/2 to 1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate. Makes 2 cups

Send us Your Recipes

Need ideas for dinner?

Free Recipes at ClubMom!
Country Cooking Recipes
E-Cookbooks Library

Money Saving Tips

Share Saving Tips, Recipes, and Frugal Living Ideas.
Send in Your Readers Tips

Health Care Savings

  • Free Natural Health Newsletters
  • Free Mammograms: Ask your local health department or clinic. Get information at National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service 800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).
  • Use an old lunch box, school box, or tool box, to make your own first aid kit for home or travel
  • Kids don't have dental coverage? Check your area to see if a dental clinic is available. They base fees on income.

Beauty Tips

  • Oily Skin? Use milk of magnesia dabbed on oily areas to dry up excess oil. Use nightly to control oily skin.
  • Make up pencils too soft? Chill make up pencils to prevent easy breakage. If too hard, you can always warm it between the tips of your fingers before using.

Home Decorating Tips

  • Place a large rubber band lengthwise around paint can so the rubber band divides the can in half. Use the band to wipe excess paint from the paint brush instead of using the can. You'll have less mess on your paint cans and won't have to worry about drips down the side of the can
  • Save old shower curtains and table cloths to use as drop cloths when painting.
  • When using spray paints, turn upside down and spray until no more paint comes out. This will clean the nozzle of paint and prevent nozzle from getting clogged.

Reader's Tips

  • I clip a lot of magazine articles for decorating tips, cute crafts, gardening ideas and recipes. Some pages are just for future reference. I have simple pocket folders in a large three-ring binder that are labeled for each room in the house and for each area of my lawn and garden.

    Every few months, I go through the pages that I've saved and "mark them up" by writing what I love about them. I stick the decorating and gardening pages in the appropriate pockets. When I am ready to choose colors and styles, I simply pull the pages out and lay them into stacks and immediately see a pattern.
    Carol H.

  • If your student must use credit cards or you feel he/she is responsible enough to use one in order to build credit, have him/her deduct the amount in their checkbook as items are charged. Write "C" (for credit card) next to the deduction, and at the end of the month, just pay the bill. The money is in their checking account because it's been accounted for all along.
    Crystal in Culver City, CA

  • - Reader's Tips this issue courtesy of

    Help us build our database of reader's tips at SDFL. Share your money saving tips with us.

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