Home » Garden 2014 Update and Other Stuff: Taters!!!

Garden 2014 Update and Other Stuff: Taters!!!

SSCN5177We did it!!!  We planted potatoes this year for the first time, and actually got a small harvest!!!  Now, it wasn’t the harvest I was hoping for, but aren’t they beautiful?  Growing potatoes was odd.  Unlike most other plants, you know they’re ready for harvest time by waiting for the plants to die.  When the plants are dead, it’s time to start digging up the harvest.  According to what I’ve read, one potato plant produces between 1 and 5 pounds of potatoes.  So far, of the seven plants I’ve dug up (we planted 10), all seven have only harvested roughly 1 pound of potatoes each.  Note to self: Quadruple the amount of potatoes you plant for 2015.

Green beans, on the other hand, are multiplying like rabbits!!  We eat a lot of green beans, so that’s good.  We’ve already got a half a dozen bags or so in the freezer, and I’ve got a good four more bags’ worth waiting to be blanched and frozen today.

Carrots are also looking good and we will likely be digging them up within the next week.  Despite four attempts, not one of our onions ever came up.  Next year we’ll plant plants instead of seeds.  We did that last year and it worked out very well.

Green peppers have been a sore disappointment.  Despite planting 4 plants, we’ve only pulled off three or four peppers.  Not sure if something’s been eating the flowers or what.  Jalapenos and Habaneros, on the other hand, have done well.

Tomatoes are doing well despite a very late start due to heavy spring rains.  If we can push off cold weather till late October or early November, we’ll have a nice tomato harvest.

Lettuce did very well and continues to do well.  We’ve only had to buy lettuce once this summer.

Zucchini was another winner, but our cucumber crop has been very disappointing.  I got four jars of refrigerator pickles done yesterday, but that’s it so far.  Hoping to get a dozen or so done for the cellar, but that remains to be seen. Problem is that the plants are producing only sporadic cukes.  We’ve had a decent amount of rain this week, followed by a good six weeks of super dry weather, so I’m hoping that’ll help.

SSCN5180The watermelon and pumpkin plants are kicking it big time!  We’ve got half a dozen watermelons and at closer to a dozen pumpkins, so we’ll see how they turn out.

Aren't they cute??
Aren’t they cute??

In other news, you may have noticed I didn’t do a July Debt Payoff recap.  Truth be told, this summer has sucked for us in terms of the debt payoff journey.  We had three major appliances die on us in July, and 90% of the cost had to go back on the credit card.  We got great deals on the replacement items, but it still sucked.  Also, I got a couple of comments this summer that were downright nasty and discouraging.  I’m not talking “constructive criticism” here, I’m talking comments that were blatantly intended to be downright mean.

I didn’t share it with Rick and won’t share it with him (luckily, my husband has no interest in reading my work here 🙂 ), because I didn’t want to share the “wealth”, so to speak, as far as discouragement goes, but I spent several weeks seriously contemplating quitting blogging altogether, and wondering if we really should give up our goal of debt freedom.  However, for the sake of all of the other families out there who need encouragement in homesteading and getting out of debt, and because I’ve fallen so in love with those who support this blog and our journey to be self-sufficient and debt free, I’ll keep on.

And in order to protect my psyche until I can grow a thicker skin, we’ll be giving out a little less info regarding our debt payoff each month.  I’m not trying to avoid transparency here, but those who have been on or are on a debt payoff journey know the fragility of the emotions involved on a journey of this sort, and I can’t take the chance right now of giving up because I let some bitter person’s nasty words tempt me to quit our journey.  This is my problem, I realize this, so I’ve got to deal with it in the way that’s best for me and my family.   As I’ve said so many times before, the most important thing about one’s debt payoff journey is that their plan allows them to stick with it through to the end.  And so I will follow that advice in order to protect my mind and my emotions so that we can stay on this journey.

I share this with ya’ll to remind you of the importance of knowing how quickly your emotions can sabotage a journey to debt free, and to encourage you not to let your emotions control the game.  It’s difficult, but with a lot of work, it can be done.

On a high note, August is slated to be our lowest spend month so far for 2014, and our lowest spend month on groceries since we began our journey in January of 2013.  So we’ve got that going for us. 🙂

Thank you, my friends, for your support, honesty and love as we work our way out of debt and into a self-sufficient lifestyle.  You are The Best!!!


  1. Brit says:

    My first gardening attempt = Success! We are doing pretty good. Green peppers are doing fabulous. Has been a learning experience for us here and we are planning on doing it again next year.
    About quitting blogging, I don’t think you realize how influential you are to a lot of us. I love your blog, I love how real you keep it. I know I look forward to reading your blog. If you ever need anything shoot me an email. Don’t feel like you have to deal with internet trolls all alone. 🙂
    Sometime is best to surround yourself with people that have been there on this journey. I think you are wonderful, Laurie.
    On a fabulous note, I just make my first ever homemade tomato sauce. =)

    • Laurie says:

      Brit, thank you so much, as usual, for your continued support. I appreciate it more than I let you know. So happy that your garden is doing well, and so excited that you did tomato sauce!! We are going to learn to do spaghetti sauce next week!

  2. Laurie, I hate to hear that some trolls may have convinced you to give up blogging all together. I am dealing with an annoying situation right now, and at first I was angry with the person, and now I just feel bad for him. I honestly feel bad for people who have to unleash negativity into the universe. They must be in such a bad place themselves and then they only dig themselves deeper into a bad place by spewing more negativity because we get back what we put out there. I know that criticism is tough; however, you put out goodness and you will continue to get it in return. Don’t let the haters win! And major props on your crops this year!!! I am so impressed with you! We just did herbs and some peppers but will probably step up our game next season.

    • Laurie says:

      Shannon, you are so right. I need to be better about letting the haters hate and having it be their problem and their problem only. As for you guys, keep up the great garden work! 🙂

  3. Kara says:

    Congrats on your beautiful potato harvest! We didn’t plant potatoes this year, but we might try next year.
    Don’t let jerks get you down, keep on keeping on!

  4. Oh I’m sorry to hear about the nasty comments–I remember you mentioning that a few weeks ago too :(. I’m really glad you’re not stopping the blog! How else would I learn how to homestead???!!!! The garden looks great! And, excited for you that August will be super low spend!

  5. Don’t let the internet tough guys get you down. A bad July, followed up with a great August. All part of the roller coaster ride of debt repayment. Your garden sounds amazing! As a kid we always planted a vegetable garden each summer. We don’t have the space in our yard for it now, maybe someday we’ll get back to it.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Brian. So very encouraging to hear from bloggers like yourself that are so close to the finish line. It really helps a lot, so thank you!

  6. Lauren says:

    I’m glad that you have decided not to quit blogging. There will always be those negative voices out there, but you just need to focus on all of the encouraging ones instead. Easier said than done, I know.

  7. Laurie, you have to do whatever you feel comfortable with and if that means not sharing your numbers often or at all then so be it. I am really glad to know that you’re going to continue with this blog. A lot of people gain positive information from it. It’s hard not to ignore the venom that some people spew (btw I got my first dose of it this Monday) but keep pressing forward on your debt journey because you’ll get there!

    • Laurie says:

      So sorry to hear you got a dose of comment-hater garbage, Kassandra. Please don’t let it get you down as I have done: you are such an inspiration to me!

  8. Glad to hear that things are going well, overall, with the garden Laurie! Potatoes are a strange animal. We have done them on and off and it’s either feast or famine. Our cucumbers did absolutely nothing this year. We planted them with the lettuce and the lettuce seems to have overtaken them. Now that we’re leaving on Friday, of course, it seems that many of the other things are about ready to be picked. Thankfully our house sitter is familiar with gardening and is going to look after the garden for us.

    As far as the other stuff goes Laurie, you already know my thoughts friend. That said, I’ll echo the others in saying I’m glad you made the decision you did. 🙂 You’re an encouragement to those out there struggling and you never know who is reading your thoughts – meaning I know you’re impacting/encouraging those who need it. Keep at it and to echo Aaron, you’re a blessing to many! 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      I hope so, John, as it’s one of the few things keeping me from quitting. 🙂 Thanks so much for your friendship: you guys are the best!

  9. Hey Laurie…loved that you were able to grow so much stuff! If we ever get a house, I’d loved to do that as well. My parents love it and we’ve reaped the rewards: cucumbers, tomatoes, bitter melon (I’m not a fan of those though), and some other stuff. As for the recap…no worries, it’s your blog so do whatever you’re comfortable! I’m surprised that there were negative comments, probably unhappy people who just like to make negative comments for the sake of it. Don’t quit blogging! =) Hopefully the positive comments can drown out the negative ones. Plus, I think only popular blogs get negative comments…

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Andrew: I think I need to focus more on the ratio, as 99% of the comments we receive are awesome. Thanks so much for pointing that out. 🙂

  10. Oh Laurie. I’m so sorry that you received some cruel comments. I’m glad you chose not to give up blogging or your goal of financial freedom. You are such a positive voice and would be missed. And when you are a positive voice and full of hope, it can make you an easy target for naysayers or those who need to take out their own problems on others. I know it’s easier said than done, but ignore them and focus on the thousands of positive and supportive comments you’ve received since you started blogging. You are making a huge difference in a lot of lives and making huge positive changes for yourself and your family. Don’t lose sight of that!

    I’m glad your gardening is going well overall. I’m not much a gardener but I do enjoy picking things up at my local Farmer’s Market. You really can’t beat fresh from the garden when it comes to taste.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks so much, Shannon, for your continued support. It means so much to both Rick and I. We love the farmer’s market too: you can’t beat fresh veggies! 🙂

  11. anna says:

    Please please please (times infinity) don’t leave – those jerks are just that, jerks, and I know I would not be alone in saying that I would miss you tons!! Your garden sounds absolutely amazing – I would so be all over the watermelon section!! 🙂 Sorry to hear the appliances kicked the bucket this summer, but I hope you have a wonderful autumn payoff. I know it’s easier said than done, but please don’t listen to those jerks – so many people love you and are all on your side!! xo

    • Laurie says:

      Awww, thank you so much, Anna. 🙂 Yeah, I’m feeling much better now, and finances are coming along nicely. We will get there, Lord willing. And He is. 🙂

  12. The garden looks great Laurie! For some reason our green peppers never seem to do well so we just skipped them this year. I’d like to know how your carrots do, we haven’t tried those yet either.

    It’s definitely difficult to not let emotions get involved especially when someone is criticizing something that is very personal to you. Just keep up the good work and know that you have many, many supporters in the PF community!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks so much, Kay. I so appreciate your encouraging words. Our carrots always do great!! You should try them. We put pinwheels in the garden (you know, those shiny, spinny things that kids play with?) and it keeps the rabbits away fabulously!

  13. Sheila says:

    Several bloggers I read have recently mentioned cruel comments. I just hate that so much! I don’t know what the point is. I hope you don’t give up blogging, but no matter what, don’t give up on those goals. Your lives will be so much better in the long run!

    • Laurie says:

      Thank you so much, Sheila. Yes, it does seem that those nasty comments are on the rise in the blogging world. Oh well, such is life.

  14. That is a really awesome garden! You have quite the variety – I love fruits and veggies and those pictures are making my mouth water.

    We are having a really expensive summer too, but that’s all part of the journey I guess. There are ups and downs, but it sounds like you’re already getting back on track :). I need to follow suit!

    I enjoy everything you write here and can’t even imagine someone having anything bad to say about you or this blog. Some people…..

  15. First up, boo! on all those meanies. I just don’t get it. People don’t have to agree all the time, but there is a respectful way to make your point. And the truth is those people who are cruel for the sake of being cruel, rarely have a valid point. They just want to lash out and make people feel like sh*t! Don’t let them get you down! You’re an amazing person, Laurie, don’t let them take that away from you!

    I’m glad the garden is doing well. My mom has always grown a ton of potatoes, although she must plant them later than you do as I recall helping her harvest them more around October. And as a huge potato lover, you know I encouraged her to plant plenty (in fairness – I really didn’t like digging them up but enjoy eating them!) Her onions, carrots and zucchini are doing well but I think her tomatoes have some sort of blight. It’s awesome how much you’ve been able to freeze or can. I’m jealous!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks so much for your friendship, Tanya, I appreciate it so much!!! Yay for potatoes!! Yeah, our neighbor’s potatoes are not ready either. We must’ve planted earlier than others, I guess. Sorry to hear about mom’s tomatoes: ours are behind, but doing fairly well.

  16. Congrats on your harvest Laurie, what you’ve produced sounds amazing! And it also shows the benefit of a diversified portfolio – if one or two vegetables don’t pay off, you still get a decent return overall 😉

    It is a little scary how emotions can sometimes attempt to stop the fantastic momentum and achievements you build. I’m sorry you’ve experienced comments like that, but I’m glad you’re hanging in there, and hope you continue to focus your energy on those that love what you do and that benefit from your encouragement and wisdom.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, love how you’ve woven the investment theme into our garden harvest, Jason!! Yes, I’m feeling better now and eager to keep on with our journey. We just cannot give up.

  17. deborah almaraz says:

    BEAUTFUL POTATOS! They will taste different than the ones you buy in the store because these are fresh. Last year I cut up a russet baking potato that was growing and planted it. The smallest was 1/4 inch and the largest was 3 inches. I got about 10 potatos all together. My husband said big deal. I dont care I was a proud potato mama. They were delicious. Dont give up something you like because someone else doesnt like it. When I married my husband 32 years ago he complained about my 2 best friends and I eventually stopped seeing them and moved on. I now think about them and regret giving them up for him. I knew in my gut it was a wrong decision but its too late to change that. Dont go through that. Stay strong.

    • Laurie says:

      Deborah, thanks so much for your encouraging words and for sharing your story. And congrats on your potato harvest too!!! It’s so important to go with your gut, isn’t it? I know in those times I’ve ignored mine, I’ve regretted it too, but moving forward is the most important part.

  18. Cindy says:

    It’s my first year growing potatoes too, I dug up one plant tonight and the result are about the same as you, a bit less than a pound for the plant. In my case, I think I did not hill them high enough, my rows were pretty cramped.

    My cucumber harvest was also pitiful, I got only two. On the other hand, the butternut squash are huge, it should be a good harvest.

    • Laurie says:

      Interesting, Cindy!! Are you in the Midwest as well? Wonder if it’s related to the weather here. Maybe I’ll work on finding out how to get a better harvest out of those potato plants.

  19. Integritygirl says:

    Great job!! Keep up the positive flow and everything will be fine. Some months will be bummers, some months will be winners. Anyone who is trying to get you down is jealous of your success and happiness. Dont let them keep you from the details either, they win if you back away and be quiet. Your way of breaking things down helps people clarify how to do it/try it themselves. Be yourself, and remember dont take it personal…theres alot of needy people out there, and they havent been taught how to be polite.
    Bravo & Great Job! Keep up the great blog!

  20. jim says:

    You go, girl. I, for one, LOVE your blog. Don’t you dare give the distractors one nano-second of your time or energy. They’re always going to be there. Screw them. You go, girl!

    Loving your potato harvest and I have a garden-related question for you. My wife does a raised bed garden and rabbits have been a serious problem for us the past few years, but she got some metallic pinwheels, put them in the garden and the rabbits have stayed away. However, for the first time we’re now dealing with squirrels who are literally snatching our tomatoes, completely digging up entire broccoli plants and carrying them off to be eaten at a later date (altho they didn’t bother to bury them – hmm….)

    Do you have any ideas on how to keep squirrels out of your garden? To add insult to injury my wife saw a squirrel enjoying one of “our” tomatoes in the Austrian Pine just outside her bathroom window this morning – the little #$%@***! Thanks.

    And as for your debt journey, please be apprised that we started ours the same time you started yours. Since that time, we have had one problem/crisis after another come up. So what! We’re going to beat them and so are you and your family. Keep going. You’re doing great!

  21. I would’ve been really sad to see you stop blogging, Laurie or even more, to stop working on debt freedom and self-sufficiency. It looks like this year is better than the previous one in terms of harvesting crops and canning goods for the winter and things can only get better and better from now on. So don’t lose hope, ignore the haters (because there will always be people who hate) and keep on doing your thing! Good luck and keep up the good work!

  22. Kathy says:

    I hope I am never cruel when I post a comment. Sometimes, when I feel strongly about a topic, I can come off as a little hard hearted or opinionated. However, I hope my comments are directed at the topic and not the writer. I have been on the receiving end of some pretty harsh or judgmental comments and know they are hard to bear. Hang in there, Lauri, and don’t let the b@#$%^&s get you down.

    Great work on the garden. Nothing like those fresh potatoes. That was always my husbands most proud item to harvest.

    • Laurie says:

      Kathy, you have always been so supportive, and your comments and opinions are always stated in a way that makes us stop and think – you’re never harsh or mean!! Thank you for being such a big support to us: we appreciate it so much.

  23. Kalen Bruce says:

    I grew up on a vegetable farm and my favorite part was walking behind my dad’s tractor and picking up bushels of potatoes. We had about 20 acres of potatoes each year.

  24. Congrats on the bounty from the garden!! It makes me kind of kick myself I didn’t even try this year…even to grow tomatoes, which is about the only thing I’ve ever managed not to kill. I’m so sorry those comments were so discouraging, because you have SO MANY other people out here who are supporting you. In the book I read about stress though, it stated that we always seem to remember the negative things people say, and forget the positive. I would hate to see you stop blogging or give up on your debt repayment. I’m sure you probably have received a lot of other comments with the same support. So I hope you know you are loved out there in the bloggy world!

    • Laurie says:

      Thank you so much, Tonya. Your support, encouragement and friendship mean so much to me. I do truly love this bloggy world. 🙂

  25. Add me to your list of supportive friends! Don’t let the face-less meanies alter your plan for freedom! Maybe you need someone to moderate comments for you so you don’t even have to see the mean ones.

    This was our first year doing potatoes too and they turned out great! My kids love helping to dig them up. It’s like digging for treasure! Next year we’re going to quadruple what we planted this year and just dig them up as we need them since we don’t have a good place to store that many potatoes. Homegrown potatoes are so much better that store-bought. We have a large crop or sweet potatoes that look like they’re doing well. I can’t wait to see!

    • Laurie says:

      Glad to hear you’re quadrupling your potato harvest too!! We eat tons of potatoes here, so, the more the better. Never thought about doing sweet potatoes though: we should look into that!

  26. First off, those pumpkins are adorable! Sounds like the garden is really shaping up. I’m jealous of all your goodies.

    Second, it makes me really upset to hear that you’re getting such nasty comments, and that they almost made you give up blogging. You’ve been such an inspiration to SO many people, and I’m very glad you’re not letting the haters win.

    Truthfully, I see you as one of the “moms” in our little community. You’re so caring and thoughtful, and it’s always a joy to read your posts. I don’t get why people have to judge so much, and discourage others.

    I’m happy to hear that August is at least going well for you! There were a couple of “blah” months with our budget, and I know it’s disappointing. Better days are coming!

    • Laurie says:

      I know: aren’t they cute???? I almost want to shelac them and keep them in the house. 🙂

      Thanks so much for your sweet words, Erin: I love being a mom so it means a lot to me that you think that. 🙂

      Have an awesome day, my friend!!

  27. Mmmm. I want to eat dinner at your place! Forget those losers who are saying mean things. They need to get a LIFE. Seriously. They are jealous of your success and are bored with their life. You are brave for sharing your journey, so don’t forget that. I’d be so depressed if you left. I already feel like a lot of my blogging friends are gone, so don’t leave me! You are amazing, so don’t give in to their negativity.

    • Laurie says:

      I know: people seem to drop out of the blogging world like that and it is difficult for those of us who’ve grown fond of them, isn’t it? Thanks, Melanie, for your constant encouragement: you rock!!!!

  28. Vivian says:

    I also hope that you continue your blog. It was an inspiration that I needed to try and get my finances back in some kind of order. I kind of blunddered into your blog and have been checking it on a weekly basis every sense. I am only getting about $50 a month paid off of my huge debt but even though I get really discouraged it is at least more progress than I was making. Hang in there.

    • Laurie says:

      Vivian, thanks so much for your encouragement – we appreciate it! SO very, very glad that you are getting your debt paid off. $50 a month is SO much better than zero, Vivian. Just remember that, and keep on keepin’ on, my soon-to-be-financially-free friend. 🙂

  29. Kim says:

    Laurie, if you posted that you paid of 10x the normal amount of debt for the month, someone would have something negative to say about that. So many people are in your same boat and get so much encouragement from your wins and losses. I’ve almost quit blogging a few times, and I think it would be OK for the right reasons, but haters are not that reason.

    I don’t garden, but from my friends who do, it seems like every year produces some good things and others just won’t grow. I really have a new respect for my Mom’s parents. Farming was their only source of income. Imagine how scary that would be!

    • Laurie says:

      Wow, Kim, that’s amazing about your grandparents. I think a lot about the days when farming was the only way you had food to eat. It was either farm or starve. I have a post in the drafts about that, but I can’t make it sound non-critical enough (of today’s instant gratification world) to post. 🙂

  30. Laurie, I’m just one of your avid readers, just keep going and be strong always. Always remember this one from The Lion King movie, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”, so cheer up! 🙂

  31. I definitely need to plant potatoes when we get our garden built – the thought of tator tots is making me hungry! I’m sorry to hear about the negative comments. I don’t disclose our debt or talk about specifics, mainly because I don’t see it as productive and too much potential for people to be hurtful or use it against you.

  32. CT Mommy says:

    Sorry you had a rough July, but awesome job sticking with it. As long as you keep making the choices that are right for your family and keep the bigger picture in mind you’ll make progress. I love your honesty both when things are going great and when you hit bumps along the road. Our July was great but August number are a bit scary, my son started playing football and the equipment he needed on top of what the leauge handed out was expensive not to mention none of his school clothes or shoes fit. Plus with a couple of birthdays and a new mattress we had to purchase things are adding up this month. The veggies from your garden look great!

    • Laurie says:

      CT Mommy, thanks for your always-encouraging comments – I appreciate them so much!! Yeah, those school costs can get spendy. We have two kids’ birthdays next month, and are going to be needing a few new mattresses too. Whaddya do?

  33. Amy says:

    My onions (from seed) did absolutely nothing, too. 🙁

    Good for you for knowing what motivates and demotivates you, and applying it here.

  34. Laurie,

    sorry for my absence lately, life has just been crazy! I hope you don’t quit blogging, I’d sure miss reading about you and your family’s successes and challenges. Your journey is inspiring, try not to let those negative comments get you down!

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