Heirlooms, Hybrids & GMOs, Oh My!

You may be wondering why I would include this in my series on saving money. To be honest, it’s about much more than money. There is one definite way heirlooms save you money, but this goes much deeper than money.

Heirlooms are open-pollinated. If you save their seeds, you can grow the same plant/fruit the next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. You get the point. You can turn your $3 investment into a lifetime of food if you use heirlooms. Not so with Hybrids and genetically modified (GM) seeds.

Hybrids are a forced cross between plants. These do have the possibility to be stabilized and become open-pollinated. There are markings in seed catalogs that will let you know this. A marking of F1 is a first generation plant. You can not save true seed from these plants. Therefore, you have to purchase your seeds annually.

“The more seasons you grow an heirloom in your particular area, the stronger the plant will be in dealing with that area’s specific set of gardening troubles.” — GenericSeeds.com

Now, on to genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified food is more of a buying issue than a what-to-grow issue since the seeds aren’t readily available for backyard gardeners. However, this is what the majority of our commercial farms are using. You need to be aware of this.

Genetically modified seeds are something out of a science fiction horror movie, only real. Genetically modified organisms take the DNA from one species and insert it into another. They take genes from bacteria, viruses, animals, insects and humans, then insert them into the seeds along with antibiotic resistant “marker” genes (hmm, antibiotic resistant genes in our food…that sounds super).

Do you know what they are doing with genetic modification?

  • potatoes that glowed in the dark when they needed watering (I’ll admit this one sounds kind of awesome, a plant that tells you when to water it…but what did they put in it to make it GLOW?)
  • corn engineered with jellyfish genes
  • engineering corn with hepatitis genes
  • inserting jellyfish genes in pigs to make their noses glow in the dark

You can visit the FAQs page at Seeds of Deception for a whole lot more on GM seeds. I’ll share some sections that jumped out at me:

Crops such as Bt cotton produce pesticides inside the plant. This kills or deters insects, saving the farmer from having to spray pesticides. The plants themselves are toxic, and not just to insects. Farmers in India, who let their sheep graze on Bt cotton plants after the harvest, saw thousands of sheep die!

Hasn’t research shown GM foods to be safe? No. The only feeding study done with humans showed that GMOs survived inside the stomach of the people eating GMO food. No follow-up studies were done. Various feeding studies in animals have resulted in potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, damaged immune systems, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partial atrophy or increased density of the liver, odd shaped cell nuclei and other unexplained anomalies, false pregnancies and higher death rates.

In March 2001, the Center for Disease Control reported that food is responsible for twice the number of illnesses in the U.S. compared to estimates just seven years earlier. This increase roughly corresponds to the period when Americans have been eating GM food.

Q. Didn’t the scientists at the FDA study GM foods themselves? No.  The FDA relies solely on information supplied by the biotech companies.

Some further reading on organic seeds, GMO and seed saving:

Books on saving seeds:

To bring this back to the point of saving money, here is a photo of last year’s lettuce bed taken yesterday:


Do you see all that lovely red romaine and gold rush lettuce?

I did not plant one single seed this year (well, that you see here).

To the left is the raised bed our lettuce occupied last year. As the weather heated up, the plants bolted. I harvested some of the seeds and have a legal size envelope full. Imagine my surprise this spring when all these little lovelies popped up, the plants reseeded themselves.

We had some for dinner the other night. Lovely. And free.

Further Reading: Where to buy heirloom seeds

My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip

My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip from Vicki-Arnold.com

A note on the Frugal posts. I’m not going to do them on any special day. I’m going to share them as they are written. I’m always frustrated when I have a blog topic I’m interested in and have to wait a week between posts. Yes, I’m a wee bit impatient.

And now, My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip:

Grow your own food.

My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip from Vicki-Arnold.com

Yes, it’s that simple. Yes, I know you are busy. Yes, it may take some creativity. It is so worth it.

No, I do not expect you to grow it all.

Why should you grow your own food? Well, I’m glad you asked!

  1. Gas – Saves you extra trips to the store. Plus, when gas prices go up, food prices go up.
  2. Better for you – You pick from your garden when it is ripe (full of nutrients). Commercial growers pick under-ripe because ripe does not travel well. Also, most commercial produce has been bred for uniform look and to hold up during travel, usually to the expense of flavor.
  3. Costs WAY less than buying produce – Bell peppers go on sale in our area for 3 for $5, which is $1.67 per pepper.  It costs $2.50 for a 4-pack of pepper plants at a local greenhouse.  Four pepper plants will grow many more than the two peppers it would take to come out ahead here. You compare the price to organic produce (which is the best way to grow your garden) and you are saving even more.
  4. Organic is better – Put it this way, pesticides = bad, bad for your health, bad for bees and bad for the environment. And now, there appears to be a link to the drastic rise in celiacs, gluten-intolerance, and IBS.
  5. It is easier than you think – Trust me. A lot of plants grow well in containers on a sunny porch. Herbs and spices grow well in a sunny windowsill. A little water daily and they will reward you handsomely.
  6. Did I mention it will save you gas and money? – ‘Cause it will.
  7. Security – Having food to feed your family if/when things are tight = priceless.

My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip from Vicki-Arnold.com

Quick Gardening Basics


You need a sunny spot with good drainage with easy access to water. If deer or pets are a problem, be sure to fence off your garden.

What do I grow?

Well, what does your family eat? Obviously you can’t grow pizza, but you can grow tomatoes to make your own sauce, basil to season it, peppers and onions for toppings.

Easy Garden Plants

Easiest to grow:

  • tomatoes
  • corn (10/19/12 Update – Yeah, corn easily cross pollinates and if you have feed corn or GMO sweet corn growing nearby, it can ruin your corn. Also, we have only had success growing corn 1 year out of the 4 we tried. Start with something else.)
  • zucchini and yellow squash
  • cucumbers
  • peppers (these do really well in drier conditions)
  • lettuce
  • bush beans (for green beans)

If you can cultivate the ground 8-12 inches or have a raised bed, try carrots, beets, radishes and turnips. They are super easy.

Herbs and Spices to Try Growing

Herbs and spices to try:

  • basil
  • dill
  • oregano
  • chives
  • parsley

Herbs and spices could be the best spot to start if you don’t want to do a full garden since they are often an expensive addition to the grocery list. It is easy to dry and store your own and no more little bottles that cost $3+. The bonus to the herbs and spices in your garden, they keep a lot of common garden pests away.

Next we will discuss if you should buy heirloom plants and seeds or hybrids. I’ll give you a hint, heirlooms are gonna win.

Further Reading

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Image credit for the money photo goes to 401(k) 2013 on Flickr.

7 Thoughts About Brownies


Ironically, I am typing out this post on day 2 of a 30 day chocolate fast. I actually wrote the post as I was making brownies last week. Also, the photo is not of brownies, but some chocolate cookies. The brownies were finished off before I could get a photo. I had this photo of some super yummy chocolate cookies that I made a while ago. So you get a chocolate cookie photo in the brownie post. Maybe I’ll do a brownie photo in a cookie post. Just to balance things out. Alright, end tangent.

So while waiting for my brownies to bake, I had a few thought about brownies.

1. Brownies + mint chocolate chip ice cream = AWESOME

2. Brownies + vanilla ice cream + hot fudge topping + bananas = EVEN MORE AWESOME

3. If I could travel back in time, it would be to the moment I first tasted and liked raw brownie batter so I could slap myself silly.

4. Making brownies reminds me of my baby brother.

5. Cookie brownies = genius!

6. Fudgy trumps cakelike ALWAYS.

7. Ghirardelli frosted brownies are only good completely cooled.


Post is sponsored by my love of chocolate. I was compensated with the Pillsbury chocolate fudge brownies Kroger was kind enough to put on sale so I could buy them and bake them. And eat them. Also the links in this post are affiliate links so if you buy from those links, I will earn some change to buy my brownie mixes. After my chocolate fast.

Shooting Manual – Muffin Experiment


In December I found a Krusteaz muffin mix that I LOVED. It was orange and cranberry. So very good. The problem I have with buying muffin mixes is that they only make one dozen muffins. I know it is cheaper than purchasing pre-made muffins, but I still don’t like to spend $4+ to get two dozen muffins.

So I experimented with my current muffin recipes to try to find a comparable muffin. My blueberry muffin recipe gave me too dry a muffin (which I think about the actual blueberry muffin, too).  Then I tried my banana chocolate chip recipe, sort of. I played very loose with the recipe.

The result was the muffins pictured. They were super yummy, not dead-on the mix, but almost as good.

Now would be the time a good food blogger would share the recipe so you could all join in on the goodness. Well, I’m not a good food blogger evidently. It’s not that I don’t want to share the recipe, it’s that I can’t.

I. Did. Not. Write. It. Down.

Because I would tweak it a little and then write it down. That was the plan. Well, it’s now been more than one minute and I forgot what I did. Doh.

Guess I need to experiment a little more. Darn.

Not Shooting in Manual, Just Yummy


Back in November I was testing how well my oreo cheesecake recipe froze and thawed.

So I took a picture.

You’re welcome.

It behaved beautifully, I might add.

A yummy day to you and yours, Vicki