Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cool Tool

This is a cool tool:
Kitchen Garden Planner

You can plan your square foot garden online and get a printout of the plan, the plants, how many per square, when to plant relative to last frost date (you'll have to find that out and figure out calendar dates from there).

If you click on tabs at the top there are pre-planned gardens for kitchen, herbs, and so on. Or you can pick from something like 47 different vegetables (counting tomatoes and peppers as vegetables) and herbs. You'll know how many starts to buy or start yourself, when to sprout seeds, and so on. Pretty sweet. It's linked to the company that will also sell you seeds and supplies, but you don't have to buy them.

I like the square foot gardening because it's easy AND it's very easy to apply to containers. For a 5gallon bucket, I put in about 75% of the plants that a 1foot square will take (of course, the minimum is one plant). This should be very handy for my how much can you grow in a parking spot test this year. It looks like I can grow as much as I can eat and much much more...well, SOMEONE could grow that much. We'll see how much I get.

I also met a woman yesterday at a conference who has fruit trees in containers!!! I'm very interested in growing lemons. I got one started in a small pot once, but it died due to lack of sun or attention or nutrients or something. Anyway, it died. She claims that if I'm willing to bring the pot in in the winter I can have lemons. Lemon juice is one of my most used condiments and I can't really see doing without it entirely if I try to feed myself from just what I can produce or find or catch or kill. A lime and an avocado would be nice too...then I got to wondering about coffee never know. Has anyone even tried to grow them here? If I could produce local coffee and cocoa, I'd be rich. Or at least well known in Plummer.

More on the conference later.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


This is a free book online...entirely online...entirely FREE! What could be thriftier? It's a book about thrift.

Thrift in the Household

Copyright is 1918 so try to ignore the sexism and whatnot. Most of the thrift methods are perfectly valid today.

This was linked to through a favorite blog of mine:
Frugal for Life so I'm ripping her off and re-recommending it here.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Couple More Recommendations

These will be getting to be too many now...but still.
Pam (Hi Pam) told me to read a book and she was right. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is fantastic. Read it. Get it from the library because that is frugal.

Then, or now, go on to the youtubes and look up Wada Akiko's version of Unchain My Heart. Or listen online tomorrow to my noon show on Radio Free Moscow because I'll try to play it. She does an amazing job.

And if you like Dr. Bronner's Soap, check out Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap Box for your viewing pleasure. He was a nut job and possibly also a genius but it's hard to tell really.

That was short...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Once again, it's been too long

Been a while again but here's what's going on:

I've got seeds either sprouting for the garden OR rotting in bags on top of the fridge. We'll see. The sourdough bread making is going well, but I'm getting fat from eating too much sourdough bread.

As for my two main "resolutions" for this year:
1) no industrial meat at the house...well, I screwed up once. I bought burger. It was organic, but it wasn't butchered by anyone I know. Still, once I had it home, I ate it rather than waste it.

2) no more buying salad dressing...this is because there were over a dozen bottles of out of date dressing in the fridge with about 2 servings out of each. Stupid. And wasteful. So, I'll just quit buying it. I have all the ingredients for any kind of dressing I'd want at the house most of the time so I can just make it. It takes like 30 seconds.

AND as an aside though not a resolution, I'm making all my fake milk now. Almond works well in general. Cashew needs a few more nuts per cup to make it milky enough. Hazelnut was very good in my home-made fake mocha this morning. It makes a nice foam and tastes hazelnutty.

And a few movie recommendations:

Precious...this is an amazing film and I can't believe the lead actress didn't get the oscar and Sandra Bullock did. I think maybe being an unknown, people may have thought that it Gabourey Sidibe was like the character she plays (abused girl from the ghetto). She's actually a college student who looks completely different, walks differently, talks's an amazing bit of acting. I hope she keeps acting, though she's not been a professional actress before. Monique (there is some apostrophe in there somewhere but I don't know where) played the second role and is also amazing. She did get an oscar and totally deserved it. Turns out the director is the same one who did Monster's Ball (another great film) and Shadow Boxing (which I haven't seen yet)

The Stoning of Soraya M. Great film about an incident in the 1980s in Iran, after we ousted the Shah that we'd previously installed. It is based on a true story which was smuggled out of Iran by a journalist. Even 20+ years after the event many actors were afraid to participate in the film as their families in Iran (the film is in Farsi despite being made by an American) would be in danger. They also do not reveal where it was filmed as the village used and the local participants could be in danger. Cripes! The acting and writing are good. It was worth listening to the commentary to find out that some of the less believable parts of the film (e.g. a circus showing up in the middle of a public sentencing and stoning) were true!

Sixty-Six. This is a nice little film from England that is not depressing. It reminded me a little of "A Christmas Story" and is the relatively true tail of director Paul Weiland's bar mitzvah (accidentally scheduled on the day of the World Cup soccer match in 1966...the only year England made it to the match). He apparently told the story at a 50th birthday party (attended by many big English stars like Helena Bonham Carter who plays his mother) and it was such a hit they told him he had to make a film.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Loaf Review and a Food Note

The loaf was everything but tasty. Just not enough flavor. The texture wasn't bad, but it was bland. I tried again the next weekend. It was tastier (I used veggie broth as the liquid and doubled or tripled the spices and garlic). BUT then it was too mushy.

Then I got sick so haven't tried another. I had the flu (no stomach/intestinal involvement) or a super nasty cold...but I'm pretty sure it was the flu. Anyway, on the mend now and will try another loaf in a couple of weeks or so.

I've been working on the "working" I mean I put some seeds on wet napkins to sprout before I plant them in little pots. We'll see if it works. I also managed to tear up some free wood I got. I tried to buy wood at a large DIY store but no one wanted to wait on me and they don't let you get it yourself. So I figured forget that. I went to the dumpsters and sure enough someone had dumped a homemade bunk bed from thick wood. I put that in the subaru and today I tore it apart. It was easier than I expected. Now I need a saw. Some of the boards are about the same length as windows I've had sitting around waiting to be a cold frame so maybe I can get that going. I really need a saw...a power saw. My bum arm doesn't hold up to using a hand saw for more than a few minutes at a time. Just the hammer and prybar use today has it a bit bothered. Oh well. Not much of a handicap in the grand scheme of things.

I've also been reading up on growing potatoes in a bucket (or proper container if you wish). Looks like 5lbs for a 5gallon bucket would be a good yield. We'll see what I get. I scored a giant plant pot at the recycling center last week. I was pretty stoked. This will all go towards my research into how much food one can grow in a parking spot. My sister googled it for me and says 9' by 20' is about an average parking spot. It seems big. Leaving a 1' aisle down the center would make two 4' by 20' beds. That's 160 square feet of garden. That's pretty good. I plan on gathering containers and having 1 or 2 4'x4' squarefoot gardens this year and trying to total a ground coverage of 160square feet. It will be interesting to see how much I can grow in that space.

In other news, I went to the first meeting last Friday of a local food security group. 72 people showed up! That's amazing in an area where I often feel like the only one cooking at home. I know I'm not the only one...but some of the others are scary survivalists and the attendees at the group were not of that ilk. Lot's of families. There was a free dinner, made with mostly organic items, a movie, games for kids and some introductions. I made dessert...but only expected about 20 people so I didn't make enough. Next time. I did make pie from local feral cherries and it was a hit. Anyway, I'm glad some other people in the community are interested in access to local food. I just don't think everything needs to come from so far away. It gets beat up enroute and growers end up growing varieties for thick hides and long shelf life rather than good taste. And the nutrients leak out enroute. Well, they don't leak out but they do fade the longer the item has been out of the ground before consumption. Also, why not help the local economy?