April 2009

cerealMom always said breakfast was the most important meal of the day. So bring your mom, or your kids, or think fondly of your own mom who’s far away, and come learn how to make your own yogurt and granola this Mother’s Day (May 10th) with Preserving Traditions! We’ll demonstrate the basics of making yogurt with no special equipment, and then we’ll concoct several varieties of granola together. You’ll also get to make a yogurt parfait with homemade cream-top yogurt, the granola we’ll make in class, and some local blueberries picked last summer.

We’ll provide rolled oats, oil, and sweeteners. Each person should bring a container to take home some granola, and one of the following:

  • One cup of puffed rice, kashi, or other puffed grain cereal
  • 3/4 c. bite-sized dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, diced apricots, diced apples, etc.)
  • 1/2 c. shelled nuts or seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.)
  • 1/2 c. “extras” – coconut, wheat germ, ground flax seed

RSVP here!

Note: Preserving Traditions is part of the Pittsfield Grange. Grange members attend all PT events free of charge. We request a donation of $5 from non-members to cover materials and use of the hall, or you can sign up for membership the day of the event.

harvestfruitJust found out about a new swap list called Veggie Trader. Think Freecycle for garden produce! There’s not much there this time of year for our area, but there is a place where you can plan to specialize. For example, I’ll grow tomatoes and you grow cabbage, and we’ll swap come harvest time. It will also come in handy when we find ourselves buried in “whatever” later this year and want to trade it for “whatever else” someone in town might have.

garden planningAbout 18 people attended Sunday’s garden planning workshop at the Pittsfield Grange. After a short intro, folks got to work laying out their garden beds with graph paper and colored “dots” of various sizes, representing different vegetables. There were also Photoshop templates for those who brought laptops – though we discovered they didn’t translate to the Mac very well due to font issues. There was lots of time for one-on-one questions about building beds, soil, crop rotation, and the like, and most folks got individual feedback on their designs.

And the next morning, we discovered 6″ of heavy, wet snow on the ground! Well, that’s why the garden is pretty much all on paper this time of year…

For anyone who couldn’t make it to the workshop, here are the documents we used:

  • The handout (32Kb) listing the spacing, plant family, and general planting time of a couple dozen common garden vegetables.
  • Paper “vegetables” (17MB)- sized for appropriate spacing. The scale is 1″=1′, and if you use graph paper with 4 squares per inch to draw your garden beds to scale, it’ll line up perfectly. Using removable double-sided tape really helps with this!
  • Photoshop template (1.5Mb – right click and “save as” to get this to download) – It will definitely work on any of the last 3-4 versions of Photoshop on Windows; it may also work in Photoshop elements. The Mac changed the fonts and ruined the alignment.
    • First, be sure your ruler is set to pixels and the grid is set to show up every 100 pixels (with 4 subdivisions)
    • Then, draw your garden bed on the background layers. There are three 4’x8′ beds as examples.
    • Vegetable patches are actually text layers. To add an area of vegetables, duplicate the layer…say, peas. Move the square foot of peas to your garden outline. then use the text tool to change the size of the bounding rectangle. It will automatically fill with enough properly-spaced dots to fill the area.

One thing I forgot to mention to folks was GrowVeg.com – this is an online garden planning tool that allows you to fill rows with vegetables just by clicking and dragging. It automatically spaces the plants out for you, and it has a number of other nifty features, such as the graph of your garden’s planting and harvest dates. It also keeps track of your gardens from year to year and warning you if you didn’t rotate beds (e.g., if you try to plant tomatoes in the same place year after year). It’s not free, but I know several folks who think it’s worth it.