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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How Much Does a Garden Grow: September 2015

Wow, believe me when I say that October has been a real disaster around the microfarm.  So much so that I'm only now getting to tally my September results. Suffice it to say, enough craziness has been going on to make us say, like many Cubs fans, "Wait 'til next year."

But this year hasn't been all bad.  Overall, our September tallies show us harvesting 24 pounds of produce, with a net savings of around $47 for the month.

Most of that was due to our beans. Our bean crop, which we nursed through some horrible Japanese beetle infestations (including about a month of daily trips to the garden with a container of soapy water to remove beetles by hand and drown them), finally started to pay off.

For the entire year, we harvested 8.25 pounds of beans for a total value of $25.08.  Many of those beans made their way into jars for winter consumption.

The remainder of the total comes from peppers and tomatoes, which both finished their years in September.  Interestingly, the Cuor di Bue tomatoes continued to produce well, with a total production of the year of $84.50.  I'll be doing a post dedicated to tomatoes very soon.

Cumulative Totals

Harvest, Ounces: 2,302.0
Harvest, Pounds: 143.875
Harvest Value: $474.16

Expenditures: $141.40



Total Saved: $332.76
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

On Not Throwing the Baby Out with the Bath Water

OK, so this is a little self-serving of me, but I figure I'm allowed once in a while.  And I do really have a point to make here.

Academics are currently all in a flutter (well, as much as academics ever deign to "flutter") over an opinion piece in the New York Times called "Lecture Me. Really." In it, the author talks about the value of the traditional college lecture.

We currently live in a climate in which the lecture has fallen into disfavor. The "sage on the stage" has been replaced by the "guide on the side," and professors are urged to use more participatory and student-led forms of instruction, particularly those involving technology.

There's nothing wrong with that.  The more good teaching techniques we have around, the more students we can reach, and the more learning that goes on. That's the name of the academic game.

But part of the problem is that those who lecture are considered dinosaurs, and the lecture is considered passe. That's a shame, because part of sustainable living is not throwing out things that might still work, even if they are old. (See, this really does relate to my blog!)

Lectures have worked for centuries because people love stories. Beowulf was meant to be chanted around a campfire, not read from a book. Many of the first universities have their start with experienced "professors" taking on students to whom they would lecture. Even American universities by and large have relied on the lecture as their primary educational method, and some of our best thinkers have emerged from that system.

But many people don't know how to lecture effectively.  It's more than just putting some bullet points on a Powerpoint deck and reading them allowed.  A truly effective lecture should leave the lecturer a little breathless, because she should be walking the aisles, reading student faces, adapting to student reactions, and constantly tailoring her comments to the needs of the students she has in front of her.

My first book, a very quick read, tells you how to give the "dynamic lecture" effectively.  If you want autographed copies, there's a link to my Etsy store at the right where you can order.  Otherwise, you can get really great deals as below:

Amazon
Amazon Kindle
Barnes and Noble

And don't hesitate to contact me for bulk discounts or for (dynamic!) speaking engagements.

Now back to your regularly-scheduled gardening posts.
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Monday, October 12, 2015

Strawberry Bread

First off, my apologies for the delay in posting recently. Last week was...not conducive to blogging. Let's leave that there.

Anyway, I've wanted to share this recipe for strawberry bread with you,but the last time I made it, it disappeared before I could photograph it. I don't mean that I waited a couple of days; I mean that I baked, went to take a shower and do some chores, and came back downstairs to find an empty cake plate with a few crumbs on it.  Guess it was a hit!

Anyway, the next batch has survived long enough for me to photograph. This is a great way to use some of your strawberries frozen from this summer; it's quick and easy to make and, obviously, pretty tasty!

Strawberry Bread

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup flower
1 cup strawberries (frozen, thawed, and drained)

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix ingredients in order listed, blending wet ingredients first and then adding dry.  Toss in strawberries and fold in lightly.

Place in greased bread pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool and remove from pan.

The Analysis

Fast:  I mixed a batch of this while I was on the phone last night, then baked while I was crocheting.

Cheap:  Right now, inexpensive is the name here at Casa FC&G.  We have these ingredients on hand, and most are organic or from sustainable sources.

Good:  It appears that Mr. FC&G really likes it.  The piece that I had was pretty good too.  :-)
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