I've recently set up a small cold smoker and have had some initial successes. I've done a side of smoked salmon, smoked cheeses and most recently some smoked mackerel. All have been really tasty, and enjoyed by the family.
The mackerel, however, ended up full of flavour but really salty. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to salt stuff prior to smoking. This time I sprinkled the filleted fish quite thickly with a layer of 3:1 salt to brown sugar, for about 12 hours in the fridge. Lots of liquid came out - more than when I did the salmon. It was thoroughly rinsed off with lots of cold water before further air drying and smoking for 12 hours. It was quite a crude process - chuck lots of salt at it and see where it ends up.
Does anyone have tried and tested processed for salting fish to mitigate against an overly salty final product? If not, are there ways to use it that remove some salt at the end, without losing all the flavour?
Re the 5 to 10 years estimate - the traditional use for these was to make large numbers of lightweight portable hurdles for temporarily fencing livestock. They would be used for sheep pens at sheering and the like. They would probably only spend a few weeks each year out in the elements and the rest of the time they were likely stored undercover in barns. I doubt you would get 10 years for a panel out year round if you needed it to contain livestock. For purely decorative purposes in a garden it might hold up.
In the UK where this craft originates permanent fencing varied from region to region but was typically either dry stone walling, or a laid hedge.
Last year I practiced working with some of our heavier chestnut timbers with hand tools. Felled with a chainsaw initially, but then processed by hand.
I used splitting wedges, a club hammer, and a small hand saw. I was able to take pretty large diameter logs down to a comfortable size by splitting them along their length. Sweet chestnut splits easily, so I was playing to the strengths of the timber. Drive wedges in at one end, and then work along the developing split with more wedges. Repeat the splitting as many times as needed. I was able to take an 18" diameter stem down to approx 4" to 6" sections left very long.
These were then cut with a handsaw down to 6ft to stack in piles 6ft by 6ft by 6ft to air dry. The intention is to then cut them to length for the fire once they are seasoned.
I used metal wedges and a club hammer. It could have easily been achieved using a wooden maul and wooden wedges, if a suitable hardwood was available. The complete set of tool fitted into a canvas satchel - wedges, club hammer, folding hand saw. It took a bit of effort, but I suspect that it would be less than many other ways of processing firewood from large timber. It was quite peaceful and meditative, although I quickly learned that I needed more stamina in the forearm to do it for an extended period of time.
Almond Thompson wrote:Hey guys, do y'all know if baby wipes can be put in a humanure toilet + composted? I wasn't able to find that in my edition of the book.
Most baby wipes are not biodegradable - they contain synthetic fibres which will not break down. If you are careful to only buy special biodegradable wipes it would probably be fine.
In practice they are not too obnoxious in small quantities - we have had them end up in our compost at various point. The biological parts break down, but the structure remains. It is easy to fish them out once the compost is finished, before the compost is used.
Oils and grease can oxidise, if left open to the air. It can affect the flavour somewhat, but provided you use it in a reasonable time frame it shouldn't be an issue.
Animal fats have been used to conserve meat for centuries - things like confit duck are based around using the fat to cook with, then using the fat to seal the meat from the environment. I'm sure such processes are safer with modern refrigerators, but I would expect a reasonable period of time for the fat to be shelf stable.
Here in the UK it certainly used to be traditional to keep a drippings pot near the stove. After cooking meats you would simply drain the fat into the pot, while still hot. Any juices sink to the bottom, where they are protected from the air by the fat layer. When you need to cook simply take a generous spoonful from the top of the drippings pot.
Personally, I like to periodically clean up the pot - dump it all in a pan, put it on the heat, and gently cook it to cook out residual moisture. Then as you pour it back into the clean pot you can leave the solids and other residue behind. My feeling is separating the fat from all the other bits helps stop it going bad, and removing residual moisture helps it set up.
You mention that this is to provide battery fire protection. As an ebike user I'm quite cautious of this myself. How do you see yourself using something like this for that purpose?
I do like that it gives a degree of temperature regulation - I'm currently charging my bike in an unheated greenhouse, and it gets substantially colder than optimum charging temperatures would be. I'm concerned about plastic construction for something that is supposed to give a degree of fire protection. Am I misunderstanding your intention on this issue?
There was a string of thefts from holiday properties, near where my family has a holiday home. Ours is the one remaining 40s beachhouse "shack" that has had minimal upgrades. Most of the rest have been redeveloped into luxury holiday pads.
My family got a local police person round to advise and he took one look at the place and advised us to lock up, but then leave all the curtains open (we'd previously closed them every time). There was nothing any thief would consider valuable, so making that point visible prevented any issues with people troubling to break in.
Bottom line; you can deter theft simply by making sure the property is not an attractive target. Don't keep valuables on site, and leave things visibly "poor", for someone peering through windows.
While I applaud seeking food based sources of vitamin D, the levels your body needs - especially for people in colder climates - are substantially higher than you can reasonably get from food in the winter.
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D was set decades ago, and was based on preventing the most obvious effects of deficiency (eg rickets). We have since learned that vitamin D is important in a whole host of other systems (immune, bone strength in old age, etc...) and that the optimal levels are much higher than the RDA.
If you have been advised to increase vitamin D than do consider using supplements as well as seeking nutritional sources. Especially in the darker months.
A woodstove is a good option for your location. You have plenty of room to fit one. Typically these need a metal flue ducted through the existing chimney, and getting these installed tend to be about half the cost of the installation. Most home insurance will insist on it being installed by a certified professional, as if done poorly there is a large fire risk. Most flue pipes are double skin insulated - the intention is to ensure the temp stays high in the flue for good draft and to reduce creosote formation on the cold metal. They need to be sized appropriately for the stove, and there are restrictions on layout (bends, constrictions, height of chimney etc..) to observe to get a stove that operates well.
An insert will definitely be a meaningful upgrade for you - both in terms of heat produced, and cleanness of burn. But you can't just shove it in the gap and crack on.
The problem is the solution, and all that. If your whole area has a deer population problem then it sounds like you have a shortage of hunters. I've no idea what the legislation is like near you, but it is worth looking into. If you are experiencing deer issues then others in your neighbourhood will be as well, and you may get community support for a more widespread initiative.
Absolutely seconding (thirding?) the advice to use a circular drop saw. A chainsaw on short sections will send those pieces flying, and be really sketchy to hold the logs in place while you cut.
Go with the chop saw, and make sure you have a suitable jig for holding your logs securely while you cut. Doesn't need to be fancy - a couple of piece of wood screwed to a piece of board would do it; just enough to hold the log in place while you chop. Spending half an hour to come up with and good way of log holding will likely save you hours on the overall task - and reduce risk of injury.
Nice to see this thread going again. I'm planning a pumpkin patch outing this weekend to buy a dozen or so.
I've seen the update to the first post. Those are 100% what I would call Queensland Blue. We grew some a couple of years ago from seeds my father brought back from Australia. He was desperate to grow them because they used to have them when he was a kid. The shape and colour is very distinctive. Lovely flavour.
You need to read the Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins. There is a free pdf version available. It uses a bucket system as you suggest, and having used it I can say confidently that it is a pleasure to use PROVIDED you follow the instructions. Don't try to modify the plans until you have spent at least a couple of months using it as directed. You will be amazed at how clean and pleasant it is to use, how hot the compost gets, and the incredibly quality of the end compost.
People go wrong when they try to adapt it to eg divert urine away. It's just not designed to work that way. Urine feeds the hot compost and makes sure it all gets hot and sterile really quickly.
Christopher Weeks wrote:The poop is extra good stuff for the baby tree and full of microbes to give it a boost. The animal's digestive process probably washed away germination inhibitors on the seed-coat. It's all up-side.
Came here to say this. There is a reason wild plants wrap their seeds in tasty fruit. It is advantageous for the seeds to be eaten and dispersed by animals. They have literally evolved to make themselves as tasty (for the correct species!) as possible.
Jay Angler wrote:It's important to remember that he's mostly showing Step 1. Getting that delicate bit of heat upgraded to a fire will take the right sort of secondary material, then kindling to keep it growing!
His system certainly looked easier than many techniques I've seen for getting that first bit of smoke happening!
The ember you create with this is surprisingly long lived and durable. I did three in a row to practice. The first one was still a hot usable ember once I had the third one going. Maybe about 4 minutes?
And yes, you need a bunch of stuff in a nest to kindle a flame. That is a separate skill, but comparatively easy compared to most ways of getting an ember.
My suggestion - short term, do what ever you can to beg/borrow more freezer space. That much meat is too valuable to risk with curing if you are not already set up for it.
Once all your meat is safe, THEN think about long term plans for other preserving methods. Do you have a way to safely hang meat in a cool place, once cured? You need low moisture, cool temperatures. Otherways to make shelf-stable meat include traditional jerky making. Amazing for snacks, less ideal if you want meals from it.
Personally, I would view curing as a way of adding value to meat, rather than primarily for long term storage. Smoked cured bacon done at home will so much better than anything you get from the shops. Likewise with salmon. But I would be doing it mostly for the massive upgrade to the flavour - shelf life of eg smoked salmon does increase, but you still need to refrigerate it at the least after it is smoked.
There is an ethical problem behind using pigeon lofts. I can build a pigeon loft to house hundreds of pigeons on a tiny patch of land. They fly large distances foraging - including over other farmers' fields. The birds fatten up for me to harvest, and produce fertilizer for me to use on my land - but it comes at the expense of those around me.
In the UK they used to be the exclusive privilege of the wealthy landowners, who enjoyed squab on the table regularly while the pigeons foraged the fields of their tenant farmers.
Now pigeons are recognised as a pest species and hunted here, to protect crops. It is not unusual to see flocks of 200+ birds descending on a single field. They tend to hit freshly seeded land, or when crops are sprouting with tender new shoots.
Time for me to drop my regular recommendation of vetiver grasses. They are ideal for your climate, regrow well from fires, and are amazing at stabilizing soil and preventing sediment run-off. Plant hedges densely on-contour and any sediment that washes down the slope will be trapped above them. Over time natural level terraces form.
In your situation, you could use them to quickly stabilize key areas, while also laying out level areas for future paths across the land.
Longer term, the roots go very deep to find moisture, so are climate resiliant. They produce huge quantities of biomass for mulching, and make an excellent companion for other plants by offering shelter, improved soil moisture, and improved soil nutrients.
Planting density is usually one vetiver slip every 6 inches, so you will need a LOT to do the whole area. However once you have a few the clumps can be divided regularly to make hundreds of new slips for planting.
I’ve recently started to connect with some local hunters who do crop protection in the area. Mostly pigeons, but also deer. We got our first deer a few weeks ago, and this weekend took our first load of pigeons. 17 birds, breasted out in about 90 minutes (we’ll be faster next time).
Two breasts is about a portion size. Three breasts each would probably be better.
These were pan fried, medium rare, on a bed of onions and cabbage. Served with a blackberry and apple cider vinegar jus. Absolutely heavenly.
If you are based in the UK and interested in getting game meat (pigeons, deer, duck, goose, etc…) look for the Facebook group “Giving Up the Game” which connects hunters with eaters.
I weighed up the plastics issue, but decided that preserving gluts of food was probably a greater good in this case.
We get substantial amounts of rhubarb, berries, apples etc... from the garden through the year. In our case we waste some each year, because we can't store it long term. I'd never have been able to cope with 24kg of venison in one go, without something like this.
I'm really looking forward to using it to a take the pressure off in term time. I have a few frozen meals from the holiday, that I can crack out for a low effort but supper yummy meal for the family.
I recently processed a whole deer - first time, and it was great fun. My two boys got involved.
I was tipped off that a vacuum sealer would be a good thing to have, and it has turned out really well. I used it for all the meat, but also the stock. Since then I've frozen a whole bunch of pre-prepared meals, huge batches of stewed apple and blackberries.
Write a nice clear label onto the bag, then freeze it.
I thought it would be a device that lives in the cupboard, and comes out rarely. It has ended up being used multiple times per week and lives out on the side. I haven't tried sous-vide cooking with it, but it is on the list.
High pH, high alkalinity water
High pH and high alkalinity water (150+ ppm CaCO3) has the greatest effect on species that require low growing medium pH and are prone to iron chlorosis. Some important greenhouse crops sharing these two characteristics include petunia, calibrachoa, scaveola, bacopa and snapdragon. Irrigating with high alkalinity water tends to increase the growing medium pH because of the liming effect caused by the carbonates and bicarbonates (sources of alkalinity) in the water.
Corrective actions are meant to lower the growing medium pH by using acidic fertilizers, avoiding overliming and in some cases by water acidification. Also, application of an iron chelate fertilizer solution to prevent or correct iron chlorosis is a very effective action.
These corrective actions are meant for the very small group of species listed above. No action would be needed for most greenhouse crops because they are not susceptible to iron chlorosis. In fact, irrigating with this water might help prevent iron and manganese toxicity on marigolds and geraniums and provide supplemental Ca and Mg to crops with a special need for these elements.
So it looks like both iron chelate fertiliser AND water acidification are viable options. Given that I have directly observed the chlorosis, it seems like I am on track with my suppositions. Now to work out what an application of iron chelate fertiliser might look like in practice.
Water Quality: pH and Alkalinity Recently, some growers have expressed concern about the "high pH" of their irrigation water and its potential adverse effects on plants. The purpose of this article is to allay some of these concerns by pointing out the difference between "high pH" and "high alkalinity".
Alkalinity and pH are two important factors in determining the suitability of water for irrigating plants. pH is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) in water or other liquids. In general, water for irrigation should have a pH b etween 5.0 and 7.0. Water with pH below 7.0 is termed "acidic" and water with pH above 7.0 is termed "basic"; pH 7.0 is "neutral". Sometimes the term "alkaline" is used instead of "basic" and often "alkaline" is confused with "alkalinity". Alkalinity is a measure of the water's ability to neutralize acidity. An alkalinity test measures the level of bicarbonates, carbonates, and hydroxides in water and test results are generally expressed as "ppm of calcium carbonate (CaCO3)". The desirable range f or irrigation water is 0 to 100 ppm calcium carbonate. Levels between 30 and 60 ppm are considered optimum for most plants.
Irrigation water tests should always include both pH and alkalinity tests. A pH test by itself is not an indication of alkalinity. Water with high alkalinity (i.e., high levels of bicarbonates or carbonates) always has a pH value ÷7 or above, but water with high pH doesn't always have high alkalinity. This is important because high alkalinity exerts the most significant effects on growing medium fertility and plant nutrition.
One of my sons has a bladder condition, and for a while he tended to avoid drinking because it made him need to go to the toilet excessively frequently. A consequence of being consistently a little dehydrated was that he was frequently constipated.
Your little one's problem might be as simple as they need to drink more water, more consistently through the day. In practice we got him a waterbottle with lines marked on it, with hours of the day. He had to drink a whole bottle worth through the morning, and again in the afternoon.
It was battle to get him in the habit of drinking enough, and regularly enough, but now he is back to drinking more normally - he feels thirsty as normal, and gets himself drinks, where he used to ignore/avoid thirst.
I’ve been using concentrated hydrochloric to reduce the alkalinity in our above ground swimming pool. It seems to take a huge amount to bring it down to “ok” range of around 100ppm.
The way I interpret what you wrote is that you're somehow measuring total dissolved solids (TDS) in the water before and after using HCl. It is my understanding that while TDS and pH are interrelated, one does not accurately reflect a measurement of the other. Acidic water can still have high ppm, as can alkaline water also. Distilled water with a ppm of 0 TDS can be very acidic, neutral or alkaline. Using ppm as a marker to determine pH of a solution won't yield accuracy. pH test strips or a pH meter are the better ways to accurately determine a liquids pH.
Any issues using appropriately diluted HCl to reduce the pH for a few heavy waterings? I suspect there is a lot of carbonate trapped in the soil from previous waterings, for any excess acid to react with
Appropriately diluted, no I don't see any. The only issues that may arise is if the solution becomes way to acidic and it begins to kill soil microbial life and damage or kill plant tissue like roots, otherwise it will work. Keep in mind the chlorine molecule that will be there leftover after the acid does it's work, as it is possible that chlorine may begin to build up in the soil.
Correct - Total Alkalinity measures resistance to changes in pH. You can add a bunch of acid to water with high TA, and the pH will initially fall but will drift up again over 24 hours or so. You can keep adding acid in batches, with little net change to the pH, with the TA is being used up.
This is why you have to fix the TA in pools, before you can get the pH stable in the correct range. In practice the TA is carbonate ions, that are chemically broken down to CO2 and water by the acid. The CO2 is slightly acidic itself, but evaporate over a few days, which is why the pH rises again.
My understanding of alkalinity in general has come from my learning how to manage our new pool though, not from plants and gardening. But it has hammered home how stupidly hard our water actually is.
My thinking is that I could fill a water butt near where I need to do my watering. Dose it with acid, and let it breathe for 48 hours to evaporate off the produced CO2, before using it for watering. Even if the water is still slightly acid, there is so much calcium carbonate in the soil of the pots already that it will react to neutralise some of it.
I’ve been using concentrated hydrochloric to reduce the alkalinity in our above ground swimming pool. It seems to take a huge amount to bring it down to “ok” range of around 100ppm.
I think I used 2 litres of conc HCl for 3 cubic meter pool.
I would probably need to use a total of around 3 litres to reduce the alkalinity to zero, and make the water slightly acidic.
Any issues using appropriately diluted HCl to reduce the pH for a few heavy waterings? I suspect there is a lot of carbonate trapped in the soil from previous waterings, for any excess acid to react with.
Jay Angler wrote:Are your rainfall levels reliable enough that you could capture barrels of rainwater for watering the planters? You might still have to add the acid to get the plants happy in the short term, but I know when I was having difficulty with my blueberries, that was one of the recommendations I read. (We are also on a deep well, but I don't think we're as high in calcium as you are dealing with.)
Another possibility once at more of a "maintenance" position would be to find an acid mulch to top the barrels with - pine needles would be the obvious in my area, but I don't know the UK options.
Sadly rainwater is not an option here. We live in an ancient listed building, and can’t alter the guttering/drains in anyway that might be visible. Big roof area, but can’t make use of it. It is an ongoing annoyance.
A few years ago I made some large planters for the patio out of 55gal plastic drums. These planters get topped up with good compost from our deep litter chicken system each winter, and this year they also got a bag each of commercial potting mix. I currently have a mix of strawberries, pumpkin, blackcurrant and geraniums in these. They work nicely BUT I'm having issues with nutrients.
I water with the supply from our borehole, which comes from a chalk aquifer. The water is very hard. Well over 450pmm calcium carbonate. I have notice that where there is evaporation from exposed soil surfaces, a white crust is appearing. I presume that I am getting some precipitation of calcium carbonate.
I've noticed that some plants tend to grow with yellowing leaves, with green veins - my google-fu suggest that this is to do with an iron deficiency, and that high pH/hard water is likely an aggravating factor. Now that I have noticed it in these pots I can see it much more mildly in other berry bushes planted directly in the ground elsewhere on the property.
Any thoughts for how I can fix this?
I would have presumed that adding good compost would have balanced most issues, but apparently not. I have thought about adding an iron supplement directly, but if I continue watering with high alkalinity water, the balance will continue to be unfavourable to iron uptake.
I wonder if you can do something much more cheaply and easily, without the risks of washout etc discussed above.
Limestone is fairly soft rock. Cut a trench across the existing river bed, about 1ft deep. Lay a perforated pipe through it. Cover with a layer of large rocks, then smaller ones.
The stream will continue to flow over the top, unimpeded, but water will collect in the trench and trickle into the pipe. If it silts up, you just need to dig out a narrow trench worth of silt and gravel to maintain it, rather than a whole dam worth behind a wall.
You could design it so that the section of perforated pipe is semi-expendable. If a major storm rips through and rips the pipe out, it may damage just that section, but your long run of pipe to the village remains intact. Drop a new pipe section in once the storm flow has subsided.
I suspect that this would be LOT cheaper than working with masses of concrete, and with much small risk of disaster.
Sasha Platte wrote:Sunburn on kids is often caused by sudden shock at the end of the school year.
First not going outside much throughout spring and then bam! Outside for half of the day causes terrible sunburns.
And then you have people getting stuck on sunscreen all summer because their bodies still think it's winter, and not putting it on causes shock.
And then people think they can't live without it.
This has very much been my own personal experience as well. I start each summer pale and fryable - I've learned to start the hot weather with short, but fairly frequent, doses of sun exposure. Taking care to stay below the level of turning even slightly pink. As I build a bit of a tan over a week or so my skin adjusts and I can cope with being out for longer. In not too long I can be out all day in full sun without burning. I'm lucky to have skin that tans easily, and goes pretty dark, for good protection. My wife just goes crispy with the same treatment.
Know your skin, adjust your behaviour accordingly.