Alder Burns

pollinator
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since Feb 25, 2012
Homesteader, organic gardener, permaculture educator.
northern California
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Recent posts by Alder Burns

I've been making tempeh frequently for many years (maybe around 1986!?)  I've basically followed the directions in the old "Book of Tempeh" from the '70's and pretty similar to what you do.  Usually I just trample on the soaked, briefly cooked beans in a bucket barefoot to separate the hulls and break the beans in half, and then slurry them off with repeated rinsings.  I often pre-ferment mine then, in a pot with water to cover and set somewhere warm for 24-48 hours more....sometimes I add a bit of kefir, homemade wine, or sauerkraut juice to this as s starter.  This prefermentation naturally acidifies the stuff so you don't need to add vinegar, and it can improve it's nutrition also.  Then I boil this up for 45m to an hour and proceed as you show.  For an incubator I have small brooder heater in a cardboard box with some racks rigged over it....this has the advantage of a thermostat so I can basically set it and leave it till I think to check it.  I have done pots of hot water in coolers and ovens and moving tempeh closer and further from woodstoves and things like that too.  Been getting my starter from temephstarter.com direct from Indonesia...prices are good and several kinds available, but I also do my own starter and usually get several generations before it begins to degrade.   Lately been playing with making it out of fava beans, since these grow easier in my climate....
1 month ago
Years ago when I lived in an offgrid cabin in the backwoods of Georgia I made a shower with a 50 foot coil of black plastic irrigation hose, laid on the cabin roof under a piece of clear plastic.  A tank on a hill provided pressure to this, and to a cold water hose that ran directly to the shower head, where a simple hose "Y" enabled me to mix hot and cold as needed.  The shower itself was inside a greenhouse/shadehouse....covered with plastic in the winter and attached to the back door of the cabin which usually stood open, enabling heat from the woodstove to heat the greenhouse at night and on cloudy days.  The plastic was taken down and replaced with shade cloth for summer.  This basically enabled hot showers in the afternoon in all but the most hard freezing or cold cloudy weather....in other words all spring-summer-fall and probably half the time in the winter.  In hard freezes I would shut this all off and go to plan B...a pot of water on the wood stove!
1 month ago
If you have clear-grained logs and want the most rot-resistant parts for outdoor use, try to split off the heartwood from the sapwood.  This will be more easily done if you first split the log at least into quarters.  The heartwood is the dark red, highly aromatic center of the log, and this will last much longer in any outdoor use, including ground contact, than the whitish outer sapwood.
1 month ago
I totally agree with Trace.  On a clay soil digging a big hole and filling it up with all kinds of improved soil and loose fluffy amendments is a recipe for disaster.  When it rains heavy water will fill all the loose airspace in there and only very slowly seep away into the surrounding packed clay.  Imagine a bucket sunk into the ground with the tree in it.  A day or two and it drowns!  This has happened to me on multiple sites multiple times.  On a sandy or loamy soil it isn't an issue....dig, improve, bury what you will and the tree will thrive.  But not on clay!  On clay now I plant directly into unimproved soil, only dug out enough to accomodate the roots.  Most fruit trees actually get planted on mounds raised above grade....especially if water hangs around in puddles for a while after a good rain.   The portion of the mound above grade can consist of improved soil, but it's even better laid on top as mulch.  If you really want to bury something nasty but valuable for the trees, like humanure or slaughter waste, put it into a separate hole off to the side...the roots will grow over to it and access it eventually.
1 month ago
I'm pretty sure I've posted stuff about this somewhere else on this site, but I'll drop the idea here too.  Many people's closets, and many thrift stores, garage sales, and dumpsters have an overabundance of perfectly good T-shirts.  T shirt fabric is unique in that it often won't fray or unravel easily along a cut edge, and so this improves the possibilities for making them into other things with minimal sewing.  Whole books are written about this...called the "Generation T" series, featuring all sorts of other clothes, bags, accessories etc.  I first saw the possibility of this years ago living in communes several women would cut out a T-shirt into a halter top in a few minutes!
1 month ago
Not sure if this will work for blackflies but it might be worth a try....several places I've lived the mosquitoes were so bad that I made up a smudge pot....basically a metal can on a chain with a few holes in the sides, into which I put some dry stuff and get it burning, then follow with some slower stuff that will make a lot of smoke.  Sort of like a bee smoker (which would also serve the purpose).  I would take this everywhere I went in the garden, and swing it around me like a priest with a censer, and then set it down such that any air current would keep the smoke wafting around me! At least mosquitoes, and many other insects too, cannot stand to be around smoke!
1 month ago
In various places I've homesteaded, I've learned that another way to approach this problem is to start with the place and the land and work back to a diet from that.  Learn by research and trial and error what grows easily for you (and be sure to include what can be foraged from the wild in quantity) and then try to base your diet around those things.  When I lived in Georgia, sweet potatoes rapidly rose to the top of the contenders, plus whatever fruit and greens were available.  I even made granola out of them!  This, plus eggs and goat milk, and I was good to go.  Since coming to California, I find that the small grains like wheat and barley, and fava beans are becoming important, as well as acorns.  Mostly because all of these will produce without profligate summer irrigation which is required for most ordinary summer crops.
Even better, I've found, is to use something durable like old scraps of carpet, laid in well-overlapping layers. Put a cover mulch over it for aesthetics if desired, and leave it for a year or so.  Then move to the next zone and plant up where it was.  This is a slower process, but will give better control than a cardboard sheetmulch. In some cases it is more effective to push the vegetation down flat and mulch over it, rather than cutting it down first.  This can be done with feet, or possibly with something like a weighted barrel rolled over the top.  This is less prickly and dangerous than getting up next to things like blackberries or poison ivy in order to cut them by hand.
2 months ago
In some states (Georgia and Tennessee at least, I'm sure there are others) it's legal to bury someone on private land, provided it's rural and over a certain size.  When I lived in the South I participated in four or five such home burials, helping to dig the grave, build a coffin (or in one case the body was simply wrapped in a blanket) and do the deed.  Simple and beautiful.  If you can pick up the body direct from the coroner or hospital or wherever and promise to bury within 24 hours no embalming is necessary.   As for myself, I'm currently signed up to have my body donated to the medical school as a study cadaver.  That way someone can get some benefit out of me, which seems at least right now to outweigh the meager contribution I would make to the soil!
2 months ago
@ Kylie I've lived on several farms which hosted volunteers and visitors over the years, from periods of a few days to several months.  I also participated in the teaching team at four PDC's in Florida and Georgia, some of which offered a couple of places on scholarship or work trade; in addition to my own PDC which I attended at half price....
2 months ago