Michael Cox

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since Jun 09, 2013
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Recent posts by Michael Cox

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.
11 hours ago
I did this last night. Success on my very first attempt of trying it, and it worked perfectly.

According to some other videos you can do this with naturally found fibres as well, and with different filler materials.

14 hours ago

David Fraleigh wrote:So if you live in the Southeast,- don't plant Bahia,.. (unless you have cows)...

... the problem is the solution!
3 days ago
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.
3 days ago
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.
3 days ago
You could absolutely do this using just a handsaw, hammer and nails. Angled cuts can have some advantages, but for something as simple and utilitarian as a cold frame it is probably overkill.
5 days ago
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.
2 weeks ago
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.
3 weeks ago
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.

3 weeks ago

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.

More on alkalinity

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.
2 months ago