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Dan Boone

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since Jan 24, 2014
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Dan Boone gardens, plants fruit trees, and tends wild fruit and nut trees and vines in Central Oklahoma.
Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Recent posts by Dan Boone

Several people have mentioned Pyrex, which is one of several brands of ovensafe glass.  Unlike cast iron, which people tend to price highly even on the used market, I see endless amounts of Pyrex pie dishes and rectangular baking dishes in many sizes at garage sales, usually priced at a buck or two.  Old ovensafe glass does sometime get rough-looking from repeated contact with abrasive cleansers, but it works great for baking.  You can even find ramekins (little cups) made from Pyrex, designed for baking custards; if you pick a shape that works for you and arrange them on a cookie sheet, you could use these like a muffin pan.  
14 hours ago

Rebecca Norman wrote:In Goodwill in the US I've found cast iron muffin or popover pans.

I am surprised there isn't more love in this thread for cast iron baking gear.  I grew up eating muffins from a cast iron muffin pan; I was shocked the first time I saw a tinny steel one.  Nothing beats cast iron for good even heat and browning.

There exist cast iron bundt pans, although cast aluminum ones are more common.

Throughout the southern parts of the USA, one often find cast iron cornbread pans built like muffin pans, only the holes are shaped like half-sized ears of corn.  It's cute but it works!

I have a cast iron casserole pan that would work wonderfully as a rectangular cake pan, only it's enameled and it came to me with chips in the enamel, so I use it for decorative plant stuff.  

14 hours ago

wayne fajkus wrote:I had success making pies in cast iron skillets

I have a Facebook friend from my college days who owns a genuine cast iron pie pan.  She swears by it, but she does recommend removing sticky oozy acidic fruit pies to another container for storage, lest the pie create and pick up a bit of rust.  (Non toxic, probably good for you, but unsightly and in excess, metallic flavored.)  
14 hours ago

Dustin Rhodes wrote:
Frost and drought tolerance? (the specimen I found receives artificial irrigation and was probably planted as a grown tree, and not from seed, so it's not necessarily a good indicator)

Dave's Garden (which is usually a source of good information) says it's a tropical tree requiring zone 9b or warmer (minimum temp 25F) to survive.  This other site is in accord, and has more detailed growing information.
1 day ago
I didn't handle those jars, so I can't say if the commercial bone broth was jellified or not.  But there's no reason it couldn't be; all it would take is a spoon to pull it out of the jar with, or warm the jar in a bowl of hot water first.  

I do, however, suspect it's been diluted with water until it stays liquid.  I said this was the "most comparable" commercial product to what I made, but I carefully didn't claim it was as good!  In fact my suspicion is that good stock or broth is a product like a good garden tomato -- it's literally "unobtainium" on the commercial market and the only way to get it is to produce your own.  

Certainly it's the case that all the "cheap" (few bucks a quart) commercial stocks and broths I have ever tried are barely better than salty water.  You don't get much flavorful virtue for the money!
1 day ago

Dan Boone wrote:Seeing as store-bought broth/stock costs a minimum of $1.75 a quart and up (way up in some cases, I've seen brands priced at $5.00 and above) it's arguable that my seven jars are "worth" more than twice in future grocery savings as much as we paid for the whole bird.

Thanks to everyone who must have laughed quietly at my out-of-touch notion about the retail price of bone broth. From curiosity, I looked at Sprouts for the most comparable product. It was $6.99 a pint!
4 days ago
I never really found a solid answer about the nature of this grain as it comes off the plant, or about the scope and difficulty of the presumed-necessary threshing operation.  However, by serendipity I found something very close to an answer to my original question on the Job's Tears page at the Experimental Farm Network, where they have this to say:

Job's Tears (called Hato Mugi, in Japanese) is an uncommon grain eaten traditionally from Africa to Japan. It is believed to originate in India, but is most popular as food and medicine in China and Japan. Most Job's Tears grown in this country is of the non-domesticated type, with rock-hard shells that can only be cracked with pliers or a hammer. The grain inside is edible, but very hard to get at. The domesticated "ma-yuen" type (Coix lacryma-jobi var. ma-yuen) can be cracked open with a couple strong human fingers or a normal threshing machine.

That confirms what I suspected all along (that the colorful decorative type sold by Bakers Creek and elsewhere is not easily useful as a food grain) while explaining the mystery of this stuff existing as an important food crop in Asia.
My thought is that since microplastics are now everywhere, including in the groundwater and in public drinking water supplies, it's not clear to me that consuming seawater (and salt derived therefrom) adds measurably to my risk.   If there are microplastics at varying levels in all of the roughly ten pounds of food and fluids that I'm ingesting on the average day, I can't see how eating, or not, a gram or two of salt that also has microplastics in it, is a consequential decision on my part.

4 days ago

Gail Gardner wrote:I've been making plans very similar to yours. Here are some of my ideas:

Lay fallen wood above and below wild plum trees and other edibles. Cover it with leaves and the dark soil scraped out from under big trees. Then dig a trench above it and put that dirt on top of what you already have. My thought is you slow down the water and let it soak in while feeding the wild tree so it has better fruit.

Gail and I are in the same bioregion, which may be why we have similar ideas.  I am not certain how close to the "forage gardening" PEP badge we are when we talk about improving the productivity of existing food trees, plus I know the PEP program is conceptually anchored to the Wheaton Labs property where maybe there aren't so many dozens of species of marginally-productive fruit and nut trees like Gail and I are inspired/challenged by.

Having said that, I see Gail's idea for improving the soil and enhancing the moisture resources of a given wild food tree as steps 2 and 3.  For me, step one is always "clear away competition."  My understanding is that any plant is competitive for water, nutrients, and light.  Permaculture teaches us that polyculture improves a plant's access to both nutrition (due to cooperative mycelial networks and the like) and water (because bare unshaded soil loses more water than a protective ground cover consumes).  So when I clear around a feral fruit or nut tree, the goal is to reduce competition for food and water, somewhat selectively, leaving a proportion of the vegetation in place.  But I do clear, even to the extent of dropping very large nearby trees that are heavily competing with the food tree for light.  This is like pruning: a judicious and careful balancing of the values of a given tree against the light that it is keeping from my favored tree.  Other food trees and trees that have significant timber or wildlife habitat value almost never get cleared; but in any understory there's always a lot of "brush" species that are in surplus and not doing well anyway due to competition from canopy trees.  Plus the nearby canopy itself usually contains a few specimens that are diseased, damaged, or poorly placed for competing with nearby trees.  

So I start by increasing the available sunshine by  judicious brushing and clearing.  Then I very much like Gail's notion of improving the soil and water near the tree, although I've done rather less of this.  Here in Oklahoma, even the chem-ag oriented conventional wisdom teaches the merits of planting short perennial clover (instead of grass or nothing) in commercial pecan orchards.  
6 days ago
Ginger is a real challenge here in Central Oklahoma.  I've been working on it for several years, and I have some growing plants after many efforts, but it is not happy in this climate.  It wants tropical conditions at every stage of its life cycle -- warmer than 80 degrees, very moist air, and not much exposure to wind.  

To start with, much ginger root that you buy from the store will never sprout at all.  "They" say it's been sprayed with a sprouting inhibitor chemical, so buy organic; but my experience is that the organic stuff often won't pop shoots either.

So, for starters, don't plant roots unless you find them already popping the green knobs of new growth before you buy them in the grocery store.

I then discovered that "room temperature" isn't warm enough for young ginger plants in the wintertime.  If your house is at 72 degrees, moist soil will be a few degrees colder due to evaporation and whatnot; your ginger will rot long before it sends out new roots.  Just not warm enough.

I had to put an electric blanket under an empty fish tank, and keep my ginger starts in the (covered) fish tank with an open bowl of water also in there, just to get a mini tropical hothouse situation to get the plants started.  

They want to be moist but if the soil gets too wet, and especially if it is too cool, the ginger stems will rot and the plant will die.  

Plants grown indoors like this are exquisitely fragile and very difficult to "harden off" so that they will survive when taken outside into Oklahoma spring or summer conditions.

I had some in a tub interplanted with mint summer before last, that survived the trip outside.  They grew very poorly in the dry windy heat that prevails here, but they did survive the summer.  They didn't produce/enlarge their roots though.  

I took them inside and kept them all winter in a little artificial enclave I have indoors that's warm and brightly lit with LED lights, including some plant lights.  About half of them rotted off and died because I messed up the watering and  their soil got too damp or cool or both.  

The survivors I planted outdoors this past summer in a metal pot, very well drained.  This year they put up a lot of foliage, but still did not increase their roots.  They are back inside; but once again, only about half of them survived the transition and I'm by no means certain any will survive the winter.

Ginger is hard, here.  I hope to figure out a situation and method to get some plants to explode during the summer and make some fat roots.  But I'm like, four years into the effort, and I haven't managed it yet.
1 week ago