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Jan White

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since Dec 17, 2015
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Recent posts by Jan White

I had the same situation last year. I ended up planting out the whole sprouting sweet potato in late summer. I let a bit of frost get to the leaves and dug up the tiny roots that had formed. I plunked them into soil in a pot, quite crowded, and hung it from the ceiling in an out of the way spot in the kitchen. Once it started growing again, I watered it a little bit occasionally, just enough to keep it alive. I'd trim back the vines if they got in the way.  It had almost no light.

Once it warmed up this year I planted the roots in the garden to grow as usual. There's a lot of gopher and vole activity in that bed this year, so I don't think I'll have my much to report back on as far as end results go :D
Oh, and you can see where I pulled the elastic through. I just poked holes in the fabric. I made the elastic a little too long to begin with, which is why there's a knot. I'll sew it and cut the knot off when I have time.
1 week ago
I finally got around to it. I made a mask I like.

I didn't want to make the fitted styles because there are too many shaped pieces and curves that made it seem like it would be a hassle to adapt to what  I was looking for.

I like the pleated style ones because they're a rectangle you can zip together in no time without too many scraps of fabric left over. What I don't like about the pleated ones is how high up the bridge of the nose they go, how gapey they tend to be on the cheeks, and just how much excess fabric there seems to be generally. I wear glasses, so I wanted something that fits low and snug on the nose so my glasses don't fog up.

So I started with two rectangles of cotton cut from pillowcases, measuring 23cm x 15cm. I sewed those, right sides together, leaving a gap so I could turn it inside out. I left the gap in the middle of one of the long sides so I could insert a nose wire later. Seam allowance was whatever the first line on the sewing machine plate is...must be 3/8".

Once it was turned right side out, I top stitched all the way around. Seam allowance 1/4", edge of the presser foot. I stuck a heavy duty twist tie in the gap from earlier so it sits between the edge of the mask and the top stitching. Then I sewed up the gap. So far the twist tie hasn't shifted side to side, but it could be sewn in place if that's a problem.

Then I played around with pleats. I ended up with something I don't think I've seen before.  When the pleats are all folded up, the mask is a third its full depth, nose to chin. When they're unfolded, the bottom curves under your chin and the top curves over your nose.

1 week ago
As long as there's good snow cover, I've had little pea plants overwinter with stretches of -15C.  If you plant enough seeds for the rodents, you'll have some come up in the spring too. You'll also get bonus patches where the rodents stashed seeds and forgot about them.

For stuff to plant in the fall and have come up in the spring, I've had success with pretty much any spring crop - all the leafy greens like mustard, lettuce, spinach, chicory, kale, etc. Radishes, turnips, beets, poppies, alliums, parsley.

Mache/lamb's lettuce/corn salad is a great green to start late in the year. I have it naturalizing at my place now, which I love.

Sunflowers come up all over the place where birds and rodents hide seeds.

The only thing with the leafy greens is that a lot of them bolt early when fall/winter seeded. So I always plant some later in the spring anyway.

Michael Cox wrote: "Lots more water than you think they need". And theirs were seriously impressive. Have you the possibility of trying a side by side test? One patch watered and another not?

I don't have running water. The first year at this property I hauled endless buckets of water for my squash. They did well, for the conditions I was working with. The next year, one patch got a bit of water and one patch got none. I saved seed from the plants that did the best with little to no water. After that I stopped watering altogether. This is my fifth year growing squash here and my unwatered squash this year look better than the heavily watered squash the first year. They're way bigger and greener than the naticoke landrace I'm trying out from the experimental farm network, so I don't think it's just the improvement in the soil over the years.  I'm too lazy to haul water now that I know I don't have to ;)

This year I'm also growing squash in completely undeveloped areas - areas no same person would rely on for food. They're small and struggling, but one plant in particular has two fruits on it already, same as most of my squash in beds.

I've heard that dry farmed melons taste better, which is the main reason I (try to) grow mine with out water. I don't have the room yet to focus on more than a couple main crops each year, so melon development has been neglected. I have a couple problems leading to fruit set too late in the season, that I need to devote some space to to work out of the genetics.
Oi. A recipe? I do a big batch every few years, so I never remember what I did last time. Just look up fruit scrap vinegar recipes online. You'll find that every recipe is different and they all result in the same thing. Fruit wants to be vinegar, so there's not much you need to do.

When I did the juice only batch, I didn't add any sugar, but you can to get the fermentation going more reliably. Most recipes have sugar, but it gets eaten up in the fermentation. When I did the crushed berries in water, I did add a bit of sugar, and I think I added a splash of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar I had.

The only thing to watch out for is to make sure you stir regularly when the fruit is in there so it doesn't get moldy. Once the fruit is strained out, you can get lazier about it. My juice was really pulpy, which is why it got moldy when I left it.

Maybe do a small mason jar sized batch with whatever fruit you're not too attached to. Then you get a feel for the process and aren't worrying about messing up your precious elderberries.

You get limited help from me! Sorry!
1 week ago
I like making vinegar with them cause I don't eat refined sugar. Vinegar lasts a looong time.

I've done it two ways.  I've crushed the berries up and covered with water, and I've also juiced the berries and fermented just the juice. When I did it that way, it tasted way better...up until I went away for a few days and it got moldy :(

This year I'll try juicing them again and stay close to home.
1 week ago
I keep coming back to an old unserrated kitchen knife from the thrift store. I just used it this weekend in lieu of a sickle to harvest my rye. I started out with the scythe, ditched that, and went and got my knife.

I like that it's small, light, sharp, and not too valuable to lose.
1 week ago
I'd be tempted to just not water them, especially seeing as you have them mulched. I don't water my squash, which grow in veeeery sandy soil, and don't get any rain for 2+ months. I haven't had success with melons yet, but that doesn't seem to be a water issue.
Regarding your wish for someone to design custom patterns...maybe you could find someone to make a pattern from the book in your shape. Then you could make your own pattern from that. Having the original pattern should make it easy to see the adjustments.
1 week ago