Blaine Clark

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since Jan 01, 2018
West-central Pennsylvania
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Recent posts by Blaine Clark

If the Inulin, the fiber in them ferments in the small gut, gas is produced. In a perfectly balanced gut biome, this fermenting wouldn't happen until in the large gut and there wouldn't be nearly as much gas produced, but we live in a world of preservatives and sugars that throw the healthy gut balance way off. If the Inulin is converted into Fructose, the gas isn't an ... issue! I'm a terrible punster.
There are four ways to convert Inulin into Fructose. One is to cook them for several hours. Two is to cook them in an acid such as vinegar, citric acid or lemon juice. Three is to thoroughly freeze them. Frosts don't really reach them in the ground, but frosts do help drive the nutrients in the leaves and stalks down into the tubers making them sweeter. For some, this is enough to reduce the gas, but not for all. Four is to ferment them. They can be fermented like refrigerator pickles, lacto-fermented on the shelf, then moved into the fridge. They can be fermented like sauerkraut or in a Kimchi. There is actually a fifth way. I take an Inulin supplement for gut health on a daily basis. My guts are well accustomed to Inulin and I can chow down on them raw in the fall with no ill wind effects.
We can most of the ones we pull in the fall as pickles and relishes. The vinegar and the canning process followed by shelf storage cures every bit of the gas problem. And the pickles? I like them better than cukes! The rest we leave in the ground over winter. In our Zone 5 area, as soon as I can work the soil, I pull more for cooking and eating raw. They can be harvested until they start to sprout and that happens when the soil reaches about 50°F.
I've dried raw chips, ground them in a food processor into flour and used it to thicken stews and gravies. It's a heavy flour, like Buckwheat, it has to be mixed with other lighter flours and it has to be mixed with wheat for it to raise. A bit added to thin crust pizza dough makes it much stiffer. I also toss chips onto pizzas for a different taste.
I'm going to try to overwinter some in 5 gallon buckets, layered with sawdust on our back deck. Our winter temps can drop to -20°F so I might have fun breaking some loose on really cold days, but I figure I could bring a bucket inside to thaw a bit and dig some out. If it works, we'll have some all through the winter. I wish we had a root cellar.
They're called Topinambours by the French, and by the Algonquins, Kaishúcpenauk, a compound of "sun" and "tubers". Kaishúcpenauk, from - Thomas Harriot. A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (Kindle Location 273). The Mohawk name is Ohnennata’ó:we, original potato. Let's all take a moment to pronounce the Native names ... OK, long enough. The Pennsylvania Dutch call them Aerdebbel in their Pennsylfaanisch. They're Cicoka in eastern Europe. To those of the Manglish persuasion they're called Fartichokes.
2 months ago
We go the already prepared way with Mrs. Wage's packaged mixes. We have a couple different recipes left over from last year and I picked up a couple more a few months ago. Around here they've been hit hard and nearly cleaned out as are most other canning supplies.
Cooking them for several hours as in a slow cooker, cooking with an acidic ingredient such as vinegar or citric acid, deep freezing for at least a day, or fermenting them as sauerkraut or Kimchi are the four main ways to convert the Inulin into Fructose and get rid of the gas issue.
2 months ago
We can most of the ones we harvest in the fall as pickles and relishes. Vinegar in the canning process + during shelf storage converts the Inulin into Fructose. I prefer them to cukes! After the winter freeze in zone 5 converts the Inulin into Fructose we harvest for canning like canned potatoes, roasting, grilling, adding into soups and stews, stir fries, boiling and mashing alone or mixed with potatoes and sometimes some garlic, frying as home fires and hashbrowns, raw in salads or just for nibbling on, dehydrating for chips and we grind chips in a food processor for flour. The flour is a heavy flour, like Buckwheat, you should mix it with other flours for lighter dough and you have to mix it with wheat to get it to rise.
I take a daily Inulin supplement for gut health so I can handle the fresh Inulin in the fall, so I also eat them any which way without any gas effects then. Some people have little or no gas effects from eating Inulin in the fall while others aren't fit company to be around!!
2 months ago
Take a look into Helianthus Tuberosus, Jerusalem Artichokes AKA Sunchokes. Once you've got them established some of the varieties spread like crazy while others spread slowly. They are perennials and totally maintenance free and disease free. Typical Ron Popeil's "Set it and forget it". Chickens love the young tender shoots and will take them right down. When the 'chokes get around two feet tall you can turn the chickens loose and they'll just eat on the lower leaves and the bugs the 'choke plants attract. When the stalks die and dry in the late fall the tubers can be exposed and most chickens will dig around and eat them raw, some won't. If you boil or roast the tubers all chickens should love them when softened. The tubers are packed with minerals and polysaccharides, very healthy for chickens before winter sets in. The dead stalks attract ground beetles, pillbugs, snails and slugs when they're piled. The 'choke plants along a chicken run will provide a windbreak and shade for the chickens and the ones that spread into the runs will give the chickens young shoots to eat in the spring.
2 months ago
Looking for a parts source for a Game Winner M# 1A-DS725. I've tried contacting academy .com, but they haven't responded.
2 months ago
Powdery Mildew. Mine get it every year. They had hardly any until a little over a week ago. I've had a dry summer until the rain started pretty heavy about two weeks ago. PM doesn't look good but it does no real harm, other than maybe adding something like a Bleu Cheese flavor(?) for the rabbits who like to nibble on the leaves.
2 months ago
Ellen, buy your 'chokes from a reputable source and one that guarantees your purchase. When you get them, they should be fresh and not dry or wrinkled in the least. Check the reviews of their customers to see what they have to say, and see where they operate out of. Close by would be a plus. Also check to see what delivery service they use and what shipping time will be used.
Another good bit of advice, cold frames aren't needed for chokes. If you get them and the ground is too frozen, put them in a bucket, well layered with dirt or sawdust, dampened just enough to keep them from drying and keep them outside or put them in your freezer. The dirt and the 'chokes will freeze, just be sure to keep them above -30°F. As soon as your garden soil is workable, put them in where you want them. They're pretty tough!
Keep in mind that they are natives and they're quite common in some areas and if you look around your area in New Hampshire, you might find some. In my area, west-central Pa., there are dozens of patches around, in town and nearby. Most folks don't have clue what they are, just tall, pretty flowers. I've gathered three varieties. I'm on a 1 1/2 in-town lot so I don't have room to grow enough to sell.
3 months ago
We caught the very edge of one such storm about three weeks ago. Snapped the top out of our Hawthorn. I bit the bullet and waded into the two inch thorns and cut it down and trimmed to fire pit length. Had to drop it away from a storage shed into a small patch of Fuseau 'chokes. By the time I got everything cut up and tossed out I lost quite a bit of the patch due to my trampling. The ones that just got laid over are doing fine though. Most of them are back to vertical. The wind shook the crap out of my other patches and except for a couple in each patch along the windward edge, they've all sprung back too.
We only got a light rain with that storm, mostly wind. This has been a very dry west-central Pa. summer. The leaves droop during the heat but spring back toward evening when it cools. I haven't given them any water, just what the little bit of rains have dropped on us. All of the 'perfect' lawns around are nearly all brown. Mine, which I've allowed to revert to what most others call weeds, grays out during the hot sun, but then brightens when the sun goes down. I haven't had to mow for three weeks.
Just for spits and giggles I started some Stampede in a 2 1/2'w x 3 1/2'l x 2'h container. The Stampede have very short stolons and only spread about 8" from the crown. I figured they'd make a decent large container 'choke and they do! My Fescue spread a good 16" to 18" and my Fuseau spread a good 4' from the crown! I don't think either would make nearly as good of a container specimen. The ones in the container had no wind shelter, got slapped around pretty good, or bad, and today you can't tell they got hit at all!
3 months ago

alex Keenan wrote:I have heavy clay soil in southwestern ohio.
I have day-lily, hosta, sunchokes (which have a grub issue)
what suggestions can you offer?

One patch of my 'chokes get hit too. About 1/4" or a touch larger holes, some just into the surface, some are 1/2" or better deep. I'm not sure if it's grubs or wireworms. In either case it seems that nematodes are the best bet.
I got a 1 1/2" electric chipper to run the stalks through. I scatter the chips over the patches and turn them under when I dig for the deeper tubers. That started loosening and improving my soil after just a couple years.
We can most of ours as pickles and relishes with a few canned plain, like potatoes. Chipped or chunked, I like them better than cukes. I've dried some chips raw and ground them in a food processor for flour. Not bad. It makes a great thickener for stews and gravies. Stiffens dough quite a bit. I don't mix in more than a scant 1/4 of 'choke flour or less.

BTW, west central Pa. here. I've got day lilies and three types of Sunchokes. Two are good, the third - not so much.
3 months ago
The eastern Helianthus Tuberosus does not seed at all. The only way they can spread is by tuber or rhizome, just like potatoes. I have three eastern varieties that do not seed at all, and I've sampled the flowers raw, boiled and made into wine. Two varieties have flowers tender enough to toss raw in salads, the third one is tougher than shoe leather. They taste like the roots but a bit stronger. Boiled or steamed they resemble squash. The first time when I was making flower broth for wine my wife came home and asked me why I was cooking squash. I knew the smell was very familiar, but it took her asking about squash for it to hit me. For my wine I use only flower broth, sugar, water and raisins for natural yeast. I like it straight and blended with fruit wines. I've made tuber broth wine too, but it's so stout it isn't a good drinking wine. It does however make an earthy cooking wine.
Another related variety is Helianthus pauciflorus, normally found in the Great Plains and south-central Canada. These ones spread by seed and rhizomes. They can apparently be cross pollinated with the eastern varieties which only spread by tubers. Still another related variety is Helianthus multiflorus, another perennial. This one however may not flower for one or two or more years after being planted. It may also have just a few tiny seeds and also spreads by rhizomes.
I would hazard a guess that it's the different structured flowers of the western varieties that are spiny and resinous.
What I am curious about is whether the leaves are edible. I've heard, but not seen solid resources that the leaves can be used like grape leaves in Mediterranean dishes. I would try that, but most every summer mine get hit with powdery mildew. It doesn't hurt them one bit, but I don't think it would be very palatable. I have friends that grow Sunchokes and rabbits. They strip off leaves and feed their rabbits and at both of our places, the wild rabbits clean off the bottom leaves up as high as they can reach.
There's one more interesting tid-bit. I read a study paper from a university where they grafted a Sunflower top onto a Sunchoke root stalk. The sunflower seeds had much more oil than normal and there were no tubers produced, not even any nodules on any stolons. Got me to wondering, what if the Sunflower top were grafted onto the Sunchoke stalk higher, allowing the base to produce some 'choke flowers. Would the 'choke flowers produce tubers while the Sunflower head made more oil? Or would they cancel each other out?
And one more, I never wholesale trim off the flowers, I just grab a few here and there. As someone said, it leaves some late fall flowers for the bees and it doesn't affect tuber size or number to leave them on.
9 months ago