Ben Reilly

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since Jul 18, 2018
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books food preservation homestead
Northeast WI
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Recent posts by Ben Reilly

Is there any way you can contact the manufacturer? That might be your best bet for good info.

Depending on what brand of canner you have, it might already be okay. I have an All-American pressure canner which has a weight and a gauge. The gauge reads 11 PSI when the 10 lb jiggler goes off. I've heard that's somewhat common, but you might want to check. No reason to go messing with it if it's already where you want it.
1 week ago

Abe Coley wrote:

The grain bikes thresher and fanning mill is pretty dope. I want to build one of these and grow a ton of beans.



I've seen those sorts of threshers before, but that's probably the best-filmed one ever! Thanks Catie for providing a link to the plans, I'm going to give those a look over. That would certainly solve one part of the harvesting conundrum.
3 weeks ago

John Weiland wrote:This will be a somewhat oblique answer.
So now the beans just stay in the feed sack in a cool, dry place until I need some for a meal.  I thresh out just enough for the meal, which usually is not so much, and leave the remainder in the pods within the bag until next time.  



Did you ever have problems with beans sprouting or going moldy in the pods? I've had mold problems every single time I've dried beans on the plants, some worse than others, but I could just not be timing the harvest well. Curious how they've held up being stored like that.
3 weeks ago
Sorry for the late reply- I hope this is helpful to you still.

A lot of small grains seem to ripen at uneven rates. Commercial growers often spray grains with something to make sure the plants are all dead and at the same dryness before harvesting.

Uneven ripening is why using a shock or stook is helpful, so that all the grain heads can be protected from shatter and the elements while they reach the same level of dryness.

Here's a picture of some spring wheat I grew a few years ago, zoomed in. This field was definitely ripe for harvesting, but you can still see how some heads were green and others were golden brown.

Sometimes, though, this can be an indication of disease. This particular crop was afflicted with fusarium blight, of which one of the symptoms is some stalks of grain die a lot earlier than others which aren't ripe yet. I don't know if that's what's causing your uneven ripening, if you don't see any signs of plant disease it's probably just the natural unevenness of the process.
I just brought in the dry seed from my green bean plants and was reminded of the pain that growing dry beans is.

A few years ago, I grew about 350 row-feet of dry beans and harvested them by hand. This included several hours crouched down in the mud pulling bean pods off of the plants, and a lot of time trying to separate the beans from the chaff.

My real question is, what methods are available for small to moderate dry bean harvesting? I know that there is plenty of information about very small scale growing that's labor intensive (basically what I did) and at the other end, you need a combine harvester.

What are good ways of getting all of the dry beans out of the field and processing them? I have seen a few videos on people building large drum threshers, but they can be lacking details sometimes.

Just wondering if anyone has any good advice or info about this. I'm looking at trying to grow a sizeable amount of dry beans this coming year and would like to know if there's a better way.

Thank you!
4 weeks ago
I typically don't feed much during summer, but fall through spring, and especially in cold weather, I try to make sure the feeders are full. Like others have said, the bird population isn't doing well and I try to help sustain the native species that live around my property. I don't feed as much in summer because of english sparrows, which are a nuisance here. They eat too much and waste even more.
1 month ago
If you use sand, make sure it's damp and not wet. Add water to the sand slowly, you can always add more. I tried storing my carrots in damp sand this year and within a few weeks they have begun sprouting. I've heard this can be because of excess moisture, so be aware of that. Otherwise, I've also had good success using clean plastic bags in a fridge. I've even kept them at room temperature for a few weeks to months like this and the only issue I have is some odd sprouting and occasional mold on green bits.
I think I'm going to go with the cistern, at least as the main cold and humid room. For things that like it a little warmer or drier, I'll probably put them with the canned goods and other more stable food storage. I'm not able to find much info on whether the vent inlets being a few feet off the ground will be detrimental, but it seems like a lot of buried root cellars have somewhat tall vents, so it'll probably be fine.
2 months ago
Roughly 2 feet of the foundation is above ground on all sides of the house. South side does get some shade in the summer from a tree, but not that much.

Neither room is particularly air-tight currently, but they both stay about the same temperature. I've put a thermometer in both rooms and checked them at various times. It seems they stay the same overall temp as the basement as a whole. It might be worth trying to isolate them more and see how the temps do then.

That's a good idea about drilling through the joist. There is space above the foundation I could do that in. I didn't think of that as an option, so it might work. That would leave the vents at least 2' above ground, so I'm not sure if that would affect cold air intake at all.
2 months ago
Hello! I've been looking at installing a root cellar into my basement and keep going back and forth between two locations. I was hoping maybe someone here might have some insight for me.

My two locations are:

1) The old cistern for the house. It is on the north side of the house and has 3 walls that are not shared by the rest of the basement. It is mostly walled off from the rest of the basement except for a doorway and some space at the top. I'm thinking this would keep it nice and cool, except I wouldn't be able to put ventilation directly in this room. The foundation is fieldstone and brick, nearly 2 feet thick, and I don't know if I can or should attempt to drill through it. I was thinking I might try to run ventilation to the next nearest window, but this would add at least 5 feet of extra, horizontal pipe to any vent shafts. Is this a good idea or will air stagnate more easily like this? I've included a picture for reference.

2) A room which is walled off from the rest of the basement by cinderblocks. This room shares 2 walls with the rest of the basement and has 2 exterior walls. However, one of these walls faces south and the other faces east. There are two windows in this room that could be used for ventilation. I think it would be much easier to ventilate this room than the cistern, not to mention the fact that it is a little better situated for access. I am worried, though, about the southerly exposure and the shared walls with the basement. It is closer to the furnace than the cistern is.

My two real questions here then are:

Should I avoid long horizontal stretches of pipe in root cellar vent shafts?

How detrimental is a southerly basement wall/shared walls with the rest of the basement?

Much thanks for any info you can give me.
2 months ago