Larisa Walk

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since Jun 29, 2010
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Recent posts by Larisa Walk

Jenny Wright wrote:We are in the PNW and it's very hard to grow a sweet melon that actually ripens because often our summers aren't hot enough. But we have had success with Sakata Sweet. It is about the size of a large lemon cucumber and it tastes like a cucumber if you pick it too soon. But when they are ripe, they taste like a honeydew melon. They will actually be ripe and sweet by August even when we have a cool summer with many days in the 60s.



Sakata Sweet is an Asian type of melon that grows well in the north. You can eat it skin and all. Plus it dehydrates very well and tastes even better than fresh. To dry it you scoop out the seeds then run it through a mandoline into 1/4" slices (skin and all). YUM!!!  You can dry regular melons too if you peel off the skin/rind. Same process as the Asian melons. We currently grow Petit Gris de Rennes which is a highly fragrant and tasty orange melon when fresh. Dried it's heavenly.

Other things you can do to preserve melons are make pickle relish with unripe melons instead of cukes - just sub into your favorite recipe.  And watermelons are the most versatile as far as preserving. You can press juice and either freeze it or boil it down to syrup. The seeds are edible roasted, and the rinds can be used to make pickles. We grow Blacktail Mountain in Minnesota and it does very well most every year.
Wood ash is how the native americans made hominy/nixtamal. It is an alkali, as is the lime. After the soaking there probably would have been some cooking involved that you don't remember?
1 week ago
We've made hominy with popcorn, sorghum, flour corns, dents, sweet corn (what a sticky mess), and our favorite corn, flint. The popcorn is very much like flint in that it takes a long time to cook compared to flour corns or sorghum. We're currently using a dark yellow polenta flint. The 2 color flints like Cascade Ruby Gold are best if the colors are kept separate. The yellows work better for hominy and the reds can be made into cornmeal (as can the yellows). The red takes longer to cook and the color is unappetizing IMO. We've not used baking soda but have used wood ash, but prefer the pickling lime for ease of use. We usually use the hominy with beans and salsa and some chopped lettuce on top rather than going to the trouble of making tortillas. It tastes the same but is a deconstructed tortilla ;>). If you only want to grow 1 corn and want popcorn as one use in the kitchen, I would suggest the yellow varieties for best results in also using the popcorn for hominy.
1 week ago

Jerry Brown wrote:Hi, Y'all...

I made a solar dehydrator a couple of years ago, not nearly as well-performing as Debbie's, but instead of using expensive stainless steel screening for the racks, I just used ordinary black plastic window screening. This turns out to be made from nylon -- in my book, a pretty harmless material.  And since the hardware store just cuts it off the roll, it's much less expensive.



I initially used fiberglass window screen back in the 1970's when I was first experimenting with homemade dryers. I later found out that some fiberglass has lead in its formula. I would caution about using any material that isn't food safe and plastics in general because of the heat factor. Stainless steel may be expensive up front, but it will outlast you even with constant use and will stand up to tough scrubbing with a brush. Plus rodents can't chew through it.
1 month ago

Our site, Geopathfinder.com, has gone offline but is still easily found at archive.org, otherwise known as the WayBack Machine, with about 94 screenshots of the entire site ( https://web.archive.org/web/*/geopathfinder.com ). We still sell stainless steel screens but only on E-Bay ( https://www.ebay.com/itm/191531148264 ) in sets of 2, 4, 6, or 8 screens. And after 37 years of use we still haven't found a better design for our climate.

The temperature graphs shown on the site were from a solar dryer researcher who compared a dryer similar to our design with other types. The reason their temp on day two was higher is beacuse they measured at the output end of the airflow and, since the food was drier by the second day, there was less humidity in the food to cool the air stream. That's why we recomend putting food on the higher, hotter screen on its first day (if it needs more than one day) and the lower screen on day two. There probably is no ideal drying temp as long as the food gets dry as quickly as possible, without direct sun on the food, at the lowest heat you can obtain. The idea is to lower the humidity without sacrificing quality or nutrient density. In the humid Midwest most box-type dryers lack the airflow to readily dump humidity, which is why many have circulation fans, and the direct sunlight on the food lowers some nutrients, as noted on our site.
2 months ago

Jan White wrote:Larissa, do you have separate delicata plants for winter and summer squash production? Do you leave some to mature on each vine and pick the rest immature, as needed?

I wondered if delicata would be a good choice. Maybe I'll get some started.

Thanks!



I just plant a patch. This year we have 3 hills with 4 plants/hill. I pick when I want to eat some, leaving some of the early, big, beautiful to set seed. As the plants get big it's easy to miss fruits so some will be left to mature on each vine, but it's rather serendipitous as to how it works out. The biggest plus is that if I miss picking some of the immature fruits, we get winter squash instead of a zucchini monster only suitable for a zucchini toss (a fun yard game in season).
We started doing this also after using the end of year immature squash for many years. We grow Delicata for dual purpose as we also seed save and that's the only Pepo species since we stopped doing the zukes, so no worries about crossing.  This variety works well for us in SE Minnesota. We like Maximas too but the squash vine borer is too much of a problem here, so our main winter squash variety is a Moschata called Canada Crookneck that keeps extrmely well (we still have about 10 fruits lefts from last year). But the Delicata seems to fruit more even when picked immature, and it keeps putting out.
I would leave it for the season for critters, maybe plant vine crops around it as has been suggested. As brush piles age you can drive over them with a tractor or get a bunch of kids to jump on them, breaking up the smaller branches. As the pile breaks down it can be used as ramial mulch in an orchard.  Great resource to have on hand. I would never burn brush in an open pile - just a waste.
3 months ago
You can use what cheese-making plants use - 35% hydrogen peroxide.  Breaks down into water. Hazardous to use as you don't want any to get on your skin at that concentration, but absolutely safe after it's done its work.
4 months ago
Don't bother with the refrigerator idea, or the stove either. Down draft design just doesn't work - been there, done that. For a humid climate you need to think outside the "box" and go with our design, in use in Minnesota/Wisconsin since 1985.  http://www.geopathfinder.com/Solar-Food-Drying.html

Plastics in the drying chamber and as storage containers for dried foods are a bad idea, not just because of outgassing. Glass is the best for storage as it will keep the food dry, which plastic will not over time. You probably won't need hundreds of jars as dried foods take up a lot less space than the fresh food. I can get a whole watermelon in a pint jar.

Old refrigerators are good for a temporary root cellar until the temps go down below freezing day and night. They are also handy for storing all kinds of stuff that you want to keep rodent-free.  They just make lousy solar food dryers.
5 months ago