Matthew Nistico

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since Nov 20, 2010
Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
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Recent posts by Matthew Nistico

Beth Arthur wrote:Since grease cutting with no purchased products is the goal, maybe the limonene is a key.  I 'm not this far along in my DIY yet so I''m not set up to experiment directly myself, but I have a couple of ideas.  I have a commercial degreaser that is made from orange seed.  Are citrus seeds the source of limonene?  There is a little bit of essential oil in rinds. Might rinds  blended well have some effect?

I'm pretty sure limonene is extracted from the rinds.
6 days ago
Someone above discussed the uses of D-limonene.  I have been using this stuff around the house for years, and I love it!  It is a powerful degreaser, it is all natural, and it smells great.  I've also discovered it is a potent insecticide as well.

But at the same time I've found that it is kind of a messy pain in the butt to use.  The problem is that it is not even remotely water soluble.  Which means that once you've used D-limonene to clean stubborn grease off of something, you then have to use regular soap to clean off the D-limonene.  This was using straight, 100%, technical grade D-limonene.

Well, I found the solution in this product: Green Gobbler Orange Oil.  Instead of being pure D-limonene, it is mostly D-limonene mixed with a little bit of a plant-based surfactant that makes it water soluble.  In my experience, it is just as powerful a cleaner, only much much easier to use.  I highly recommend!

I should qualify that I use D-limonene straight out of a spray bottle, then rub it and scrub it and rinse it clean with water.  The OP's question involves mixing a DIY dish-washing soap, and I have no idea how incorporating D-limonene into such a formulation would work out.
1 week ago

Jen Fan wrote:This yogurt soap is actually way more diluted lye-wise than regular hard soap.  Normally it's like 30% weight ratio, so it'd be like 3oz of lye to 10oz of water.  Roughly.  I've only made hard soap a couple times.  This is 1.1lbs of lye to like... 30lbs of water?  Is that right, 1 gallon of water being like 8lbs?  But it's essentially extremely low-lye, hence it not burning my skin before it's aged.  So I wouldn't worry too much about it going into the soil; no more than I would grocery store soap.  There's quite a bit of borax in it though?  Not sure how that would interact with the soil.

My understanding is that one must be extremely careful adding borax to grey water.  Borax is of course a compound of the element boron.  Boron is an essential plant micronutrient, but apparently the emphasis is on "micro."  I've read that the optimum range for boron in the soil is very narrow.  In other words, the difference between having too little boron in your soil, vs just enough, vs too much is only a matter of a small number of parts per million.  Thus, flushing excess boron into your soil via greywater could end up becoming toxic to your plants fairly easily, I would imagine.

Having said all that, this is just good advice I have read.  I've not yet dared to experiment and learn it the hard way with my own growies!
1 week ago

Anne Miller wrote:Amy, I am sorry that you have not gotten an answer to a safe paint for your garden.

I was sure that if "Permies" used whitewash in that PEP Badge that it was safe to use.

It is my understanding that Lime is made from limestone and since I live where limestone is very prevalent especially in my well water I thought it was a safe product.

Slaked builders' lime that you use to make whitewash is perfectly safe.  In the sense that is not toxic to humans or animals.  It's not terribly toxic to plants, either... but having said that, I wouldn't just pour my leftover bucket into the soil.  It is distinctly alkaline, as mentioned above.  That is the reason for the warning labels, and also the reason to avoid using it as a soil drench ; )

I built my own home by hand using lime plaster, which I applied by hand.  And I can tell you for a fact that you will get chemical burns from lime in contact with your skin.  But it takes hours of exposure.

Some simple precautions are all you need to use it safely.  Wear goggles or otherwise avoid getting it into your eyes.  Stop every 20 or 30 minutes to wash off your hands and arms, preferably with a weak acid solution (highly dilute vinegar) to neutralize any lime, and you will be just fine.  I would actually recommend doing this over wearing gloves, as the gloves only ensure that any bits of lime that find their way down inside stay in contact with your skin.

So in general, white wash is nothing to be afraid of, and likely a good choice for the OP's garden project.
2 weeks ago
Here is a quick summary of some of the more common North American varieties of cooking apples.  I dug this up from my cooking archives, but don't recall from where I originally downloaded it; probably from the Old Farmer's Almanac, but not certain.  Some of these varieties are already discussed above.

Unfortunately, while this provides a little background knowledge, it doesn't solve the basic dilemma that, so long as he remains in a highly urban metroplex, the OP will likely have access to none of these!  Maybe Fuji, Gala, or Granny Smith if you're lucky.  I'm an American born and bread, and I'll be the first to opine that the quality and variety of apples available in the average US grocery store is abysmal.  I rarely bother buying any.  You really must visit an apple-growing region and shop at the orchards or their associated roadside stands.  Then you can find some variety!

And for the record, apple growing regions are not restricted to the NE or PNW, either.  I live near to the upland South, in the Appalachian foothills, and its a short drive for me to some good apple orchards.


Almost any apple can be enjoyed when eaten fresh. However, not all apples are ideal for the kitchen. Below is a chart with some of the best baking and cooking apples in North America.

Note: When it comes to cooking with apples, it may be helpful to know the following:
1 pound of apples = 2 large, 3 medium, or 4 to 5 small apples
1 pound of apples = 3 cups peeled and sliced apples

NAME                              BEST USES                     FLAVOR CHARACTERISTICS, APPEARANCE
Braeburn                        Sauce                             Tart, sweet, aromatic, tall shape, bright color
Cortland                          Pies, Sauces, Salad      Tart, crisp, larger than 'McIntosh'
Fuji                                  Baking                            Sweet and juicy, firm, red skin
Gala                                Dried, Cider                    Mild, sweet, juicy, crisp, yellow-orange skin with red striping (resembles a peach)
Granny Smith                Baking                             Moderately sweet, crisp flesh, green skin
Jonagold                         Pie, Sauce                       Tangy-sweet, Yellow top, red bottom
Jonathan                         Sauce                              Tart flesh, crisp, juicy, bright red on yellow skin
McIntosh                        Sauce                              Juicy, sweet, pinkish-white flesh, red skin
Newton Pippin               Pie, Sauce, Cider           Sweet-tart flesh, crisp, greenish-yellow skin
Rhode Isl. Greening      Pie                                   Very tart, distinctively flavored, grass-green skin, tending toward yellow/orange
Rome Beauty                 Baking, Cider                  Mildly tart, crisp, greenish-white flesh, thick skin
Winesap                         Sauce, Pie, Cider             Very juicy, sweet-sour flavor, winey, aromatic, sturdy, red skin
2 weeks ago

Gary Numan wrote:>> are you a wifebeater?

Has anyone, ever, answered this in the affirmative?

I know, right?  LOL!  An actual wifebeater would surely be the last person to just state it straight out.
1 month ago
Neat.  But I'm assuming that this process is specific to wool cloth...?
[quote=Sven Karl Andersson]Use it to catch and kill fruit flies.[/quote]

Oh yeah, that's a good one.  I use it that way, too, mixed with a little red wine in a purpose-built fruit fly trap.
2 months ago

Carla Burke wrote:

Matthew Nistico wrote:

waqar ahmad wrote:[ACV] is vastly superior to artificial kinds of vinegar since it is comprised of completely natural ingredients.

I am wondering what can be "artificial" about vinegar, or if this term was used here carelessly?  Distilled white vinegar is made by fermenting grain alcohol with the same acetic-acid-producing bacteria that create any other vinegar, so far as I know.  Then it is pasteurized.  There is nothing artificial about these processes, in the sense of containing synthetic ingredients.

For sure, whole fruit vinegar will contain a wider array of "contaminants" leftover from the original sugar source - in the sense that "pure" vinegar is simply an aqueous solution of acetic acid - which contaminants infer many tasty and nutritional benefits.  Additionally, raw vinegar will contain remaining live cultures valuable as probiotics.  Pasteurized distilled white vinegar is generally devoid of these two positive traits, but that doesn't make it artificial.

Are there other types of vinegar on the market that are truly artificial that I don't know about?

There is indeed a short list of artificial ingredients often added to cheap vinegar, particularly acv. Usually it comes in the form of artificial flavors and colors, occasionally with the addition of preservatives.

Wow, I didn't know that.  Why on earth would they feel the need to add preservatives to vinegar?!
2 months ago