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How many batteries do I need for my solar panels?
Fighting tomato blight with pennies
How to help chicks during hatching
Plug and play grid tie inverter
Building a bee waterer
A year ago this week:
ATV hitch height adjustment
Low-cost presents for homesteaders
Experimental summer cover crops
Ethanol free scam
Walden Effect Facebook page
I put together this last storage rack in
about 10 minutes.
It's now officially
freezin' season! The tomato crop is far smaller than I'd hoped
for, but enough fruits are coming in to produce one or two big pots of
soup per week, most of which ends up as winter meals. And, as if
to make up for the moderate tomato harvest, the green beans are
extremely prolific this year, allowing me to freeze half a gallon at a time once or twice a week. Add that on top of this spring's bountiful broccoli,
plus the stir fry I'm experimentally freezing, and we've already got
8.5 gallons of winter vegetables socked away in the deep freeze (along
with a bunch of homegrown and purchased meat).
Whenever I write about
our winter stores, commenters always ask about our frozen-food goal for
the year. I'd post a link to my previously written answer, but
we're constantly tweaking our diet to include more fresh produce even in
the winter months, and are also streamlining non-fresh winter stores to
include only the foods that taste best frozen and rethawed. Last
year, we had barely enough winter stores from 6.75 gallons of green
beans, 11.25 gallons of vegetable soup, 0.6 gallons of sweet corn, and
0.25 gallons of tomatoes --- just shy of 19 gallons of vegetables
total. Since we plan to stock up on the same amount of storage vegetables
(onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, carrots, cabbages, and butternut
squash) and to continue pushing the weather boundaries with brussels
sprouts, kale, and lettuce under quick hoops, twenty gallons in the freezer should do us this year as well.
"Guess what this is?" I
said to Mark yesterday morning as he walked past. My voice was
full of the excitement of finding a new source of organic matter to
mulch with, so he hit the nail on the head with his first try. "Humanure," my long-suffering husband answered, a distinct lack of enthusiasm coloring his voice.
closed off the first bin of our composting toilet last November, and I
wrote that I planned to wait a year...or maybe two...before breaking
into the stash. However, my standards always start slipping when I clean out the deep bedding in the chicken coops
and still need more high-carbon materials to mulch the
perennials. I figured, as long as no chunks of poo were visible in
last year's humanure bin, I could use it beneath plants that wouldn't
be producing until this time next year. Really, that gives the
material almost 24 months between excretion and eating, right?
I opened up the composting toilet bin, I was surprised to see that the
contents really just looked like slightly aged sawdust. There were
some chunks of toilet paper around the edges, where the contents were
too dry for decomposition, but all other signs of human waste were
gone. I set aside most of the residual toilet paper as we went
along and used the four wheelbarrows of organic matter that remained
beneath our high-density apples, our hardy kiwis, and our black
Mental issues aside, Mark
and I have some thoughts for improving our composting-toilet before
changing back over to the now-emptied bin this fall, but I'm pretty
happy with version 1.0 as-is. Human "waste" has become an asset to
the farm rather than a hindrance --- just what I was looking for!
We used up that big box
I stole last week.
In addition to watching a bush katydid top my grapevine,
I've been enjoying a closeup view of life on the tomato plant right
outside our front window. Two weeks ago, a hornworm caterpillar
showed up, and I left it alone, knowing that the leaf muncher would soon
be munched in turn. Hornworms are never a problem on our farm
because parasitoid wasps kill them in short order, and this caterpillar
was no exception.
We decided to spend some of Anna's
new book deal money on truck tires.
of you may experience buyer's remorse. I don't buy much, so I
rarely feel that pang, but I do experience what I've come to call
writer's remorse. What am I talking about? Imagine you
polish a book to within an inch of its life, send it off to your publisher...and then a reader shares these astonishing pictures of beneficial insects from his yard.
The big excitement for today
was a wheel alignment in Weber city.
When I strung up a simple piece of baling twine to guide our young grape vine to its trellis,
Mark rolled his eyes. Did I have to relentlessly reuse found
material?, I could see him thinking. What if the twine rotted out
before the grape hit the wire?
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