New Project - Could send me to the insane asylum

DThille

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Yeah, I've heard Australia has a few nasty critters. That's one nice thing about a cold climate...we don't really have to worry about significantly venomous critters.

The nice thing about the aurora is that it's different every time you see it. There are colour changes and shifts. I'd imagine The Netherlands should have been far enough north to have seen it, but if you were in among city lights, that pretty much eliminates visibility. There's a southern aurora as well, but not having ventured to the southern hemisphere (yet), I can't comment on it.

I'm not entirely sure I have a good answer. I think it depends somewhat. One of my preferences is the least amount of effort, so those foods that cure with time / sunlight / temperature, is probably the best. Drying is easy, makes food shelf-stable, and lasts a long time...our dehydrator is a fairly small, simple unit. I'd love to do some sun-drying since that would eliminate electrical costs. This is my first season fermenting, so I'm not sure yet where that fits in the ranking. Of course, whether fermenting with salt, pickling with salt or vinegar, it means you have to limit how much you eat somewhat.

On to today's adventure...this morning the weather station closest to the country place recorded a mild, but extended, frost, so we ventured out to check on things and do what was necessary. It does make me with we'd gotten more done in the last week. We definitely did have frost.

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Melons and Galeux D'Esynes.

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Spaghetti squash to the right, Mandan squash centre left, and others farther back.

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Frost apparently sweetens Brussels sprouts...we brought home two stalks.

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Mandan squash in the trailer.

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She Who Must Be Obeyed working on the Swiss chard while I'm working on Galeux in the background...our daughter was operating the camera.

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Same trailer with 17 Galeux D'Esynes doing a much better job of filling it.

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There was some rain to the north of us...we got the edge with a bit of a sprinkle, but received a gift afterward.

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Sunset keeps getting earlier...of course, every minute the light changes.

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20220928DSC_0705MondayHarvest.jpg

Pumpkins (winter luxury) and spaghetti squash we'd harvested in the dark Monday.

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Monday's harvest of Turk's Turban, Mandan, and Patisson Panache.

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Galeux D'Esynes harvested Monday...we have at least two in the city, so that means we got 22 from the two or three hills.

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Today's small squash harvest.

20220928DSC_0711SpaghettiSquash.jpg

You can see some of the frost spotting on some of the spaghetti squash...we'll be keeping a closer eye on these and consuming / giving them away first. At worst, they will spoil. At best they won't cure properly so won't keep as long. There's more than one per week's worth here anyway, which is much more than we've ever used before. At a farmer's market, one vendor mentioned that you can cook them up, shred out the innards, and freeze in whatever portion size you'd like to avoid spoilage. I'm not sure we have enough freezer space as we'll be getting a whole pork and a turkey this month.

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Phoenix decided he had to get in on the action.

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Soon we will have to see how these taste. If these cure properly, they are a nice salmon colour and the bumps become a pale gray...I'd rather use these for Halloween decorations than plain old orange pumpkins.

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One last sunset shot before we headed home. Happily we got everything done in the daylight today. There's always more to do. A few hills of potatoes were also harvested to help make space for planting hardneck garlic, which I plan to do Sunday.

Looking at what we did today and the photos, I can't but think about some of the abundance we've been blessed with. If you factor in our time and fuel going back and forth to the property, it certainly isn't free, but considering the volume of food that has come from a small packet of seeds, along with some sweat equity, it really is quite amazing. While we won't be able to eat everything that's been harvested, we should certainly be less reliant on grocery stores over the coming months. We have given away a few care packages and I can see more of that, as well as offering some to charities that feed others in the coming days.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Yeah, a plenitude of nasty critters. Most luckily leave you alone though, but I don't like taking my chances or pushing my luck. I already stood on a poor snake once, thankfully he only tried to get away from me rather than attack. Mighty weird feeling below the flipflop though.

That sounds stunning, not going to lie. The auroras can't normally be seen from the Netherlands, though on a very, very rare occasion they can be seen on the Northern islands. But I've never been there. And it's not something you can schedule either, as I had to dig a little whether anyone had actually seen them; but apparently people who live on the island may have seen them once or twice in their lifetime.
I lived in the "Holland" part of the Netherlands, and as you can probably imagine, it's very densely populated. I was lucky to live in a "small town" though, however now that I live in Australia I would almost call it a city (if not for the lack of big stores, and only having a small shopping centre).

That's very fair. I've considered sun-drying some plants/veg/herbs as there's plenty of sun here. Otherwise I might try pickling, but so far I haven't really found anything I actually like pickled. Oddly enough I do somewhat like sauerkraut, possibly as we ate that mashed through potatoes when we were little. I do hope to learn how to make things last as I intend on expanding the veggie garden and grow more than just a couple snacks.

Those pictures are stunning and I love seeing some of your family. It makes it more "real", if that makes any sense. I adore that gardening/nature is such a family venture to all of you.
Let me know if the brussels sprouts were indeed sweeter! I'm very interested. I know as a kid I loved brussels sprouts, but that they'd taste "weird" or not as sweet sometimes, perhaps this is why.
Such bountiful harvest and stunning pictures - I love it! And Phoenix is adorable too, of course :D
 

DThille

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I didn't get away as early as I'd like today, but spent most of the day in the country working on harvesting.

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I dug up one row of potatoes. I'm pretty sure this variety is Pontiac. These are two hills.

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Here's the row I harvested. The sack had some heft to it, although I don't think it would have been 50 lbs.

20221002DSC_0765PepperBox.jpg

I spent some time in the house pulling peppers off the plants that we brought in the other day. The box is about a foot square and is pretty full with some significant heft. For the hot peppers I eventually decided just to harvest the ones that were turning. The right lower corner is Fish, Black Hungarian throughout, and the small ones on the left are Grandpa's Siberian Home. We've recently done some dehydrating and grinding to make our own paprika powder.

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I like the cylindra beet. Generally, you can get a reasonably uniform round slice and they can be placed closer together than the more squat ones that get bigger around.

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This specimen is nearly two pounds!

I also harvested the turnips...that was a bit disappointing in some respects as we've got some pest damage in some of the roots and overall we didn't have great germination. That said, we do have some nice ones.

I actually started the day out there planting the hardneck garlic...this year I got six varieties from a local supplier (Russian Red - 31 cloves, Music - 18 cloves, Big Boy - 15, Chesnok Red = 25, Nordic - 20, and Persian - 32) so there's potential for about 140 bulbs next year...we'd planted in the city last fall and they were lackluster, so out to the country where they get more sun for next year.

I gathered some tomatoes from the vines we'd brought in as well. We may still have green tomatoes for relish or frying or something...time will tell.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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The potatoes look awesome. How did you dig them up? I know Mark often (accidentally) pierces quite some whilst digging them up. Yours looks good and I don't see any signs of damage.

The peppers and paprika look awesome! Are you keeping some of the seed for next year/season or are they not true to type?
I've successfully grown paprika/bell pepper from a store bought one before, so they might do well to keep some seeds.

What a unique looking beet! I'm used to them being the stereotypical round ones in the supermarket, but I feel like this one would be much easier to prepare as it's a larger shape. Does it taste any different from "normal" beets?

Too bad about the turnips though.. nasty bugs. Did you catch on to which bug it may have been? That way you could possibly prevent it a next time.

That's a lot of garlic! But then again... I love garlic and easily go through a bulb a week - more if it was up to me. I'm growing some too, just 3 little plants in a rectangular container though. As I've never grown garlic before, this is my test run. To see how I go and whatnot. It's surprisingly hardy and requires little care.

I've heard that fried green tomatoes are really good. I've been tempted to try it myself :D
 

DThille

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For the most part, I dug them by hand. We had put compost on rather than soil to hill them, then mulched with straw, so they were quite easy to get at. Of course, I may have missed some. I did go over with the fork after, but don't recall whether I found any more...I may learn next spring if I missed any.

These are open-pollinated heirloom varieties, so they could be true to type. That said, since we had the peppers in a cluster, they may have been pollinated by another plant of a different variety, so seeds could be something new and unexpected. The seed packets were more than I needed (and I'm not sure I needed as many as I grew) so there will be seed for next year and I may try a couple different varieties.

I grew up with these type of beets, so I can't speak to their flavour relative to other types. Granted, I've now tried golden and albino and would say the flavour is similar. These do really nicely for slicing if you want to can, or pickle or freeze them.

The turnips are impacted by a grub (larva) in the root...I forget what type. I need to look at the varieties I grew because one variety (purple top) was negatively impacted but the others didn't seem to have the same issue.

I was out yesterday to complete the gathering of potatoes.

20221005DSC_0782WhitePotatoes.jpg

White potatoes dug. I think the variety is Dakota Pearl, but I haven't found confirmation (I can limit it to a few from the catalogue, but haven't located the tags / receipt yet).

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One hill's worth with a portion of a size 9 boot for size reference.

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Gathered harvest.

It seems to me that these grew down deeper than the red Pontiac I previously gathered.

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The longest row - Roko is the variety.

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I potato you...new phrase with She Who Must Be Obeyed.

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Another oddity.

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Definitely more volume than the white potatoes. One plant generated 22 tubers of varying sizes - many were small, but there were some nice sized ones there too. Overall these are nice, but are more prone to knobs and bumps which would make peeling them more challenging.

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One big bag for the white potatoes and two less full for the reds. The box contains the biggest, the smallest (which we'll use right away as they don't keep as long), and the amusing which I brought back to the house.

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The heaviest white at over 720 grams (1 lb 9.5 oz).

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The heaviest Roko (1 lb 10.6 oz). We had gathered a bigger one some time ago...I'm not sure whether it's in the basement or has been consumed.

It was a good year for growing the potatoes overall. Happily it was late in the season before the grasshoppers (or whatever other small critter) decided to decimate the plant tops. In all, we should have three full sacks, which would imply about 150 lbs of potatoes.

I did harvest a couple of cabbage as well. Tomorrow I hope to venture into the realm of sauerkraut production...it's a shame for the others in the house that I'm the only one who enjoys it.

It was cool overnight. All that remains in the country are beets, carrots, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. We should be able to get those done this weekend (long weekend here in Canada). I heard from our neighbour today that she's picking up the pork Saturday morning, so we'll be filling a freezer as well.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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How do you keep your back (or knees) from giving out. Goodness, so many potatoes. They look amazing - and they are huge!
I love potatoes, especially fried. I'd love to grow my own potatoes one day; I keep missing out on when their "perfect" planting times are. Maybe I should set a reminder for next season...

I enjoy sweeter tasting beets. We'd grate them and boil them in their own juices with some finely diced brown onion. Serve when hot and soft with some boiled potatoes, and it's a feast. Absolutely amazing. Also goes really well with a little butter from cooking whichever meat you ate that night (steak is in my opinion best, but any goes).
Growing up we ate many "mashed potato" dishes, like stamppot (roughly translates to mashed pot). I'll put a picture of one below. This one in particular is boiled potatoes, shredded kale (or curly endive) mashed together served with a large smoked sausage. The bit in the middle is what we'd call "jus". It's often butter that's been browned with some meat in it to give it flavour. Seeing as the smoked sausage is often boiled, you'd keep the just from a day or so before to serve with the stamppot. That way nothing gets wasted. Leftover boiled potatoes can also be used. Such an easy and actually quite tasty dish.
When it isn't served with the smoked sausage, we often fry some diced bacon until slightly crispy and then mash it in there instead.

stamppot01.jpg
 

DThille

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Well, my dietary change and subsequent weight loss has generally helped with the fitness side of things. I believe the change may have reduced inflammation somewhat as my joints are generally happier. That said, toward the end, I was definitely feeling my back.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were out yesterday to mostly finish the harvest.

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First of all, we located the labels for the seed potato. To think we probably got something in the range of 150 lbs from 3 kg of seed. Nature is amazing.

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Burpee's Golden beet harvest.

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Albino beets.

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Beet harvest...we had harvested some through the year. It's recommended that they taste better younger and smaller, but we just didn't get that many eaten and they store better in the ground during the growing season.

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Remaining carrots were also harvested...the ones in the middle are from a mixed colour seed packet we had left over. We still have some carrots in the raised beds in the city.

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Brussels sprouts and red cabbage.

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A proud momma.

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Even with some accounting for dirt and the stem, this is over 3 kg! I was surprised to say the least.

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The biggest albino beet was no slouch though.

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Not quite the biggest, but the prettiest of the big purple dragon carrots...there were at least 3 over a pound.

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This yellow carrot is long....

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We did gather a few sugar beets as well...I just wanted to start a row. There is some kale left out there that is rejuvenating now that the insect pressure has dropped off. I'll likely need to clean up the ground cherry as well to limit the amount of self-seeding that occurs. The sugar beets will be more work that digging the rest of the root crops. we did gather a few more of the purple top turnips from the cover crop.

It's Thanksgiving Day tomorrow in Canada. I'm thankful for the harvest we've had and the freedom and ability to grow some of our own food.
 

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😍 Loving it.

Yeah I have noticed my pains have significantly increased along with my weight. I'm hoping to one day get in top of it again. There have been many reasons for the weight gain, and now also some bad habits that are hard to get rid of. I love me some fried food after all...
A recipe I did recently find that was relatively easy, that I quite like, is kachumber. I usually make it a "lazy salad" as I roughly chop some tomato, cucumber and red onion, use a little lemon juice, salt, pepper and a small amount of spicy Mexican seasoning.

And momma has a good reason to be proud. My goodness, such great harvests. I hope they taste as good as they look! My stomach is rumbling, haha.

Means I'm a day early but... Happy thanksgiving!
 

DThille

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Well, it isn't quite winter yet....

I was out today. I picked up another bundle of bales and set them out - for the most part I put them in a row as a bit of a snow break.

I started working on harvesting sugar beets.
20221028IMG-8388SugarBeets.jpg

They grew much better than last year. Of course, this year we've crossed an all time annual precipitation record while we had a significant drought last year. I honestly don't know how much of the beets will be processed - some may be mixed in and eaten with other beets or root crops. I do intend to process some and will see if making the syrup then putting it into the dehydrator (we have some fruit leather trays that allow for liquid / paste to be dried) to see how that will work in an attempt to get some sugar crystals. I can see leaving some as a syrup. I can also see some being left in the ground to compost down. I am pleased that they grew long - if there is a plow pan (compaction layer) from years of tillage, then I suspect they broke through it.

Shortly after getting started on the way home, there was a field with a flock of snow geese - I estimate probably 200 birds in both white and blue morphs.

Just over a week ago I started a PDC (Permaculture Design Course)...including Q&A, there are 9 hours scheduled weekly so it is going to impact my available time.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Preparation is at least half the work - they say. Hopefully it all works out as a good snowbreak, I've seen it done in The Netherlands too, though we don't quite get as much snow there as you do.

Looks like a great harvest! I know that commercially they are sometimes grown to produce white sugar. I wonder what a syrup of these would taste like. Perhaps a tasty substitute for on pancakes.
I've also heard someone mention they can be great for diabetic people because they can help reduce surges in sugar levels, but I've never fact-checked it.

I'd wondered where you'd gone. Updates were a little less frequent. I hope you're enjoying the course :D
And don't worry, we'll be here for whenever you have some spare time and energy.
 

Lunai

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This grass is a real weed. It barely needs anything to live and a shower of rain might make it grow a meter tall in a day. I always say that you can see the grass grow. It's ridiculous stuff. We've mowed it, burned it, poisoned it, burned it again and more - it keeps coming back.
mowe it /burn it and then try to use some strong canvas cover/tarp (the thicker material) to really deprive that stuff of sunlight and rain. you will have to cover it genorously and it needs to stay on the ground for at least a year or more if you really want to get rid of that stuff. You could use also use thick cardboard (just the brown tho without too much ink) which will decompose over time and create more humus, but that could be not enough for that grass so I would opt for the thick canvas cover/tarp.
 

DThille

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We were away one weekend, then last weekend I ran out of time so didn't get out as I wanted.

The syrup is effectively sugar water, but of course has a mild beet flavour and is essentially earthy. We did make some last year from our paltry crop. I don't recall if we used it on pancakes / waffles or not, but I believe we did use it to sweeten some desserts and such.

Sugar beets grow only in temperate regions. Sugar beets account for about 20% of global sugar production. Top sugar beet producing nations include Russia, France, Germany, and USA. There is commercial sugar production from beets in Canada, but it's a small amount from a global perspective. When we drive south into the US on the primary highway, we see a couple sugar production facilities and often see truckloads of sugar beets heading to those facilities. I find it fascinating, and saddening, that there's significant production so close to us, but a lack of a buyer and alternative infrastructure means that it shut down as an option locally. Perhaps there is a possibility to resurrect it...if I were involved, I'd look to making it a niche product starting with organic beets ideally farmed regeneratively...that way consumers can contribute to improved agricultural practices. I'm not sure how well that would fit into regenerative farming practices though as it is a root crop that goes fairly deep...I think I just found myself another rabbit hole to go down.

One layer of bales is only 1.5' tall (about 45 cm) so they don't really stand out, especially since we have the cover crop / weeds standing. I think they will do a better job overall of catching snow than the row of bales will, but I picked up a bundle and needed to get them out of my truck, so I figured this would be a reasonable place to put them.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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@Lunai we've mowed it, burned it, poisoned it, covered it, but to no avail. Any cover we place gets damaged by the sun (can't afford the good stuff atm) and let them through regardless. and even when rocks are thrown on, it just rips apart with a bit of wind. My next best bet is figuring out how to let the cows up there, without them escaping. Our girl already escaped once again the day before yesterday. Thank god they don't necessarily "want" to escape and start bellowing that they want to be let back in.


@DThille all good, all good. Hope the weekend away was fun :D

Ah that's fair enough. I was more wondering if perhaps it had a particular flavour to it, as I find most syrups do have their own little tang to them.

Oh wow! I didn't know all that. Very interesting.
Starting your own might be a fun long-term idea. Perhaps it'd do well grown in rotation. In The Netherlands we do a lot of rotations. One year you grow whichever crop you want to grow, the second year you grow grass and let the ground rest, then you let cows up to eat and poo, then they remove said cows and sometimes run a tractor over the ground, aerating and mixing up the soil (tilling?), and it's ready to go once more. I'm not exactly sure how long in between each step, but I believe it's generally a 3year rotation. Crops generally take around 8 months to grow (whether that is more than 1 or not I do not know) then they seed grass (where needed) and let grow for a couple months, and so on. Not having been in a family that dealt with such things mean I only got a vague grasp of what was going on. And I know most of those farmers actually worked with neighbouring farmers, rather than having their own cows - or sheep for that matter.

Yeah that's fair. Are you intending on trying to grow any plants over the winter, or is that not "really" possible? I've seen videos of these people in Alaska which grow for as long as they can, and when it starts snowing they can and preserve everything. Gosh, what were they called again...

After a quick google; Simple Living Alaska:
 

DThille

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The only plants we can grow over the winter are indoors or dormant. If I recall, some coastal areas of Alaska have a milder winter than us with respect to temperatures (ocean moderates) but they ought to get more snow.

We were out again today. Not much for photos, although we had the camera with us :rolleyes:

We brought out some of the remaining paprika peppers and some black Hungarian...I started a fire in the ring and She Who Must Be Obeyed roasted / seared them somewhat to make a smoked paprika. They are now in the dehydrator and will be turned into powder when done.

I continued working on sugar beets. We brought a burlap sack back to the city, so I've got some work to do in the coming days. She cleaned up the ground cherries as well so that we don't have out of control self-seeding in the spring.

Roofers were out installing the metal roof on the house. This is apparently better for harvesting rainwater, but my main thought is that I won't need to replace the roof again as steward of this property.

20221030DSC_0851Roofing.jpg

We did decide on a paler colour - apparently a steel roof will reflect sun, but I didn't want to risk excess heat from a darker colour.

More to come in the birds and bees thread.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Ah fair enough. So unless you're willing to invest in indoor growing (like grow lights, etc) it's not really feasible.

I'd love to make my own spices one day. Sadly I don't have the money (or space) for a dehydrator. I'm tempted to make a sun-powered dehydrator by hand, though I've never really built anything myself. I wonder how well that'd go. I've got the brains, I think, but not the (or any) experience. Or the power tools. Perhaps I'll make a dingy prototype to begin with, just got to figure out what to use for a window, or if it's going to be bug nets all around the "frame". Bug nets might be the cheaper way to go.

Yes! Good thinking on not getting a darker colour. Whilst it does indeed reflect, here in Australia you'll rarely see a dark colour metal roof. Those that did do it often get mocked by anyone that sees their roof as in the Tropics here it's just not the smartest thing to do - so they say.
We have a metal roof too, and the gutters are connected to some pipes to a rain barrel. As metal doesn't absorb any water (like some more classic terracotta rooftiles may) you get every drop's worth out of it. And in your snowy climate, it may also help assist in letting the snow slide off easier.

I'll go have a peek :D
 

Lunai

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Ah fair enough. So unless you're willing to invest in indoor growing (like grow lights, etc) it's not really feasible.

I'd love to make my own spices one day. Sadly I don't have the money (or space) for a dehydrator. I'm tempted to make a sun-powered dehydrator by hand, though I've never really built anything myself. I wonder how well that'd go. I've got the brains, I think, but not the (or any) experience. Or the power tools. Perhaps I'll make a dingy prototype to begin with, just got to figure out what to use for a window, or if it's going to be bug nets all around the "frame". Bug nets might be the cheaper way to go.

Yes! Good thinking on not getting a darker colour. Whilst it does indeed reflect, here in Australia you'll rarely see a dark colour metal roof. Those that did do it often get mocked by anyone that sees their roof as in the Tropics here it's just not the smartest thing to do - so they say.
We have a metal roof too, and the gutters are connected to some pipes to a rain barrel. As metal doesn't absorb any water (like some more classic terracotta rooftiles may) you get every drop's worth out of it. And in your snowy climate, it may also help assist in letting the snow slide off easier.

I'll go have a peek :D
you can always use the oven to dry stuff. just put it on the lowest temperature possible and let the stuff dry out in there for 1-4 hours depending on what you want to dry out. In Europe it's done this way since we have ovens😆 dehydrators are just a new fancy (and albeit more efficient) way😁
 

Mandy Onderwater

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My gas oven doesn't like to run below 160C, which I'd say is a little too high for drying. I've even at one point contemplated using the microwave, but I feel like it holds moisture (in the form of steam) too much.
 

daveb

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made a few different dehydrators over the years so good some not so good working, last one with a neighbor he seems to like was made with 2 used 12 x 14 inch 30.5 x 35.5 cm heat sinks from scrap year cleaned and then ( 10 ) 30 x 150 cm 12 v 220c component heaters wafer between ( 2 ) 4 inch computer fan one each heat sink blowing slow up into cabinet and at top is a round disk can turn to regulate air flow out the heaters are driven from a meanwell power supper controlled with an inkbird digital temperature controller. i dont know what he used for computer fanes for cfm flow rate but i think the ac/dc power supply from meanwell was rates at 500 watt output. i would do it slightly different and just space the heat elements on edge so it looked like a series of fines the fans blew through and bipass the heat sink but the heat sink would offer a little more heat buffer during drying.

first one i ever made ages ago was a couple stringes of the old large incandescent christmas tree bulbs on a bi metal snap swith that open and close i think it might have been 110 /130 but i cant remember like the whites rodgers 110f 20f dif switch on at 110 opens to turn off at 130 and all ot had was a sliding bar that opened and close air vent holes in top and bottom i used that for years tray screen were made out of simple 1/4 inch mechanic wire screening
 

daveb

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btw mother earth news site at one times had plans fr a few different dehydrators including a solar dehydrator
 

Lunai

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My gas oven doesn't like to run below 160C, which I'd say is a little too high for drying. I've even at one point contemplated using the microwave, but I feel like it holds moisture (in the form of steam) too much.
too bad🙈 the electric ones are more common in Germany and can run on just 50°C. So running it on 70-90°C for 2-3 hours isn't that complicated. just takes a lot of time.😅
 
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