We are starting our third year and we are expanding our CSA to 45 shares. One area where we are looking to improve is wash rootcrops, greens other veggies. Currently we use two to three stock tanks to soak and rinse and hardware cloth tables for drying. Looking at an old washing machine spin cycle for drying greens.
Anyone use bubblers, swirl tanks, root washers, or other DIY ways to increase capacity or lower time?
Randy - the old wash machine spin cycle is a good idea. I used to work with a friend of mine making homemade pasta for the farmer's market in Madison, WI. We used a designated washer to spin the spinach dry for the spinach pasta - worked great!
Subtropical desert (Köppen: BWh)
Elevation: 1090 ft Annual rainfall: 7"
Gah, I've got a friend who's built peddle powered washing machines that would be perfect for salad mix and baby spinach. I'm not mechanically minded and he's always busy - but It'd handle 4 times the load of the 5(ish?) gallon professional salad spinners. Of course those things have alot of torque so they spin things dry pretty quick - but it is a pain in the ass to do a hundred spins a day. And the gears pop out sometimes and it can be pretty joint jarring. A C+ product if there ever was one.
Personally I only used mesh tops for drying thing like onion. They're to rough on greens in my experience. A stainless steel table with a very slight slant to it has been the best I've dealt with. I imagine with 45 shares you have your dunk/swish/shake technique down pretty well for head lettuce and the like. For roots A good strong hose is the best unless you're going to scale up to something like a potato washer... and even then. For Carrots, Dikon, beets and the like we'd line um up and stack up tall and blast away. Then a quick hands on each piece spray. always moving from one direction to the the other (assembly line of one style - think dish pit) for potatoes or rutabaga or anything without greens. line up a bunch of totes with drainage and fill um halfway. Spray and Shake, and Spray and cull, and sort and spray and cull and spray. again get a system big ones all the way to the right, sized graded down from there with dirty on the right worked best for me.
Plan your harvest intelligently. If you have a walk in fridge get your lettuce early in the morning, if not wait until evening and get your tomatoes out before the greenhouses heat up. Have your crucifers near your tanks - many of them undergo a chemical heating process when they are cut and you want to get them in water immediately even if its just a quick 45 second dunk.
EDIT: I have used root washers pretty extensively - a potato washer which handled lot of potatoes really fast put spat away the creamers, didn't do carrots or parsnips, and needed several passes to get beets. Rutabaga always needed something more manual. The washer was very wet, very noisy, and is not something I would recommend unless you where growing LOTS and LOTS of roots.
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posted 4 years ago
Thanks for the comments. We built tables with hardware clothe for tops. Even with that in our humid climate, especially when the weather is cool it can forever to dry stuff. We will be trying the old washer machine spin to dry real soon. Most stuff goes in the dunk tanks and I swirl it around, the root crops get blasted with a sprayer.
Im just looking for ideas as we continue to expand.
What about a good strong fan blowing across the dry tables, for the roots anyway?
Spinners are a PITA to load and unload.
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Location: Western Washington
posted 4 years ago
Just curious, what are you packing? Most things we'd just give a good wrist snapping shake or two and pack directly while still kinda wet. Salad mix is a pain in the ass if you get it wet, but head lettuce and carrot greens and the like seem to stay perkier with a little moisture left to um. But I mostly would pack for markets and wholesale grocers. A CSA box can be a bit more finicky what with all the various things going into one box instead of just having a case of lettuce here and a case of carrots there (or a dozen cases as it may be)
Also (again, just curious) how fine is your mesh on that hardware cloth? I'm glad its working for you and am ever so slightly amazed - I've just seen lots of squished tomatoes, sliced up squash, shredded lettuce and skinned potatoes - perhaps I was hanging around to rough a crew.
One of our problems with washing is cycle times between emptying and filling our washing sinks. Our water pressure is pretty low so it takes longer then we would like to fill up the sink. Oversizing on both the drain and the faucet would save a lot of time i think if you are being efficient in other places.