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Dan Boone

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since Jan 24, 2014
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Dan Boone gardens, plants fruit trees, and tends wild fruit and nut trees and vines in Central Oklahoma.
Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Recent posts by Dan Boone

Damn, that video made me hungry!  But it reminded me just how much raw labor goes into preparing simple good food.  Also, I admire the heck out of those kitchen gardens.
3 days ago

Michael Cox wrote:I’ve just been engaged with someone on our local community group about this. I challenged them based on fear mongering towards vulnerable older people. Her response was to link to a single online newspaper article... from a region of the country over 200 miles away.

Gist of the article “local councillor warns of gangs of scammers targeting the vulnerable”.

Councillor in question quotes as her source “something I saw on Facebook said...”

This is a subset of what I see as perhaps the second or third or fourth greatest problem of our times: information hygiene and the increasing difficulty of maintaining it.  

A lie, it is said, will travel a thousand miles while the truth is still putting its boots on.

In a highly-online world, this problem just keeps getting worse.  

I don't have any grandiose solutions to offer.  I only know that an increasing proportion of my available cognitive cycles is getting consumed with information hygiene tasks.  Figuring out which sources to trust, reading skeptically, considering sourcing, avoiding clickbait headlines and photo clicktraps, pushing back against misinformation, that sort of thing.  

I am sometimes tempted to despair, by the obvious fact that so many people seem to pay no attention whatsoever to their information hygiene.  But I try to remain compassionate, too, because it's effortful and just hard.   I'm good at this sort of tasks and I've seen the problem grow from a handful of spam emails in my inbox (circa 1994) and periodic Nigerian Prince postal mail scam attempts, to the overwhelming drink-from-a-dirty-firehose shitshow that it is today.  If I'm overwhelmed, nobody's having an easy time of it.  
1 week ago
Right before the quarantine, we bought the cheapest possible model (like the third one in your original post, but cheaper) when it was 60% clearanced at Dollar General.  We weren't sure what we would use it for.  

The household member who eats deep fried frozen foods loves it for the convenience.  Just dump a pound of tater tots (or any frozen greasy potato product) or chicken nuggets or essentially anything breaded and frozen intended for deep frying) in the basket it, set it, and forget it.  (Well, maybe shake once halfway through.)  There's enough oil in most such products that they "fry" extremely well.

I use it mostly for "roasting" ready-to-eat vegetables.  Frozen brussel sprouts and those bags of baby carrots (that are really just regular carrots that have been run through an industrial abrasion process) are awesome.  Dump in a bag, hit 'em with a couple seconds of olive oil spray, ten minutes or so, stir, another spritz of oil, season, allow to finish for another ten or so.  They get the browning and crisp exteriors of roasted veg and make tasty healthy snack/finger food.  

Bottom line: somewhat unexpectedly, we use it daily or more often.  Downside: when you "overcook" things, they don't burn; the hot wind sort of dehydrates the exterior.  It's not terrible but it is weird.  

We have discussed that if this cheapy unit dies, we'd like one of the ones with a larger rectangular basket.
1 week ago
It volunteers as a "weed" in my container garden and I always let it.  I don't eat a lot of it, but a handful goes into every pot of vegetable stock that I make.  (I make a LOT of vegetable stock in my electric pressure cooker, and pressure can the surplus.)  
1 week ago
Although approaching the question from a slightly different angle, I think there is relevant discussion in this thread:
2 weeks ago

William Bronson wrote:
In your system, does anything fill in the spaces left when comfrey dies back in the winter?
The lack of winter coverage is the main reason I don't have a comfrey lawn!

No, in our mild winters here it's only "dead" for a few months, and it's generally just a dark/black space around the footprint of the clumps and clusters.  I think with the right timing a handful of dwarf clover seed could fill in before hard freeze in my climate, but that's still gonna be dead-grass-brown during the month or two of maximum cold here.
2 weeks ago
I gave my sister about a dozen comfrey starts eighteen months ago.  Basically I just chopped six shovel-sized chunks out of established comfrey patches, and then chopped each of those chunks in half, delivering the clumps dirt and all (each about the size of two fists, mostly roots, some dirt, a bit of busted-up above-ground parts still attached) to my sister in a large plastic shopping bag.  She put them in the ground just before winter (two winters have passed since) in some terrible places: along a dry fence line and on a parched mown-grass slope near one of her flower beds and along her driveway.  The places were terrible because exposed to full sun, very little moisture, in "soil" that was little more than an inch or two of dust sitting on baked stony clay.  I told her "just shove them in the ground and they will be fine."  She was highly skeptical.

She has, I assume, watered some of them with a hose a few times.  But we just took an inventory.  Ten of the twelve are well-established, though not large except for two, and all ten are currently in flower.  The other two didn't make it; she says they got repeated mowed over by accident while trying to get established.

This stuff is really easy to propagate by roots.  Seeds, on the other hand, are tricky; I got mine started after multiple attempts from seed, but (a) germination is random and unreliable and (b) new seedlings I found to be very fragile for the first year, and easy to kill with neglect.  On the other hand, I have several times since started new patches by just dumping an armload of comfrey "hay" on grass, if the "hay" had spent flower sprays with seeds inside.
2 weeks ago

William Bronson wrote:Most people only plant the kind that will not propagate from seeds.
If you are growing the kind that self seeds,  be prepared for it to take over.

I've had comfrey officanale (the kind with seeds)  spreading in my orchard and garden areas for about five years now.  To me, this warning sounds like telling a rancher "Be prepared for tall sweet grass to take over your fields."  I'm like, "Oooh, hurt me more!"

Comfrey is a valuable resource.  Everything eats it, bees love it, and you can use it with very little effort as mulch, filler in the bottom of large planting containers, or several kinds of fertilizer.  It's so easy to cut down in places where the plant is physically in the way of things that it just doesn't strike me as a problem or risk.  Sure, it will grow back once you stop maintaining that space -- but that to me is a feature, not a problem.

Literally the biggest problem I have with comfrey is that when I lean in to twist off a bunch of stalks with my bare hands to use as green mulch, all the placid and gentle bumblebees among the flower sprays can grow agitated.  They've never stung me yet (my bumble bees are polite garden frens) but I worry that they might one day.  

The only thing I can't easily do with my comfrey is command any given bunch of it to "Never grow here again."  That's a bargain I'm fine with.
2 weeks ago
It is widely eaten by the Creek and Seminole Indians in these parts.  But I myself hew to the view that anything you have to cook three times probably can't be all that good for you.  As a starvation food, which it often served as, sure.  But just to be eating it?  Not for me.
2 weeks ago
Carla, the word that stands out for me in your post is "trust."  If you are planning to buy a thousand corms or some such similar investment, it makes perfect sense: you need a seller with a good reputation to make that kind of expensive leap.

But if, like me, you're planning to buy a relatively small number of corms and grow them out into enough bulbs to be harvesting from, you might consider what I think of as "statistical trust."

This was a notion I came up with in the early days of eBay (the 90s) when there were a lot of dodgy sellers and nobody had really learned the power of online trust ratings yet.  I simply made a rule: I'll never bid more than half what I'm willing to pay for a thing.  Since more than half my transactions always worked, this meant I didn't even have to worry or care about any particular seller.  If he flaked, he flaked; I was still ahead of the game.  I started trusting the math instead of the sellers.  It was an enormous shift in my thinking that freed me up to do many thousands of small transactions without stress.

Bringing this back to crocuses:  What I did last fall was place small eBay orders from six or eight international orders.  Since Spain and Portugal are the place where saffron-growing is most famous as far as I know, I ordered one fairly expensive set of corms from a seller with a plausible "my family has been growing for three generations" sales patter.  I ordered another such, slightly cheaper, from Bulgaria, where saffron is also big business apparently.  And then, for volume, I placed about six different orders from utterly-dodgy sellers in several different Asian countries.  None of these last were more than two or three dollars each, delivered, while the European ones were more like $10 and $14.  

Ordering botanicals from China over eBay is dodgy as hell -- mixed with the wonderful bargain sellers there is often fraud, and you never know what you'll get.  Plus, the weeks in transit can be hard on botanical stuff.  But it's CHEAP if you shop carefully.  I had warnings that some Chinese sellers were trying to pass off other flower bulbs, and that corms, if real, would be very small.  No worries, they were also very cheap, and I spread my risk across multiple small orders.

In the event, Portugal came through with four large, fat, beautiful corms.  Bulgaria delivered half a dozen slightly smaller corms, many of which were doubles and much less aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but very nice looking nonetheless.   And over the following two months China, Thailand, and India packages came trickling in.  The corms were generally much smaller and less "perfect" in some way -- softer, discolored, already sprouting -- but since I had proper ones from Portugal I was able to confirm visually that I at least got crocus bulbs.  Nobody flaked, and for the price of four corms from Portugal I got another couple dozen corms from the totally-untrusted sources.  

Statistical trust has never failed me yet.  Good luck finding some corms!
3 weeks ago