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Steve Sherman

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since Jun 04, 2014
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Recent posts by Steve Sherman

There are a few good books on the topic: "Root Cellaring" by Mike and Nancy Bubel is a classic. Also "The Complete Root Cellar Book" as well as half a dozen or more on Amazon. I have and would recommend the first, but there are a lot more out now and many of those may be as good or better.

Lots of possibilities. From insulating and venting part of your unheated basement, to burying cans/barrels/etc, to digging and building a cellar from scratch. It is useful (IMO) to read a book or two and talk with some locals who have done it in your area and then decide. Solutions are similar everywhere, but what works in one climate won't necessarily do so everywhere.

I did "play around" with a buried chest freezer, prior to building a "real" root cellar" on our property. Dead chest freezers are easy to come by, and if you get one with a metal interior should be rodent and insect proof. It did need insulation up top otherwise things would start freezing in Jan, but at 8000+' in the Rockies it may be colder and windier here than your locale. Anyway a chest freezer type setup or the like might be a fairly easy way to test the waters and see what works and doesn't for you.

Be advised, managing food storage in a root cellar is a learned experience. There's a lot more to it than buying frozen food in the supermarket and throwing in the freezer when you get home. In addition to getting the cellar's building details right, one needs to know how to manage it, get it cool quickly in the fall, keep it from getting too cool or wet, and keeping it from getting warm in the spring. There also is some learning as to what varieties of things to grow for storage and how to grow and harvest them properly. None of these are that hard, it's just that we need to relearn a whole lot of knowledge that was just common place in our grandparents or great-granparents time.

Good luck with your project.
One would need a bit more info to make an informed decision on your question.

Brazil has a wide range of climates, which of those climates this land is in will change your answer. In short, if this location is in a tropical rain forest it may be very difficult to grow any of the common north american/european tree fruits without lots of spraying to control disease and possibly insects. Even in the US, in humid locations many people find it necessary to spray conventional pesticides in order to get some fruits (depends on the specific fruit and location, but generally true) and some fruits and varieties just won't grow there. There are organic versions for many of the conventional sprays, but I would not count of those being effective in a rain forest type environment (same goes for conventional sprays designed for temperate climates), you'd have to check.

Also, depending upon what types/varieties of fruit you wanted to grow, they may or may not be suitable to that climate. Many fruit trees require a minimum amount of winter chill before they will produce fruit. And others may not be hardy in very warm climates. To see what will or won't you'd have to check individual fruit varieties against the climate details of your proposed land.

In short, it all depends upon the climate details of this land and what you want to grow there.

5 months ago
I have used my chain link and woven wire fences as the ground for the top electric fence wires for many years. Pretty much a necessity (either the wire fence ground or additional ground wires) in the dry SW. I would not worry about it too much, the woven/wire fence as ground will not present any danger or shocks to anyone who touches it, unless they also are touching the live wire too.

One thing which most electric fence manufactures recommend is "training" animals to the fence. For wild critters that usually means a piece of raw bacon or peanut butter on an aluminum foil square on the hot wire. Once they try eating that, they won't be back. Not sure what you'd use as bait for a gater though.
7 months ago
Might be worth the time to figure out what is the cause(s) of those cracks. Concrete/masonry typically does not just  crack on its own. It may be due to an inadequate foundation, or the walls bowing out from the load, or other things (those are just the first things which came to mind). Best time to do this investigation is before you fill/repair the cracks, when more details will be visible.

Once the causes are identified, you can do something about them perhaps at the same time as fixing the cracks (thinking of cross bars here).  If you don't resolve the root cause of the cracks, they will likely just reappear.
7 months ago
Might want to check with your insurance co, regarding the demo costs. When we lost structures in a wildfire our ins co paid a separate amount to clean up the remains as required by the county. With any luck your ins will have similar coverage.
7 months ago
Hmmm, had not heard that the ethylene gas apples give off effects their ripening, just the ripening of other vegies and fruit around them.

In either case, a low tech way of dealing with the ethylene gas in root cellars has historically been to put the crates of apples up high near to the exhaust vent of the cellar. That way the gas is drawn off and out of the cellar with the normal convection cooling flow. Probably not an ideal or perfect solution but it has worked for many years.

Perhaps a combination of this along with absorption for what gas gets left behind would be a more complete solution.
7 months ago
Another possible pruning tool is a Saws-all, either a battery powered one or an AC one with enough extension cords. Probably not worth running out and buying one, but if you happen to already have it in your tool chest, all you need is a coarse wood blade for it to do pruning (they now make special pruning blades for it).

Pro orchardists are coming to use these quite a bit these days, as they work well with branches from about 3/4" to 4 or 5" in diameter.
1 year ago
I'd be cautious about pruning any fruit tree in the summer, unless you need to remove broken branches from a storm (peach trees are a possible exception). Fire blight and other diseases can enter thru pruning cuts. That is one reason why most orchards prune in late winter.

You might better study the trees and decide which branches you want to remove, mark them with tape or paint, but do the pruning in Jan or Feb.

Also, if you suspect that any of these trees might be diseased (or even if not) it would be wise to wipe or dip your pruning tools with a disinfectant (alcohol or diluted Cl bleach) between cuts. That way you won't be spreading any diseases to new branches and trees.
1 year ago
Several issues here. Like most GH's you're getting too much heat in the summer and not enough in the winter. Venting excess heat in the summer is the typical solution and you will likely need some regardless of what heat storing solution you put in.  Putting shade cloth over the GH to cut down on sunlight and heat during the summer is another common solution, as is taking out panels and/or leaving doors open in the summer. Venting can be a DC fan which runs on a small PV panel if you don't have access to AC power too, or vents which open with heat sensitive actuators. You can also look into storing the excess for nights and cold days. Barrels of water is one way, but it tends to use up precious GH space. You can look into SHCS, which store heat in the soil under the GH. The SCHS might work well if you are planning on moving the GH to a new location, since it requires burying tubes in the ground under the GH. Be aware that in most cold climates, it is not possible to store enough excess summer heat to get thru the entire winter.

For the colder months, you probably will face the opposite issue, how to keep heat around longer. You may want to look at an inner liner in the GH to help with losses thru the glass. And insulating the foundation and/or soil under the GH will also help. Auxiliary heat is an option too, but can get quite expensive and/or time consuming if you are doing it manually.

I am not familiar with your climate, so can't really speak to what might be possible or not for a GH there, but you should be able to get the figures for solar radiation in the various months, degree days of heating, etc and calculate how much heat loss you will experience at various outside temps, and how much heat you'd have to add/store to keep the GH at some temp you desire for your plants (if you are planning on using it over the winter). Elliot Coleman's book on winter vegie growing talks a lot about how to manage a GH for winter production with little or no energy inputs.

It is a doable project, making small GH's usable. Not necessarily all 12 months of the year everywhere and not necessarily without some types of additional heat or storage in some places. But even with these limitations, a GH can add significantly to your ability to grow plants.

2 years ago
Sorry for your loss William, but it sounds like your dog has a peaceful end.

I think you made the right choice. When our 15yr old golden was failing we debated ending his life earlier or letting him go naturally. Our vet was great and was happy to go either way, he assured us that Rocky was feeling no pain. So we (mostly I) sat with him, when he could no longer move or eat or control his bodily functions. In hindsight, I think the vet was right, that Rocky did not have much pain through this process. But I could tell that he was quite scared. I could comfort him some but not as much as I would have liked. If I had the decision to do over again, I would choose to end his life before he went through all that fear. But I suppose every dog (and person) is different in this regard.
2 years ago