Steve Sherman

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since Jun 04, 2014
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Recent posts by Steve Sherman

Sounds about right. Keep in mind many places root cellars were not used year round, they did not stay cold enough in the summer to keep things. Here in CO, ours ends it useful food keeping about May. Wish it would go longer but that is how it works; on the other hand gives a few months to air and dry it out each year.

One question I'd have is if you dig down to bedrock, will you have issues with water flowing on its surface (your cellar floor) after big rain events? Seems like it might be an issue.

If possible, some berms or swales above the cellar to divert water might be helpful.
6 months ago
I have had many discussions with various folks on the topic of weeds, and I think there is another factor which comes into play. Namely size.

If you are talking about a farm with many acres to plant (and perhaps enough labor to hand harvest thru a mixed beds of vegies and weeds), then that is great. The extra living roots will help feed the soil and your vegies over time, although some will not grow as big as they would have with conventional bed/weed management, you can make up for that by more area planted.

If however your planting space is limited (a small backyard garden, etc), then you either have to be careful about choosing appropriate companion plants for each of your crops, or keep the beds weed free (or perhaps some combo, it's not entirely either or). If you don't your yields will suffer. You may not build your soil as quickly as someone who can allow many plants to mingle together in their beds, but at least you will be doing everything you can to maximize your yields with the space you have (assuming that is one of your goals).

My experience seems to be saying this is the trade off. Of course other factors can come into play too, like availability of water, etc. But all other things being equal this seems to be what it usually comes down to...
1 year ago
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.

4 years 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.
4 years 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.
4 years 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.
4 years 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.
4 years 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.
5 years 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.
5 years ago