Brian Cady

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since Nov 11, 2014
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Recent posts by Brian Cady

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Here's what one of my fava bean patches looked like this week.  The plants are about 3 feet tall. I planted 3 patches: One last fall, one via transplants this spring, and one direct seeded this spring. This patch is the transplants put in the ground a day or two after winter snow-cover melted. It seems to have done the best.

Hi Joseph,

About fava transplanting: How old were the transplants? Do you recommend this?



2 weeks ago
cv. 'Stereo' reportedly has stringless edible pods as well as edible beans - Has anyone grown it? If so, how did they turn out?
Also, has anyone transplanted fava beans successfully? Here in North-Eastern North America (NENA), our hot summers end fava bean production - I wonder if early fava starts, transplanted as soon as soil can be worked, might extend the fava production season usefully.

edit: Joseph Lofthouse transplanted Favas successfully: See: and:
2 weeks ago
toolshed progress shots...
2 weeks ago
Great 15 minute video on an Ohio USA chestnut co-operative:
Wonderful 10 minute video on 600-year old Corsican chestnut orchard:
Interesting 12-minute video on Twisted Tree Chestnut (& more) Nursery:
1 month ago
How to Cook Chinese Chestnuts – J. M. Nave
If you have some favorite way of cooking Chinese chestnuts, I'm not trying to change that. I'm just trying to show people how you can best bring out the flavors of Chinese nuts and get better textures. Cooking Chinese nuts the same way you would cook European or American nuts is not optimal because Chinese nuts are much denser. And if you are cooking Chinese nuts optimally, you don't need to cut the shell. Low and slow is the optimal way to cook Chinese chestnuts.
The most interesting way, and most common way, to cook chestnuts in China is to roast chestnuts at low temperatures (240F or less) for extended periods of time (60 minutes or more). Roasting at lower temperatures for longer periods of time breaks down the dense Chinese nut and fully releases the flavors in the nut. It also gives the nut a softer texture, more like an American or European chestnut. A  Chinese chestnut that is cooked at 350F or above for short periods of  time (30 minutes or less), will normally have a burnt or hard exterior and an almost uncooked interior. The flavor will not be well developed. Cooking Chinese chestnuts in this manner has led to the common belief in the US that Chinese nuts are inferior to American or European chestnuts. American and European chestnuts that are cooked at high temperatures for short periods or time will be mostly cooked and falling apart and the flavors will be well developed. Because Chinese chestnuts are much denser than American and European chestnuts, they benefit from slower more thorough cooking at lower temperatures. Their density also gives Chinese nuts greater versatility in cooking. For example, Chinese chestnuts can be used in many dishes such as soups and stews without falling apart.
To fully understand how the density of the nut impacts cooking, it may be helpful to compare cooking chestnuts to cooking beef. Different cuts of beef have different textures and densities. Tenderloin (so named because of the soft texture of the meat) is quite different than brisket. Tenderloin may be cooked at high temperatures for short periods of time. The result is beef that is soft and full of flavor. Brisket on the other hand is a much denser cut of meat. Cooking it at high temperatures for short periods of time will result in a burnt exterior and an uncooked interior. The meat will also be tough and difficult to chew. To properly cook brisket requires cooking for longer periods of time at lower temperatures to allow the heat to penetrate to the interior of the meat. This results in a much more flavorful brisket with a softer texture. Chinese chestnuts are the brisket of the chestnut world. They are exceptionally good eating when properly cooked.
Another benefit to cooking Chinese chestnuts at lower temperatures is that the shells do not need to be cut. In the US, chestnut shells are normally cut when nuts are to be roasted to allow heated water vapor to escape. If the shell is not cut, the expanding water vapor will cause the shell to explode. But when a Chinese chestnut is cooked at 240F or below, it will not normally explode because the buildup of water vapor is very slow and it can escape without exploding the shell. This also results in another benefit. When the shell is not cut, the cooked nut retains more moisture which results in a better texture for the nut. To some extent, not cutting the shell also results in a partial steaming of the nut. It’s simply a better way to cook Chinese chestnuts. Which brings up the point that Chinese chestnuts can also be cooked by boiling for at least 60 minutes. Boiling is not optimal for American or European chestnuts because the nuts tend to get very soggy and fall apart which also makes them difficult to peel. Because Chinese nuts are denser, they don’t absorb much water and tend not to fall apart after boiling, which also makes them as easy to peel after boiling as they are before boiling.
1 month ago
Here are chestnut flakes for sale, from Ardeche France:
Interesting chestnut product, with a long storage life and they fit into a breakfast bowl well. They have a mild taste, different than what I expected. The weights of the ones I bought were mislabeled. the '5 pounds', actually weighed 2 kilograms.

"Ardèche is the largest chestnut-producing department in France, with nearly 5,000 tonnes a year. Awarded AOC status in 2006, the Ardèche chestnut is used in many specialities, from the celebrated candied chestnuts to the famous chestnut purée, by way of chestnut liqueur, the cake Lou Pisadou, chestnut soup and chestnut flour bread.
To know more about this mythical nut and its nutritional value, and the world of chestnut growers, go to the House of the Chestnut (Maison du Châtaignier) at Saint-Pierreville, in the Ardèche Mountains Regional Nature Park, where three floors of exhibits will reveal the world of the chestnut.
There is also a museum dedicated to the history of the chestnut, from the Middle Ages to today, in the centre of the medieval town of Joyeuse.
From mid-October to mid-November the emblematic nut of Ardèche is honoured during the traditional chestnut festivals, the Castagnades, at Antraigues-sur-Volane, Désaignes, Joyeuse, Meyras, Saint-André-Lachamp, Privas and Saint-Pierreville."
I hope to learn more about the making of these chestnut flakes. Does anyone know more about it?
Happy Holidays
1 month ago

Edward Norton wrote:...

Every search I came up with for flattening the metal used a household iron on linen (highest heat) setting and 3 minutes of work. I followed along and after five minutes, there was still significant curl and the smell wasn’t good. I also didn’t want to spend two or three hours for the fifty sheets. I decided to go old school and use cast iron and my gas hob. I flattened stacks of ten, for 1 minute. It worked. Some of the paint stained the next sheet down, but a small price to pay for the savings in time and energy.


I thought I'd heard that the aluminum can sheeting can be heat-treated in a toaster oven to return it to a soft condition that better suits writing on it with a ballpoint, for plant labeling. Anyone know about that?

6 months ago
'urushiol' is how the irritating oil is spelled.

6 months ago

Ellendra Nauriel wrote:I'm currently testing nematodes as tick control. The advantage, other than the lack of toxins, is that the nematodes will keep reproducing as long as there's something to feed them. I didn't see any beneficial insects on the list of bugs these nematodes will eat, but I'll be keeping an eye out for that.

If it works, I might see if I can convince my neighbors to do the same.

Ellendra, did the nematodes work?
9 months ago