Holly Gates

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since Dec 05, 2014
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Recent posts by Holly Gates

After harvesting the flax in July, we put the compost and weeds on as seen in the previous post, then some hay. Next, we planted some short season, mini watermelon (Blacktail Mountain, 60 days), which I've not tried before either. I've got three fruits about the size of a grapefruit. Not sure if they will be ripe before frost, which will be in a couple more weeks. They did grow more slowly and ended up smaller than I thought they would. This is a part shade spot with not great soil though.
8 years ago
Then we bundled up the flax. I let it dry on the front porch for a couple weeks, then spread it on the back lawn for a number of weeks, until the fiber seemed to come away relatively easily from the woody core. Of course I have no idea what I'm doing since this is my first time! The bundle of flax is now sitting in my basement ready for scutching; it seems much lighter and smaller than when I pulled it. I may want to build up a couple years worth before trying to process further.
8 years ago

R Ranson wrote:How's the flax harvest going Holly?

It went pretty well! My son and I pulled it up in July; some had yet to flower, some was flowering, some was making seed already. Pulled amazingly easy. We stacked the small bundle on the grass while we pulled the weeds in the bed, put on some compost, then returned the weeds.

8 years ago
Awesome, thanks guys. The flowers on #1 did look like honeysuckle.
9 years ago
Bush #3 - also on bike path. More sparse bush, less fountainy looking, alternate leaf attachment, lighter green leaves. Berries are sparser too and ripen to dark purple.

Any ideas?

Thanks for the help, permies rock.
9 years ago
Bush #2 - on a bike path nearby. Looks a lot like #1, but a little different shade berry and darker green leaves. Might be the same species?

9 years ago
These three bushes have red berries on them now (July 9 - Massachusetts). All woody shrubs, about 2m tall.

Bush #1 - growing near my house. Looks like opposite leaves, about 2-3cm long. Fountain-like growth habit.

9 years ago
Thanks for posting pictures everyone; I love seeing different people's ideas. Here is about half of my back garden, from a week and a half ago. From left to right:

Back Terrace
- apples, being espaliered trained to cable trellis (Wickson, Opalescent, Ashmead's Kernel, Tydeman's Late Orange)
- annual leeks, one perennial leek, horseradish, chamomille, perennial sorrel, rue, garlic chives, chives
- scarlet runner beans going up one pole, Sweet Meat Oregon Homestead squash going up the right hand pole

Mid Terrace
- Music garlic, King richard leeks, various carrots, lavendar, red fife spring wheat
- Seedling tomatoes, to go up strings on arched wood trellis
- Seedling asparagus (crowns mostly died from last year, drat)
- Junebearing strawberries, planted last year (AWESOME!)
- Borage, lovage, good king henry, lemon cucumber
- Baby hazenuts in cage for squirrel protection

Ground Level
- Hopi black dye sunflower plus various pole beans
- Assorted bush beans
- German butterball potatoes
- Penn. Dutch Butter popcorn, plus various pole beans

Against right hand fence
- Anna kiwi, to go up cable stay to back fence
- male kiwi, not sure where I'm going to send it, but maybe keep it pruned short on a pole
- three types mint (in pot)
- Nanking cherry
9 years ago
I have a bit of a fetish for hand cranked food processing machines!

Here is what I've got:

- Antique meat grinder
I have antique Enterprise grinders (#5 and #10), both from ebay. I did some restoration work on the #10:
The #5 is sufficient for my needs, but the #10 would be better for doing large amounts of food. I've purchased new choppers and dies in hardened, ground stainless for both models and used them for grinding pork & fat for sausage, nixtamalized and moist whole corn for tamales, and sprouted einkorn for breadmaking. They work better than the food grinder I used to use on my electric kitchenaid. There is at least one company who sells a new made copy of the enterprise #10 in stainless, which is probably more practical, but I kind of wanted an antique.

- Rotary food mill
After borrowing a friend's for a number of years, I got my own vintage all metal Squeezo. These are actually available new but are quite expensive. I got mine on ebay, but it only came with one nickel plated steel screen. Later, I bought a set of three new stainless screens, which is great since I can put them through the dishwasher. This rotary food mill revolutionized my apple sauce making and made it much much faster. Every year I make 20-50 quarts of apple sauce from either self-picked or farmer's market apples. The Squeezo allows me to cook apples down with skins and seeds and put it all through the mill afterwards to separate. Originally I tried this using a Foley style mill and it was unworkable (way too slow), but the Squeezo is incredibly fast and efficient.

- Butter churn
I have a Dazey #40 glass butter churn, also from ebay. Perhaps not everyone wants to make their own butter, but I like to do it once a year or so. This is the only way I know of to get organic, low moisture, cultured butter from local grass fed cows.

- Grist Mill
An antique C.S. Bell #2 grain grinder, from ebay. I use it to grind all my own corn for polenta and cornbread, and sometimes use it on wheat or other small amounts of grain I've grown in my yard. Used it for secondary threshing on some grain last year, but it was probably not the right tool for that. I originally got it for cracking malted grains for use in brewing beer, which is does a great job at, but I mainly brew hard cider now.

- Apple peeler
Antique cast iron Reading peeler. It is lightning fast once you get the hang of it and looks great both in operation or hanging in your kitchen. I had to do a little restoration on mine as it came before it was ready for use. Lehman's sells a new one with seemingly the same exact castings, though they are not cheap. Like most of this stuff, not worth setting up and cleaning for very small amounts of food, and not really the right thing for very large amounts. But a good match to the amount of food I often find myself wanting to process.

- Sausage stuffer
I've got in an Enterprise sausage stuffer from ebay, but I've yet to clean it and fix it up to ready it for use. Looks awesome sitting on the bookshelf though. I'm looking forward to stuffing some sausage with it sometime in the next couple years.

- Cherry Pitter
Cast aluminum, from ebay. Used it to pit probably 12 quarts of sour cherries we picked a few years ago. Worked ok if not great.

Other things I've got in mind:

- Corn sheller
We are growing some popcorn this year and I'd like to grow parching corn next year. Those cast iron corn shellers look neat, though at the quantities I'm going to grow a machine is not necessary.

- Handcrank KitchenAid adapter
I'd like to machine up a stand with a taper and set screw to take kitchenaid attachments and clamp onto the counter. The gearbox broke on my kitchenaid mixer, but I've got all these attachments which would be fine to use if cranked by hand, and quieter too.

- Ebay is a great resource for this kind of thing, both for new and vintage equipment. Of course this comes with some caveats of which I'm sure you are aware.
- Lehman's sells a bunch of nice handcranked stuff for higher prices, but without wear and with a warranty.
- Cast iron can be very functional and opens the door on a whole world of vintage stuff; stainless is nice, but really only available in new tools
9 years ago
My little 2m^2 plot of flax is flowering now. Pretty! Guess I'll probably cut them after they are more done with flowers. The yellow flowers in the background are from tang hao greens.

A week and a half ago the gardening mom of a friend of my wife was visiting from Nova Scotia. She came over to check out my garden. She grew up in Sovakia, and recognized the flax right away. She said lots of flax is grown for fiber in her country, and that it likes frequent watering. She said I should plant it denser next time, and that it ought to be taller. I did sow lots of seed, but it either didn't come up or was eaten by birds, and the soil kind of stinks in that area (and it is part shade), which probably accounts for the low-ish height of the plants. Hoping to improve the soil eventually, and I may net the seeds next time.

9 years ago