Chris Palmberg

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since Nov 29, 2017
Combat Medic turned Head Chicken Chaser & Chief Weed Puller for a diversified local food business. 
NW KS/NE CO State Line
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Recent posts by Chris Palmberg

Cristo Balete wrote:You might want to keep in mind, when trellising a hillside, to make the tiers or rows wide enough for what you are growing PLUS the width of a mower/cart/wheelbarrow with some room to spare so you can walk easily between the edge of the tier/row and the cart or mower that will be next to the crop without falling down the hillside.  In the long run, having to do all weeding/harvesting by hand and hand-carrying out everything in crates will be a lot of work.   Don't skimp on the width because it's exciting in the beginning, or you are young and don't mind twisting yourself like a rubberband on slippery mud to be a crop warrior, or getting as many tiers/rows as possible by shrinking everything, it won't help in the long run.    



After reading Gabe Brown's book recently, I've come to the conclusion that a diversified cover crop mix of perennials and annuals as a base upon which the brambles will be planted.  From what I can tell, a good mix of ground cover legumes (clovers, alfalfa & vetch) carbonaceous grasses for biomass, and wildflowers should improve soil conditions, improve erosion control, and attract pollinators which will also benefit the bramble production.  
Part of the reason for this approach is that I'm not as young as I used to be, both chronologically and physically, and I believe the polycultural covers will eliminate much of the traditional back-breaking labor, and improve the productivity of the crop.  
5 months ago

Stacy Witscher wrote:I trellis my blackberries, but not on a grape style trellis. I would think that wouldn't be large enough for blackberries. My blackberry trellis is 8 ft. 4x4's with lathe crosspieces. Every year I remove the old growth and weave the new growth through the crosspieces. Makes harvesting easy.



That makes sense.  The next question would be what is the spacing between 4x4s (I presume yo.u use a linear bed rather than a patch) and how long are the crosspieces?  
5 months ago
So, as always seems to happen when I have a surplus of windshield time, my brain ran amuck over the course of a couple thousand miles I've put in in the 3 weeks since Christmas.  We're in the process of moving 350 miles, a full frost zone, and double (+20") precipitation in conjunction with a transfer my wife just took.  We're looking for property with acreage ala homestead/farmstead scale (<20 acres) and found what I would describe as a suitable property of 5 acres with residence and outbuildings in a small community of 600 people.  The property has approximately 1.25 acres of "yard" and about 0.40 acres of "hill," with the balance being a wood lot/sylvopasture/recalcitrant orchard (I haven't physically walked the property yet, so can't speak beyond what I can glean from satellite imagery and driving down the street in front of the house.)
I was gifted Gabe Brown's book Soil to Dirt for Christmas, and so my mind was in a bit of a tailspin trying to find a suitable function for the (Guesstimated off Google Earth)
40% slope 80' by 120' hill on the east edge of the property (drops down to the cross street, which looks like it probably drains directly into the river at times.)  Processes I ran through as potential usage included:
*Terraced garden beds
*Pollinator Paradise
*Perennial without terraces (primarily asparagus and rhubarb due to demand for those products)

Then it occurred to me.  It often seems every "calendar worthy" pic we see of a Napa or Italian vineyard involves trellis on contour made of groa stake-cross beam frame with grapevines running up the stake and then across the horizontal space.  Because we're moving to a new community, I want to use the slope for something both productive and aesthetic.  What could be more aesthetic than a Napa Valley style trellis amidst a cover crop of pollinators?  A combination of wildflowers, aromatic herbs, and green manure crops as covers for trellised/terraced raspberry & blackberry bushes?

I know that other producers in my state grow brambles on a swinging arm trellils under plastic, but I figure they can't sell themselves if you can't see them.  Has anyone tried the grape trellis approach for other vining fruits?  

5 months ago
Probiotics are, from where I sit, the biggest advantage to fermented food or beverages.  When coupled with improved digestibility, it's hard to beat.  
5 months ago
I find that the versatility and adaptablity of summer squash make them hard to screw up.  You can pretty much start a compost pile heavy in yard waste, throw seeds into the mix, and three months later, you're lurking in church parking lots in your community in search of unlocked cars and open pickup beds to leave your surplus because you...just...CAN'T anymore.  

Of course, the variety you pick helps, not so much in getting better yields, but rather in avoiding zucchini the size of your leg.  Gold/Yellow Zukes, for example, are brightly colored enough to be easily found in the jungle of vines that sometimes seems obligatory.  Yellow Crookneck or Pattypans are similar, as are various types that lean closer to gray or are mottled.  The classic dark green varieties, however, can be DAMNED hard to find, and as a result you're likely to be overrun.

My new plan for chicken-proofing the produce patch is to set up an equal footprint of chicken garden that's going to be heavy in zucchini and similar crops that tend to be overzealous in production so that they'll have plenty of food without raiding the market garden.  
So I've been putting a bit of work into a Food Prez Series.  I'm at sort of a crossroads, and I'm going to need some input from others, as I realized that I know nothing about Fermentation beyond a class project we did in 3rd Grade with the little Volga German Lady where we learned to make Sauerkraut... roughly 1981, and have no practical experience with drying/smoking or making charcuterie.  

My vision for this badge is that it be broken into general categories, such as canning, freezing, drying/curing, and fermentation.  The participant, based upon their skill set, their resources, and their specific knowledge desires, can then custom-fit the process to fit those parameters.  So, the person who is an avid hunter can focus on drying/curing and charcuterie, while the one with the epic food forest can learn THOSE skills.  The basic categories, however, are divided into subsets, which are in turn broken into somewhat generic taskings.  So, as an example, canning has jelly-making as a subset, which in turn has taskings of making a flat of jelly/jam/preserves from 1) stone fruits, 2) brambles, 3) other berries, 4) other fruits, 5) non-fruits, or 6) other.  So if I put up a flat of raspberry jam (bramble), a flat of pumpkin butter (non-fruit,) a flat of plum jelly (stone fruit) and a flat of cranberry jelly (other berries) I'd have completed 4 BB in canning.  That would complete my Straw Badge.  My Sand Badge would require four basic badge bits, from at least two categories, plus two intermediate badge bits.  Thus, I could make jelly again, but would also need to freeze 10# of sweet corn.  For the intermediate bits, it would include things like pickle making, blended fruit preserves, etc.  As each subsequent badge level requires an additional category of skills, it is theoretically possible to source everything for the entire process without leaving the garden for supplies, as advanced canning recipes can involve butternut or potato soup canning, drying can include making a spice blend with more than 3 ingredients, and fermentation can be making miso.  

The epic carnivore could focus on making jerky, butchering and wrapping for freezing cuts, smoking game, and only delve into canning when it comes time to deal with advanced levels, and make venison stew.  

At the Wood and Iron levels, the master level tasks generally revolve around being able to leverage all of the products made in their various skill sets to plate a specific number of meals for a group.  The epogee of the Iron Badge, for exmample, might be to serve a three-course meal utilizing ingredients prepared using the skills taught within this badge, which might be, for example:
1) Butternut Soup
2) Smoked Pork Chops with apple compote, roasted corn, and mashed parsnips
3) Bacon Zucchini Bread served with Mulled Apple Cider Jelly
*BONUS POINTS: if you have homemade beverage pairings for each course.  

So what I am looking at is feedback on fermentation and drying/curing tasks so that we can compile a list of tasks within the Basic/Intermediate/Advanced framework.  I had a fairly decent list going, until I realized I had no clue how complex or challenging any of the various processes were.  Please try to clump specific products into similar groups.  For example, sauerkraut, kimchi, and chow chow are all basically made using the same process, but different ingredients.  

5 months ago

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Yes, I think a brainstorming thread on Food (preparing and preservation) will be very useful.
What Chris here above calls 'level 1' to me looks like level 3 at least.
I thought of starting with the easiest things for level 1, like making about a kilogram (4 jars) of jam (half fruit, half sugar) and the same amount of sweet&sour pickles (gherkins). And freezing green beans and ready-made soups. These are skills I aleady have, but for someone who isn't used to 'cook from scratch' I consider them a good starting level.



Honestly, Inge, my last batch of Rhubarb Jelly made 10 jars.  8 flats of jelly, if the supplies are stockpiled and sufficient fruit is ripened, can be made in a day's time, although if you're dabbling like I tend to, it might take a while to find sufficient fruit.  In the past year (2018) I just kept trying things in an effort to find out "what works" both in terms of store versus natural pectin, as well as various fruits.  I do value-added goods at my local Farmers Market, and my goal is always to present product that isn't available in Aisle 12 of the local grocery store.  As a result, I found great success in Pie Cherry, Rhubarb, Mulberry, Chokecherry, and Sand Plum (wild variety indigenous to the Great Plains) jellies, but each has its own set of nuances.  

The purpose of these badges is not to replicate, but to educate, through trial and error.  Doing a single batch of jelly doesn't really teach you anything except how to follow a recipe.  Give me a new fruit, particularly one that is not raised commercially, and I'm likely to try to make jelly or jam from it purely on principle.  Requiring multiple batches to be made using a diverse collection of ingredients encourages that creativity, particularly if you've got this stubborn streak that says I'm not going to source frozen fruit from the local Piggly Wiggly/Safeway/Kroger.  By teaching culinary creativity, we teach a sustainable, replicable, TEACHABLE set of skills, which far exceed the parameters of a recipe card.  
5 months ago

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Yes, I think a brainstorming thread on Food (preparing and preservation) will be very useful.
What Chris here above calls 'level 1' to me looks like level 3 at least.
I thought of starting with the easiest things for level 1, like making about a kilogram (4 jars) of jam (half fruit, half sugar) and the same amount of sweet&sour pickles (gherkins). And freezing green beans and ready-made soups. These are skills I aleady have, but for someone who isn't used to 'cook from scratch' I consider them a good starting level.



Honestly, Inge, my last batch of Rhubarb Jelly made 10 jars.  8 flats of jelly, if the supplies are stockpiled and sufficient fruit is ripened, can be made in a day's time, although if you're dabbling like I tend to, it might take a while to find sufficient fruit.  In the past year (2018) I just kept trying things in an effort to find out "what works" both in terms of store versus natural pectin, as well as various fruits.  I do value-added goods at my local Farmers Market, and my goal is always to present product that isn't available in Aisle 12 of the local grocery store.  As a result, I found great success in Pie Cherry, Rhubarb, Mulberry, Chokecherry, and Sand Plum (wild variety indigenous to the Great Plains) jellies, but each has its own set of nuances.  

The purpose of these badges is not to replicate, but to educate, through trial and error.  Doing a single batch of jelly doesn't really teach you anything except how to follow a recipe.  Give me a new fruit, particularly one that is not raised commercially, and I'm likely to try to make jelly or jam from it purely on principle.  Requiring multiple batches to be made using a diverse collection of ingredients encourages that creativity, particularly if you've got this stubborn streak that says I'm not going to source frozen fruit from the local Piggly Wiggly/Safeway/Kroger.  By teaching culinary creativity, we teach a sustainable, replicable, TEACHABLE set of skills, which far exceed the parameters of a recipe card.  
5 months ago
Maybe its just me, but it seems to me that, at least with the Food Prez series, we're focusing a bit too much on a breadth of knowledge at the risk of failing the participant.  Rather than having them cover fermentation, smoking, dehydrating, curing (MUST have bacon) smoking, etc ad infinitum in their sand badge, and simply increasing the volume produced, maybe we need to focus on at least marginally improving one skill at a time.  

For example:  

Level 1:  Select from one of the following preservation techniques.
-Fruit Preserves:  Make 96 jars of jelly utilizing no fewer than 4 types of fruit.  At least 24 jars can contain no added pectin.  
-Freezing:  Utilizing accepted techniques, prepare and freeze 20# of garden produce, including at least 4 types (tomatoes, corn, beans, etc.)
-Pickling:  Put up 12 gallons of vegetables utilizing at least two different pickling recipes, such as dill, bread & butter, or sweet pickles, dilly beans, etc.
-Drying:  Prepare at least four varieties (5# each) of dried food, including at least one variety each of fruit, herbs, and meat.  

Level 2:  Select any two from Level 1 plus
-Sauces:  Utilizing standard, cultural, or vintage culinary techniques, prepare and can 2 gallons of sauce, salsa, or similar condiment.  The preserved food must have a minimum of four distinct ingredients.  
-Smoking:  Cure 25# of meat from a minimum of two animal species, no less than 5# per cut.  
-Curing:  Utilizing natural preservative mixtures, prepare 20# of meat such as bacon, summer sausage, proscuitto, etc.  No fewer than two species of animal should be used.  
-Dairy:  Churn 20# of butter, including at least 2# from non-bovine milk (goat, yak, llama, water buffalo, cat, be creative.) Make 2# each of a cream cheese, soft cheese, and cured cheese variety of your choice utilizing ingredients of your choice.


Now, I'm not an avid food preservationist, but these PEPs are designed for people who want to learn.  Starting with simple tasks and working towards more complex techniques while still improving basic skills just makes sense to me.  
As the participant moves forward, the volume created increases based upon longevity, i.e. if Level 2 includes 2 from Level 1, and Level 3 includes 3 Level 1 and a pair of Level 2 skills, by the time they've achieved mastery, they've put up a huge volume of pickles, jellies, charcuterie, etc., simply by virtue of repetition.  Plus, I'll be honest.  Making rhubarb jelly or raspberry jam gets boring after a while, so if I'm going to stick to jams & jellies through four levels, I'm going to start looking at other things I can make within the same skill set.  And things like pumpkin butter or chokecherry jelly have MASSIVELY different processes than the others.  Just in the last year of dabbling around with my surplus produce, I've discovered, for example, that Armenian cucumbers don't lose their crisp when pickled, and that chokecherry jelly doesn't come out clear, and if you get the proportion of ripe to underipe fruit right, you end up with a jelly that comes out of the water bath set like concrete.  
5 months ago
Maybe its just me, but it seems to me that, at least with the Food Prez series, we're focusing a bit too much on a breadth of knowledge at the risk of failing the participant.  Rather than having them cover fermentation, smoking, dehydrating, curing (MUST have bacon) smoking, etc ad infinitum in their sand badge, and simply increasing the volume produced, maybe we need to focus on at least marginally improving one skill at a time.  

For example:  

Level 1:  Select from one of the following preservation techniques.
-Fruit Preserves:  Make 96 jars of jelly utilizing no fewer than 4 types of fruit.  At least 24 jars can contain no added pectin.  
-Freezing:  Utilizing accepted techniques, prepare and freeze 20# of garden produce, including at least 4 types (tomatoes, corn, beans, etc.)
-Pickling:  Put up 12 gallons of vegetables utilizing at least two different pickling recipes, such as dill, bread & butter, or sweet pickles, dilly beans, etc.
-Drying:  Prepare at least four varieties (5# each) of dried food, including at least one variety each of fruit, herbs, and meat.  

Level 2:  Select any two from Level 1 plus
-Sauces:  Utilizing standard, cultural, or vintage culinary techniques, prepare and can 2 gallons of sauce, salsa, or similar condiment.  The preserved food must have a minimum of four distinct ingredients.  
-Smoking:  Cure 25# of meat from a minimum of two animal species, no less than 5# per cut.  
-Curing:  Utilizing natural preservative mixtures, prepare 20# of meat such as bacon, summer sausage, proscuitto, etc.  No fewer than two species of animal should be used.  
-Dairy:  Churn 20# of butter, including at least 2# from non-bovine milk (goat, yak, llama, water buffalo, cat, be creative.) Make 2# each of a cream cheese, soft cheese, and cured cheese variety of your choice utilizing ingredients of your choice.


Now, I'm not an avid food preservationist, but these PEPs are designed for people who want to learn.  Starting with simple tasks and working towards more complex techniques while still improving basic skills just makes sense to me.  
As the participant moves forward, the volume created increases based upon longevity, i.e. if Level 2 includes 2 from Level 1, and Level 3 includes 3 Level 1 and a pair of Level 2 skills, by the time they've achieved mastery, they've put up a huge volume of pickles, jellies, charcuterie, etc., simply by virtue of repetition.  Plus, I'll be honest.  Making rhubarb jelly or raspberry jam gets boring after a while, so if I'm going to stick to jams & jellies through four levels, I'm going to start looking at other things I can make within the same skill set.  And things like pumpkin butter or chokecherry jelly have MASSIVELY different processes than the others.  Just in the last year of dabbling around with my surplus produce, I've discovered, for example, that Armenian cucumbers don't lose their crisp when pickled, and that chokecherry jelly doesn't come out clear, and if you get the proportion of ripe to underipe fruit right, you end up with a jelly that comes out of the water bath set like concrete.  
5 months ago