Blaine Clark

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since Jan 01, 2018
West-central Pennsylvania
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Recent posts by Blaine Clark

Assuming you haven't put the boards up yet, put light weight builders paper (felt roofing) over your wall first, staple it to the studs or existing wall. One, it will stop any drafts on outside walls, two, it will show only as a black strip behind the boards as they dry and shrink and doesn't have to flex with the boards, so it will never come loose or fall out, three, this is a good thing to do on floors as it will do both of the above as well and prevent any squeaking floorboards as you walk on them. You can do this on staircases too and keep any squeaking from happening. This doesn't fill the cracks of course, it just camouflages them so they don't show.
On existing walls, simply paint them black or dark brown before you put on the boards. As cracks appear, only the dark will show through.
4 months ago
Its hard to keep the tubers in good shape for several months, so its best to plant them in the fall. Some have said they can best be stored over winter in containers mixed with dirt or sand or sawdust, but I've never tried that.
You can harvest them either in the fall or in the spring before the ground warms to 50°F or 10°C. That temp. triggers them to sprout. In the fall you'll get the full benefit of the Inulin for your gut bacteria as its a fantastic prebiotic, but you can also get anywhere from no gas effects to severe gas and bloating, depending on your gut health.
You can harvest them in the spring, again before the ground warms to 50°F or 10°C. That temp. triggers them to sprout, after the long winter freeze which converts the Inulin to Fructose. They'll be sweeter and you'll lose the good and bad effects of the Inulin.
5 months ago
Colleen, think twice about the varieties that seed. Birds and squirrels can carry those seeds around. Once established, they can be a bear to get rid of. The eastern varieties I mentioned don't seed, spreading only by root, making them less likely to get out of hand. The Great Plains varieties that normally grow in the midwest up into Canada's grain belt are the ones that normally seed. They also require direct sunlight. Our eastern varieties can tolerate some shade.
Here are some of the varieties;
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helianthus
5 months ago
Colleen, I have three varieties. I agree, look around and learn what they look like. I bought one variety several years ago from an online retailer. Stampede is a white knobby tuber, a bit rough to get really clean under a top that's about 6' to 8' tall. They have about a 90+ day maturity, better probably better for farther north. I found a white Fuseau in the woods nearby a couple years later. They're a smooth white tuber, easily cleaned under a 12' top with a 120 day maturity. That makes a rather tall plant for in-town! I live on a 1 1/2 lot. That's not a lot of room! The third variety is a Red Fescue that I found in a tiny flower bed in-town just last year. I got three tubers out of that tiny garden. I divided them for the first time last fall. They're red of course, not as knobby as the Stampede under a 7' - 9' top with a 100+ day maturity. I know of at least two more gardens in-town that have 'chokes and out in the country ... I can't even count how many places I've seen them growing. We took a friend to Sandy Lake, about 90 miles away, just below Erie, PA. to a blackberry farm. All along one side of the fellow's barn was a patch of them. I asked the guy if he knew what he had and he had no clue. He does now! I'm in DuBois, PA., west central part of the state and its hard to say how many varieties there are just around here.
So, again, learn what the tops look like, go out looking for them right now and remember where they are growing. They are a native and decades ago they were very common. They are out there, you only have to find them. My Stampedes have stopped flowering and are starting to brown a bit. The Fuseau are in full flower right now. Keep that in mind. When the ones you find are browned, stop and chat with the owners and bum a handful of the tubers, or as much as you can and take them home. And if you've got the space, and you find more than one variety, GO FOR IT! Another great thing about getting what you can locally, they're acclimated! Plus, you won't have to pay up to $25 per pound! You won't have to do anything special to grow them! Just stick 'em in the ground and step back!
Remember that they will take over and conquer any garden patch you put them in, so plant them where you want them and nothing else for the long haul. They can be contained by regular mowing, so you can keep them from spreading, but it's difficult to mix them with anything else.
Good luck!
My wife and I like to can them, plain like potatoes, pickles, relish and in salsa. I'm thinking about drying some chips this fall and having a supply of chips that we can dust with herbs or spices for snacks and we'll also grind some for flour for flat breads. You can do anything with them. I've made wine from the tubers and the flowers. The tuber wine is stout, but it makes a great cooking wine! Right now, I've got a pot of French Onion soup cooling on the stove that has some English Thyme, Peppermint, a dash of Turmeric, beef stock and a good portion of 'choke tuber wine. It is Fantastic!
5 months ago
Sunchokes! AKA Jerusalem Artichokes, Sunroots and Fartichokes!
So easy to grow > too easy for some! It can become invasive in the wrong locations where you can't mow closely to keep it contained. I've got three varieties, Stampede, a white knobby tuber with a 5' - 6' top and flowers tender enough and tasty enough to toss in salads. A red knobby one that I found last year in a small flower bed in town. Folks had no idea what they had. I got three tubers and divided them for the first time last fall. They are exactly like the Stampede, except for the color of the roots. I haven't sampled them yet. The third is a white, straight, smooth root that looks like white carrots with a 10' - 12' top! Very aggressive, have to stay on top of the mowing to keep these ones contained. I'd guess they're a feral or wild Fuseau type. The flowers are so tough they're chewable only after they've been steamed or boiled ... a lot like squash when done. When cooking these roots, the Fuseau, they give off a bit of an odor, not bad but not great either. I only use these Fuseau for canning.
I live in-town so they make a great late summer into fall privacy screen and they soak up a lot of traffic noise too, especially those tall Fuseaus.
I've had them raw, boiled, canned like regular potatoes, pickles and relish. We've used the canned plain ones in stews and soups. They are GOOD! Any way you can prepare potatoes, cukes, squash, turnips, etc., you can do the same with Sunchokes. I tried to ferment some, but they came out musty. If I try again, I'll use a lot more salt. I'm getting enough that this year I'm thinking about drying some as chips and some to grind into flour. Its a great thickener, and makes dishes very creamy. We're also going to do some roasting and grilling and maybe some of the high-fallutin restaurant recipes - that don't cost an arm and a leg for the ingredients!
Its the inulin starch in them that causes gas for some people. Bean-o doesn't help at all, but if you start with very small helpings and have them just about every day, you can easily build up to good sized helpings in a week or two. The inulin helps balance the gut micro flora to where it should be. Pure Inulin powder is used to treat IBS, GERD, Crohn's, Diverticulitis and some other intestinal issues. I prefer using the natural inulin in the Fartichokes! I can eat as much as I want and not get gas now, and my guts feel and work great.
I made wine from flowers last year using only flower broth, sugar and a small handful of raisins for natural yeast. Very different, for sure not fruity! I'd have to get used to it to have it as a drinking wine just because its so-o different, but its still aging and I'm sure that it would be a great cooking wine. I'm going to try some more flower wine this fall and I'll mix in some elderberries, high bush cranberries and some others, maybe some herbs and mint too to see how they turn out. I have to see how many one gallon batches I can prepare for.
7 months ago
If the meat has soured, and it almost definitely has, you don't want to cook it indoors. Its a smell that penetrates curtains, towels, carpet, anything cloth or fiber. Also, if you have large dogs that probably have found other sour or rotted meat outdoors in the past, You could give them the cooked meat, but in small amounts per day, they've built up a resistance to the bacteria (note 'resistance', no way can they become immune). Don't give it to small or medium sized dogs at all.
Best bet really, either find a rendering facility nearby that will take all the meat and fat, or bury it deep with plenty of lime to keep animals from digging it up.
7 months ago
Fleas are in tall grass: Flea larvae live in the sod. Whether the grass is 1" tall or 5" tall, the flea larvae live in the sod. Get rid of the flea larvae? Let the grass grow so there's cover for predators like Lightening Bug larvae and Ladybug larvae and others which hunt down and eat bugs and other larvae, including Fleas, Grubs and others! Tall grass actually gives you less fleas! I mow at the highest setting on my mower and never more than once a week, even when it's hot and wet and the grass is growing fast. We've got two dogs and two cats. Fleas? Occasionally. Who doesn't? We have rabbits around, where do the fleas come from?? We also have more Lightening Bugs now than when we moved in.
Taller grass equals deeper roots. Deeper roots equal better reach for moisture and food which equals healthier grass and more drought resistant grasses and plants. We don't water, no matter how dry it gets, and we still have summer-long green.
But weeds will grow! Yes! Yay! I've got White (Dutch) Clover, Heal-All, Plantain, Dandelions, Strawberries, Periwinkles, Creeping Charlie, Creeping Jenny, Violets, Straw Flowers, Day Lilies, Peppermint (yes, 'invasive' Peppermint in my lawn! Smells wonderful when I mow!), several types of Sorrel, Daisies, Lambsquarters, Canadian Lettuce, several types of Chives, dozens of types of grass, not just one or two so if disease hits my lawn, it'll stay green even then, but with healthier grass, its more disease resistant to begin with!
My wife and I could easily eat our lawn all summer long if we had to, and in the fall we could dry, can or whatever and eat for quite a bit of the winter - out of our in-town lawn. That's even with the town rabbits eating their share! They love our lawn ... and our garden too, but hey, plant enough for everyone! Our neighbors would be eating their lawn treatments, which of course is where they let their children and pets romp ... I'm not even going there.
Yes, after a few years I started gardening again. When we first moved in, I tilled a 10' x 10' patch for the start of a garden and turned up three worms - three worms! I let it lay fallow with no 'lawn' treatment other than a couple light doses of lime. Today, anywhere I dig, I usually turn up no less than three worms per shovel full!! I grow Sunchokes, three varieties, and we can them and eat them all year around. We don't worry about poison in the lawn any more. For the first couple of years we had brown patches from grubs as the poisons leached out, but as the longer grass roots and so-called 'weeds' took over, the brown patches disappeared. Oh the grubs are still there, but with healthier greens, they don't seem to kill a single plant! Plus, there aren't many grubs, as I said, our Lightening Bug population has exploded!
7 months ago
This still takes a while, but if you have porcupines around, drill a bunch of 1/2 holes as deep into the stumps as you can get, top and sides; note that you can get 'jobber' bits 24" long. Fill the holes with a stout brine and the porcupines will chew and eat the stumps right down. You'll have to do a repeat occasionally with the brine. Deer will also help as they love salt. Pigs would also go for the salt, but they would be a little faster than deer. The quill pigs with their chisel teeth would be a lot faster as they love salt.
7 months ago
West central PA, zone 5 here. I bought three starts from a local nursery 4 years ago. The first year they popped right up to about 3' and were looking good. The second spring they got hit with caterpillars, hard. One died even after I hit them with Seven. I'd tried a couple of natural sprays first with no luck. Early next spring, as it warmed up, I hit them with an oil treatment. That finally cured the caterpillar problem. Now, 4 years later, The remaining two are about 9' tall, about 6' wide at the spread, multiple stems that are multiplying slowly ... picture a Lilac bush. This is the first year I'll get anything off them, they've flowered very well and the berry clusters are forming. I have them in a moist area mixed with Elderberry. I'm thinking about trying some following Elderberry recipes.
We had them on the farm when I was a kid and mom never did anything with them. We had a circus every fall though! As the berries rotted after frosts, Cedar Wax Wings migrated through and hit them hard. Have you ever seen a flock of drunk Cedar Wax Wings? !!!
My main reasons for getting them were for the birds, I might get some more Elderberries with them nearby, and I want to try making wine with them: some mixed with Sunchoke flowers and some more mixed with some water from cooked roots. Its all excremental ... I mean experimental at this point!
8 months ago