Jamin Grey

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since Sep 15, 2018
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Recent posts by Jamin Grey

I've had great luck storing rice, sugar, and salt in half-gallon mason jars and using a FoodSaver vacuum sealer's mason jar attachment to suck all the air out.

My store-bought rice has lasted 8 years without *any* deterioration in quality, before I got around to eating it.

Freeze the rice for at least 24 hours first to kill any bugs (all store-bought rice is infested with rice weevil eggs). Then wait at least several hours at room temperature before unbagging the rice (or moisture gets on then due to condensation).

For beans, the reason I don't vacuum seal dry beans, is because it's much nicer to have already cooked food canned up. I have quart jars of canned pinto beans, black beans, red beans, split pea soup, and chili. This to me is the ideal way to store them, and super easy to do. I forget whether they need to be waterbath-canned or pressure-canned, but you can look that up.

I've never stored corn, but if I did, I'd do the same: I like precooked canned corn from the store, so I'd consider canning your corn cooked (by which I mean, the canning process cooks it).

I strongly encourage learning how to can food. While it may seem dangerous and time consuming at first, it's super easy and convenient to can a seven or eight jars here or there in the mornings or evenings without alot of fuss.

Once you get used to pressure canning, it's like 15 mins work, then just listen for the timer for 30 mins to adjust temperature, and set a timer again for when to turn it off. It's like doing laundry: put in wash, go do other stuff, put in dryer for longer, go do other stuff, then come back.

There are some risks/dangers involved, but mostly just from people leaving their house and forgetting they had their stove burning turned on. If you're in the house, you can audibly (and loudly) hear if it's going bad and easily turn it off with plenty of advance warning. You could even just set the timers on your phone instead of the stove, incase you go outside and out of timer range.
1 day ago
Thank you, I'll try that - moving the best one outdoors into a bed, and giving the rest another month to see what happens.

I'll probably move a "dead" jar into a different bed also, just to see if it recovers.
3 days ago

Eric Hanson wrote:Jamin,

When I have done wine caps, it took me a lot longer than a month to get noticeable growth.  I am impressed that you got some visible growth before.  I would just wait a bit and see what happens.

Good job so far!


That's a relief! I was thinking a month is the "definitely should be done by now" point. I'm happy to leave them another month or two, or even until fall.

How long do Winecaps normally take, and are you using sterilized nars/bags, or growing outdoors?

Jonathan Baldwerm wrote:From what I've read in Stamets books, winecaps need soil bacteria to really thrive. [...] I've grown lots of winecaps, but only in unsterilized outdoor beds.  If you put down spawn and a preferrably woody substrate, they take off in that environment.

I'm trying to grow the spawn from spores, so I can put them outside in woodchip'd beds with my tomatoes. Right now I don't have much of the spawn colonized... maybe I should've used a different medium for Winecap, though the Portabello seem to love it!

I suppose I could take one of the Winecap jars that are doing semi-acceptable, and move it to the woodchip beds now.

I could also try moving one of the "dead" jars to a garden bed of woodchips.

3 days ago
About 45 days ago, I planted an entire 4x8 garden bed full of ginger. None of it has sprouted.

I planted it in a shaded area, and we've been getting plenty of light rains at a decent cadence, so the soil has stayed damp but not muddy.

The garden bed is loose soil, I planted them an inch deep, but then I put another inch of woodchips over that.

These are store-bought ginger, which I understand may be sprayed with growth retardants, but many people seem to grow store-bought ginger successfully.

I got large whole ginger that looked very lively, cut them into large 2" chunks with multiple eyes, rinsed them loosely and waited 24 hours for their cut ends to do whatever, then soaked then for an hour and planted them.

Not a single one has sprouted above the ground. Any ideas what I did wrong?

My new garden bed used alot of mostly-aged cow manure. Does ginger not like manure?

Is it too shaded? It's not full shade, but it's more than partial shade, and gets maybe two hours of full direct sun.

I'm in Zone 6A.

Tomorrow I'll dig some up to see what's what, but I don't know what to look for.
3 days ago
On May 6th (24 days ago), I started my first ever batch of mushrooms.

I have twelve quart mason jars with pressure-canned sterilized material, that I injected with Portabello and Winecap spores (liquid syringes). Six jars are Portabello, and seem to be doing great! They almost fully colonized the jars. Six jars are Winecaps, and have barely colonized theirs, and two jars seem entirely dead.

My substrate was:
Mostly aged sawdust (pine)
Partially composted chicken manure
Partially composted cow manure
Some pelletized gypsum
A little bit of dirt
A tiny amount of shredded straw and wood shavings

I forget exactly what my moisture content was, but I looked up a good balance and did it as precisely as I could.

I sterilized everything in mason jars, waited 24 hours, then drilled holes through one lid (with a sterilized drill bit), squirted on top three different spots of liquid spores from the syringe (the 1" of empty space on the top of the mason jar prevented me from actually *injecting*), and then put on some microporous tape over the drilled hole.

I put all twelve jars in a dark-ish pantry, that's usually around 65-70°F, but they get a little indirect light from a mostly curtained window behind them.

After a week or two, I realized I had a spare seed heat mat, and put that under them also.

All twelve jars started forming white fluffy areas on top where I squirted them. After a week or so, I gently shook up four jars of each mushroom type (to disperse the spores in the jar more, to speed colonization), and left two jars of each alone.

The portabello jars took off real well, but two of the winecaps barely recovered, and are colonizing somewhat, and the other two seem entirely dead. The two unshaken Winecap jars have continued to colonize, but very very slowly in comparison to the portabello.

There are zero miscolored areas, as far as I can see, in any of the jars.

A week ago, because the two jars looked dead, I risked contamination by squirting a little sanitized water into each of the two dead ones, just incase I got the moisture levels wrong. A week later, no difference.

I attached two photos - one of the portabello thriving, and one of a "dead" Winecap jar. The white spots you see in the dead jar are gypsum pellets.

My questions:
1) Why did loosely shaking the Winecap colonies kill them?
2) Is my substrate wrong for Winecaps? (sawdust and manure)
3) Do Winecaps take longer than four weeks?
4) How would you suggest I proceed with my four Winecap jars that are still alive but haven't colonized much of the jars?
3 days ago
This is what I bought, which has electrically-ran sharpening stones as well as manual ones... but I almost exclusively use the manual part, have never really plugged it in much, mostly because I haven't read how to use it properly. =P

I can't recommend it as "good", as I'm not using it's full potential. But it certainly hasn't been bad. I really need to read the manual, and sharpen all my kitchen knives and poultry-processing knives.
3 weeks ago
Definitely not ruined. Far from it; that looks like a great start that'd be perfectly fine for growing plants in. You can always work in more manure next spring if you find it neccesary.

If you have some aged manure, you can also mix in maybe half a handful under each plant as you plant them. That's what I normally do.

The only thing I'd suggest doing is making sure you mulch to retain moisture and keep the soil cool. If you got more cardboard or straw, that'd work fine, or woodchips are even better (or straw and then woodchips!).

I'd also encourage you to see if you can find free sources of mulch and manure. You're literally buying animal poop and shards of wood - surely someone nearby would be happy to give you some if you look hard enough.

My local city/county has a free pile 14ft tall of woodchips where they dump the shredded wood from cutting tree branches away from powerlines or after storms. My local dump has composted yard waste (warning: may be herbicide heavy, so I use it on test beds first). A nearby neighbor raises cows. If you are interested in free garden stuff, most of it is probably available for you.

Mint can get rather tall (up to 24"), but often stays small for a long time. It smells pleasant, and can be used in mojitos uh, tea.

Because it does get tall, eventually, you'd probably have to mow it, but maybe just twice a year.

Some types of mint stays low, but is much more persnickety in terms of moisture and shade - definitely not achievable in my area. But I could plant 'normal' mint in a lawn here - mint volunteers over my lawn as it is!
1 month ago
I've bitten the bullet and ordered spores of mushrooms: Winecaps and Portobellos.

Winecaps I'll grow alongside my tomatoes.

But as for the Portobellos, they want nearly full shade.

I'm also planting Ginger Root for the first time this year, and ginger wants alot of shade also - partial shade, leaning towards full shade.

So I'm wondering if I can have both Ginger and Portobello intermingled in the same bed?

Will the Portobello try to eat the ginger?
1 month ago
"Can anyone recommend some varieties?"

Any variety you have a taste for. Apple trees can be excessively pruned to be kept at the height you want. Apple trees marked "standard","dwarf", or "semi-dwarf", has to do with putting one type of apple (e.g. Honeycrisp) on different rootstock (i.e. grafted into the roots of a different apple species) to keep the tree naturally smaller (based on the natural size of the rootstock).

A "standard" tree can still be pruned into whatever size you want - some people prune them and train them along wires like grape vines or up the sides of walls like climbing roses (google 'espalier' for cool pictures). Not all trees can be pruned dramatically like that - e.g. nut trees can't be - but apples can and are the most common example.

So, yea, get whatever varieties you personally enjoy!

Buying store-bought apples, my go-to apples were always "Honeycrisp" as an eating apple, and "Grannysmith" as a slightly-sour baking apple. When I planted my trees, I planted those, but I also planted multiple other varieties to see what else I might enjoy. There may be better-tasting apples that stores won't carry because they select breeds for long shelf-life or uniform appearances.

My trees are just starting to reach fruiting age, so I haven't gotten a chance to see what my varieties taste like, but am looking forward to it.

"Will I need to cross-pollinate?"

Yes. All this really means is, have two or three compatible apples within 30 ft of each other, and you'll be fine.
"compatibility" mostly is just making sure they have overlapping blossoming periods, so pollen from one can reach another.

Just figure out what varieties you want, then look up if they are compatible with each other, or what other varieties people recommend pairing with them.

Sounds complicated, but it's really not. Just pick what apple varieties you want, post them here, and ask people if they'll cross-pollinate well, or if there is a substitution or addition they'd recommend.
But if you arbitrarily picked based on what your tastes are, there's a decent chance they'll happen to be compatible anyway.

"If growing in containers, is it realistic to expect any fruit?"

Yes. I've never grown them in containers personally, but heavily pruned apple trees do still produce apples.

Get a decent size pot to give room for root growth. Also you'll have to pay more attention to watering compared to planting in the ground; you'll also need to eventually work more nutrients into the soil of the pot after a few years, as the soil will be stripped of all beneficial nutrients by the tree and will need more.

Personally, I'd just plant them in the ground, even if you want them small, and keep them pruned to the size you want. Your USDA Zone 6B (same zone as me) can support apples outdoors just fine.

"Do apples suffer any insect, fungus, or similar problems I need to watch out for?"

Depends on your area. In Missouri, my apples were eaten by bugs that lay eggs in the inside of the apple shortly after blossoming, and then when the apple is almost ready for harvest, they burrow their way out and eat the apple.

Since I don't use pesticides, the supposed solution to that that I'm doing this year, is covering each individual apple with a little baggy once blossoming is finished (I'm using disposable ziplock bags, but in Japan they make little fabric baggies, and some people in the USA make bags out of nylon stockings or something).

1 month ago