Lisa Brunette

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since Apr 29, 2020
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Midwestern USA, Zone 6b/Now 7a
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Recent posts by Lisa Brunette

I haven't seen this mentioned much in the mainstream press, but the new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map shows some shifts in zone for many regions.

My own went from 6b to 7a.

I'm in a unique position to have returned to a place where I'd gardened in the past after 20 years away, so I can compare then to now. What I've observed:

- far fewer viceroy and monarch butterflies
- far fewer insects of all types
- it's now frequently too hot to grow many annuals in the fall season
- some plants that would die in winter previously, such as lavender and rosemary, can now sometimes overwinter
- armadillos are moving up from the south to our area
- declines in bird species, even once-common ones like blue jays

What I've done in response to weather trends:

- literally stopped buying seeds from an outlet one state to the north of us and instead purchase from two suppliers south of us, which has given better results
- with an assist from heat-sink rocks, overwinter tender perennials
- cut back on my late summer/fall crops
- shifted into more lacto-fermentation and dehydrating to store in a basement that stays 50-68 year round
- cut cool-weather lovers such as arugula and chamomile from my rotation
- adding more heat lovers

Ref: Article in Civil Eats on the new zone map

Has your zone changed? Does the zone map match your observations? What are the implications for your gardening plans, now and in the future?

3 months ago
Thanks to all for your input. I think we'll try the Kitchen Aid for now.
4 months ago
In my ongoing move toward a whole-foods, ancestral diet, I'm looking into the possibility of grinding grain myself, rather than buying flour, especially after what happened with King Arthur's bread flour, which I've posted about here.

Do any Permies have experience with Kitchen Aid's grinder attachment? It would be the best option in terms of ease and price, since I already have the mixer. But I'm concerned about some of the negative reviews.

I realize there are threads here on hand-crank grinders, bicycle-powered grinders, and even this thread on grain mills in general, but it only touches slightly on the Kitchen Aid grinder.

Here's what I'm weighing:

- There are only two of us, and we're 52 and 59 and do not eat a lot of flour - maybe just less than a loaf a week
- We'll be grinding rye and wheat, not anything gluten-free like chickpeas and probably not corn too often, either
- The KA attachment is only $115 right now; whereas, these hand-crank beauties you all recommend can be upwards of $1,000 but at least $300, plus they often attach to a table - we don't have a table that will work for that

So, will the Kitchen Aid fill the bill, or will it be a waste of money?
4 months ago

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I store green tomatoes on a table-top, or in crates. I do not enclose them in anything. For the sake of the best longevity, I want them to ripen as slowly as possible. So if ethylene makes them ripen quicker, I want it to waft away.

Storing them a single layer deep allows me to easily screen them for spoiling. A fruit-fly trap nearby helps a lot.

A big YES to all of this: EXACTLY my process (though surprisingly, I have not seen a single fruit fly). I haven't tried tomatillos, but I'm making a note of that. Thanks, by the way, for jumping in here. I'm a fan of your work.
5 months ago

Mk Neal wrote:At the end of the growing season I bring all the green one in and mostly just let them sit in a fruit bowl on counter. They ripen a few at a time over the course of weeks. My latest one this year ripened around thanksgiving.  If I have more than fit in the kitchen I put some in boxes in basement and check every few days to see what is ripe.

EXACTLY!!! But the Internet thinks you should hang them on vines in the rafters, LOL.
5 months ago

Shookeli Riggs wrote:Im eating one with my broccoli noodles foe supper that i just pulled from a my brown bag,it had a spot on it so im eating the good part of it,cut away about 25%.Keep a good check on them in the bag,when they turn it does happen fast.

Edit: Lisa i bet it is working the same for you in a larger scale same as the paper bag method since you have so many.They are confined in a smaller area and i think they off gas ethylene that helps the green ones ripen.Bananas do the same thing.Good job on your part for saving them before they froze though,they should last a good while.

They're much more ventilated, on a basket set inside a pallet rack. That made the ripening happen a LOT more slowly, so I didn't have 50 of them all going at once. When I wanted a few to ripen more quickly, I brought them upstairs and set them in a bowl together, which hastened it both because of the ethylene gas and because it's warmer upstairs.
5 months ago

Anne Miller wrote:We usually get tomatoes almost year-round.

We never let them get ripe on the vine because the birds like the tomatoes more than we do.

We use the paper bag method left on the countertop for several days to ripen them.

These tomatoes are still much better than the ones in the grocery store.

Yeah, Anne, that's lovely for you because you're in 8a. Any green tomatoes left on the vine were destroyed when the first frost hit us here in mid-October.

What's impressive in this case is that I TOOK AN ENTIRE PALLET TRAY OF GREEN TOMATOES (about 50 of them, actually) AND GOT A SLOW, WONDERFUL RIPENING FOR ANOTHER 3 WHOLE MONTHS with very little effort on my part.
5 months ago

Jim Fry wrote:We have always placed the green tomatoes in a brown paper bag and closed it up. The tomatoes "off-gas" a "chemical" that helps them ripen. Keep the "gas" in the bag as much as possible, but check often enough for any fruit going bad.

Yeah, that's cool, Jim, but what's impressing me here is that you can just put them in pallet frame storage, and they will ripen on their own, without having to resort to the bag/gassing method or going to the trouble of hanging vines in your rafters. This was WAY EASIER.
5 months ago
We still have a few ripe garden tomatoes here on December 11 in zone 6a Midwestern US. While part of this might be due to the unseasonably warm fall we've had, we're a few frosts in, so it's not that I'm still getting them from the garden. I thought they had to ripen on the vine, and when I Googled this a few years ago, all I found was advice to bring the green ones still clinging to the vines into a basement and hang them on the rafters to ripen there. But it turns out you can pick them and just leave them in your basement at around 60-70°F, and they'll ripen just fine.

I've written this up in more detail on my Substack: Putting the garden to bed for the winter. Everything you need to read about the tomatoes is above the paywall.

5 months ago

Jeff Lindsey wrote:You haven't failed, I was only responding to the post and didn't click the link.

I have a follow up question. We sometimes play old school video games but I am not a "gamer."
I do see that the video game industry is booming but that AI "generated" voices are also booming.

Is AI the cause of your company's downturn?

Well, I'm glad you found the link!

The game industry isn't booming. It's been a solid year+ of layoffs across the board, with recent jobs for game writers attracting as many as 3,000 applicants for one role. It's a complicated situation, and, I think, a bit off-topic for Permies.
5 months ago