Tom Knippel

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since Jan 15, 2022
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Recent posts by Tom Knippel

Christopher Weeks wrote:

Tom Knippel wrote:I would not be happy moving much farther north, even northern Minnesota has noticeably longer, colder winters and shorter growing season than southern Minnesota.

I'm just learning how true this is. It's been a surprise how much more intense the winter in Carlton County is compared to Scott County where we lived for 16 years before this place. And I'm not even north-north. I don't mind the deeper cold, it's the length of the season as it drags on that's wearying. Our snow just melted finally last week and the ground is still icy under mulch. But at least I've got starts outside learning what the sun is like.

Is ice out on the lakes up there?

You ever gone to the Moose Lake Agate Festival?  I been to it a couple times, fun time for me but I am a rock hound.  I am not into big crowds so I have been staying away from it now but if that is what makes it a success then I am happy for anyone involved.  It is good for a town to develop a notable event such as this to bring in outside money.

I have jars and bags full of Lake Superior agates, my brother has an even larger collection than mine but he has a cabin on a lake full of agates.
2 years ago

Mark Reed wrote:As far as gardening goes, I think I could adapt fairly quicky going either north or south. I think a lot of my seeds would adapt fairly well too. If I went south, I'd probably try to greatly expand on what I might call reverse season growing. That is to focus on growing things in the cooler parts of the year and just forget the nasty heat of summer. I select for quick maturity in all my crops so going north they might fit right in, and it sounds like although the season is technically shorter, there is plenty of sun and heat units to mature most everything I'm used to growing. I expect it would be a bit of a learning curve either way but think I could figure it out.

Now as far as where I would prefer to live there is no contest. I miss snow, I miss cool water to play and fish in. If I was to pack up and move it wouldn't be south.

I would not be happy moving much farther north, even northern Minnesota has noticeably longer, colder winters and shorter growing season than southern Minnesota.  Growing the basic food plants that I grow starts becoming tricky just a four hour drive north of me, and the soil of the boreal forest region of northern Minnesota is very shallow, acidic, and not anywhere as rich as the soil in southern Minnesota (northwestern Minnesota has rich farmland, though).  I am not a fan of winter but I know how important it is for the ecosystem.  In relation to home food production our cold winters really help to keep pest and disease problems in check.  My preference region to live for food production would be Iowa or Illinois USDA zone 5.  Over the years I have shopped for land in northern or central Iowa but the idea of uprooting my life and having to pack up all my crap just to move somewhere else made me cringe.  I am happily anchored here and at this point I am too old to start over unless I was forced into it.

The boreal forest region of northern Minnesota is incredibly beautiful, though.  I have caught some monster northern pike, walleye, and lake trout in the cold, clean lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  I have seen many of the pictographs created by those who came long before us.  I have been to small rocky islands literally covered in blooming ladyslippers.  I have walked in wild blueberry patches 100 feet in diameter and picked and eaten my fill of the fruit while always being wary of bears (that is their turf, absolutely no doubt about that).  One early foggy morning a mama moose and calf walked in the shallow water of the shoreline fifty feet from my tent (which scared the heck out of me because I know how dangerous moose are, especially cows with calves).  It is an amazing fragment of wild to behold, even though the region was logged off 150 years ago.
2 years ago

Mark Reed wrote:Very different from Minnesota but our weather has been a little odd too. I mostly resisted planting much during the dry mid 80s weather back in April. Now I wish I had panted everything as the bush beans and corn I planted then are looking fine. All the regular spring things like lettuce and radish are doing fine too. Seed carrots are getting ready to flower and a lot of onions already are. Seed pods are forming on turnips and my Brassica oleracea landrace. A couple small patches of potatoes also looking great.

Sweet potato slips are sprouting out nicely, will be ready to set out soon, I'll be starting TSPS very soon as well. We have too many hot dry spells here now days to depend too much on potatoes, but sweet potatoes are filing that void very nicely.

Little pears and peaches are becoming apparent on the trees, can't tell yet about the apples, their flowers are just now fading. The grapes are in full flower now too.

We have quite a supply of dry beans and cowpeas plus lots of canned green beans and tomatoes. I'm scaling those back a bit this year in favor of some new landrace projects, primarily soybeans, okra and peanuts.

O' morels, yum yum. Great year for them here. I have heard of people drying them for storage but I'm hesitant to try that. Would rather not harvest them in the first place than have any be wasted.

Thanks for your update, I appreciate it.  Always amazes me how different your climate and growing conditions are from mine, yet I do not find it as radically different in my mind as the far southern states.  I could be plopped down into your area and figure things out quickly.  Put me in Texas or the deep south and I would probably starve to death before I figured out how and what to grow.  The thing to remember is that in Minnesota in high summer the daylight period is 15-16 hours which makes everything grow fast and deliver prodigious yields in such a short growing season.  Even with the delays this year I do not worry too much because I know how quickly conditions can change.  Compare my two long posts to see how things have changed dramatically here in just one week.

The rare years when I harvest an abundance of morels I dehydrate a bunch of them, they make for a wonderful winter treat but of course not nearly as good as fresh.  I love asparagus, fiddlehead, and morel dinner omelettes and breakfast burritoes, some of my traditional spring meals.
2 years ago

Michelle Heath wrote:Landrace asparagus?   That sounds interesting Tom.  I too grow a few asparagus plants from seed every year and am getting ready to do it again.

I do the same with rhubarb and found a variety  called Canadian Red I've been looking for for a few years at a mom and pop garden center last week.  That puts me at three named varieties from seed and divisions and my original variety from my great-grandmother.  I hope to let the gene pool go wild and see what happens.

I've become familiar with most of the spring edibles on my land and though I could harvest lots of wild greens in early spring, I'd hate to think of living on a strict diet of it.  

My asparagus variants come from wildcrosses of commercial OP varieties, commercial hybrid varieties, and wild asparagus seed that I have collected and others have collected for me in Minnesota and other states.  I got seed just last fall from a reddish strain my rural mail carrier knew about that was located just a mile or so from me.  The little seedlings came up with a dark reddish tint to them.  I now have several rural mail carriers who have agreed to log locations of wild asparagus along their routes that they find to be unique.  It is interesting how many of these folks harvest wild asparagus while running their routes, it never occurred to me that they would do this.  Smart people.  They are quite protective of their treasures (as anyone would be).  I promised I would not harvest stalks, that I just want seed.  I offered to pay them with my fresh maple syrup for their efforts to help me find more unique wild strains and that sealed the deal.

Such interesting things are out there, the trick is to find them and worse yet be able to find the time to go out and search.  Networking definitely helps...
2 years ago
Been harvesting wild ramps, green garlic, winter onions, fiddleheads, hosta pips, beetberry, lovage, nettles, and horseradish greens.  

Harvested 8 pounds of asparagus so far in two pickings and it is just getting started.  Wild asparagus is not coming up in the highway ditches yet but I am harvesting from my grandmother's remaining bed, my father's remaining bed, and my old bed of commercial varieties.  My oldest landrace asparagus bed is doing nicely but I think I will leave it be this year for seed harvest.  In this landrace bed, actually a fifty feet long double row, there are several typical green variants along with dark green, light green, yellow green, purple, burgundy, and pink.  I have once again started a flat of 72 little asparagus plants from saved seed and they are doing nicely.  They are so easy to start that I grow a flat of them every year just for the heck of it.  I have asparagus plants all over the place now and already have so much that I can pick and choose what to harvest and let the rest go.

My early vegetable plantings are not up yet, but they will show soon.  Temp went to 81 F today, first time we reached the 80s this year.  The first 70s was reached three days ago at 72 F.  It rained yesterday, thunderstorm this morning with dime size hail here but just a couple miles northwest of me they got baseball size hail.  Glad that did not happen here.

All my seed potatoes are nicely chitted and ready for planting.  I will start up planting again once the soil dries out some.  I have forty early hills planted, due to global food insecurity fears I plan on planting 360 more hills as insurance.  Got the space and the seed potato stock so I figure why not, I just need to take back some garden area from fallow.  I am greatly increasing winter squash and potato onion plantings as well.  My potato onion planting stock survived winter storage in excellent condition and is ready to go in the ground.  I will do staggered plantings of the potato onions and potatoes so I do not get buried come harvest time.

Been up-potting seedlings.  I started everything much later this year and they are still sizing up a bit too early.  Three days ago I finally sowed my flats of landrace tomatoes and they are sprouting already.  I have never started tomato transplants this late and I think the timing will be right on track.  Some local folks have already purchased their tomato plants and they are way too big for the timing.  Last year many folks around here put out their tomato transplants way too early and they were frozen out.  Many people lost out completely because local nurseries quickly ran out of replacement planting stock.  On a whim I sowed an extra flat of tomato plants to sell if a freezeout happens again.

Apricot trees in bloom today, 4-5 weeks behind what is typical.  Rhubarb is popping up, currants and gooseberries are leafing out, Nanking cherry blossoms almost ready to open.  Raspberry plants shooting up.  Fruit trees way behind but buds are swelling.  This may be a fantastic year for tree fruits in this part of Minnesota.  Hopefully we will not get anymore frosty nights but I hold no illusions, it is Minnesota after all and we have had frosts into early June.

Northern and orchard orioles arrived here today and were already squawking at me on the porch wanting their grape jelly.  I quickly obliged them.  They are family after all, the same family group has come back every year for decades which is why they know about the grape jelly.  Amazing and smart creatures, but very impatient and self centered...

Some farmers have been in their fields planting, three weeks behind schedule.  Apparently a record amount of wheat going in, will be an unusual sight from the typical corn and soybeans.  I suspect there will be so much wheat planted in the U.S. that it will lead to a corn shortage next year.  Farmers are finding spots of their fields with frozen soil under surface mud.  One large tractor got stuck up to its axles, it is still there after three days waiting for soil to dry out I suspect.  I heard about a farmer who had a truck loaded with fertilizer stolen.  The truck was found undamaged but emptied of its valuable cargo.  I am surprised I have not heard of more of this kind of stuff happening.  I bet soon there will be a black market for the stuff if shortages do not get resolved.

Morel mushroom wildharvest will be coming soon.  We are once again ramping up into the days of plenty...
2 years ago

Nicole Alderman wrote:Also, if you've noticed any of your old posts no longer have their pictures working, please click the report button saying something like, "The image on this post isn't working. Could you use your magic to try to fix it?" Sometimes we're able to bring back an image via our forum software, which comes in handy when stupid photo hosting services do this to people.

This has nothing to do with my problem.

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:A quick method of reducing the photo resolution to a Permies-friendly size is to:
- open the photo on your PC
- use the screen grab program (Snipping Tool or Snip-and-Sketch in Windows / Take Screenshot in Linux Mint) to capture a low-res image to clipboard
- save the screen grab image as a file and then upload directly to Permies.

This has nothing to do with my problem.

r ranson wrote:You don't need a third party to host your photos.   You can upload directly to permies.

This does not work either.