Richard Kastanie

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since May 26, 2010
Missouri Ozarks
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Recent posts by Richard Kastanie

I finally got a harvest from my hopniss (Apios Americana, also known as American Groundnut) this year, and I really like the flavor. I've just peeled them, chopped the larger ones into bite sized pieces, added some sort of oil/fat, salt, sometimes other seasonings, and baked them in the oven either by themselves or in a mix with other roots. They can absorb a good amount of oil/fat. I only hot a small harvest this year but am looking forward to trying more of them prepared in different ways in the future. Samuel Thayer says he likes mashing them and using them similar to refried beans.
3 months ago
As far as chestnuts go, Dunstan chestnuts may be worth a look at. They are Chinese/American hybrids that have been selected for blight resistance, yield and nut size. Many similar breeding projects are ongoing, but the Dunstans have been grown and selected in north Florida. All the other chestnut sources that I know of are from further north and so may not do as well in the climates of the deep south. The biggest difference between north Florida where the Dunstans have been selected and where you are in Texas is that Texas is drier, but the soil you describe sounds good for chestnuts to me, as long as the ph isn't above 7. Chestnuts like good drainage and are drought tolerant once established as long as the soil is deep enough for them to get their roots down into some more reliable moisture, so sandy near the surface with clay underneath is a good situation for them.

I have chestnuts from a number of sources, and the Dunstans I have are some of the more reliable ones here in southern Missouri. They are seedlings so there's a decent amount of variability, but mostly good traits from what I've seen.

I would not agree with the statement that chestnut will grow wherever oaks do. There is a lot of overlap, but there is a much greater diversity among oaks than chestnuts. The genus Quercus has over 500 species worldwide, while the genus Castanea has only 8 species in it. I have seen oaks growing in rocky alkaline soil in semi-desert conditions in the southwest that chestnuts wouldn't have a chance in.
5 months ago
I have nine yaupon (ilex vomitoria) plants here in zone 6b, up to five years old, that are doing fine. They didn't look the greatest after it got to -10 last February but the damage was mostly superficial and all recovered, even the smaller ones. Yaupon makes a good caffeinated tea similar to yerba mate.
9 months ago
Interesting discussion about lycopenes. I'm not a huge raw tomato fan in general unless they're in a salad with a good amount of dressing, mostly I like cooked tomatoes. I assume it's not the lycopene that I dislike, because I love autumn olive and goumi fruits which supposedly have the highest lycopene content of any known food. I'll literally gorge myself of fresh autumn olive fruit from the right bushes (they vary in flavor considerably) when they're at their peak ripeness (If they're too astringent, often they just need more time). Most other people aren't as enthusiastic about them. So I'm wondering, do those of you that don't like red tomatoes also not like autumn olive or goumi fruit?

Also, I know of one autumn olive bush that has yellow fruit instead of red. it's probably a mutation that has far less lycopene, as it's a fairly young bush that is in an area where all the rest have the normal red fruit. I think they taste different but equally good myself.
11 months ago
How about Poncirus trifoliata, the trifoliate orange?
1 year ago
I meant to address more the original topic of the post, the hand sanitizer situation, but it's really just a microcosm of the mindset of the whole medical system. Since I'm more conflict averse than you, I'd personally have just used the sanitizer, it's a small enough matter to me that I would have just done it to keep the peace, and just avoid situations like that as much as I can, but I'm glad to hear in general from those who aren't going along with everything. The events of this year have brought to a head conflicts that have been simmering for some time. While the medical system does have some good things to offer and people with real skills, the arrogance that permeates so much of it is astounding when compared to so much else in life. Although there are individual doctors that buck the trend, by and large what i see coming out of the medical establishment is dis-empowerment. A crisis like COVID could be used as a chance for empowerment, a reason for people to listen to their body and work to improve their overall state of health, as well as become less dependent on the industrial system. Indeed, many people have done just that, as increased sales of seeds, local foods, and herbal products has shown, but the media won't touch that at all. Instead, all we're told is to be passive, to do as we're told and hope "they" come up with a magic bullet. Vitamin D levels are are a huge factor in COVID outcomes which means people shutting themselves indoors out of fear or because of being forced to by the lockdowns will likely worsen the outcome if they get the virus.
One thing often left out of the discussions about things like hand sanitizer, masks, lockdowns etc. is, what exactly is the goal here? The goalposts have been shifted repeatedly, from "flatten the curve" so as not to verwhelm hospitals (which I won't argue with at all) to ongoing security theater that in my opinion has been causing more harm than good for months now. No country has eliminated the virus. New Zealand thought they did but then ended up having more cases, and some small Pacific island countries shut down their borders before they had it in the first place. So, it's now a fact of life that isn't going away. Luckily, there's still enough diversity in the world that different countries (and states in the US) have done different things and we can see the different outcomes. I've been paying attention to Sweden since the beginning, they didn't lock down, although they did ban large gatherings and shut down Universities for a bit. The mainstream media kept predicting doom for Sweden back in the spring, but I've been thinking the whole time they would end up better off in the end. Masks were never widespread there. This is a good summary of the current situation in Sweden. They appear to have mostly gotten over it, cases are very low and deaths are almost zero now even as many countries that have locked down are facing more waves. The US has passed Sweden in deaths per population, and several countries that locked down such as Italy, UK, and Spain have had higher death tolls per population from early on. The overall impact of COVID in any given place is probably going to be similar whatever measures are taken, the difference being the duration of time it's going around. The exception is if hospitals are overrun, but Sweden never had theirs overrun, and they have the advantage of having much less of the indirect effects, the effects on mental health, small businesses, people with other health conditions that aren't dealing with them out of fear of COVID, etc. Not to mention still living in a freer society. A case could also be made that getting it over with quicker as the Swedes did also helps those who feel like they need to be especially cautious as well, they could rigorously isolate themselves for the worst of it and be able to come out of quarantine sooner when the risk has plummeted.

I predict that in a few years, once the dust has settled, the reaction much of the world has had to COVID will be remembered as akin to burning a house down in order to kill a snake that's inside.
I've noticed the information on the care of cultivated persimmons, particularly American varieties and American/Asian hybrids, is hard to come by and/or contradictory, so I'd like to share my own limited experience on the subject and hope others with fruiting trees will share their experiences.

I have two cultivated persimmon varieties that have been fruiting heavily for a few years, Juhl and Rosseyanka, plus other varieties that are smaller. The persimmons have proven to be resilient and have few of the pest, disease and rot issues that make many common fruits difficult to grow here in southern Missouri. So far, my pruning of the trees has been fairly minimal, just training to a central leader, thinning branches a bit, taking of some real low branches near the ground, and topping off the central leader of the Rosseyanka the last couple of years to keep its height in check. However, I think I'll do some more substantial pruning this next year of the Rosseyanka at least, for reasons I'll discuss in a bit. I have been harvesting wild persimmons for years, but I've found the cultivated ones are more tricky. Altogether, I like the flavor of the cultivated varieties better, and they're larger and more productive, but there are downsides in the realm of harvesting. The wild ones have small, firm enough fruit that is small and firm enough that it can drop from large trees, 50 feet up or so, and still be intact when it hits the ground, so its simple to just harvest them of the ground. The cultivated varieties are different, particularly the Rosseyanka.

The Juhl is a selected variety of American persimmon, also known as Yates. It ripens early, starting generally late August here, with fruits continuing to ripen for at least a month. I particularly like the texture for eating, it has a more smooth texture than the wild ones, as well as being significantly larger. They fall from the tree when ripe, similar to the wild persimmons. I have been harvesting these from the ground like the wild ones so far, but I noticed this year a percentage that got crushed in their fall to the ground. It was still a fairly small percentage, but I'm concerned that it will be higher as the tree grows taller, as the fruit from higher up will hit the ground with more force. It seems the larger size and creamier texture that's nice for eating may make the fruit more fragile as well. I'm considering pruning the tree more heavily to keep it from getting too tall (it's probably about 15 ft high right now), also maybe mulching heavily underneath it before harvest to cushion the fall of the fruit. Those sound a lot earier than harvesting from the tree does, as the fruit ripens so unevenly and just wants to fall off when its ripe.

The Rosseyanka is a different matter. It is a cross between the American and the Asian persimmon. It ripens late in the fall, has pretty large fruit, is tasty and productive, but has been very annoying to harvest for me so far. It has very fragile fruit that cling on to the tree. If the fruit gets too ripe, it will simply disintegrate and fall off, leaving the stem end still clinging to the tree. The first few years of harvest, I harvested them before the first hard freeze (generally the end of October or early November). Few were ripe by that time, but the others ripened inside over the course of several weeks. I had to use hand pruners and clip off the fruit stem with one hand while holding onto them with the other hand, as the stem will not break odd readily like an apple or pear stem will. That makes getting to the higher up fruit really annoying, as I have to get up a ladder or into the tree with two hands free, and I need a helper to hand the fruit down to, because if the fruit is close to ripe, it can be easily crushed in the sort of picking bags that I use for apples. This year I had someone on the ground holding a picking pole up to me, I'd pick several fruit and put them into the small basket at the end, and then he'd bring it down and put them in boxes. I can't use the picking pole directly to pick the fruit as the fruit are too fragile and the stems too strong (pull hard and it will likely break off partway up the branch rather than just breaking off the fruit).

This year, I decided to wait longer to pick the Rosseyanka fruit, after hearing that it could stand substantial freezes on the tree. They went through a night in the low 20s, and I finally picked them yesterday. I'm thinking it was a mistake to wait this long. Such low temperatures don't ruin the fruit, but they changes the texture of some, particularly those that weren't fully ripe, making them more mealy. The very ripe, squishy ones weren't noticeably affected, those were very tasty, but very ripe Rosseyankas are also extremely fragile and will crush or puncture easily. In the future, I think I'll harvest them before we get a hard freeze, anything down to the upper 20s or below. They are easier to handle when they're not fully ripe as well, and seem to ripen up perfectly well indoors even if it takes a few weeks.

I'm thinking at this point that in March when it's pruning time that I'll open up the Rosseyanka a lot to make access easier, plus prune the central leader back harder than I have been to limit its height. But if anyone has any helpful tips on the harvest, pruning and care of cultivated persimmon varieties of bearing age, I'm all ears.
2 years ago
A few years back, I noticed that the heat was getting to me for the previous couple of summers more than it ever had before. It would be fine at some times and then feel stifling other times with the same temperature and humidity. Digging into this issue, along with other health issues I was having, led me to discover I was gluten intolerant and one of the symptoms was spells of increased sensitivity to heat. Some other things can also trigger the same reaction to a lesser degree too, and once I got that figured out, my heat tolerance returned to being quite high again. That's one of the reasons I appreciate dealing with varied weather rather than being in a constantly climate controlled environment, if I'm responding more poorly to different temperatures, it's a sign that I should be doing something differently.

I'm applying the same reasoning to my cold sensitivity, which has no quick fix since I've gotten cold easily my whole life, but I have had a certain amount of luck in dealing with the cold better. my fingers don't go numb from the cold nearly as easily as they used to. There is no one single thing I can pinpoint those improvements to, just more years of experience in working with my body and feeling generally healthier.
2 years ago