Episode 25: Winter Ending on the Homestead

Posted: 18th February 2016 by Joe Prepper in On The Homestead, Podcast
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Winter is slowin down here in the south and we are getting a few things done on the homestead. Join me as I talk about our winter chores along the Gulf Coast and how we get ready for spring.  Vehicle maintenance, tool cleaning and seed planting join the list alng with winter tree planting and pruning. An update on the onions and heirloom garlic as well as adding some structures such as a another scuppernong vine trellis. ~Joe Prepper~ 

 
Purple sugar cane stalks cut fresh in the summertime can create sweet memories, literally. I remember the first time a neighbor cut a piece of cane stalk off and using a pocket knife cut off the purplish striped bark to reveal a juicy white piece of goodness. “Just gnaw on that a minute” was the advice I got. Sure enough, a crunchy sweet experience, in retrospect, kinda like chewing a sweet, juicy water chestnut.
To plant, just take a single stalk and either lay it in a shallow ditch and cover with soil. You can also cut it into pieces about 6-10″ leaving several nodes where the new stalks will emerge..



Cane sugar is probably the best know byproduct of sugarcane, but most sugar I see on the shelf lately is beet sugar. In my area the non commercial growers are growing scarce and mainly grow it to make molasses and cane syrup. That is why I put these stalks in the ground. Some cane is better “chewin” cane and some is better “boiling” cane.

 
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The canes are cut fresh and ran through a cane mill to squeeze out the juice. I have never seen a commercial press, but the ones I have seen used are small gear driven press usually powered by walking a horse tied to a pole around in a circle. This turns the gear that drives the press. The last time I went to see a neighbor boiling syrup, he used this setup, but with a lawn tractor as the “horse”.I thought I took pictures, but I cant fine them
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This vintage picture shows a  man feeding canes through the press and the gears being powered by a 1 HP powerhouse.

With all the work that went into getting table syrup and molasses, it’s no wonder it was such a treat.
Kinda makes you wonder about what our kids will think of as “a treat”.
 
There is a really good book series out that was created and edited back in the 70’s called Foxfire. Book 11 has some plans for the furnace and boiling table that heats the cane syrup and boils off the water to make the molasses. Check out this link .
I’ll post some pics later when the stalks come up and when we boil it down. I planted some in the fences garden area and some just out in the yard as a border. It’s basically a grass so why not!
I ordered some Jerusalem Artichoke root from ebay. I was intrigued by the so called sunchoke. Its native to North America. Grows a cool sunflower looking stalk and flower. The tuber it produces looks a little like ginger root and can be used like potatoes. Its weird that they don’t contain much starch and so are said to not raise blood sugar levels, being a good option for diabetics. They are high in inulin so they taste sweet and can make you have some serious gas.

 
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The picture on the left shows the tuber that I ordered. It was about the size of my fist. They are know to be invasive so I wanted to contain it until I got an idea of how fast and furious it was.
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In march I planted half the tuber in a concrete planter in front of the shed-quarters. To be honest, I forgot to fertilize it at all. The potting mix was questionable as I was given the planters from in front of a business that did not want them. I pretty much cleaned the cigarette butts out and added a little dirt. By mid summer they were 8 feet tall. The pic on the right shows them towards fall when the started leaning over. The continued to bloom into winter when I cut them back. They make great fast shade hedges.
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I haven’t weighed them yet but I would say the return was huge. The bottom tuber on the pic the the left is aobut the total I started with. I plan to use both planters this year.. I have added better soil and some organic fertilizer. Lets see what happens!
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This is the homemade preservative we use for wood tool handles, canvas and even leather. You heat the wax and use a rag to wipe the mixture made from turpentine, boiled linseed oil and bees wax evenly on the item and heat it up with a heat gun. If you don’t have a heat gun and it’s warm enough out just rub it in really fast to create heat friction. You can see the recipe on a previous thread here http://thesurvivalrevolution.com/?p=878 . 
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Here are a couple of old shovel handles. The one on the left has two coats of preservative. The one on the right was coated last year and stored outside the shed (at our rabbit pen). This is a great rainy, hang out on the porch day project. A good way to get someting done on an otherwise unproductive day.


Another benefit of the waterproofing mixture is it is a tiny bit tacky helping you hold on to the tool without making it actually sticky. As you heat the wax you can see it penetrating the wood. It will take on a darker, richer look with more pronounced wood grain.  Be sure to get it all over. You can tell your good after drying as water should bead and run off the tool. Dispose of the rags with the warning that sponaneous combustion has been known to occur with rags containing linseed oil!
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I ordered some Egyptian Walking onions (above) from a recommended seller. They came already sprouting, just in time for winter planting. These things produce edible bulbs under the ground but also produce several bulblets on top of the stem. You can plant these to get more onions or wait and they will fall over and plant themselves, slowly “walking” from the original plated locations.
I have them in a raised bed so this batch will probably get harvested.
The garlic above is a single bulb or solo bulb probably originally from Thailand/China. I got it from a neighbor who has been growing it here in the south for decades. I hope to keep it going here on my place for at least that long.



I planted this bed a few days before this picture and already the onions and garlic are coming in strong. I was worried since I didnt get this bed planted till mid november, but this was an unusual year. I plan to mulch this bed with wood chips but have had an issue finding a decent source.
This is a Spanish Roja garlic. I broke this into single cloves and planted in the same bed as the Heirloom Solo bulbs.
Here is the growth so far.. It’s been about 10 weeks. I wil be making a few walkway beds I will be rotating perennials through this year. Im starting with okra and squash. I may rotate to onions and garlic in the fall. 
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Once these guys are harvested I will be adding another layer of compost. The garlic is planted on the ends and the onions in the center. I also have a few georgia sweet onions in there.
I planted a few bulbs in this planter to see what container results I can get. If they do good we might put these puppies all over the place! Garlic and onions are medicine. They taste great too so plant alot and give some away.

Join me as I talk about choosing a vehicle that you might need to use in adverse conditions. I give my thoughts on the pros and cons of larger vs smaller vehicles. New vs modern and daily driver vs specialized vehicles for the hordes. I discuss the basic things I think should be in every vehicle from duck tape to jumper cables (though I think I forgot the cables in my list). Its the time of year I start to do major maintenance on my vehicles so I figured I would get the juices flowing to help motivate me and you to get stuff done. Till next time: Prep Hard- Play Hard. ~Joe Prepper~

It’s has been a while since my last podcast, but I plan to continue recording the happenings around here. In this episode I discuss some of whats been going on around here and how homesteading can be a trial and error affair. I recently invested in some new recording equipment and hope to get better at the podcasting part. Thanks for all those that are still listening, it’s a great way for me to process all that goes on around here and it’s good to know there are a few folks who enjoy my ranting.

~Joe Prepper~

This is part 2 of a three or four part podcast about credit. I give my thoughts on the benefits and dangers of credit and how debt, when managed improperly, can be enslavement. Join me as I answer some of the most commonly asked questions  such as:  What is credit? How do I get a credit score? How do I fix bad credit and more.  Have you ever wanted to know how creditors decide if you get a loan or how they determine your interest rate? Ever ask yourself why you are a numer and if that is a good thing? How do millionaires build credit fast? Did you know you can do the same thing? Join in and I will tell you how, and so much more.
~Joe Prepper~
 I decided to do a 2 part (at least) podcast on my take on debt and credit.In this episode  I begin with my belief that, for the purpose of exchange, all debt can and should be converted into hours of life. The measure of exchange should then be directly proportional or equal to the value we place on those hours of our lives and that of others.

I discuss how our credit score can be used to add advantage and could then be considered a form of social capital.  The way we view debt is usually a big factor in the perceived value of the goods or services we received. This bias toward a system of buying on credit can create a healthy respect for debt, or it can manifest in an unreasonable fear of it. How is growig a garden an example of debt? Listen in as I discuss that very thing.

In the next episode I will go into detail about the current credit system and how the the three credit bureaus determine your level of social capital in the credit world. I will discuss how to increase your score,  and when and where that score matters most. We will get down the the brass tacks that pin those with less than stellar credit to the wall…and tell you how to remove them.  This and much more next time….

 
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‘The tomatoes finally going in! I tried a variety this year planting some hybrids and in other areas my tried and true heirlooms. Here are some hybrid Juliet “plum style”. These indeterminate plants form clusters of grape-like sweet fruits. These went in late due to rain and we have’nt had much so so …fingers crossed.

I mulched heavily with old hay and used some Medina Organic Granular fertilizer. I prepped the area with some epsom salt to aid in calcium uptake to prevent blossom end rot. You can do this with tomatoes and peppers.

Also, What you are looking at where the tops of plants that were 8″ tall. I pinched all the bottom leaves and planted each about 6″ deep. tomatoes and pepper are a few of the plants that can develope roots on the buried stem. A rule of 2/3 buried is good.

Here are the peppers. I have jumbo jalapeno, a few chili, some sweet and hot bananas and I could not resist a bell or two.

Same with these guys, bury deep! It’s good to seperate the peppers quite a bit cause like the tomatoes, they can cross polinate. If your not saving seeds or your adventurous…plant away.!

I added some compost and worm castings to each hole. I have found that using post hole diggers to bury plants deep is easiest.

If we ever see the sun again these guys might do ok. I left the straw off hoping to get alittle sun stress before the rains.
Teachin’ the future to use a circle hoe to weed the garden. It’s not as easy as the farmville app. surprise

The soil under the winter weeds was dark and crumbly. Kneeling down to plant  was aided with the cardboard. Note the post-hole diggers in the ground behind the labor force.

Also I added a raised bed for carrots and such. I used 2×12’s thinking bigger is always better. Thats a lot of dirt in a 2x4x12 bed. When talking about how many square feet/yards of material my son summed it up best asking ” that fine, but how many shovel loads is that”? Lucky for him, me and mom took over that project.
These were taken March 22nd. I will get some new  ones the first day the sun comes out….or when the dove comes back with an olive branch. See you next time!