Thursday, February 19, 2009
What can I do with my shade? That is the question for a lot of us - we know that the trees on our property - or our neighbor’s - improve our lives and provide necessary habitat, carbon sequestration, shade. And yet - there’s also that question - what can I grow there?
Well, trees for one. If you heat or cook with wood, whether inside the house or if you can build an earth oven or a rocket stove for cooking, you can make some use of fallen wood, or careful and wise coppicing (assuming they are your trees) and pruning. You can plant more trees at the edge of your woodlands that grow fruit, nuts or produce syrups (sugar maple or birch). You can grow high quality wood for carving or making furniture.
You can have the satisfaction of a yard that produces copious food for wildlife, even if it doesn’t produce a lot of food for you. You can accept that tiny wooded oases are sometimes the best we can do in a world where forests are increasingly lost.
Still, you don’t have to give up on all food production, or even the hope of a little income from your land, just because you’ve got shade.
Now it really depends on what kind of shade you’ve got. Dappled shade, or shade part of the day offers more options than deep shade. In light shade, you can often grow fruiting plants, especially currants and gooseberries and strawberries. They may not produce quite as well as in sun, but if the shade is light enough, they’ll do fine.
You can also make use of seasonal shade - spring bulbs, or early harvested crops can be grown under trees that leaf out late. Many greens can handle intermittent light shade, particularly if they get 3-4 hours of morning sun. They may even do better with it in warm climates, where hot afternoon sun can be a killer. Perennial greens like sorrel and Good King Henry seem to do ok in light shade.
Wild leeks (ramps) and chickweed are two incredibly nutrious and delicious plants that like fairly deep shade. So do many medicinals - goldenseal and ginseng are perhaps the most obvious woodland herbs, but many herbs tolerate at least some shade, the exceptions of course being the mediterraneans - basil, oregano, thyme, etc… which like sun. But meadowsweet, marshmallow, mints and a host of other medicinal herbs do extremely well in light to medium shade.
And then there are mushrooms - if you want to produce maximum nutrition and taste in shady spots, the place to go is to fungi. In many cases, growing mushrooms will also improve your soil, nurturing the complex web of fungi and bacteria that keep soil healthy. My favorite resource for fungus is www.fungiperfecti.com.
There’s a chronic balancing act in our exercise of growing food - it is urgently important that we take places where humans live, and use them wisely, to preserve wild places. At the same time, sometimes the only wild places for miles are the ones we create in our yards and on our farms. Our shade should never been seen simply as “the place where I can’t grow food.”
By Joseph Parish
If you are looking for an inexpensive and simple way to store your bulk foods then search no longer. For several years now I had started obtaining the five gallon icing buckets which were used by cake decorators for storing cake icing in. These buckets are food grade products so they are safe for just about any type of food.
If you were to price the commercially available buckets of similar quality you would be shocked at the price of them. The ones that I use cost me a mere $1.00 each and that is complete with the lid. Not a bad price at all. I use these buckets to store my bulk items such as sugar, bread flour and regular flour.
For added protection from any sort of infestation you could add some O2 absorbers to the bucket. The recommended amount ranges from 2 to 5 per 5 gallon container. The usual recommended rule is to use "one packet per gallon," so therefore a 5 gallon bucket should require 5 packets. These packets should be placed inside a Mylar bag with your flour or what ever it is that you are storing up on. Some people recommend that you place several of the absorbers on the outside of the Mylar bag also to help preserve your items but I find that this is not necessarily needed. I do however use several bay leafs to eliminate any pests in products such as flour, pasta, etc.
Mylar bags range from 3.5 ml up to 7 ml. in thickness. The thinner the bags the easier they are to use since they are not as stiff however they still will block any oxygen from entering the bags while using the O2 absorbers. I have personally had times where I had not used the Mylar bags in my buckets and surprisingly have experienced no negative effects but the decision to use or not to use lies directly with you.
What I generally do it simply place the Mylar bag into the five gallon bucket and fill it with whatever it maybe that I wish to store away. As an example suppose I wish to store flour I would then place five O2 packets in with it. You should next use a sealer to seal the bag. In the event that you do not have a sealer you should roll the Mylar bag at the top and merely tape it down.
Now that we have the basics out of the way you might want to consider being a little creative. Few people have the resources to purchase 5 gallons of pasta at a time. Usually this is accomplished on a weekly basis. However you can place several smaller Mylar bags in a 5 gallon bucket and seal multiple items in the same bucket. This is particularly useful if the buckets will be stored in an out of the way location. Now you would only be required to get one bucket out at a time instead of one for each product that you plan to use.
Perhaps the Mylar bags may add an extra level of protection to your stored food however we must also keep in mind that these bags will add an extra level of cost as well.
Copyright @ 2009 Joseph Parish
By Joseph Parish
It wasn’t too many years ago that I was employed at a local oil refinery. Not the kind of refinery which processed crude oil into oil which is used in our vehicles but rather the kind of refinery which makes cooking oil. This particular refinery specialized in soybean oil. My job there was to ensure that the product that was being made was top quality and completely fit for human consumption.
Being a survivalist by heart I had previously saved some corn oil for a good many years. Upon opening the container of oil I soon discovered that it was completely useable and had not deteriorated in the least bit. The problem which I did encounter was that the oil quickly went rancid after being opened. This was not a good indication and thus I would not recommend that corn oil be stored for any longer period of time then five years at the most.
In all reality oil should not be kept for 20 to 30 years as some people would have us believe. In fact, some oils begin to break down and to deteriorate after only about three years of storage. This 3 to 4 year life span for oil is assuming that it is stored in a cool location that is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The oil must be of the hydrogenated type.
I usually store a small mixture of oil such as safflower or peanut oil that one finds in the square size quarts. You should store them on their sides 3 deep and they must be kept cold. You would do well to store this oil in the back of an unused refrigerator. For safety you should rotate your oil reserve at least every five years.
There is another alternative that I have been considering, however, I have not as yet tried it out but that is to use the oils in the 5 gallon containers which are sold by the various food distributors or by Sam’s club. My only concern on these containers is if I do not use them quickly enough will the oil become rancid. That experiment my friend will be a tale for another time after I try them out.
Copyright @2009 Joseph Parish