Suburban Prepping at our Chateau

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  • Thu, Oct 19, 2017 - 09:06pm



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    Northern Tool Barrel Stove

I got a barrel stove kit through Northern Tool. I also got the kit to add a second barrel on top of the first to help catch more of the heat that travels up the flue. With the top barrel added on you wouldn't be able to cook on top of the lower barrel. 

Here's a link to the page – both kits are shown.

I haven't used the kit yet, but I figured I'd get one before they outlaw them altogether, like they have in CA and WA. It would be a handy and cheap way to add heat to an outbuilding and from my understanding they CRANK out the heat, as in heating a 2000+ Sq ft shop/garage in little to no time at all. Tons of review videos on YouTube. 

If you have an angle grinder and a welder, I'm sure you could cut off a section of the barrel and weld some flat 3/8 steel to make a flat surface for cooking. In fact, you wouldn't even need to own the tools, perhaps a friend could help you build the project as part of a community building event with the added bonus that they could teach you how to weld (if you don't already know). 

BTW, really enjoyed the video Snydeman. 

  • Thu, Oct 19, 2017 - 09:51pm



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    Cranking out the heat

The Pioneer Princess we have cranks out so much heat that during a week of zero-degree temps (2 years ago, the last time central MD had a winter), while I was running it, the first floor of our 2300 square foot home was 81 degrees, and upstairs was in the low 70s. There was frost on the windows and I was in shorts and a t-shirt…and warm.


I like those outdoor stoves. Might just get one as backup to the backup.

  • Thu, Oct 19, 2017 - 11:48pm



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    Experiment with different varieties of beans

Hi Sand_Puppy-

   I buy a lot of my bean (and other) seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, at .  Or to get right to the beans:   One nice thing about the Baker Creek website is they have reviews on all their seeds from people who have tried them.

   One thing I found useful to do is to experiment with several different types of bean seeds to see which ones thrive in my soil and are most productive.  I wanted to learn ahead of time which beans we could count on, in case we actually have to depend on their harvest as a food source.  I found huge differences between different varieties.  Beans (for drying) that I've experimented with include:

– Cherokee Trail of Tears Pole Bean (a black bean);

– Haricot Tarbais Beans

– Hidasta Red Indian Beans

– Mayflower Beans

– Papa De Rola Beans

– Jacob's Cattle Bush Beans

– Hutterite Soup Bush Beans

– Arikara Yellow Beans

– Bolita Beans

The Cherokee Trail of Tears black beans and the Haricot Tarbais beans were by far the best producers for us.  If I was in a survival situation, they would be the ones I'd dedicate the most space to growing.  Others produced well (the Hidasta Red Indian Beans), moderately well (the Mayflower beans, Papa De Rola Beans and Jacob's Cattle Bush Beans), and others okay but not great (the  Hutterite Soup Beans, Arikara Yellow and Bolita beans). I suspect different people with different soil and in different geographic locations could have different results, so you want to find out what works best for you. 

   One other lesson I learned the hard way was not to leave beans/bean plants out in the garden after they were "dry enough".  I thought the longer I left them out to dry, the better.  But one year, after the beans were already fairly dry, we got a long spell of rain, and my beans got soaking wet.  When I tried to hang them to dry, I had mold issues.  Major disappointment!!  So be careful not to leave the beans out too long if your area is prone to rain.  Now I am much more proactive about harvesting the beans as soon as they are dry.

  • Fri, Oct 20, 2017 - 01:51am


    David Huang

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To back up what pinecarr was saying about different beans being better in some areas or soils I can say that Bolita beans have been one of my best producing beans.  I've also found Good Mother Stallard to do quite well for me.  I tried some Fort Portal Jade this year for the first time and while they are an absolutely beautiful green colored dried bean they did very poorly for me.  I'll try them again next year hoping it was just a fluke, but I won't expect much.

I haven't tried any of the varieties pinecarr mentioned besides the Bolita bean so maybe they would all do even better, but I know Bolita works well for me and I like the flavor and texture of them.  I may give the Cherokee Trail of Tears bean a try next year though to see what happens.  I'd like a good black bean.

  • Fri, Oct 20, 2017 - 11:04am



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    Keep planting folks

Mother Jones ran a piece this morning and  has an early estimate on farming losses due to all the climate change disasters this year, it is around 7 billion.From peaches to grapes.Scary doesn't begin to cover it…

  • Fri, Oct 20, 2017 - 04:11pm



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    Squeezing more food-growing in; neighborhood gardening post-TEOT

Very nice, Snydeman, and very generous of you to take the time to record and share, thank you. 

We grow quite a bit here on .15 of an acre in zone 6b, so permit me a few suggestions re maximizing food production on a small lot:

You can grow beans up a trellis on the side of the house (so long as you make provisions for harvesting them), and "stack functions" as the permies say, in that it will help passively cool the house. That would work best for drying beans, which you only have to harvest once or twice, and could accomplish by pulling down the vines. Or grow them on a taller version of the miniature arbor you have now. An arbor over the patio could be used for beans, or say, growing grapes, or kiwi vines while providing desirable shade in a warming climate. 

You could grow hops the same way (beware allergy issues, tho' – might want to test family members first), and have an herb useful for sleep remedies and for brewing, that also shades and cools the house or patio.

We're getting good results for longer-term seed storage by putting the packs in zip-style plastic bags (several similar kinds to a bag, depending on packet size) and storing them in an airtight case in the freezer. Storing seeds frozen extends their shelf life by at least double.

Can you plant shade-tolerant crops under the bean and cucumber trellises? Romaine lettuce, other highly nutritious greens. Watch out for slugs, tho', particularly with the mulch as it breaks down. (We feed the little darlings beer in shallow saucers. At least they die happy?)

Harvest and cook some of those dandelion (and other?) greens now, so your family learns how to enjoy them. Children in particular are susceptible to "appetite fatigue" under stress, unfamiliar foods are more likely to be rejected then.

Do the large trees in front bear nuts or other edibles? If not, can they be replaced with something that does?

You have room along the periphery for fruit trees, particularly if espaliered, with annual crops planted at their feet.

Can the large woodpile be moved closer to the door closest to the woodstove room? In a crisis, even something relatively minor like, say, everyone in the house having the flu, reducing the labor needed to keep the stove fueled will be valuable.

A HolzHausen pile, while not quite as space efficient, is attractive enough that it isn't an eyesore, so having the wood someplace more visible could work.

You might check out for ways to grow a tremendous variety of food plants in a small space. She also manages to make it look elegant as she goes, which helps with blending in and with avoiding neighbors' complaints re visuals.

In a crisis, if you help your neighbors dig up their lawns and plant seeds, how will you impart the knowledge for how to grow to them? Something to think about in advance – time will be short, people will be stressed and fatigued, and you won't have time for widespread one-to-one tutoring. Anything you can do to cultivate 😉 other gardeners in the neighborhood now could help make that more successful.  We've been very challenged on that front here – I've given away berry plants and garden seedlings, answered questions when asked, etc. only to see neighbors move away, or simply not care for the plants. Not much progress on this front 'round here yet, I'm afraid.

Keep us posted! It's heartening to see others' progress. Thanks!



  • Fri, Oct 20, 2017 - 04:53pm



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    Espaliered Fruit Trees, HolzHausen Wood Piles

Those are GREAT suggestions Thivalista!

I can see how espalier trimming of fruit trees could give us lots of extra growing space, shade, and many more fruit trees and vines along one unused side of our house.  (It is the south, sun-exposed side.)  It would also make it feasible to put netting bird protection over the tree to prevent predation by the critters.

Here is a tutorial on the art of trimming fruit trees so that they grow in a flat plain along a supporting trellis.

The process  — Apple Trees planted along a fence line — Year 1

Year 2

Later years

How and When to Prune Your Espaliered Fruit Tree

You may need to prune two or three times per season to keep the tree in shape. The first pruning should be after it blooms in the spring. The flowers will indicate where the fruit will be, and you can prune accordingly. (Always use very sharp, clean shears that have been dipped in diluted bleach solution, or wiped down thoroughly with an alcohol wipe, rinsed and dried after each use to prevent potential disease spread.)

While it usually takes about four years to get the full artistic effect of your efforts, you may actually see fruit as soon as the second year… but if you want the most from your espaliered tree, remove that developing fruit for a year or two.

Then keep an eye on it, nipping off vertical shoots, and removing suckers and water sprouts. Shorten the horizontal branches to encourage the development of a fruiting spur. Because there will be more fruiting spurs produced along the horizontal branches than the vertical trunk, eventually you will have many fruits setting on your espaliered tree, so make sure your support is strong.

And a couple of HoltHausen wood piles:

This doesn't seem very efficient?  Would a rocket mass heater work well for your needs?

  • Fri, Oct 20, 2017 - 07:17pm



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    Good HolzHausen hack!

Thanks, SandPuppy! I appreciate the pics, too – seeing that one of the HolzHausen piles looks to be built on an outer ring of earthbags gives me an idea for repurposing some now-unused sandbags that were formerly protecting an outbuilding wall from flooding….

Meanwhile we've planted white mulberry, jujubes, and a medlar in our front yard. More bio-diversity, and less-recognizable fruit sources. (Except by the darned deer – they don't care what color the mulberries are…)

  • Fri, Oct 20, 2017 - 08:56pm



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    Awesome tutorial link


Thanks for sharing that tutorial link on espalier growing.

Another resource is Dave Wilson Nursery on YouTube. They have tons of videos including some on espalier growing as well as planting 3 trees in 1 hole and then pruning them to stay small. I haven't done the 3-in-1, but I have started to plant my bareroot trees in the spring during dormancy and then immediately prune them to knee high. When they break dormancy they put out some really nice low scaffold branches to work with. The first time I did it I was really skeptical, but I've only had 1 tree be slow to bounce back out of about 15 I've planted that way. 

I find it so much more enjoyable to work with smaller fruit trees than I ever imagined, but I think this spring when I order trees I will try my hand as some Espalier growing. 

Thanks again for sharing the link. 

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