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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"She Did It Again..." (Guest Post by Himself)

Yesterday was "Learn About Composting Day".  Yep... there's a day for that and it is something I've been doing since last month.  I've been looking at ways that would work for us as the large bin type composting seems a bit much.

I finally found something that I think will work... now to get Himself on-board.  He had a bit of something to say about it.  I'll just let you read what he said.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hey...

Well, she did it again.   Something weird...

For you married types, does your spouse ever ‘get an odd idea’ and you are left wondering what you married?  When this happens, do you take an interest and inquire about what he or she may be doing?  Or do you slowly back away because you really don’t want to know.

Well, I can’t back away this time – I am part of ‘the help’...

Let’s let pictures take it from here:


Teri – who received a box in the mail. 

Nothing is unnerving than when they send off for something, and don’t even tell you about it.  (Because we might run interference.)   Then they have that happy look on their face when it arrives.  

OK – I’ll bite.   I’m like, “Whatcha up to this time?”


Me?  I wasn’t too sure about this.  For one thing, it look unprofessional - the box was dirty.  Maybe they dropped it or something.   Maybe something you paid good money for got broke.


Then, you look at the label...

Didn’t help.  Actually made things worse.   Seeing the word ‘live’ on a box that might have been dropped doesn’t fare well for the poor live ‘whatever’, nor my nerves.  


Then she proceeds to open the box.   To what? 

A green bag.   Whoopee...   What is so interesting about a green bag?


This...

(Seeing it yet?)


Let’s take a look at a portion of the box again.  

Notice ‘500 RW’.  And what does that stand for?


Look closer...

What does that look like?


You guessed it............

Worms.  And ‘RW’ stands for ‘Red Wigglers’.   For real.


My Dear Wife bought................a box of worms.   500 of them.   

(In this picture she told me to hurry up with the shot because the worm’s movement between her fingers...tickled.)


And those suckers were fast too – only two seconds between pictures, those wigglers starting dropping into the box.


And she is PROUD of ‘em!  


Now, let’s back up here for explanation...

That Woman got it into her head to order 500 worms from a worm farmer.    Yes, there really is such a thing!

(By the way – those unprofessional markings on the outside of the box was dirt – probably from ‘Uncle Jim’ himself who one presumes packed the worms.)


Even comes with instructions.

Why did Teri do this?   Because she has it in her mind to use these worms to help with composting.  Seems 500 worms can make soil rich very fast. 

(Side note here:  On a farm close by a farmer who raises cows has a granddaughter who refuses to use the word ‘cow manure’ for the cow’s.....(well, you know).    This little girl renamed it ‘cow dirt’.   So, in effect, Teri has 500 Red Wigglers who will help her make.....

          .....worm dirt.)   


How does this work?   Take a look:

First you get a tub.  


Then you label your box.  Makes it official.     (I think these are the worms from the ‘Men in Black’ movie.)


Then you drill tiny little holes along the upper edge.   

Like this:   Had at least 50 of those holes drilled with, (I think she said) a 1/16th inch drill bit.   When I asked her about it she said, “Hey – worms have to breath too!”   (Ya know...I never thought about it.  Worms breathing.  Can’t picture it.   Hmmm...)



Then, you cover up the holes that are already in the handles of the plastic Rubbermaid container.    Why? 


So the worms don’t escape.   Look at them go!  I watched several worms truck on up the side of the plastic box like nobody’s business.   


You put your finger there to block him?


He just changes direction...


Backing up again, if worms need to breath, they obviously need to eat.  Eat what?

Backing up again here, you start out with a big tub with a mixture of dirt, shredded cardboard & newspaper, and ‘coir’ - which I’ve been informed is shredded coconut fibers.   


Here is ‘coir’.


You just mix them together and then moisten it up.  Then?


Then you dump in the worms, get ‘em used to their new surroundings.

Then you basically feed them healthy table scraps.     

Teri?  She has saved up a various vegetable leftovers and scraps that she ‘adds to the mixture’ every few days.   She even makes little piles in various spots to see what food scraps the worms like best.   So far we have discovered that broccoli is out.   But they like tomatoes, apples, cantaloupe, lettuce, and I don’t know what all.    


Here is a cantaloupe half turned upside down.


Here I picked it up – look at that bundle of worms.   And, look at how they are eating – Teri had left decent amounts of cantaloupe within that half, yet you can see that they have ‘eaten to the rind’ and were working on that too!


At the same time, look at this worm-highway along the top.  (In the 30 seconds it took me to open the box, pick up the cantaloupe to take that picture, two worm had escaped up and over the top.  I had to retrieve them and toss them back in.) 


She waters them too.   With a spray bottle.  Moistens them and their bedding (or home, or whatever you would call it).  


The end result of all this?  Two things:   More worms, (as they are prolific), and...........

......... ‘worm castings’.    (What that little girl would call ‘worm dirt’.)      

So, what do you do with it all?   Well, it seems you mix this worm dirt in with another project of hers – her bonsai plants, and certain house plants.  (I cannot abide throwing that into a potted plant that I would eat – like a small carrot or something.  Somehow that just doesn’t seem right.....not that I would grow a carrot in a pot.  But you know what I mean...)

Eventually?   Eventually you have to ‘divide them out’ of the container because at a certain point they will ‘max out’ and stop reproducing.   So you split some of them out to a new worm house and the process starts all over again.   

Or you can go fishing..................



Monday, May 29, 2017

May Food In Jars: Cold (Raw) Pack Processing

The Food In Jars challenge this month was "cold pack processing" (also known as 'raw pack').  Basically it means you don't pre-cook your vegetable/fruit before processing.  You put the raw produce into the jar and put brine/sugar/juice...whatever your liquid is on top of the produce.

Then you process it in a hot water bath.

Most of the recipes I found were for pickles.  And frankly I'm pickled out.  

Then I found a recipe for canned whole tomatoes...


...and that is why I headed out to the Amish produce auction.  There are a lot of greenhouse grown tomatoes available this early.  See that box on the corner of the table?  Those are my "canning tomatoes".  I think it is a half bushel and my scale said it was about 25 pounds.


Aren't they pretty?  And they smelled so good.


After picking out a few to keep for eating, we got busy preparing them.  We cored and slice in X in to bottom of each one.  Then they were blanched for 2 minutes to make the skins slip off.  That left us with the tomatoes on the right.

From there we just put them into the ready-to-go jars, mashing them down a bit to get them nice and juicy.  A bit of clean-up and the jars went into the processor.


My pot holds 4 quart jars.  It was only when I got them into the pot that I checked the processing time...

EIGHTY-FIVE MINUTES!!

Are you kidding me?  I was shocked.  I wonder how many cans I could have bought for the electricity I used.  I had about a quart and a half of tomatoes left...and they went into the freezer for soup.


Supposedly it is fairly normal for crushed tomatoes to separate and you just give it a shake before you use it.  Yeah...

So these tomatoes are my one venture into canning tomatoes.



Sunday, May 28, 2017

I Need Power (Cords)!

Almost didn't get my May Home Kit done... I forgot about it!

We all have a stash of extension cords.  And I bet yours is probably pretty much like mine were; a tangled mess of indeterminate lengths.  Did I hit that nail on the head?


Himself and I gathered up a pile of all the cords we could find.


Next step was to measure them.

On the white cords I wrote the length right on the receptacle with a Sharpie.  For the dark cords, I made a masking tape tag to write the length on.  (When I get a new silver Sharpie, I'll write on those dark cords too.)

Then the small ones were put into gallon size Ziploc by type or size.  The larger ones stayed loose.


Last step was to drop them all into one tub that fits in our tool shelf.

Done!




Saturday, May 27, 2017

Back To The Produce Auction For 2017

Today was our first trip for 2017 to the Amish produce auction in Fairview, KY.  With us doing the Whole30 program plus needing to do my Food In Jars challenge,  I wanted to load up on some veggies.


With the season just starting, there were many small lots available.


The tomatoes are coming in gang-busters!  A big ripe juicy tomato was the star of my supper that night!  Ummmmm... REAL tomatoes until September!


The crowd was small.  Don't know if that's because it is early season or if by Fridays the crowds are less.  Have to figure this out...


Looks good, yes?


Small lot of strawberries.  Should have snagged them but I don't have time this weekend to deal with them.


English peas... I did get a lot of 3 boxes of these.  Himself LOVES fresh raw peas and so do I!


Beautiful cauliflower!


Cabbages were tremedous too.  I got 10 heads weighing in at an average of 4.5 pounds for .55c each.  There's going to be some kraut making happening around here... and some stuffed cabbage leaves... and some sauteed cabbage... and...


LOTS of strawberries.  Oh that area smelled so good!


Here's one of the 'small lot' tables.  That peck of pickling cucumbers in the middle came home with me for $6.


If you are in the Nashville/Clarksville, TN area, here's the contact  info.


And a schedule to plan your visit...


...and the sale report from this last Tuesday (23 May).

Maybe I'll see you next week!