Archive | January 2014

Dehydrating – next experiments

The soya sauce took a lot long then I would have thought it would take.  Off & on, 4 days.  😦

I now have 8 tins on pineapple bits drying (on 3 trays) the rest of the trays have pineapple juice.  This is drying much faster then the soya sauce did.  The reason for drying the pineapple juice is because I didn’t want to throw it out and I have no room in my freezer.  Plus when I want to dry banana chips, I will already have the powder juice on hand.

I have started to bring up the V8 juice I made & canned last year.  I found I am forgetting that it is there.  It is my hope that by drying it and turning it into a power, I will be more likely to use it as it will be stored in the kitchen.  I have set aside part of one cupboard for “powdered drinks”.  Things that I have dried where I only need to add water for a healthy drink.

I am hoping to get the last raised bed finished this year so that I may be able to plant some kale and in turn, make it into a powdered drink.

I can’t see spending all that money at the health food store for things that I can do myself.  🙂

Dehydrating Soya Sauce Experiment

I have  starting to organize my basement space to work more effectively.  One of the things that I have discovered was a lot of things are close to their expiry date.  I am trying to eat through what I can and dehydrate the rest.  The dates are too close to expiry for me to donate the food to a food bank.  I realized that the date issue is due mostly to my change in eating habits.

One of the things that I found was 4 bottles of soya sauce.  Here are a few of the things that I learned:

  • the sauce is so thin that I could only do a few tablespoon fulls at a time on each sheet – anything more & it would just run off the sheet
  • as it dried a bit, I would add another few tablespoons to the sheet – the sauce was kind of held in place with the second application of sauce 
  • as it dried a bit more, I repeated the above step until all of the soya sauce was in the dehydrator
  • its been 2 days of dehydrating (only on during the cheaper electricity times and not while I sleep) so I don’t know how many house it has been so far but it has taken longer then anything I have dried before
  • it is still sticky to the touch so it will be at least a few more hours until it is done.

The goal is to have it brittle dried & crushed to a powder.

Next will be French salad dressing but I need to make sure that there is no oil in it and then on to pineapple.

Costs you don’t think about when renovating or building

I have been slowly reading through the book – ” Building Your Own Home for Dummies”.  Some great ideas and things I had know but I had forgotten over the years.  In part if the book it talks about the kitchen being the most expensive room in the house to build or renovate.  That got me thinking about my last house and the kitchen renovation.  I think it was close to 18 years ago when we renovated the kitchen.  At the time, I went with white maple cabinets (I don’t remember the cost of them).  There was 42 cupboards and drawers in the kitchen.  The draw pulls/knobs that I liked where $13.99 each times that by 42  equals $587.58 plus then the tax would bring the total for the knobs to $675.71.  I settled for the pulls that were only $3.99 each.

I have started to look & price out those things that at least I didn’t remember would cost a great deal.  I found pulls that I like.  So as money & time allow, I will buy a few at a time.,45370,49938&p=53672

Lattice and Bead Suite


Lattice and Bead Suite - Hardware

Cast in zamak with an antique brass finish, this suite has a dozen pieces that incorporate beaded edges and/or a latticed grip surface or field.Sizes given for handles are overall width, with mounting centers in brackets. The finger pull has a 3/4″ square base with a 1-7/16″ wide lattice.

All pieces are supplied with appropriate mounting hardware.

Lattice and Bead Suite
3-7/8″ (64mm)
5-1/8″ (96mm)
6-3/8″ (128mm)
4-1/4″ (96mm)
Handle with Backplate
5″ (96mm)
Cup Pull
3-15/16″ (64mm)
6-1/2″ (128mm)
7-3/4″ (160mm)
1-15/16″ x 7/8″
Finger Pull
Vertical Escutcheon
3-1/2″ x 7/8″
Card Frame
3-1/2″ x 1″


For those interested, here is the link to the Lee Valley on-line catalogs:

Plant Cheatsheet

When I select plants/seeds to try for the first time, I just make sure that I have or can make the garden work for the plant.  Once I have ordered my “non-standard” seeds, I sit down and do up a cheetsheet on what each type of plant needs.  I look at multiple sources for the information and slowly fill in my cheatsheet.  This gives me a chance to start making any amendments to the soil that I may need to do.  Here is a sample of the start of my cheatsheet for this year:

Plant Soil PH Soil Type Lighting Sowing Disease & Pests Harvesting
Amaranth Mix 6.0-7.5 well drained soil Full sun Direct sow in late May to early June. Optimal soil temperature: 18-24°C (65-75°F). Watch for slug/snail damage to young plants. Amaranth is not prone to pest damage. Pick baby or mature greens as needed. Simply cut them with scissors as you would mescluns. The leaves have an appealing, nutty flavour. If growing for seed, choose A. hypochondriacus and provide ample spacing. Seed will ripen in late summer or early fall.
Red Quinoa 6.0-7.5 well-drained, loamy soil with added orgnaic matter Full sun Direct sow in late April to the end of May, while night temperatures are still cool. Optimal soil temperature for germination: 18-24°C (65-75°F). Seeds should germinate in 4-10 days Watch for slug/snail damage to young seedlings. Keep the area free from debris where these pests like to nest. Harvest any time after seeds have changed from green to their calico colours, even after light frost.

Does anyone else do this when they try a new food plant?

Soil Testing


What is a Soil Test?
soil test is a process by which elements (phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulfur, manganese, copper and zinc) are chemically removed from the soil and measured for their “plant available” content within the sample. The quantity of available nutrients in the sample determines the amount of fertilizer that is recommended. A soil test also measures soil pH, humic matter and exchangeable acidity. These analyses indicate whether lime is needed and, if so, how much to apply.
Why Do You Need A Soil Test?

Encourages plant growth by providing the best lime and fertilizer recommendations.

When growers guess about the need for lime or fertilizers, too little or too much is likely to be applied. By using a soil test report, the grower does not need to guess.For Example: When applying too much lime, soil pH may rise above the needed level, which causes nutrients such as iron, manganese, boron, copper and zinc to become less available to plants. It is also common to see homeowners purchase one bag of lime when they purchase one bag of fertilizer. Based on an average lawn size of 5000 square feet, one bag of fertilizer may be enough. Applying one bag of lime over 5000 square feet, however, will have little effect on soil pH.

Diagnoses whether there is too little or too much of a nutrient. Promotes environmental quality.

      When gardeners apply only as much fertilizer as is necessary, nutrient runoff into surface or ground water is minimized and natural resources are conserved.

Saves money that might otherwise be spent on unneeded lime and fertilizer.

      For example

            , growers of flue-cured tobacco often routinely apply phosphorus. In areas where soil levels are high in phosphorus, a soil test could save these farmers up to $60 per acre.

      Soil sampling analysis is a free service for any grower in North Carolina.

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      Taking a Good Sample
      A soil sample must be taken at the right time and in the right way. The tools used, the area sampled, the depth and the correct mix of the sample, the information provided, andpackaging all influence quality of the sample.

      Time it right.

      Take a soil sample a few months before starting any new landscaping-whether your laying sod, starting a vegetable garden, putting in a flower bed, or planting perennials. If the soil test report recommends lime, you will have enough time to apply it and have it adjust the soil pH before you plant.Sample established areas-lawns, trees, shrubbery, and other perennials-once every three or four years. You can sample at any time of year; however, mid-August through mid-September is an ideal time to take samples for cool-season grasses, such as fescue, bluegrass, and ryegrass. By sampling at this time, you can be ready to apply lime in the fall.

      For areas recently limed or fertilized, delay sampling at least six to eight weeks.

      Use clean sampling equipment.

      Use a soil probe, spade, hand garden trowel, or shovel to collect samples. Do not use brass, bronze, or galvanized tools because they will contaminate samples with copper and/or zinc.Mix samples in a clean, plastic bucket. If the bucket has been used to hold fertilizer or other chemicals, wash it thoroughly before using it for soil samples.

      Sample each unique area separately.

      Each sample should represent only one soil type or area-for example, a lawn, vegetable garden or perennial landscaped area (Figure 1). For each unique area, take at least six to eight subsamples and combine them to make one sample. If one area of your yard seems healthy and another has bare or yellow areas, sample healthy and unhealthy areas separately even if both are lawn grasses or flower gardens, etc.

      sampling pattern graphic
      Figure 1. Unique areas to sample in a home landscape.

      Take a soil core to the appropriate depth.

            For lawns, sample to a depth of four inches, excluding any turf thatch.

      For vegetable and flower gardens, sample to the depth that you plan to mix in lime or fertilizer, usually four to six inches.

      For shrubbery, remove any mulch or surface debris, then sample to a depth of four to six inches around the base of plants. Avoid zones where lime or fertilizer have been recently applied.

      Mix sample cores well. 

            Place all the subsamples for one unique area in a plastic bucket and mix thoroughly. Use the mixture in the bucket to fill a soil sample box about two-thirds full. Look for the fill line on the box.

      Fill out an information sheet and label the sample box completely.

            Get your sample boxes and information sheets from Cooperative Extension offices, agribusinesses, regional agronomists, or the Agronomic Division laboratory. Use permanent ink or pencil to fill out forms and label boxes.

      If you just want routine lime and fertilizer recommendations, then fill out a Soil Sample Information Sheet (form AD1) and send it with your samples.

      If you suspect existing nutritional problems and want the problems diagnosed, complete a Diagnostic Soil Sample Information Sheet (form AD2) instead.

      Give each sample a unique identifier of up to five letters and/or numbers. Put this identifier on both the information sheet and the sample box. Choose an identifier that will help you remember the area it corresponds to, such as FYARD, BYARD, ROSES, or GRASS.

      Be sure to list the existing plants and/or the plants you are planning to grow. You must include the crop code(s) in order to receive lime and fertilizer recommendations. Codes are listed on the back of the information sheet. Code 024 applies to all vegetable garden crops and 026 to all lawn grasses except centipedegrass, which is coded as 022.

      Package the sample appropriately.

            Put the soil mixture in the sample box. Do not tape the box or put soil in a plastic bag. If you are sending several sample boxes through the mail, pack them carefully in a sturdy container. Do not send samples in a manilla envelope. Mail samples to the Agronomic Division laboratory at the address on the back of this publication.

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        Receiving the Soil Test Report
        Soil samples are usually analyzed within one week of the time they are received. However, from late fall through early spring, processing may take several weeks due to the heavy sample influx from farmers at this time.When testing is complete, a report is mailed to the homeowner and a copy is immediately posted on the internet at A cover sheet and a crop-specific note are sent with the report. The cover sheet explains the technical terms and index values. The note provides extra details on fertilizer application schedules and rates for specific kinds of plants.

        Information about soil tests and their interpretation is also available on the internet at Consult an agricultural advisor for more help on sampling, interpreting soil test results, and understanding how to implement them.


        A Homeowner’s Guide to Fertilizer

        Understanding the Fertilizer Label
         Fertilizer Bag All fertilizer labels have three bold numbers. The first number is the amount of nitrogen (N), the second number is the amount of phosphate (P2O5) and the third number is  the amount of potash (K2O). These three numbers represent theprimary nutrients (nitrogen(N) – phosphorus(P) – potassium(K)).This label, known as the fertilizer grade, is a national standard.

        A bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer contains 10 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphate and 10 percent potash.

        Fertilizer grades are made by mixing two or more nutrient sources together to form a blend, that is why they are called “mixed fertilizers.” Blends contain particles of more than one color. Manufacturers produce different grades for the many types of plants.You can also get fertilizers that contain only one of each of the primary nutrients. Nitrogen sources include ammonium nitrate (33.5-0-0), urea nitrogen (46-0-0), sodium nitrate (16-0-0) and liquid nitrogen (30-0-0). Phosphorus is provided as 0-46-0 and potash as 0-0-60 or 0-0-50.
        Calculating Nutrient Content 
        To calculate the pounds of nitrogen in a 50-lb bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer, multiply 50 by 0.10. Do the same for calculating the amounts of phosphate and potash. A 50-lb bag of 10-10-10 contains a total of 15 lbs of nutrients: 5 lbs nitrogen, 5 lbs phosphate and 5 lbs potash. The remaining weight is filler, usually sand or granular limestone.Another example:

        50-lb. bag of 8-0-24 fertilizer

            1. To calculate the pounds of nitrogen: Multiply 50 by .08, which equals 4.
            2. To calculate the pounds of phosphate: There is no phosphate in this bag of fertilizer.
            3. To calculate the pounds of potash: Multiply 50 by .24, which equals 12.

          A 50 pound bag of 8-0-24 fertilizer contains a total of 16 lbs of nutrients: 4 lbs nitrogen, 0 lbs phosphate, and 12 lbs potash. This would leave us with 34 lbs of filler.

          Selecting a Fertilizer Grade 
          The best way to select a fertilizer grade is to have your soil tested. The soil test report will recommend a fertilizer grade for your use. The report also comes with a management note that provides guidelines for supplementing nitrogen for lawn and garden crops.Typical grades recommended for lawns and gardens include: 

          • 5-10-5
          • 5-10-10
          • 10-10-10
          • 8-0-24
          • 6-6-18
          Spreading Fertilizer 
          Have you ever seen a lawn that looked like it had different colored stripes. This was probably caused by spreading fertilizers the wrong way. To make sure that the color and growth of your plants are the same, fertilizers must be spread evenly. The most popular types of fertilizer spreaders are the drop spreader and the cyclone spreader. Cyclone spreaders generally provide the best results. Make sure when you spread the fertilizer that you overlap your spread pattern by Applying half the material in one direction and the remainder in the opposite direction. Break up any clumps so that the fertilizer won’t get clogged in the spreader. Fertilizer Spreader
          If you have questions regarding which grade of fertilizer to use or how much fertilizer to use, contact your local agricultural advisor or the Agronomic Division in Raleigh, NC.