Self Sustaining Restaurants via Hydroponics

I went to my daughters dance competition a few weeks ago and came across some signage indicating that the resuratants and kiosks within the convention center were self sustaining. Well, to be direct it only applied to their vegetable and herb ingredients. I figured that since I dream of changing careers to do something with hydroponic farming, I’d go see what they were talking about.

Right there in the middle of this massive convention center, instead of reserving the square footage for meeting space, the partnership between the city and the convention center carved out a hydroponic farm. To advertise what they were doing and why, they had various explanatory boards along with some glassed off areas where you could see what the growing hydroponically under grow lights.

I thought it was a pretty cool concept so I thought I’d share the images I captured while I was there.

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Dandelion Wine - It's That time of Year!

Ok, since my maple sap turned on me, I’m on to my latest endeavor… dandelion wine! I’ve never made it before and now that the Foreign & Domestic 5-part book series is complete, I find that I have a little more time on my hands… but not enough apparently to make maple syrup * sigh *. What’s the adage, idle hands are the devil’s work?

Image by Prolisok

Image by Prolisok

I had a picture that I took some time ago when I originally contemplated this post and activity (2 years ago), but alas I can’t find it. I also did some research in the hopes of finding a good recipe with specific details. The four links I’m providing below will give you a good idea as to the different methods available as well as varying batch sizes.

Based on my reading and research though, the key to making a good dandelion wine is to remove the individual yellow dandelion petals from the bud. Don’t just pluck the bud from the stem and run with it. Apparently, the inclusion of the bud will make the wine bitter and unpalatable.

Good to know, right?

Good luck and happy hunting!

I’ll let you know how mine turns out… here are the links.

Maple Sap Went Bad

Given the family schedule and weather, I wasn’t able to get the maple sap boiled down into syrup within a week of collection. I figured that since it was in the fridge, I was good to go. I mean, c’mon, I had my pot and thermometer…

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I had my burner setup…

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Then I went to strain the sap and this is what I found…

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Cloudy and slimy friggin’ sap!

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Plus, the sap smelled rancid. Those are key giveaways that you should always heed when making maple syrup.

Word to the wise… figure out a way to cook the sap down and into syrup within a week of collection. Don’t be like Dave and wait thinking the refrigerator will be your saving grace. It’s very disappointing, but on the flip side I have 9 months to procure some additional syrup making supplies that should make the task easier.

Seeds Have Been Started

The wife and kids had their respective spring breaks pretty early this year. For the life of me I can’t figure out why the school districts up here insist on having spring break in March! It’s too freaking cold to go anywhere except the Caribbean or Latin America… and who can afford that shiznit! In past years, the three of them have gone somewhere together but since the wife teaches in a different suburb than the one the girls attend their breaks didn’t line up. While the wife was on her break, we went to the high school where she teaches and started the seeds for this years garden.

I believe I’ve mentioned previously that my bride is a biology teacher. This comes in handy when I can’t figure something out in the garden or need general advice on a particular practice. Incidentally, most of the time she just shakes her head at me. Regardless, with her being a high school bio teacher is extremely beneficial when it comes to starting seeds. The high school has several of these massive three-tiered commercial sized grow light stands and there is usually enough room to squeeze in our stuff with the kids seeds. Plus, I provide the table top light stand and the large heat mat to handle the germination. The large grow light ‘carts’ handle the plants after they’ve germinated.

Here was the original plan:

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By all accounts, the seeds germinated without issue. Everything was planted on March 31st. The wife sends me daily updates every morning or calls me via FaceTime to let me know/see what kind of progress has been made as she’s also been handling the transplanting with the students. Most everything was up within 7-10 days. The squash, zucchini, and eggplants took a full two weeks though. Here’s the germination list she sent me:

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If I’m reading it right, I think we picked up a few plants along the way. That or some of the student plantings found their way into our family plot already. It doesn’t really matter because we always wind up with quite a few more than we planted because a decent number of the students forget to take home their plants. Whatever they forget we’ve been putting in the garden (if there is room) or we’ve been placing them in planters at the house. It’s pretty much a win-win for us.

Here are the images she sent me a day or two ago:

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There is still quite a bit of room left in the stand right now but as the plants mature and get transplanted into larger cowpots, that space will disappear rapidly.

Tapped my Trees!

Now that the Foreign & Domestic series is finished, the wife and I are finding more time to do stuff together. It’s pretty much mundane household maintenance stuff but we enjoying doing stuff together all the same. Just this week we removed and reinstalled little plastic feet on our patio furniture after 20+ years of ownership. Who says the love is dead!

Much to her chagrin, this winter I ordered some supplies from the tapmytrees website because, well… I’ll eat breakfast for every meal and I really love true blue, dyed in the wool, all-American, maple syrup! You know what I’m talking about! No additives, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, Aunt Jamima bull shit!

My property in suburban hell has two maple trees. One that was planted by her parents 40+ years ago that sits in the front yard and provides oodles of curb appeal and the one that just showed up in our backyard. The one in the backyard we have named ‘Steve’ after that stupid Michael Keaton movie ‘Multiplicity’.

In a nutshell, I procured a spile w hook, a bucket, and a lid from the tapmytrees folks. It was actually pretty easy.

Step #1: Tap the tree —> you need a spile, drill, and a hammer. Drill a 2” to 2 1/2” deep hole at an upward angle in the tree approximately three feet off the ground on the south side of the tree.

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Step #2: With a hole drilled at an upward angle, on the south side of the tree at about three feet above ground, insert the spile.

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Step #3: Hang the bucket from the hook, which is attached to the spile, and then attach the lid… easy peesy!

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I think I might be about a week or two too late. We drove to Cleveland over the weekend for a thing for my daughter and every single valley and every single hardwood stand not only had bags hanging from the trees collecting maple syrup, but each of the valley’s was filled with campfire smoke where the locals were cooking the syrup down.

I can’t wait to cook my syrup down. More pics and maybe a video to follow!

Release Date!

Whoop! Whoop! Parts IV and V are loaded into Amazon and should be released Friday, March 1… here’s the cover art! I’ve also made Parts I-III free from March 1 through March 3! Read and enjoy the exciting conclusion to the series!

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Took me a little over three years to complete these two novels… and believe me, life threw more than enough in my way during the course of this. I’m gonna take a break from writing for a few weeks and decompress. I’ve still got the two non-fiction pieces to finish and then I’m gonna review Parts I-III and prep the entire series to become an audiobook.

I Did It!

Well, folks! I finally did it! I’ve just finished Part V of the series. Now I have a couples weeks of editing and review on both Part IV and Part V and then I’ll publish them simultaneously! At about 400 pages apiece it was a lot of effort, but I’m finally finished!

WTF Sweden!

I’ve seen and read an article or two about people in Europe that are willingly microchipping themselves and my first thought is always, why?

Why would they be doing this? Do they think it is a fad like the idiots eating tide pods or pouring boiling water on themselves? 

Why would they, or anyone for that matter, give up what remained of their privacy and security?  After reading the article (link below), I can’t help but be reminded of a Benjamin Franklin quote:

 Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

I’m sorry, folks... but if the Europeans are doing this now, rest assured, it’ll be on our shores in less than a decade… just in time for the next generation of socialist voters to be finishing college. I think that we, as Americans, and the rest of the world need to take off the blinders we’ve been wearing as we watched Europe’s slow decline and recognize and admit that Europe is truly lost and the patients are running the asylum at this point.

https://trendingposts.net/trending-technology-news/swedes-are-inserting-microchips-in-their-hands/?ia=334_6217&utm_source=SC&utm_medium=334&utm_campaign=6217 

Updates Abound!

Believe it not, I’ve actually been kinda busy of late… which explains why it’s been a month since my last post! Our family life has been chaotic to say the least!

Anyhoo, here are my updates:

  • The finishing touches are being put on the text of Part’s IV and V and both books with be released simultaneously shortly after New Year’s. Yeah me!

As an added side note, during the coarse of my interview some years ago with the Survival Punk podcast, the host, James Burnette, asked if I could write him into the book and have him die horrifically. Well, mission accomplished! As I told him in an email, not only did I write him into the series, but I ended up making him one of two protagonists throughout both parts. I drew my inspiration for his demise from history, of course. Think Rasputin!

  • As soon as Parts IV and V are released, the two non-fiction pieces I’ve been working on will be released. I’m shooting for late winter for the Poultice, Salves, and Tinctures piece and early spring for Preparing to Prepare.

  • I’ve been updating the Useful Resource - Books and Useful Resources - Websites pages as of late so be sure to click on over there and see what’s been added or re-tooled.

  • I also added a Precious Metals page under the Resources menu option. I thought it would be fun to mess with some coding on the site and inserted a real time PM table that is fed by the Money Metals Exchange website. I’m also looking to add an RSS feed for ammo… because, why not!

Weird, I thought I had more updates than this… oh well. That’s what I remember for right now.

  • Oh, and I did get my wife to sit still for nearly three whole hours and watch The Postman with me. She enjoyed it, but got a little antsy around the two and half hour mark.

Annnddd I just remembered something else.

  • Once these four books are released I’ll be circling back to Part I and prepping all five parts for Amazon’s ACX feature in order to release the series on audio! If possible, I’d like the same narrator to do all five parts for consistency. Personally, I’d love Scott Brick to do it, but I don’t think he does charity… just putting that out there in the universe.

There! That’s the last update!

Leaf Matter Fire Bricks

Several years ago, I saw something on the Internet that piqued my curiosity. It was a series of posts and steps from a variety of sources that explained and dealt with what to do with all of your fall leaves. Here are some images of my front yard:

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Basically, they collected the fallen leaves using a variety of means (raking, blowing, back pack blower/vacuum) and then formed the leaf matter, along with shredded newspaper, in to fire starter ‘bricks’.

The method I settled on was fairly simple. I’d supply pictures but the General Contractor from our remodel walked off with what I needed to depict.

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 5-gallon buckets

  • 1 long paint stirring drill attachment

  • 2 2x4’s 16” long

  • 1 drill

  • 1/4” drill bit

  • Leaves

  • Shredded Newspaper

Instructions:

  1. Turn one of the five gallon buckets into a colander by drilling successive holes around the bottom 2”-3” perimeter of the bucket, including the bottom of the bucket.

  2. Place the colander bucket inside one of the two remaining solid buckets.

  3. Fill the colander with leaf material and shredded newspaper.

  4. Fill the buckets 1/2 to 3/4 full of water.

  5. Attach the paint stirring attachment to your drill and combine (shred) the leaf matter while mixing it with the shredded newspaper.

  6. Remove the colander bucket from the solid bucket and place atop the two 2x4’s which have been situated on top of the solid bucket rim.

  7. Take the 3rd bucket (solid), and insert it into the colander and press down mightily and express all of the water.

  8. Once almost all of the water is pressed out, turn the colander over and remove the leaf/newspaper brick.

  9. Place the brick on a wire rack to dry for approximately 2 weeks.

  10. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until you have the desired number of bricks. (NOTE: You don’t need to empty the water for successive bricks.)

This is what I did. However, I have seen where people used 6” and 8” PVC pipe with holes drilled in it, combined with a removable end cap and a plunger of sorts, to accomplish the same thing. To each their own. Use what you have and turn all of those downed leaves into something useful.

Here are some videos and websites to give you some other ideas:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oh4SeyDgI7I

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFSVtJbpHF8

https://www.hunker.com/12375733/how-to-make-fire-logs-out-of-leaves

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-_MQgYK6c0