FoodProduction101

Garden Tour July 2016

Follow along on a tour of my permaculture site. You'll see: swales, ponds, gardens, chickens, bees, and much more.

Episode 143 The Food Production Podcast 11-28-2015

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DownloadMP3 1. Harvesting and processing chestnuts. 2. Elderberries: the medicinal powerhouse.

Harvesting and Processing Chestnuts

I planted 4 chestnut trees in 2010. This past fall was the first time they produced any nuts. There wasn’t a ton, but I wanted to try harvesting and processing the nuts by hand to see if it was a viable convenient human food source on a permaculture homestead. Also, I’d never even tried chestnuts.
Chestnut ripening

Chestnut ripening

Chestnuts will fall off the tree when ripe enough to pick, so you don’t need a ladder. You simply pick them up off the ground.   The Chestnuts have a spiky outer covering that requires gloves to handle. If they’ve fallen off the trees, the spiky covering will probably be split, and you’ll be able to see the nuts inside. I used some leather gloves, and I was fine handling the spiky covering. Inside the spiky covering, you will find 1-3 chestnuts.   There is a hard outer shell. The chestnut meat is inside that. If the outer shell is soft the nut is probably bad. So, I just separated the spiky covering from the chestnuts and collected the shells that were decent size and still hard. I brought them inside and put them in a basket until I was ready to cook them.
Chestnuts

Chestnuts

I was told by two people that chestnuts usually have a worm inside the nut that will eat its way out, leaving a tiny hole and their excrement inside. Yum, sounds appetizing. It turns out that these are chestnut weevil grubs. I was relieved to not find a single hole in the chestnuts I picked.   A few weeks went by, and my chestnuts still sat on the counter waiting to be processed. One morning, I went to the kitchen to make breakfast, and there were what looked like maggots all over the counter and the floor. I didn’t feel much like breakfast anymore. Anyway, I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from. Finally, I figured out that they were chestnut weevil grubs.   I did some research on chestnut weevils, and the management techniques involve spraying and sanitation. I’m not going to spray my trees, so that left sanitation. Sanitation basically involves cleaning up (harvesting) all the chestnuts each year so the weevils can’t complete their lifecycle. I would imagine that that would not totally eliminate the grubs, so this was a big negative in my mind as far as using chestnuts as a human food source.   I left the nuts in a mostly sealed container for another week. I left the lid slightly ajar for air. I let all the worms come out, and they congregated at the bottom. On Halloween, I decided to try to process and cook them. I sorted the nuts with holes and the ones without. I rinsed the nuts.   I took the “good” nuts and made a single deep lengthwise cut with a serrated knife. The serrated knife is important because the nuts are slippery and dangerous otherwise. I saw a lot of people making “X” cuts with paring knives, and that just looked dangerous and tedious to me. My single cut worked fine for me.   There are tons of great chestnut recipes, but I was in a hurry, so I just baked them at 425 for 15 minutes. After they came out of the oven, I placed a towel over the pan for ten minutes to let them cool enough so I could handle them.   After they cooled enough to handle, but were still warm, I pulled the shells apart by hand and pulled out the chestnut. It is important to do this quickly, because if they cool it is much harder to separate the nut meat from the shell. I cut each of the nuts in half, just to make sure I didn’t cook any worms inside. I was a bit paranoid after seeing my kitchen filled with them. I only found one nut that was infested.   Again, I was pressed for time, so I just added some salt to the chestnuts and I took them to a Halloween party I was invited to. They were much sweeter than any nut I’ve ever had. I could see how cooking them in butter and garlic would be excellent. They were really good right out of the oven with just a bit of salt.
Cooked and Shelled Chestnuts

Cooked and Shelled Chestnuts

After eating the chestnuts, I can say that they make a tasty and healthy addition to any homestead. The only issue I have is the weevil grubs. I fed the grubs to the chickens, and they loved them. Maybe I could cook them up too? Just kidding. I started to think about how I could turn the problem (weevil grubs) into the solution. I’ve heard a few permaculturalists make fun of the adage, the problem is the solution. I personally like the saying. I feel like it helps me to look at the problem from a different vantage point. In this case we have grubs that are destroying my chestnuts, chickens that love the grubs, and sanitation as the main control.   Those grubs are a source of extremely healthy protein for my birds. So, I have the idea that next year, I’ll harvest all the nuts, good or bad. I’ll place the good nuts in a container with a lid and a screened bottom, big enough for the worms to fall through, but small enough for the nuts to stay put. I’ll put this container over top of a bucket or another container to catch all the worms. The bad nuts, I’ll simply place in a mostly sealed container to allow the worms to come out. Once I’ve waited three weeks and the worms are out, I’ll feed the worms to the chickens and separate the good and the bad nuts to be cooked.   In the above scenario, I am providing a high protein food to the chickens and performing my sanitation duties at the same time, and then enjoying the clean chestnuts. The problem is the solution.

Episode 142 Second Appearance on The Survival Podcast

November 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog, Design, Permaculture, Podcast

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DownloadMP3 Below is the write up from The Survival Podcast interview I did with Jack Spirko. Thanks Jack, I enjoyed talking to you. Phil Williams is a permaculture consultant, designer, and author. He spent a decade in the landscape industry. After selling his business in 2007, he trained as a home energy auditor and building analyst. He began organic gardening in 2008, before learning about permaculture in 2010. He’s since taken two PDC’s, and built a demonstration site in central PA where he’s installed 4 ponds, a gray water system, 1500 trees and shrubs, 2000 linear foot of swales, 80 linear feet of hugelkultur, and an apiary. Currently, he consults on local and remote projects as well as the business side of permaculture contracting. He Joins Us Today To Discuss…
  • Getting a project started right
  • The limits of observation on a client site
  • The important details that need gathering that are often overlooked
  • The actual production of design documentation
  • The limits and value of “artistic ability” as a designer
  • Taking the design though to installation
  • Sourcing labor and remaining profitable
  • Weighing out hiring out labor vs. self provided client labor
  • Sourcing difficult to get or seasonal materials
  • Timing installations and plantings properly
  • The biggest challenges as a consultant and installer
  • Developing maintenance business, niche industries and more

Episode 141 Fire the Landscaper Audiobook Part 10

November 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog, Design, Permaculture, Podcast

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DownloadMP3 1. Bonus Chapter: Conclusion to My Legal Problems *If you're enjoying this book, please consider purchasing the E-book. It's only $2.99, audiobooks are typically $20 or more. If you don't have the funds, please write a review on Amazon and/ or Goodreads. It is a HUGE help to have positive reviews. You do not have to purchase the book to write a review. Amazon Link to Fire the Landscaper Goodreads Fire the Landscaper

Episode 140 Fire the Landscaper Audiobook Part 9

November 10, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog, Design, Permaculture, Podcast

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DownloadMP3 1. Chapter 16: Living Healthier and Happier by Doing Less 2. Chapter 17: I Want to Live in Natural Beauty and Abundance 3. Chapter 18: That Was Then. This is Now.-S.E. Hinton 4. Your To-Do and To-Don't Recap *If you're enjoying this book, please consider purchasing the E-book. It's only $2.99, audiobooks are typically $20 or more. If you don't have the funds, please write a review on Amazon and/ or Goodreads. It is a HUGE help to have positive reviews. You do not have to purchase the book to write a review. Amazon Link to Fire the Landscaper Goodreads Fire the Landscaper

Episode 139 Fire the Landscaper Audiobook Part 8

November 7, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog, Design, Permaculture, Podcast

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DownloadMP3 1. Chapter 14: A Tale of Two Communities, Part 1 2. Chapter 15: A Tale of Two Communities, Part 2 *If you're enjoying this book, please consider purchasing the E-book. It's only $2.99, audiobooks are typically $20 or more. If you don't have the funds, please write a review on Amazon and/ or Goodreads. It is a HUGE help to have positive reviews. You do not have to purchase the book to write a review. Amazon Link to Fire the Landscaper Goodreads Fire the Landscaper

Episode 138 Fire the Landscaper Audiobook Part 7

November 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog, Design, Permaculture, Podcast

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DownloadMP3 1. Chapter 13: Local Ordinances and My Legal Problems *If you're enjoying this book, please consider purchasing the E-book. It's only $2.99, audiobooks are typically $20 or more. If you don't have the funds, please write a review on Amazon and/ or Goodreads. It is a HUGE help to have positive reviews. You do not have to purchase the book to write a review. Amazon Link to Fire the Landscaper Goodreads Fire the Landscaper

Episode 137 Fire the Landscaper Audiobook Part 6

October 31, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog, Design, Permaculture, Podcast

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DownloadMP3 1. Chapter 10: Fire the Lawn Mowing Company (Yes, the Neighbor's Kid Too) 2. Chapter 11: Stop Poisoning Your Property 3. Chapter 12: Kill the HOA *If you're enjoying this book, please consider purchasing the E-book. It's only $2.99, audiobooks are typically $20 or more. If you don't have the funds, please write a review on Amazon and/ or Goodreads. It is a HUGE help to have positive reviews. You do not have to purchase the book to write a review. Amazon Link to Fire the Landscaper Goodreads Fire the Landscaper

Episode 136 Fire the Landscaper Audiobook Part 5

October 27, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog, Design, Permaculture, Podcast

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DownloadMP3 1. Chapter 9: Fire the Landscaper *If you're enjoying this book, please consider purchasing the E-book. It's only $2.99, audiobooks are typically $20 or more. If you don't have the funds, please write a review on Amazon and/ or Goodreads. It is a HUGE help to have positive reviews. You do not have to purchase the book to write a review. Amazon Link to Fire the Landscaper Goodreads Fire the Landscaper

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