ROCKET stove

first,  had to find a good table to put the stove on.  as this is going to part of an outdoor kitchen, it had to be of size and sturdy and weather resistant.  Ended up with this one:’’

Yes, it is cheap!  and as a result it sort of sags in the middle, so one needs be careful how you are using it.

The rocket stove is this one

and yesterday I set it up for the first time.  The table was very easy to put together. and again, its cheap and is little warped as will happen with big sheets of thin metal.  does have plastic feet to protect it from the elements. 

The stove was easy to light, and get going.  Since we heat with wood, had a lot of small trimmings which were perfect for starting.  and had some small thick pieces left over from cutting starting pieces for the wood stove that made good cooking fuel.  Being at altitude, getting water boiling takes a little while, but not too long.  just cooked corn this time.

Since the stove had hot burning coals when the corn was done, had to leave the stove to cool while we ate lunch.  Before we were done the clouds let loose with beaucoup rain!  we’ve been having this downpours this monsoon season, INCHES at a time!

This morning, after things had dried up some checked the stove (which we don’t want to leave in the rain) and found hardly any ashes from yesterday’s  cooking!  It had not washed out, although it had compressed down in the bottom.  I scraped it out today, and it looks like a piece of the wall came out with it?!?!?! will definitely have to watch that in the future!

The pot did get a lot of soot on it.  Since I used a stainless pot was able to clean it off.  Of course, could have started collecting that soot up for making ink!  May consider a set of cookware dedicated to the outdoor cooking.  That can be an investment, fortunately, we have good thrift shops here and will look there for pieces dedicated to this stove.  Even the Revereware pot I’d used for the corn came from the thrift for $6! so it’s a real possibility.

In the long run, this will be a great item for helping keep our kitchen cooler as well as keeping the stove uncluttered when I have canning, or large quantities to cook, or am slow cooking a pork butt or corned beef.

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cheap composter

This is the cheap YIMBY composter – – it came yesterday and I struggled to put it together today.  This is one of those have to look up the assembly instructions on line!  which I did not of course.  The barrel was fairly straight forward with one exception. The hole match up for the door panel was different for the others – for absolutely not reason that I could see!  But since I hadn’t aligned the ends properly had to undo that part and shift it around.  Then came the legs.

Actually, had done the legs first and then mounted the barrel on them to do some of the assembly as it is easier that way – and recommended in the paperwork sent with the unit.

Was not going to use the divider but then figured it was so cheap without it the unit might warp.

IMG_0372 (768x1024)So when all done, this is how it stood!  Not level and unable to turn it.  Cannot see why and how this is happening other than the possibility that the bends were not done correctly for the leg pieces.  All the pieces measured correctly length wise, but the width at the bottom on the right is different than on the left.  Did change the pieces around, switched, turned, shifted, etc but the result was the same.

IMG_0373 (768x1024) This is how I solved the problem.  Still crooked, and easily accounted for by the angle on one side being different than the other.  If I could turn the supports at the bottom 90degrees could make it work, but it was designed to meet front and back.  So I’ll either leave it this way or end up attaching them at the 90 degree mark and being done with it.  At least it will turn/spin and I can use the damn thing!

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august harvest update

August 16, 2014 – probably about 2 more months of growing season left, although in another 30 days the days are too short for much GROWING, just finishing what’s there

IMG_0366 (1024x768)These were supposed to be black beauty globe type eggplants.  Not!  probably the last of the zucchini – although one never knows.  don’t see much in the way of flowers coming back on the plants, but may just pull some and let the others be and see

IMG_0367 (1024x768)starting to harvest Romas.  have no idea how many pounds are here, these are about 1/2 of what are out there, the rest waiting to ripen.  Will start processing these, then I freeze them until all are done.

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composting in the desert

Have composted my waste for years.  When we lived back east and had the land to do it, just had open piles and EVERYTHING went into it, even meat.  The critters would root around looking for those bones and scraps and in doing so, mixed and turned the pile; once I went out with a turkey carcass and before I could turn to leave a skunk rolled out of the forest, grabbed it, and dragged it away! In the winter the heat was a haven for mice and the hawks would sit over it.  Our leaves would overwhelm the piles in the fall and then we’d move to another.  by the time we’d created a third, the first would be ready to use.

Now we live in the desert, with neighbors, who would not be appreciative of the rodents such a pile would bring, and in turn, those rodents would attract coyotes, bobcats and snakes – not that I have anything against any of those creatures, but already know they freak the neighbors! Also because of the dryness, open piles dry out too quickly. So closed system tumblers have become my composter of choice.  In the picture you see the first two composters we made out of garbage cans.  They worked, but not really well, so moved to the tumblers. on the right is a Mantis, metal and plastic. Expensive, big, and comes with a five year warranty which they are very good about honoring – I’ve basically rebuilt the thing twice!  Next time, will spray the inside with some of that spray sealant goop before starting to use it.   On the left is a typical barrel design that has become quite popular. its low to the ground and difficult to turn once it has some weight.  Also, the rain does not get into it, but the openings on the side allow the water to evaporate much too quickly.

IMG_0360 (1024x768)Now use the garbage cans as ‘finishing’ for the compost.  this morning closed the big one and emptied the small.  at this time of year there is a lot of biomass coming in from the garden as well as the kitchen. the small composter will not handle all that there is, and I’m not sure how fast the big one is going to process what’s in there – which includes TWO zucchini plants already.

IMG_0361 (768x1024)biomass still to be processed in the next two/three months!

Then there is my other growing area which has about 1/2 of this same amount of biomass, so have just ordered a third barrel tumbler.  Why do they have to be so expensive?!?!  The one I’ve ordered is about as cheap as they get and with free shipping, figure its only about $75.

The other growing area – spread out into 3 different micro environments is pretty much a summer only growing space, so this should be enough to handle that.

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August 10, 2014 update


20140810_051525Moonset about 5:05AM PST


We are finally having some rain, and slightly cooler temps.  Garden is transitioning back to growing from the heat induced stasis it gets in July.  We’ve had some monster Zucchini, which has just been sitting in the fridge and getting eaten as we go along.  The first batch of bush green beans are being allowed to go to seed.  The other 3 lots have not shown any sign of flowering and the stasis period may have brought them together, so they will all be coming in at once. We’ll see

Have started seeds for fall growing, and over winter in the greenhouse.

Rhubarb plant and the five chard plants are in big pots and find have got to keep them trimmed back or they quickly shadow themselves out and stop growing.  The other day canned two half pints of rhubarb with some lemon, no sugar. wasn’t ready to make anything but needed to open up the plant.  Today it was cut back the chard. some went into our salad and the rest was chopped for the freezer.  Chard pretty much grows all year but there is another stasis period during November – February that its good to have stuff in the freezer.

Cannot believe that Ball has a machine to do small batch hot water bath canning!  What is the problem with taking just a few jars in a pot on the stove?

am looking at this rocket stove:  Saw one in the thrift (not this particular one, but a similar style) for $60 and said its heavy, do I really want to haul this around?  and I didn’t know anything about them.  Then I started to think how nice it would be for  hot water bath canning during the summer months, outside and that I can use some of the smaller trimmings from our winter wood stove cutting.  Plus it will be here when and if the SHTF!

Oh yea, the roma tomatoes are starting to ripen and the hornworm caterpillars have been busy also.  The birds get the caterpillars before I even see them, I just see the residue. 

And now that this storm front is barreling through with rains and hail, I wonder how the new seedlings are doing?

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Found this knife out in the southern Arizona desert about 15 years ago.  it was laying open just like this but was dirty and rusty.  Folded it up and brought it home where it was forgotten until today when I found it in the tool box.  Derusted it, lubed it a bit, cleaned it up on a wire wheel and then, since it was SOOOOOOO dull, hit it on the carbide wheel to sharpen it.  Did try on a honing stone but it would have taken a real long time . . .

IMG_0357 (1024x690)My new garden knife!

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harvest and preserve!


PHENOMENAL year in the garden!!

IMG_0352 (1024x903)Am only growing 5 chard plants this year in a container no less.  This was a batch harvested on Sunday.  a few leaves went into a salad. the rest got chopped and frozen and measured out at a little more than 1/2 a gallon.  Harvested some again yesterday for salad, and again this morning for a friend.

Purslane has been awesome also.  have never had enough to harvest, have never had it last so long. usually about the time it shows up, it just succumbs to the heat and is gone!

Have about 8 good size zucchini in the fridge for canning. and yesterday discovered one of those hidden baseball bats that Zucchini is known for.  over 12” long and 3” in diameter.  While I don’t mind them that size – great for making zucchini pizza or stuffing – the DH does. so this morning peeled off the skin and sliced it up for zucchini chips. lots of nice juicy garlic (hope its not tooooo intense when dry), a little oil, some salt and pepper.  letting it marinate and into the dehydrator it will go.

Right now, the heat is back on, and everything has slowed down.  do see some romas ripening up.  and see the hornworms have been around. by the time I get out in the morning though, the birds have taken care of them.

We did have an apple rhubarb crisp over the weekend and have slowly munched it down.  but there is more rhubarb out there and from what I see, might be able to split that crown for multiple plants next season.  Maybe dig it up and pot it into the greenhouse to winter over.

This has just been such an incredible year for the garden and am trying to make the best of it for the oncoming year.

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