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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Build a solid grape support and grow wonderful grapes

By Paul & Liz Stevens

Like many we wanted to produce grapes, and like many that dream seemed to always end up in disappointment, as the grapes would come on and seem to just dry up before they matured. We did the typical 4 x4 post with wire strung between them, but after the first few years when the grapes were really starting to take off the post were crooked, the wire was sagging and no matter what we did the vines always ended up touching the ground.

In touring the Amish country we began noticing one more step they use in supporting their grapes. They use the post and wire, but they take one additional step. At about 54” high they run a solid pipe through the post and drill through and bolt it at each post.
When we moved to Texas we decided to take that next step and built our new support using three post set so that we could run a 20’ 1-1/2” galvanized chain link fence top rail through the post. This meant we had to subtract 4” off each end of the 20’ so that the pole would go from end to end, with one post in the center. Before we set the post we wedged them plum and used a string level on our chalk line and snapped a line level at 54” high, then another line where we wanted the top to be. We numbered the post took each one back out and drilled strait through the center of each post on our drill press using the chalk line as our horizontal center point. We used the next size up forstner bit from the actual pole size to give a bit of wiggle room. We then drilled a series of 3/8” holes in each post space 16” apart starting at 12” from the ground. This is where we ran our wire through to attach the vines as they grow up to the main pole. We cut the post to length and set the post back into the ground. With some extra hands we went ahead and slid the pole through the tops, drilled through the end post and bolted them, after we had the end post plumb, we plumbed the center post and drilled and bolted it.

We set the post with just a little bit of concrete just to fill the post hole, plus we only needed to go down around 2’. With this system all the tension is held by the pipe at the top, so we didn’t need to attack it with a 3’ deep hole and several bags of concrete. That was our first clue that we were really going to really like this approach, a lot less work! To add a bit of fancy to the project we purchased the ball tops and screwed them into the top of each post. After the post cured we ran our wire through the holes having the pole across the top keeps the post solid, thus we were able to really stretch the wire without worry of pulling the post inward.

We started our grapes and carefully nurtured them as they grew to the top. We choose Muscadine Grapes as we know someone living in the Florida panhandle suggested them. They have much of the same climate as we do in central coastal Texas, and have tried several of the varieties from up North with no success, except for the Muscadine, with that said where you live will have a lot to do with the varieties that do well in your climate.

Well with all this work we thought we were ready to cash in on a great grape crop, nope after they started to really mature about five years ago, the same old story, they came on strong and then just shriveled up like a pea and dropped off. We have them in the irrigation system so we knew they were getting plenty of water. We did notice that we were getting a fungus on the leaves and would spray but that didn’t really help either.

As we drove through Texas we would always admire the wonderful grape vineyards and wondered just what the secret was that we were missing. As we began to look closer we noticed there were no leaves up to around 4’ from the ground. At first we thought this was just because the plants were more mature. We went home and peeled off all our leaves that were close to the ground and kept new growth from coming out at that level. We also fertilized the plants and to our surprise the fungus went away the plants filled out the grapes came on stayed and we had a great crop that year. This year will mark our 3rd year with a strong crop of grapes. Last year off four plants spreading across that 20’ section we were able to harvest enough grapes to make jelly and nearly five gallons of wine.

In total it has been eight years since we planted our grapes, the support is still as plumb and straight as the day we installed it, and it appears it will be that way for some time. We are really sold on this system, as for what made the grapes finally take off, we are not sure which has more benefit the removal of the leaves or the fertilizer but we plan to keep a good thing going. Hope this helps someone else having the same problems with their grapes.





Wednesday, March 16, 2011

First Must Have in your Dental Prep Kit

First Must Have in your Dental Prep Kit
From: roger o

Hi Everyone, in this first tip for what you should have in your dental emergency kit, I am going to tell you about a very simple yet invaluable product.

First, some language definitions; oil of cloves is the same as eugenol
cap is the same as crown

Other than routine dental hygiene and having toothpaste (whole 'nuther topic!) and dental floss, we have to address what to do in case of dental pain, the loss of a filling or cap, or an ulceration in your mouth.

One of the oldest, yet best medications we have to solve most dental problems is oil of cloves, also known as eugenol. A quick Google search revealed many sites devoted to the benefits of oil of cloves such as http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/251.html.

Eugenol, applied to a sore tooth, or on the gum tissue will reduce or eliminate pain within a very short time. Eugenol is highly anti-microbial, and wonderful for all kinds of infections, similar to tea tree oil. It can be somewhat irritating to sensitive gums, but can be thinned out with olive oil very effectively.

In addition, when mixed with zinc oxide powder, it can be made into a thick easily handling temporary filling material that can be placed in a tooth when a filling is lost, or inside a cap to recement it.

Eugenol is shelf stable essentially indefinately (although it will turn dark over time). It can be purchased at Amazon.com, as well as health food stores. Zinc oxide is also shelf stable, and can be purchased at Amazon, and many other sources.

A warning to all: Using any self applied medication is not a substitute for professional dental care. At the first sign of dental pain, swelling of problem of any kind, seek the advice and treatment of a licensed dentist.

Yours in health!

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Monday, March 7, 2011

New York Preppers Roll Call - All Preppers Please Check In

The American Preppers Network is conducting a network-wide roll call.  Whether you are a member or not please check in and let us know what you are doing to prepare.

This is a good opportunity to network with other preppers near you.

New York Preppers, to respond to the roll call please follow this link:

  • Reply to the Roll Call and let us know what you have been doing to prepare.
If you are not yet a member of the forum you can register here for free:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Twitter Reunites Homeless Man, Daughter

One tweet. That's all it took to reunite homeless man Danny Morales with his long-lost daughter. But before we delve into the details--CNN interviewed Morales on just how he became homeless in the first place.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Free Online Permaculture Course

"Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that are modeled on the relationships found in natural ecologies." This results in very dense food production that requires very little maintenance once established. These techniques should make life considerably easier for a prepper looking to establish a long-term food garden.

Permaculture design courses typically run in the hundreds to thousand dollar range and are out of the reach of many people, especially in this economy. So here is a free online permaculture course provided by NC State. This won't take the place of a hands on permaculture course and the climate down there is different than New York State, but it's certainly a great start!

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Beef Jerkey

Beef Jerky. Most folks love it. It's extremely versatile, stores well, and it's much easier to make than you might imagine. This thread on the APN forum has a few different recipes for great jerky and also has links to Alton Brown's Good Eats episode on the topic (See below). I highly recommended the episode because it shows how to build a bulk low-temp dehydrator out of a box fan, some filters, and two bungee-cords.

Part 1

Part 2

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New York Preppers Events Calendar!

The New York Preppers Network now has an events calendar! Check out the block on the right titled "APN New York Events Calendar". This calendar will link to events in and around New York State that preppers may find useful.

The calendar is hosted by Google and you can access and subscribe to it in many different ways.

XML - A raw feed of the calendar's data.

iCal - The calendar's feed, in the popular iCal format. This is the link you will typically use if you want to subscribe to the calendar.

HTML - The calendar in the regular web format.

Here is an example of how to subscribe to the calendar in Microsoft's popular Outlook application. And here is an example in the Mac calendar application.

Have any event suggestions? Does your group maintain an event calendar that the NYPN Should follow? Let us know about it in the comments!

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Friday, January 14, 2011

The Elements of Survival, Part 1

For our New York City area members, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is running a four part series on the elements of survival. Part 1 is coming up tomorrow, January 15th at 1PM at the Forrest Park Visitor Center in Queens! See the NYCDPR website for more information.
In this four part series, you'll learn about the four basic elements of wilderness survival: shelter, water, fire, and food. The first part focuses on the importance of building a good shelter.
The other dates are:
  • Part 2 - Saturday, January 29, 2011 @ 1:00 p.m.
  • Part 3 - Saturday, February 12, 2011 @ 1:00 p.m
  • Part 4 - Saturday, February 26, 2011 @ 1:00 p.m
This looks to be a great free event for the residents of the city. I hope to see you there! If you come around, look for the really tall guy in the black ZS shirt.

There is also a winter survival class being held on the 29th as well down at the Salt Marsh Nature Center in Marine Park. (East 33rd Street and Avenue U, Brooklyn)

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

APN Mentioned on Popular Mechanics Website!

Our very own North Idaho Patriot was interviewed by popular mechanics for this nice little write up. See the link below.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mother Earth News Fair - Any Interest in Going?

Attention New York Preppers: Mother Earth News is having a fair! It will be on the weekend of September 24-25 in Seven Springs, PA. Here is the relevant page from Mother Earth News and the APN thread as well.

If there's any interest in going, we can arrange a trip to leave from the NYC Metro area and try to get either discounted lodging or a nice camp site near by. Other members of APN will be going and it will be a great opportunity to learn and meet other like-minded folks.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking

When the grid goes down, will you know how to bake a loaf of bread? Do you have books of recipes that require exotic ingredients? Will you be able to throw together some kind of edible meal from strange or new ingredients? It may be time to look at cooking from a different point of view.

Ratio: Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Michael Ruhlman provides just that alternate point of view, focusing not on the recipes that make a good meal, but on the underlying ratios that make a good recipe.

From the review thread here...

I've been cooking for most of my life, even though my definition of cooking has changed considerably over the years. When I was young, cooking meant helping my mother in the kitchen with whatever she would let me do. It started out with holding a spoon here and there, to stirring the pots, to actually cutting up the veggies. Cooking was listening to what my mother told me to do, and following her instructions closely. As I grew, cooking became more complicated. I found cook books and cooking shows, which opened up an entirely new world! All of a sudden I had recipes to follow instead of just my mother's words of wisdom. This evolution continued as I learned to "customize" recipes. Take a little from one recipe, a little from another, maybe change up some spices here and there... This led to some culinary triumphs, like the oddly delicious scrambled pancake, and many culinary failures; pancakes should never have tendrils. The evolution continued as I realized there were different techniques for cooking. I purchased the Culinary Institute of America's The Professional Chef and worked my way through bits and pieces of it to broaden my horizons and skill base. I watched shows like Alton Brown's Good Eats and began learning how ingredients actually worked together. I started to see the patterns in recipes and come up with some of my own. But I was still basing my culinary work on existing recipes in one way or another.

Then I came across a list of Alton Brown's favorite cook books. Some of the items on the list were familiar, the first one was my mother's culinary bible, The Joy of Cooking. Others were just plain intriguing, like this book called Ratio. Math? In cooking? My inner engineer just had to know more...

Eventually, Ratio was ordered, made its way into my mailbox, my book pile, and my hands. Let me start by saying that Ratio is not a cookbook in the classic sense: it does not contain a list of recipes. In fact, Ratio has only a handful of recipes in the whole book. Ratio is, as its title suggests, about ratios. More specifically, it is about the fundamental ratios that exist in the world of cooking. Why is this important? Allow me to quote from the first paragraph of the book: "When you know a culinary ratio, it's not like knowing a single recipe, it's instantly knowing a thousand." Ratio is primordial culinary power, pure and simple.

Ratio's author, Michael Ruhlman gives each ratio in its own chapter, where he discusses some of the nuances of the ratio. In the bread section, for example, he details kneading, yeasts, and a few ways to expand on the basic ratio. Each chapter then has some example recipes using the ratio, and a few final notes. Every section of this unassuming little tome is packed with useful information. Even it's cover is a useful chart of the continuum of dough, from bread to crepes.

Ratio is a true eye-opener. Want to bake bread? Five parts flour to three parts water. Salt and yeast are encouraged, but optional. Five to three and you will have bread. All bread, of any kind starts with this simple ratio. Want pie dough? 3:2:1 flour, fat, water. Crepes? 1:1:0.5 Liquid, Egg, Flour. Stocks? 3:2 Water, Bones. Mayonnaise, not the clunky, bland store-bought mayo, but deliciously creamy and flavorful mayonnaise? 20:1+1 Oil, liquid, yolk. Ratio is the culinary world at its simplest and most elegant.

Ratio by itself won't do the average person much good, I suppose. You have to have an appreciation for cooking and a desire to understand why it works the way it does. If you like your TV dinners luke-warn, Ratio is not for you. If, on the other hand, you want to learn the most fundamental parts of actual cooking, if you want to expand your horizons past simple recipes, if you want to grow as a cook and not just be a follower, Ratio may well be your path to enlightenment.

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