Food Growing 2016

Nothing portends the coming food growing season for most folks quite as well as finding the mailbox stuffed with new seed catalogs. Ours have been coming since early December. Though their arrival tells us we have a whole host of things to start doing to get ready for the coming year, food growing for us is really a year round endeavor and each month something involving the garden is going on.

On the topic of seed catalogs, virtually all the major seed suppliers have both a printed catalog as well as an online version and if you aren’t getting their catalog in your mailbox they make it easy for you to request one by going to their website and filling out a request form. Yes, even though we store the bulk of our own seed each year we still order seed to maintain a greater genetic diversity in our seed stores against the time when we won’t be able to order seed. We also like raise some hybrids and it’s always fun to experiment with some new varieties each year.

You may want to do some research and make sure your supplier isn’t supporting GMO seeds, and no, hybrid seeds are not the same thing as GMO seeds. You owe it to yourself and the integrity of our future seed stores to get educated on this topic.

I have reached the point in life if I don’t write it down it didn’t happen. I used to write an annual garden evaluation, after each years harvest was stored, to document how that garden went but I always seemed to forget the little things and they would come back to bite me in the ass the next season. Anymore I just keep a running garden log, jotting things down as they happened and then condense that into one cohesive document, usually in November.

This garden review document forces me to think about what I did, what worked, what went wrong and what I might do better the next time. It also helps me keep track of what needs to be done each year.

To make managing the myriad tasks of a new season a little easier we break them down into groups sorted by month. This grouping isn’t ironclad because life and mother nature both have their own tempos and there is not much we can do to alter the natural rhythm of things.

January Tasks

Before we get to the next garden we actually have several tasks from last years garden, mainly the sorting of our bulk storage checking for rot and making sure the things we are overwintering are holding up well. Some of them are…

Rotating the potatoes out of their bins and checking each one for rot and sprout. Normally we would store our spuds in trenches in the garden but we got concerned about them freezing with the low temperatures we had the first part of December and moved them to inside storage. We still have around 500 lbs of viable spuds though the reds don’t seem to be holding as well this year and except for what is being kept for seed, will have to be used up or tossed by the end of the month.

We wipe each of our squash and pumpkins down with a rag dampened with a vinegar solution. This helps keep molds and rot from forming on them. Some of the ones that were starting to rot had their seeds pulled for drying, sorting, cataloging and storage. With nearly two hundred fifty left we won’t be running out any time soon.

The last couple dozen eggplants got tossed on the compost pile. I don’t know why we even bother to grow the damn things, we hardly ever eat any and end up tossing the bulk of them out each year.

Each of the onion strings got felt up checking for any that have started to go bad, it’s a simple matter to clip out the bad ones and we don’t have rot spreading to all the others the way we store them.

Our carrots and beets being held over for seed growing this year are sleeping along in their boxes of sand. A light misting of water all that’s required.

Somehow some of our drying chili peppers have started to mold and need to be tossed. They were a heavy fleshed pepper and I can just about guarantee it’s my fault for not making sure I opened them up enough to dry adequately. We also take the time to collect dried seeds from some of our other peppers. I may have mentioned this before but subjectively, we have greater viability when we let our pepper seeds dry in the pod versus harvesting them out of fresh peppers.

Put a fork in ’em, they’re done, the last of the tomato plants we hung up to let the green fruit ripen need to be tossed, really should have been done a couple weeks ago but we like to eek out every bit of vine ripened tomatoes that we can. Now we are on stewed and frozen tomatoes for the rest of the year. (I have to admit to buying a fresh tomato now and again but it’s like eating colored cardboard compared to what we grow)

On to this years garden, we’ve actually been planning this years garden since the middle of last years garden as we evaluated what went well and what didn’t work but January sees us kick this years garden planning into high gear.

We will perform an audit of our seed stores and verify our seed counts against what our spreadsheet indicates we have. There will be heated discussions between my wife and I over what and how much of what we are going to grow. There will also be some tug ‘o war over what new things we would like to grow with each of us having our own preferences on what to grow in the space we have to try new things. We’ll also go through the tedious process of selecting which genetic strains will get used this year.

All the garden equipment will be pulled into the shop for a check out and some run time. I no longer winterize my engines and have instead opted to give them run time every two months with a shot of fresh fuel. I’ve done this for the last several years and everything fires up each time with only a pull or two on the starter rope. It looks like I need to order a new set of tines for the tiller. This is to replace the full set of spare tines I keep on hand, you never know when the opportunity to order a new set will be lost. This is also time to inventory replacement belts, parts and lubricant stores.

On the topic of inventory, life circumstances got in the way of completely taking down last years garden. I have thousands of feet of lines lying on the ground that I know will need to have the emitters replaced due to freeze damage, time to order in bulk.

Kind of boring stuff but part of the whole food growing effort.

Til next time



I owe all of you and especially foodgrower an apology. Several people have written asking he was on a winter hiatus (fancy word, huh?) or what. Nope, it wasn’t him, it was me.
He sent me an outstanding post a couple of months (yes, months) ago for posting, pictures and everything, all in PDF form.
I tried to post it and it didn’t take. I don’t know why – maybe I was screwing something up, maybe it was a glitch in the new version of wordpress that I had recently installed, maybe it was something in the theme that I use.
This was during the busy time of our year at work, plus I was looking at a restraining order hearing coming up so I put it off to the side to figure out later when I had a clear mind. It’s still sitting there, something I was going to try to get figured out and posted tomorrow now that shit’s calmed down.
I have to give foodgrower some props here. He never lost patience with me and for that I thank him. And I thank you for your patience also.

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19 Responses to Food Growing 2016

  1. hyperzombie says:

    If you are buying garden seed you can’t get GMOs. Gmos are only sold to farmers and the smallest bag of seed GMO that I know about is 40,000 seeds.
    So to state this again, there are 0 GMO seeds available to gardeners. The garden seed sellers are just using GMOs as a marketing tool.

    PS some GMOs would be great for home gardens, in another 8 years they will be off patent and you can try them out. 40 million farmers are not wrong about this technology.

    • foodgrower says:

      I’m coming off a week long battle with a virus and am in a pissy mood so I may not be as gentle as I should be.

      Strike 1
      Reading comprehension is not your strong suite I take it. You’ll notice I expressed “supporting gmo seeds”, not selling gmo seed to the end user. However, be that as it may, gmo seeds are currently patented and you can not legally store your own harvest for seed and use it in subsequent years if you could get the seed.

      Strike 2
      While gmo seed may be coming off patent, as you state it, the producers will not live with this situation and considering as the seed is engineered they will make some small change to the seed making it a “new” product that will be patented. Oops the seed off patent will no longer be available, guess you’re still shit outa luck.

      Strike 3
      Many smaller seed companies are being bought up by the giants and some heirloom seeds are disappearing from the market. Expect this trend to continue as seed giants attempt to control the market and force growers to use only their product down the road.

      Strike 4
      Many of the promises of gmo seed, especially concerning reduced need for herbicides have fallen flat. In many instances commercial growers are using more weed killer than ever before trying to battle the rise of super weeds.

      Strike 5
      Many of the studies of gmo product and it’s safety has been done by the companies themselves and the raw results of their studies have been kept from the public. We honestly don’t know how safe these products are. A growing number of countries around the world are either blocking the import of gmo product or are banning growing using gmo seed.

      Strike 6
      In one of the only human feeding studies the gene in the gmo food crop transferred out of food and into the human gut bacteria. Long term effects are not fully realized but the implications are serious.

      Strike 7
      GMO seed can cross contaminate non gmo crops thereby destroying the genetic purity of heirloom crops forever.

      Strike 8
      Many growers have been sued and lost as a result of the cross contamination of their crops mentioned above.

      Strike 9
      These articles are predicated on a post SHTF growing situation. You most likely won’t be able to get your gmo seed then and even if you could, and were able to harvest seed and grow subsequent crops from them I do not want trust my food integrity to something I don’t know the long term effects of. I don’t have to worry about growing that heirloom tomato that has been around for hundreds of years with no ill effects.

      Strike 10
      Yes 40 million people can be wrong, look at the president we have.

      I have no right to express this on wirecutters blog but as far as I’m concerned you can take your pro gmo stance and disappear.

      Wirecutter, if you want to take that last line out, go ahead.


      • hyperzombie says:

        Hey, thanks for the thoughtful polite reply. You could have just called me names and been done with it.
        Just for disclosure, I am a farmer that has been in the business all my life so far, 38 years and I do not grow any GMOs at this time, just forage crops and field peas. I also have 100s of cattle and 2 potbellied pigs.
        I am just here to politely dispel some GMO myths.

        Strike one:
        Well most GMOs are patented, (RR soy and RR canola are off patent, but no gardener would need those traits or the crop) along with almost all new traits introduced. Plant patents have been around for almost 100 years now, and they have nothing to do with GMOs. Even little old Burpee sells patented crops, check out their AMAIZE CORN.

        Well they can patent a new trait, there is nothing they can do to preserve the older generation of GMOs. Plant patents only apply to “New and Novel” traits, leaving the parental plant to become public domain. This has already happened to RR soy and Canola, papaya next year.

        Strike 3
        Yes it is true that many smaller seed companies are being taken over by larger ones, but hey there are still lots of small veggie seed sellers and there seems to be more all the time.
        Heirlooms disappear from the market only because people stop buying them. Any seed seller will discontinue a product if it is not popular. But by no means does this mean that that particular crop is gone, it just goes into storage. In the US the store over 100,000 different varieties of crops, and if you want you can apply to get a sample and reintroduce it.

        Strike 4
        Well it is sort of true that the weight of herbicides has increased by a small amount over the last few years, but weight is a very poor metric to measure the environmental effect of herbicides. For example Pursuit is applied at 1 oz per acre, and Glyphosate is 16 oz per acre, but glyphosate is far safer and far more benign than pursuit and it doesn’t last in the soil for 3 years. The peak of agricultural chemical applications happened back in the early 90s in the USA (pounds on the ground) and has been trending down since.
        If you want to look up the environmental costs of herbicides and insecticides Cornell University has a excellent site that uses EIQ as a measurement, it also lists the common Organic pesticides as well.

        Super Weeds have always been with farming. Every herbicide has weeds that are resistant, there are also tillage resistant weeds, fire resistant weeds, even hand weeding resistant weeds.
        Resistant weeds do Not lead to more herbicides being used, only a change to the mode of action. Spraying herbicide resistant weeds with more chemical is just a waste of money, and no one does this.

        Strike 5

        Well the companies that want to introduce a new GMO trait should pay for the studies, but governments and independent science has also done many studies. The vast majority of them come to the same conclusion “GMOs are as safe or safer than conventionally bred crops” .
        There are over 2000 studies on GMOs.

        Strike 6

        There are no human feeding studies, it is immoral, illegal and it is impossible to control for all the variations. Genes are just genes, it doesn’t matter where they come from, only what they do.

        Strike 7

        Any similar crop can cross contaminate a crop. Farmers have been dealing with this for 1000s of years, it is not an issue to professional seed growers or even most amateurs that have some idea what they are doing. This is not a real issue.

        Strike 8

        No one has ever been sued for cross contamination, this is another myth. Farmers have been sued for stealing the tech, but this happens with conventional patented crops as well.

        Strike 9
        “These articles are predicated on a post SHTF growing situation.”
        Yes I realize that, and using heirlooms is a great idea in most situations. F1 hybrids would be a better choice if you knew it was a short term event. (bigger crop with less inputs). Bt (built in insect protection) GMOs would also be a good choice, but sadly they are not available to gardeners or preppers.
        All GMOs reproduce just fine.

        Strike 10
        “Yes 40 million people can be wrong, look at the president we have.”
        True that!

        “as far as I’m concerned you can take your pro gmo stance and disappear.”

        Hmmm, well I am not pro or anti GMO. All I know is that this whole “Natural” food craze actually harms the environment. But hey, I make a crap pile more money, so why am I complaining.

        Cheers and keep up the good work foodgrower and Wirecutter! Love the blog.

        • foodgrower says:

          You know I really hate these types of discourses. I should just express we’ll have to agree to disagree… I have to compliment you though, you are very slick (not too slick, just slick enough) and polished (just the right amount) and present yourself quite well. I might even say well rehearsed.

          But despite my plea to folks to get educated on this topic there are lots of folks that will not perform their own research and take something written by someone else as gospel.

          Ok, seeing as how we are getting into dick measuring, in the interest of full disclosure

          I’m damn near 60 years old and besides being a commercial farmer working everything from livestock to wheat ranching (where 5000 acres was the little field down the road) I’ve been a logger, mechanic, software developer, wore expensive suits and sat on board meetings, been a comm tech for the forest service, oh shit I could go on for about three or four pages, I’ll just state the list of what I’ve done is probably longer than the list of what I haven’t. Anymore I live a pretty low key and extremely lean lifestyle because beef and wheat prices are down and I won’t take any federal money.

          Most days my day starts at 4am with feeding and milking and it ends when I get so tired my ass is dragging out my tracks seven days a week. Currently there are a tad over 108 head of cattle roaming the farm out of town. I express tad over 108 because we’re into calving and I don’t know how many have dropped since three days ago (as stated I’ve been fighting a bug and have someone covering chores for me). There’s two milk cows and about 50 pigs, (same as the cattle we might have some new babies in the farrowing barn), 45 head of sheep, a llama and two horses. There’s close to 60 hens and three roosters in the chicken house. No need to count the cats and dogs because they don’t mean anything in the big scheme of things. Point I’m making is the numbers don’t really mean a hell of a lot, it sounds good.

          On patented seeds, yes there are a few patented seeds other than gmo crops. However (as you noted) virtually all gmo crops are patented. This doesn’t change the fact you cannot legally retain your own harvest from a gmo crop and use it for seed. There are grain crops that are patented that we won’t grow because of this limitation. Though a hybrid rather than a gmo, Tritcale is one example.

          When a plant is an engineered plant, even if it goes to public domain, there is nothing to force the mfg to keep producing that seed. It doesn’t take much, when you are engineering something to change it so it has “new and novel” traits. This has already happened and is happening in big pharma with drugs, repeatedly. It will happen with seeds as well because it is all about the $$.

          The take over of smaller seed companies by the giants is a disturbing trend and doesn’t bode well for what the future holds. While seeds, at times, do go out of vogue and disappear from the market this is not what I referenced and you know it. It was a nice attempt to deflect the focus though.

          You talk about the use of herbicides with a panache that belies the residual and long term effect of these chemicals in the ecosystem and then have the balls to further along in your comments talk about the harm natural foods do to the environment, cognitive dissonance anyone or perhaps straight up deception? I don’t know but I am casting questions.

          And most of the studies are performed by the companies the produce the gmo or rubber stamped by federal agencies that are staffed with former corporate employees. I’ll ask the readers to just do a little of their own research into the revolving door between the FDA and Monsanto (and this is just one example) and then decide if you truly want to trust that study. Follow the money if you need a bigger hint.

          Again, nice deflection, the study I referenced is listed here, the readers can draw their own conclusions – Netherwood, et al, Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract, Nature Biotechnology, Vol 22 Number 2 February 2004 – Beyond that, while not directed human feeding trials there are scores of studies linking adverse responses in people to the consumption of gmo foods. Here’s the point, there are questions about the safety of this food. As long as there are questions I’ll err on the side of caution and grow and consume what I know is safe.

          Cross contamination of seed is a major problem, especially when it occurs from a gmo source. To express otherwise is disengenuous at best. Concerning the risk for being sued, just use your favorite search engine and be prepared to spend hours digesting the results.

          As to harming the environment, since all you’ve shared so far is your opinion, here’s mine – I’ll take my natural approach or your chemical approach any day of the week. I’m willing to eat a gallon of my finished compost in front of you if you’ll drink a gallon of your Glyphosate in front of me at the same time.

          Hyperzombie mentions BT gmo’s, if you really want to give yourself a scare, do a web search on adverse BT impacts.

          As to you not being pro GMO, here’s the closest I’ll come to making a directed insult at you, I don’t know if you are a true believer or a paid shill but I’ve seen your responses almost verbatim in many other venues.

          In closing this is a dead subject for me, I have performed my research and study and made my determination. If you are reading this exchange, do not take my words for it, certainly do not take hyperzombies word for it, do some research and draw your own conclusions.


          • foodgrower says:

            damn, I have having to edit my posts this way.

            4th paragraph from the bottom

            As to harming the environment, since all you’ve shared so far is your opinion, here’s mine – I’ll take my natural approach or your chemical approach any day of the week. I’m willing to eat a gallon of my finished compost in front of you if you’ll drink a gallon of your Glyphosate in front of me at the same time.

            that should read I’ll take my natural approach over your… not or your

            sorry ’bout that


          • hyperzombie says:

            Well I have been called many things, but never slick, polished or even rehearsed. Mostly it is “Learn to spell Dumb*ss, it is you’re not your” “Neocon reta*ard” “gun loving nitwit” “Moron” “Monsanto shill”, even though I only own one gun and it has been in the closet so long that it would take me 2 hours to find it, I still have no idea what a neocon is, I don’t really like Monsanto, and I should be able to spell Your however I want without some spelling nazi yelling at me.
            But hey I will take it as a compliment.

            I also want people to get educated on the whole GMO issue as well. Look it up on the internet, but if you are getting info from a site that claims that a coffee enema will cure all that ails you and drinking hair bleach will cure cancer, well that site is most likely full of crap. And not the nice smelling coffee enema crap.

            So, wheat and livestock, sort of like what I do. My Gramps and Uncle are both big into wheat, well and Canola, and they both rotate into barley sometimes. Spring or winter wheat in your area? I cant really grow wheat here, far too cool in the fall to get the heads to set well. Plus grain farming is so freaking expensive for the equipment, and if you rent it takes all the profit out of it.
            I prefer livestock over land farming anyday, lower risk and far more rewarding, in my opinion.
            Well unless it is Dairy cattle, so much work and you can never take a day off. I don’t know how they do it, 2x a day everyday, forever…Yikes.
            I have never had hogs, just the pet vietnamese pot bellied pigs that were given to me. (too big for city people to look after dumbasses)
            I did have chickens for a few years, but I live in Canada, and when the power goes out in the winter, they don’t stand a chance..Chickensicles are not a pretty sight. So that was it for farm fresh eggs…
            Hey so if you are calving at this time of year do you call it spring calving or winter calving? I calf in the spring but the end of Feb at the earliest, mid march is my target, but as you know, it never works out that way. I have 214 cows at the moment, about 50 more than I have ever had before. Although calving season is normally my favorite time of year, 200+ calves dropping in a month and a half scares the crap out of me.

            Anyway I am babbling like a nervous 14 year old, (your posts are kind of intimidating)

            Yes, you cant save patented GMO seed to sell or use for seed, but all patented crops work the same way. Many wheat varieties are the same including Clearfield wheat. Have you ever tried Clearfield wheat? I hear it sucks.

            I don’t get your triticale comment. it is the go to feed for many Dairy farmers. I saw heads on triticale so big they looked like mini baseball bats. Grown right that crop is the Bomb. I was thinking of growing it as greenfeed, any opinions?

            Unlike with pharma, crops reproduce all on there own, there is no need for a big fancy lab. The only time that I heard of a patented crop not returning to the public domain was an apple variety that they trademarked, banning apple farmers from growing it without permission. They can’t do that with the current GMOs.

            What heirlooms are you concerned about, I live in Canada and it seems like we are always 10 years behind, maybe they still sell them here.

            Well all modern herbicide and MOST modern insecticides all biodegrade and NONE bioaccumulate (except for a few Organic pesticides like copper sulphate). At 60 you most likely remember paraquat, cyanazine and maybe even the arsenates. Now that I have a child, i wouldn’t even let those chemicals on my farm. My Gramps tells me about his dad that sprayed creosote on his crops to keep the grasshoppers at bay. Pesticides today are a 100 times safer than they were 60 years ago.

            Hey and let the readers look at the EUs review of GMO crops (the EU is not exactly friendly to GMOs). The EU spent 100 million of their weird money on the study and concluded that GMO’S are as safe or safer than conventional crops.

            “Netherwood, et al, Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract,

            Genes get through the stomach? This happens with all genes. If genes could change you I would be 50% beer and pizza by now. Maybe with a curly tail, cause I eat tons of pork.

            Cross contamination is not a major problem, Like come on we have 100s of distinct varieties of crops that maintain their genetic distinction without a problem. habanero farmers have maintained the genes even though there are far more jalapeno farmers. Cauliflower is still around unfortunately, though there is far more broccoli farmers. This is not an issue.

            As per harming the environment. I Believe that the number one thing that we can do to protect the environment is to grow as much crop as we can on the least amount of land that we can, leaving far more for nature. My opinion is leave nature alone as much as we can, do not plow it under, do not make fake nature on it, just leave it alone.

            Oh and Bt is just a protein to humans, like come on it is dipel the world’s least harmful insecticde, it cant even kill adult insects, well unless you smother them with it.

            Wow the shill accusation right at the end. Anyway I just a farmer with a different opinion.

            As to you not being pro GMO, here’s the closest I’ll come to making a directed insult at you, I don’t know if you are a true believer or a paid shill but I’ve seen your responses almost verbatim in many other venues.

            In closing this is a dead subject for me, I have performed my research and study and made my determination. If you are reading this exchange, do not take my words for it, certainly do not take hyperzombies word for it, do some research and draw your own conclusions.

  2. willy says:

    Go to the local airport with a 5 gallon jug or three.

    Learn how to run the computer pump thingie. If you
    need an aircraft number, ask a friend what the N-number
    is on his plane, or use the number N6154F,
    which was my primary training Cessna 150 Aerobat
    until some stupid lawyer’s kid crashed it buzzing a
    wedding party, carrying a passenger, on a student
    pilot certificate. A totally illegal operation all the way.

    The 100LL is what you want.

    It’s actually 115 octane for car engines and ‘lil flathead
    put-puts. It has LEAD…. Yes, LEAD for your valves and
    such. It will poison any $400 cat converter in seconds, so
    don’t be stupid and use it in your post-1970 car engine.

    It is blended with toluene and xylene and other stuff to
    withstand being left to bake in an airplane’s wing tanks
    all summer and freeze all winter and still start right up.
    It WILL NOT poison your little engine’s carb and mixes
    just fine with various oils for your 2-strokes.

    Walmart sells it for $5 a quart, premixed. The airport will
    cost about $5 a gallon.

    You will never throw away another carb or priming bulb.

    I’d rather be flying,

    • foodgrower says:

      Thanks Willy, that’s interesting,

      I’ll display my ignorance, from your post the implication is a person can not purchase fuel from an airport without having an airplane, or at least the tail number of a plane?

      Are you suggesting to use this fuel year round, or just during the fall/winter months?



      • willy says:

        100LL is good 24 / 7 / 365 1/4 up to 24,000 feet (in a turbo 210).
        Since it has no alcohol and probably no refined oil like octane either,
        it just won’t hurt internal combustion engine parts.

        Since airplanes don’t use the roads (don’t ask me about the time….)
        the avgas has no road tax. The $%&#&%$# govt doesn’t want you
        using this stuff on the road, so the need for an airplane N-number.

        An aside – in anything less than 10.5:1 compression, you can start
        from a standstill in high gear and it WILL NOT knock. The purple
        115/145 stuff would go past 40 degrees of spark advance and not
        destroy anything, even in the most spirited 12:1 street racing short.

        The 115 is no longer available and neither is my tunnelram smallblock.

        The big thing is its stability – it doesn’t lose its most volatile components
        and leave varnish behind, like car gas. The *^%*^% alcohol in car gas
        is the very first thing to leave nowadays, after it attracts enough moisture
        to totally destroy the fuel system and engine. In europe, they’re getting
        rid of whiskey gas for that reason.

        Now…. I’m a big sprint car fan. They run methanol, wood alcohol, at
        15;1 and 8500+rpm. If the engine and fuel system are set up for it,
        no problems. Model airplane engines are another example.

        And I’ll go on some more. When I was a kid, I used to ride trains, since
        my best friend’s Dad was a railroader. By the time I was a teenager, I was
        running them. The secret is controlling the slack and using the brakes, if
        you have 100 cars on a mountain railroad. My bad eyesight kept me out
        of the right seat for my life’s work, so I went off to college and became a
        research physicist for IBM.

        Why do trains figure in here? Because alcohol mixed with gasoline is
        so destructive to pumps and piping, the gas in gasoline is shipped in
        the underground pipe system and the alcohol is shipped in ‘unit trains’
        of 100+ cars, 15,000 tons. The red and white-flame 1987 Hazmat tag
        is your clue that you stopped too close to the track to watch the train
        go by. The fact that there are one or more ‘buffer cars’ between the
        locomotives and the herd of alcohol-filled turtles is another clue.

        The alcohol is actually mixed into the gas at the ‘fuel rack’,
        where the 18 wheelers load up to deliver it to your local gas station.
        400 gallons of alcohol goes in first then the driver fills the rest of a
        4000 gallon bay with 80 octane gas., for example. The 10% mix
        comes out to about 87 octane in the engine.

        So… the oil companies get to sell cheap, half-refined crap and then
        boost it up with alcohol, so it will actually run an engine…….


        • foodgrower says:

          Thanks for the info Willy, it’s not often I get schooled by a research physicist, I’m impressed. (that is not a slam, instead just the opposite).

          You have really raised an interest in me on several points but I don’t want to presume to demand
          a response from you unless you are willing, so to that end do you mind some more questions?



          • willy says:

            What’s a good way to answer your questions? I had to go to the bottom of yesterday’s post to find this. Is there a mail box thing? How about email?


            • foodgrower says:

              Yeah, things can roll off the bottom of the page pretty fast.

              I don’t know about a way for direct communication through wirecutters blog.

              The easy way to find these posts is click on the a to z foodgrower articles tab at the top of the page. That will display a list of these food growing articles. The newest ones are listed at the bottom,

              Then it is a relatively short scroll to get to the comments.

              I’ll email Wirecutter about sending you my email, as long as you’ve used a valid email to post here.



  3. Steve in Ky says:

    Thank you for this and the upcoming post. I appreciate every word.

  4. Hi Foodgrower, Have been reading your posts since you began and have them all printed up in a binder for my as yet partially unschooled children,in the vagaries of gardening.

    Was most intrigued with the discourse between you and hyper zombie. If the government is deep into “anything” and is being run by unelected bureaucrats, I distrust whatever they bloviate about to the point of not complying to the nth degree.

    Willy’s conversation about the use of Avgas for engines was great and reminded me of my days in the USN as a newly graduated Aircraft Engine Mechanic Reciprocating. They had us learn all about the 96 octane, the step up to 110/130 and the good old 115/145 that all our beasties drank by the bucket full. One day I ran out of gas for my 1950 6cylinder Chevy Coupe so I figured I’d “borrow” a few gallons from one of my big birds. Well I managed to get all 20+ gallons into my cars tank and went on my merry way. As the tank got emptier and emptier, the poor old thing didn’t want to percolate anymore. So that weekend I decided to pull the head cause it wouldn’t hold compression. Damn! when I got the head off only two of the exhaust valves had any part of the valve face still touching the seat.!they were completely burned off in only 20 gallons worth of running. Guess thats why all those big old round motors used hollow shafted valve stems full of sodium to dissipate the heat. Oh well lesson was learned.

    Been survival gardening since the middle 70’s for a family of 10-12. I am now 77 and will be winding down a little this year as I turn the reins over to the kids. Things tend to creak and snap when I move now instead of just gliding along like they used too! Keep up the good work you two guys! Best Regards, Everett R Littlefield ADCM, AC, NO, USN Ret.

    • Willy says:

      Purple burns slow, so you need a lot of spark advance. Just about all airplane engines run on fixed advance – that’s why they sound so good when they’re idling. My experience with non sodium-cooled exhaust valves was all with stainless valves and iron seats. The lead provided the lubrication. Didn’t have hardened seats back in those days…….

      They made avgas that you could have run in that old Chevy… the 80 octane red gas. Good for low compression 1930s technology, like Continental O-200s.

      The 100 Low lead can be run in about anything, by watching EGT and boost, I’ve been told. 2-strokes run on it fine. The walmart weedwhacker gas is toluene and xylene, which is basically avgas, mixed with a lubricant.

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