Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bitter Melons

Bitter Melons are a beautiful vining plant that many researchers are finding to have incredible health benefits. There is a lot of research in Cancer prevention and Diabetes using Bitter Melons.

Here is a good website that summarizes the benefits and ongoing research. My Dad has cancer and we have been making Bitter juice for him all summer. He loves it and thinks it is helping him immensely. The juice by itself is hard to drink, but add a couple of ounces to other fruit juice and it is pretty good. There are varieties from different parts of Asia. The ones I grow came from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They refer to it as Delica Thorn Bitter Melon. Whether you want it for Cancer, Diabetes or other health benefits, it is a beautiful plant to grow.

A mature plant growing on tomato baskets. It is an aggressive vine and produces about 1-2 gallons of juice per plant.

Beautiful flowers are a bonus.

Here is a young fruit developing.

We seem to have about 5-6 fruit ripen at a time from our two vines. This is enough to make about 30 ounces of juice each time we process the fruit.

You want to harvest the fruit right before it starts turning orange. About 12" long.

Soak the fruit in water and clean all dirt off the skin.

The fruit has beautiful seeds inside varying from yellow to a deep orange.

Cut them in half to remove the seeds. Remove the stem and any blemishes on the skin.

Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and insides.

Cut the fruit into chunks to pack them into a blender or juicer. Fill the voids with water up about 2/3 full with water. The water helps liquify the melon and separate the juice from the pulpy flesh.

This is what the juiced product looks like.

Filter out the green juice with a fine strainer leaving behind the concentrated Bitter Melon juice. It is a beautiful green color.

The final product!

Shake well each time you add a few ounces to other sweeter fruit juice. Keep it refrigerated and it should last a couple of weeks. I have not been able to determine what a days dose should be for various health benefits. My Dad drinks a couple of ounces a day.

Don't forget to save the seeds. Dry them out for a couple of weeks on paper towels and then put them in a container for storage until late Spring. Good Luck! I think this beautiful plant holds a lot of promise.

Boy Scout Skills

Scouting has been a formative experience in my life and the skills I have learned have helped shape me to be a capable person. Planning for campouts, camping, and leadership skills that I have learned in Scouting have served me in real life like nothing else could have prepared me. Thank you Boy Scouts of America. Thank you Greg Scott and all the great Scout Masters of all Great Scouts.

Primitive Cooking

Reflector Oven

How to choose a camp site

Primitive shelter construction

Winter Sleeping: How to stay warm

Sleeping bag liner

Canoe packing: How to keep your gear dry

1 match fire

Small fire cooking

Drinking water evaporation trap

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summerization July 1, 2011 Garden Photos

We went on vacation the first week of July so prior to leaving we had to summerize our garden. (This is a good idea to do even if we did not go on vacation as it is always a good idea to reduce water and weeding needs). We purchased 6 bales of hay to mulch all of our garden rows to prevent the ground from drying out too fast and to reduce weed growth. Here are some photos of where we are with the garden as of July 1, 2011. A lot of our plants are really small as we had an exceptionally cool and wet spring.

View of the west half of our garden.

View of the east half of our garden.

View of the middle row and hoop house.

Our asparagus producing well for several months.

Asparagus and Okra.

Okra about to start blooming.

Bush beans don't produce as well as pole beans but don't require support.

Pole beans starting to bloom. The turnips below are flowering.

Pole beans starting to climb the hoop house.

Our cool season stuff inside the hoop house is starting to die out although the carrots, Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce, carrots and Oakleaf Lettuce are doing well.

Cabbage and Deer Tongue Lettuce.

Kale and Chard produce all summer long.

Cucumbers starting to flower.

Our grapes are looking good for early July. We are having big problems with Japanese Beetles.

We have grape vines above our berry bushes and strawberries all around our garden.

Good looking grapes! We have Concord, Norton and other varieties.

A volunteer Gourd growing amongst newly planted Blueberry bushes. The strawberries below are hard to see withthe new straw mulch.

Peppers, Asparagus and Cucumbers.

Asparagus, Cucumbers and Okra.

Garden view.

Tomatoes and Okra.

Peppers. They are small because they were all grown from seed and I got a late start with our cold wet spring.

Tomatoes and Peppers.

Tomatoes and Peppers. Our strawberries (behind) produced about 25 pounds of berries this spring.

Tomatoes starting to flower.

Tomatoes freshly mulched to lessen watering.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tree house siding and roof

The tree house is coming along. We have the windows installed and it is time to start on the siding and the roof. The roof really holds it all together and strengthens the walls.

Here is the tree house from below showing the walls and the newly installed windows.

A view of the windows from the inside. I got these windows from a Habitat for Humanity re-sale store for about $5 each.

Working on the tree house at night. I used steel clips to attach the 2"x4"x12' boards on their sides to the top plates of the walls.
The roof frame is 2"x4"x12' boards to support the 1/2" treated plywood sheets. I have a 3' overhang over the deck on front and a 1' overhang on the back.

Most of the siding is done with the exception of some corner trim and soffit work, but it is starting to look like a functional tree house. The kids are starting to use it for play.

Drip edge is installed prior to tar paper and shingles on the roof.

You will need help to get the heavy tar paper and shingles onto the roof. We fashioned a pulley system to a tree limb above to lift the materials to the roof.

Tar paper is laid down and nailed with roofing nails in an overlapping fashion starting at the low end of the roof working your way to the top, so that water can't get under the layer below the top layer.

The same goes for shingles. Starting at the low end you overlap up to the top, so that you cover up the nails of the shingle layer below. The shingles and the tar paper have lines on them to keep everything straight and to make sure you keep the appropriate amount of overlap.

Here is where we are today. I still need to finish corner trim, do some soffit work, insulate (if we decide to), install the wood stove and finish off the inside, but for now we have a functional tree house. Hopefully we will add solar panels soon, but for now we have an extension cord supplying light at night. I hope you have as much fun as I have had.