I am amazed by your knowledge of the outdoors. I am an env/eco major. I would love to know where you came to know so much..

. Cool, Env/Eco is really interesting.   I am listening off and on to Berkeley’s Econ C3, 001 on my commute to work in the mornings… 

Thanks for the complement. I spend a lot of time in the woods, I hike almost every day and research anything I see that looks interesting. Also people know I am a nature nerd, so conversations often end up with them teaching me what they know about nature. It’s not always right or even sane, but always worth listening to. I try not to criticize people when they are trying to teach me. I think that’s important. I read field guides all the time on a bunch of different subjects, and love to mad scientist natural medicine and bush craft to try to find out what works and why.  Right now I am rereading the Foxfire books they are a little corny but fun, and actually have some good information. 

I wish you the best in your studies and hope you always have time for the woods.

Dehydrator update

Solar dehydrator up date.

In my last post on it I asked for some help dialing in the dehydrator. I did not get much advice, but I tweaked some things. In the end I was unhappy with the natural draft. So I added a solar vent fan to even the draft out, and I repositioned it for better sun. That did the trick for herbs. It runs on a 70 to 75 degree day (no rain and a little sun) at about 105-110 Deg and has a good draft. However, rainy overcast cool days it does not work at all. You really need some dry days with a little sun, but I’m ok with that. It really puts out some volume. I have a huge volume of dried herbs now with no real work and no electricity. I will be adding some painted corrugated steel to the solar tray to boost temperatures for fruit. The steel should up the surface area enough to to give me an extra 15 to 25 Deg rise minimum. That should do for fruit slices.

The biggest surprise was how nice it is to hang herbs. I did not get a picture, but you can stager the hanging pattern to get a lot in. I made a bunch of racks from plastic ceiling return grills, but it is faster to just hang things. It adds to the drying time but it’s less work, and there is less chance of the wind messing with it when you put it in or take it out of the dehydrator.

I also want to say that I still find it incredibly fun to build things like this, and to get a feel for them. The dehydrator plus foraging, has given me such an over abundance of herbs that I will be giving herbs away all summer. The picture represents the volume from one unload.

Lemon Balm

Today’s walk was for lemon balm. I found a bunch of it growing wild last year. And transplanted some because it was pest free and very strong scented, but I have a very small patch so I walked back to get some. The new solar dehydrator makes drying large batches easy and free so it’s a bit of a motivator. The area is very brush filled and overgrown. But you can smell it from yards away. I included a shot of the area for context. I only harvest 3% more or less, just what I will use. I take just the tops and just the high plants, so the lower smaller ones get some sun. In case I come back. I avoid old plants, ones that are too large and ones with poor color or smell. When I get back I check the leaves over and get rid of any with spots. It’s probably just fine, but I think if you forage you should be more selective then if it’s from the garden. If I go back to pick for making tincture I will likely take a great deal more an be a little less picky.

While I was walking out to the patch I found a ton of wild strawberries, nice tart ones. They are not worth going out for, but nice to snack on if they turn up. Also found a mushroom.

Happy hunting