Hold All Test Tube Soil Test Kit Product Review

Hold All Test Tube Soil Test Kit Product Review

This post, Hold All Test Tube Soil Test Kit Product Review, is the third in a series of three product reviews on at home soil test kits.

Hold All Test Tube Soil Test Kit Product Review

Hold All Test Tube Soil Test Kit Product Review

This particular test kit is not a meter, but a series of tests that you perform by mixing you soil with solutions to get color coded comparisons.  This kit measures Ph, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potash.

The Ph is done by taking a small soil sample and putting it in a test tube, filling it up to the first line on the test tube.  Then you add the contents of one Ph package to the test tube.  Then you fill the test tube up to the fourth line on the test tube with filtered water.  Put the top on the test tube and shake very well.  In one minute you compare the color of the contents of the test tube with a Ph chart provided with the test kit and you have your Ph results.

The other three tests involves you mixing water with you soil, shaking and then letting it settle before you test.  I took a Tupperware bowl with a lid and took 1/3 cup of soil with no debris.  Debris is organic matter like leaves and roots.  Remove all the organic matter that you can.  The I added five 1/3 cups of filtered water.  You need a 5 to 1 ratio of water to soil.  Then I put the lid on the Tupperware bowl and shook it for about a minute.

After you have done the above step, set the bowl aside for at least a half an hour for the mud and silt to settle to the bottom.  I let mine sit overnight.

Once the water has settled you use the provided “baster” tool to put the water in each of the three remaining test tubes up to the fourth line.  The baster is a tool that is shaped like a mini turkey baster and is used to suck the water from your bowl and put in your test tube without disturbing the water and soil mixture.

After the water is in the test tubes, add the test solution package to the test tubes.  Match the color of the test tube lids to the color of the test solution.  Put the lid on the test tube and shake it well.  Let the test tubes sit for about ten minutes and then match the color of the solution with the color on the charts provided with the kit.

Details of this test being performed are shown in the video below.

Reuslts

This test showed that I have slightly acidic soil, which corresponds with other tests I have performed.  It also showed that I’m very light on nitrogen and phosphorus and a little light on potash.  This is what I expected as I do not use any fertilizers and have not added any compost to the area I was testing.

My Recommendations

This test kit seems to provide better results and more useful results than the other soil test systems that I have reviewed.  I can see a place for both this test system and the electronic version that also offers a reading on soil moisture.  My recommendation is a buy for this product.

Please tell us what you thing about Hold All Test Tube Soil Test Kit Product Review by commenting below.

Hold All Moisture Light and Ph Product Review

Hold All Moisture Light and Ph Product Review

This article, Hold All Moisture Light and Ph Product Review, is the second in a series of three reviews on soil Ph testers.

Hold All Moisture Light and Ph Product Review

Hold All Moisture Light and Ph Product Review

This tester does not test the fertilizer like the Ferry Morse soil tester claims, but it does check moisture and light, which the Ferry Morse does not check.

The Hold All meter has a three position switch below the light sensor.  To the left is moisture, in the center is light, and to the right is Ph.  You push the meter into the soil and take the reading on moisture and Ph.  No soil prep work like there is on the Ferry Morse.  You also push it into the soil for the light test, but you need to make sure that the meter is facing the light source.

Because of the issues I had with so many of the Ferry Morse testers not working at all, I tested this one in the store just to make sure the meter moved.  I tested two and the meter moved on both.

I suspected that my soil was acid because of all of the oak trees around.  However, when I put the meter in the soil, I tested only slightly acid.  This was backed up by another test that I’ll be talking about tomorrow.  I also took the tester over to my mother’s house and checked in an area that I knew was acid and the meter did show it as more acid.  So I would have to say that the meter will give you a general idea of the Ph of the soil.

I tested several areas at my residence and at my mothers for the moisture level and the meter seemed to give about the results I expected each time.

The video below shows my using this product.

Results

This product seemed to operate successfully with results that were pretty close to what I would have expected for moisture and Ph.  The light meter did work showing the light level, but I personally don’t have much use for that in a full sun back yard, so I didn’t mess with it too much.

My Recommendation

If you are looking for a very fast read on your moisture and Ph this meter seemed to do the trick.  It cost about $12 at Lowes and I’d give this product a buy recommendation.

Please give us your thoughts on Hold All Moisture Light and Ph Product Review by commenting below.

Ferry Morse Soil Tester Review

Ferry Morse Soil Tester Review

This article, Ferry Morse Soil Tester Review, is the first of three soil test reviews that we conducted this week.

Ferry Morse Soil Tester Review

Ferry Morse Soil Tester Review

The Ferry Morse soil tester is an electronic soil tester that you push into wet soil.  There is a three position switch that will give you a reading on your Ph and on your Fertilizer.

In order to do the test the first thing you do is clear off about two inches of dirt and then loosen about 5 inches of dirt below that.  Then you moisten the dirt to make a muddy mixture.

First, clean off the probes with the provided green cleaning cloth.  Push the switch on the side into the down position.  You then push the meter into the muddy mixture right up to the meter and let it sit for 5 seconds.  Then look at the meter to get a reading on the fertilizer in the soil.

Once the above test is done you can get a Ph test by setting the switch on the side to the up position.  Clean off the probes with the provided green cleaning cloth. You then push the meter into the muddy mixture right up to the meter and let it sit for 60 seconds.  Then look at the meter to get a reading on the Ph of the soil.

This process is shown in the YouTube video below.

Results

My results for the Ferry Morse weren’t so great.  I put the meter into the muddy mixture and the needle didn’t move for either test.  I know the battery was good because I tested it before I installed it in the meter.  When I opened the package there was a piece of solder laying loose in the packaging.

So I figured I just picked a random bad unit.  So I went back to Lowes to get another.  They had 6 at Lowes.  None of the other units had batteries so I used the battery of the unit that I returned to Lowes because I knew that the battery was good.  I tested four of the 6 units and the needle did not move on any of them.  That is a 100% failure rate with over 50% tested.

My Recommendation

This product was the most expensive product tested, coming in at just under $20.  With a 100% failure rate with over 50% tested,  I could not recommend this product to anyone.

Tell us what you think about the Ferry Morse Soil Tester Review by commenting below.

 

Epi030 – Blue Bean Plant Information, Chinese Magnolia Vine plant information, A Spring Walk Around the Homestead, and Time to Pot the Rooted Cuttings

Epi030 – Blue Bean Plant Information, Chinese Magnolia Vine plant information, A Spring Walk Around the Homestead, and Time to Pot the Rooted Cuttings

This week – Epi030 – Blue Bean Plant Information, Chinese Magnolia Vine plant information, A Spring Walk Around the Homestead, and Time to Pot the Rooted Cuttings.

Great Escape Podcast

Great Escape Podcast

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.

If you would like to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, you can do so by clicking on Great Escape Podcast.

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Time to Pot Rooted Cuttings

Time to Pot Rooted Cuttings

This post, Time to Pot Rooted Cuttings, explains how and why I potted up several hundred rooting cuttings this weekend and provides you with a video of the progress.

Time to Pot Rooted Cuttings

Time to Pot Rooted Cuttings

This weekend I potted up several hundred plants.  The plants were rooted cuttings that have been in “beach sand” since last summer.  The plants are now well rooted and are just starting to bud out.  What I was able to finish this weekend is shown in the picture titled “Time to Pot Rooted Cuttings”.

I needed to get them out of the rooting medium (the sand) and into soil so they will grow into larger plants and so they have nutrition and not die.  The best time to transplant these little cuttings is when they are dormant so they do not suffer from shock.

The process of potting the rooted cuttings involves digging the plants up, being careful not to harm the roots of the plant I’m digging up or the surrounding plants.  Then I gently shake off all of the rooting medium (the sand) from around the roots and soak them in water for about 10 to 15 minutes to hydrate them.

While the plants are soaking in water, I pull out the number of pots I will need and label each pot so I know what the plants are.  I need to label them because I have several plants that are very similar in looks, but are different varieties.  Then I put an inch or so of dirt on the bottom of the pot and maybe a little more if the plants roots are shallow vs. deep.

Now I remove each plant from the water and put it in a pot and put soil around it.  I want the plant to be at the same depth it was in the rooting medium.  I don’t want them to be too deep or too shallow.  Be careful to not bunch the roots up.  Try to spread the roots out as it would be naturally.

More Work Ahead

More Work Ahead

Then put the pots where they will go and water them in.  Now they are good to go and as long as I keep them well watered they will survive as long as needed in the pots.

I had a good start this weekend, but did not finish because I ran out of soil.  I still have quite a few of the larger plants to pot up, but I will need quite a bit more soil to complete the transplants.  You can see the plants that are still remaining in the grow bed in the picture titled “More Work Ahead”.

Below is a YouTube video of “Time to Pot Rooted Cuttings”.  You can find other videos that show the rooted cuttings from when they first went in last year at Great Escape Farms YouTube channel.

 

 

Please give us your thoughts on Time to Pot Rooted Cuttings by commenting below.

A Spring Walk Around the Homestead

A Spring Walk Around the Homestead

Today I took a Spring walk around the homestead and videoed the walk to compare and contrast two previous videos I took, one in the late summer and one in the winter.

A Spring Walk Around the Homestead

A Spring Walk Around the Homestead

Even though it is officially spring, it still seems to early for everything to be flowering out now.  My apricot, peach, nectarine, plum, and nanking cherries have all flowered already.  My Korean cherry and cherry trees are just about to flower.  For some reason I don’t recall all of these plants flowering in March.  I thought it was mid-April before they flowered out.  Anyhow, I’m not complaining as I love it when the plants are budding out and flowering.

I have included a YouTube video near the bottom of this post that shows what I saw on my walk.  You can also see my late summer and winter videos at the Great Escape Farms YouTube channel.

Another fun thing about spring is new plants.  I have received quite a few new plants and seeds in the past couple of weeks.  I received a half a dozen new varieties of honey berry, a couple of different types of mulberry, and a couple of different types of raspberry that I do not have. One of the raspberries is a gold color. I also received 5 different types of seedless grapes.

I have been branching out lately and trying some edible perennial plants as well.  I just received a shipment in from a place called Food Forest Farm (foodforestfarm.com) that specializes in permaculture perennial plants.  Some of the plants you have probably heard of before like welsh onion, wild leek, perennial leek and sunchoke or artichoke.  But I found others that I have not even heard of before like Turkish Rocket, which is a perennial that has flower heads like broccoli and has a nutty and mustardy flavor.

Another one I found is called Mint Root that has tubers that you can harvest in the fall or early spring.  The tubers are kind of like water chestnut.  Then there is Korean Celery which has leaves and stalks that taste like celery.  So whats the big deal, why not just grow celery?  Because Korean Celery is perennial and comes back year after year.

I also bought Ground Bean, Perpetual Sorrel, and Sweet Cicely.  I will eventually do a post on each of these perennial plants giving you a full bio to include how they taste (at least on my pallet).

Please give us your thoughts about A Spring Walk Around the Homestead by commenting below.

Chinese Magnolia Vine Plant Information

Chinese Magnolia Vine Plant Information

This Chinese Magnolia Vine plant information (Schisandra chinensis) post provides you with a recipe, edible and medicinal information and how to grow the vine.  This deciduous woody vine is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 – 10 and likes some shade and moist well drained soils. It is native to Northern China and the Russian Far East.  The vine can grow up to 30 feet in length and can grow up to 3 feet a year.

Chinese Magnolia Vine Plant Information

Chinese Magnolia Vine Plant Information

The Chinese Magnolia vine is dioecious, requiring both a mail and female to reproduce.  There is a hybrid called ‘Eastern Prince’ that is self fertile.  They can grow up a trellis or on the ground. The stems that spread over the ground produce neither flowers nor fruit.

They are not tolerant of drought and need consistent moisture. Schizandra is also called Wu Wei Zi or “five flavored berry” because it contains all of the five tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, astringent and sour.

The Chinese Magnolia vine has elliptic or oval deep green leaves with red petioles.

Fruit

The bright red berries in 4” grape-like clusters ripen from mid August to mid September. The fruit ripens in late summer on year-old wood.

Propagation

Chinese Magnolia

Chinese Magnolia

This plant can be propagated by suckers, softwood cuttings, seeds, and layering.  The seeds need to be soaked in water and require cold stratification.

Pruning

In the late winter or early spring prune out dead and weak growth.  Then cut last year’s stems just above the 12th-15th well developed bud.

Edible

Chinese Magnolia is used in Russia in the commercial manufacture of juices, wines, extracts, and sweets. The fruit can be eaten raw or processed. The young leaves are often cooked and used as a vegetable.

Medicinal

Schisandra is used as an “adaptogen” for increasing resistance to disease and stress, increasing energy, and increasing physical performance and endurance.
Schisandra is also used for preventing early aging and increasing lifespan; normalizing blood sugar and blood pressure; and stimulating the immune system and speeding recovery after surgery.
It is also used for treating liver disease (hepatitis) and protecting the liver from poisons. The Chinese have developed a liver-protecting drug called DBD that is made from schisandrin, one of the chemicals in schisandra.
Other uses for schisandra include treatment of high cholesterol, coughs, asthma, sleep problems (insomnia), nerve pain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), chronic diarrhea, dysentery, night sweats, spontaneous sweating, involuntary discharge of semen, thirst, erectile dysfunction (ED), physical exhaustion, excessive urination, depression, irritability, and memory loss.
Some people use schisandra for improving vision, protecting against radiation, preventing motion sickness, preventing infection, boosting energy at the cellular level, counteracting the effects of sugar, and improving the health of the adrenal glands. *

(Source:www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-376-schisandra.aspx?activeingredientid=376&activeingredientname=schisandra)

Recipe

Schizandra Tonic Tea Recipe

When making schizandra berry tea you should simmer it for only 15 minutes as extended cooking times tend to release tannins, creating an overly tart and astringent tea.  Unlike other tonics, such as ginseng, the berries should be dis-guarded after use and not re-used.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart water
  • 3T schizandra (soaked and drained)
  • 1T goji berries
  • 1T astragalus root
  • 1t orange peel or a couple of pieces
  • 1t fresh ginger root

Simmer the above ingredients in one quart of pure water for no longer than 15 minutes. Strain and drink alone with super sweeteners or allow to cool and blend into a smoothie or iced drink.

(Source:www.superfoods-for-superhealth.com/schizandra-berry-tea.html)

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Thanks for visiting the Chinese Magnolia Vine Plant Information page.

Please give us your thoughts on Chinese Magnolia Vine Plant Information by commenting below.

Blue Bean Plant Information

Blue Bean Plant Information

This post provides information about Blue Bean Plant Information at Great Escape Farms.

Blue Bean Plant Information at Great Escape Farms

Blue Bean Plant Information at Great Escape Farms

Blue Bean (Decaisnea fargesii), also known as Blue Sausage Fruit and Dead Man’s Fingers, is a unique plant that grows blue fruit that looks like a bean or sausage or a dead man’s finger. This small tree or shrub from the Himalayas and Western China generally grows 8 to 10 foot tall but may get up to 25 feet tall.

The Blue Bean is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 10 and likes full sun to partial shade. This plant dislikes drought and new growth can be damaged by late frosts. The tree resembles a small black walnut with leaves that are pinnate to three feet long, with 13-25 leaflets, each leaflet up to six inches long and four inches wide.  The Blue Bean usually does not require pruning.

Blue Bean flowers in late spring or early summer with each flower having a greenish-yellow color.  The flowers have six sepals and no petals and are hermaphrodite, so the plant is self-fertile.

Fruit

Blue Bean Pod with Pulp

Blue Bean Pod with Pulp

The fruit ripens in September or October.  The fruit looks like a bright blue sausage and has a white, juicy phlegm-like or gelatinous-like pulp. The seeds are not eaten, only the pulp around the seeds.  The pulp has a bland to very sweet flavor with some saying it has a watermelon taste.

Propagation

Propagation works well with seeds and cuttings.  Online sources claim that 30 to 90 days of cold stratification is needed.  The seeds I bought this year said to scarify as well.  I bought quite a few seeds and I’m doing the following to see what works best: plant seeds straight in the soil, scarify only, scarify and cold stratify for 30, 60 and 90 days.  I’ll post my results later in the spring.

Edible

Blue Bean on a Tree

Blue Bean on a Tree

The edible part of Blue Bean is the Jelly-like pulp eat raw out of hand.  Do not eat the seeds.

Medicinal

No information found online.

Recipe

None found online.

Please give us your feedback on Blue Bean Plant Information at Great Escape Farms by commenting below.

Epi029 – Shipping Bare Root Plants, Seed Starting Indoors – Little Improvements, Akebia Quinata Plant Information

Epi029 – Shipping Bare Root Plants, Seed Starting Indoors – Little Improvements, Akebia Quinata Plant Information

This week Epi029 – Shipping Bare Root Plants, Seed Starting Indoors – Little Improvements, Akebia Quinata Plant Information.

Great Escape Podcast

Great Escape Podcast

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.

If you would like to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, you can do so by clicking on Great Escape Podcast.

Click on the icon below for other RSS feed options.

Akebia Quinata Plant Information

Akebia Quinata Plant Information

This post, Akebia Quinata Plant Information, is about this versatile vine that is edible, medicinal, ornamental, with a recipe at the end of the post.

Akebia Quinata Plant Information

Akebia Quinata Plant Information

Akebia Quinata Plant Information

Akebia quinata is a vine that grows up to 30 feet.  It is an evergreen in warm climates and deciduous in cooler climates.  It is native to eastern Asia and is hardy in USDA zones 4-10.

It has compound leaves with five leaflets and flowers in May that are purple or white. The fruits are five-inch-long pink or blue skinned fruit that is sausage-shaped which contain edible pulp. They like well-drained sandy loams and full sun to partial shade.  Use caution as they can become an invasive species.

I just received two of these vines in the mail tonight.  I ordered them from Raintree Nursery.  I received the purple rose akebia and the silver bells akebia.  These plants will go out at the farm in WV.

Edible

Akebia Fruit

Akebia Fruit

The rind is edible, but is slightly bitter.  The pulp is edible and makes a tropical tasting clear jelly or flavorful drink. The soft shoots are used in salads or for salt pickling.

Propagation

If run along the ground, it will root where it touches the ground.  Softwood cuttings of 6 inches work well.  Seeds can be difficult to germinate.  Best luck with seeds involve 1-month cold stratification and surface sow as light helps them germinate.

Medicinal

“The stems are anodyne, antifungal, antiphlogistic, bitter, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, laxative, galactogogue, resolvent, stimulant, stomachic and vulnerary. Taken internally, it controls bacterial and fungal infections and is used in the treatment of urinary tract infections, lack of menstruation, to improve lactation etc. The stems are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The fruit is antirheumatic, depurative, diuretic, febrifuge, stomachic and tonic. It is a popular remedy for cancer. The root is febrifuge.” *

(Source:www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/a/akebia-quinata=akebia.php)

Recipes

Akebi Pod Miso Itame

Ingredients

  • 1 akebi pod (inner fruit removed)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (sesame oil is nice)
  • 1-2 teaspoon miso paste (same as for miso soup)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons of ryorishu (cooking sake or sake)
  • shiso leaf (fresh green shiso leaf) optional

Use at least two teaspoons of Kansai-style sweet miso paste which is light in color. Tohoku style miso is red and saltier and you might want to go easy on the amount if you are using that style of miso. Adjust amount based on the kind of miso you are using and of course your taste.

Preparation
If you would like to remove some of the bitterness you can soak the pod halves or slices in warm water for 30 to 60 minutes. Pat dry before sauteing.

Mix all the liquid ingredients together in a bowl, dissolving the miso paste and sugar.

Heat a fry pan and add several tablespoons of oil. Once hot, add sliced akebi pod and saute covered until akebi softens, this should take about 2 minutes.

Pour in liquid ingredients, reduce heat and simmer down until little liquid remains. This should take 1 to 2 minutes. Due to the high sugar content, the mixture will quickly burn – don’t allow that to happen. Once the liquid has been reduced, serve on a plate and garnish with chopped shiso leaf.

Source:www.eattheweeds.com/chocolate-vine-akebi/

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Please let us know what you think of Akebia Quinata Plant Information by commenting below.