Experimental Homestead

Taste Testing Seven Summer Apples, Head to Head



Untold hours of research into apple geekery has, Among other things, resulted in a fair collection of early apples with high reputations. Although many have not lived up their reputations, At least not in my climate, my last taste test of two early crab apples, TRAILMAN and CENTENNIAL was very encouraging  This week I got to taste 7 early apples that are in eating around early to mid August.  The results didn’t surprise me. I’ve tasted most of these apples before. Still, it was very revealing to taste all of them at the same time and compare directly.  What did surprise me was significant red staining in the flesh of William’s pride, making it a good candidate for my red fleshed apple breeding efforts, along with it’s other merits.

For anyone searching for good early apples,the winners in this tasting are good at any season and very exceptional for early apples. There are other apples which I grow that ripen in the same season, but for various reasons, like birds, Drought, and alternate bearing, I didn’t have any specimens to add. So, they will have to wait for another year.  Most promising among those so far are probably St. Edmunds russet, Irish peach and golden nugget.  I also just today discovered an entire cordon Mother apples (Mother is the variety name) that I hadn’t noticed. I’ve had them before, but I just ate one that was by far the best I’ve ever had, and it may have been a contender up against the winners of this taste test.  Extremely sweet with lots of rich flavor.  This one may have been an early drop.  It takes a while to learn when to pick and eat each variety.

Although there are quite a few things left to finish up, the basic architecture of my new website is up and running.  In addition to whatever new stuff I come up with, it will house all of the old turkeysong posts, As well as those from the Paleotechnics blog. As a project, it is much more in line with my General thinking and philosophy regarding knowledge in practical arts, in that the scope is much broader. I’ll explain that more in a future post, but I’m going to keep this short because I am using speech to text software.  I have tendonitis from working on the computer too much in designing and executing the website for the past two weeks!
For now, all content will be posted to both blogs for a couple/few weeks until everything is moved over and running smoothly at which time comments on this blog will be disabled and I’ll stop posting here.  it will be kept as an archive though. I’ll miss the old turkeysong blog, but I’m very excited about the new site, the YouTube channel, and the entire project which includes turkeysong, All the experiments going on here and writing projects, all of which my life is completely integrated into.  I’m entirely focused on this project and this idea.  Check out the new site. It has all the content from this site, with all of the old comments, but is designed for  easy navigation by visual categories. I hope most of you Will make the move with me.  I got the blog subscription forms working last night.   More on all that soon!

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Why I’m Not Selling at the Farmer’s Market Anymore




“It’s not just the work, which is an inconvenience that can be scaled, it’s the feeling of doing something utterly useless that involves other people doing the same, stretching in a line back to some place totally disconnected from the reality of the ground war of farming and direct marketing.  A burden of useless labor for all involved, all victims of the same stupid system, with a life of it’s own, and hardly anyone to really blame.”

This post is part rant, part politic, part personal, part declaration.  My farmer’s market career has always been spotty.  I have had long standing plans to eventually sell at the market, and have planted trees and flower bulbs here with that goal in mind for many years, but I wasn’t really ready when I started going.  I was under a lot of pressure at the time to start going though, and finally decided to go with it since I probably wasn’t going to be much more ready anytime in the near future and I wanted to accommodate my partner at the time.  I’m glad I did, because I learned a lot and it was good for me to get out in public with my stuff.  Iit has rarely been easy to pull off though for all the reasons I knew I wasn’t ready in the first place.  I had big plans for the market that I was not able to materialize to any extent.  I still hold those plans in my head and in notes scattered around clipboards and computer files for some future time when I am functioning at a higher level.  At least I was doing something though, and big plans could wait.  So, I’ve basically limped along, making it to the market now and again.  It has been rewarding, I met some great people, and that little bit of income was very significant in my universe.

At some point last year, I just decided not to grow any vegetable crops specifically for the market.  Many of the crops I grew last summer went completely to waste because I wasn’t able to make it to the market due to chronic health issues.  That just is what it is.  I can adapt to that.  But I still had other things that grow here perennially, and sort of grow themselves, which I could take to market if health and crop timing coincided.  I have daffodils from about January through April and they sell pretty well.  In May and June I have lots of artichokes.  In late summer I have amaryllis flowers, which are also pretty popular and from late summer on, my many varieties of apples start coming on.  And then there might be a few other odds and ends through the season, vegetables that I may have extra of on a day I might be going to the market, like a few tomatoes or something.  Growing things specifically for the market just was not working out though, and I had to throw in the towel on that or keep wasting my limited energy producing crops for the chickens and the compost pile.


Even selling those perennial crops I just listed is not that straight forward though.  The process starts in the spring, when I have to tell the county agricultural department everything I’m going to grow.  Now don’t laugh, but they actually want to know everything I’m going to grow for the season, down to the specific variety, how many plants/acres, and how many pounds or units or bunches.  It’s so ridiculous that everyone just sort of throws out some numbers and calls it good.  This is farming, not accounting.  Everyone knows it’s silly, but the laws come from on high where I imagine someone that knows fuck-all about growing anything is probably paid rather well to make our lives more complicated.  I’m sure the intent is all good and well, to make sure people are selling stuff they grew themselves, but geez…

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July 1, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 22 Comments

Some I’itoi Onion Bulbs Available for Subscribers



I’itoi (pronounced E-E-toy) are small and prolific multiplying onions.  The story goes that they were acquired from the O’odham people in what is now Arizona and N. Mexico.  They produce a very small Shallot like bulb that can be peeled and eaten, or they can be used as greens or pulled off during the growing season for “scallions”.   They are very rare at this point and were put on the Slow Food movements Ark of Taste a list of endangered food varieties.  I tossed a bag of old dried up ones that I thought were probably dead out in the rain a month ago, and a lot of them sprouted, so I thought I’d pass on what is left to readers of this blog rather than tossing them in the compost.  These are the ones that were too shrunken to sell, though perfectly viable, and now they are just barely hanging on for dear life.  They have a small core of viable bulb left and I think that if they are potted up soon most will still grow out.  You really only need one as they are very good multipliers.  I made up small packets of about 8 bulbs and tossed in a small sample seed pocket/packet of bulgarian giant leek seeds in each.  There are about a dozen packets ready to ship, first come first serve if you pay shipping, which just $1.50 should cover.  You can paypal that to me after contacting me through the contact link on this website.  This is offered for people who are subscribed to my blog.

I'itoi peeled and whole

I don’t know much about cold hardiness of I’itoi.  They certainly do fine with light freezes, but growing them outside in really cold climates is going to be a bit of an experiment.  I’d appreciate any reports back on how they do.  These bulbs are barely hanging in there, but they are tough little guys and still have a living core waiting to find some soil and water.  Plant them immediately.  In warm climates, plant in the ground now.  In cold climates, I’d start them in a pot indoors and then plant out when warm weather arrives.  They reproduce like crazy and even if only one survives, you’ll have plenty to share, replant and eat soon enough.  I started with just a few and have sold and given away many hundreds of bulbs.

This is one cluster of I'itoi grown in about 3 or 4 months. They are very prolific.

This is one cluster of I’itoi grown in about 3 or 4 months. They are very prolific.

If left in the ground, they’ll form a dense cluster that can contain hundreds of small bulbs.  If replanted singly and well tended, they will form much larger bulbs than if left alone, but again they are still quite small.

Peeled I'itois. Good if you have the patience.

First come first serve.  Contact me through the contact link on this page.  Again, this is for people who are subscribed to my blog and they’ll probably go fast, so don’t contact me next week or next month or next year.  I’ll probably have them on ebay again this summer and I would think that they will be more widely available from seed suppliers soon.

If you have the patience, peeled I'itoi onions are nice for dishes where they are left whole, such as Risotto or in stuffing. These are frying in chicken fat.

If you have the patience, peeled I’itoi onions are nice for dishes in which they are left whole, such as Risotto or in stuffing. These are frying in yummy yellow chicken fat from one of my chickens.

A google search will turn up a little info on I’itoi onions, but there is only so much out there.  This link is a good page to check out for more info.

And This video

January 12, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 9 Comments

Turkeysong, the Year in Pictures 2013, Summer, Fall and Early Winter.

solstice moon

Full moonrise near the winter solstice. This is where the sun will come up on the summer solstice. Good to know.

For part I, Late Winter and  Spring, click here.


scallions for market, Scallions and carrots are my market mainstays.  They hold in the ground for a while, so I don’t miss the crop window if I can’t make it to the market.


They just kept hatching more all summer.  Probably just because they’re happy free range chickens driven to fulfill their biological purpose.  These two chicks made it.  Mom moved them into the coop after most of their siblings were killed in a raccoon attack one night.  The price of freedom.


Alligator lizard foreplay.  They’d probably be less than thrilled to know they were modeling for exhibition on the web.  They’ll run around like this for a while before they can get it up (cold blooded low metabolism as work).  I’m sure it’s totally hot to be bitten on the head if you’re an alligator lizard chick.  She looks stoked.

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January 9, 2014 Posted by | Food and Drink Making, Food Trees Fruits and Nuts, Garden Stuff, Lime, Non-Human Animals, Photos, Uncategorized, Wildlands and Plants.. and Animals and Stuff | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments