Thanks to the multi-talented, irreplaceable Ozark Hillbilly:
I bought The Solar Food Dryer some years back, and built my own. It’s an informative book and I recommend it. The book shows many different types but I built the one in the book and can’t imagine ever needing more than that.
The dimensions are 31″ wide x 26″ deep x 16″ tall (in back), 10 1/2″ tall in front. The legs are 24″ tall w/ dolly wheels on 2 at one end and a handle at the other for ease of dragging. For the glass I used a couple of old storm windows I got off a window replacement job. One can get them cheap. (caution: do NOT use solar glass)
In the Vented pic, one sees that there are two doors. The upper door is for ventilation and is screened to keep critters out. The lower door is where the trays slide in and out.
The only time I ever close the vent door is when it is 70 degrees or cooler. On those days the 2 side hole vents are all that is necessary to vent moisture.
The screen for the two food trays is food grade polypropylene and they sure are proud of it. It cost me $20 for a single 32×84 roll from Sunworks. One can get it for a cheaper by the foot price as long as it’s a 250′ roll (or something like that). If I ever decide to try and sell these at a farmers market I would buy it that way, but until then…
I have dried everything from apple slices to zucchini chips to cherry and grape tomatoes to chili peppers. This pic shows a batch of paprikas going in…
and Finis shows them coming out two October weeks later.
Three notes: The OnTheRack pic also shows a piece of heavy gauge sheet metal painted flat black below the food trays. It is the “heat absorber plate” and it has an upward bend at the front with a 2″ gap between it and the front panel. It gets very hot. Do not touch.
Secondly, the dryer is also wired with receptacles for two 200-watt incandescent bulbs. I live at 37 1/2 degrees latitude and have only used them once. I suspect the only time one would have need of them is if they had a week of cloudy days.
Lastly, in more northern climes I think shimming up the back legs would help it receive more sun.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, The dryer needs to face south.
I added in the PrettyOne pic just ‘cuz.
My waiting-for-spring project, so far, started with ordering sweet peas from Select Seeds. We were both really pleased with last year’s collection; this year they’re offering *two* different collections, so I ordered one of each. The only problem now is that we have so little full-sun space… and sweet peas require trellises. The Spousal Unit wants the plants ‘right by the front steps, where I can smell them every morning’, but we’ve already got two big permanent pots of alpine strawberries on either side of the steps (so he’ll remember to check for ripe ones), and the spaces between those pots and the house on either side are already crowded with Zepherine Drohin roses, early daffodils, and self-seeding geraniums. So I’m going to experiment with trellised pots, but I don’t want to block my view from the front door of the two raised beds, either.
I even ordered a couple of seed packets this year: sweet alyssum and nasturtiums that I’m going to try starting outdoors in pots. Plus morning-glory seeds for the Spousal Unit to try in the Aeropot kit I haven’t gotten around to using, because it has to go on the lowest (cat-inaccessible) level of this four-level house, and he goes down there to his mancave a lot more often than I do to the laundry room. Used to be white alyssum and blue morning glories were available at all the local garden shops, but for some reason they’ve become impossible to find, so we’ll see if we can grow our own!
What’s going on in your garden (planning), this week? Any projects in the works?
For those above the equator.
Some February tuneage on a lazy Sunday.
Jeez. I don’t even have my vegie garden planned. Gotta get moving.
Very cool, Ozark! If I wasn’t an empty nestor I would be tempted to try something similar.
In anticipation of starting my seeds by the end of the month I’m going to clean out my basement nook where I had my plant cloner set up and hang my big high output grow lights. I need to move my seed starting set-up from the dining room to the basement or the cats will spend all their days happily knocking it about. And eating my seedlings.
Morning glories are one of my favorites because I actually seem to have luck with them and they self-seed. And during our trip to Italy last summer they were growing everywhere in so many different varieties I felt inspired to expand my collection this summer. Now I think ‘add to cart’ is becoming a problem.
Good Morning, Everyone ???
It’s gonna be sunny and 52 today. A perfect day for getting started on 1 or 2 of the many garden projects I have slated for this year. BUT…. It’s also a perfect day for the Soulard pet parade, which my eldest has invited us to share with he and his beautiful wife and daughters. I have a rule: If one of my sons or my stepdaughter invites me, I go. Even if I’d rather be doing something in the garden while the birds sing an aria just for me.
It’ll be fun, it always is.
I did start some seeds yesterday: Wild Thyme, Agastache, wild Bee Balm, Nasturtium, and some free Purple Coneflower seeds Baker Creek sent with my order. All but the nasturtiums were surface sown or barely covered and I am always hit and miss with that sowing method. Nasturtiums are easy to grow but I never seem to get the full trailing nasty out of them, so I am hoping to give them a bit of a jump start this year.
And boy, do they. Don’t plant them anywhere you don’t want them spreading.
That looks like a nice build, very cool. Mostly though here to say that I don’t remember having heard the expression that someone is “proud of” something to mean that it’s expensive, which is great. What’s weird is that I haven’t heard my relatives from Keokuk IA use it, since Keokuk is materially in the Ozarks.
@OzarkHillbilly: you got purple coneflower? ? I got lettuce.
But that’s going to go into my experimental cold frame, so we’ll see.
I prefer the rolling coal food dryer myself.
@rikyrah: Good morning.
@rikyrah: Good morning ?
In case anyone missed Jim Wright’s latest essay at Stonekettle Station, I highly recommend it.
@satby: I got some lettuce too: Merveille Des Quatre Saisons. Looks pretty, we’ll see how it tastes. I’ll be sowing all my lettuces and greens come March 1st.
@Baud: Somebody had to say it. ;-)
@TupeloPhoney: “proud of” is definitely a southernism. Maybe the northern Ozarks just haint got the same lingo.
@OzarkHillbilly: oh, that’s what I got. It and the kale I ordered are going into the small raised bed which will be my first attempt at a cold frame near the end of next month, since both are resistant to frost. Maybe. I have to rethink where I want to plant all my tomatoes after last year. Or make more raised beds to maximize sun exposure (more likely).
I’m a bit concerned by this morning’s Wunderground forecast. Under Air Quality it just says “None”.
“I can’t breathe but my sinuses feel great!”
I should build me a dryer like this.
Will it work on martinis?
Other people’s sense of humor?
What a great build @OzarkHillbilly!
Especially love the blue & white Delft/Mexican knobs.
Surprised you are starting bee balm seeds. Here, in the chilly North East, our gardens are on the Monarda Express. Love the stuff, so hardy, but it’ll take over.
Maybe you harvest and pack it up and use it in some clever fashion about which I do not know. But would like to.
@TupeloPhoney: I’m not sure where I picked it up. The old man was raised in Joliet IL by Slovene immigrants, and my mother was old southern aristocracy out of Dallas. Maybe from her side of the family. I also read a lot so who knows. I don’t pay much attention to how people speak around here, tho I recently heard a recording of my voice and was very surprised at how much twang I have picked up since I moved out here 20 years ago. Who knows?
The northern border of the Ozark Plateau (s) is generally considered to be defined by the Missouri river (the eastern by the Mississippi R. and the southern by the Arkansas R.). I am not very familiar with Iowa geology but the rocks that make up most of the Ozarks were formed by the same inland sea that covered Iowa all those many eons ago.
Either way, the culture and language of the Iowa flatlands is far different from that of the hills and hollers. Kirksville MO is Iowa in all but name.
Hope springs eternal.
@satby: I think they give the free seed as a marketing gambit for some of their lesser sellers. I ended up making 3 separate orders and got the coneflowers twice and the lettuce twice. Cold frames are great for early season greens.
As far as the solar dryer, I wonder if this might help managing the lights/aux heaters. Certainly seems to handle a couple hundred watts.
So great Ozark. I like projects like this. But I like your pretty picture too.
Because of the vacation the Immp and I are planning (corona virus be damned) it looks like pretty much a no-seed, all plants year for my garden as I won’t be around to take care of seedlings at the critical time. This week is going to be mostly sunny in the 40s! In February! Yard cleanup is in the plan.
That and the Immp’s first post-surgery CT scan which is making me somewhat apprehensive. No reason to think anything will show up, but it is certainly making me think about the past.
My Methodist/Victorian, Civil War Republican farmer relatives always said “proud” to mean “pricey.”
Indeed it will. When I first put some in I was expecting it to behave more like it’s wild cousin and was not at all ready for the explosion of growth from it. I got lucky and for the most part those locations where I put it are just fine (with some judicious pruning of new sprouts). I am trying to grow some of the wild stuff for a specific location to intersperse among some ground cover around a tree.
The lady farmer I talked to at my local farmers market said the local feild planting date from her childhood was Valentine’s Day so I am putting in some green beans today. Only some, because theoretically we could still have frost, and anyway to have a longer picking season, it’s recommended you make multiple plantings. I haven’t been hear long enough to improve the soil so I am going to plant them climbing up some trellis netting I hung along the back fence to grow vines for privacy. This is a smaller yard than I used to have and I don’t really like not having more privacy. I am planting hedges and flowering vines, but they take awhile to get big enough.
A lot of my ornamentals need some cool to get started befor the heat so I have already started some, and have a bunch more to plant today in trays.
Speaking of something I am proud of “building”, around here, squirrels dig in newly planted seed trays. It is thought they associate the smell of new dirt with some other squirrel burying a nut, and investigate in order to steal. Years ago I had to start making covers for my seed trays out of mesh hardware cloth. I make each cover big enough to cover 4 trays which works out to about 2 foot by 3 foot. I cut from 3 by 4 rectangles cut from a roll, then I cut out 6 inch squares at each corner, bend down each flap and sew together the side corner. Then I have a sort of bottomless box that I just set on top of the 4 tray groups. I use wire to “sew”.
if I don’t do that they dig up half my seeds and the soil, leave it all over the garden and mix up the labels of what they don’t destroy. I used to have armadillos doing it too. They are looking for earthworms not nuts and are attracted to the moist soil smell.
i still have more summer plant seeds to order. Cardenas catalogs are keeping me sane till Trump is gone. I went hunting more new to me companies to get catalogs from.
@satby: man that was refreshing glass of ice water to the face.
My father in laws side was from Macon, Missouri, moved to Joliet early ’50’s to work at Caterpillar. Both the Missouri folks and the Joliet branch used ” sure are proud of” so who knows ?
@MagdaInBlack: Certainly not I.
Very impressive! You have yellow ladybugs out there?
This is a great project, beautifully done. This is probably the most sincere comment I have ever written on this blog.
I think I have the flu that was not the one covered by the shot and am too sick to do sarcasm.
@debbie: More green than yellow, I am unsure as to the species.
Sittiing in bed reading. Favorite cat is in the tent under the covers by my legs. Sweet doofus.
@Sab: Perfect Sunday.
Saran Wrap — the 2000 year old man
That solar dryer looks amazing. I’m thinking about doing a worm composter even though I have limited space.
@germy: I love my trees, won’t cut down a living one unless I absolutely have to.
Liquid Prell — The 2013 Year Old Man (updating his previous position regarding Saran wrap)
@OzarkHillbilly: I had to cut down some white pines that had crested and became unstable. Then, the arborist pointed out my huge Norway maple had cancre and some obvious hollow spots. It came down too. But the plus was rooftop solar.
@Immanentize: Good riddance. Your trees have had it in for you for several years, haven’t they? Didn’t one try to eat your front porch?
OT – Warren is scheduled to be on AM Joy on MSNBC now.
@Immanentize: I talk about getting roof top solar. I know that if I do the first job will be to get rid of the trees around my house.
Not gonna happen.
I’ll put up an array for the morning sun and a 2nd for the afternoon. I’d probably have to do it anyway the way the house faces.
Time to go, the Krewe of Barkus awaits.
@Spanky: That’s turning on at 38 degreees and turning off at 50 degrees. I think he needs it to turn off at 70 degrees.
@Sab: The front porch was Satby’s tree. Mine crushed my car and took two other trees out (a mulberry and a thundercloud plum) while crushing my car
@OzarkHillbilly: can’t wait for your report out on the parade. So, what do you do with the dried food? Soups, snacks – would love to know.
@Immanentize: Well I’m glad about your front porch not being crushed.
@OzarkHillbilly: Despite living right up again the mountain, I’ve been planting trees on this place since 1972 (ish). Can’t have too many!
Definitely want to build a solar food dryer. You are an inspiration, OH!
@OzarkHillbilly: Love the dehydrating frame. I can see you building and selling those, maybe on commission.
Also love that you took the extra step to make it beautiful. Those little blue and white knobs, as MazeDancer mentioned, are really appealing and make it one of a kind. (So far.)
J R in WV
Hey, Ozark, about those nasturtiums you got seeds for. The flowers are great in salads — colorful to the max. Neighbor grows them every summer, they show up when she has extras.
Thought you might not know that factoid, which now that I type that makes this post sound silly addressed to you. But now everyone knows that.
JUST the flowers, folks!!
@J R in WV: Hey, I was hoping to catch you.
I saw your interesting recipe in a thread as I was catching up on last night.
What does the flat beer do in that recipe, that milk would not do in its place? Any ideas on that? Does the beer flavor work better with the rye bread somehow?
Actually, rye bread, cheese and beer sounds like a lovely combo…
J R in WV
Yes, the beer — if you use a real beer as opposed to a flat Miller Lite– imparts a hoppy flavor that blends with the carraway and coriander and cheese and cauliflower. It doesn’t really need to be flat, either.
I just pop a good one when I start, and pour a cuppa in a measuring cup, add some salt and pepper which releases a lot of the head. Drink the rest right away!
What is that wonderful dark pink flower at the end of the post? Is that a zinnia?
@J R in WV: Ha! That’s exactly what I used to do when I made my beer-cheese fondue!
Except for the salt & pepper part; I didn’t know that trick.
I am so sad that our really good local bakery that made the best rye bread EVER closed down about 3 years ago. I haven’t had a really good rye bread since then, and rye is my favorite bread.
Question for the chicken stans here.
Is there a source for information – on paper or the web – on appearance of chickens a thousand years or so ago?
In other words, if I’m building a model village, somewhere in Western Europe between 0 and 1000 AD, what color are the chickens likely to be ?
Thanks very much for any help or info you can give me on this. Am reasonably close to several big libraries, so recommending book title & author is fine.
@JAFD: Not a chicken stan, but most domesticated animals tend to revert to a ‘type’ not far removed from their wild ancestors. So, feral cats tend towards tabby, feral dogs meld into ‘yellow’ (brownish) animals, goats are greyish-black.
The ancestral jungle fowl were pheasant-colored, reddish-brown, with iridescent tails on the roosters. Barring someone more knowledgeable tells you different, I’d go with that for early European chickens as well.
Humans are intrigued by color variants — there’s stuff in the Old Testaments about separating ‘spotted’ sheep from the regular black or white versions — so when the inevitable unusually-colored chickens (black or ‘barred’, I’m guessing) were born, they’d probably be kept for breeding stock. So a clan or a small community might become known for their ‘special’ chickens; even if they weren’t particularly more productive than the regular ones, they’d be at something of a premium, like urban parks that advertise their ‘special’ black squirrels.
J R in WV
We still have a more recently opened bakery which makes great breads. Rye too, and a multi-grain seeded bread that is to die for!
They also make pasta and great “trail mix” cookies which have just enough batter to hold the nuts and fruit together. Their desserts aren’t that great, mostly. A little too dry frequently. They do Italian Cream Cakes that are really good, tho.
Founder and owner was previously a lawyer in charge of the Environmental Quality Board, got over stressed, decided to go into a hands-on business instead. We are all grateful for that decision!