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How Can We Help You?

2010 has been a good year for us at Home And Garden Press. Primarily because it is the year we started.

We officialy began publication in June of 2010, and have accumulated quite a few visitors who spend a lot of time finding answers to common, and even not so common home and garden questions. In fact, our visitors average time on the site is over 4 minutes now, which is a long time in internet terms. The average number of page veiws is also higher than average for a site of our size. These factors together seem to indicate that people are interested in our topics, but we want to know what else you want to know.

We want to know how to best meet your needs, and we figure the best way to do that is to ask you! We want to add value to your online experience, and we would like to know what you need to know to improve your life.

Lets start with some really basic stuff:

Sweet Potatoes The Curing Process

Sweet potato curing questions

Need a building for your home farming storage?

A lot of the questions we get concern the nature of “curing” sweet potatoes, so I wanted to further comment about the nature of the process. There is nothing mystical, or magical about it, it is just a practical step in the process of preserving your hard earned produce.

Curing and eating

Sweet potatoes don’t have to be “cured” to be eaten, but they do need some time to air dry and heal before they are stored away for the season. The main purpose of the curing process is to allow a dry layer to develop over abrasions before storage to prevent rotting. There is also some benefit in allowing nature to take it’s course in developing sugars from the naturally occurring carbohydrates in the sweet potato. This occurs throughout the storage process as well as during the air drying process. This is more evident in the Irish potato than the sweet potato. Any good cook can tell you, it is difficult to properly fry a fresh Irish potato.

Sweet potato curing process

In the farming world, much of the curing takes place in the slated potato crates used for storing and transporting the sweet potatoes, so if you buy them from a dealer, or at your local farmers market, they may have some abrasions that could benefit from some air drying before final storage.

In practice, the home grower can use slated wooden fruit boxes to cure and store sweet potatoes, although these boxes have become much less common than they were during my youth. Such boxes allow air to all sides, as well as the top and bottom. Sweet potatoes can be placed into the boxes in a single layer, and will keep very well in this way.

Sweet potato curing principle

The principle is simple: Allow as much air drying as possible within the space available before storage to prevent rot. There are many ways to accomplish this. Wire racks, slated boxes, or any similar setup will do.

See also:

Curing And Storing Sweet Potatoes

Growing Sweet Potato Slips

Cooking Sweet Potatoes

Further resources:

Sweet Potato Culture for Profit. a Full Account of the Origin, History and Botanical Characteristics of the Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato: An Untapped Food Resource

The Sweet Potato: A Handbook for the Practical Grower [ 1921 ]

Sweet Potato: Post Harvest Aspects in Food, Feed and Industry (Food Science and Technology)

Sweet potato culture. Giving full instructions from starting the plants to harvesting and storing the crop

Hand Tool Care Hand Tool Safety

Hand Tool Care Hand Tool Safety

Most people don’t think about the need to care for and maintain hand tools, but there are things you can do to make them work better and last longer.

Tools with wooden handles

Keep tools dry

Hammers, axes, hatchets and other striking tools with wooden handles should be kept as dry as possible. They should never be stored with the head on a floor. Condensation can soak into the wood fibers and expand the wood fibers against the sides of the metal holes, crushing the fibers. When the fibers dry, the handle will be loose, which is a particularly bad thing with striking tools that are used with high velocity for high impact. A loose head can become separated from it’s handle at high speed, and cause physical injury to the user, or to property.

Keep tools sharp

Striking tools with sharp edges should be kept sharp. You might think that a sharp tool is more dangerous than a dull one, but the opposite is true. A dull tool requires more strength and energy to have the same effect. This extra energy expenditure causes fatigue and frustration, and leads to more accidents, plus, it slows the speed of work. Sharpening these tools is best done with a file in a vice. The file is bust used with long even pushing strokes going in one direction, and only against the blade with the cutting stroke. The reason for this is that pulling the file against the work on the non cutting stroke will dull the file.

Saws

Cutting tools like handsaws should be checked for handle tightness. Sharpening a handsaw can be a little difficult if you are not familiar with the process. It requires setting the teeth, a process of bending the teeth to the proper outward angle, filling all the teeth to the same level across the top, reshaping any teeth that no longer have a sharp tip as a result of such filing, and then sharpening the teeth to the original angle.

Some saws now available in this country are made after the Japanese style, which means that they cut on the pull stroke, and have no “set” on the teeth, which means that there is a more narrow “curf “, that is, the width of the cut made by the blade.

Metal tools

Metal tools like mechanics tools, pliers, and screwdrivers should be kept rust free, and a light coat of oil is great for this. Just be sure to wipe them dry when in use.

Garden tools

Garden tools should be checked for handle tightness, and the same rules as striking tools apply. Keep them clean, and a coating of linseed oil will help to protect them from moisture and rust.

Storing hand tools

An important part of tool care is having a well organized proper place to store them. If you have a lot of hand tools, it would probably be wise to use some of them to build a place to store your tools. Garage storage can be a problem unless you have a specific area sectioned off just for tools,but, no matter where you store them, tools should be kept out of the weather for safety and longevity.

Do you have suggestions for caring for hand tools? We would love to hear from you! Leave your suggestions in the comment area.