Dear Dr., I did a Google search in regards to peat as a preservative. I had tossed and turned all night thinking about it. I came across an article you wrote and as things would have it, here I am. I'm new to your site. I've found little more about this subject online. This subject really interests me.
Are you now conducting any experiments with peat? Have you conducted any? I just started what may be a long term project myself. I packed about two pounds of garlic and four eggs in peat yesterday and have set them outside in an unheated shed. We will have a foot of snow before days end.
I will be conducting additional experiments with charcoal, fats and brines.
My land has potential to build a combination spring house, root cellar/ ice house. My camp is directly near a fresh water stream. I'm a homesteader in the western mountains of Maine.
I have been using peat as the cover material for my port a potty for a few years. I ran out last winter and used hay for a while. The bugs appeared in numbers. Peat kills things. I avoid it in my garden generally because I noticed detrimental effects. It needs more nitrogen than I want to play with just to break it down. But, this does show how powerful a substance it is.
I was aware of artifacts and bodies being preserved many years ago. Now, I take on the adventure of food preservation research. I hope you are still interested and get back to me...Thanks...Lou
Howard recommends using peat moss in bins to store potatoes and onions. I did that last year and it worked very well. This year I left them a bit to long (as in "forgot" they were there) and it wasn't so successful, but I was still able to salvage much of what was stored.
Potato and onion are natural choices. I think you could add just about any root, tuber or bulb crop. So, beets, parsnip, carrot and you name it are all fair game.
I've had failures with sawdust and sand. I've had failures with stuff just left in bags. I expect some loss.
What really gets me thinking is about other stuff like cucumbers, tomato, corn and lettuce. Hell. I'll try anything just to find out. Fresh water seems to be an essential. But, apples off gas. What happens if you put lettuce in a Tupperware box with peat and water for a year? Covered. Buried. I wonder.
I have used peat for 4yrs. to store my garlic in. The same peat year after year. It MUST be totally dry !!! Peat from the nursery is too wet. Also watch your products closely the first try. Look for slime or soggy skins on the bulbs.Make sure to store the garlic in total dark. That will offer you the best possible results.
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