I finally had the time and cooperative weather to dig our first garden at the new house. At our house back in Colorado we mainly had done permaculture style sheet mulch garden beds, and several mini-hugelkulture mounds.
I understand the concept of sheet mulching and have done it, but I’m not sold on the idea for all applications. If you have a pretty good soil as a starting point as we do here in Wisconsin, I don’t see the point in spending the extra energy (and possibly money) to bring in the large amounts of materials needed to make a sheet mulch bed. I’m sure some permies would argue that point, but I don’t care. It is about observation and seeing what makes the most sense for a specific site, not just blindly following someone else’s rules.
The soil here is rich and black, unlike the concrete clay soil we had in Colorado. A basic soil test did show it lacking in nutrients, so we will amend the soil. We found what appears to be a nice certified organic compost with a blend of worm castings made here in Wisconsin and we will amend the soil with it, and then build on that over time.
We seem to have no shortage of bunnies here, so we need to fence the garden. The plan is the usual chicken wire on the low part, which folds out onto the ground so they can’t dig under, and then a cute and inexpensive little white picket fence. I had plans for a slightly bigger rustic fence, but the rules in this county say you need a permit for anything higher than 3′. My plan was only for a 4′ fence and I am not going to get a permit for a simple garden fence. We may also end up getting a privacy fence added at some point (with a permit of course) just because we already miss the privacy we had at our old house.
So to begin, we have this one garden, and will probably add fruit trees and other garden beds over time if we plan to stay here a while. We can’t wait for fresh produce!
Ah, things have been busy with my new photo studio and I forgot to mention that I have tasted the Pine & Dandy, a couple times now!
I’m not sure the alcohol content is as high as I thought my specific gravity reading was giving me, but it does have a little mellow kick to it. I also got some carbonation in this batch. This photo shows some bubbly action, but it actually had a head to it when I poured it.
As for the taste, since I used organic sugar, I still notice a bit of a cider flavor. The first bottle I tried after 10 days of aging seemed a little heavier on the cider flavor, but this last bottle that has aged for a few weeks now has smoothed out and the cider has toned down a bit. The pine kind of acts like hops in the sense that it is giving it a little bitter/astringent quality, but definitely doesn’t seem too piney. Actually, the pine flavor is faint in my opinion. The dandelion leaf brings an herbal, earthy flavor, but not overpowering.
The longer it has aged, the more I like it. This last bottle was almost reminding me of an IPA (almost), and to be honest, it was better than some lamer micro brew IPA’s I’ve tried.
I will be trying a new batch of Pine & Dandy using organic malt extract instead of the organic sugar. (Might make a batch of the Nettlesweet too.) I look forward to seeing how that compares. The cidery flavor from the sugar isn’t bad, but not what I’m looking for. Also, this organic malt extract is more cost effective than the organic sugar.
I recently made a rather tasty Aloo Gobi (cauliflower & potato curry) which I found on this video:
My test batch of Pine & Dandy Ale has been bottled! Not bad tasting straight out of the bucket. A bit higher alcohol content then I wanted… 8.27% ABV. Taste test after if ages in the bottle a bit.
I am stating to add some of my designs to my Zazzle shop and this Retro styled Eat Local t-shirt design is the first to get listed. The design is currently available on several darker t-shirts such as black, blue, green, red, purple and more! You can also choose from several t-shirt brands such as Hanes, American Apparel, and both mens & women’s as well as a women’s tank top.
This week I started working on some poster design ideas that I had for some time. Many of them are local foodie or eat local types of designs, and some are a sort of zen meditation inspirational motivational quotey types of designs. Oh, the occasional single speed mountain bike design too. All stuff that I enjoy.
I’m offering these poster designs as downloadable & printable files on Etsy so you can print your own. The benefits of this model are many: Affordable – you’re not paying for me to make a high end print, and not paying for shipping. You can also print a copy for your house, your office, and mom too if you want. (I just ask that you don’t share the digital files with others, or resell it.) Eco-friendly – yes, I’m using that term because there is no packaging waste and no fuel waste for shipping. Instant – Etsy’s instant download lets you get the file as soon as you’ve paid for it! Woo, no waiting for the mail to arrive. Easy – download, print, and stick it in a frame… or be fancy and clothes pin the print to a line .
The other neat thing about affordable printable art like this is that it is easy to buy a few designs, print them, and change them out every now and then. Maybe this month you want the Chalkboard Pork Cuts design in the kitchen, and next month you want the avocado green Eat Local design instead.
Check out my printable poster designs on my Etsy Shop. I can guarantee that a percentage of each purchase will go towards supporting my local farmers (as in my buying direct from them!)
As I anxiously await my first batch of Nettlesweet beer to be ready to taste, I’m getting ready to start a new batch of something else today. I’m feeling drawn to yellow dock root and perhaps dandelion leaf. What better way to make alcohol consumption a little healthier for you than with these liver supporting herbs?
Update: I decided to go with dried dandelion leaf and pine needle for a new ale I’m calling “Pine & Dandy“! I just finished brewing it and it is in the fermentor. It is a pretty dark looking brew and it will be interesting to see how it comes out.
Since beer making is new to me, I took an intro to beer making class up in Milwaukee yesterday. It was for regular beer making of course but it helped me with some questions I had with this herbal beer making I’m doing. I had mentioned what type of beer I’m making to a couple of people who work at the brewer supply store and was met with an utterly confused look. Even when I mentioned nettle beer it seemed the idea of a non-malted, non-hopped beer was foreign to them. Not that I’m surprised that no one there has tried making such an ale, but I was more surprised that they didn’t seem to know a little about the history of brewing. Nettle ale alone has centuries of history. Then again not everyone is interested in learning the history of things.
Maybe it is just my interest in herbalism and a desire to forage and wildcraft that lead me to find these more historic beer recipes. While I’d love to make a great IPA or Stout, I seem to be finding it more exciting to be experimenting with these healing herbal beer recipes. There is more of an adventure to it. Not just opening packages of pre-measured stuff and following firm directions. These ancient recipes I’m finding are more like rough ideas to get you started and then you refine the process with each batch. I’m sure that can be done with regular beer making as well, but for now I think I will focus on the herbal beers, and maybe try an IPA here and there.