The Garden at Summer Solstice

Our new garden here in Wisconsin as of Summer Solstice. Arugula and some other greens have bolted, and we have green tomatoes and broccoli already! The radishes did poorly and didn’t form much of a bulb, and the spinach didn’t do as well as as we’d hoped, but for the most part things are doing well.

The season started a little late for us since we still needed to make the garden but the snow on the ground slowed us. So our cold weather crops were seeded a week or two later than we wanted. I think things bolted early because our spring weather was a bit erratic switching between cool days to hot, and back to cool again. We’ve had a ton of rain which is really nice.  By this time of the year back in Colorado we’d be having either huge water bills or water restrictions and really sad gardens. It is really nice to be gardening in an area with more rainfall and better soil!

When we first dug the garden, we seeded a clover cover crop into the areas that wouldn’t be planted right away. That clover is growing happily, adding nutrients to the soil, suppressing weeds, and keeping the soil from drying out.  We planted squash, beans, tomatoes, and other things into the clover and they all seem happy together. Every so often we need to do a “chop & drop”, trim the clover and use it as mulch in other parts of the garden.

In a neighborhood where perfect lawns are the obsession of most, we surely stand out as a bit odd. We don’t poison our lawn because of dandelions or ants. We grow our own food. We want to let our lilac bushes get taller so we have some privacy. We were eating violet flowers and dandelion greens from our lawn, and linden leaf from the tree in our front yard. If we stay in this house long enough, I’m sure the neighbors will really be wondering as we fill the yard with more garden beds and fruit trees.

Starting Fresh – A new garden at the new home

new-garden

 

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!

 

 

Pine & Dandy Home Brewed Beer Tasting

pine

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.