Friday, 29 October 2010


Well, I know quite a few people who are gardeners. And I wanted to share some of my knowledge that I have learned. And probably the least weird is SEA-CROP. Easy to explain, and makes sense. Not some magnetic trap or something. : ) So, I wrote this, it fits on one page, and my plan is to have a dozen or so on hand and give out to people who stop by or I can take it to them. I really want to get the word out about SEA-CROP, see the difference it will make in plants and animals. So, here it is. Fully edited version, oh and don't think this is of my originality, most of this I just copied off the SEA-CROP website, so, I'm not claiming to be the true author, I just want people to know about it.

SEA-CROP is one of the best things on the market for amending your soil. No, it’s not a fertilizer, but it sure helps your plants! It is inexpensive and all natural.

What is SEA-CROP?
SEA-CROP is a balanced formula from ocean water that has all the natural elements known to man. It develops healthy and energetic plants.

Do I need to apply SEA-CROP often?
No, one application per year for soil is all that is needed for annual plants although a split application or multiple applications may give enhanced results for some crops. Some plants under stress can benefit from an application of it. Also, foliar use requires multiple applications.

Does SEA-CROP stimulate the plant to produce more growth?
SEA-CROP stimulates the soil environment so the plant will grow healthier and reach its genetic potential, not just provide extra growth.

Can SEA-CROP be used for animals?
Yes, SEA-CROP has been approved as meeting the FDA requirements for use as a mineral supplement in animal nutrition. The recommended rate is .04 milliliters per kilogram of body weight per day added to the drinking water.

Benefits of SEA-CROP
1.Increases soil microflora
a.Nitrogen fixing and other bacteria.
b.Phosphorous leaching and other fungi.
2.Improves soil tilth and aeration.
3.Makes plants healthier, more disease and insect resistant.
4.Makes plants more drought and transplant tolerant.
5.Fruits become larger and much better tasting.
6.Keeping quality is enhanced.
7.Mineral and vitamin content is increased.
8.Growing cycle shortened by weeks.
9Crop yields are increased 15% to 35%
10Product is organic.

In full, SEA-CROP is something that every farmer needs to be using, whether it is the home gardener or a full scale conventional farmer. What farmer doesn’t want an increase of yields using less fertilizer? For more information on SEA-CROP, buying it, and testimonials, a link is provided at the bottom of page.

English Vintner

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A little bit of gardening

Got in a little bit of gardening. Harvested the sweet potatoes. Haha! : ) 3-4 pounds! : ) Not much of a harvest, mostly because I didn't get them planted till July 1st. While that is close to 4 months, they really needed longer than what they got. Next year. I dug up some of the roots that had not done much and potted them. The plan is to grow them inside until early spring, than cut them into slips, and put in water or soil (still in side). Than, April and May set them out. I am hoping next year to do about 250+ square feet of sweet potatoes. Speaking of potatoes hopefully at least that many sq ft of potatoes. Maybe closer to 4-5 hundred.

I cut the wheat down and harvested all the heads that were ripe, all but one. So, that is drying in the garage, sometime this winter I will thresh it and save the seed for spring sowing. I cut down the wheat to about 6 inches. Just to cut it down so that it doesn't shade the lettuce I planted in it. Also, it will grow out again a little before it gets killed by the frost, I think this stuff will get killed by the frost, maybe it is winter hardy. I transplanted about a dozen lettuce heads into the wheat.

I brought down a cold frame, put it over lettuce and put a window over it. It is not air tight, the window doesn't quite fit over it. But it should provide shelter for anything over 28ºF at least. Plus, it will have the greenhouse affect, warming it up during the day.

I cleared out some of the beans. Picked all the dry ones, will shell them when I get around to the wheat. I than dug it over a spade deep to loosen it. It is nice sandy soil so it didn't need much. I humped it some to make a row. I then planted 13 shallots. I found a bag downstairs. My dibble came in quite handy! I love that thing! : )

After planting them I marked the row with sticks and mulched about 4" thick with straw. The rest of the plots I will probably plant with onion seeds this spring. If you hadn't heard or couldn't tell. I'm planting all the onion family members up by the fence to keep the deer detered. Leeks, garlic, onions, shallots.

I am curing the sweet potatoes in my winery right now. I brought in a basil plant also along with the sweet potatoes.

Well, I'd better go. One of these days, probably early November I plan on camping out in the garden and staying out in it from that evening till supper the next day. Working out in the garden, keeping a fire going, and eating breakfast and lunch out in it. I think I could get it all cleaned up and most everything done in one full day of work.

English Vintner

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Well, I'm Back

To quote Sam Gamgee, from the most amazing fantasy books I have ever read. So in depth, bringing you INTO the story, carrying you along from Hobbiton to Mordor. Carrying your emotions along with the characters from laughing at the Prancing Pony, to crying while the ring bearers board the ship to carry them into the west. The books are ones I will read over, though, in some way I will regret every time I get to the end of them. That feeling, when what you did is over, and all you have is the memory. I liken it to drugs. In the middle of the book, everything is fine, sad or happy you still have half the book before the end, lots of things can happen, you enjoy where the story is taking you. But, in the end when the Fellowship has parted?! To never meet again? Frodo leaves the Shire because he has sacrificed SO much on the journey that he no longer finds peace at HIS home!? Frodo suffered so much for everyone else, and even in his home town the others do not recognize him, they instead praise his friends, Merry, Pippin, and Sam. Why is it that the one who has done the most, is often never known? Heroes from the Wars? Actions never remembered.

Anyway, back to Gardening, or something. My garlic, seems to be growing a little too fast. I haven't checked it yet, but on Saturday it was 6 inches tall. They say it can be nipped back by the frost once without harm to the yield of the crop, twice and you have a reduced amount. So, I'm hoping it either gets nipped, or it will overwinter being short enough. Any how, I need cool weather to stop the growth of it. Saturday I got some straw bales from our Church Bazaar. 3 bales for $10. Plus, the money went to Lois Lodge, a place where young women who are pregnant and want to keep the baby to full term can stay. So, it was a good cause. I mulched the garlic with the straw, also the shallots, and a little bit on the leeks. I got one bed prepared for Jerusalem Artichokes, and planted 8-10 tubers in it, mulched with straw. So, I guess the rest of the tubers we will eat. I am hoping to give some to my cousin. My brother, who is off nightshades has been eating them instead of potatoes and enjoying them. So I am very happy to have planted them. You know, for most things in the garden, it takes months to get to the harvest. Planning is all in advance (most of the time).

I was encouraged by someone in our church who has chickens to not wait until spring, get them out of season, on craigs list. I found one place, about an hour away that has the kind I want...I'll see, I would like to get them this winter if possible. I slept on the idea for a chicken tractor/coop. I didn't get any actual ideas in a dream or anything, but it was good to sleep on it. I have a few more ideas after reading what John Seymour has to say on chickens in Self Sufficient Gardening. I am definitely trying to keep everything light. That is the main thing. I'm looking at using pvc hoops and cover them with chicken wire.

I have so much to do right now. School. Garden. I can't wait until after Thanksgiving, when everything (at least school wise) slows down. I don't have anything outside of the home to do. So I can focus on preparing the garden more. Working on a few things, pyramids and water traps etc.

It is amazing how fast life will go by. What is there to look forward to? Really, the only thing to look forward to is another life, another life with Jesus! Life, eternity with Jesus! And to think, so many who deny the Word here on earth, who deny Jesus is Lord until death. They just don't see it do they? It makes you realize how thankful you are that He picked you. Why? For nothing in you. Aside from Christ you were JUST like that non christian standing over there. Reminds me of my favorite hymn, How Sweet and Awesome (awful in some old versions) is the Place. I cannot fathom eternity without Christ. Eternity. That is a big word. Too big to grasp what it means. I am so thankful that God saved this wretched sinner!

English Vintner

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Honey Bees, GMO seeds

It is about time I talk some about honey bees. I've been wanting to have them for 2 years now. I see more and more the reason for people to get bee hives. Our natural honey bees are dying out FAST. For the past 6 years or so we have lost roughly a third of the bees, each winter. Due to CCD, colony collapse disorder. What is CCD? Well, it is not ONE thing. Researchers have found a common bacteria that is in each hive and are blaming it on that. But how did the bees get that bacteria? Well, most have been traced to herbicides, pesticides, other poisons, and now, GMO seeds.

Sometimes, I wonder about this world. Will it last until I pass out of it? Will it last another 500 years? Can mankind keep it going? Well, he doesn't. He is not ultimately in control, God is. However, Man was given the earth to control. And, though some people will disagree (mostly people who have not done enough research), the way we do agriculture, is not sustaining. Were the Incas a pretty sinful people, you bet! But why didn't they have problems with agriculture, why is it today that the bees are dying off, we are spreading poison everywhere and making super weeds and super bugs. We....Why?....

Honey bees, though most people think of them for there honey, are most important for pollination. Without honey bees the existents of most fruit would be eliminated. Almonds, are pollinated exclusively by honey bees. Bumble bees are better pollinators, but they don't live in collonies like honey bees. We are, without trying to, killing off the population of bees. Our extensive use of herbicides, pesticides, and the other poisons we spray on our plants, and now the use of GMO seeds. You know why GMO seeds? Well, they have bred a poison, pesticide, INTO the gene of the plant?! So now, instead of spraying the pesticide on the plants outer leaves etc., it is now in EVERY cell! Including pollen. And now studies have shown that, while it doesn't kill bees fast, it seems to suppres the immune system, and other things. Hmm.....sounds like all the stuff americans take, antibiodics, vaccines, I mean, don't you EVER wonder about it? Do you ever stop to think, why you put that stuff inside you? Do you know what ELSE it has? Well, thats for another time (to write on sometime).

We need to get the word out. That you CAN do substantial agriculture WITHOUT the use of poison. There is a BETTER way then to slowly kill us and everything around us. As much as ORGANIC company's (some, not all) do it partly for the name Organic so it sells better, and don't often regulate every rule as much as Organics think they should, they are on to something. The left is on to something that the right needs to see. Those wacko liberals who are rallying against GMO seeds, well thats a good thing. Though many conservative christians think other wise. But do they know what is behind GMO, do they know the harm they do? I doubt it.

I would encourage you to look into getting a hive this year, if you have the money, space (you don't need much), and a little time. Once you have them set up, it really doesn't take a whole lot of time. The first few months check on them every other week. After that you check on them once a month or so, and harvest once or twice during the year. I would encourage you to go as natural as you can with medications. I've seen some research on using essential oils as treatment. I've also seen where you don't give the bees really anything FOR it, you just try to feed them the best food etc. and let them take it. If you lose the hive due to it being sick, would it have been better for it to survive and be weak? I think here survival to the fittest makes for the toughest bees.

Thank you. Oh, and please do more research on the subject for yourselves. Here is where I got my most recent info on GMO seeds and honey bees. The other stuff is just what I've learned in past. That is the link.

English Vintner

Sunday, 17 October 2010


Images of ginseng.

I am doing some more research on ORMUS water and traps. The biggest problem with magnetic water traps is the amount of water they 'waste'. It can take many many gallons to get a glassful of ORMUS water. My Uncle is looking at hooking it up to his house, so that the waste water goes into his pipes eliminating the waste.

Sometimes I forget that what I believe is not what the general public thinks. Many of the things I study, pyramids, ORMUS water, people ignorant of what it is behind it will laugh. And, I can see where they came or are coming from, I used to be one of them, though not to the extent many are. The skeptics, never get as far as we do. They are not exploring.

I will not one aspect of ORMUS water. I think it needs to be regulated carefully, as far as human consumption. You can get a 'buzz' from it. Also, there seems to be something 'living' about it. I guess that is where the healing power comes from. But, people have seen little men come out of a glass of ORMUS water that was covered with aluminum foil. We really need to be careful about many of these exciting 'out breaks' we are discovering. There are many supernatural powers at work all around us. Spirits, and others. The leperchaun I believe is not just something somebody made up from nothing. Although you have a lot people faking the show, you have real stuff. Dangerous. This world is full of mystery, some of it we will find out, some of it is to wonder at.

English Vintner

Friday, 15 October 2010

Cedar Dibble

A dibble is an important tool in the garden. You use it from transplanting plants to planting bulbs. This hand crafted Cedar Dibble is made from cedar because of the insect repellent properties the heart wood (red) cedar has. It is smooth grained with an all natural bees wax finish. It has wood burned grooves at 1 inch intervals to make depth planting easy. The rounded handle makes a comfortable grip to work with in the garden. It measures a 1 1/2 inch handle, 9 inches long, with a 5/8 inch point.

The list price of Cedar Dibbles is $12.99, cheaper than most dibbles this size. I will custom make smaller or larger ones, email for pricing on custom made ones.

Email me at for pricing, or interested in ordering one.

English Vintner

Autumn Morning

Here is a poem I wrote, inspired by the early morning walk and sunrise today.

Autumn Morning
Dark the sky that waits,
For the morning sun that dawns
Cool the morning air,
Early dew upon the ground,
Fall is here at last,
Autumn leaves falling to earth,
Sweet smell of morning,
Clinging to the dampened ground,
Rays of sunlight come,
The morning’s warmth here at last.

English Vintner

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Weather Prediction

I think this video is pretty cool. I am very fascinated with a lot of the old almanac stuff about weather prediction, most is based on where the stars and planets, moon, and sun are lining up. For more info on that I am sure you can look up and find some old almanacs online and read about some of the weather predictions. One was a guy predicted 11 months in advance where a storm would hit, and what time. He was 7 hours off and 100 miles off from the city! Thats pretty close! That is obviously not just a guess. You can't be THAT good at guessing. Another one, though not confirmed is a some predicting in January, snow in July (in ME). Here is the video to Wooly Bear Worms Predicting Winter:

It rained today. Probably less than half an inch, though a few places may have gotten more. However, we have had dry winds come in and dry it all out. They are talking about fire warnings in the county we are in. Speaking of fire warnings, did you know that for every 1% increase of o2 in the air, the chance of a natural forest fire rises 70% !?! (Just learned that in Chemistry : )

My cider is fermenting well. Lots of bubbles coming up. We made over 1 gallon yesterday of sweet cider. I got another quart from it by pressing it, leaving it for several hours, and tightening it down more. It is cooling down again, it had warmed up slightly in the past week, but it is cooling down. Probably partly do to the rain we had, and then the evaporation from the wind drying it out, creating a more cool temperature. Which means I am going to be up early tomorrow to see the horizon. I love it when it is cool like this. I love a good walk in the woods.

I harvested 4 red vine ripened tomatoes today. I also picked half a dozen green ones to bring inside to ripen. I think right before the frost I will bring in all the green tomatoes. Maybe make some chutney, but also store the green ones to ripen slowly throughout the winter. They are not like vine ripened tomatoes, but the beat the store bought ones.

I planted more fava beans today. In the bed just below where I planted the others. I planted them closer this time. One of my fava bean plants died, either by accident or what a mole came along and chewed it! However, that is about the only loss I have had to moles. Though they are probably eating my earth worms. Which contrary to what my cousin in law says, I believe earthworms are important to have in the compost and in the garden, due to reading a long story about a large homestead where everything was eaten by earthworms in a long 50x100ft pit.

I also planted more leaf lettuce. The great thing about leaf lettuce is that you can start cutting at 6 inches or less and keep cutting. You don't have to do spacing (you can, and get more of a 'head', but I don't bother), just sprinkle it on. I planted two spots of 18" by 2.5 ft.

Getting my posthole digger I dug a hole, right by the shallots. I wanted to see how easy it is going to be to dig these holes for the Whizbang Squash secret. The top 12 inches were that nice sandy top soil, but than I hit clay. Not pure clay, but clay none the less. However, it was not that difficult to dig a hole 18" deep in less than 10 minutes. I didn't want to waste the effort of digging a hole for nothing, so I plucked out a lambs ear plant (they have sprung up everywhere) and put it down in upside down with a few other weeds. I than put a little topsoil on it, than filled it back up with the nicely ground clay. I will say, a post hold digger makes great dirt for potted plants and such, no clumps, especially when it is harder soil, that it just sorta scrapes away at.

My wheat is almost ready to harvest. I'll probably just pluck out all the stalks that have the wheat bring them into the garage in a bucket, bring each head in between my two hands, rub together to get the outer husk off. I will probably just save it for seed. Not really enough to do anything with, though it would be fun. I can't wait to see what my sweet potatoes will have done.

Oh, and before I go. If you are interested in Winter Squash, Johnny's has a great selection, you can click on each variety and see what they are like, how they grow etc. Also check out there pumpkins, they have tons of varieties.

English Vintner

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


Coffee was good this morning, strong (very, more so than usual), but I probably needed it strong, I only got 7 hours, and I am not 'over rested', so 7 hours right now is probably not good enough. I prefer a time frame of 10pm-6am sleep. Last night was 12-7:30

Well, I planted shallots. We had used 2/3s of them (about 60), and I planted the last 1/3 (29 to be exact) today. The bed right below the bed where I planted leeks, and garlics was where I planted them. I pulled a few weeds and dug it up about 6 inches, it is very easy to work with, sandy soil. I made a long row, about 18 inches wide. I than spaced the plants doing 2, 1, 2, 1 making a pattern, two, then one then two more. I made a hole, put in sifted compost, put in the shallot, about 3-4 inches down, covered with more compost. I really enjoy planting bulbs of garlic and shallots. Once the beans are done (I am letting them go to seed size) I will plant more leeks (I got 1400 seeds! for a low price).

I am really interested in winter squash and pumpkins. In fact, I plan on growing a giant pumpkin next year, I'm aiming for 1-200 pounds. The biggest one recorded was 1469 pounds! I think that was a year or two a go. So, yes, I am aspiring to grow a giant pumpkin. I'll probably grow it across the fence. I'll probably dig a whole 2ft down and 3 ft in diameter, fill with mostly compost, blood meal, and Sea Crop (and maybe ORMUS water, if I have my magnetic water trap up by then).

I think for main crops I will do these: Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash, Carrots, Beans/Peas, Cabbage, (onions/leeks/garlics/shallots), and a few more.

We have 40 quarts of apple sauce. Enough frozen apples for 10 pies (not actually a whole lot, we'll probably use 4 at thanksgiving), and a few later on. We have 2.5 gallons frozen cider, 5 gallons hard cider, and some apple wine fermenting. I hope to make about 5 more gallons of sweet cider. And make some weak apple cider vinegar (from the pressed apple pomace).

Next year I may see about setting up a stand or sign for Pumpkins, Indian Corn (I might try growing some of that for selling), Winter Squash. And also have some other things from the garden. I would like to try growing a couple different kinds of pumpkins. Sweet pumpkins for pie. Jack o Lantern pumpkins for selling, and try a giant pumpkin. I'll probably do butternut squash, and one or two other kinds of winter squash.

So, that is the plan right now. As soon as we get a frost I will see about planting my fruit trees/shrubs, and hope they survive. At least this year I have figured out a few things: Potted plants in general are going to make more work than in ground plants. They dry out much faster.

I have not gotten my money yet from the fair. Once I do I will put in an order from Johnny's Seeds. The plastic with shipping is going to cost $105. And I plan on buying some row cover material (and buy some other stuff at a fabric store). And maybe some other stuff. I can't wait for next years growing season! I hope to get a couple tons of manure like I did this year. Plus if I get chickens, the manure from the chickens.

I have 2 years left of highschool. Then, if I go to Johnson and Wales for a cooking degree, 2 year, I would live here, because the commute is less then an hour (I think in general it will take about 40-45 mintues, depending on rush hour etc.) That means, probably 4 years here, with the later 2 being a bit busier. I am trying to figure out who is going to be my apprentice. No one has shown a DEEP interest in it, though I did not show much until 2 years ago. I am sorta thinking it will be Jedidiah. I am also trying to find an apprentice for winemaking. I'm sorta thinking Elijah, though maybe he and Jedidiah will share the load. Beekeeping and chickens? Maybe the bees will also be Jed. Chickens, I think most of the kids will want to help. So, these are things I am keeping in mind. I tried to get some of the kids to help me this year with gardening. Jedidiah helped the most. Elijah usually, I hate to say, gets tired out, and quits. Due partly to his allergies and health problems, which we are getting fixed. So, anyway, the kids say they want to play bobbing for apples. So, I'll go watch, and enjoy doing the sport! : )

English Vintner

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


If you haven't seen the sunrise in a while, I would advice you to schedule some day in the next week, and get up before the sunrise, and go to a place where you know you can see the sunrise, take in the beauty around you and wait to see the returning promise of the sun. It is a spectacular thing to see the horizon changing. Up top you have light blue, green, white, yellow, orange, red, purple against the hills. It might take you too long to see the sun actually come up, but seeing the horizon change is enough. The transformation.

While I like flat land, there is some beauty to the rolling land. Hills, and valleys, a 3D affect. Gardens on it have a 3D effect, the landscape is prettier, not only do you have the trees shrubs and everything else on it, but then you have the 3D of the land. It adds another aspect to it. My walk this morning was through the woods, up until I came to a spot overlooking an area, where I had a good view of the sunrise. After watching it for a few minutes I went down and came up several more times to other places where I could see it.

I found some good places for growing something. Places level, with only clump grass growing. My plan is to probably do winter squash there next year. My first thought was sweet potatoes, but deer like that, and generally besides bugs, most things don't like squash plants. Though, last year I did have that pumpkin vine that got nipped badly by that deer. But this year, I guess I had to many other tasty things for squash to be on the menu.

I don't take too many walks. My siblings often go, and in cooler weather my parents will go often. They walk around the neighborhood. I just don't really like that. Every once in a while I will get the urge to run, and so I grab an iPod and some shoes and run around the block (around a mile). I would much prefer a walk through the woods, or a run through the woods. I get a good bit of exercise going to and from my garden. From my greenhouse I walk 30ft to the creek, cross it (on the sewer pipe), walk 70ft up the path, come to the corner, walk another 150ft, up 3 steps, then walk another 150ft or so. Only I am usually running down or up to my garden, instead of walking. Walking if I'm loaded down with produce (usually when I have about 1500 zucchini).

I need a hedge. An evergreen hedge. A year ago I would never have considered a hedge, unless it was edible. But, an evergreen hedge will provide shelter to beneficial insects through the winter. I'm looking at getting probably 6 shrubs from somewhere (I don't know the price, so it might be less). I know one nursery that I like, it might have what I'm looking for. I want to plant the hedge so that it blocks more of the garden from view from our neighborhood drive.

I made 4 gallons of cider last night. Much to the shagrin of almost everyone in my family, I am turning it hard. They were pretty upset, the younger ones. But, I comforted them with "Well, now all the rest can be sweet!" I may take a quart or two, but I don't need more than half a gallon more. I also started some apple wine. With the apple pomace I added 4 cups of cranberries, boiled water with brown sugar and spices, added some lemon juice. Poured that and 2 gallons over the apple pomace, added some yeast and let it go! We will see how it turns out. Probably on the light side of things, with an alcohol of 4% is what I'm guessing.

We need to make 45 more quarts of apple sauce to get us through the year. And cut up enough apples for 10 apple pies I would say. We DEFINITELY want enough for Thanksgiving. What a pain it would be to go buy 3 bags of apples for apple pie at T-giving.

Last year, I bought enough cranberries to make 10 gallons of wine. They sat in the freezer and never did anything with them. Except gave them to the family, (yeah, I'm pretty generous, I also keep a store of sugar in my winery and the family takes it whenever we run out. : ) its pretty cool.

This year I hope to make some cranberry wine, maybe blending it with apple cider.

Well, I should eat breakfast, do some school work, and do some apple stuff. So, enjoy what God has given you, and praise Him for it!

English Vintner

Monday, 11 October 2010

Rose Hips

Rose hips come from roses. They form the fruit that roses make from the flowers that bloom in spring. They range in color from red/orange to purple/black. They are very high in vitamin C, one of the highest sources. They also have vitamin A and B.

If you have a rose bush, chances are you can get rose hips from it. I have a wild rose bush (15ft diameter) that produces beautiful fragrant white blossoms that last about 24 hours. They are great for bees, an excellent nectar source.

Some people harvest the rose hips in September or October. Some wait until a frost, saying that they taste better (like a lot of things, parsnips, carrots, etc.) I am waiting till after the frost, though I don't know how many will be left. I picked one this morning and it was green, and had a hole in it. They make great tea, jam, and many other concoctions. I will decide what to do with mine when I see how many I have. Did you know, the hairs from rose hips is used to make itching powder?

English Vintner

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Garden Plans

I've been thinking, and planning about my garden.

I plan on concentrating a little more, and I plan on doing more 'staple' crops you might say. I plan on devoting at least 1/3 of my space (right now, calculated up to 1500 square feet) to potatoes and sweet potatoes. Of that third I plan on doing about 2/3s potatoes, and 1/3 sweet potatoes.

I plan for root crops to do: carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, radishes, and beets (mostly carrots, parsnips, and rutabaga)
For brassica: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, chinese cabbage, and maybe kohlrabi. (I plan on doing 50sq ft cabbage, 25sq ft broccoli and cauliflower)
Misc stuff: tomatoes, peppers, melons, squash, cucumbers (I'll probably do less tomatoes, and concentrate on those few) For winter squash I plan on planting again above the fence, but using the Whizbang Winter Squash Secret.

So, I've drawn up a few plans for next year (I am doing a rotation of crops, not the same crop grown on the same space twice in a row).

I planted 24 more garlic cloves today. Along with 60 leeks. Next week I plan on planting my shallot bulbs, and more leeks and garlic. If I had onions I would plant them also.

Right now the plan is to get bees sometime in probably March or April, also about the same time I plan on getting chickens. It sounds like I will be quite busy this Spring. Though, bees, after the first week only need check up ones or twice a week. Chickens are going to be a little more time consuming especially at the beginning. If I get them early April I should be getting eggs before the end of summer.

Well, that is part of the plans for my garden, along with an update on what I planted. I am sure I will have more to post on plans for the garden.

See ya!

English Vintner

Apple Boards

Three years ago I thought up the idea for an apple board. And for the last three years it has served us well. We usually get 10-20 bushels and turn that into cider, apple sauce, and frozen apples. With all that cutting it sure helps to have an Apple Board!

The apple board measures 20 inches by 8 inches, with a raise of 2 inches in back. It has a 3 inch hole in the center which serves two purposes. If you are cutting up apples for apple sauce into a pot, or a bucket for cider, all you do is put the Apple Board over it, halve and quarter, and drop through the hole, saving lots of time. The second purpose it serves is as a place to put the apple before you have a chance to cut into it. For a big apple you put the apple into the hole, chop down half way into it, bring it out and chop down, all in on stroke.

The groove at the bottom of the board catches stray seeds, stems, and also collects juice from the apples, keeping your counter more clean.

If you are like our family having one of these is going to make chopping apples more fun, and save you time. If you are not satisfied with it I offer a full guarantee of the product.

An optional addition is to have something wood burned onto it, a name or initials. I also do custom orders if you want something else done to it, or if you have a specific kind of wood that you me to use.

These make great gifts if you have family or friends who do a lot with apples. And apples is not the only thing Apple Boards are used for, I'm sure you could find it to serve great for cutting up vegetables for soup over a pot.

For pricing email me at: (omit the 3 inbetween english and zachariah).

Cheers, for my favorite season, Autumn!
English Vintner

Friday, 8 October 2010

First Frost?

Right now it looks like our first possible frost is October 21. The weather forecast says right now (could easily change) that it will be a low of 34ºF, which means close to 32ºF where we are. But, 32ºF is a pretty light frost, and most of what I have growing can probably take a light frost.

I have pole beans that are growing for seed. Peas that are for eating. Raspberries that are continuing to produce several a day! Kale, brussels sprouts, some other brassica, cauliflower or broccoli. Some mustard (for compost bulk), basil! I need to get my basil in. I need to pot up a few plants and bring them inside.

I have not gotten my money from the fair, and have not ordered the plastic for the greenhouse yet.

I'm gonna try to make some more cider today. Hopefully with more help this time.

See ya! Have a great day!

English Vintner

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Cider (hard cider)

Cider, or as the americans would call it, hard cider (the British call it just cider, remember America had a prohibition on alcohol that ended only 70 years ago) is easy to make. It is usually bottled in beer bottles, clear or brown, usually clear. More often than not in the big commercial companies they force carbonate with co2 rather than let natural carbonation take place. This is because naturaly co2 makes sediment

(My computer just made me delete the rest of what I had written, about 4 times as much as I just wrote.)

I'm pretty mad about it. I'm gonna summarize and say I started some hard cider. It should make an ABV of 6.3%.

English Vintner

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Seed Saving/Apple Pressing

Zinnias, my first memory of them is growing them along the border of the garden we had (yup, my mom had a garden during the mid 90's up until 2001, when her family was too much to have a garden also, since I was not old enough to do much). We grew them I remember two years, but probably almost every year. They are beautiful flowers. Two years ago was when I got growing fever. I was into growing everything edible, no flowers or anything like that that you can't eat. Well, after doing quite a bit of research I am realizing that nature does best in harmony. So, it is best to have a good amount of herbs, flowers and fruits and vegetables growing together. So that nature takes it's course in the bees coming will be attracted to the flowers and herbs and such and provide shelter and care for them during the winter with hedges.

So, this year I planted zinnias. I also planted a few day lilies and some other flowers. I planted only about 20 seeds. From them I probably got several hundred blooms. At any given time I had dozens of blooms, orange, red, and pink. They bloomed constantly (and still are) since they came up. Well, I got the idea to save the seed. I mean, how cool is that? I think more people should be doing that, saving seed from year to year of certain vegetables, flowers and herbs. I'm hoping to get basil seeds from some of my plants set aside for the purpose. So, today I picked zinnia heads, several dozen, and hope to pick many more. Maybe I could sell some? Mail a few through the mail? I am germinating some right now, to make sure the seed is viable.

Cider. Well, I was getting a little discouraged about it. My disposal isn't working to well for me. I did remember seeing a video of someone crushing apples with a 2x4. In fact, Herrick mentions it in his Whizbang cider book also. It is definitely the cheapest, but fairly manual labor if you are doing gallons and gallons. So, today I decided to give it a try. I had the wine press from Kevin and Powell, and I didn't want to go through the whole week without using it. So, I swept out the front of the garage real well. Set up the press, scrubbed a 5gal. bucket, got a 2x4. I then boil half a gallon or so of water. Brought it down and sanitized everything. The bucket, press basket, everything, I wanted to keep this clean. It feels good to keep things nice and sanitized with boiling water like that.

Once I had everything ready I got down my apple cutting board (have I told you about that? I should have an article on it, and maybe you will buy one eh?) cut up the apples into halves and quarters depending on how big the apples were. Some of the apples are smaller than golf balls! Some are bigger than my fist. I did about 4 inches of apples, then got the 2x4 and started crushing them. It is surprisingly easy. And it does a good job within minutes. You can't do too many at a time in the bucket, or it won't crush them very well. Also, it leaves the apple chunks rather large, so to minimize waste, we are cooking up the apple pomace and making apple sauce with it. It won't have as much flavor, but still yield a good amount. Once we run in through the apple sauce maker the pulp from that will go into the compost. So, out of those apples I cut up, less than half a bushel, I got 1 3/4 gallons of apple cider, and a full pot of apple pieces for apple sauce, and than compost.

The cider pressed this way tastes better than cider made from a juicer. A juicer leaves it pulpier. It doesn't press it, it sorta grinds it into juice. This cider is like the stuff you buy, clear and smooth tasting. So, if you have access to a press, let me encourage you to get a 2x4 and make a few gallons! You will be impressed.

English Vintner

It is COLD

It is very cold. Though, now that I think about it, it did this last year, or was it two years ago. Beginning of October first two weeks were quite cold, almost freezing. Then, it warmed up, and we had some good weather until about Thanksgiving.

However, I am not complaining, because it will keep the apples better longer. Do you know how long apples will last at 32ºF? They will last almost the whole year. That is the temperature that outlets keep the apples at, before shipping to stores every couple weeks throughout the year. At 32ºF the apple is just above its freezing point. Water freezes at 32ºF, but the sugar content in apples keeps it from freezing at 32ºF. Apples ripen twice as fast at 40ºF as they do at 32ºF. They ripen twice as fast at 50ºF as they do at 40ºF, so you see, I'm glad it got down to 33ºF here last night.

The apple grinder is taking longer then I would have liked it too (I guess that is what happens when you have a million projects you are doing, focusing on one leaves the others hanging). I don't think the disposal I have is going to work. First off, I don't think it is stainless steel, and I see rust and nasty stuff all over the interior. Second, it has a hole in the bottom chamber. So, I'm not sure yet where to get the next one. I think I can make a couple bucks selling all the copper that was in the motor, and I might find a use for this garbage disposal. Hey! Maybe I could hook it up to chop up food scraps into small pieces for my compost pile? To get it going real hot? there is a good idea! Anyway, I think I can make some money from the copper on the motor, and find uses for the disposal. However, I need another disposal for the apple grinder.

I would like to get some cloth to day for the cheeses for the cider grinder. Also if I could get my dad to hook up my motor that would be nice too. I'll probably call around the Restore locations and see which one has a garbage disposal. I might post on freecycle again, I don't know though. I've been keeping up with craig's list and they don't really have them.

My garden could use some help. Maybe planting some cover crops (likely story that one) and finish sifting my compost so that I can turn my compost pile.

Anyway, that is what things are at right now.

English Vintner

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Been at it again

I finally had my small fire down at the garden yesterday. I've been wanting to for a while, but it was too warm, and too dry. Partly I want to get rid of the wood in my garden (sticks and jazz) and I want the ashes. I want to make soap, but first I want to make lye. I think certain hardwood ashes are the best for making lye right? Beech or something are fairly good?

I have almost sifted all of my finished compost. I did another wheel barrow load yesterday. I have another wheel barrow load at least left. Then, I can turn my compost pile! I probably need to do that soon so that it can start working again before it gets too cold. I'll probably put some comfrey near the bottom and throughout the pile to keep it going strong. Maybe this winter I will spread it out of the garden, I'll see how it is.

Work on the apple grinder is coming along. I am hoping Wednesday I can pick up material, sheer nylon cloth, and hook up my motor and maybe disposal. I am hoping by Friday to have my grinder working. But, I'll probably use my friends press for grapes since I don't have time to make the press in time. My press if much more efficient especially for apples, and the way I'm doing it, but I think his will work. My press is not going to be as easy to transport. But it will do a good job when it is done. I wish we had cooler weather right now to keep the apples longer. Next year I wouldn't mind getting an extra 10 bushels to make into cider. That would be my senior year of high school. Of course, if I go to Johnson and Wales, than the next two Autumns I might be here and be able to get apples and press them. When I move out I will probably leave the grinder and press here until I get a house. Then we can make it an annual thing for me to get together with my other siblings in the area and my parents and make cider for everyone! Ahh...dreaming....

Well, I think I'd better go. I have some chemistry to do before this afternoon. So, I will leave you now.

English Vintner

Sunday, 3 October 2010


I'll try to keep this short (partly for my sake).

Persimmons are something that you may have tasted once in your life, and decided that their are some fruits worth eating, but persimmons are definitely not. I like many have experienced the mouth puckering sensation of eating a raw persimmon that had that stringent taste. After that, I wasn't sure how people could eat them.

Well, I recently found out that most people who eat persimmons eat them in the form of persimmon pudding. Which, depends on the recipe. Some range from a pie like dish to a cake.

Persimmon season is finally here in NC. Last year I noticed that I had a persimmon tree, right above my garden. It is about 10 inches in diameter up to 2ft, and then splits into two 5" sections. They are about 25-30 ft tall. Persimmon trees do very well in just about any soil. I've read that they don't do well to transplant, so transplant as young as possible. They grow all over the place, the kind I have are grown wild all the way from Florida to Texas.

Well, today I picked 7 persimmons and yesterday I had picked some. So today I cooked the persimmons (for fear they would go rotten another day) up with some lemon juice (to keep the color better), and put it through a apple sauce maker. What I have is a very good tasting pulp! Which I will probably make into Persimmon Pudding.

Did you know, there is folklore, that you can split a persimmon seed open and tell what the winter is going to look like? It will either look like a fork, spoon, or knife. And each one means a different thing. I split one open and it looked like a knife. I had forgotten what a knife meant. Look up about the folklore about it, you will find it interesting. If it proves correct I have my own theories on why it would work. Like the crop circle in England that showed a disaster would happen in 3-6 or 9 months. 9 Months later Haiti earthquake happened. The shape of the crop circle was in the shape of the area around Haiti. For more info on it look up crop circles (make sure you find a reliable source, ask me if you are not sure, I've done some research on it) about Haiti earthquake.

Well, I guess it is getting longer than I intended it to. So I'd better go before it gets longer.

English Vintner

Saturday, 2 October 2010


I love warm, dry sunny days, with cool evenings. Here in North Carolina we are beginning to experience Autumn. We had our last day of 90ºF something a week ago, followed by rain. Earlier this summer, July, we had tons of rain. We hardly went a week without an inch or two. However, August comes rolling along and the rain dries up. I think we got about two inches from August until last week when we got I think a total of five inches at least, over a period of four days. The rain very much needed, and with it it brought cool weather. Last night it got down to 46ºF, quite chilly. The humidity is not bad at all during the day, though I can tell that it is not too dry, because the dew is quite heavy.

I am looking forward to my garden, when I have cleared out what needs to be cleared, and planted cover crops. I am actually getting quite a few peppers, four or so a week, along with tomatoes. I’ve been making salsa with the bell peppers. Next year I plan to do only one or two sweet pepper plants and do quite a few hot pepper plants.

Today I finally got around to planting garlic. We were at Sam’s and I for under $4, bought 2lbs of garlic (a dozen or more bulbs). I took off the skin, and broke them up into cloves. I then sorted them into, bad (too small for planting, so we will use them to cook with), medium, and large. I ended up with about 70 garlic cloves or medium and large, so a fair number of garlic. I then planted them in accordance to Herrick Kimball (Whizbang Apple Cider Grinder and Press), who grows 1200 annually and makes and sells garlic powder. I planted them about 3 inches deep in the soft soil that I had eradicated the weeds from. The soil up close to the fence is fairly sandy, quite pliable, I really like it. I then used a stick I had carved, to make the holes, roughly four to five inches apart. I did them in rows of four, three. However, before I put the garlic into the holes I tore off strips of comfrey to use as fertilizer (great stuff!). I then covered up the garlic with compost firming it down. I planted 115 or so in one patch. I have another 30 left and will plant close by. The next thing to do is get some straw to mulch it with. I have hay, but I don’t think that is as effective as straw in keeping weeds down (that is the main reason for the mulch). The mulch will also act as an insulator, keep the ground not quite as cold. I hope to get a good crop of garlic next fall. I planted the garlic up by the fence and I plan on doing most of my onion family up by the fence also, to discourage the deer from coming any farther into the garden. They did the most damage in the first few beds right by the fence.

Today I also made a compost sifter. After spending hours and hours reading on Herrick Kimball’s blog and getting many ideas for many things, I decided I needed a compost sifter. It is after all, something rather simple and is very good if you don’t want your compost full of rocks, sticks and kitchen knives. I built a frame (I really just slopped it together) threw together some 1x5” boards and 1x7”. The frame is approximately 16x22” or so. On the bottom of the sifter I nailed down 3/8” screen. For a starting seeds you probably want something slightly smaller than that, but for any other need in the garden the 3/8”s will do fine, eliminating clumps of leaves, grass, and clods of dirt. It easily sifts two shovel fulls at a time. Much more and it doesn’t sift very well, takes longer. I had to do some modifications to it after I tried it out this morning. I had to add handles for shaking it with. I had some 1x3” that was 50” long, I had two of them. So I nailed them to the long side of the sifter and I was set to go. I placed the handles on the wheel barrow, threw in a couple shovel fulls of compost, and sifted away. I could have easily done a full wheel barrow in less than 10 minutes faster if it was totally dry. I would recommend you make a compost sifter if you do not have one, it is free as long as you have some scrap wood and screen around. The tools are a hammer and nails. You might want to reenforce it with screws, but nails will do fine.

News on my apple grinder. I finally got an offer on freecycle for a disposal, right before I was going to call around to all the Restore locations and find which one had disposals. Before than I had been to Lowes to pick up bolts, nuts, and washers for the grinder. Now I all I have to do is put together the frame, wire the motor and hook up the disposal. I would hope to have it up and running by the end of this week.

Well, I guess I should go now. Sorry I don’t have more pictures. I have not been able to find my camera, and thus cannot take pictures of my garden, but can only supply pictures I find on the web.

English Vintner

Friday, 1 October 2010

Whizbang Winter Squash Secret

This is taken from Herrick Kimball's blog, Whizbang Gardening. Essays on gardening on his homestead. Growing garlic (1,200 bulbs annually), compost sifting, and much more.

The secret to growing good winter squash is here. The trick is using a post hole digger, and digging a hole, to a depth of 18-24 inches. Into this hole compost is put in. Layering between dirt and compost until level with ground. Than soak it, after it has gone down from the liquid add more layers of dirt and compost until level. Now plant 4 squash seeds. Over this place some hoops to make clotche. Place over the hoops some fabric to keep the bugs out, but sunlight and rain in. To keep it down put the side of a tire over it.

When it is big enough you can take the fabric and tire side off. The plant should be big enough that any insect damage will not harm it severely. This is a great way to start off plants healthy without insects without having to use poison.

To read a better version of it, go here. I can't wait to try this next year!

English Vintner


I harvested some of my basil, a lot of it had already flowered, but had not yet fully matured seed. I let it flower to let bees have more herb flowers. I am really getting into letting some of your plants go to seed, partly so that you can save the seed, partly to have flowers, for the bees and other insects.

So, I harvested I think 5-6 plants. Pulled them up from the ground. I brought them back and cut off the roots. I than stripped off the flower buds. I brought them inside and hand picked off the leaves that had no spots and were good looking. That meant about 50% went to compost. But, I have 3 dehydrator trays full right now, and can probably fill another two, just from the 'good' leaves. I didn't make much pesto because we don't have a food processor. I think I will put that on my birthday list. I am drying most all of it. Though, when we get close to our frost I plan on potting a few plants to bring inside through the winter, to have some fresh basil.

I should have enough fresh basil to last more than till spring. Probably till next Autumn or more. I'll probably give some of it away.

English Vintner