Monday, 5 December 2011

Thanksgiving Poem


I wrote this the week after Thanksgiving on my way to work. Some how I often am inspired on my way to work, driving.

Can one week really go so quickly,
The long expected day of the year?

The anticipation builds as the week draws nearer,
And at long last the day is here.

The excitement the friendship
that bonds each time,

Reminds me again God is so kind

The laughing the games that go on each night,
Frost in the morning each day so bright.

And at long last as the week comes an end
I can’t wait for it next year
And the friendships we’ll mend.

English Vintner

Friday, 2 December 2011

Frost






Jack frost plays across the stage
turning everything frost white,
Leaves and twigs frozen in time
Until the light of dawn.

English Vintner

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Garlic

Well well, it's been a while I confess. I've been busy. Work is going well, school is pretty good too. Garden has had some care, but needs more of it. It's raining right now, so I won't go down and work on it, or so my excuse is.

I planted garlic last week. I ordered $60 worth of garlic, which was 3lbs. Yes, thats way more than I would pay for eating garlic, but it will come out to about 10 cents per clove or so, pretty cheap. I got 2lbs of hardneck, or stiff neck (sounds like the Israelites! :) and 1lb of softneck. I planted softneck last year, and softneck is what most people are used to. Stiffneck is more gourmet, their stalks are stiff (hence the name) and they produce a flower stalk which should be plucked.

I have total about 150 bulbs in the ground. I would like to do some more, take from what I have right now that I grew last year, and maybe do another 150 or so. If it does well I will sell some.

I have greens and lettuce under plastic in the garden. I have two 5x20ft beds. I have quite a bit of swiss chard (I LOVE swiss chard), leaf lettuce, romaine type, some other greens, and some carrots. Oh, and plenty of chickweed (a weed in this case).

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving next week! 35+ people! It is going to be a blast, plenty of good food, good coffee, fellowship, games, laughing, crying (from joy!), joke telling, LATE nights, EARLY mornings, and some fun cooking! I can't wait!

English Vintner

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Journey


Life is but a journey, and it’s road is all too short,
For when the road becomes a rut, and mud is turned to dirt
We’ll look on the horizon, and see the setting sun,
But knowing in our hearts, the day has just begun,
It’s hard to see the sun shine, when tears obscure the view,
For tears like rain are falling, like grace for me and you,
Like sharp thorns on a rose bush, they guard their beauty well,
So thorns upon our saviors brow, he died and went through hell,
But earth could not contain this man, who lived a sinless life,
For all the sin within this world, and all this hellish strife,
Could not contain the Son of Man, who died for you and me,
So, life is but a journey, and you decide the road,
But some day then, the journey ends, and your road decides your fate.

English Vintner

Friday, 23 September 2011

Greens

Well, yesterday I planted a little more space with a mix of mustard, spinach, and kale. Now all I have left to plant is lettuce. I have 3-4 different kinds of lettuce I am planting.

I might be able to plant today, but we've had rain or clouds for the past 5 days, I've seen the sun less than 6 hours this entire week. It brought us out of the drought we were in, filled up the creek some (and that creek was bone dry), hopefully it didn't do anything to my sweet potatoes, they say not to water during the last few weeks of growing, so as they don't split. Well, I haven't watered them since I put them in the ground. I let the plastic mulch conserve as much water during the dry seasons...and the water from heaven water them when it rained.

I'm at a stoping point with my Whizbang Apple Grinder right now. I've got almost everything I need, all the wood and all. I've got my disposal even. However, the motor I ordered doesn't work, the shaft is frozen up. I'm not a good engineer, so in trying to take it apart I'll probably lose all the screws. So, then I was going to use my lathe motor. But, a 3lb sledge hammer won't take the spindle that is attached to the shaft of the motor. I've tried just about everything I can think of to get it off. The one thing I haven't tried is torching it trying to heat up the spindle so that it expands and moves. The problem would be if the shaft heated up too, cause then both are expanding....

Ya....and I've been looking online and can't find any cheap motors for under $50. I can't even find very man under $100. We're looking at going apple picking around Oct. 8, a Saturday. I'd really like to have everything ready by then. I have two weeks....If anyone knows of where to buy a cheap farm motor, let me know.

English Vintner

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sunrise

The sky a stream of colors,
red, violet and blue,
They stream from hazy darkness,
And make the sky anew,
What once was dark, what once was drab,
Is now a crazy hue,
The array of color baffles me,
And makes each morning new.



English Vintner

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Trip to Farm pt. 2

This morning I woke up at quarter till six from the brightness of everything, even though the sun doesn’t come in the widows till 7:10am.

Before breakfast Joel and I went out and fed the chickens being raised for meat. He gave me a small tour of the garden. Then we went in for breakfast. I ate a breakfast of sweet potatoes and fried eggs cooked by Megan, it was quite good. After breakfast Joel and I went out to the laying chickens, they have 150 of them, and we fed them. They keep them inclosed in a fence and have them in a field grazing rotation. We then herded four cows to an inclosed area of the field and then went back to the house. We didn’t have that much to do so I read some and hung out for a while. Then Shawn went out to harvest greens and other vegetables so I went out to help him. He had me harvest sweet potatoes. I harvested about 45 pounds (the average length of the sweet potatoes was 10 inches long) of sweet potatoes. Then I helped Caroline (I think that is her name) sort out the vegetables for their CSA customers, they had 6 that day. After that Joel and I fed the pigs two barrels of food that they get from a shelter.

Then I took a bike and biked back to where my truck was, threw it in the back and drove around to the other side of the farm, the other way to access the farm. After I got back I went up to the barn where they hold events and such. Joel and Megan were serving food for the event, I joined in and afterwards while the speaker was announcing we ate. Then I went on the tour that Greg gave to everyone at the event. The tour was helpful to me, explaining some questions, giving me a clearer idea of what the farm is like.

After the tour I helped do a few things. While Joel and I did the chores we had a good bit of time to talk about farming, Rockland’s Farm, what my goal is, Joel and Megan’s goal....it was very good.

When we had cleaned up everything Joel, Megan and I talked some, I have to say Joel, Megan and I share the same view pretty much of what we like about the farm, what we would eventually like to have or do. We all agree that we don’t really like the business or marketing so much of farming as much as farming it’s self. We would like a more simplistic and less expensive farm then what Rockland’s is. However, Rockland’s is a new farm meaning that the interns can try out different ideas and see how they do, where as if it was an older farm you wouldn’t have as much leeway.

To conclude I really think that Rockland’s would be a good place for me to work at, learn exactly what I do and don’t like about farming and learn all the aspects of it. I would especially be interested in it if Joel and Megan stay on, which, at this point they are planning to do so, though that is not set in stone.

So, if they do end up offering interns next year I would like to intern. If not I would still want to spend a few weeks working there in the late spring or summer.

(please pardon any mistakes, I didn't read this twice, tell me the errors and I'll correct them if you are so inclined.)

English Vintner

Trip to Farm pt. 1

I left from work to get on the road at 1:19pm Friday afternoon. Everything went pretty well. The routes were sometimes a little tricky to follow, but not to hard if you stayed alert and kept your eyes open. The first 165 miles were awesome. Good music, cruise control, and the country around wasn’t that bad.

I started running into trouble when the highways became two lane roads. Keep in mind by now it is 5:30pm and the sun is sinking lower. I only have about one in a half more hours or so of daylight. Plus, I’m driving east from where I started meaning away from the sun, so it gets dark even sooner.

Thankfully I had my cell phone with me and called my dad, he figured out where I was with google maps and directed me on the right direction. I found out that if I had just gone further then I would have come to it. I think every situation I have encountered when I was lost if I had just gone further I would have come to it. I still haven’t learned.

So, I got back on the right route and was able to enjoy the drive some more, and listen to some music. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I’m lost or in a situation like it I cannot listen to any music, I just can’t. For the next 100 miles or so I was good, I stayed on the same highway, or changed over from one big highway to another.

By now it is after 9:00pm and no daylight to read street signs with. I need glasses but I won’t get them. I’m tired after I’ve been driving for over eight hours. I get lost a second time. This time it is not my fault. The road construction made everything harder, and I stayed on the highway past my exit. So, I called my dad, up to that point I had been great, doing just fine, and then I missed my exit. Instead of going back trying to find that exit he rerouted me by a different method. So now I’m driving up and down the hilly back roads, in the dark, on the phone, with a stick shift. I had to turn around several times on the small country back roads, often times I had to put the phone down. Stick shift is nice for a lot of things, but I will say it would have been nice to not be trying to do 4 different things at the same time.

I finally arrived at the road and came up about 100 feet and saw signs that said road closed. Well, I had been told in an email that the bridge had been washed out, so I knew this was a possibility. So I called my dad back, asked him to find a number for the farm, one different than what I had. He did not. I was considering calling the Barrs, friends of ours, but decided I would try walking. So, I packed up most of what I needed, locked the doors, and headed down the road. I’m very thankful that I keep flash lights in my vehicle, and wind up ones at that.

So, I set out down the road, not knowing how far, or how long I was suppose to go, not even knowing if I was on the right road. I was hoping to come to a washed out bridge though, because that would mean I was close. I made my way past 4 more barricades before coming to the washed out bridge. The first 20ft were okay, but there was a chunk about eight or ten feet wide of the bridge that was missing. Thankfully the water had fully receded, there was less then a foot of water in the river, so there was not much chance of me drowning if I fell in. Plus the washed out bridge was partly on the other side. So I jumped down and climbed back up and kept going. I started seeing things that looked familiar (I’d checked out their website pretty good, which had pictures of the farm). Surprisingly I made my way up the right house and was greeted by Joel and Megan, and Shawn whom I had talked to in email, and two other guys and one other girl. I hadn’t eaten or drunk much, all I had had besides a few samples of lunch was some chips and 4oz water. Megan cooked me a couple eggs, fresh from the farm, and I had a locally grown apple that was the best I’ve had all year! I talked with Joel and Megan and the rest of them, mostly about the trip, but also about a whole bunch of other stuff! Mission trips, family, hobbies! About 11:45 I went to bed. I slept on an air mattress in the guys upstairs half of the house.

English Vintner

Monday, 5 September 2011

Poem

The world outside is grey and silent,
like dark formidable statues
keeping watch o'er grave and tomb,
the only thing that stirs
are lifeless forms and shadows.
The misty hue envelopes us
and keeps us from our selves,
else we would find our way
to death and come home all to soon.
The early morning light
bringing hope of a new day,
for night has passed,
and we’re unscathed,
and to life we’ll spring again.


English Vintner

Thursday, 1 September 2011

New Truck




So, I bought a new truck, for those who hadn't heard. It is a Ford Ranger, 1996. The new engine has 90,000, the truck it's self has close to 300,000 though you would not be able to tell from looking at it. The rear suspension was just replaced. It is a really nice looking truck and drives quite well. It is a manual, which I prefer in almost every way. Gas mileage is 18-19mpg in city, on highway it is 20-21mpg.

The interior is quite good, the seats have a few holes in it, but it was kept quite clean, the upholstery could use some help, but other than that, everything is very good looking.

Enjoy the pictures.



Thursday, 25 August 2011

Interning Possibility

Well, after some thought about what I had written last time, I checked out Rockland's Farm website, and decided to ask them if they were offering interns next year. Shaun replied and told me that they were unsure at this point, but that I should come up and visit the farm before much later in the year, so I can get a feel for what it would be like to live and work their.

So, after looking at my schedule I found an open spot, September 9-10. My plan tentatively, if I had a vehicle (which I've been doing lots of searching and emailing without much success yet) is to drive to the farm (in Maryland) from work, after I get off around 1:30-2:00pm. The drive is 7hr 10min from my house, which means it will probably closer to 7hr 40min from my work.

I'll get in Friday night, sleep, and the following morning I would be able to check out the farm. I would leave Saturday afternoon to come back home.

If they do take interns next year I would try and finish up school as early as possible (I plan to anyway), graduate, and go to intern for the next 4-5 months of the season. Unfortunately I probably wouldn't be able start until the end of May or so.

Anyway...that is what I am thinking about...


English Vintner

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

life

I’ve never really truly had my life planned. Indeed in what I thought or what actually happened.

Lately I’ve rethought a few of the tentative decisions I’ve made and wondered if I should do something else.

The things I have thought about doing are as follows:

Johnson and Wales, 2 year Baking Degree
Continue Stone Table as Chef (maybe work evenings while going to J&W)
Intern at a farm (when Joel Barr is at) for 8 months or so
Intern at a Winery, I’ll get into that more
Covenant College, or another christian college that won’t teach me junk like a Community College

Firstly Johnson and Wales. I was interested in getting a culinary degree, then I started work at the Stone Table and I can get a good enough education through that. The only reason to get a culinary degree from J and W would be to get a piece of paper that would get me a high end job working in a restaurant. So, I have been looking at getting a Baking Degree from them. I’m not getting much baking from the restaurant because it is a restaurant and not a bakery. Tentatively I don’t know if I would go next year or two years from now.

I am hoping to move up to Chef in the next 6 months. It would be more of what I like to do, more cooking, and the pay would be a little better. I would have to do more work and planning, but I think I would enjoy it.

I have really been considering interning at a farm, particularly the farm up in Maryland that Joel is working at. The reasons why I would like it are: It would be away from home, and I really need to live away from home. I feel that I really need to move away, make relationships with other people, find friends who are interested in some of the same things I am in. The farm would pay me to work on it, and I wouldn’t have to pay room or board. All I can see about it is positive things.

Winery. I would still like to intern at a winery. I know a few around here. Maybe I could find one in Asheville or some place close enough to come visit home, but far enough away I could live away from home and get out on my own. I can see mostly pros, but a few cons would be that there might not be as many people my age working at the winery that I could build close friendships with.

Covenant Collage or another Christian College. I’ll list pros and cons, then talk about them.
Pros
Build up strong friendships with other guys
Be out of the house and getting out more on my own
Cons
At this point I don’t know what I would major in that would help me. Maybe a science?
It could/would be costly to go for the whole 4 years, but if I’m not going for the whole 4 years is it worth it?

So, the pros are that I would be living on campus and being able to build friendships with other guys in a way that is like no other. I would be out of the house, getting out on my own, which is something I really want to do.

The cons would be that I don’t know what major I would do if I did go to Covenant. I know the things I am interested in: cooking/baking, agriculture. Plus it is costly. I don’t remember how much it is a year, but it is a lot of money, especially if the main reason is not necessarily an education.


So, at this point I am feel somewhat lost in what to do. What I really like about the internship at the farm is that I would be living at the farm and working, those to things help build relationships a lot. Plus I am getting paid, and learning from it.

I’d like to go to J&W’s, but I don’t know how many relationships I could build without them having a campus I could live on. However, during the baking parts I could see building relationships with other people...

I am glad that I have one more year of high school, I am hoping that by the end I have a more clear plan about what I am doing next. I like the Stone Table, but I feel like I am missing out on a time to build other relationships if I don’t go to College, and not simply for an education.


English Vintner

p.s. I have trained my younger brother and he is now doing most of the roasting for my coffee business. If or when I do go away I will have him continue the business.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Recipe

I think it's about time for a recipe. This is the recipe we use at the restaurant for our spiced nuts that go on spinach salads or desserts. They are quite tasty, though too hot for most kids. If you like them come on down for one of our spinach salads that comes topped with them! : )


Stone Table Spiced Nuts
White Pepper 1/2 Tbs
Black Pepper 1/2 Tbs
Garlic Powder 1 Tbs
Onion Powder 1Tbs
Paprika 1 Tbs
Chili Powder 1 Tbs
Ginger 2 tsp
Cayenne 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon 1 Tbs
Salt 1 Tbs
Brown Sugar 1/4 c. + 1 Tbs
Butter 4 Tbs
Nuts (pecans, walnuts) 4 c.
Melt butter in sauce pan. Mix together spices in one bowl. In a third bowl put nuts in, add butter, toss until well coated, then add the spices and stir until well coated. Bake at 250ºF for 45 minutes. Cool and enjoy.
English Vintner

New each morning

Through misty dawn
And snow capped mountain peaks,
So I am drawn
To wilderness that speaks,
And through it all
The ever rising sun,
New each morning,
Gone by dusk.


English Vintner

Friday, 5 August 2011

English Cafè Goals

Here are my goals for my coffee company.

Goals For English Cafè
In 1 month establish a good customer base at church
In 3 months establish a good customer base for shipping and outside church
In 10 months buy new $2500 roaster
In 11 months sell at Farmers Markets and other events
In 12 months more than paid back everything that was put into it
In 18 months handed the job of roasting and orders partially over to someone else
In 24 months be making over $6000 a year annually

English Vintner

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Coffee

Well, work at the Stone Table has gone well. It is some what annoying having a deadline of when you have to be somewhere 5 days a week, but I guess that is how it would be unless you have your own business...

Coffee, I talked to the Stone Table about coffee, and I am giving them drastically lower prices than to other customers. The main difference will be that they will be on a regular basis, several pounds a week, increasing more in the colder months. I am selling it to them I think at around $8.00 a pound. That means that I am making $1.40 right now on each pound, a little less. However, I am making as much as I spent and a little more, which means I will be bringing in as much and a little more than what I spent on the beans. Which means I will be buying beans more often, or in larger quantities, lowering the price. Once I can buy coffee in 50lb bags I will be earning about a dollar more because of the lower buying price. And I won't have to add in the cost of bags because I can get them to save me the resealable bags I use and use them again and again. I have one regular customer at church, and sent a pound to my cousin. I have not yet started selling to any more customers, partly I've been busy, and well, I guess that is it, I'm busy. After vacation next week I can start getting a few more customers who have said they are interested. I want to figure out a way I can be putting the money I generate from this into one account or something, so that once I have brought in $2500 I can upgrade to a bigger roaster and I can roast at Farmers Markets (a big selling place I've heard) because it is totable. So, that is the plan for coffee. Put all the money I get into one 'fund' and use out of that to buy more beans and bags, but be saving until I can buy a larger roaster, than sell my roaster I bought, hopefully make a couple hundred off it. I've never seen any used of the roaster I bought, so it my sell well, without much competition.

My garden, alas has seen little of me, and I've seen little of it. What with the heat and starting the part time job, and a million other things. Once cool weather sets in I'll get to it again though, especially if I read about farming or something. : ) Reading about gardeners always inspires me to do better with my garden. My sweet potatoes are doing well, the bed with black plastic is going wonkers. My green beans, I found out too late that I let them get too big, so that at the point I realized I couldn't pick them without them being a waste. In other words, they got to big and then started producing less because I wasn't picking them. So, at this point I'm leaving them on to dry and I'll plant them all next year. Hey, at least I learned something! I picked some tomatoes and tromboncino squash and a bunch of grapes yesterday. The grapes were good, I took some and started a sourdough starter with them.

All in all life is busy but I'm trying to make the best of it. We are going camping next week and I'm seeing my cousins this week end (were going camping with them), so I'm pretty excited!

Until next time when life parts it's waters for a little while to let me pass through, until then.

English Vintner

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Path

This poem came to me while driving to work. Not the most convenient time to have a poem come to my head, but I'm still here, so I guess I survived.

The Path
Many will stumble from the path,
And few will make it to the end,

But lost in thought I’ll wonder on,
I’ll travel ‘round the bend,

Where this road takes I’ll never guess,
I’ll journey on this lifelong quest,

Now Summer turns to Autumn,
and Autumn into cold,

Then Springtime comes with life,
And that life is mine I’m told.


English Vintner

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Job

Well, I now have a part time job, 5-6 hours a day, 5 days a week. It is at the Stone Table where I have been interning for the last 4 months. The pay is reasonable, $8 an hour plus tips. The tips pay for the 62mile round trip it takes to get there and back.

I am now looking for a vehicle, I've found one that looks reasonable, 11 years old, everything is good on it, but the price is $4400, a little more than I was looking at...but...it is a good truck, that price is reasonable for what he is asking, according to KBB (Kelley's Blue Book).


Coffee. I have everything ready but the beans and the bags. I hope to order them this Friday when I get in my pay check from Matthew. It has been hard finding bags that are resealable and have a valve and are not too expensive. I am planning on buying beans from where I have been buying them, but would like to upgrade to cheaper beans by buying them in 66lb bags.

Bees. I don't know if I have said on here but, we finally got bees. My older brother has been sharing the load 50-50 to 60-40% for feeding the bees everyday. We have four hives, feeding them a gallon of syrup a day just about. They have filled up the first super with honey, brood, and pollen, we added another super. I downloaded a moon and planet calendar that tells what different days are. I know that told you nothing, so if you want to learn more, go to lunarorganics.com .

Well, life is more than it was expected. I didn't think I would be getting a part time job like this before now, I didn't think I would be looking for a vehicle this soon either. So, life is good, God is good. I've been having fun hanging out with my brothers playing games at night which has been nice. And I'm looking forward to our vacation the second week of August, when we'll be going to GA to see our cousins and go camping!


English Vintner

Thursday, 7 July 2011

This poem sort of came to me spontaneously. Half of it I don't know what it means. About halfway through I felt like I was writing this for my sister, so I'm dedicating it to her.

I can’t tell you what it means to me,
I can’t tell you why you’re me for me,
I can’t tell you what you are for me,
I can’t tell you why I am.

Like a friend you’re there for me,
Like a brother you’ve given me,
Like a slave you’ve done for me,
But I can’t tell you why I am.

Something more than what it seems,
Something more than love for me,
Something more than friends we’ll be,
But I can’t tell you why I am.

I’m always glad to see you’re face,
Something like amazing grace,
Why, I’ll never know the reason,
But I can’t tell you why I am.

Dedicated to my sister Londa.

English Vintner

Monday, 4 July 2011

Peru Mission Trip

The mission trip I was on last week was to Peru. It was an amazing week, spending time with people from church, spending time with the missionaries, with the peruvians, and getting to know the Maddux's better (I met Shelby at BWSC 2 years ago). I believe God used us to plant a seed where we were working, showing the neighborhood what a christian is like. Our main purpose as we worked in construction and the medical team was to bring the peruvians to the churches, that when we left they would attend the church, growing the church stronger in Peru. Below and following posts are from my journal that I kept during my time there.


Friday June 24 We drove (Londa, Papa and I) with mama to the DeBoers arriving at 3:30pm. We drove down to the church with Mr and Mrs DeBoer. We arrived at 4:15pm loaded our baggage into two vehicles and went into the fellowship hall to have a devotional, prayer, sing, and discuss the plans of the trip.
We left the church around 5:00pm in two vehicles and headed to the airport. We arrived, checked in our carry on, went through security and waited at our gate. We played Up and Down the River with Londa, Papa, Kevin and I. After we finished that game Mr DeBoer started teaching us a Dutch card game. It was at that point we heard that our flight was delayed several hours. About 30 minutes later we were told the flight was canceled due to thunderstorms in Miami. So, after realizing that we couldn’t get a later flight that night we headed back to the church and for most of us, back to our own beds.
I went home and Isaiah and Josiah were watching Clash of the Titans. So, I stayed up until 11:50pm watching that, eating homemade pizza and doughnuts, and opening my new coffee roaster and trying to read the instructions manual. I roasted my first batch of coffee after the movie and set up my Mill and Brew coffee maker I had just bought for the morning.
Saturday June 25 3.5 hours later I woke up at 4:07am, got dressed, got some coffee and we were on our way to the DeBoers. We arrived all of us at 5:15am at the church, left again to the airport with the same vehicle arrangements.
We arrived and soon found out the flight to Miami was full. So, we found out that the flight to Ft. Lauderdale was open and checked into that flight. We got to Ft. Lauderdale and got in three rented cars and drove 20 minutes to Miami airport. We got in and checked in for a 7:15pm flight to Lima Peru. We got to Peru around 12:00am, got picked up by Alleen who took us through to where we would depart at 6:15am to Trujillo Sunday morning.

I have edited it once when I was typing it from my hand written journal, excuse any other errors found in it.

muchas gracias,
English Vintner

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Thoughts and Ramblings

I sit here in the woods, waiting to see the sunrise, 6:28am Tuesday the 21st of June. I am doubtful though, because the sun seems shrouded by a thin layer of clouds. It is good to be back in the woods. I often find some relief from business in the garden, but there is something about being in the woods, in the wild, back with nature. Something draws me to it, like it is God’s sanctuary, a safe but wild place to be. Like Aslan, he’s not a tame lion, the woods are not tame, but I find comfort in them, peace and quiet. While I was on my way into the woods I saw a deer, it quickly ran from me, making a barking noise as it ran from me. I presume that it had another friend/s with it and thus the noise, to warn them of me. Aha, I can see the sun peaking through the clouds. It is not as red as I like my sunrise, but all the same it is there. A bright orange gold, brilliantly piercing through the clouds. I can’t look at the sun any more as the clouds can no longer hold back the light.

I have my coffee, brewed strong as usual. I drink it for the taste more than anything else I have realized. I guess that is a good reason for starting a coffee roasting business. Speaking of which, I spent without the cost of beans $655. That includes a digital 11lb scale, burr coffee grinder, roaster, and 10 bags. The scale was around $42, the grinder, $78, roaster $495, and the bags came out to $.70 a piece. On all these I have spent hours to days researching them, reading what other customer had to say. At the last minute I picked this roaster. The main thing keeping me from buying it was the fact it as $200 more than the other one. The other roaster could roast more, but could not roast them as dark. However, I have talked with several people who say they like a dark roast and, I am very glad I made the switch. I should get most of the items this week or next, and within 3 weeks should be roasting and selling. I am looking into roasting at a Farmers Market. When I upgrade to a better roaster I will be able to bring it to the Farmers Market’s and roast on site using propane.

I have been thinking lately, especially since BWSC; Am I ready to got out and be a man? Sure, I can work hard enough, that is not what I am talking about. More, am I ready to lead a family? Answer the question of my child? It got me thinking about it and I have since started reading some books that seem helpful. I want to be ready to answer the questions of a wife and children and so I have started educating myself in the way of somewhat ‘theological’ books among others. To me the question that the world would put to me: "are you ready?" I could answer yes. Yes I can find a job, or have a job, and if that be the case they would say I am a success. But I am not ready in the other ways, at least not yet. I will be trying to do a bit more reading on these subjects in the years following, preparing myself. I found it quite awakening at this last conference, and I am glad that I could go. And so I go humbly and prayerfully to my God and ask wisdom in these spiritual matters, that I might be ready and equipped for what He has for me.

English Vintner

Monday, 13 June 2011

Composting

Here is an essay I wrote recently.

Putting the Compost back into Gardening
Traditionally fertilizer was known as manure, compost, and kitchen food scraps. These were taken to a designated place and allowed to decompose into compost. The result is the best thing you can add to any soil anywhere. It is the foundation of organic gardening.

It was not until the 1800s that a German scientist found out that Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium were the ‘foundation blocks’ of plant growth. Since then with the industrial revolution we have turned to making ‘fake’ Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium and using only those three elements to grow our plants on.

We have depleted our soils of all nutrients and seek to make up for it by adding merely these three elements, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The result is a soil deficient of all but these three elements.

The problem with plants grown solely in soil with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is that plants do not get the micro nutrients and elements that they need. Thus the plant becomes sick and nature does its best to eliminate it. Ever wonder why now we need to use all these pesticides to farm, but for generations before us they didn’t have to? Think back to the big change in agriculture, when farmers went from using manure and sustainable sources of fertilizer to using commercially made synthetic fertilizers. We soon had to come up with pesticides to fight back the numerous pests that inflicted damage to our crops. The more we used the pesticides the more the bugs fought back. The fight continues today.

What can we do about it? Go back a few generations and look at the way your Grandfather farmed. The waste of the animals was collected and composted along with kitchen waste and other sources of compost material. The following year it was spread on the farmland and produced abundant crops.

We have to restore to our soil what has been taken out of it for the past 100 years as we have taken everything out of it and have only added a few elements back to it. It will take years in some cases to restore to the soil what has been taken out, but it can be done.


The solution? Compost. Start a compost pile. Collect the bags of leaves put out by the side of the road. Portion off a part of the farm or garden and grow a green manure crop on it every year. As individuals we can make a difference in the agricultural community.

English Vintner

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Deep Bed


Monday afternoon I went above the fence, marked out where I needed the sweet potato bed and I started digging while my brother Jedidiah hacked with a scythe. I got it started, but it was hard to make good head way with so many roots. Tuesday morning I got up at 6am and worked for 2 hours digging a bed. I started in the middle, dug down 18-24 inches and got about 12ft long by 4ft wide. (Today my right shoulder is quite sore!) This evening I dug another 3ft wider and leveled off some ground and added it to the bed.

I picked my first cucumber Tuesday, and picked 2 more today. I picked 2 more zucchinis today.

My sweet potatoes I planted, most are doing pretty well.

With the help of my cousin (who is incredibly strong!) and brothers we got the fridge down into the greenhouse. Now I just have to dig the hole and put it in.

I picked my first garlic today. The stem was about 5/8". The bulb was close to 3 inches diameter, maybe 2.5". I think I will wait before picking any more though. I want to make sure they are done growing. I am surprised at how fast they grow. I wonder why you plant in the fall, is it for a sooner crop? Do they not grow as well in the heat? I'll do some more research and figure out all of the questions. : )


English Vintner

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Sweet Potatoes

At the end of April I ordered 100 sweet potato slips and a packet of basil seeds from Gurney's Seeds. Two days later they said the shipped the basil seeds. To this day I have not received them, either they got lost in the mail, or some miscommunication is going on, which wouldn't surprise me. Around May 12 I emailed them about the basil, they said they had shipped it. A couple days later I asked them to refund the sweet potatoes, as I had found a better place that seemed better and would ship them sooner. They refunded me on the sweet potatoes, and I ordered from Tatormans.

Yesterday I received a box of sweet potato slips from Gurneys. So, apparently they refunded me and then shipped them, they are not the best with communication. Anyway, last night I cut down vetch and weeds I had growing in a bed, spaded it over, ran it over with a hoe, watered it with 40 gallons of water, sprayed Sea-Crop on it, and set black plastic over it. I cut holes in the plastic and proceeded with frustration to insert the slips. It was harder than I thought it would be, but I planted 63 plants, roughly a foot a part.

This morning I planted the rest of them in a bed I had soybeans growing.

I am getting 125 plants from Tatormans, so I will have to find more room to put them in. My sweet potato harvest should be quite large this year if they do well!


English Vintner

Thursday, 19 May 2011

News of the Garden

Well, it has been a few days since I was on here. Life has been busy, but has gotten less complex since my brother starting working for my dad again and so I have fewer days to work, and more days to do school. I am enjoying doing math on a more regular basis, and reading through history is exciting.

I haven't gotten up as early the last couple days as I wanted to, but I guess I should have gone to bed earlier if I wanted to get up earlier.

Today I went down to the garden, and enjoyed a sunrise, something I haven't seen more than about two of in the last two weeks! It has been rather cloudy, and for the last two weeks has rained almost everyday. We've probably gotten 5-8 inches of rain in the last two weeks! Tuesday we had a flood warning, two creeks were within a foot of flooding (one creek was 11.5ft and the other 8.5ft high). All that to say, I haven't gotten a lot done in the garden lately.

My romaine lettuce is about done, I'm letting the slower heads and less diseased looking ones go to seed (I did that last year and grew all my head lettuce from seeds I saved). The rest were also bolting, and we ate some, but today I threw the rest in the compost pile. It is a pity the season for lettuce is so short here. If I could find a better place closer to the creek and in shade it might help, but I haven't figured out how to do that.

My leaf lettuce is getting big, I have a patch coming up that will be the last until fall I assume. This fall/winter I plan on doing a full bed (20ft long) of lettuce, greens, and maybe some root crops under plastic with hoops.

My swiss chard and beets are about ready to harvest, I'll probably harvest some this week. I have a little bit of spinach, it isn't doing that well though, poor germination and not so good soil.

My potatoes are doing pretty good. I have some under agribon (though slugs are eating some of them) that are about 20inches tall. I have another row that are a couple inches tall, and I just planted 12 more plants this morning. So, if they don't get eaten by pests I should get a good crop of them.

I am expecting sweet potato slips in the next week or two. I reordered from another place that specializes in sweet potatoes. I got 3 different kinds. 50 slips of Georgia Jets, 50 Beauregard, and 25 Centinial (I forget the exact name). I have one bed that has chickling vetch that will plant probably 50 slips at least. I need to till a another bed or two above the fence for some more. If I do them above the fence I will have to buy chicken wire to go over the bed, to keep the deer from eating them.

My brassica are doing well. They don't seem to have cut worms, though slugs are a small problem. My peas once again have failed, due to aphids. I'll try a small crop next year, if they fail, I may not do peas for a while, until my soil is better. I guess on the one hand they are improving the soil as a legume.

My squash are quite well, no signs of squash bugs yet. This week or next I should have my first female flower. I have 14 zucchini plants! 5 hills of watermelons (orange and sugar baby), 3 cucumbers, 2-3 yellow summer squash, and another couple zucchini that my cousin gave me.

Most of my beans are coming up. I have an amount of beans coming up almost equal to a row of beans 60ft long.

My two biggest crops this year will be zucchini, and beans. If I can get my tomatoes in (I have the plants, just haven't transplanted) then I should get a good crop of those also.

My allium are doing well. If my garlic does okay I should have 150 cloves of garlic. 30 cloves elephant garlic. A couple dozen red and yellow onions, couple dozen leeks, and a good amount of shallots.

My strawberries are about done bearing. I have a few berries left to ripen. I think we got close to 2 quarts, not to bad, since I transplanted them this year from the previous bed. Hopefully next year I will have more.

I have yet a lot to do in the garden, and not a lot of time. My cousin should be coming again around the middle of June and hopefully we can get more done then also.

My tiller which we got working, is now not working again. It got left out in a down pour. I was actually going to go put a tarp in it, but the rain was pelting so hard, so much thunder and lighting, and I couldn't see that I didn't. I am not sure what is wrong with it, but I about broke my pull string, so that has to be fixed also. I will probably check and see if the intake valve is stuck down, that was what happened last time. I've been playing around with the jet screw and that doesn't seem to be the problem. I really need my tiller working before the sweet potatoes arrive. I chopped down above the fence on Monday, now I need to till. So, I guess I should see about my tiller, amongst the other things! : )

Whew....life is full around here. I have a flute recital tonight, should be fun. I have been playing the flute now for 7.5 years, I started playing 2 months before I turned 10 years old.

I bottled my Utopia Cream Ale, I actually flavored 3 gallons of it with raspberries, 1 gallon with caramel syrup, and 1 gallon left alone. The raspberry is good, but I wish it was stronger.

Cherrio, don't get in too much trouble while I'm off. ; )
English Vintner

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Caramel Syrup


Yep, it's time for another recipe. I asked Matthew Sganga (Stone Table) how he made his caramel syrup, and he said that you can make it two basic ways. One way you make a simple syrup, and add vanilla to that. The other way you beat some egg yolks into it.

So, I went home and experimented with it. After my third time I think I have perfected my recipe.

Caramel Syrup
3/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar (you can change the ratios to get whatever color you like)
1/2 c. water
3Tbs butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 egg yolks

Mix the sugar and water in a pan, heat to boiling with lid on to keep it from evaporating too much. Add the butter and let it simmer while you mix in a bowl 2 egg yolks and vanilla extract together. Take the syrup off the stove, let it cool for a few minutes. Ladle a little bit of the syrup into the egg yolks while beating to temper the egg yolks. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the syrup while beating it to incorporate the egg yolks into the syrup. Bring to light boil on stove. Take off, pour into jars and cool.

You have to be careful with the egg yolks, if you add them into the boiling syrup, before tempering they may scramble and you will have little bits of cooked egg yolk running through it. If this happens either use it as is, or strain it. You can use milk or cream instead of water for another variation off this. Do keep in mind though, milk and egg tend to scramble or curdle when boiling, so choose your ingredients and when to add them carefully. To make a thicker syrup use less liquid and more butter and sugar.

This syrup can be added to anything you want caramel syrup for. Oatmeal, brownies, iced coffee, cakes, ice cream, you name it.

Enjoy the recipe!

English Vintner

Monday, 9 May 2011

Strawberries


Strawberries are a wonderful summer fruit. They have good aroma and excellent taste, and are appeasing to the eye. Strawberries typically ripen between late April and June. There are two main types of strawberries, June-bearing and Ever-bearing. Ever-bearing produce a crop in Spring and then a crop in Fall. June-bearing typically bear fruit for a couple of months in the late Spring early Summer.

The first strawberry that was bred was in Brittany, France in 1740.

Strawberries grown commercially are usually grown in raised bed systems, with black plastic to keep erosion and weeds down. They are usually replanted every 1-2 years because of disease.

For the home gardener strawberries are a fun crop to grow. When grown correctly they can provide quite a nice yield, up to a quart per plant!

The main things to consider when planting strawberries is how good the soil is, do you want to take up the room, and which varieties?

The better the soil the less pests essentially. For little or no aphids on your plants, grow strawberries in pure hummus or compost. Aphids don't like strawberries when they are grown in pure hummus, I assume due to the plant being healthier. You want to add some fertilizer to it, high rich compost that has not lost nutrients will work pretty good, though I would probably add some bone and blood meal and comfrey leaves to the soil. The bone meal will release phosphorus slowly, and the blood meal will release nitrogen rather quickly. The comfrey leaves decompose fast and add nutrients, nitrogen, and phosphorus. You want a thick mulch of straw to keep weeds down and help strawberries stay cleaner when it rains.

The room for growing strawberries is not a whole lot. Plant them with between 12-18 sq inches per plant. Most of the time strawberries are sold in bundles of 25 plants. Expect 25 to give a small harvest the first year (or none if you pinch off flowers for bigger growth) and then a couple of gallons depending on how the soil is. For a small garden you probably don't want to take up more room then 25 plants worth, besides the fact that strawberries send out runners that propagate into new plants quickly.

What varieties? I have June bearing and like the yields. For 25 plants, and only getting one kind, I would say that is up to you. If growing more than 25 plants try getting a mix of June-bearing and Ever-bearing ones, so you get strawberries all summer long. If you plant strawberries in the Fall, you can expect to get a small harvest in the Spring, versus planting in the Spring and getting little or no harvest.

Strawberries are fun to grow, and taste MUCH better than ones you can buy in the store! Find an online nursery and look up the varieties of strawberries to find the perfect strawberry for you!

Information gleened from: my experience, http://www.farmfreshliving.com/How_to_Grow_Strawberries.html, and wilkipedia

English Vintner

Monday, 2 May 2011

Onion Relish

Time for a recipe. This recipe is one I learned at the Stone Table, the restaurant I am interning at. They put it on the spinach salad they serve, and it is amazing. Sweet and sour and it looks amazing!

They keep it simple, and don't have a set recipe, so I just guessed, and you will have to guess also. (Just use those cooking instincts!)

Onion Relish
1 red onion
red wine vinegar
brown sugar

Cut the onion in half, the cut it so it will be in slices, not diced. Separate them and put them in a pot. Add red wine vinegar, for one onion I would guess between 1/4-1/2 c. though, I just guessed. Take a handful of brown sugar and put it on top of it all. Turn on the heat, around medium and let it cook down. I used a lid part of the time to keep it from boiling off too much moisture. The onions will be cooked when they are pink and translucent. Store in the fridge, use on salads and sandwiches.


English Vintner

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Hops 2011


Hops, what are they? Hops are the bittering herb used in beer that imparts a bitter flavor to the beer. The history of hops is quite ancient, dating back to Babylon and Rome. It was the Romans who brought the hop to Britain as a vegetable. The earliest mention of hops in Europe is in the Hallertau district in 736 AD. However, it would be hundreds of years before Europe came to except the hop in beer.

What did they do before they had hops to add to beer? They would impart the beer with many different herbs, which were all being used for what the hop would replace, to add bittering flavor to the brew, balancing out the high alcohol and sweetness of the ales they brewed. They used herbs like coriander, yarrow, St. John's wort, rosemary and wormwood to add flavor to the beer.

However, due to the lower alcohol (lower than wines) the beer still spoiled quickly. Meaning, you brewed your own beer, and it was drunk very quickly. No time to ship it around the country, or start a large brewery, beer just wouldn't keep that long.

It was Germany who took to using the hops in the first place, and soon after the Dutch started importing the beer made with hops, and hops themselves to grow.

Why could they ship the beer from Germany? Because the hops are what make a beer keep. This was a new revolution to the world of brewing. You could get twice as much beer out of the same amount of malt, because you could make lower alcohol, impart hops, and it would keep even longer than traditional ales. This was when the herb growers who supplied the 'gruit' for the beer started getting upset. Because the introduction of hops would mean they would be out of business. No longer would people buy those herbs, that would not keep an ale, but would buy hops which will keep the beer for long periods of time. So, it was banned and put down in many countries because this.

Once Holland was won over to hops, England went next. They soon developed a taste for the hopped beer. In the 1400s they imported the hopped brew, and in 1428 they were growing hops. However, the controversy kept up througout the ages, and even as late as 1651 hopped beer was described in John Taylor's Ale Ale-vated into the Ale-titude as "A Dutch boorish liquor...a saucy intruder."

The advantages of the hopped beverage was so much better than unhopped that it triumped over the the traditional ales, brewed without hops.

However, the change to hops and hop growing did not come without cost. The hop was assailed by many pests and diseases, and you had to learn with it's whimsical nature. Some years the harvest would be good, and others bad. The cost would sometimes be 10 times higher in a bad year than the year before. Meaning you either made a fortune in a bad year, or a little in a good year. Neighbors often hoped for the others field to fail in order for the price to rise and make greater profit.

The hops move Westward, the Americas.

In 1629 the Massachusetts Bay Co. ordered seeds from England. In 1640s it was noted that hops grew "fair and large" in the colonies. Although Massachusetts in 1791 produced the first harvest, it was New York state that would take the country's leading and first producer. They were first planted in 1808. First harvest sold for 12 cents a pound. A series of English crop failures increase the demand that in 1822 trade routes were designated.

Gradually it moved to the West Coast, where California and Oregon gained production. In the early 1900s New York was still the leading producer. And in 1914 when the prohibition hit the production went down, and continued to decline, even after the prohibition in 1933.

The most recent development in hop history (1990) is the increasing availability of hops to to the homebrewer.

So there you have it. The history of hops. Did you know? Hops themselves are not bitter, it is only when added to the boiling wort (beer before fermenting) that it brings out the oils that impart the bitterness. Hops are added to beer to add aroma and flavor, along with the bitterness which helps keep a beer so long.

So, why talk about hops? Well, for one thing, I brew, so I use them. For another, I grow them! I started growing hops last year, and I blogged about it. My hop grew 15-20 feet last year, pretty impressive, and I got a small harvest. This year, with added SEA-CROP and compost tea my hop is doing even better! It is 6ft long already! It is growing more than 4 inches a day! I am looking forward to a vine that will be more than 40ft long! I hope to take some pictures of it in a week or two, but didn't have my camera with me today.


English Vintner

Here is the main source for where I took my history for hops. I looked at a few other websites as well. http://home.earthlink.net/~ggsurplus/hophistory.html

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

English Cafè, part 2


So, part two. I have decided on a roaster, Behmor 1600. After a year of that, and my customer base is big enough, I plan on upgrading to a gas fired 1 or 2lb roaster. The cost would be $2500 for 1lb roaster, or $3500 for a 2lb roaster.

I gave a sample of coffee to the Stone Table restaurant, haven't heard back on the results yet, whether or not they want to buy from me. I want to give some samples to my church, and see if they would consider buying from me. I have two other customers who want to buy from me on a regular basis, other than that, I don't have any more confirmed customers.

I got in sample bags for coffee last week, haven't decided on a bag yet. I will have reclosable valve bags for whole beans, and sealed bags for ground coffee.

Cost for the roaster is $300, grinder is $90, start up beans $100+, bags is $25, and some other expenses mixed in.

My grandparents have put aside money for each of their grand children in the bank, for college. I am not sure about college, and my grandma said that if I wanted to I could use some of that money to start up, instead of a loan. I am still thinking on the idea, but I like it.

I talked with my uncle who roasts coffee, and he said I need to look into this as a business that will grow to the extent that I cannot handle alone. I should be looking at this as growing quite large. That would be one reason to buy the larger roaster right now. However, until I get my customer base down I don't want to spend several thousand dollars on a machine that will take a few years to pay off.

If I sell an average of 5lbs a week, I profit in a year $1300, that means I make in a year roughly $2700. Not to bad. In one year I bring in enough money to buy the larger roaster. In two years if my customer base keeps growing and I am selling 10lbs a week, I am profiting $2600, bringing in $5200. This looks like a fun business to be in! It is fun looking at costs, and seeing how much I can make at this price, in a year. Quite fun to plan.

I will probably be receiving a check for $650 sometime in May, if I decide to go ahead with this. It will then be the end of June before I get things cracking.

I have my awesome cousin who is married drawing up some ideas for a logo. I'm looking forward to what she comes up with (she is an amazing artist!)!


I think I need to set up a website, so people have a place to order it, at least a place to look at prices and beans. I hope to get my dad help me with that. I know someone in my church who is a photographer, I'm considering asking her to take some pictures for the website of beans, mugs, etc. So many things to consider when starting a business! This is so much fun.

If you are interested in sampling my coffee, email me and I'll get you a sample (local only please, I can't afford to ship samples).


English Vintner

Monday, 18 April 2011

English Cafè

I am considering starting a coffee roasting business. I would prefer local people, who could stop by and order, or order ahead of time and stop by and pick up.

I would be offering a selection of 4 different coffees, sold by 13oz net weight. Organic, Decaf, and two Regular caffeinated coffees.

Cost would be $12.00 per package, if would like to buy larger or smaller quantities, let me know and I will give you the price. I sell whole beans, but will grind it if you don't have a grinder.

Ground coffee stays fresh for 2 hours before coffee snobs consider it starting to loose flavor. So, you really should be grinding the beans yourself minutes before brewing. Roasted coffee, should be used up in less than 2 weeks, preferably within 24-5 days of roasting.

I would like to host a coffee party for those interested in trying fresh roasted coffee, and want to know more about how roasting is done. I think the date May 19 might work. I'm gonna see who is interested in it. I would serve something to go with several different blends of coffee, have my roaster set up, roast some batches for people to see, and send them home with samples of beans to try.

Start up cost will be $650, I'm hoping to do a micro loan with my grandparents. I would like to have a minimum of 10 customers who are on a regular basis, along with others who like to get a pound once in a while, and others who buy from me as gifts to friends. I am hoping to have at least one restaurant who would be buying at least a 1lb a week, and maybe my church, who would use I'm guessing 2-3lbs a week. I am thinking if my customer base keeps growing, and I continue, I will have to upgrade my roaster to an actual commercial one.

Any ideas for names for my company? Right now I'm thinking of English Cafè for the name.

English Vintner

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Asparagus



Who doesn't like asparagus? It is a wonderful vegetable and high in nutrition. It comes in 'season' only from the beginning of spring up until the beginning of summer. Usually the window is 6-8 weeks long for mature asparagus.

You can buy 2-3 year old crowns. Plant the crowns in Spring when the soil is warm, let it grow. The following year cut asparagus for 2-3 weeks. Some people don't do this, but a study showed that this increased next years asparagus season. So, the year after you plant the crowns cut for a couple weeks, then let the plants grow the rest for themselves. The following year, two years after you planted them you can cut for 4-6 weeks. The following year and every year after for 10-15 years cut for 6-8 weeks, usually until the first week of June.

This is my second year, I planted asparagus last year this time. It grew well. I was not going to cut any this year, due to some shoots coming up several weeks ahead of others, but after doing some more reading on it, decided to cut some. So, this morning I got 11 shoots. I will be cutting for the next week or so, to improve next years yield.

I am thinking the reason cutting the second year can improve the third year is that you are forcing the plant to put out more shoots, expanding the root system, my idea anyway.

Here are pictures of my asparagus that I cut this morning. Once picked put into ice water to remove any heat. Then place in plastic bag and refrigerate, should keep for 2 weeks, enough for you to continue cutting until you have enough for a meal.





English Vintner

Friday, 1 April 2011

GMO and ORGANIC

The problem with GMO seed is that it cannot exist along side organic seed. Monsanto likes to trick people into believing it can be so, but don't be fooled (this is no April Fools).

GMO seed is pollinating organic varieties thus eventually making everything GMO, which makes Monsanto have a monopoly! Is something wrong here? Hello! Everybody knows that a monopoly makes for a poor quality, you can do whatever you want and everyone has to do what you want them to do.

I don't know how we are going to get out of this one, really, I don't know.

Read this article, good info on it, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alison-rose-levy/monsanto-lawsuit_b_842336.html


English Vintner

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Cover Crops


I think I will bring up this subject again, as I am fond of the subject and think more gardeners should use it.

What is a cover crop? A cover crop is a crop that is planted simply for the purpose of the soil. Wether you cut it and compost it aside from the soil, or you till it under is up to you.

When do I plant cover crops? It depends on the cover crop. Typically cover crops are grown over winter, usually a vetch and rye, as they can withstand cold temperatures. The reason for doing it over the winter is because the winter months are when you don't have much else planted, so you are not taking away space from your garden. The other reason being that during the winter months erosion tends to happen because nothing else is growing to hold down the soil. So, a cover crop holds down the soil, takes up nutrients, fixed nitrogen (if a legume) and adds organic matter.


However, some good cover crops can only be grown in the summer, when it is warm. Those include certain varieties of vetch (Chikling vetch fixes nitrogen in 45 days!), soy beans (good nitrogen fixing crop, and lots of organic matter), alfalfa, and certain kinds grains and smother crops.

When or why should I grow cover crops? I think the best way to start out is to grow a mix of vetch and rye over all of your garden over the winter. In the spring time till it under. I recommend also that you set aside part of your garden each year (you decide, wether it be half, a quarter, all of it every 4 years?, etc.) during the spring and summer to grow a summer cover crop. Growing cover crops every winter and every summer will result in a build up of good soil much faster than if you don't sow cover crops. Growing rye has shown that weeds are less likely to grow in that soil. Also, growing something like mustard and other cover crops is a great way to smother out weeds for a season before planting. Resulting in less weeding, and less herbicide (if that is really necessary).


How much do cover crops cost? Typically grains are the cheapest, and if you buy it by the 5lbs the cost drops quite a bit. Some vetch and other legumes are a bit more costly, though, worth it in the long run.

So, what does it take to get started? Most big seed companies will sell cover crops ranging from sunflowers, to mustard, with grains and legumes in between. A cover crop will keep weeds from growing in your soil, can add nitrogen and organic matter and improve your soil greatly!

Johnnys Seeds is where I've ordered cover crops in the past, they have pretty good prices, and the quality is good. http://www.johnnyseeds.com/c-4-cover-cropsfarm-seeds.aspx



English Vintner

Friday, 25 March 2011

GMO seeds again

Here is a link to another blog, which is VERY helpful in reinstating why GM is harmful. If you would like me to post the contents here, just let me know.

http://berlinnaturalbakery.com/blog/index.php/2010/03/26/scientific-evidence-documenting-the-negative-impacts-of-genetically-modified-gm-foods-on-human-and-animal-health-and-the-environment/

English Vintner

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Mulch

I cannot say enough how mulching your garden will save you from watering. I grew a patch of romaine lettuce heads last year, they grew from Feb-April or so. I watered them at the beginning, and a few times in between. For the rest of the 3 months they had several inches of oak leaves as a mulch which kept me from having to use more than several gallons on them a few times.

Mulching also keeps the soil from direct rainfall which compacts the soil on top, forming a crust.

Mulch keeps down weeds. Most weed seeds need light to germinate. Having a thick 3-4 inch mulch around plants will prevent most weeds, eliminating the chore of weeding.

Mulch is especially helpful to small trees and shrubs that benefit from not having to fight weeds for nourishment and water.

What to use for mulch? My personal favorite is hay, followed by straw and oak leaves. Keep the black plastic mulch for melons and such that can use the extra warmth during the growing season.

A plus to organic mulches is that you are adding organic matter to the soil. You almost eliminate the need for a tiller, especially if you have deep or raised beds. The mulch keeps the soil loose and crumbly. When you need to plant, pull it back and seed.

Consider mulching as a major time saver in the garden.


English Vintner

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

SEA-CROP

Benefits of SEA-CROP

Our field testing (Ambrosia, SEA-CROP) has demonstrated that SEA-CROP:

1. Increases cellular respiration
2. Makes plants more phototropic.
3. Increases photosynthesis.
4. Increases carbohydrate content of sap by Brix refractometer testing.
5. Increases soil microflora
6. Nitrogen fixing and other bacteria.
7. Phosphorous leaching and other fungi.
8. Improves soil tilth and aeration.
9. Makes plants healthier, more disease and insect resistant.
10. Has saved diseased orchards.
11. Has lessened the need for insecticide.
12. Makes plants more drought tolerant.
13. Makes plants more transplant tolerant.
14. Fruit become larger and much better tasting.
15. Keeping quality is enhanced.
16. Mineral and vitamin content is increased.
17. The growing cycle is shortened by weeks.
18 Crop yields are increased 15% to 35%
19. Application is easy and inexpensive.
20. Product is organic.
21 Nontoxic.


What is SEA-CROP?

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


Is this product safe to use?

SEA-CROP is a natural liquid that is as safe to use as water.


Can SEA-CROP be used for all plants?

Yes, SEA-CROP's formula is the same for all plants but application rates vary. Please follow recommended rates closely.


Will I damage my plants if I apply too much SEA-CROP?

It would take an application error in excess of 100 % to experience a detrimental affect to your plants.


Is SEA-CROP a fertilizer?

No, SEA-CROP is not a fertilizer but does have a lot of the nutritive elements that are in many commercial fertilizers. SEA-CROP is a natural liquid soil amendment that works in all plant applications. It is the active organic substances it contains working together with all those trace elements that make it so effective.


Do I need to apply SEA-CROP often?

No, one application per year for soil applications is all that is needed for annual plants although a split application or multiple applications may give enhanced results for some crops. Also, some plants when stressed can benefit from an additional application. Alfalfa after cutting is a good example.
Foliar use requires multiple applications for maximum results.


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.


Would SEA-CROP still improve yield if I use leading biological products?

Yes! The microbes in the soil are reduced by tillage and pesticide applications. Biological products are useful and are applied to increase micro-organism populations that work to provide a healthier soil environment in which the plant can grow. SEA-CROP can increase the effect of biological products by stimulating the growth of soil organisms. Remember, SEA-CROP acts as a catalytic trigger in the soil environment by stimulating the growth of soil organisms needed for the plant to be healthy and maximize its fruit or seed bearing potential.


Is SEA-CROP approved for use in organic farming?

Yes, SEA-CROP has been approved by the Washington State Department of Agriculture as being in compliance with the United States Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program and is approved for use in certified organic operations. SEA-CROP has also been approved by Oregon Tilth for use in certified organic farming.


Is SEA-CROP affordable and can I buy SEA-CROP in a variety of quantities?

Yes, SEA-CROP is affordable. House plants cost just pennies to treat once a year. Farm crop application costs are much less than any pesticide or herbicide application cost to the farmer and SEA-CROP helps the crop withstand the stress of these applications. SEA-CROP markets the product in several sizes from small containers for the homeowner/gardener to bulk deliveries for the large corporate farms.


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.

Directions For Use

Application of diluted Sea-Crop to moist soil followed by irrigation gives the best results. The product should not be applied to dry soil unless heavily diluted.

Dilution: Always dilute Sea-Crop with water prior to use. Use at a concentration at or less than 2% strength. One gallon of Sea-Crop added to 49 gallons of water equals a 2% solution. Five tablespoons (two and a half ounces) per gallon equals a 2% solution.


Annuals: For optimum results Sea-Crop may be applied directly to the soil at planting or early in the life cycle of annual plants.


Perennials: For well established perennial crops, apply just before or during the active growth period. An application just before entering dormancy may also be beneficial.


Foliar Spray: Sea-Crop diluted to a 1% solution can be used as a foliar spray. A minimum of 3 applications per season applied at 1 to 3 week intervals are recommended. Customers have reported that ½% solution of Sea-Crop works well to suppress both powdery and downy mildews.


Garden Produce: Apply 2 to 4 gallons of SEA-CROP concentrate per acre.


Field and Row Crops: Apply 2 to 4 gallons of SEA-CROP concentrate per acre.


Trees and Orchards:

Medium size trees (size 3-6 feet): use 4 oz SEA-CROP per tree not to exceed 10 gallons per acre.

Large trees (size 6-12 feet): use 6 oz SEA-CROP per tree not to exceed 10 gallons per acre.

Potted Plants: Use a 1/2% solution for soil applications and 1% solution for foliar applications.


Root Dip:

Transplants: Briefly immerse the transplant in a ½% solution of Sea-Crop.

Bare Root Plants: Briefly immerse the exposed roots in a 1% solution of Sea-Crop.

The yields given when plants are treated with SEA-CROP is 10-20% more. That does not include the added mass of the plant tissue when treated with SEA-CROP. For more information on SEA-CROP, testimonials, and trials go here: http://www.sea-crop.com/index.html






To buy it, visit this web address: http://www.sea-crop.com/order.html

I bought some last year, used it in a few trials, I'm looking forward to this year with it. I bought a gallon and have been giving it away to gardening friends as gifts.

English Vintner

Monday, 14 March 2011

Your Will

This blog, as many of you know, is a collection of thoughts, gardening adventures, and much more. This next post is a poem I was inspired to write in the middle of doing Chemistry, while watching the sun's rays hitting the clouds, making a beautiful sunrise (pictured below, though, pictures never do do justice).

Your Will

Thank you for this day you’ve made
Often though I’ve been afraid.
Another day, another night
You have helped me win the fight.

Through the rising of the sun,
Through me let your work be done.
Set me close upon your breast
So Lord, let me always rest.

Set me where you’ll have me be
Wether bound, or wether free.
So I ask you from my heart,
Lord, I pray, please ne’er depart.



English Vintner

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Spring

It was early in the morning, the weather was cool. Cool and moist, like springs are in North Carolina. It was only a matter of time before the sun would showed himself over the crest of the hill, bringing with him hope of a new day. Springtime was here, cherry blossoms were blooming, buds on the trees, spring was definitely here. Spring had started earlier than usual, but no one was complaining. Planting time was right around the corner, and a new growing season would begin anew. Spring had brought a fresh new start to the year.

English Vintner

Thursday, 24 February 2011

GMO

I read this article, and had to post this. Please send this link to others you know, that they will know the danger we are in.

ORGANIC has excepted GM seeds now. Also, they have reversed the sugar beets, and they can now be planted as GM this year. We are losing ground again in the fight against GM, but we must fight back. Send this to your Senators and Congressman, let them know the danger, and what you think.

Give this to your friends who are farmers. Usually they are hardest to convince because they have a method, they do it that way, and it seems good to them. Change seems to be difficult for a farmer...

Please read the article, I feel it is very important to understand what kind of danger we are in.

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/newPathogenInRoundupReadyGMCrops.php


English Vintner

Sunrise

I don't know, something about sunrises, the wavelength of the rays of sun making different colors, as we see the sun as far away as we can on the horizon, making glorious the sky. It really is amazing the beauty that God put on this earth, despite one humankind does to destroy our selves and everything good.

I would like to challenge anyone reading this blog, but more to those who like to follow this blog. I would challenge you to, if weather permits, to see sunrise, maybe several, take pictures of each, and pick the best and send it to me. Hey, maybe we can have a sunrise picture contest!? : )

Mainly I just want to see sunrises. If you are addicted to sunrises, you can search on the web, they have lots of really beautiful sunrise pictures against sky scrapers, woods, hills, streams, all beautiful.

Here is a picture of my sunrise this morning. If the sky has some clouds near the horizon where the sun is rising it makes a big difference in what the sky will look like, as the sky lights up, reflecting the light. This morning was a bit bigger than usual. This was taken from my back porch, and with my computer, so I'm afraid the quality is poor.

Enjoy.



English Vintner

I hope the video came through, and maybe you got a bit of a laugh out of it. : ) I usually don't keep my normal accent on when speaking, try and go slightly 'british' when on camera. I think you can see the sunrise a bit clearer through the video.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla a tropical climbing orchid that has fragrant flowers and long podlike fruit. • Genus Vanilla, family Orchidaceae: many species, in particular V. planifolia, the chief commercial source of vanilla beans.

Vanilla beans are still hand pollinated today! That is the reason they are a bit pricey. Did you know, that Madagascar produces more than half of all the vanilla beans?!

To make vanilla extract you need vanilla beans, and vodka. To get vanilla beans the cheapest place is on eBay, I just bought a pound of vanilla beans for a total of $17. These are extract, grade B beans. I got regular (more expensive) vanilla beans from my homebrew shop for $13 for 9 beans, they are larger beans, and grade A, but still. The best prices are on eBay.

To make it I fill up a 750ml bottle with vodka (40%abv) and add 9 big vanilla beans, or 20 small ones. Take the beans and on a cutting board split them down the middle to help extract it more. If it is on the strong side that is alright. Keep topping up the bottle with vodka as you use it. It will take a few weeks before the vanilla is extracted from the beans, be patient. Shake the bottle every day or so to keep it well mixed. Expect a wait from 1-3 months. It will keep forever.

So, buy some beans, grab some vodka and start some vanilla extract! It makes great gifts! Once you can make vanilla extract explore with other things, cocoa powder, coffee, orange zest, the range is limitless.

Here is a photo of mine, I just put the beans and vodka in today.


English Vintner