Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A word about Malabar Spinach: INCREDIBLE!

Here it is the end of July, and I am still enjoying a steady supply of beautiful, tender spinach leaves that are now growing faster than I can eat them!  Although it is not a true spinach but a vine, the taste is spot on and the texture may be better.  Some of the lower leaves are 8-10 inches in diameter but are as tender as the newest leaves.  I make make some pigs in blankets or tamales out of them!  The older leaves even have a delightful sour flavor to them, but no bitterness.  Here's the kicker: it has been nearly 100 degrees for the past weeks in my greenhouse and the spinach just grows stronger!  I have read that this stuff loves the heat and it's no lie, but to remain unchanged in flavor when other lettuces are long gone to seed in unbelievable.  I encourage everyone to plant this stuff.  If you have a fence, let it cover it.  Apparently it will reseed itself for next year, too.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sweet Potatoes are growing nicely inside and out

If successful, these will definitely be an addition to my garden staples.  So far they are looking great, growing strong and really spreading out.  I have cleared a lot of space at the suggestion of several people that said give them plenty of room to run, and running they are.  This version is called Bouregart, and I bought 25 plants for $8.00.  Here you see 9 plants, planted about a foot apart.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A little hammock for my watermelon

Made out of a real hammock.  An old one that was hanging in the tree at the edge of my property.  I was letting it sit in the tree because I liked watching it sit higher and higher as the tree grew, but I finally had to cut it down when it was 8 feet high.  I am really optimistic about the weight of this melon, no?

I hooked up an automatic watering system for the garden beds.

It's very primitive.  I just drilled some holes in some old hose and hooked it up to an 80 GPH pump.  I had a timer laying around so I set it to turn on twice a day for a few minutes.  It will be pumping out of the pond, so right now I am testing the sustainability of it.  The pump is definitely not pumping 80 GPH, but it can empty about 1/2gal per minute.  I think the plants would be happy with about 5 gallons per day, and I'm hoping that it will rain often enough to refill the pond every so often.   I also have my rain barrels as backup.  I would like it to at least last a week for when I go on vacation.  Will update.

I just emptied out the pepper box (they didn't do too well) and planted some more sweet potatoes.

This is a nice little timer.  I don't remember the brand, but it is all digital and has 8 different on and off settings per day.  I have used it for many years and it has never failed me. 

My pond water is clearing!

Wow, a full year after I first filled it!  It could be any number of variables.  I recently put a few more fish in, and a month ago I added some hornwort, anachronis, and hyacinth (very little of the first two and they haven't really grown,) and it has been very hot.

Anyway, a few days ago I noticed a green foam collecting on the surface near where the pump outlet churns it, and when I looked down into the water, it had started to clear.  Now I can nearly see my white pump housing at the bottom when the sun hits right.  Strange, but I'm not complaining!  Any explanations out there?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Carolina Reaper has some sinister looking pods

They should be changing color in a week or so...

Watermelons, squash and the malibar spinach

Here are some pics.  I hope I'm not getting overly eager, but I have set up a hammock for my small watermelon to hang in.

I have 3 melons, one on each vine.

The tatume squash have been great steamed in some white wine. 

You can see a nice column of malibar spinach in the back.  I will let it thicken a bit before harvesting a salad or two.

DFH 60 Conclusions

Well, it came pretty darn close with flavor, but nowhere near the quality of the original.

The Safale-04 (dry english ale yeast) came closer than the 05 which had more west-coast flavor.

 If I were to modify the recipe, I would replace some of the 2-row malt with a few more pounds of Faucett amber.  I would also add about 4 oz of hops to the original boil and a couple to the dry hop.  This, of course, would add substantially to the cost of the beer, but it would give you a better quality brew

All in all, I'm pretty happy with it, but it was not flawless.

1 month later, Aug 7:  The hop flavor and bitterness has mellowed out.  I should have put in about a half pound of additional hops to get close to the DFH caliber.  I definitely respect those guys down in Delaware; they know how to design a great beer.

4 months after bottling, Nov 7:  It seems that a nice long aging in the basement has done this beer some good.  It is nice and clear, and definitely has good pale ale qualities. I wouldn't dare call it DFH or even an IPA, but it is good beer for the low price of $10 a case!