Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My 2015 Yuengling Lager Clone

Update March 6, 2015:  This is one of the best I have ever made, but not a Yuengling clone.  It's closer to Sam Adams.  Next time I'm going no pale and all vienna.

Last year's was a little heavy on the corn and light on the vienna.  I hit my target 1.054 and the aroma is pretty good.  Here you go!

Where I live we only drink one kind of lager.  You say the word lager and they know what to bring you.  Funny thing is there's a Sam Adams brewery about 10 min from my house, but we don't touch that stuff!

2015 Pennsylvania Lager Clone

13.5 gallon primary (fill two TrueBrew buckets to 2" from the top)
1.054 og

12 lb 2-row pale malt
6 lb 6-row pale malt
3 lb corn grits, cooked according to instructions on bag
2 lb vienna malt
2 lb briess special roast malt
l lb victory malt
1.5 oz cascade 60 min
1.5 oz cascade 10 min
1 oz crystal 5 min or at flame out
wyeast 2308 munich lager (make starter and/or split)

Decoction mash: 20 minutes at 133, 40 minutes at 144 and 60 minutes at 155
Batch sparge at 170: 3 batches over 1 hour achieved 70% efficiency.  You can probably do better than that!

60 minute boil.

Update 1/28:  After bottling, I can get a pretty good idea of where the flavor is going.  Again, needs WAY more Vienna malt.  Next year, I think I will cut out the two-row and use 14 lbs Vienna.  If you try this recipe, that is my recommendation.  Good luck!

Also, if you want to hit Yuengling exactly, omit the late hop additions.  Yuengling should have low to no hop flavor or aroma.  I like a little more than that.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

How to build the perfect Thanksgiving sandwich!

3 slices sturdy bread
Leftover turkey
Cranberry sauce
Lettuce (essential for the crunch of a club sandwich)

I don't feel there is any specific way or order to assemble this sandwich, or specific amounts of each ingredient. Let's just say "to taste"

I do double cranberry because I love it!
Small chunks of turkey. Otherwise you'll pull the whole slice out of the sandwich


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Summer Kolsch Beer Recipe

This may be the best beer I have brewed yet!  Crisp, light, very drinkable and a fantastic toasty finish.
Also the one of the simplest beers ever!

Summer Kolsch
All grain
13 gallon primary
11 gallon secondary
22 lbs pale malt
2 lbs Briess special roast
3 oz cascade 60 minutes
Wyeast Kolsch 2625
Step mash with decoction (optional, 90 min at 155 would probably work fine):
20 min at 122
20 min at 133
20 min at 144
20 min at 155
Batch sparge at 170, 3 batches for 20 min each
5.5% abv

Note: This stuff fermented violently!  It overflowed the overflow tank and ran all over the basement.   Make sure you have an overflow for the overflow.

Update January 4: The first batch I bottled ended up way too carbonated.  Again, the highly active yeast.  For the second half, I toned the priming sugar back to 1/2 cup for 5.5 gallons and it came out just right. I also lagered it for a time, but didn't notice much difference.

 If you like light, simple, fruity, almost lemony beers, this is the one for you.  If you would like a bit more mouthfeel and flavor, I would add some crystal malt.  In my opinion, this recipe as-is really fits the BJCP style guidelines.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A good pumpkin ale recipe

This is the first 6 gallon batch I have done in a long time, but I didn't know how much pumpkin I could stand!  I generally don't do fruit beers or use any additives or adjuncts, but I do love pumpkin now and then.  It was a fairly quick mash compared to my decoctions of late and a quick batch sparge but I still managed 75% efficiency.

Pumpkin Ale with fresh pumpkin and toasted pumpkin seeds

6.25 gallon primary
5.75 gallon secondary
13 lb Pale malt 2-row
1 lb Crystal 40
1 lb crystal 80
1.5 oz general bittering hops 5-10% AA ( I used home-grown, Cascade should work fine) for 60 min
90 minute mash at 155-160
60 minute sparge at 170 in 3 batches, 20 minutes each
2 lbs fresh pumpkin chunks, baked in oven at 350 for 1 hour and added to boil
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds, added to boil
60 minute boil
Add pumpkin from boil into fermenter
1.5 tsp. pumpkin pie spice added at bottling
Wyeast London Ale 1028

Notes: Could have used a bit more spice.  I would bump it up to 3 tsp. Add a little extra sugar for bottling as this yeast needs a little help.

Update 1/28: After letting it age in my basement for 4 months. the flavor has definitely improved as well as the carbonation.  It is definitely on the light side, but I like it that way.  Very clear and good balance between malt and spices.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review of Annie's San Marzano tomato

INCREDIBLE!  I don't know what took me so long to warm up to Roma tomatoes, and San Marzano definitely have a reputation for being the best, but WOW!  These little guys make the best sauce ever, and in about half the time.  Just a quick scald (3-4 minutes in boiling water) then cool, chop off the top and the skin slips right off.  Every bit of meat remains.  Finally a squeeze over the garbage bowl to remove seeds and into the blender.  The puree is so thick that it often gets stuck in the blender.  So much easier than beefsteaks, and the flavor is incredible.  I really want to try the San Marzanos grown in Italy.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A hoppy ending to summer vacation

 A nice crop of hops, about the same as last year.  The flowers seem much bigger and fuller.  I am definitely glad I put up cotton lines. In ten minutes, with some hacking with a machete, the vines came right down.  About five gallons or so of fresh hops.

Pretty close to golf-ball-sized nuggets!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review of Chichen Itza Habanero

I don't know where the seeds came from.  I got plants for free at my local hot pepper expert supplier.  From what I read they are a hybrid habanero.

I have to share how excellent this variety has grown for me.  I have grown a lot of chinense peppers and this is one is a money-maker for the farmers markets.  By far the most prolific producer I have ever seen.  My relatively small, compact plants are LOADED with pods.  I counted 15 pods on one 10-inch branch!

Other advantages to this variety is that:

  • The pods are very large and attractive (standard hab orange)
  • The heat is milder at 100,000 to 180,000 scovilles 
  • Sweet and juicy 
  • Rapid vegetative growth
  • Early harvest

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Review of Annie's Black Krim tomato

I am not the best person to give an opinion of tomato taste profile.  I don't really like raw tomatoes.  I mainly use them in sauces and on BLTs. Actually, now that I think about it, I might be the perfect person to give an objective opinion.

The black krim (on left) is a deep maroon with green seeds on the inside.  Obviously much darker than the one on the right which I think is a classic beefsteak.

The red tomato has your standard delicious homegrown flavor.  Obviously vine-ripened and 100X the intensity of your supermarket hothouse 2.99/lb. junk.

The black krim should be a special treat for any tomato lover. Highly acidic and potent in flavor.  Some say they are higher in sugars but I didn't notice any more sweetness.  Cheers!

Update 8/20:  Now that it is late in the season, I have a few comments to add.  First, these plants, while interesting and tasty, are not very practical for real food production.  They are more of a novelty item.  The plants produce very few fruit.  While the tomatoes are very large, they are highly prone to splitting.  The fruits look very under-ripe until they are too ripe.  The entire top half of the tomato will remain dark green until it is over-ripened, and while the green coloration does not affect the taste, it is unattractive and deceiving when judging ripeness.  The fruit never quite achieves one uniform color when ripe.  The fruits are also mushy and lack toughness.  They will not stand up to stacking, boxing, or transport and are therefore a poor choice for markets.  They are an excellent slicing tomato but are terrible for preserving.  The scalding/peeling process causes most of the flesh to dissolve, and there are many seeds. half of each tomato is wasted.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Black Hungarian pepper wins again!

For the second year my Hungarian blacks have proven the earliest to ripen.  Grown in containers in the greenhouse, the large, bushy plants are prolific and grow some of the prettiest jalapeno-type pods that turn from dark purple to bright, shiny red.  Walls are thick and juicy, versatile for cooking and pickling and make the best hot sauce. Comparatively slow to soften, dry out and rot after picking, especially if kept in the refrigerator.  This is definitely one of my all-time favorite chile peppers!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Early Review of Baker Creek Feher Ozon Paprika pepper

This was the first pepper I used this season.  After great germination, I now have more of these in my GH and garden than any other.  I started picking them while still light in color.

  • Early germination and rapid growth
  • Quick to flower
  • Short, stocky, sturdy plants
  • Good for container gardening
  • Prolific for their size (5-8 large pods in 1st wave)
  • Pods are upright and thick-walled
  • Amazing, powerful aroma and green bell flavor even when immature
  • No heat so far
  • Perfect in any recipe that calls for green bells
  • Very pale in color (not a problem as long as color isn't important to presentation)
  • Good for stuffing and general cooking needs

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chinese Red Noodle Bean Recipe

Here is a great way to use those giant noodle beans.  A great side with grilled meat or fish.  I had some tatume squash that grew back from last year, so I threw it in with some onions and some home-made chimichurri.  Delicious!

Serves 2:
1Tbl Olive Oil
1/2 cup onions, sliced
5-6 noodle beans, cut into 3" pieces
1 small summer squash, 1" dice
1/4 c. white wine
2T. chimichurri sauce (optional)

Heat oil in medium-hot pan, saute onions for 3 minutes or until clear.  Add beans and saute for another 3 minutes,  Add wine and squash, cover and cook 3 minutes.  Add chimichurri, stir, then serve.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review of Annie's Black Cherry Tomato

These plants are extremely prolific and the flavor is intense!  Sweet and super-acidic, you should like really bold flavors (think olives and curry) in order to enjoy these.  They can easily overpower anything you add them to.  I halved them and threw a handful in a light garlic sauce for shrimp and pasta and they added the perfect amount of acidy.  Definitely a must-try if you want to learn how much flavor a little cherry tomato can pack!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The $400 patio!

I am proud of this job.  Recycled brick pavers and a lot of lifting got this job done in a little under 2 weeks!

Used patio pavers: $100
Stone and sand: $100
Compactor rental: $50
Polymeric sand: $65
Mulch and miscellaneous: $25
Gas to haul everything: $60

The best part about the used bricks is that there were already many cut pieces from the previous patio.  I was able to find all the irregular shapes I needed and didn't need to rent a saw!

Step 1:  8 inches of stone base. Do it if you want the patio to last several winters. Our 12x16 layout required about 8 tons of 2A modified, which is 3/4" stone mixed with stone dust for good compaction.  That was 8 trips to the quarry in the pickup truck.  A lot of shoveling, raking and tamping to get it level, but only cost $10 per ton. If you can get a delivery truck to drop it right on your site, pay the extra for delivery and save 8 hours of work!

 I removed about 5" of topsoil and grass to fit the stone to the level I wanted.  I liked that because it meant I could build up flower beds in other places around my property.

Step 2: Find two straight bars of some sort that won't bend and about 1" high to use as levelers and a screed for the top coat of sand.  I used two shelving brackets that worked reasonably well. The screed was a piece of angle steel.  Many people use strong pipes for levelers and a straight wooden screed.  I just used what was laying around.

Step 3: Buy leveling sand (the quarry had "DEP sand" for $15 a ton.  I only needed one ton for my 12x16 irregular, but it was close.  I had very little left over.  Work in small patches and start laying in your pavers.  You want to be very careful with your measurements at the beginning so it doesn't throw everything off at the end.  Run lines, snap chalk lines, and measure constantly if you want everything to be perfectly straight.

Step 4: Keep going!  It is monotonous and heavy work, especially on 90-degree July days, but it's worth it! Lay the leveler, check for level, screed the sand, lay the brick, repeat.

Step 5: Edging.  I like to come up with  a non-commercial product that will work just as well.  Since I didn't need any curves, I figured a straight piece of composite decking would work. It's tough, easy to work with, and impervious to rot. I am lucky to have a used building supply house nearby that sold me a 20-footer for $12 plus another $12 for spikes to hold it in place.  $24 is much better than $75 for a "professional" edging kit. I ripped the 1x6 board into two 1x3s and had my border.

Step 6:  Rent the compactor.  It makes for such a nice, clean, even surface and is worth every penny.

Step 6: Sweep in the polymer-based sand.  We needed 3 buckets at $20 each.  Not an essential step, but it really locks the stones and hardens so it won't wash or blow away. 100 pounds of play sand would be a whole lot cheaper.

Step 7: Landscape as you like and done!

 Now to paint the house!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cheapest DIY Rain Barrel (that works better than most)

So I found a way to build an effective rain collection barrel for around $40.  The advantages to my rain barrel are that it:

  • Harvests every drop of rain until full
  • Won't clog under normal conditions
  • Only needs to be cleaned once a year
  • Does not overflow in a storm
  • Will not interfere with your existing drainage system
  • Easy to install and remove for winter storage
  • Uses standard downspout materials found in any home center

All parts were purchased at the local Ace Hardware store.

I used a trash can (32 gal) for easy cleaning and construction.  A 55 gal blue barrel could be adapted for increased water needs.

1 trash can with lid
2 plastic downspout extenders (accordion style), fitted to the size of your downspout
1 bulkhead fitting (this may be difficult to find at HD or Lowe's, but search Ace or online)
1 boiler drain valve or your choice of hose connection
1 tube silver gutter sealant (much better than silicone for this job)

At first I tried silicone to seal the seams, but it wouldn't stick the the trash can material.  My next move was to try Seamer Mate, found in the roofing/gutter section of home depot.  A full-size caulk tube is not necessary, and you have to throw it away after you open it, so try to find the smaller tube to save some money.

Since using Seamer Mate, I found the Lowe's version.  I can't remember the name, but it's found with the gutters and it comes in a caulk tube.   It's clear and you don't have to throw it away after opening.  Much more economical. This stuff has a million waterproofing uses, and what great adhesion!

Here is a close-up of the bulkhead fitting.  This is essential to keeping water in your barrel!  Notice how the inside is threaded so you can add a drain valve.

The best part about this design is that every drop of rain is directed into the barrel, and once full, all rain goes back into your drainage system.

During winter, the barrel can be removed.  Just take the top accordion and reconnect the two sections of downspout for flawless performance.

If the trash can is too much of an eyesore, you could always build a little house like I did here.  I found some old doors and used them as my walls, with just some planks as a roof.  It doesn't have to keep out water, just hide the barrel from view.  

I put hinges on the front for easy access,

And when the season is over, I just disconnect and store the barrel inside!  

Here is another version that I built using a 275 gallon cube tote tank.  It required some creative use of PVC to fit the outlet, but the design is the same. I used some stockade fence to hide it.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

PV-powered automatic watering system installed

I bought a 12V dc timer and a 15watt dc pump (that moves water nicely!) for an off-grid, automatic watering solution.  Like last year, I used an old hose with holes drilled in it, except the holes didn't line up exactly with this year's crops, but it's working OK. I think the pump and timer ended up costing $30 on Amazon.  They work great!

I changed the hops trellis for easier harvest

Last year I used stainless steel cable for the vines to climb.  My thinking was that they would last forever out in the elements.  What I didn't anticipate was how long it would take to pull the vines off at harvest.

This year I strung up some cotton clothes line.  At the end of the season I will just cut it down and throw it away, then replace next year.
Update 8/26:  The cotton lines worked great.  The vines climbed easily, they held strong and when harvest time came I had them all down and onto the patio in about 10 minutes.  I just cut the lines and hacked the vines at the top with a machete.  

Some greenhouse crops in action

Here is what I have growing today:

Some neck pumpkins

Chinese giant noodle bean

 Assorted chile pappers

A green pepper that is now over 2 feet tall!

Cherry tomatoes are thriving in greenhouse

Once I got the aphids under control, The cherry tomatoes really took off.  The Black Krims (right side) are much more stunted and have no new fruit.  You can see how I have trimmed the lower vines to stay out of the way when I walk under.  I also get rid of new shoots on the lower vine.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Recipe for Thanksgiving Pale Ale

10 gallons
All grain
OG: Unknown ( I broke my hydrometer just before reading) Estimated 1.06
Yeast starter: No
Mash: 60 min at 155
Boil: 60 min

25 lb Breiss 2-row
1lb honey malt
1 lb Crystal 20
1 lb crystal 80
.5 lb Kiln coffee malt
2 oz Warrior whole hops 60 min
2 oz Yakima Magnum pellets 60 min
2 oz Chinook whole 15 min
2 oz Chinook whole 5 min
1 oz Pilgrim pellets dry hop
1 oz Columbus pellets dry hop
Wyeast American Ale 1056

Notice the hop additions are indians and settlers...

After 7-day primary, I took a taste.  Nice hop profile, but light on the malt.  My typical issue.  Maybe use more crystal, maybe do a better sparge...


Monday, May 19, 2014

Aphids! How I am mitigating:

I hate them.  They reproduce like crazy and kill plants fast.  I think these are potato aphids. They have pink bodies and are devastating my tomatoes.

First I tried Bayer insecticidal soap. I emptied the entire spray bottle over the first two days, then the bug population quickly doubled, so I called Bayer for a refund and got some Neem oil from Lowe's.  It was a good bargain (a $10 bottle of concentrate makes about 20 gallons of spray) and appears to be slowly working.  I am spraying like crazy.  I figured I would give my best effort at organic pest control.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Beware of live poultry and SALMONELLA!

If you are currently raising those cute little chicks and ducks as an Easter time tradition, please be careful to avoid contaminating you and your loved ones!  According to my research, salmonella is a naturally occurring bacteria found in fowl, and special care should be taken to avoid infection.  Wash your hands, keep animals and litter away from food preparation areas, and only allow small children to handle chicks under supervision.  For more info visit the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/Features/salmonellababybirds/index.html

Friday, April 18, 2014

Review of 0016BL bike trailer vs Veelar bike trailer

Update May 4:  The Veelar traveled 20 miles this weekend with a 60lb load on smooth gravel and some off-road.  It pulled smoothly.  Very little resistance!

Here is the cargo trailer I bought and kept.  Veelar folding bicycle cargo trailer:

And below is the one I bought and promptly returned. 0016BL bicycle trailer.

Here's the review:  Although these two trailers are practically identical when looking at the pics, they have some pretty important differences.

I originally bought the 0016BL for one reason.  The most important factor to me was the claimed 180lb. cargo load rating.  The Veelar only has a 100# rating.

As it turned out, I believe the Veelar could be modified easily to carry more weight.

The 0016BL has many cons:
  • Difficult assembly/breakdown.  Removing/installing the wheels is more difficult than the Veelar due to poor design.
  • Inferior hitch system.
  • Uni-directional tires
  • Fork wheel mounting system is less efficient than Veelar.  The wheels slide in horizontally.
  • The one I bought was defective.  The wheel mount welds were in the wrong place, causing the tire to rub against the frame.
The Veelar has many pros:
  • Easy assembly/breakdown.  Wheel fork mounts are more convenient (vertical)and appear to be stronger than the 0016
  • Better hitch system
  • Better tires
  • The deck is plastic and therefore more resistant to scratching/water.  The 0016 deck will rust quickly with regular use.
  •  The deck can be removed.  It is held on by stainless screws and could be reinforced with a plywood deck or even sheet metal.
  • The rack system assembles tightly for less annoying rattling.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A good link for info on basic hops varieties

Covers some of the most popular hops out there.  The list is short, with only 10 or so varieties, but that's a good thing if you have ever fallen asleep while studying hops characteristics.  I have!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Moving tomatoes and peppers to greenhouse, everything growing nicely!

Here are some pics of the greens I have growing right now:

Iceberg in center, romaine at perimeter

Turnips and kale

Strawberries have started to flower.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

First round of greens are planted

I would have had them in sooner, but I had no compost and had to wait for the snow to melt and the ground to thaw.  I have to remember that for next year.  Add compost before freeze-up, or at least store it inside!

Anyway, I have a bed of garlic from last year that started to sprout a week ago.

Leeks and onions from Feb. are starting to move.

I just transplanted some verde invierno lettuce, Parris Island Cos romaine, Iceberg lettuce and some turnips.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Victron charge controller seems to be doing the job!

As you may have read, I purchased the Victron 70/15 MPPT controller to charge my battery and run the components.  

After a couple of weeks of testing, it appears to charge the battery each day to about 14.1V, then floats until the next morning.  The 1.3 amp dc pump stays on all day, but does not pull too much energy so that the controller shuts it off. I have the controller set to Battery Life Algorithm, which optimizes performance to keep the battery healthy.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Surviving the elimination diet: apricot chicken, sweet potatoes and asparagus

We have found little in the way of recipes for a allergen elimination diet.  After a few days, we are desperate to start eating well.  The one saving grace is bacon!  It is the only fat allowed.

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 T. bacon fat
1 T. pure maple syrup
1/2 t. salt

Stir together ingredients in a large baking pan.  Bake in 400 degree oven for 30-40 min until desired tenderness.

Apricot/peach compote:

1 fresh or frozen peach, sliced
1/4 c. dried peaches
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup water
1 T. white vinegar
1 t. sugar
1 pinch salt

Cook over medium heat until fruit is soft and tender and juice has reduced to syrup.  Chop if desired.

2 chicken breasts
1 T. bacon grease
pinch salt

Cook chicken in bacon grease until done.  Top with compote.

Asparagus, whole
1 T. bacon grease
1/4 c. water
pinch salt

Heat grease in pan to medium-hot.  Add asparagus  and toss for 5 minutes.  Add water and cover then steam for five minutes until water is gone.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Schwartzbier recipe:

13 gallon primary
12.5 gallon secondary
og 1.064

12 lb Munich
10 lb Pilsner
1 lb Crystal 60L
1 lb Biscuit
.5 Carafa II dehusked
2 oz Hallertau FW
1 oz Magnum 60 min
1 oz Hallertau 15 min
Wyeast 2205 Bavarian lager
1 lb dark DME for yeast starter
1 gallon yeast starter, made the day before: boil 1 gallon water with DME for 15 minutes.  Chill quickly to 75 and pitch yeast.  Add equal amounts to two half-gallon growlers, add stoppers and air locks and ferment overnight at room temp.

20 min 130
Add boiling water to 135
20 min 135
Pull 1 gallon decoction boil then return
20 min 140
pull 1 gal decoction boil then return
20 min 145
pull 1 gal decoction boil then return
20 min 150
pull 1 gal decoction boil then return
1 hour 155
3 batches of 3 gal each 180 deg water, stir well, rest 30 min, drain to brew kettle
Continue sparging until brew kettle reaches 14 gallon.
60 min, follow hops addition above.
Chill to 75, pitch yeast starter.
Ferment 14 days at 45 deg.
Rack to secondary and continue cold ferment for one month.
Bottle, rest at room temp for one week, then return to cold storage.

Update 1/27/15:  Nearly a year later, I cracked one of these babies for a taste.  What a great beer.  It definitely fits the Schwarzbier profile but has a very strong malt aroma and flavor, thanks to the Bavarian yeast.  It is delicious for people who like dunkles, but you may want to use a Pilsen yeast.  The carbonation did get a little high after about 6 months, so make sure you measure carefully on a scale if you plan to age!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The dome is officially off-grid!

Note updates below!

3/2/14:Today is a very big day for me.  After 3 years of planning and 2 years of building, I have unplugged the extension cord and my greenhouse is running off 100% solar energy. Inside I have a subterranean air exchange fan, pond pumps (soon to be automatic watering system) and greenhouse fan that are now PV-powered with nighttime battery storage to run the pumps.

Shown here is the charge controller, fuse panel and battery that I have inside the greenhouse.  Yes, I used a truck box because it was laying around and it is waterproof!
The "cabinet" with plywood mount for electroinics.

Deep cycle marine battery I bought at Sam's for $82.  If I need another I should have room.

I found the Victron MPPT charger to be a bargain at $104.  So far it is charging nicely.  The fuse panel is made for a boat and I think I found it on eBay.  Should keep dampness at a minimum.

The school bus fan was a nice find at Auto Zone for $15 and it only draws one amp.  I cut off the cigarette lighter plug and wired it into the fuse panel.

The black hose into the filter is fed by a 1.3amp dc pump (submerged, lower-right) I found on Amazon. It was fairly cheap, claims 30000 hour life and moves about 3 gallons per minute.  I left the AC pump attached with a series of valves in case of failure, but it is officially off.

Update 3/16: Pump has been running constantly and pulling very little charge from battery.  After just a few hours of bright sun each morning the battery is back up to full voltage and the charge controller starts floating. 

Update 4/21/14: The pump has not shut off yet. Battery maintains approx. 14.1V charge constantly.  Very nice!

Update 6/30: I bought a 12V dc timer and added another 15watt dc pump (that moves water nicely, if you were wondering!) for an off-grid, automatic watering solution.  Like last year, I used an old hose with holes drilled in it, except the holes didn't line up exactly with this year's crops, but it's working OK. I think the pump and timer ended up costing $30 on Amazon.  They work great!

Update 11/24/14:  The pump shut off today!  Maybe it was because the PV panels were blocked by snow on the lower half for 4 days.  Anyway I cleared the snow and the pump came back on when the sun came out.
Update 3/10/15:  The pump never shut off again. It was a very snowy winter, but I just went out after a storm and cleared the snow from the panels.  Everything is running perfectly!
Update 4/25/15;  Check out my new drip irrigation system that runs off the white timer above!