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!