January 26, 2009

Asparagus anyone?

The asparagus plants look nice over winter and I'm eager for the first harvest this spring. Year before last we finally gave up on trying to keep the backyard looking good and put in quite a few raised beds. Asparagus, strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, greens, cucumbers, squash etc... are much tastier than a lawn!

January 25, 2009

Relaxing by the campfire

It's one degree out and I just got home from working the night shift. However, for some reason it seemed like a good idea to trek into the yard and look around before going to sleep. I went back in the house after 15 minutes with warm memories from last summer and cold fingers. Last year my husband put together this fire pit and we really had a lot of fun with it. This year I am hoping that he will find some interesting plans for making a garden bench. He would like to do more work with stone and brick and I am more than happy to encourage him to keep building things for the garden.

January 17, 2009

Homemade Wine

I started this blog to write about my garden. However, since garden news is scarce this time of year, I’ll tell about our main winter garden related activity which is winemaking. We can’t yet supply enough winemaking ingredients from our garden so we have also benefited from fruit shared by friends. Plums, raspberries, elderberries, apples, ground cherries and pears are some of the freebies that have become wine. We haven’t made a lot and often only do 1-2 gallon batches. Just enough to sip a little and give the rest to friends and family.

Denim clad wine? The wine (called must at that point) starts its life in a primary fermenter (plastic bucket) and later goes into the secondary (we use one gallon glass jugs) and is fitted with airlocks. We cover these bottles to protect the color of the wine. My Mom made these “denim jackets”. They protect the color and look kinda cute too.

January 16, 2009

Warm thoughts on a cold night

It is -19 degrees and getting colder out. I'm going to take a break from homework and look over my garden catalogs. My main criteria when shopping for seeds and plants are: will hummingbirds be attracted to it, can we eat it or will it make good wine?

Speaking of good wine. We took a sample of the Red Currant Strawberry from the primary fermenter tonight and it has very nice flavor. Now it will go through the usual stage where it doesn't taste very good. Then it starts to get better and better until we finish with a pretty good wine. Even though we know this, we always get discouraged as it gets a "rough flavor" before it ages a bit. Maybe winemaking will help me to learn to be patient!

January 14, 2009

Backyard cardinal

With all the snow on the ground, it is nice to enjoy some winter color. I wish I could claim to have taken this photo but the credit goes to my nephew Andrew. His patience paid off with some very nice photos in my parents yard.

Better with age

We started two new batches of wine tonight. I am especially looking forward to the red currant strawberry wine in about a year or so. We grew the currants and like to use things from our gardens for wine whenever possible. Over Christmas we enjoyed sampling three of our wines that have been aging for two years or more. The coffee wine tasted like sherry although I liked it better than my husband did. The "Christmas Wine" is a mix of whatever we had around the house when we made it on Christmas day and didn't want to run to the store when we didn't have enough fruit, juices or white sugar. Although I don't recommend that method, it was good. It is made with cherry juice and a mix of other fruit. The third wine was habanero which was better than you might think. Aging has given it a mellow, smooth flavor that finishes with a little heat. Not all of our wines are unusual but we have made some quirky ones and they have often been my favorites.

January 1, 2009

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