My First Ferment

This has been something I have both feared and looked forward to learning the mysteries of, fermentation. I’m impressed with the magical way it unlocks nutrients in food. Making them more readily absorbed.

An article on pro-biotic capsules not being as effective as once thought made me think I’d have to “whole food” this myself. After the mass doses of antibiotics given after cutting myself in the garden (My toes have healed wonderfully. Wear proper shoes please.) I knew it was time. Still being chicken I bought a jar of fermented kimchi, and noticed my digestion was better. 2 jars later I knew it was time to try.

Walking home from the farmers market I had everything I needed except the crock to ferment in. Sort of backwards I know. Luck would have it I had a wide selection of suitable containers at a local 2nd hand shop. A few of the crocks were to large, and heavy for me. I picked a large crock from clearance for 6.00, a smaller one for 10.00, and a wonderful shaped cookie jar that will work nicely as well for 12.00. A steal of a price on each one compared to new. You have to inspect them well for chips and cracks for safety.

I used the sauerkraut directions from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz loaned to me by an old friend. Fueled by his encouragement, and Sandor’s directions to play with the ingredients I got started. 5 lb shredded veg and 3 tablespoons sea salt. I may have been a little short on veg, about 4 quarts in my large mixing bowl, I still used the 3 tablespoons of salt.

I finely shredded the cabbage after cutting the hearts out. Tossed a few handfuls orange, and yellow carrots in the food processor to grate, sliced some onions and 1 small chili from my garden tossed it all together and jammed it into my lovely new to me crock. I packed it down with the plastic tamper from my vitamix, helping express their juices to make a nice brine with the salt. Used the lid of a pyrex dish fitting perfectly inside the crock to hold the veggies under the brine. Added a glass jar full of water on to top to weight it down, and covered the whole thing with a cloth bag to keep any bugs out.

Now I wait a few days till it starts bubbling, skim the bloom off the top, I’ll know my unseen allies are hard at work. A week later it’s tasting time! You can leave it to ferment longer than a week, and the flavor deepens I’ve read. Can’t wait to test my new project!

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Time to Plant?

The heat wave broke, we had a whole day of rain and cool breezes. It was amazing to wake to the sound of rain in puddles, it had been so long I forgot the sound of puddles. I started going through my seeds for a second planting for a late fall harvest and greens to last all winter. I’m reading the drought will be felt the strongest outside the US. I’m going to do my part so it’s not felt at my house. The next day was cool, with dark clouds headed our way. We dashed off to plant before the rain came.

I planted 3 rows of early beets, carrots, 2 kinds of lettuce, broccoli, bok choy, 2 rows of walking onion sets, rainbow chard, and transplanted 2 rows of kale sprouts. The kale is a winter hardy verity called Red Siberian. I harvested kale all last winter, the mature root stock has the very first of springs greens. So I know I’ll have plenty for my neighbors (you won’t get tired of chewing greens if you make soup ;))

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10 Week Pictures

I’m home from vacation (oops a few weeks ago), and so thankful I had a babysitter for the garden. It’s been so hot and dry all across the country. Driving from MI to MO you can see the corn crops are in big trouble, looking like they need a week of rain. The soy is dry, but looks like it would bounce back with 1 good rain I’m told. The news showed cattle ranchers selling some livestock because the cost of corn feed was going up. And the Mississippi river is low, causing concern over barge traffic being able to navigate.

So I guess I’m right on par with the rest of the gardeners who didn’t water every day. My beans were crippled by the heat, like most of the gardeners I’ve talked to. I’m going to focus on what can be the good news. I got to teach my kid about saving seed, we picked a ton of chard seeds. Collard green seeds are easier to harvest rolling a few pods together, same for kale and bok choy. My kitchen till smells like the dill and holy basil seeds, I’m going to make pickles even if I have to buy the cuc’s at the farmers market.

The potatoes in the container on the patio are growing like crazy. The fairy garden is so over grown with rock roses it will need a trim.

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8th Week Photo’s

Wow the summer’s been going full blast, I’m  running around with 2 little girls having a ton of fun. I’ve over loaded my mac, it’s running so slow I can’t stand it!

I think my cabbage is getting a chance to grow back with the neighbors kitty hanging out. It’s been hot and dry, even the farmers at the market mentioned it was taking a toll. I’ll come back from vacation next week and focus on a second planting. Get my fall crops planed.

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Fairy Garden

Every time we go camping the girls make a Fairy Alter, a precise lay out of moss, pine cones, feathers, any lovely bit we find is a candidate. So when I washed ashore on The Magic Onion’s Fairy Garden Contest I was more than delighted.

Were going to build some fairy furniture, that will be a fun project with my girly.

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5th Week Pictures

Summer has run away with us, I’m a few weeks behind in posting pictures. But we’ve been having sooo much fun! I hope you have too.

We’ve had a wonderful few days walking down to water the garden & catch fireflies. My injured foot is healed enough to get back to work in the garden, with proper shoes of course. I have the last bit of planting to do. Quick turn last years lasagna gardens, for late squash & watermelons.

I’d read about fermented nettle tea as a fertilizer, and had some in the tea herbs and thought I’d make my own. I haven’t fermented anything on purpose till this. I added about 1 tablespoon of dried nettles, and a good pinch of dried raspberry leaves for calcium, poured about 2 cups of hot water over it and caped the jar. I shook it every day to mix it up, and opened the lid to check if it had fermented yet. I knew if started when the lid popped when opening it the 3rd day. I let it sit a another 2 days to really get it working, letting the pressure out each day. I then diluted it to make 2 watering cans full, and watered all the garden babies.

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Homemade Laundry Soap!

I went to drop some laundry in the machine when I remembered I’d run out of soap. I’d made the last batch 9 weeks ago, at 3 or 4 loads a week, so somewhere between 27 & 36 washings a batch. My investment of about 12.50 is the base of my laundry cost for the year. That’s 5 1/2 batches, and I think they will be that many cups washing soda & Borax per box. All I’ll need to buy is 2 bars of soap every 9 weeks. That’s about 35.55 a year total.

I use half a bar of Fels Napatha, and am trying Kirk’s Coco Castile bar soap for the second. A friend uses it and said she doesn’t need a fabric softener it’s so nice.

The catch is you need to add it to the water & hand agate before adding clothes. And you’ll need to pretreat your stains. I rub them with cold water & dish soap as soon as possible.

I think the cost, lack of chemicals, and voting with my dollar is worth the 15 minutes it takes to make it. You can find the supplies in the laundry aisle, grouped together.

Happy Washing!

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