Saturday, December 24, 2011

Progress on the House This Season

I made a fair bit of progress this year on the house.  The first part of the season was taken up by gardening and tending the grapes, so I wasn't able to start working on the house until about June, when I started by finishing the last section of earthen floor.  Last year I wasn't able to finish the section of floor under the batteries below the stairs, so I moved the batteries and finally finished that section.  Finishing this section was key to being able to continue the interior construction of the bathroom, which was to be tucked under the stairs.

Another project I worked on fairly early in the season was doing the fascia and soffit and the shingling on the gable ends.  The scaffold had been set up all winter and I was anxious to get it out of the way so I could see the house.  It was a while before I could move it though.  But I'm really pleased with how everything turned out.  I did this fishscale design with the wooden shakes.  It wasn't that hard to shape each piece of wood and nail it in place, and it added a lot of character to the house.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gathering Food

It's been a while since I last posted something here, so I'll probably just try to do some posts bit by bit to describe the busy season I've had raising veggies, tending the vineyard, and finishing building my house. Fortunately I've been taking pictures, so there is some record of what I've been doing. I just haven't taken the time to update the blog this season. I wish I could be as prolific in my blog posts as Ziggy.

This season, there was a bounty from the garden in many ways.  Because I end up with so much of some crops I try to come up with ways to preserve what I can't eat right away so I can extend the bounty through the rest of the year.  Not so long ago, before the advent of refrigeration, everyone grew their own food and knew special ways of preserving it for the rest of the year.    Pickling in brine was a great way of keeping veggies edible for the winter and inspired so many delicious new foods.  These foods were fermented like saurkraut and could be stored without refrigeration in a cellar for many months.  One pickle that I like to make is the Korean kimchi, which is made with Chinese cabbage or radish, scallions, really hot peppers, and if desired, small fish like anchovies.  I like hot pickles and one of my favorites is a hot pickle mix of cucumbers, carrots, and hot peppers.  In this pickle everything becomes infused with the heat of the peppers adding a kick to the cukes and carrots.  This was a good year in the hoop house for pickling cukes, so I made a big batch of hot pickle mix.

Looking Back on the Season

This season I've finally been able to focus more on generating some income. My house being livable as of last fall, I've put the finishing touches on hold for most of the season so that I could devote more time to market gardening. The hoop house project has gone really well this season and has brought some more positive cash flow to my bookkeeping. Also, since I'm no longer in Wisteria Lodge, I've been able to rent it out to others and begin making money off my investment. This focus on money is mostly out of necessity since I've been only spending money since coming to DR. But it was all an investment in having a place to live, and in a future means of providing for myself. And although I say “making money”, using our Elms local currency a lot of my income actually comes from barter.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More hoop house pictures. We've gotten some more sunny days lately and everything started growing a lot.



Bull's Blood Beet


Below is some stir fry I made with fresh mizuna and pac choi from the hoop house. Below that is one of the salads I've been enjoying with my homemade organic raw milk feta cheese.

I took some cutting of my grape vines last fall and now I'm rooting them in buckets. If you put them in soil in a warm place, they will send out shoots and make their own roots.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's been a while since I wrote here. I've been getting little projects accomplished over the winter, but mostly doing research and preparation for the season. Obviously, the hoop house has been something I've been able to work on even in the cold weather. I was out digging up the beds in January and February. Even through the blizzard, during which by the way no snow accumulated on top of the hoop house because of the strong winds, I was able to continue working in the soil.

I've been keeping track of lows and highs in there all winter and the lowest temp recorded was I think around 4 degrees, but that was without using the row cover, a thin plastic fabric, which insulates the soil and keeps a warmer microclimate underneath. Once I'd planted, first small test beds in late January and then the first plantings of most crops in mid-February, I used row cover to add another layer over the beds to hold heat from the soil in overnight. During the sunny days I would roll back the row cover so the plants could get heat and sunlight.