[Welcome, Eschatonians! --lambert]
Those of you who have followed my series on home winemaking have read about my Red Currant wine. This year I entered it into the Indiana State Fair International Wine Competition, the first time I've entered any of my wines in competition. And I'm pleased to announce that it won a Silver Medal!
My flood-delayed garden is limping along, and the tomatoes are finally at the point where they need some support. I’ve used commercial cages in the past but had found them wanting, especially the inverted cone baskets you commonly see. A vigorous and productive tomato plant will overwhelm and take those wimpy things to the ground. A more heavy-duty solution was in order.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, this series has been on hiatus for a while. The flooding in the Midwest included the river behind my house, and while fortunately, I had no major water problems in my home, my backyard was a soggy mess. Even after the water receded and a week of dry weather, the ground was still too wet to work. The maple seeds however, found the environment much to their liking.
It’s been a cold, wet spring in Wisconsin and I’ve been busy with my land in Missouri, so my garden planting is far from finished. But that’s given the plants started indoors ample time for hardening off in preparation for setting into their final destination.
In the Spring, your skin needs time to acclimate to being exposed to bright sunlight, and your plants do too. Getting plants accustomed to outdoor conditions is called hardening off, and it’s very important to follow this step or all of your efforts getting your plants started will be for naught. Read more about Seed Starting Pt. 5 – Hardening Off
It was a wet, cold day here, a good time fill the house with warmth and aromas from the kitchen. I had green salad on the menu for tonight's dinner and was out of croutons, so it was time to make another batch.
I make my own croutons, and my favorite raw material is bagels. A 1 pound bag of day-old bagels are cheap, crisp up nicely, and have a great flavor when toasted. Here's the recipe I've developed for these croutons. Read more about Sunday Afternoon in the Kitchen
As your seedlings sprout in your flats, the first greens to appear are the “seed leaves” or cotyledons. They produce food for the plant as it begins to grow true leaves and are usually distinctly different in appearance from the plant’s leaves. If you are starting your seeds in flats, once the second set of true leaves start to appear it’s time to begin potting up – transplanting your seedlings from the flats into individual containers or cells of multi-packs.
Once you have a place to start your seeds you of course will need a growing medium and some type of container to put them in. Containers of all kinds are available, and just about anything can be used from milk cartons to egg cartons to purpose-made seeding flats as long as they meet a few criteria. They must be deep enough and sturdy enough to hold 2-3” of growing medium, they must be able to hold up to being wet, and they must provide adequate drainage. I use commercially made plastic seed flats as they are inexpensive, a convenient size, and easy to use and keep clean. Read more about Seed Starting Pt. 3 – Seeding In
The first thing you’ll need when starting seeds is a suitable place to do it. In order to start seed successfully, you must meet the environmental requirements for initial germination and subsequent growth of the plants until they reach the stage when they are ready for transplanting. A well designed rack or other area will meet the needs of correct temperature to start germination, and sufficient light and space to stimulate healthy growth.
Those of you who have read my previous posts know that in addition to an avid winemaker, I am a lifelong gardener. In Wisconsin, like many parts of the country, the only way to grow many types of vegetables and flowers is by setting out plants started earlier in the season from cuttings or seeds. I start most of my own plants in a seed starting rack I’ve built in my basement. This series will step you through the basics of starting plants from seed and setting them out into your garden. Read more about Seed Starting Pt. 1 – Why Start Seeds?
I decided to hold off on posting until after the big primaries yesterday, so now it's time for a change of topic. Whether making your own wine or buying in bulk, you need to consider the needs of the wine if you're going to hold it for any significant length of time. And how long should you hold it?
For Winemaking 101 Pts. 1-6, see these previous posts. Read more about Winemaking 101 Pt. 7 - Storage and Aging
A day like today when the temperature struggles to reach O (and fails!), is a good day to add some finishing touches to your bottled wine. These additions certainly aren't necessary, but add a lot of visual appeal and show a sense of pride in your accomplishment.
For earlier posts on winemaking, see these posts Read more about Winemaking 101 Pt. 6 - Final Touches
I recently bottled the Currant wine I had in the works, so there were some carboys emptied and available for the next round of winemaking. I had 30 lbs. of wild grapes that I had collected last fall and had frozen for future fermenting, so it was time to get them thawed and put to work.
30 lbs of Vitis Riparia ready for fermenting Read more about Ready for the Crush