Sunday, January 29, 2012

Is is a Science Experiement?

 Well, I returned late last night from our 'time away' & thought it would take a few days to get back into the swing of things around the house.

My husband went into the office & called me down to take a look at my pear wine.

It looks like I'm conducting some sort of Weird Science experiment!!

Before we left for our 'time away', we unplugged the heating belt & I'm pretty sure the room heater was down so the room itself would have been pretty cool (5 degrees Celsius?) [yes, I know, the glass carboy should not have a heating belt on it]

 There is still action going on - bubbles at the top of know, I don't even know what to call that stuff that's in there!!

I'm wondering if this reaction is due to the cool temperatures? We have the baseboard heater turned up now that we are back home.

I'm also wondering if this reaction is due to the corn sugar I used for this batch. I've never used just corn sugar when making wine & it was a matter of timing, ingredients on hand & the opportunity to experiment that caused me to try it.

 The carboy looks like I'm preserving some sort of strange creature - isn't this what formaldehyde looks like?

The liquid is nice & clear - one of the clearest I've ever had & I really want to siphon out the liquid into a clean carboy. I dare not move the carboy til I find out if I can do this, but it's not really situated in a very good spot to work with - it's on the laminate floor in the office...
The mass inside looks pretty solid - almost like soggy bread. I took the air lock off to smell the contents, but there wasn't any mal-odours emanating from inside, so I stoppered it back up again.

If anyone has any suggestions or ideas I would love to hear them! I really don't want to dump out the whole batch - pear wine is so wonderful once it's aged.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Winter Up's & Down's

 I'm heading out & away from the dreary, gray, wet West Coast in search of sunshine for a few weeks. Thought it would be a good time to quickly check on where a few things are at in my green but soggy world.

The greenhouse radishes - a fun little thing I tried this autumn - has now entered it's next stage. I walked into the greenhouse the other day & was met with quite a stench. Have you ever been in an agricultural area that uses radishes or some other green cover on their fields? When it starts to rot - en mass - it's quite powerful. Well, my little bed of greens was starting to rot & starting to smell, so I thought it best that while I'm away, I help it out.

I turned under the whole lot & nary a radish bulb did I find. But the greens will decompose over the next short months & make the bed ready for planting again.

I have quite a few houseplants - most of them are succulents & it's a good thing. I neglect these plants more than the ones that grow outside! But they tend to be very forgiving - for the most part. And I tend to be very lazy in my care of them.

The spider plants were plopped outside overnight a week or 2 ago to get some much needed watering & dusting. The weather rarely gets below freezing right now, so I wasn't worried about frost bite. But they got hit with a brief shower of hail the following morning. Go figure. I hung them back up & for over a week I was looking at these pathetic, limp, blemished & DYING plants!

Great - I had hoped they were going to last at least until February or March when I will be revitalizing ALL my houseplants with fresh potting soil & cleaned pots. Well, I had one more ace up my sleeve.

This time when I watered them (soaked them in my sink) I gave them some fertilizer....

Yeah, it's as simple as that & sometimes I forget.

They still look really sad, but almost overnight they bounced back up & instead of hanging limply over the side of the container, they are now a bit more bushy.

Hopefully they'll be fine for the next 3 weeks & hopefully I'll be able to bring home some houseplant potting soil so I can perform a little houseplant operation. I plan on reducing the size of the plant by 3/4s - they are really pot bound & since they grow so quickly, I won't mind having small plants for the first year.

My tomato houseplant is now finished. I ran out of time to see if the fruit would ripen on the plant! So I carefully pulled the plant out of my snake plant pot & I've got an unripe tomato to cart around with me. I'm not sure how the airport security will feel about me bringing a tomato with me, but I really want to see if it will ripen on our journey & what it will taste like.

My husband brought home a couple of tomatoes a few weeks ago that looked like aliens. Wish I had taken a photo - they were so scary looking! I don't care that they were 'free' - hard as rock, pale red & after sitting on the counter for only 2 days, they rotted. I chucked them out into one of my veggie beds & the birds wouldn't even eat them!

So, I'm looking forward to see what happens with this little gem. It was fun having a tomato indoors for the winter. I might try it again next year - maybe add a few annual herbs that I miss so much during these dark days...

Well, maybe I'll find some things to talk about while on my journey to the other side of the continent - yup, down to Florida & then back up to Alberta. I'm chasing sunshine now...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Slowly Emerging from Hibernation

Well, Christmas & New Year's just flew by & today is a typical stormy January day on the West Coast. Actually, it's really ugly - am counting down the hours til the power goes out! I almost wish I hadn't bothered to get out of bed, but one thing has been making me excited for each new day. My West Coast Seeds catalogue arrived in the mail right around Christmas time & it is giving me that little nudge to start thinking about my garden plans for this year.

Speaking of 'plans' - I seem to make all these glorious 'plans' & then have them not be realized later on in the year. I won't say they fail, because there are great successes each year. I shouldn't say I reach for too much, because what is life without a few challenges. But I do seem to find that at the end of each year, I have to take stock of what I want to accomplish & what I actually do accomplish.

Each New Year, I find myself facing an attitude adjustment when it comes to my gardens. I just re-read some of my 2011 Garden Plan posts (here and here) and I can see where some things may have gone wrong.

1) I planned too much - too much on paper, too much to plan & too much to tend. I know I tend to have the idea that the more variety, the better & if I throw 100 things in, at least 10 or 20 are bound to survive...

Too much.

2) Also, it was a wet spring & I think I took the rain covers off the raised beds too soon.

3) I also took a giant step back from my gardens. I realize that I have an obsessive & addictive personality & I saw last year that there really wasn't all that noticeable a difference in my gardens from obsessively weeding it to practical neglect. Yes, I forced myself to NOT weed last summer. It was actually depressing that I didn't need to weed as much as I thought I had to. But that's one less stressful thing to worry about in the busy days of summer. I will see how it works again this year - will be interesting to see what pops up where!

4) But there were other great things that worked out too: the water collection barrels did marvelous, I harvested potatoes that last right through Christmas, the lettuce I could barely keep up with there was so much & the herbs were amazingly prolific.

So, I'm going to brew up another cup of tea & sort through what's left from last year's seed purchase & put in another order! I can't wait to get my hands dirty again soon!