ANSWERS FROM THE URBAN HOMESTEAD – Part II


Q & A – Homebrews

Q. What a great garden. I have been reading your posts and going over your site for the past year and you have given me much encouragement here in Nova Scotia, Canada to make raised beds and grow my own garden and plant some raspberries and strawberries. I see you made homemade grape wine with your own grapes. Is there anyway that you can post directions on how to do this? You people are my inspiration.

A. Thanks for the positive comments.  Glad to be of inspiration, I see you are growing your own which is wonderful.    Homemade wine is actually not that hard to make.
http://www.easy-wine.net/how-to-make-homemade-wine-step-by-step.htm Q. Would you please share your elderberry wine recipe?A. You can find different variations online here’s one:http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/reques30.asp
 

Q & A – Soil Health

Q. Why no horse manure?

A. Back in the 1990’s when we started out we would visit a local horse stable and bring home barrels and garbage cans full of manure which help us build up the hardpan lifeless soil. In 2003-2004 we had a few loads of horse manure/bedding delivered from a local source but as we developed the urban homestead to be more productive, we eventually ran out of space to store it while it cured/cooled time. Also since the horse manure and bedding was fresh & hot it did attract quite a few flies.   In addition, in a conversation a few years back with another gardener who wondered aloud if horses given antibiotic laden feed and shots — would the manure be good to use.   Good question. We rather rely on more organic sources and our very own animals.

Q. Would appreciate a more in depth explanation of steps you take to maintain soil fertility; what else besides rock dust? Or do you use only compost and rock dust?

A. This year, we are weaning ourselves off organic NPK fertilizers.   We use a no till method of planting, mulch heavily and build up the soil from our animal enclosure which is rich in manure and compost.    Back in the 1990’s we brought in loads of tree mulch and over time built up our soil – so much so that we are now nearly a foot higher than our neighbors!   We are going up in the world so to speaking, taking care of the soil beneath our feet.    Just like a person takes care their health so it is here on the urban homestead taking care of our soil health. Healthy soil = healthy plants and that’s the key to keeping pest and disease away.

Q & A – Jammin’

Q. I am curious about your jam recipes. Do you use sugar or honey? And do you buy commercial pectin? I have been trying different combinations of sugar and honey, pectin, no pectin. Can one make homemade pectin, I wonder?

A. I would prefer using honey, but because of the cost (and until our honey crop comes in!) instead make low-sugar jam with raw organic sugar. A few of the jam recipes I use don’t require pectin.   You can, however, make your own pectin.
http://www.wildflowers-and-weeds.com/The_Forager/pectin.htm (making your own pectin)
http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can7_jam_jelly.html (recipes without pectin)

:: Appreciation :: to field hands, LE & GM $10.00 donation.

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  1. chris brandow says:

    with all of the heavy mulching that you do, have you noticed any explosion in your pillbug/sowbug population? Mine are generally out of control and will decimate many seedlings as they are just breaking ground, especially beans, curcurbits and carrots. this is definitely not slugs.

  2. Mike says:

    On Horse Manure: I use a lot of it myself; I get it by the pickup-load from stables just a few km down the road. For them its a problem, for me its a goldmine. I return the favour by dropping off some surplus veggies every so often.

    I don’t believe that antibiotics and dips are a problem at all, since, like you describe, the stable-sweepings get hot composted. In fact its hard not to hot compost fresh horse manure/urine/wood-shavings 🙂 Temperatures get up to 70C for about 5 days! No antibiotics or other medications are going to survive that cooking, so I really think its no worry.

  3. Laurie says:

    Winemaking has been one of my favorite hobbies for over 10 years.

    I have stopped using the artificial ingredients that are listed as “essential” components in most recipes, and make healthier substitutions (that I can get closer to home) instead. Campden tablets (sulfites) aren’t necessary if you keep every thing very clean and sanitary. Instead of acid blend (extracted citric acid) I use fresh citrus to adjust pH. Instead of yeast nutrient (extracted grape sugar) I throw a handful of raisins into each batch. As for tannins…my fruit usually has enough in it already. Pectic enzymes are used for clearing the haze that some fruit makes in wine…many fruits don’t have enough pectin to produce this problem, and there are other clarifiers that work better if haziness is an issue.

    Just like any other “cooks”, winemakers can have lots of different opinions on ways to do things. Just wanted to add my 2 cents.

  4. Kathi says:

    Thank you for answering questions. I know you are busy with the garden and website and listing what you are eating. Any chance you could once a month list what plants you are starting/planting? I live in Pasadena and would love to gain from your experience.

  5. claire says:

    there is a lot of rock-dust information here for anybody in the uk, scotland especially http://www.seercentre.org.uk/
    I use a lot of horse manure but luckily it is well composted in an old huge pile. I am amazed at my soil improvements(the first patch has now been heavily manured and composted for six years), and forget how much difference there is until I turn over a new bit and think how rubbish the soil is! the new bed from this spring will be getting as much manure as I can pile on it all winter.

  6. Wildside says:

    Good morning, I hope your day is going well!

    I apologize, I’ve been unable to log out of e-neighbors again… So it looks like I’m there when I’m not. I tried to look at new posts function and this is where my computer boots me offline, then when I come back I’m still there, but I can’t log off… This is the same problem as before many months ago. Right now my computer is telling me I have virtual memory issues and this is a new one…

    Just thought I should let you know, though I don’t know what you might be able to do about it, but log me off?!

    Thank you.