Planted Garlic, Cabbage, and Spinach Today — Outdoors

garlic bulbs
Three garlic bulbs with two cloves already removed from one of them.

It was a beautiful day today (or at least as beautiful as it gets around these parts, this time of year) 50 degrees and mostly sunny, with a bit of wind though. The ground seemed soft enough to get some early veggies in, so I decided to put the garlic, cabbage, and some early spinach in.

First I busted-up two garlic bulbs from last years garlic and got 10 nice cloves out of them, which I put in the ground about four inches apart in two rows. I don’t know what variety they are — a friend got them from the local exchange and gave them to me — she didn’t seem to know.

spinach and cabbage seed packets
Bloomsdale spinach and Red Acre Cabbage seed packets.

This year, I planted Bloomsdale spinach. Because I plant most of my greens in a cascade — a couple of plants each month, so that I have fresh greens all summer long, I put four spinach seeds in two 2-seed clusters — I’ll thin them to two plants in a month or so.

broadfork

This is my first year planting cabbage. Since I love red cabbage I decided to try planting some nice organic, heirloom Red Acre seeds. Because I do everything by hand without the use of engine-driven machinery I got my trusty Meadow Creature broadfork, and broke-up about six feet of ground 22′ wide (because thats the width of my broadfork) and planted a baker’s dozen cabbage seeds. I’ll thin ’em back to six total plants when they’re ready.

To learn more about planting and harvesting these plants see My Patriot Supply’s excellent guides on topic:

 

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Planting Bell Peppers

Packag of bell pepper seeds
Package of California Wonder sweet bell pepper seeds.

It’s planting season, so I’ll be writing more often. Today I planted some California Wonder bell peppers. They’re a bit tricky to grow up here in zone 5, you have to keep ’em warm ’til they sprout — and then some — and if the summers are cool (or really dry — which they have been the last two years) they don’t grow very big. But I’ve decided to try ’em again.

They’re very similar to tomatoes in their requirements, but a bit more finicky. Like with the tomatoes, I planted two seeds to a pot (but in four pots instead of 24) and will transplant the the strongest four plants in 6-8 weeks. Since I followed the same procedure for peppers that I used for tomatoes, if you want to see exactly what I did, check-out yesterday’s entry on tomatoes: “Planting Lettuce and Tomatoes“.

If you’d like to learn more about planting and harvesting California Wonder bell peppers, see My Patriot Supply’s excellent California Wonder Sweet Pepper planting guide.

bell pepper seeds in the pot
California Wonder sweet bell peppers seeds in the pot.

Planting Lettuce and Tomatoes

planting lettuce
Putting the soil in the “pots”.

It’s that time of year again and I just got started planting this years crop. Up here in Machias, the ocean causes winter to linger well into late April (we just got 3 inches of snow on Saturday), but I got started planting my indoor stuff.

Friday afternoon I planted lettuce, and today, I did my tomatoes.

As you know from my “Ordering Seed for the Kitchen Garden post” I like to plant Black-Seeded Simpson and Red Romaine lettuce, because they grow well here in zone 5a and because I like their taste. Also, the Black-Seeded Simpson grow in long leaves that make excellent sandwich wraps. There’s nothing better than a tuna melt with pickles and tomato wrapped in a succulent Black-Seeded Simpson leaf.

Lettuce seed
Black-seeded Simpson and Red Romaine lettuce seed packets

I put two seeds of each variety into into four pots for a total of eight seeds. I will thin when I transplant them into the garden in a few weeks. If all goes well I should get two Simspson and two Romaine plants for the garden. I do this every month (with Bloomsdale spinach too) and it keeps me in greens for the whole summer.

Planted lettuce seeds
Lettuce seeds in the pot and on the window sill.

Today, I planted 48 tomato seeds, also two to a pot. 38 Beafsteak in 19 pots and ten Roma plum tomatoes in five pots. I’ll also thin them when its time to transplant, and should get 24 plants total (19 Beafsteak and five Roma). I like to eat the Roma, in salads and as slices on sandwiches; I usually use the Beafsteak to make pasta sauce.

Tomato seed packets
Beafsteak and Roma tomato seed packets

I used compost for both and red Solo cups as pots. I don’t like to use plastic, but I can’t find anything I like better. I punch five tiny holes in the bottom of half the cups with a thumb tack and then place each one of them in another cup, without holes. It creates a leak-proof “pot”.

Just planted tomato seeds
24 pots of just planted tomato seeds on the planting rack.

I plant all of the seeds about 1/4″ deep and, of course, I’ll keep them wet, until they sprout, and then water them more deeply as time passes, before transplanting them. Also, the tomatoes won’t sprout unless the potting soil is above 70 degrees fahrenheit, so I keep them in the sun or on a small heating mat, when the sun’s not out.

For more thorough planting and harvesting instructions, see My Patriot Supply’s excellent guides:

The Art of Self-Reliance

Uncle Sam wants you to be self-reliantWhoever said, “The pursuit of money is the root of all evil” got it wrong. It’s not the pursuit of wealth that’s the problem, it’s the process whereby vast wealth is attained that is. That process is employment; it’s impossible for anyone to become super-wealthy without it.

Yes, it’s possible for someone to write a book or to record a hit song and become a multi-millionaire, but that’s only because the major publishing houses and record companies (who have hordes of employees) have created a market that enables this.

Without those organizations there would be no such market and, although many authors and musicians would be able to make a nice living, they wouldn’t become super-rich. An added benefit to getting rid of the corporations that control these markets is that instead of having a few dozen mediocre novelists and musicians to choose from, we’d have tens of thousands of them making a living from their craft.

Jobs, by their very nature, are exploitive. The purpose of hiring an employee is to find someone who will work for some amount less than what the job is worth, so that the employer can skim-off the top the difference, in order to become rich.

I learned about the fundamentally exploitive nature of employment as both a former hiring manager for a series of companies and as a business owner myself. For example, as a security manager for a high-rise building in Los Angeles, I was responsible for hiring, training, and firing members of the security staff. In the mid-1990s, the company that employed me charged the building owners $10 per man-hour for their security services. They paid their officers $6.25 an hour. As you can see, they pocketed $3.75 per man-hour.

Typically, an account would want one officer to be on duty at all times. Since a week is 168 hours long that means that they made a profit on a typical account of $630 per week. One medium-sized company I worked for had more than 250 accounts — that means that on average they made more than $157,000 per week. Granted, they had overhead costs that reduced that amount, but I would guess that they cleared at least $120,000 per week. The owner lived very well indeed, with two homes, two Mercedes Benz sedans, a 40-foot sailboat, and he spent a lot of time traveling the world.

Most of the problems of modern society stem from the inequality of wealth made possible by employment. Outlaw employment; and 99% of today’s problems disappear.

In order to be able to eradicate employment we need a society based-on self-reliance. Where every household is able to provide for itself because it controls it’s own means of production.

The reason I started my own personal journey toward self-reliance was to develop a sustainable process of self-reliance that will enable me to provide for me and my family long into the future. As I mentioned in the “Why This Blog” page, I started this blog to document and share that process. As a new spring is upon us I’m eager to get out there and try-out many of the ideas I’ve been developing over the winter.

I hope you enjoy the reading and learn something from it. And please, don’t be shy about leaving your opinions in the comments section.

Ordering Seed for the Kitchen Garden

long shot of my kitchen garden
Shot of my kitchen garden from the late spring of 2016

I ordered seed for my garden today.

Over the years I’ve developed a complete representative list of organic heirloom vegetables whose taste I like and that I find grow very well here in Machias, ME (which, according to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension is in hardiness zone 5a).

In past years, I’ve harvested my own seed, but I didn’t do so last year, for two reasons: I didn’t have the time, and some of my plants (tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuces) had probably accidentally cross-pollinated due to proximity. So I decided to start with new certified seed this year.

I ordered everything I need, from My Patriot Supply except: potato starts (because they didn’t have any, so I ordered them from Johnny’s Select Seeds), onion sets (which my suppliers didn’t have), and garlic cloves (because I have some left-over from last year).

Here’s the complete list:

4 packs Lincoln Shell peas
1 pack each of Beefsteak and Roma tomatoes
1 pack of Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach
1 pack each of Black-Seeded Simpson and Red Romaine lettuce
2 packs of Purple Top White Globe turnip
1 pack of Champion radish
2 packs of Scarlet Nantes carrots
2 packs of Early Wonder beets
1 pack of California Wonder Sweet bell peppers
1 pack of Waltham 29 broccoli
2 packs each of Blue Lake Green and Golden Wax beans
1 pack each of Straight Eight and Boston Pickling cucumbers
1 pack of Golden Bantam Yellow Sweet corn
1 pack of Waltham Butternut squash
1 pack of Black Beauty zuchini
1 pack of Red Acre cabbage
1 pack of Utah Tall celery
1 pack of Snow Crown cauliflower
1 pack of Connecticut Field pumpkin
5 lbs. each of Kennebecs, Dark Red Norlands, and Gold Rush potatoes

It totaled $148.12 for 26 different vegetable varieties in 34 seed packages (counting the three 5 lbs. bags of potatoes).

I had to pay state sales tax on the potatoes because of the new tax codes which force you to pay sales tax on Internet purchases if the buyer and seller are in the same state. (This might just be a Maine thing, I haven’t kept-up with electronic sales laws.) This seems like a bad law that will discourage localism in Internet-related purchases.

Making a Hopped Mead and Double Fermenting It, Part III: Bottling

Making a Hopped Mead and Double Fermenting It, Part I

Making a Hopped Mead and Double Fermenting It, Part II

Freshly bottled hopped, double-fermented mead
Hopped, double-fermented mead, just bottled

This is the final installment of the series on double fermenting a hopped mead, which is simply testing the alcohol content and then bottling it.

Bottling is easy: I grabbed four 750ml wine bottles, a plastic funnel, and a plastic coffee filter. After placing the funnel in the first bottle and putting the coffee filter in the funnel, I strained the mead through the filter until the bottle was full. Then I repeated that process with the next.

Bottling mead
Mead bottling processing line

After, I tested the mead. It’s final specific gravity was 1.038 (very sweet) which left an alcohol-by-volume of almost 16.8%. That’s pretty high for a wine, but not as high as I’d like it. I’ll keep working on it ’til I get up around 20% — I’ll keep you posted.

Making Cyser (aka Apple Mead), Part III: Bottling

Making Cyser (a.k.a. Apple Mead), Part I

Making Cyser (a.k.a. Apple Mead), Part II: Racking and Adding Spices for Secondary Fermentation

A bottle of cyser
A bottle of cyser

This is just a short blog to update y’all on the cyser making process. I tested (for alcohol-by-volume [AbV] content) and bottled the cyser I started last fall (see above links to read about the earlier steps.

It’s a pretty simple process. A gallon makes just over four bottles, usually. So I grabbed four 750ml wine bottles, a funnel, and a plastic coffee filter. I placed the funnel in the first bottle, put the coffee filter in that and strained the mead through the filter into the bottle — and repeated for the other bottles. That’s it.

Bottling mead
Mead bottling processing line

The AbV for this batch turned-out to be approximately 12.8%.