Saturday, August 28, 2010

How to Make your own Ginger Beer... YUM!

I am going to teach you all how to make your own ginger beer. Ginger beer is the original soda pop. It's what we used to drink before Coke and Pepsi, and all the sugary crap we all drink so much of, and that's what I was addicted to for soooo long.
Now I'm addicted to ginger beer! So far, I've made blueberry, blackberry and ginger ale. I am going to be making peach later today, and next week... maybe mango? You can try all sorts of flavours. The berry ones definitely get fizzier faster, and if you ferment them too long, they EXPLODE all over the place. It's an adventure in every bottle!

To make ginger beer you have to make the culture first. This is what provides the correct bacteria for the fermentation process, and makes your pop fizzy!

Get a quart sized mason jar, and fill it 3/4 full of filtered water. This is important, as if there is chlorine in your water, it will kill what you are trying to do.
1 tbsp of ginger cut up in smallish pieces
2 tsp sugar.

Mix well. This culture likes to be stirred, so you can stir it once, twice, or more a day if you feel like it. Cover the jar with cheesecloth, and leave on counter.

Every day for the next 6 days, add in 2 tsp of ginger, and 2 tsp of sugar. Stir, and keep on counter.

At the end of the week, you have your culture ready to make ginger beer!

Make your flavour syrup.
You can just make 'Ginger Ale' by boiling a 1/2 gallon of water with 2 1/2 oz of grated ginger, a splash of lemon juice, and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil, and simmer for a 1/2 hour.


Make a flavour syrup. You can use almost any fruit or berry, or mix 'em up! Apple raspberry? pomegranate blueberry? Peach, mango, blackberry, whatever you like.

To make syrup:
1/2 gallon filtered water
6 cups of whatever fruit or berry you like
1 1/2 cups of sugar. For the sweeter berries, use less sugar.

Bring to boil, let simmer for 10 minutes. Do a taste test, make sure you like what you have. Adjust sugar, etc at this time.

Let cool to room temperature.
Strain syrup mixture into 1 gallon glass jar. Add another 1/2 gallon of filtered water. Add 1 cup of culture. Stir. Cover with cheesecloth, and let sit for 3-7 days. Stir twice a day.

At the end of the days, put into sealable bottles. I will take a picture of one soon, so you can see what they look like. I got mine from the local recycling depot for 50 cents each. You can reuse these things for years, so they are a great investment!

Let bottles sit on counter for 1-3 days. Put the berry ones in the fridge after just a day or so, or you will get an explosion. The ginger ale can sit a bit longer. The fridge stops the fermantation process. Fermantation is NOT an exact science, so you will have to do a bit of experimenting on your own. I think things fermented faster in the summer than they will in the winter, but only time will tell!

After it is cooled, it is ready to drink. I have a bottle every day now, so they don't last long, but apparently they will last a few months in the fridge.

Note about the sugar:
It seems you use alot of sugar while making this drink, but keep in mind the bacterias eat it all up, so you are left drinking little or no sugar at all. Just healthy probiotics and good stuff for you.
I am more regular than I have been in years.

Too much information????!!!! LOL.

Crazy Time is over for now....

Well, the crazy busy time is over for the moment. I had a bunch of dogs go home 2 days ago, and it's taken me this long to recover. That's just sad.
I have a bunch more dogs going home on Monday and Tuesday, and I think I even have a night with only my own dogs.... I am going to just sit back and enjoy it! That almost never happens anymore!
Then I have to get busy and make sure I am pulling in enough money for the winter. Classes to plan, and I want to expand my daycare dogs. I have more than I used to, but my goal is to get another 10 dogs coming at least once or twice a week by the end of Sept. Then that should do me for them moment!

I got back out into the garden this morning, and planted a bed of spinach. I still have wayyyy more to plant, but I hope to get on it this week, and get most of it all in. I need to be prepared for winter! I've been saving my grocery reciepts for over a year now, and my bill has gone down by about 70% this summer... that's a trend I would like to continue! I am eating lots from my garden, and am making my own drinks now (lots of ginger beer... more on this soon!). I am making sure I have something fermented in my diet each and every day. The whole fermentation thing took me a while to adjust to. You think 'fermented... EWWWW'. After you do it a bit, though, you get used to the idea, and actually look forward to the fermented foods. I just get sad when I realize how close we have come to completely losing this knowledge on how to prepare foods like this. My lunch today is cherry tomato salad with fermented beets and cheese and balsmic vinagrette salad and some sourdough bread, with ginger ale to drink. It cost me about 50 cents with everything, and I will be really full and everything is yummy and healthy!!
I have officially lost 14 lbs eating tradionally like this now. I'm not trying to lose weight, it just comes off. It's the coolest thing ever!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Well, I have done absolutely NOTHING in the gardens for about 2 or 3 weeks now. I've been trying, but August is my super-busy dog boarding month, and I can't seem to escape the dogs for any time at all to get things done. I have garden beds that need cleaning out and replanting, I have trays and trays of plant starts that desperately need to get planted... two weeks ago! and I have compost to make, and compost to spread on the beds, and on and on and on. For the first time in months, I find myself just wanting to sit and vegetate in front of a TV. It's the first time I've even thought about TV in a loonnnggg time. I think I am burning out. I am also busy just trying to 'have a life'. I didn't realize how busy, until my friend came to visit several weeks ago, and almost every night, I had somewhere to go, or something to do. Monday's are flyball practice, Thursdays agility, Wed nites I take shares up to Nanaimo, and Tues nites I do local shares. I think I get Friday nites free.... Whew! No wonder I am tuckered out!!

I have been eating lots of groceries out of my gardens since my last post - and enjoying every single bite! Oh, garden stuff is so much better than store bought, there really is no comparison!

I have a bunch of dogs going home in the next day or two, then I'm gettin' down and dirty, and catching up on my gardening! I haven't even sprayed my EM or my plant tea extract for over 2 weeks! That's just BAD. I get all panicky, thinking WHEN am I going to have time to do everything???

Then, to top it off, I have my new chickens and turkeys arriving probably tomorrow - and of course, I'm not ready for them yet! I need to go get more chicken feed, and I don't know when I'll be able to get to the feed store.

Do you have the sense I am feeling a bit overwhelmed these days??? YEP! But, at least I am paying my bills for the moment, so I had better stop complaining, and just suck it up for a while;-)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Confession time

Ok, I have to admit I have a confession to make. My main goal for having a garden (besides making money) is to be self sustaining and self sufficient, so I have to buy less groceries, and I will know exactly where my food comes from.
I was perusing the garden today, and realized I hadn't even had a salad from it for several weeks now. I keep 'saving it for the shares'. Somehow, I think I need to put EVERYTHING into my CSA shares, so my members are happy, that I have nothing left for myself. This is so totally not the point! I am somewhat disappointed in myself.
Luckily, I can start changing... today!
I picked a red cabbage, and a head of lettuce, and some Sungold cherry tomatoes - ALL FOR ME! Along with a cucumber a client gave me from her own garden, I am now eating a tomato and cucumber salad with balsalmic vinegrette and feta cheese. It is sooooo goood!!! Sometimes, you just get so caught up in the business end of things, you forget why you are doing something in the first place.
I am going to make some coleslaw for tomorrow night, and I am now determined to have a salad or something from my garden each day. The crops I've been planting the last few weeks should start being ready in about 2 or 3 weeks, so I should be able to feed myself for several months now.

A note about Sungold cherry tomatoes. These are a hybrid, but I am going to be making them a regular in the garden. I am planting WAY more next year. They are, bar none, the best cherry tomato out there. They ripen earlier than the Sweet Millions, (which used to be my favourite) and are just as prolific. I eat them like candy. They just pop into your mouth so easily!

My new and lofty goal for next year is to grow enough food for 20 shares (I just did 5 this year) and for myself, too. This is to finance a newer and better car for myself. I am driving a complete piece of crap, and will be amazed if it makes it through the winter. I need better wheels! I will also reinvest some of my share money back into the gardens - so I can continue to grow more. I have a deal with a friend who has a greenhouse to grow all my starts.... WAY more than what I did this year - so I can have crops ready earlier and better than this year. I am going to work all winter on amending the soil that I have, so more of my crops work out - many did not this year. It was quite the bummer, and I am determined not to have a repeat next year!

Friday, August 13, 2010


Little cabbages two weeks ago. They are now alot bigger, and closer to harvest time!

Well, the rain we had last week was fantastic! It completely watered everything, and filled my well up! I can stop worrying - for this year, at least! I feel so much better about things. It is supposed to get really hot again this week, so I'm super glad the rain came when it did. I am still being frugal with it, though, I don't want to abuse my water priviliges!
I had an entire week off watering, so that was nice, too. I had to start watering again this morning, but because the rain did such a good job, I only have to water each bed for about 20 minutes - instead of the 40 minutes I had to do before the drought.

The deer have been out munching quite a bit lately. I obviously have been too lax with the deer control. I need to get on it! They have stripped my new fruit trees more than once - when I have time this fall, I guess I had better fence them in - and some of my veggies got a good munching last nite. Damn deer. They are so quiet and sneaky, even the dogs don't hear them coming in the middle of the night.

I have tried planting kohlrabi for the first time this year. I think I might even get some little kohlrabi's! I've been researching the companion planting, so have planted the little kohl's with beets. Both seem to be doing very well. Can't wait to see what a kohlrabi tastes like. Never had one!

There was a bunch of slugs out this morning... all were having sex. Ooooh, that made me mad! How dare they procreate when there are so many of them to begin with? They died. They all died. I massacred them. I don't even feel bad about it! Slugs having sex is NOT something you need to see early in the morning. Just so you know.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rain, rain, beautiful rain!

It's finally RAINING! A good, slow, soaking rain. It's just what I ordered! The gardens will be so happy, and I won't have to water for days or a week. I was so SICK of watering! It was an endless chore, but it was more the stress of always having to watch how much I was using. My well would run dry regularly. At first, I was watering 5 beds a morning, and 5 at night. Then it was down to 4, then 3. The last week or so, I was only able to water 1 or 2 beds at a time before the well would run out. It was quite discouraging. I was falling farther and farther behind, and the plants were getting just enough to survive, but not to thrive. Hopefully, it will rain like crazy, then be sunny and nice again, so everything will grow gangbusters.


About three weeks ago now, I made a trip up to Lantzville to visit Nicole and Dirk on their farm. They have a 2 acre organic produce farm, on which they make their entire living. You may remember I went up there last fall to visit, too. Nicole spent a good 2 hours with me, taking me for a tour, answering all my questions, helping me all she could. I learned so much! They start planting their potatoes in February... mine didn't go in until April/May. I'd better get on it better next year! The other major thing I learned was to keep planting. All year long. They never stop planting seeds. So, when in doubt, plant some seeds. Want to earn more money? Plant some seeds. Feeling down because of the weather? Plant some seeds! I've taken this advice to heart, and over the last 3 weeks or so, I've planted about 2 or 3 thousand seeds. Maybe more. Most of them were planted in seed flats that I borrowed from a friend. This is a bit more time consuming, but the savings on water is astronomical. Many of what I planted just 3 weeks ago is already ready to go into the garden. Some of it already has gone into the garden. I've planted 2 types of kale, purple sprouting broccoli, mega mesculin, 4 or 5 kinds of lettuce, onions, winter cabbage, and I can't remember what else. Peas! About 6 beds of peas. This year, I think I planted them early enough that I should get a crop off of them. Last year I was about 2 weeks too late. Everything I plant is getting the mycroizzial fungi, and I am doing weekly dousings of the EM and the plant tea extract. I've had some amazing successes with these products. I had bought a sad little lemon tree in the spring, hoping to get some lemons at some point. The little tree had been shipped up from the States without even being rooted out, and was so stressed - it was literally on it's last legs. I had potted it up in hopes of it perking up, but immediately after, a dog ripped it out and tossed it 'round and 'round the yard. That poor lemon tree! I thought it was a goner for sure. I repotted it, used the plant tea, the EM and my compost tea on it weekly for the last 4 weeks or so. It's looking AMAZING! The leaves have all greened up (no more sickly yellow leaves), it has lush new growth, and is flowering like mad. I've been taking the flowers off for a while, so the little tree can continue to grow and get healthier before it starts to fruit.
Other successes: tomatoes have a ZILLION blooms and tomatoes forming. Some of my squash and watermelons and zucchini are looking fantastic (some of them never took... just wasn't meant to be, I guess). I just hope everything is looking good on time to get a decent harvest out of them. If not, there is always next year, I guess!


I finished making my own ginger beer the other day. Blueberry flavoured. It was fantastic! Didn't last long, though! I am busy making some more, and plan to keep it going so I always have a new batch coming up.

I also ordered 25 new meat birds and 10 new turkeys from a different hatchery. They will be here late August. I plan on stocking my freezer before winter sets in, so I will never have to worry about eating through the winter. My heritage turkeys and 4 little Dorking chicks I got a while ago are doing well - they are getting big! Now that it's rained, the ground should be soft enough to finish building them an outdoor run. Guess I'll have to get on that, too. So much to do. A friend gave me some fencing and a gate from an old dog kennel, which I am going to use for the run. FREEEEE! It's my favourite word;-) My other score this summer was the new garden center that opened up near by - they were giving away seeds. Lots and lots of seeds. I was a total pig and took LOTS of them each time I went. The seed savings for me should be good next year- I got all sorts of stuff. Carrots, broccoli, squash, zucchini, watermelon, onion, and so much more. Too much to list.

Flooded Driveway

Flooded Driveway
Too much RAIN!