Time Flies! April 2020

The world is in a tailspin.

Not much to give hope right now.

It is spring though and thank goodness that hardware stores and garden shops are considered essential.

Gardening offers hope! You can’t plant a seed without hope.  That is what planting a seed is all about.

We NEED to be growing our own food more than ever!

So, for 2020 I will be starting from scratch in a new garden on a new home farm. I have just over an acre with lots of south facing hillside. So I began removing some existing remnants of the previous owners garden area. There were pathways mulched with asphalt shingles which I removed last fall to plant garlic and mother onions (potato onions). That amounted to a 4 x 10 bed with health looking garlic and onions.  We added another 6 foot’ to the bed this spring for early lettuce, herbs and spinach. Later we added a compost pit on the north end of the first bed for a total first ed size f (FILL IN THE SIZE AFTER MEASURE HERE)

Then we laid out a 50 x 50 patch around the first bed. Using as many labor saving techniques as possible like the mulching of the onions and garlic. Not much else needs to me done till harvest here except pulling back the mulch later before harvest.

Then we laid out a few other beds. We added a raised bed container garden with galvanized livestock water tanks. Coming soon, tomato patch and other beds.

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Gardening 2017 – Early photos through May.


We got in the garden early in 2017. Got a really warm spell in January and the ground thawed in my beds.

I got lots of seeds, so why not. Planted  some lettuce and spinach on 1/27/17.


The result was some sprouted and some not. By early May though, it was rockin’



By May lots was going on. The fall planted potato onions were coming along by May


Potato onions are also known as mother onions. You plant one bulb and the divide like garlic or shallots in 5 or more individual onions

But we got most things going well by May.
Resized by JpegSizer @ TangoTools.com

Resized by JpegSizer @ TangoTools.com

Had a huge lettuce harvest.


Paris Island, Black Seeded Simpsom, Buttercrunch and Yugoslav Red. Planted 3/19/17.

Organic Fruit Wine Making


How to make fruit wine – Part 1

20161210wine2I have had several carboys sitting with wine in them for a few years so I decided to bottle a couple of them today. I will be posting more pictures and videos of my winemaking and beer brewing the next time I make some.

I learned how to make wine from a good friend Les Gauwitz. He was the master of sweet wines. Les would crush the fruit, add water and sugar and let wild yeast do the fermenting. To get it going he would but a floodlight as a heat lamp to warm the must up so it took off quickly. His wine was always awesome.

I don’t use wild yeast. I use store bought yeast but other than that I stick to what he taught me.

MOST IMPORTANT RULE – Make sure everything is clean and sanitized. I mostly use a little bleach with dish soap to sanitize everything. I have also used commercial bar cleansers like One-Step or B-Brite. Those get rid of any residue if you let things soak in them.

I avoid using any sulfites in my wine. Les sometimes used campden tablets (potassium or sodium metabisulfite) but I have had good luck without them.

I have made dry wines and sweet. The week before 4th of july wild black raspberries get ripe in Illinois and if you know where to find them they are free for the picking along some country roads here.

20161210ciderandwine1One of the most amazing wines I ever made was using only blackberries about 20 years ago.  A friend had a huge blackberry bramble in their garden and picked two 5 gallon buckets. It fermented into a dry full bodied dark wine that tasted like Cabernet but had the aroma of blackberries. Heaven! Have never had enough blackberries to do that again but my patch did the best ever this year so maybe I will get to make that again.

Currently I have a batch of strawberry, blueberry and blackberry that was just racked for the second time after being started July 24, 2016.

Here is the recipe:
6 gallon bags of strawberries
2 gallon bags of blackberries
1 gallon bag of blueberries
12 pounds of organic raw sugar
1 package of Red Star Cotes des Blancs dry wine yeast

Heat the sugar with enough water to dissolve it and let it cool, pour into the 7 gallon plastic fermenter.

All of the berries were from our gardens and we had frozen them. I added all of the black and blue berries that were thawed first into the fermenter. I used an homemade masher to crush the berries and release the juices.

You don’t want to mash strawberries as it is hard to get all the berries out after they ferment of you do! So I cut the strawberries into pieces as soon as they had thawed enough to handle then let them thaw completely before putting them into the fermenter.With everything a room temperature and stirred well I sprinkled the yeast over the top. I sealed the fermenter and installed the airlock bubbler.

The yeast took off and it was perking along nicely in about 36 hours. I racked it into a glass 5 gallon carboy in August. I just racked it again to get it off of the sediment. It tasted GREAT! Semi-dry with a fruit tang and some residual sweetness. Should be ready to bottle in another 6 months to a year.

I often let them sit much longer, up to 4 or 5 years. This blackberry wine I just bottled was originally vinted 8/19/13 and bottled on 12/10/16!

We will be making a video of the next batch of wine we brew. Stay Tuned!








I also took time to harvest some of the leeks left in the garden. There are a bunch more out there but many will survive the winter and I can harvest some in the spring too.


I left a bunch in the garden to overwinter last year too. Leeks are a bi-annual so they flowered this spring and I got lots of leek seeds I will be giving away in a few weeks. Stay tuned!

Resources: Organic Food Near You

Many folks don’t like to buy food from grocery stores for many reasons. So if you want to eat organic food you have 2 options. Grow it or find a source near you.

Much of this website will be devoted to the former. If you are looking for organic food grown “near” you there are a couple resources you can use.

  1. http://www.eatwild.com/
  2. http://www.localharvest.org

Not everyone is that close to an actual farm like I am lucky enough to be. I can get organic grass fed, pastured beef, chicken, lamb and pork direct from a farmer and I found those farmers through the links above. The websites also list places to by organic veggies too but I love growing my own.

Organic food will cost a bit more but if you can find a local farmer to support you can get fresher food, cheaper than in grocery stores in many cases.

Fall Crops?


Here are a few things I harvested from the garden yesterday.

We got asparagus, beets and broccoli there along with a few tomatoes. Yes, those are SPRING planted broccoli plants. The side shoots still coming on in mid September.

We stop picking asparagus in early July. Then we let the ferns grow wild until frost (They get 6 feet tall!).

This year with so much rain, we are still getting new shoots down at the base so about once a week there is enough for a couple servings. Fresh asparagus in September, what a treat.

Those beets have been planted since spring too. Wasn’t sure if they would get woody but again with all the rain they were huge but still tender.

This has been a great garden year!