05-11-2014 Journal Entry–Red Wine and Smelly Compost   Leave a comment

I really seem to be getting readjusted to this warm Spring weather.  Yesterday was in the low seventies for the first time in almost seven months and I was loving it.  I actually wore a pair shorts for the first time and got a little tan on my legs and they were loving that. I’m still working on the garden but the yard work took precedence this week.  Being the dedicated and well trained slave that I am, I was able to make short work of the grass cutting.

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Once that was finished I took on the semi-unpleasant task of organizing my compost pile.  Some of you have little or no idea what I’m referring to so let me explain.  It’s a gigantic pile of decomposing organic material collected by me over the last few years from yard clean-ups and grass clippings.  It’s smelly and disgusting but it’s what makes the garden grow as well as it does.  Each Fall I cover the garden with it and then plow it under. That gives most of the nutrients time to leech into the soil and reinvigorate it before Spring. Each summer’s garden uses up a great deal of the existing soil nutrients and they must be replaced.

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It’s also very important to never plant the same plants in the same area two years in a row.  You’ve got to switch it up a little because individual plants requires different sets of nutrients to thrive.  In my experience that doesn’t always apply to herbs. They seem to grow well in just about any soil and require little of no fertilizer.  The only issue I’ve had with herbs is that some do poorly if planted near certain others.  Also, if you plant mints such as oregano, catnip, or spearmint too close together they cross pollinate and their specific scents become diluted.

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Once the mowing and composting was completed I decided to do something I really enjoy which is set up my first batch of wine for 2014.  I decided to make a nice semi-sweet red wine out of Concord grapes.  I mixed the grape concentrate, acid blend, yeast nutrient, yeast energizer, and four and a half pounds of sugar into three and a half gallons of filtered water and set it aside.  I then set up what’s called a yeast starter.  It’s two packets of brewers yeast dissolved in luke-warm water with one cup of sugar. I let the yeast activate for a couple of hours before mixing it into the the fermenter with the grape concentrate.

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Now it’s sit back for a week to let the yeast eat up all that good sugar and create the proper level of alcohol for the wine. Sometime in early August if all goes well I should have approximately sixteen bottles of a beautiful ruby red grape wine.

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I normally prefer making fruit wines because getting the ingredients is much easier that coming up with a quantity of grapes.  Grapes are expensive and the processing of them into a usable form is time consuming and annoying. Using a simple grape concentrate is much more affordable and makes a better quality wine (in my opinion).  This batch will end up costing me approximately $2.00 a bottle including the cost of the bottle and cork. Not too bad for a small amount of work and a month or two of monitoring and tweaking the batch.  I’m already planning a second batch for this year if I can find someone nearby with a Mountain Ash tree.  The orange berries from that tree make a smooth and tasty white wine that is to die for. I’ll keep you posted.

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