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After I installed the insulation, I installed the interior walls.

Interior trimThe rest of the garage is lathe and plaster over the wall frame – this is the way my entire house was constructed way back when.  The original garage burned down and was rebuilt in the early 1960’s, and lath and plaster construction was used then too.  It is difficult to fasten things to a lath and plaster wall.  Stud finders are confused about where the studs are actually located, and the laths can be pretty solid at times making it difficult to tell if you are putting a lag bolt into a stud or into a lath.  I’m used to using nylon drywall anchors, which are much easier to install for shelves that will carry 10 to 50 pounds.  And with drywall, it is easier to tell where the studs are too.

But this is a woodshop, so instead of drywall I just installed more OSB as the interior wall.  I installed the OSB with the smooth side presented to the shop, but even so the OSB texture stands out.  Still, it’s a woodshop, and I really didn’t want to spend time taping and mudding a drywall.

I then used standard pine 3/4-inch primed trim boards to frame my window and the interior frame of my doors.  I held them in place with 18-gauge brads from my nail gun.

Interior paintI trimmed the exterior using primed pine molding boards, framing the window, doors, and the entire new wall to hide the transition from stucco to the new wall.  I used my nail gun to fasten the exterior trim.  The brads held very well in the stucco and the concrete fiber board.

Next up I spackled in all the holes and gaps that I cared about.  I used the “pink stuff” spackle.  Then I called it a night.

The next day I spent an hour sanding the spackle smooth, and cleaning up the resulting dust.  Then I prepped for painting – mostly by cleaning up dust and dirt so I wouldn’t kick it up while painting.  Again, I called it a day – I waited to start painting so the dust would settle.

The next day I started using an interior / exterior latex paint for my new wall and trim.  I used a white eggshell sheen.  The white matches the exterior stucco, and the sheen allows for good light reflection inside the shop.

It took 3 coats of paint to cover the OSB.  Parts of the OSB seemed to “seep through” the latex paint – probably due to the glue used to hold the plywood together.  If I did it over again, I would either first seal the OSB, or use Kilz primer over it first. Something resistant to the materials used in the OSB.  But still, 3 coats on the interior OSB seemed to do the trick.

The exterior concrete fiber board was already primed an ugly yellow-brown color.  It took the paint willingly, and it only took two coats to give it a very acceptable appearance.

exterior paintThe primed pine trim started out white – and painting it white hardly seemed to make a difference except to change the sheen a little, and to hide imperfections.

Then finally I painted the wooden door sill a battleship grey, using paint that is designed to be walked on.  After that paint dried, I sealed the door sill using a pure silicone grey-colored calk.

Tonight I’ve started the process of moving my bench up against the new wall, under the window.  I’ll put my tool chests up there too, and sometime this week I’ll add some overhead cabinets.

Also, I’ve planned to add an outdoor garden shed for my lawn mower and other garden tools.  It will go up against the new exterior wall, between my new window and the property fence.  Then I’ll be able to evict the lawn mower and other outside tools from my woodshop!  I’m looking forward to that!  I’ll post images of that when I do it.

I’ve created a photo album of images that I have taken during this project.  You can see this album here.

Once I got the fiber-cement siding installed, my next step was to install my double doors.

Doors - seen from insideThe first thing I did to start this was to install a 10-inch wide, 80-inch long, 1/2-inch thick piece of redwood across the door sill.  This sits on top of some Dow Sill Seal, and is bolted to the concrete.  The framed double doors sit on top of this door sill, so there is about a 1.5-inch tall door sill barrier between the inside and the outside, which should keep water sprayed on the driveway from running into the shop.

Let me detour here for a minute to talk about my fear of water getting under the wall, and what I’m doing about it.

The bottom of my wooden sill doesn’t sit on concrete.  It sits on a closed cell foam sill barrier made by Dow.  This barrier sits under the house wrap, and protects the bottom of the sheathing plywood.  Aluminum flashing sits on top of this, and the fiber board sandwiches that too.

As a final measure, I lay a thick bead of pure silicone calking along the bottom of the wall, sealing the bottom of the aluminum flashing to the concrete.  Hopefully this will also prevent splashing water from invading under the new wall.  I’ll be on the lookout for leaks and moisture!

Doors seen from outsideInstalling the double doors was a chore.  If you get the frame out of true, the doors will jam.  If you get the frame out of level, the doors will not be balanced, and will swing open or closed.  The best thing to do is to follow the instructions and work slowly.  Wendy helped me set the doors in place, and then I spent the next 2 hours making sure they were perfectly level and true before I screwed them into place with 4-inch screws.

I then bolted the bottom of the doors sill plate through the wooden sill plate and into the concrete underneath, using countersunk flat-head concrete screws.

The doors swing open and closed easily, and a light push causes the doors to completely shut.  I’m pretty proud of that!

I then started installing exterior trim around the doors, the window, and completely around the edge of the new wall, hiding the intersection of the old stucco wall and the new fiber cement siding.

Interior framingBack inside, I used Dow “Great Stuff” gaps & cracks expanding foam between the new wall and the old wall, and in the gaps around the windows and doors.  This stuff is pretty amazing.  It sprays like a viscous fluid and immediately begins to expand, filling in any sort of gap.  Dow recommend that you use protective clothing and gloves when using their product – this is because if the product gets on your skin and hardens, it is NOT COMING OFF without taking a layer of skin too.  I… uh… learned this through experience.

I also learned that this stuff will find its way through cracks that you didn’t know were there.  I’ve had to spend some time cleaning up due to this.  Luckily, when dry this foam is a lot like Styrofoam.  It is hard, easily cut with a blade, or scraped away with a scraper or chisel.  It can also be sanded.

InsulationAfter taking care of the gaps, it was time to add insulation to the walls.  I took some time thinking about this – the garage heats up quickly in the winter, even when the garage door was just a big hunk of aluminum.  During the summer I plan to use a swamp cooler to keep my woodshop comfortable, so the R-rating is not super-critical to me.  What I’m more concerned about is noise.  I don’t want to bother my neighbors if I decide to use the table saw after 9pm.  Add this together with the fact that I hate working with fiberglass, and the solution I came up with was recycled denim insulation.  This material comes in 15-inch wide panels, and a single bale of it was more than enough to insulate my entire shop.  It is soft and fluffy, and easy to use.  It is easy to tear into the sizes that you need to use too.  While installing it, I wondered where they got the denim that they recycled.  Did they haunt second-hand stores?  Was any of the material once used by Daisy Mae Duke?

To be continued…

It was still Thanksgiving weekend, a 6-day vacation for me, and the day after I framed the woodshop wall, I started sheathing it.

Adding weather barrierI used OSB plywood with an APA rating of 24/16 to sheath the external wall.  As I added plywood sheathing, I didn’t completely cover the window or door openings, and used a router with a straight bit and guide bearing to cut out the windows and doors.  That worked very well, and it also covered me with sawdust!

After the plywood wall was installed, I took the front edge of the Dow Sill Seal (I mentioned this in my last post), and folded it up – over the bottom edge of the plywood – and stapled it in place.  The idea here is to keep splashed water from hitting the bottom of the plywood and wicking up into the plywood and causing rot to occur.

I then used two layers of weather barrier from Jumbo Tex on top of the plywood, and folded the edges over the window and door openings.  The weather barrier also went completely down the wall, over the sill seal, to the ground.

And then I was ready to install the window.

Did you know it is possible to install a window upside-down?  I had no idea that could be done!  Learn from my mistake!

There is no “Up” or “Down” or “Install this side up” on the window, or on the window packaging.  I looked hard for them!  Finally I shrugged, and figured that it didn’t matter, and installed it.  And then finished installing the fiber-cement siding on top – so that’s the way the window is going to stay now!

As a hint for you, OPEN the window.  When open, you should be able to lift the window up and out of its track.  If it is upside down, it will tend to FALL out of its track.  I’ve added a strip of wood to the track so it won’t fall out when I open the window – but it is most definitely upside down, and if anyone asks me where my blunders are in this project, I will happily point this out!

sidingSo… when I installed the window, I next added the adhesive-backed, 6-inch wide aluminum flashing around the window.  Water flowing down the wall will not go between the window and the weather barrier now… instead the flashing will divert the water around the window and down.

I also installed the aluminum flashing along the base of the new wall.  The idea is for water and moisture to run down the wall, over the flashing, and to the pavement below.

After that was finished, I started installing the exterior siding.

When I first started this project, I wanted to make a stucco wall that blended into the existing stucco, making the whole thing look like it had always been there – like one unbroken wall.  I quickly realized that stucco is a difficult project, and that people who do stucco well are artists of their profession!  If you do stucco for a living then I’ve got to hand it to you.  It looks very difficult!

But stucco works very well in direct sunlight in the Central Valley weather here in California.  The summer conditions are brutal here.  Plastic disintegrates, asphalt melts, wood warps and dry rots.  It’s terrible.  So instead of anything that just wouldn’t last, I chose fiber cement panel siding. This stuff is great!  It’s basically concrete walls that you lift into place and screw to your underlying wall.  It is hard, and impervious to the Sun.  And yet you can still drill it, cut it, or even use a router bit on it!

Make sure you wear a mask or respirator when cutting fiber cement panels.  Cutting the panels generates a lot of silica dust.  If this dust gets in your lungs it is seriously bad news.

I cut panels to shape using a 4.5-inch grinder with a masonry blade attached to it, and I fit them to the door using a router and straight bit with guide bearing.  There was a section over the eve of the door that didn’t get covered by a major panel, so I cut a piece to fit that gap.

The panels are held in place with standard interior / exterior wood screws.

To be continued…

Well, it finally happened.

After 18 and a half years of employment at the same location, my employer finally laid me off, along with a lot of other engineers.

I can’t say I didn’t expect this to happen.  The company I worked for used to be tops in its field, with world-wide name brand recognition, innovative new products, and customer support that was nothing short of amazing.  But it was privately owned, and the majority owners wanted to cash out.

So we were sold to a multinational conglomerate, a publicly held company who cares about making a good return for their shareholders, but doesn’t understand high tech or fast product development cycles.  They reduced our customer service, put a stop to new product development, and then wondered why our sales tanked.  So they hired a new sales team, and started laying off engineers to pay for them.

This is called, “Eating your seed corn.”  When a manufacturing company fails to invest in new products, it will become less profitable.

But my severance package was pretty good, so I’m not in a hurry to find my next job.  Instead, I’ll spend December on vacation and go job hunting on January 2nd.

In the meantime, I get to finish off a couple of projects…

“Fresno Backyard Harvest” isn’t going anywhere.  When I purchased this house, I set it up so that mortgage / insurance / tax payments were so low that I could pay for it all with a part time job.  And now, growing our own food, and ensuring that we can go without the same level of income is more important to us than ever.

Be right back!

I took a couple of extra days off for Thanksgiving so that I could spend some time working on my woodshop.  My goal was to remove the garage door from my detached garage, and replace it with a wall, double doors and window.

Several months ago, I found a great deal on a framed double-door set that had been ordered online by a Home Depot customer, and then returned for some reason.  Home Depot was happy to give these to me at a large discount, just to get them off of their shelves.

The double doors are steel, and are very secure as-is, without any sort of future enhancements.  (They will get those enhancements anyway!)

sill plate

So Thanksgiving weekend I started by detaching the garage door.  I wish I had photos of that process, but I was excited to finally get started, and forgot to do so.

The garage door is all one piece of aluminum, so after I removed them from the hinges, my brother-in-law and I had to carry it away.

Removing the hinges was a challenge, and one of the hinges slapped my hand pretty hard during that process.  I learned to use cargo straps to crank down on the hinge springs so that they would release without hitting me.  Seriously, the tension on these springs made them VERY dangerous!

Frame buildingOnce the door was out of the way, I started the process of making the sill plate.  I used pressure-treated 2x4s as my sill plate, and drilled several holes through them for some “Red Head” concrete anchors.  I then snapped a chalk line across the garage, and used the pre-drilled holes to mark the place where I drilled holes in the driveway concrete.  I then laid out some Dow Sill Seal, and laid the sill plate on top, and bolted it down.  I made sure it was level, using wedges between the sill seal and the sill plate to make it all level.

CAD drawing

I had used Sketchup CAD, along with some detailed measurements, to create a CAD drawing of my wall frame-up, so I would understand how everything was supposed to look.  I then based my wall frame on that CAD drawing.  The drawing was based on the recommendations for framing a house.

Let me take a moment to talk about this – in houses, the sill plate sits on the edge of the concrete slab, and the house sheathing protects the sill plate from the elements by extending past the sill plate, allowing water to run off until it drips at a level below the grade of the slab.  When you’re replacing a garage door with a wall, you have two possible ways to go.  The absolute correct way is to tear up the connection between the driveway slab and the garage slab, and make the garage slab support the sill in the same manner as a house would do.  You would need to reduce the grade in front of the garage to allow for runoff, and you’d cut back the driveway so that it doesn’t interfere with the garage slab.

Frame in place

My driveway seems to be a single unbroken slab that goes all the way into the garage.  Making a change like this would require a lot of demolition.  So I didn’t go that route.  This leaves me with the challange of how to make sure rainwater, or water from my garden hose doesn’t seep under the sill into the woodshop, and doesn’t rot out my sill plate.

This is why I used treated 2×4’s for my sill plate, it is why I used Dow Sill Seal too.  I also used 6-inch aluminum flashing with a rubberized self-adhesive seal to flash the entire bottom of the wall… but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

So I spent the day measuring and building a wall frame, laid out on my flat driveway.  Then I got everyone together to raise the wall – that’s because a wall frame that is 17.5 feet long is HEAVY!  But we got it raised, and set on top of the sill plate.  The fit was perfect!  And that was completely due to multiple measurements and CAD design.  I know a professional contractor could have done the same thing in a quarter of the time with way fewer measurements, and still came out with a quality wall – but I’m just a do-it-yourselfer, and I’ll take what I can get.

Closed for the nightI tacked the wall into place with some 4-inch screws, then spent another hour using 4-inch lag screws to bolt the frame into the existing garage wall.  I also used 3-inch lag screws to fasten the frame to the sill.

Then I put a tarp across the whole thing and called it a night.  (Well, mostly a tarp.  It wasn’t quite long enough.  I used an old sheet too.)

To be continued…

Wendy deserves the credit for figuring out how to cook goat.

My wife loves to research permaculture and self-sufficiency.  And since she is also a cook, it was only natural that she investigated methods of cooking goat.

What we learned is that goat is naturally very lean meat. Unlike beef, goat has little or no marbling in the meat.  It doesn’t get much flavoring from fat, so goat meat needs a little help.  But it can be very delicious!

Roast goat with rice, onions and carrots

Goat meat does well when cooked slowly, with lots of moisture.  Do it fast and you get something very tough.  Stewing goat is a good way to make it very tender.

Wendy made a roast for our first goat meal.  She marinaded the goat for two days in a garlic, ginger, lemon juice and olive oil marinade.  She tells me that she thinks the olive oil was a mistake, and the next time she tries this she will use an acidic wine and/or lemon juice instead.  She then roasted the meat on a bed of onions and carrots in a cast iron roaster.

She wasn’t happy with the result, but it tasted great to me!  I will admit that it was still a little bit tough, but the flavor was very good.

There were no leftovers!

Next, I took a try at it.  I love Japanese curry, and I haven’t made any for a while.

I started by sauteing 1.5 pounds of diced goat meat in hot olive oil with several spoons of finely crushed garlic and white pepper.  Once they were browned, I added them to 20 cups of boiling water in a 3 gallon pot. I added chopped onions, potatoes, mushrooms, water chestnuts and carrots, and brought the pot to boil again.  I then added chopped snap peas, chopped string beans, chopped broccoli hearts, bamboo shoots, chopped Serrano peppers, and two cups of frozen corn.

The vegetables and meat together brought the contents nearly to the brim of the 3 gallon pot!

Curry

I let it boil until the potatoes were done, then turned down the heat and added 4 packs of hot S&B curry.  The instructions on the package call for more water than I actually used, but boiling vegetables adds to the water content, so it is better to use less water at first, then later add water to reach the right consistency.

The curry will caramelize on the bottom of your pot if you are not careful!  This isn’t desirable, so while simmering make sure you stir the curry constantly.  I simmer it until the curry thickens and the flavors marry.  About 15 minutes for a pot this size.

Serve hot over white rice.

I made quite a lot of it.  I learned years ago that I could cook white rice and then freeze it.  So I made a few rice cooker pots of rice which I froze, and then I froze the curry in plastic containers.  One container of rice, and one container of curry make a somewhat larger meal.  To reheat, microwave the rice until it is hot, then microwave and stir the curry until it is piping hot all the way through.  Put the rice in a bowl, and curry on top, and suddenly I have a complete meal.

I’ve got to say, the goat meat works perfectly in curry!  Yes, it is just a little tough, but I diced it small, so I don’t really notice.  The curry makes everything tasty.

We’ve got quite a lot of goat meat to experiment with.  I’ll update our future experiments.

Red & Blue in the back of the truck

As you may remember, I have a couple of goats.  I still have them… mostly.

So we just butchered the two goats.  We never did name them, we called them “Red” and “Blue” for the color of the collars that they were wearing when I purchased them.

I took the day off of work and visited Julie and John’s ranchette to pick up the goats for transport to the butcher.  They traveled in a cage on the back of my pickup.

I chose Chase’s Chop Shop in Madera for our butcher, and arranged to bring them in.  I brought them straight from the ranchette.

Butchering was pretty straight forward.  If you decide to keep the skin and head of your animals, you must pick them up the same day they are slaughtered, along with heart, liver and any other internal organs you wish to keep.  I kept the heart and liver from both.

The carcasses were then hung for 3 days to age the meat, and then it was butchered in accordance to the cuts that I wanted.  I chose a variety of different cuts from each.  I declined to keep major bones, which I could have turned into a soup.  (I still got some of those bones as part of ‘bone-in’ roasts)

Before skinning, beheading and butchering, the two goats weighed in at 48 and 62 pounds.  Fully dressed out, parted, and frozen, the total weight of meat came to just under 40 pounds.
Chase’s charged me $105 to butcher each goat, for $210 total.

Total cost $408

As you can see here from the costs, this was more expensive than I originally thought it would be.  These goats cost me a little over $10 a pound.  This is NOT a cost-efficient avenue of meat!

But it could have been.

First, Chase’s charged a flat rate to butcher these animals.  If they were allowed to grow more before butchering, they could have been 80 pounds when butchered, and would have dressed out at a higher weight.

Second, I could have kept more of the goats to offset the cost.  If I kept the skins and tanned them, they would have been worth something.  Unfortunately I would have to learn how to tan them.  That’s not something I’m interested in at this time.  I could have also kept more of the bones, and used them for soup.

And last, it is possible that I could have butchered these goats myself.  I might actually attempt this in the future.  My butchering skills are limited to small game and chickens though, so the results won’t be nearly as perfect as Chase’s.  But the end result will still be a lot of calories in the meat, which might be worth it.  The resulting price improvement is under $5.00 a pound, and could be better if I started with larger animals.

At this point none of us are sure if we will do this again.  John and Julie are not sure if they will be keeping goats again.  If they do decide to do so, we may work out another arrangement.

Goat in my freezerCurrently, I think the best possible way to add goat to my diet is to purchase a goat, then kill, skin, and dress it on my own.  Maybe quarter it, and then cook the quarters as needed, Luau style or barbecued.

In any case, I brought home just under 40 pounds of goat meat.  I gave John and Julie a quarter of that in thanks for letting Red and Blue graze on their property.  Apparently they did a great job of keeping the weeds down!

I filled the bottom of my freezer with goat meat, and started thinking of ways to use it.

So it’s been a while since I’ve updated.  Let’s review this year’s harvest.

The peppers were a hit.  Serrano peppers grow like crazy here in Fresno.  They got huge, they fought off the bugs and the ants, and they tasted WONDERFUL!  And since we canned them, I’m still eating on them even now, in December.  The single Serrano pepper plant made so many peppers that canning them made sense.

I had planted onions with the tomatoes, and they were absolutely buried by the tomato vines.  My wife tells me the tomatoes were very tasty, but I didn’t have any since I have an allergy to fresh tomatoes.  The idea was to can them, but we never got enough to make it worth while.  To can tomatoes, we need a harvest of several 5-gallon buckets.  I’m not sure if it is worth doing in 2015.

I haven’t tried harvesting the onions.  The mild weather has been pretty good for them – and after we removed the tomato vines the onions took off.  I’ll be checking on them this week to see how they turned out.  Either way, I’ll be pulling them and getting ready for spring planting.

The grape vine has made its way almost all the way across its trellis.  I didn’t let it bear fruit this year, because I wanted it to concentrate on growing first.  I’ll be expecting a fair amount of grapes from it in 2015.

The two youngest fruit trees are still too young to be serious producers.  I did get a single small pluot from my pluot tree, but I removed it before it ripened.  The pluot tree is growing tall, and I’ll be pruning it back to keep it dwarf sized.  The white peach tree is doing well too, and it also produced a single peach which I removed before ripening.  The idea is to let the trees focus on growth and settling in this year.

As I mentioned in May, our White Nectarine tree didn’t make it.  It died in transit.  So we have a spot for a dwarf fruit tree.  I’m not certain what to get for that spot yet.  Nothing online seems sufficient.  I wish that we could grow a dwarf Honey Tangerine tree, but that doesn’t seem possible in California.  I think I’ll haunt the local nurseries over the next couple of weeks and see what is available.  Sometimes I’m surprised at varieties that are developed for the Central Valley.

The orange tree… oh my goodness!  This tree has been trying to show us just how grateful it is that someone is caring for it.  During the spring I gave this tree the recommended number of fertilizer spikes, and have watered it faithfully.  The previous owner of this house did very little to take care of this poor tree, and the neglect showed.  But with basic care, there was noticeable and immediate improvement.  

And then the ants attacked it!  One morning I noticed a highway of ants climbing the trunk and going among the branches.  I also found them climbing the other two fruit trees.  So I created a barrier using Tanglefoot, all the way around the trunk.  That prevented the ants from climbing the trunk, and all the trees were soon ant-free.  I re-applied the Tanglefoot a couple of times since then.  It repels water, so the sprinklers don’t bother it.  But dust, dirt, and grass clippings can form a bridge across it, so it is a good thing to keep an eye on it and re-apply when necessary.

And now the tree is just packed with oranges.   Harvest time is in the early Spring, but already they taste fairly good.  I’m hoping they get sweeter, but if they don’t they may still be good for canning or juice.

I haven’t started on the aquaponics fish shed or greenhouse as yet.  I’ll leave that for another post.

So Summer is winding down.  The days of insufferable heat are drawing to a close.  The California drought is finally starting to take its toll on my garden.

I’ve been “locked out” of my woodshop by the high heat that makes it insufferable inside, even with fans, even during the late evening.  I’ve vowed that this is the last year that heat will keep me out of the garage.  Next month I will start building the wall in my garage, turning it from an open building to a closed building, cooled with a swamp cooler.

And I’m also planning on starting the build for the greenhouse and fish room.  Frankly, I’m not sure if I’ll have the money to finish both this winter after redoing the garage.  I guess we will see.

But even so, I DO have the money to start buying the electronics that will run my aquaponics setup.  You’ve already seen the Raspberry Pi that I purchased.  I have just added an Arduino to that.  I also purchased a Spartan 6 FPGA, but I don’t think that will be part of my setup just yet.  I got it because it was cheap, and because I’m refreshing my ability with Verilog and Xilinx tools.

I’m showing both the Arduino Mega 2560 and the MIMAS Spartan 6 FPGA here.

So here’s the plan.  The Arduino will be programmed to communicate with the Raspberry PI.  I’ll use the Arduino I/O to control a relay box that will control standard sprinkler system valves to fill and drain my aquaponics grow beds.

The Arduino (maybe a second Arduino) will also communicate with GROVE based sensors to detect water flow, fill and drain rates, water levels, and water quality.

All of this data will be fed to a simple database on the Raspberry Pi, which will then be available through a web page served by the Raspberry Pi.  Everything will be viewable on my wireless network, and maybe even on the Internet itself (I’m not sure about that yet).

My goal is to have all my data available to my iPad or smart phone, and to have the ability to “tweak” things remotely.

I also want the system to be able to send me system warnings via SMS text message.

Lots of work ahead of me.  

So California is having a drought, and we’ve stopped watering our lawn. We’re still watering our fruit trees and our garden. But the drought really makes me want an entirely enclosed greenhouse system that conserves water. Hm. More planning.

I’ve ordered more components for the aquaponics control system.

And a couple of weeks ago I lucked out and got a GREAT deal on a set of steel double doors – special ordered at Home Depot by a customer who never picked them up. I got them at a quarter of the price, $140 instead of almost $600! I picked up a window too. Now I just need to get in the materials to build the wall of my woodshop, and wait for some cooler weather, and I can start building. The woodshop is critical to getting the rest of my plans completed.

I’m really looking forward to the woodshop.

I put up a trellis on the South side of the house for my grape vine – which is already almost half-way across the trellis. I pruned off the grapes this year, I want the vine to put all of it’s energy into growing. Next year though, I should have a LOT of grapes!

Canned veggies!Right now I have a LOT of peppers. Anaheim chilies, Serrano chilies, bell pepper, and Tomatoes. We’ve been canning the peppers, along with carrots and onions in a white vinegar / apple vinegar solution that tastes absolutely wonnnnderful! I’ve been enjoying this fresh produce on my salads, in my meals, and of course canned and on the shelf, ready for use all year around. We’re using a “cold pack” method that should give us good tasting veggies all the way up to next year’s harvest.

So far, we’ve used about 5 cases of jars for canning, both in the 16 oz size, and in the quart sizes.

I’m now looking at purchasing a logging thermometer in order to see the temperature of our storage cellar. I want to be able to store at least one year of food down there, without it going to spoil in any way. Temperature is important for that. I can store lots of things that won’t be affected (much) by temperature too.

It’s so nice to see things coming together.

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