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Messages - el_capitan

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All Things Food / Re: Growing food - The Garden Thread
« on: April 16, 2014, 04:27:18 PM »
This year my wife has gotten more involved, which has helped us really step things up in the seedling department.  Here's what's up.

Wide shot - Two 3-tier plant stands with grow lights, and DIY germination mats up on top.

Mixed flats with kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, & kale.  I built the 3-sided wooden trays a couple weeks ago.  Scrap electrical wire for the handles. 

Cabbage in soil blocks.

Peas are going nuts!

Peas & Bunching Onions (sown 12 per block).

DIY Germination Mat (make sure your rope lights are incandescent, not LED.)

Sweet Potatoes and some lettuce just for fun.

The Pub / Re: Spring Brewing Inspiration
« on: April 15, 2014, 09:59:57 PM »
Wow, Tom.  That's gorgeous!  I'm jealous! 
I love it.  I walked around it once about 15 years ago, it's a ~95 mile loop.  I'd really love to do it again.  I have no desire to summit, but I would do the Wonderland Trail every year if I could.

How long does that hike typically take?  My buddies and I take a series of annual Manventures.  This year we're headed to the Wind River range in Wyoming.  The Wonderland Trail sounds promising! 

All Things Food / Re: Growing food - The Garden Thread
« on: April 14, 2014, 07:42:35 PM »
growing stuff in the Midwest is exasperating.
80F at 2pm yesterday, everything growing like crazy.
currently 30F and an inch of snow on the ground.  Definite hard freeze tonight.

hopefully this is the last one of these of the spring.

Amen to that!  We've started a ton of seedlings inside, and I spent most of last weekend adding a 3rd tier to both of our light stands, along with a tip-top DIY germination mat.  Once the weather settles down a bit we'll be hardening off and putting some really nice plants in the ground.  I'm pretty pumped about it.

We bought a couple soil block makers this year, which is working out really well. 

I'm currently only on page 7 of this thread - I've been spinning my wheels over on the NB forum when I obviously should have made the switch when the AHA forum booted up.  Now I'm playing catch-up.

Mort got me all sidetracked with Sepp Holzer and hugelkultur!  I'll post some pics of my intensive indoor grow-rig here in the next week. 

The Pub / Re: Spring Brewing Inspiration
« on: April 14, 2014, 07:38:06 PM »
Wow, Tom.  That's gorgeous!  I'm jealous! 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Kids and Homebrew
« on: April 14, 2014, 07:34:52 PM »
My son drinks my beer!  Of course, he's 37.

My son wants to.  But he's got many years until that's OK.

I tell my boys that they have to be able to grow a beard in order to drink a beer.  Then they ask why their grandma (my mother-in-law) can drink my beer...

So far I've just been biting my tongue.   ;D

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Life just got a little bit better
« on: April 14, 2014, 07:30:27 PM »
Mine have yet to pop up, but I think they're just holding back, ready to release that pent-up energy in a huge burst.  Make way for an epic harvest!

I still have 7.5 lb of 2014 hops in my freezer - quite a fine selection of organic homegrowns.  I've often thought that I could lose a whole season's worth and still be just fine.  Gotta love the bounty of a good hopyard. 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: I think I'm becoming obsessed
« on: April 14, 2014, 07:25:46 PM »
Sounds like you've pretty much hit your stride! 

I've been pretty thick into things for almost 10 years now.  Obsessed or intensely focused?  There's a fine line there and I've never felt like exploring it. 

Brewing is a supremely rewarding hobby in that your rewards are directly proportional to your work.  And there's also the constantly evolving mystery of how your brewing process will affect the result. 

I love that I can spend a few hours crafting a beer, then follow it up with many hours enjoying the fruits of my labor. 

Add in the thriving homebrewing community and the incredible power of forums like these, and you've got something that shifts into a lifestyle.  Learning to brew has truly changed my perspective on life and instigated a whole paradigm shift.  I'm so much more connected and involved in everything I do, and I think it all started with the realization that you can actually make beer

Turns out I'm a root-down homebody who likes to create my own surroundings.  I don't know how it would have gone otherwise, but for me, homebrewing was the first step toward a whole new world.  A gateway drug toward sustainable living? 

I like it.  Either way, embrace the change.  Enjoy the ride!

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Bagock Bock?
« on: April 13, 2014, 08:13:40 PM »
Jim, does your wife know you're posting pictures of your... um... rooster all over the web? 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Kids and Homebrew
« on: April 13, 2014, 08:12:17 PM »
My guys are usually pretty helpful, especially when it comes to helping me pour a beer for supper.  They'll ask, "Mommy, what's the meat?"  And then they make their beer pairing based on that.  Usually they pick what I would have chosen too.  Looks like I have two cicerones-in-training! 

My older son (who's now almost 7) used to help me monitor my fermentation temps all the time.  When I'd get home from work it was time to "check the beer."  Once he was mumbling in his sleep, and he clearly said, "Cheh.  Brrr."  Now that's dedication! 

These memories are priceless.  I think the more you teach kids about brewing or beer, the better helpers they'll become.  I also think this removes some of the mystique around drinking and helps kids see that alcohol can be enjoyed responsibly.  My kids see me drink beer quite often, but they never see me intoxicated. 

Hop Growing / Re: Recommended Hop growing medium
« on: April 09, 2014, 08:47:32 PM »
You people who grow multiple hop plants are crazy IMO.  Growing is easy....picking, processing, and packaging, not so much....

I guess I'm lucky because I have two really good helpers!  I really look forward to the late September evenings, sitting out on the porch picking hops and chatting with the guys. 

The Pub / Re: Spring Brewing Inspiration
« on: April 08, 2014, 08:41:51 PM »
Jealous!  Nice lenticular clouds forming over your second peak there. 

Just getting into a volcano unit with my class, taking lots of virtual field trips to your area with the help of Google Earth. 

Are you going to throw down a Mt. Hood-heavy recipe?  RIPA perhaps?

Hop Growing / Re: Recommended Hop growing medium
« on: April 08, 2014, 08:36:25 PM »
By "amended native soil" I just meant that you can add some compost or composted manure, wood ash, and maybe some sand into your existing soil.  I found that the manure really broke up the clay soil a lot.  I did that in the main garden too.  The photos I posted are from the 3rd year in a newly-created garden patch.

I started my hopyard about 7 years ago and was working with info from  If you click through the tabs on that link you'll find some decent info. 

The main thing is that you want to enrich the soil with some compost or rotted manure and make sure it drains well. 

As for fertilizing, I prefer to stay away from chemical concentrates.  I think compost does the job really well.  However, even with a 3-bin system and 2 worm bins, I always seem to be short on compost.  Maine gardener Eliot Coleman suggests an organic base fertilizer mix that is made from equal parts of greensand, bloodmeal, and soft rock phosphate.  I had to source these from Amazon.  I'm not sure what the NPK ratio works out to be with an even mix of these. 

You'll want to go with more nitrogen at the start to promote green leafy growth.  When the burrs start to form, then you can boost the phosphorus and cut back on nitrogen.  Miracle Grow does sell a product called 'Bloom Booster' which is for just that reason, although I've since shied away from Miracle Grow and other concentrates. 

Also, you should stop fertilizing as the cones mature and give the plants maybe a week or two with plain water.  I've read that late fertilizing can impart bad flavors to hops (and other plants related to hops...)

Keep in mind that I'm still learning a lot about the whole gardening world and I'm no expert.  Have fun with the new project! 

Ingredients / Re: A beer by another name.
« on: April 08, 2014, 08:15:51 PM »
I think what Neil is getting at here is that his buddy brewed something like Denny's RIPA or Waldo Lake Amber and then changed up the established recipe, but is still calling it by the accepted name. 

So yeah, I'd agree that if he's made significant changes to a 'famous' homebrew recipe, then he should call it something else.  Kind of a branding issue in a way.  Like the fake Brewdog pub in China. 

Hop Growing / Re: Recommended Hop growing medium
« on: April 08, 2014, 04:45:22 PM »
Great mini-lecture there, Jonathan.  I hadn't thought about growing legumes in my hops bed, but it's a good idea.  Do you plant those on the off-season?  Here in MN, I might be able to start a fall crop of something before the frost sets in, but I'm not sure.  I'm usually harvesting in mid to late September.  That gives me maybe 6 weeks tops before things are done for the year. 

I started out with really clay-heavy soil wit plenty of rocks.  Glacial deposits.  I tilled the ground as deeply as possible, going back over it again after picking some rocks.  Then I added a large amount of composted horse manure.  My neighbor had a huge pile going back to 4 years old, so I chose the really well-aged stuff.  I also prepared the holes with a bit of wood ash, I think.  Some compost helped too.  Since then I've only added compost to the beds.  I typically feed mid-season by pulling back some of the mulch (dry grass clippings) and side-dressing with vermicompost.  The worm castings are a great soil amendment. 

The soil mix you suggested, Jeff, sounds like a basic square-foot-garden mix.  I've had really good results using that soil mix before, both in shallow beds and also deep beds.  We grew carrots in a deep bed with about 11" of that soil mix, and they were huge!  So I know you'd have good root growth that way.  The problem I see with that is that the soil is really loose and airy.  Your crowns wouldn't be anchored well, and once the wind starts whipping your hops bines around I'd think you could end up with some uprooting.  Hard to say.  Also, the rhizomes would travel really easily through that soil and completely take over the bed.  If you do use that soil mix, I'd keep it to one variety.  I've had one really vigorous plant send rhizomes out about 12 feet away along the border of my hops bed.  And that's through fairly heavy soil! 

Personally, I'd save the SFG mix for growing some veg, and go with amended native soil for your hops bed. 

Here's a shot of the whole garden:

And a zoom in of the hops beds:

And finally one from up top:

Ingredients / Re: Favorite Bittering hop for AIPA
« on: April 02, 2014, 08:40:54 PM »
I was also looking for Warrior.  That's been a great all-purpose bittering hop for me. 

My house IPA is made with all homegrown hops, and I like the Zeus quite a bit in that, so that's where I voted. 

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