Archive for October, 2011

You Grow Your Own Food? Harvest 10/29/11

Squash, tomatoes, basil seeds, and beans. Green tomatoes picked due to dead plants. Broken tromboncino because I let others harvest this one for me.

You make your own beer? Sassafras preparation

Got some sassafras root to go into either a root beer porter or a sassafras spruce porter. I’ll decide later which one to brew.

Harvested sassafras. The roots broke much more easily than I thought they would.

I'm after the roots only.

The washed roots

Cut into smaller pieces and placed on a plate to dry.

My girls (and a couple of guys)

Made some changes to the coop last weekend. Added a couple roosts and a nesting box. Should be starting to lay pretty soon I hope.

New addition: a nesting box

Drop side for egg access.

Checking it out

Not sure about this.

The wood chips taste pretty good.

Checking out the changes

The big roo

The small roo

The girls

The big roo is the boss of the coop

He stands tall over the ladies

Strutting his stuff

You Grow Your Own Food? Harvest 10/23/11

Squash, beans, tomatoes

2+ year old Earl Grey Cinnamon Braggot tasting

Tasting Notes 10/26/11 Brewed 8/26/09

Appearance: bright coppery amber with a tint of orange. 1 finger head of fine, thick bubbles. Amazing lacing. Very brilliant, no cloudiness at all.

Smell: big cinnamon, boozy, faint orange, alcohol stings the nose slightly

Taste: candy sweet upfront, caramelly and toasty in the middle, light cinnamon in the end.

Mouthfeel: thin, oily, big carbonation bite, alcohol heat after swallowing

Drinkability: Not a quaffer. There is a lot of flavor in this braggot but it doesn’t blow away your taste buds.

Overall: This is finally coming around to be enjoyable. The flavors are melting together and the alcohol bite has dropped down finally.

I’d brew this again with a bit more Earl Grey and less cinnamon next time, perhaps more grains and less honey too. Not major increases/decreases just slight adjustments.

You Grow Your Own Food? Harvest 10/18/11

Squash, beans, tomatoes

You Brew Your Own Beer? Blessed Bitter, BIAB style.

Brewed up what was supposed to be an ordinary bitter today but got really really good efficiency so it’s more like an ESB. I mashed in before church starting about 8:45, then brought up to a mashout after church at about 12:15. The recipe:

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Boil Size: 9.00 gal
Boil Time: 90 min

Amount Item Type % or IBU
7.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) UK (1.0 SRM) Grain 80.92 %
0.50 lb Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 5.78 %
0.50 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 5.78 %
0.40 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 4.62 %
0.25 lb Special Roast (50.0 SRM) Grain 2.89 %
0.75 oz Goldings, East Kent [6.10 %] (90 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 20.2 IBU
0.25 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (Dry Hop 3 days) Hops –
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [3.00 %] (30 min) Hops 8.7 IBU
0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [3.00 %] (15 min) Hops 2.8 IBU
0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [3.00 %] (1 min) Hops 0.2 IBU

I added 4-1/8 tsp gypsum to the mash

Original Gravity: 1.047 SG
Bitterness: 31.9 IBU
Est Color: 9.6

The 1st ounce were commercial, the 2nd two ounces were homegrown by Joe from our homebrew club, thanks Joe!

The homegrown hops going in, smelled AWESOME

Whole hops floating in the boil always look so cool

After racking into the fermeter, the whole hops do a pretty good filter of the beer

The wort has a nice color, this should look really nice when fermented and clear

All oxygenated, yeast added, airlock and blowoff attached and tucked into a nice 19C chamber.

You Grow Your Own Food? Harvest 10-16-10

Beans, squash and tomatoes

You Make Your Own Foods? Process day 10/15/11

Busy afternoon processing foods to put in storage. We made applesauce, apple peel and core jelly, started fermenting apple peel and core cider vinegar, roasted squash, and saved squash seeds for toasting today. Kitchen was a disaster but well worth it.

Grand Totals
Apple Jelly
5 jelly jars
6 pints
6 quarts
7 quarts
Apple Cider Vinegar
To be determined
Roasted Squash
2 quart bags pureed
big bowl waiting to be pureed
3 acorn squash frozen halfs

Roasted Squash


Apple Jelly

Apple peels and cores ready for gift 2 then 3

Squash Seeds

Apple Cider Vinegar

A full stovetop!

Apple Jelly

No artificial colors added

Applesauce in front of the jelly

All natural applesauce, nothing but apples and water

My take on the Nitrogen issue in Wareham

For those of you not in Wareham, or don’t care about nitrogen issues, I apologize right now and you need not read further. But if you are interested, here’s my take.

I am a civil engineer and designing groundwater discharge permit systems, Title 5 systems, and I/A systems is one of the many things I have been doing for 13 years now. I currently work for the Town of Falmouth where they are tackling the same issues. This is how I see the current regulations proposed for the Town of Wareham.

The regulations:

To summarize: If you have to do a Title 5 inspection and your system fails, or you are required to build a new system (either an upgrade to your house or a brand new house or business), you would have to install an I/A system that meets 12 mg/l nitrogen average on the year. That system would have to be run by a company and sampled quarterly for 2 years then it could drop to 2 times a year. So additional cost to design the system, purchase the system, build the system, operate the system (electricity), run the system, and finally test the system, plus future repairs of system components when they fail since most have mechanical and electrical components. I won’t put dollar figures on any of this because in all my years I found this information to be very elusive. None of the manufactures are completely honest and come right out with final out of wallet costs for fear of competitors. Needless to say, selecting a system is a difficult task and it is hard to explain to a client why. I could tell you how much I paid but my services were free and I got breaks on costs with industry discounts so my experience wouldn’t be useful. A lot of the system are designed and sold by engineers and the line between engineer and salesman is completely blurred on almost all of them which is very sad because above all an engineer should be of the highest ethics. Then there is the Buzzards Bay Test Center and what it could be versus what it is due to how it is being run, again what could be a vital resource for data falls to politics and money. Don’t ask, I don’t want to get into it.

Onto my take on things.

There are several nitrogen reducing systems out there. But only a handful that would stand behind their system to reach 12 mg/l average for the year. This is only 2 mg/l over a GROUNDWATER DISCHARGE PERMIT. Who came up with this limit and why? What I mean by stand by their system is that they would be on the hook. They sold you a system they said can meet the standard and if it didn’t what then? They are going to be 100% sure they can meet the standard which likely means additional measures to make sure they can meet the standard. We know that means money out of your pocket.

To put a blanket regulation over the entire town for all upgrade/repairs and new construction like the proposed regulations do is ludicrous at best. Some areas should have I/A system requirements and others shouldn’t. Just pull up an aerial photograph of the town and I bet you can pick out which areas should and which shouldn’t without-no engineering degree required.

Sewering the whole town is a completely foolish idea too. The best system is one where the water is pulled out of the ground, used, treated, and discharged right back into the same aquifer. Piping the water I drew out of the ground here and piping it to a plant across town is not a good solution. How much treatment needed varies widely by location. Near a wetland or water body or close to groundwater? Higher treatment or pipe it away. Up high above groundwater and away from resource areas? Lower treatment. STOP sinking dollars into the ground for no good reason. This idea is just vindictive by those living in areas proposed for sewer. You live near the water you pay more, it has always been this way and will always be this way. Spreading your sewer costs to everybody in the town would be like suggesting we all pay the additional taxes on your land for the extra value due to being close to water. How about we pay your extra insurance too and purchase cost too?

I have an I/A system on my lot because I have a private well and didn’t meet the 10,000 sf per bedroom requirement for 3 bedrooms with 24,500 sf. Yeah, that’s right I had to spend over $12,000 extra for being 5,500 sf under some magic number in an area where my septic plume will not reach anyone’s well for millenia. That’s about the size of the lot our other house sits on. I am way above groundwater and not near any resource areas. That system is protecting nothing. It is my Harley buried in the ground.

What the town should do for now is to put a blanket nitrogen sensitive area overlay zone on the whole town. That would limit things to 10,000 sf per bedroom without I/A with some increased loading allowed by using I/A systems. Norwell has this if I remember correctly (been a while since I designed a system there). Stick with the DEP limits for the I/A systems. Then push cleaning up the cesspool systems near resource areas and sewering areas that are too close to sensitive resource areas. Perhaps a modification to what Nantucket did for coastal homes. Stormwater management is also SEVERELY lacking in this town too so some upgrades to stormwater discharges should help as well. The new NPDES regulations should help that a little bit.

Disclaimer: Since I work for a town, I no longer have any vested interests in this topic. A couple years ago and you could accuse me for bias because I could benefit from regulations requiring people to use my services for design. And as always, this is my opinion which I find most people to ignore and that’s just fine by me, I am used to it, but this time I am qualified to have this opinion.

*steps down from the soapbox*