One of my goals from last year was to enter a couple of beers into the Iowa State Fair. And what ended up happening last year, was that I totally missed the entry deadline, since I couldn’t figure out how to even submit an entry in the first place.
Well this year, I checked the State Fair’s website on June 28th (a Wednesday) to figure out the entry process, and talk about looking in the nick of time. This year’s entry deadline was July 1st (a Friday) so I just submitted my entries with only a few days to spare.
I ended up entering three different brews into the State Fair this year, with the breakdown being two hard ciders (one with batch #23 using Premier Cuvee yeast aged less than 1 year, and the other cider used Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast aged for 2 years) and the beer I entered was that pumpkin ale that I kegged back in November 2009.
With my entry application accepted, I swung by the fair grounds on July 23rd, since that was the date to drop off oenology entries. And the judging is going to happen before the fair starts on July31st.
The way that the read the entry form, it seems like the final results won’t be released until after the fair is over. Which doesn’t seem to make sense to me, but maybe they will post the results on the fairs website, when the fair starts in a couple of days. Personally I’m curious to see what the judges think of my entries, since this is the first time that I’ve entered one of my brews into a competition. Wish me luck.
As some of you might know, I’m usually not the type to really stock up on something when it goes on clearance. Part of the reason being that I just don’t have the space in my house to set-up a massive cache.
Well this past Saturday, I ended up getting up early to finish reading a business book (yes, I know this sounds very nerdy.) And after I was done with the book, I looked in the fridge, and noticed that it was pretty empty. So with an empty fridge, I started to write up a grocery list to do a little bit of shopping for the week.
With the so call “heat dome” engulfing the Midwest, I decided it would be prudent to pack an ice filled cooler in my truck. Why? Well my rational is that if I’m going to be out running errands the whole day. I just don’t see the point of going home multiple times to drop off any perishable items, when I could just toss them in the cooler.
So stop numero uno, is the Walmart on the north side of town, since last week they had 40 lb bags of compost for $0.50 a bag, and I wanted to pick up a couple of bags. Of course I come back a week later, and they are all out of compost on clearance. But instead they had something even better on clearance, which was Milorganite fertilizer for $3.00 a bag (marked down from $12.98 a bag) and they had a pallet and a half of the stuff.
When I saw that, the first thing I did was call my mom to find out if she wanted me to get her any. Since she has mentioned to me a couple of times, how much she likes this brand of fertilizer. At first she said that she was going to check her local Walmart to see if it was on clearance by her house. So in the mean time while mom was checking her Walmart. I did my grocery shopping inside of Walmart and then picked up 8 bags of Milorganite on the way out the door.
After I had already left Walmart, and was down the street at a local butcher shop, I received a call from mom letting me know that they didn’t have the Milorganite on clearance by her house. So she told me to get her 10 bags of the stuff, so I told her no problem and I hung up the phone. Five minutes later as I’m checking out at the butcher shop I get another call from my mom, and she changed her mind, now she wants 25 bags of the stuff. Yes 25 bags of fertilizer!
So I headed back to Walmart to fill mom’s request. And in the 20 minutes since I bought my 8 bags, only half a pallets worth was left! And with that, I basically bought out the rest of their inventory, except for about 5 ripped bags that I didn’t purchase. And as you can see in both sets of photos, I have quite a bit of fertilizer on my hands now. And when unloaded from my truck and stacked on a pallet, it makes for quite a large and stinky pile in the garage at my other house.
I’ve picked up some pretty good deals over the years. But to pick up about ~$450 worth of fertilizer for ~$100 has to be one of my best scores to date. Now where my mom is going to be storing her portion of the fertilizer, I’ll leave that up to her to figure out.
Talk about hot hot hot, oh boy has it been hot and humid this summer. I’ve started on the weeding of the garden, and the first section that I’ve been working on is the rows between the tomato plants. I figure that if I just work at weeding the garden one small section at a time, eventually I’ll be able to get the whole plat completed.
Toward the end of June, I planted some sweet corn seeds in the back section of the left hand side of the garden. Once again, this is a task that I should have completed months ago, but hey C’est la vie. Right now the stalks are about to my knee, so it will be a while before I have any ears for harvesting.
You’ll also notice that I tossed in a bunch of close up shots of the centennial hops. And by the looks of those cones, I’ll need to plan a brew session in the next couple of weeks to take advantage of these fresh cones. I’m think about maybe brewing a Kölsch style beer, with these hops. But since I’m in the pre-planning stage of the brew session, all ideas are welcome.
Once again I have another planting project that should have been started at least two months ago but wasn’t and that was the salad table.
This is one of those things that only takes 15-20 minutes to plant, but I just kept on putting it off. You’ll notice that in some of the other salad table cells, are the remaining seedlings. The plan is when I visit my sister for 4th of July weekend, that I’ll give her all the remaining seedlings. Even though transplanting them in July, is way late in the season. But who knows, maybe something will turn out from this experiment.
And speaking of late season transplants, you’ll notice that I’ve transplants all the remaining seedlings from their 9-cell packs into 10 oz plastic cups. This way the plants will be a little bit less root bound, come transplant time on the 4th of July.
Well, I finally bothered to transplant all my seedlings into the garden. And for it being June 12th, this is by far the latest in the season that I’ve done my transplanting. We did end up having a freak hailstorm about a week ago, but it was only very small hail. But luckily for me, I cobbled together a make-shift shelter for all the seedlings to protect them from any damage.
In the pictures, you might notice a bunch of orange flags around the garden. I’ve lost the weeding war at this point in the season so I’ve resorted to tying orange caution tape onto bamboo skewers, and placing this homemade “flag” next to each plant. That way when I finally get around to actually weeding the garden, I’ll it least know where my seedlings are in the garden.
Also, check out the centennial hops, talk about a beast! If it keeps growing like this, I should have a bumper crop of cones.
Finally I’ve added a couple of pics of my neighbor’s “garden”. Since what he ended up doing, was just roto-tiling most of his backyard. There is a little bit of rhyme and reason to the layout, but mostly it has to do with not wanting to mow his backyard, so he got rid of the grass and put in the garden instead.
This group of pics is from 5 days later, compared to May 2011 part 01. Since for some reason, I ended up taking a lot of garden pictures at the end of May.
You can see, I’ve been a bad gardener this year, in that I still haven’t transplanted all my seedlings at this point in time. Call it paranoia on my part, since I’m still a little worried about a freak hailstorm. But the seedlings will be transplanted eventually, though a bit later in the season than expected.
You’ll also notice that the rhubarb and hops are doing very well at this point in the season. I’ve thought about trying to make rhubarb wine this year, so if anyone has a good recipe or tips, please drop a line in the comments.
So, you might be asking yourself………where the hell have I been? Well, the short answer is busy. But now that some of the major time commitments that I’ve had over the last 3 months have concluded. I can get back to posting on this blog, like back in the good old days.
Thanks for your patience, and I’ll be posting updates this week from the last two months.
I ended up getting my Costco rebate check in the mail a few months ago. And since that time I’ve been struggling to figure out what to buy from Costco to use up the rebate check. I really hate to use my rebate on consumables such as foodstuff, cleaning supplies, booze, etc. Since if I’ve spent all this money at Costco through out the year on consumable stuff, I should at least be able to get some enjoyment out of my rebate if I use it on “durable good” of some kind.
Last year I ended up using my rebate to get an 11-cup Cuisinart Food Processor. So this year, I’m thinking about getting a new digital camera, since my current Nikon camera is kind of messed up. So this past weekend, I finally bit the bullet, and picked up the Panasonic Lumix FP3 digital camera in black (which was the only color available.) I ended up going with the Panasonic for two reasons:
1) Manual lens cover. This was the only item I wasn’t willing to compromise on, since I seem to do quite a bit of activities in sub-zero weather. And this was how I screwed up the automatic lens cover on my Nikon (sub-zero temperatures in Chicago.) So the next camera had to have a manual lens cover. And this Panasonic model has a manual cover.
2) Price. For $99.95, you can’t shake a stick at the price. Especially for a camera with 14.1 megapixels, which is totally nuts in my opinion for the price.
So theoretically going forward, the pictures on this site should look a bit better then before, but I offer no guarantees, since I’m not a professional photographer.
Since I had to cut the lawn this weekend, it gave me a good excuse to bust out the string trimmer, and get the garden ready for transplanting all my seedlings. It only took me about half an hour to chop all the weeds to the ground, so now the garden is starting to look a little bit more like a garden.
In just under a month after trimming out the seed heads from the main rhubarb plant, it generated two more seed heads. This plant must ready want to go to seed this year, because its generating seed heads like crazy.
The hops are still doing their whole “growing thing” up the A-Frame. I’m kind of curious this year, to see what kind of cone production I get out of the hops. Since last years diagonally hops, didn’t really produce enough cones for a 5-gallon batch of homebrew. So hopefully my fortune will change this year.
These weeds are turning into the bane of my gardening existence, since they seem to be going at an exponential pace. I’ve already gone with a stirrup hoe on the left hand side of the garden, since the soil was a bit loose. But on the right hand side, which has all the onion, that soil is as firm as hell, so using the stirrup hoe was a big waste of time. Maybe next weekend, I’ll bust out the string trimmer, and really go to town on the right hand side of the garden.
But check out the hops! The Centennial is already at the ~10ft mark on the A-Frame, and its only been about two weeks since the last set of pics. Even the Golding is doing better this year compared to last year. Maybe it has something to do with all the heavy shade being provided by the surrounding rhubarb.