How to Make Wine From Fresh Grapes

vineyard imageWine is a drink that has been made for centuries.  It consists of grapes, sugar, and yeast that are allowed to ferment until gas stops being released.  Once that is done, the beverage is bottled up and stored so that the flavors can mellow and sweeten with age.

The preparation of the grapes slightly differs according to the type of wine that is being made.  Red wine is made from the juice, skins, and seeds of red grapes while white wine is made from white grape juice only.

To begin the wine making process requires that every piece of equipment be sanitized.  This includes one 2 to 4 gallon food-grade pail with lid, plastic tubing half-inch in diameter, two 1-gallon glass jugs, fermentation lock and bung, five large wine bottles, and one potato masher.

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Dynamic Duos – Plants that Look Good Together

dynamic_duosFrom a design standpoint, “plants that work well together” really means “plants that look good together”—complementary plants (not companion plants). For example, dramatic rose petals and wispy Queen Anne’s lace are two flowers that naturally go hand-in-hand, particularly in a bouquet or an arrangement. The purpose of selecting dynamic duos is to create combinations that produce a visual impact that is greater than the sum of the parts.

Not only is color important when selecting plants that look good together, but size, texture and contrast play an important role. Color and the absence of color—in the case of garden, that would be greenery—are often used together for contrast.

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Driwater: The Secret To Watering Your Plants While You Are Away

driwaterAs people leave their residence to go on vacation, many are not thinking about the health of their plants and have not even planned for their care.  In the rush to prepare for the much-needed vacation, many will hire house sitters and pet sitters but will not consider their plants until they get home. Normally the homeowner gets home after a well-rested time off to find their plants in dire stress or dead.  This year can be different with a little planning and some help from Outdora.

One solution that some homeowners may explore and even use is a plant sitter.  This is an individual that specializes in plant care and in some situations has formal training.  Their job requires them to care for plant material inside and out.  While this is one approach to plant care, it can be expensive and trust can be an issue when having strangers enter your home.

Another solution is to only use self-watering containers or design your own.  This approach works well for small to medium size containers but is not practical for large containers.

To create a simple self-watering container requires wicking material, pot with a drainage hole in the bottom, and a plastic container that will hold the pot.  The first step requires the gardener to run the wicking material up through the hole of the pot and up the side of the pot.  Make sure that there is some of the wicking material hanging out of the drainage hole.  Next, place soil in the pot and plant as usual.  After the plant has been planted, place the pot in the plastic container and cut off any wicking material that is pooling on the bottom of the plastic container.  The wicking material needs to hang straight and touch the bottom of the plastic container.  Once the wicking material length has been adjusted, remove the pot and place water in the plastic container.  After the pot has been placed back into the plastic container and the wicking material is in the water, the plant will be watered when needed.

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Facts And Food For Fourth of July

fireworksPerhaps our forefathers could have easily anticipated the firework-filled, meat roasting summer celebration that July 4th has become. Since the birth of our nation, Americans have been known for their adventurous spirit and gluttonous appetite for life. The founding fathers in particular left a long history of Congressional fistfights and scathing diatribes over dinners, particularly during the drafting of The Declaration of Independence.

The Continental Congress convened at various points from May 1775 through July 1776 to debate the language, provisions and rights most appropriate to declare separation from the crown and country of Great Britain. Many compromises and months later, the Declaration of Independence was signed and marked with the date of July 4th. While full ratification and a long revolution were still to come, the signing of this document by the delegates of the Continental Congress marked the beginning of America’s struggle towards independence and our national holiday.

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The Simplest Wine To Make In The World – Milk Jug Wine

milk jug wineHuman ingenuity is a beautiful thing and, when combined with grapes, turns out a pretty good wine.  A simple and inexpensive wine can be made by anyone that has a plastic milk jug, grape juice, yeast and a balloon.

To begin this process one will need to gather and clean a one-gallon milk jug.  Make sure it is clean as possible before moving on to the next step.  Milk residue and wine do not mix. The remaining items you will need for your wine making includes a balloon, straight pin, funnel and a measuring cup.

After you have gathered the household items, it is time to get the ingredients together that will be turned into wine.  You will need three cans of 100 percent frozen grape juice for a total of 144 fluid ounces.  You will also need sugar and yeast.  There is much debate on what type of yeast to use for this type of wine.  You can use baker’s yeast that you find in the grocery store but it will give your wine a strong taste.  If you like a milder tasting wine, then use wine yeast.

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Protect Your Plants With A Little History From A Cloche

RowHouseGreenhouseA cloche can loosely be defined as a structure that is placed over a plant to protect it from the cold.  The first mentioning of a cloche can be found around 1630 in a gardening treaty.  John Evelyn (1620-1706) mentioned bell glasses as a mandatory garden tool in his Elysium Britannicum, or The Royal Gardens or Three Books.

While these first cloches were developed by the French and made from glass, the Dutch and English quickly built upon this basic design.  These cultures created cloches that were in lantern and pyramid style. The basic material was the same but the glass panes were held into place with iron frames.

Those who could not afford the expense of glass cloches were not deprived of this important tool.  Cloches made from straw could be found throughout many colonial fields.

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The Easiest Plants To Grow For Those With Brown Thumbs

succulentsMany people desire to have plants in their life but do not have what some refer to as a “green thumb.”  This “green thumb” for some, seems to come from their genetic code while others learn to be a plant whisperer through family, friends, and books.  This skill may seem mystical by nature but it is really simple.  Plants require sunlight, water, carbon dioxide and room to grow.  If these basic needs are met, the plant will thrive but there does exist a fine line between meeting the need and going overboard.

Raising plants can be equated to raising children.  Each has basic requirements but some require more than others.  For the gardener, this means that different plants have different needs and these needs can be different according to the season.  The need that causes many plants’ deaths from the human disorder called the “brown thumb” is water.

Regardless of the type of plant, the gardener should always check the soil moisture before watering.  A high-tech way does exist for testing soil moisture and consists of an electronic probe that is pushed into the soil.  This probe registers soil moisture, which can then be compared to that plant’s need but a simpler way does exist.    The only tool required is the simple human finger.  To test soil moisture this low-tech way, just push the finger about two inches down into the soil and pull up.  If the finger comes out with damp soil on it, then the plant does not need to be watered.  If the finger comes out dry, then water until moisture comes out of the bottom of the container.
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Creating A Backyard Vineyard

grapesToday everyone is looking for ways of growing things closer to home.  This reduces the carbon footprint of product production and increases food security.  But many may believe that some items cannot be grown close to home.  The reasons vary for this belief  include space, climate and even lack of skill.  But before you throw in your garden spade consider growing the simple grape.

Hyper-local grapes are easy to produce if you follow some simple guidelines.  First, only grow grapes that are hardy to your local area.  To find out what grows in your local area requires getting to know the USDA Plant Hardiness Map.  This map can tell you what zone you live in.  As a rule of thumb, once you know your zone you can plant anything that number or bigger.  If you have a grape variety that grows in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6a-8, then it would be fine to plant in an area that is zone 6a.

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The Importance Of The Right Grilling Surface In Outdoor Cooking

grill_gratesWhen it comes to good barbeque, we all know that your choice of fuel has a huge effect on the finished product. We also know that temperature control, smoke, and recipes are fundamental to success. We sometimes forget one of the most important aspects of outdoor cookery, the actual surface you use. A grill surface is something we often take for granted as part and parcel of the barbeque, and don’t often questions our options in cooking surfaces. In much the same way you might prefer a cast iron pan for cooking bacon, and a teflon pan for easy-over eggs, the material of your barbeque grate can change the way you grill.

The obvious dilemma in choosing a grate material is that you only get one.  Much as we might like to, changing the grate to suit your cooking needs from recipe to recipe isn’t a realistic option. When deciding on the right material for your home grill, have a look at what you typically cook, how often you do so, at what temperature, and with what sort of fuel. All these factors will play an important part in the longevity of your grill, and your success as a cook.

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Give the Gift of Grilling this Father’s Day

albundybbqFather’s Day is approaching. The looming question “What Would Dad Want?” hangs in the air heavier than the musk of his damp gym clothes and the entire family stands frozen, the thought bubble answers to this timely question blank. Stop asking yourself “WWDW?”, put down the magazine subscription requests, unhand the golf clubs and get dad a present that Cliff Huxtable, Al Bundy, and Andy Griffith would all admire – a barbecue grill.

“Impossible!” You shout, “Impossible to satisfy this diverse array of TV pops with one gift to rule them all.” Au contraire, young grasshopper, the diverse selection of modern day grills does indeed offer something for every dad on your list. Let’s examine some of the options to fit America’s favorite television fathers that might also suite the daddy in your life for the perfect Father’s Day surprise.

Cliff Huxtable might seem like the last man that needs an outdoor kitchen. The father of four, successful doctor and man of letters rarely stepped outside the confines of his home, but as a lover of American football and family values, an outdoor cooking space is the perfect way for a busy dad to relax while helping get dinner on the table. Consider starting your dad’s outdoor kitchen project with the Freestanding Legacy Fire Magic Grill. The stainless steel construction will look sleek on the patio and the burners heat up to 42,000 BTUs for the perfect Super Bowl barbecue.

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