Nectar of the gods


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I was always intrigued by fruit flavored wines. Yes, I know, grapes are fruit. But, I gravitated to the cherry – preferably spiced – raspberry, or other fruit flavors that I could find at the store.

It was only natural, then, when we started making wine to make fruit wines rather than fruit-flavored grape wines. They all turned out nicely. I liked to clean, crisp flavor of the fruit wines. We fermented them dry and never had any bitterness at all.

Then I heard of dandelion wine. I remembered my father saying that he had a friend who would make wine out of dandelion. A weed! Wine from a weed! Okay, I have to admit, I loved picking dandelions as a child and making flower wreaths out of them for my hair. That was acceptable. They were weeds! My mother would never let me pick her daisies, phlox, or other flowers from the garden. But, a weed? Sure, go ahead. Just make sure you wash that gluey stuff off your hands when you’re done.

I found a recipe for dandelion wine and tried it. Absolutely delicious. I made a triple batch and shared it with some friends – they loved it. It was sweet without being sugary.

Well, if dandelion wine tastes so good, what about other flowers?

Next was lilac – another hit. The only problem with lilac wine is the time it took to get the flowers off the stems. Dandelion wine is time intensive. It takes about four hours to get enough flower petals for one gallon of wine. But, lilacs wine took 12 hours to get the right amount of petals. Yes, you read that right – 12 hours of pulling petals off the branches for one – only one gallon of wine. If I were selling it, the price would be astronomical! But the taste was exquisite!

Now I think I’m on to something – how about marigolds, sun flowers, rose petals, rose hips. Could I have a garden of wines to drink?

I did some research and found out that any flower that is not poisonous can be made into wines and started to experiment. Every flower wine that I’ve made so far is sweet – without any additional sugars. I will add that these wines do not ferment out dry either. I kept a one-gallon carboy for a year – the wine still had some residual sugar. Same thing with sunflower, rose hips, and butterfly pea.

My conclusion – if the bees love these flowers for their sweet nectar then I will love them for their sweet wine!

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

Putting Strawberries to Bed


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Now that winter is here, it’s time for us to make sure that our strawberry plants are properly bedded for the cold. Timing is critical. We need to wait until the plants have gone dormant for the winter. Bedding too early can smother the plant, too late and the crowns of the plants will be damaged and not produce fruit the following year. The rule of thumb is to mulch or bed the plants when the temperatures are in the mid-twenties for a few days and the ground has not yet froze.

Straw

Most people bed their strawberries with straw. Straw is the preferred bedding over hay because straw is light, will allow some air flow, and does not smother the plants. Hay, on the other hand is very dense. It does not allow air flow and it can smother your plants. But even worse, hay contains seeds! That bale of hay could have grass or even weed seeds. These seeds can fall off and germinate in the spring. Now you have a host of other plants to get rid of in your strawberry bed!

Pine

Another way to mulch is with pine needles and pine wood chips. This is an environmentally sound way to bed strawberry plants. Strawberries thrive in slightly acidic soil. What better way to preserve the plants over the winter and feed the soil at the same time! We mixed pine needles with the soil when we initially prepared the strawberry beds. Now that we need to mulch for winter, we will spread a layer of pine shavings over the plants.

Like straw, pine shavings are light so they allow some air flow and will not smother the plants. Once the pine needles or shavings disintegrate, they will add acid back into the soil.

A word of caution. Freshly shipped or shredded pine, or any other wood, may still have moisture and toxic residue. The toxins are removed from the shavings by heavy watering or weathering. It’s best to use old, well weathered mulch products on your plants.

Once the strawberries have been bedded, they are protected from the winter cold and we can wait until next summer for another delicious harvest.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.