How to Start Seeds Indoors

How to Start Seeds Indoors

How to Start Seeds Indoors

How to Start Seeds Indoors

No Digging Out Here

How to Start Seeds Indoors

How to Start Seeds Indoors

Well, as you can see from the snowy picture here, there is no planting outdoors!  However, I just planted a full tray of seeds in my basement, shown in the picture titled How to Start Seeds Indoors.

Planting seeds indoors in the mid-winter time-frame has become an annual event for me and it is the only relief I have from the miserably long, retched cold winter.  The only issue I ever have with this endeavor is I end up planting more seeds than I have places to put them in the spring and summer.  In the past I have given away about half of what I grow.  I guess it works out, because if anything ever happened to the plants, I have plenty of backup.

How to Start Seeds Indoors

This post is more of a “How to Start Seeds Indoors” post and has a very detailed (and long) YouTube video to go with this post that is at the bottom of this page.

The Tray Front

The Tray Front

The Tray Back

The Tray Back

I have included photos of the Seed Starter Mini-Greenhouse in the pictures titled The Tray Front and The Tray Back.  I bought these the other day at Walmart for $4.47.  These trays can be used year after year if you are gentle with them and I have some trays that I have been using for several years now.  The reason I’m not using them this year: See the picture up above labeled “No Digging Out Here”.  My old trays are in the shed in the back of the yard and I can not get into the shed right now due to snow.  The picture below shows what you get in the seed starter kit if you buy one like I have.

The Tray Expanded

The Tray Expanded

The kit includes a 72 cell tray, a greenhouse top, and a waterproof bottom tray so water doesn’t leak out all over when you water your seeds.

The Tray

The Tray

Holes for Drainage

Holes for Drainage

The tray sits in the waterproof bottom, as shown in the picture titled “The Tray”.  The 72 cell tray has two holes in each cell as depicted in the picture titled “Holes for Drainage”.  As the name of the picture states, these holes are for drainage of the cells, so the roots of the plants don’t set in submerged water for a period of time.  Just make sure you empty the water proof tray from time to time if you do overwater a little.

If the roots do sit in standing water for more than an hour or two, it could very well cause the plants roots to start to rot.  Some plants can do ok with standing water, but most do not like it at all.

Sanitize

If you are going to re-use previous years trays, you need to sanitize them.  According to the Penn State EXTENSION Philadelphia Master Gardeners, you should use a 1:9 ratio of unscented bleach to water to soak and wash your trays and then rinse them well.  This will kill any pathogens and unwanted nasties that may be left from last years plants.

Putting the Soil Together

One of the things you will want to do to have the best luck with your seeds is to put good soil together.

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

Garden Soil and Vermiculite

Garden Soil and Vermiculite

I have used a mix for three years now and it has done wonderfully for me. I use 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 garden or potting soil and 1/3 garden soil with manure mixed in.  What I used this year is shown in the picture “The Ingredients”.  I use the cup shown in the picture titled “Garden Soil and Vermiculite” and use equal amounts and dump it into a 5-gallon bucket.  Then I reach my hand in and manually mix the soil together until it is even all the way through.

The vermiculite lets the soil drain more easily, the garden/potting soil is the base and the garden soil with manure adds a little boost to the plants once they get their roots going.  I prefer to use all organic products, but sometimes I can not find what I want at this time of year.  If I could find good quality compost, I’d substitute the soil/manure compost for that.

Label and Document

Now that you have the soil ready to go and the trays ready to go, BEFORE we put any soil in the tray we need to label and document.

Cells 1-1

Cells 1-1

Cells 1-12

Cells 1-12

As you can see in the picture titled “Cells 1-1”, I use a sharpie to label the trays.  I do this in each corner of the tray.  I put ‘tray# – row#’ on the corners.  Each tray will have a different number.  This was my first tray, so it is tray 1.  My second tray would be tray 2 and so on.  As I’m looking at the tray, the left lower and upper corner is always row 1.  As I’m looking at the tray, the right lower and upper corner is always row 12.

So on the first tray I have 1-1 on the left lower and upper corner and I have 1-12 on the the right lower and upper corner.

The second tray I do will have 2-1 on the left lower and upper corner and I have 2-12 on the the right lower and upper corner. The YouTube video shows this a little better than I described it.

This will allow me to document what plant is in each row and allow me to keep very good notes about what is where, when it sprouted, and if I have any other things I want to note.  I document as shown below in the picture titled “The List”

The List

The List

As you can see in the picture, today I planted:

1-1 Afghani Sesame

1-2 Leek, American flag

<….>

1-8 Velvet Mesquite – Front 3 – Just planted, Back 3 – scarify with sand paper.

<….>

In row 1-8 I have Velvet Mesquite.  In the front 3 cells I just planted the seeds and in the back 3 cells I scarified the seeds with sand paper.  The directions for these seeds say they have better germination with scarification, so I did an experiment and tried both ways in one row and will know the results because the experiment is well documented.

Putting Soil in the Cells

Now that labeling and documentation is done, we can fill the cells with the soil we previously made.  I use the cup shown in the picture above to put soil on top of the cells.  Then I push the soil into the cells with my fingers.  I do not cram the soil in with force, but rather gently press the soil into the cells.

Planting

Now that the cells have soil in them, we can start planting.  The seeds planted today are shown in the picture titled “Today’s Seeds”.

Today's Seeds

Today’s Seeds

Seeds Planted

Seeds Planted

As you can see, I have purchased seeds from Baker Creek, Restoration Seeds, Terroir Seeds, and Adaptive Seeds.  The seeds in the yellow envelope are seeds that I traded a person at a training class for.  The seeds in the sandwich bags are seeds that I saved from my garden a few years ago.

I follow the directions on the package, if there are directions.  Some seeds call for 1/4 inch depth and others call for being sown on the surface because they require light to germinate.  If I run across seeds that don’t have directions, generally the guidance is to plant them to as deep as the seeds are big.  So a 1/4 inch seed should be planted 1/4 inch deep.  Or you could look it up on the internet, as a Google search will give you just about any answer you search for.

When planting to 1/4 inch or any other depth, I use a pencil point to make the hole and estimate the depth of the hole, drop a seed or two in, and then cover it up, pressing slightly while covering.

Watering and Covering

Watering the Seeds

Watering the Seeds

Once all of the seeds are planted, it is time to water them.  Do not just pour water on top of the soil.  This could cause the seeds to move and mix with other seeds and could cause something called dampening off.  The safest way to water indoor plants as they are starting out is to do it from the bottom.  If you put the plant trays in water, the soil will wick the water up from the bottom.  You will know that it has enough water when the top of the soil looks wet and almost forms a puddle.

I use an extra water proof tray and fill it with water and set the plant trays in them.  This is depicted in the picture titled “Watering the Seeds”.  After the water has wicked up, usually about 30 seconds, I take the plant tray and put it in the sink for a few minutes to drain off the excess water.  Then I move the plant tray back to it’s original water proof tray.

Greenhouse Effect

Greenhouse Effect

After the trays have been watered I use the ‘Green house’ top to cover the plants.  The ‘Green house’ top is the clear plastic lid that came with your plant tray.  This is depicted in the picture called “Greenhouse Effect”.  This top will keep the humidity up where the plants are and act kind of like a greenhouse. Most houses up north have very low humidity due to furnaces and other heating mechanisms.  The water in the soil will evaporate rather quickly in the dry air.

I only keep the lid on my plants for about a week or so. Once the plants start germinating I remove the lid so the plants get better light and so it doesn’t get overly humid in there.  The lid will get condensation on it and will diffuse the light.  I want the plants to get 100% of the available light once they have sprouted.  I also do not like to keep the humidity extremely high once the plants have sprouted as this can cause mold and other issues with the young plants.

Timers and Lights

Even though I love messing around with the plants, I don’t want to be a slave to the plants with extra work.

Timer

Timer

How to Start Seeds Indoors

How to Start Seeds Indoors

So to automate things a little I use a timer with my grow lights.  I just use a simple timer shown the the picture titled “Timer”.  I set the timer to come on around 6AM and let it run until around 10PM.

I then plug an extension cord into the timer and plug the lights into the extension cord.

I have four florescent shop lights that are 4-feet long.  Each holds two florescent bulbs.  I special ordered full spectrum grow lights from Amazon.  They cost a good bit more but offer better light for the plants.  I only plug the lights in when I need them.  As seen in the photo “How to Start Seeds Indoors”, I only have two trays on the table at the moment, so I only need one light.  As we enter spring, I will plant more seeds and will need to plug more lights in.

The grow lights have hooks on them that connect to chains.  I can move the grow lights up or down on the chains as needed.  I want the lights to be as close to the plants as possible without touching them.  I also need them high enough to put light on the entire tray below them, which usually requires them to be at least a foot above the tallest plant.

I will end up watering the plants about once a week when they are just sprouting up and will have to water them several times a week as they get larger and drink more.

YouTube on How to Start Seeds Indoors

Please watch the YouTube video titled “How to Start Seeds Indoors” for more details on this project.

The above YouTube video titled “How to Start Seeds Indoors” covers everything I did today related my planting seeds for the first time in 2016.

Now just sit back, relax, and think about the wonderful garden you will have this year.

Don’t forget to check read the article about Hardening Off Plants.  If you just move them outside and plant them in one fell swoop, you will kill them all!  There is a process called hardening off that slowly acclimates the plants to the outside temperature swings and strong sunshine.  I’ll post an article on this subject probably in the mid to late April time frame.

While most of these plants are annuals and perennials and will not be sold at Great Escape Nursery, please check that site out, as we will have bushes and shrubs for sale there.

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For an update to this post, please see Seed Starting Indoors – Little Improvements

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Salal Plant Facts | Salal Propagation | Salal Recipe

Salal Plant Facts | Salal Propagation | Salal Recipe

Salal Plant Facts | Salal Propagation | Salal Recipe

Salal Plant Facts include multiple names like shallon, gaultheria and (Gaultheria shallon). This perennial upright, leathery leaved bush that is in the heather family is native to western North America. It can grow to 10’ tall in the shade and 2 feet tall in the sun. This common understory shrub is hardy in USDA zone 6-9.  This berry is a great compliment to thimbleberry that we covered last week.

Salal Flower

Salal Flower

Leaves

The leaves are evergreen and egg-shaped. The leaves are shiny and dark green on the upper surface, and rough and lighter green on the lower surface.  The leaves are 2-4inches long that are finely and sharply serrate.

Flowers

Salal has 5 to 15 flowers at the ends of branches. The plants are monoecious, with the female portions hosting perfect, small (1/4”), urn-shaped, pink to white blossoms which are borne in elongated clusters, appearing in March through June.

Fruit

Salal Plant Facts

Salal Plant Facts

The fruit ripens during late summer – usually August and September. Gather berries when they are deep blue, plump and tasty.

Propagation

Propagation can be done by seed, layering, and softwood cuttings.  The seeds do not require stratification.

My Plants

I bought one of these last year from One Green World and planted it in the food forest.  It was very small when I received it but it seemed to survive the summer ok.  I’ll post an update on this plant in the spring.

Edible

The dark blue berries and young leaves are both edible and have a unique flavor.  Leaves were sometimes used to flavor fish soup.  Berries are used in jams, smoothies, fruit leathers, preserves, and pies as well as being eaten fresh out of hand.

Medicinal

Salal Bush

Salal Bush

“The medicinal uses of this plant are not widely known or used. However, the leaves have an astringent effect, making it an effective anti-inflammatory and anticramping herb. By preparing the leaves in a tea or tincture, one can take the herb safely to decrease internal inflammation such as bladder inflammation, stomach or duodenal ulcers, heartburn, indigestion, sinus inflammation, diarrhea, moderate fever, inflamed / irritated throat, and menstrual cramps. A poultice of the leaf can be used externally to ease discomfort from insect bites and stings.” *

(Source:wikipedia.com)

Recipe

Salal Berry Jam with Rosemary

Ingredients

  • 10 cups of salal berries, rinsed and off the stem
  • 4 TBLS of lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of water
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 TBLS of fresh rosemary, minced fine
  • A half cup of sugar (organic preferred) add more if you want it sweeter
  • ½ pack of liquid pectin
  • Equipment you need
  • 4 half pint jars, sterilized with hot water
  • Lids for the jars, sterilized
  • Rings of the lids
  • A big pot or canner to put the jelly jars into for a water bath

Instructions

  1. First off sterilized your jelly jars by washing them in the dishwasher on the HOT water cycle or microwaving them full of water till they boil. Keep the jars warm while you make your jelly. I sterilized the lids by dropping them into a pot of boiling water that is off the heat. I leave them there until I am ready for them; then remove them from the hot water with a pair of tongs to place on the hot jars with jelly in them.
  2. Simmer the berries, lemon juice and water in a nice fat saucepot on medium heat. When the berries are getting broken down and the juice is very purple, about 10-15 minutes, mash the mix with a potato masher until it is all a fine mess. At this point you’ll want to strain it. You can do that by pressing it through a fine mesh or processing in a food mill. (You can skip this step if you want but the skins are kinda tough)
  3. Return the salal berry mash to the saucepot and add the sugar, pectin, lemon zest and rosemary and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and pour into your hot sterilized jars, put your hot lids on with the rings and put in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Turn off the water bath, let cool for about 10 minutes, remove the jelly jars onto a heat proof surface, and let set over night. Don’t touch them or jiggle them so they can seal. In the morning, tap the lids and you will be able to hear a tight sound if they are sealed. If not, open it up and eat it now! Keep in the fridge after opening.

(Source: www.cavewomancafe.com/fruit/the-unsung-hero-the-salal-berry/)

 

Photos courtesy of nwplants.com.

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Podcast Episode 22 – So What is all this Permaculture Stuff.  A Brief Introduction and Description of Permaculture

Podcast Episode 22 – So What is all this Permaculture Stuff. A Brief Introduction and Description of Permaculture

Podcast Episode 22 – So What is all this Permaculture Stuff.  A Brief Introduction and Description of Permaculture

Podcast Episode 22 - So What is all this Permaculture Stuff. A Brief Introduction and Description of Permaculture

Podcast Episode 22 – So What is all this Permaculture Stuff. A Brief Introduction and Description of Permaculture

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.  This episode is a rebroadcast of an episode posted in October 2015.  That episode was a weekly episode and I pulled this subject out because I think it warrants having a separate show.

If you would like to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, you can do so by clicking on Great Escape Podcast.

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Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review

This is a review of the Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review. The DVD “Introduction to Permaculture Design” is written and presented by Geoff Lawton.  The DVD gives the viewer an 80-minute introduction to what it takes to design a permaculture solution and gives you a tour of a property that used this design and has been functioning for many years now.  Geoff explains that with all of the problems in the world today, permaculture design is a design system that give you a positive view of the future.

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Front

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Front

The Sections

Ethics

Geoff starts out explaining that permaculture is a movement of people that starts with ethics.  Three ethics to be exact; Earth Care, People Care, and Return of Surplus.  This surplus could be time, energy, information, and so on.  Permaculture leads to absolute abundance.  Permaculture is about science and ethics.

Concepts and Themes in Design

The next section on the DVD goes into concepts and themes in design.  Some of the topics covered in this section include sustainability – produces more energy than it consumes, follow the patterns and diversity in nature and the system will give us fertility followed by productivity.  Stacking systems through diversity and time is important – succession planting and the reparative nature of the systems.  Permaculture systems are about polyculture systems.  Finally, he goes into how we need to look at how nature works and improve on those functions.

Methods of Design

The section Methods of Design gets into elements, functions and cause and affect.  Every element supports multiple functions, and every function is supported by multiple elements.  Permaculture is about patterning of design.

Design through Observation

The section Design through Observation covers how to observe and interact.  If you observe a weed growing in the garden, it is telling you that the land needs that type of plant or that type of plant does well there.  Either way, if you can find a plant with the same requirements or benefits to the land, that is also beneficial to you, it should do good there as well.

Zone Planning

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review Back

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review Back

The Zone Planning section gets into zones 1 through 5 and other factors that affect zones.  Zone 1 is a zone that you are at all the time or needs your attention a lot.  Zone 2 is larger with less maintenance, all the way out to zone 5 which is the forest or wilderness – basically land that is untouched/unmaintained by humans and left to nature to tend to.  There are some other things that affect zone design, such as slop and orientation as well as the human element.

Sector Analysis

The Sector Analysis section covers how we observe different energy and how it affects the land.  Where the sun rises and sets, which direction the wind predominantly blows and if there are flood prone areas all come into play.  You will also take into account views, noise, dust, and potential frost pockets as well as other things.

A Walk in the Garden

At this point in the video he walks through a yard and points out the zones, sectors, and shows the many different types of edible plants.  As he is walking through he talks about how all the zones, sectors, functions, and elements all interact together.

Patterns

The next section is Patterns and he explains that all patterns are created by pressure between two medium – like wind blowing on the ocean and creating waves.  He explains to not recreate patterns, but let the patterns evolve and only use the patterns as a guide – not to be out right copied.

Climatic Factors

In the Climatic Factors section, he explains that there are 3 main climates. The 3 climates are the temperate climates that have cold wet winter and dry summer, the tropical climate that have a wet summer and dry winter, and the arid climate where evaporation is greater than the total rainfall.  There are also sub-climates and he gives several examples on the DVD.

Farm Forestry, Trees, and Soils

There is a section on Farm Forestry and a section on Trees.  There is a section on Soils, where he talks about feeding the soil not plants.  You feed the soil by making compost and getting soil biology correct with bacteria and fungi.  He also shows several compost piles and worm bins and explains how to use worm juice.

Earthworks

The next section covers Earthworks and Earth Resources.  He shows the building of a dam and a swale.  He makes a miniature spillway swale and dam and uses a hose to fill it up and show how it operates.

Strategies for an Alternative Global Nation

The last section he covers is Strategies for an Alternative Global Nation.

The Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD  is available from time to time at http://www.ecofilms.com.au/tag/geoff-lawton/, but is not available at the time of this writing.  Check that site often as it shows up for a month or so and then disappears for a few months.

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Thanks for visiting the Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review post.

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review is a great DVD for someone who is learning permaculture and is a wonderful review for the permaculture enthusiast.

Serviceberry Trees Information

Serviceberry Trees Information

Serviceberry Trees Information

This post provides Serviceberry Trees Information to include how to grow, propagate, and eat this wonderful plant along with how to use it medicinally.

Serviceberry Berries

Serviceberry Berries

Serviceberry is a deciduous shrub or small tree in the rose family (Rosaceae).  It is an edible, medicinal, and ornamental plant.  The wood is extremely heavy and hard and is occasionally made into tool handles.

It likes full sun but will tolerate some shade and is hardy in zones 4 to 9 (some cultivars will handle down to zone 2). It prefers moist, well-drained soils with a pH range between 5.5 and 7.0 and is somewhat drought tolerant once well established. They perform best in soil that is lighter and not loaded with clay, as this prevents adequate drainage. It grows to between 10 and 25 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier), has many names, some of which include; shadbush, shadwood, shadblow, sarvisberry, sarvis, juneberry, Saskatoon, wild pear, sugarplum or wild-plum, and chuckley pear.

Serviceberry Trees Information

Serviceberry Trees Information

Prune annually in late winter or early spring to get rid of deadwood, diseased wood and crossed branches. Leaving some old growth is important, as the flowers form on old wood.

Serviceberries are subject to many disease and insect problems.  Because it is in the rose family you will find that it has many of the same disease and pest problems as roses.  Online sources say that rabbits love serviceberry seedlings, which would explain why my seedlings planted last year disappeared without a trace.

Foliage

The leaves are alternate, simple, oval to oblong with finely toothed margins and are medium to dark green. In the fall the leaves turn vivid shades of red and gold.

Flowers

Serviceberry has delicate white flowers with 5 petals arranged in clusters, 2- to 4-inch long, and appear from mid-March until early April.  They bloom before the leaves appear and the bloom period is short in duration (perhaps a week).  As you can see in the photo titled “Serviceberry Trees Information”, the trees are beautiful when in bloom.

Fruit

Ripe Service Berries

Ripe Service Berries

Serviceberry has edible, sweet, blue-black berries, that ripen two to three months after flowering.

They usually ripen in June, changing from green to red to purplish black.

The fruits taste similar to blueberry and have 5 to 10 seeds per fruit.

The Names

This plant has many names.  Here is where some of those names come from.  The names Shadbush and Shadblow come from the bush flowering at the same time that shad ascend the rivers in early spring to spawn.  The “service” in the common name serviceberry refers to the plant usually being in flower around Easter.

Propagation

Serviceberry can be propagated by softwood cuttings, seeds, or suckers.  It regenerates mainly by seed, but it also sprouts from the roots. For seeds, scarification and 2 – 6 months of cold stratification are required.

Edible

Serviceberry is used to make juice, jellies, jams, pies, preserves and are used for fresh eating. They can also be dried and used as raisins or made into pemmican. The fruit is rich in iron and copper. The leaves can be used as a tea substitute.

Medicinal

“Saskatoon was quite widely employed as a medicinal herb by the North American Indians, who used it to treat a wide range of minor complaints. It is little used in modern herbalism. An infusion of the inner bark has been used as a treatment for snow-blindness. A decoction of the fruit juice is mildly laxative. It has been used in the treatment of upset stomachs, to restore the appetite in children, it is also applied externally as ear and eye drops. A decoction of the roots has been used in the treatment of colds. It has also been used as a treatment for too frequent menstruation. A decoction of the stems, combined with the stems of snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp) is diaphoretic. It has been used to induce sweating in the treatment of fevers, flu etc. and also in the treatment of chest pains and lung infections. A decoction of the plant, together with bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata) has been used as a contraceptive.” *

(Source:montana.plant-life.org/species/amelan_alni.htm)

Recipe

Serviceberry Rhubarb Pie

Serviceberry Rhubarb Pie

Saskatoon (Serviceberry) Rhubarb Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 (15 ounce) packages refrigerated pie crusts
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 cups fresh serviceberries

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Press two of the pie crusts into the bottom and up the sides of two 8 inch pie plates.
  2. In a microwave-safe dish, combine the rhubarb and 1/2 cup of sugar. Heat at full power in the microwave until rhubarb is soft and juice is pooling in the bottom of the dish, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain off the juice into a measuring cup and add enough water to make 2 cups. Dissolve the cornstarch in the liquid.
  3. In a saucepan, stir together the 2 cups of liquid, lemon juice and remaining 1 cup of sugar. Add the saskatoon berries and rhubarb; cook over medium-high heat until thick and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Pour into the two pie crusts. Top with the remaining crusts and cut holes in the top to vent steam. Pinch the edges together to seal.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 30 more minutes.

(Source (recipe and recipe photo):allrecipes.com/recipe/78138/saskatoon-serviceberry-rhubarb-pie/print/?recipeType=Recipe&servings=12)

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Making Elderberry Syrup

Making Elderberry Syrup

Making Elderberry Syrup

This article focuses on Making Elderberry Syrup.  Elderberry syrup is edible as a juice and is used as a medicinal.

Elderberry Fruit

Elderberry Fruit

Last summer I harvested, cleaned, and froze two one gallon bags of elderberries.  This weekend I finally got around to making elderberry syrup.  I take the elderberry syrup on a daily basis to ward off illness and if I do get sick, I take a little extra to help speed up recovery.*  I previously wrote an article on elderberry which is linked in the hotlink.

Harvest and Freezing

This summer I harvested elderberry from my back yard in Pasadena, MD on several occasions.  I harvested the berries from Adam, Nova, and American elderberry plants.  We also have John, but it did not produce enough to harvest.  Harvest when the berries are completely black (actually a very dark blue/purple) and very soft.  Cut the entire fruit head off of the plant and put it in a bowl.  Make sure you pick off any bugs before bringing them in the house.

Elderberries from the Freezer

Elderberries from the Freezer

After they are in the house, I put a strainer in the sink and start separating the fruit from the stalks holding them on.  They are easily removed, but it takes a long time because the fruit is very small and there are a lot of them.  After I have a reasonable amount in the colander, I pick out all of the stems/stalks that landed in the colander and then I wash the elderberries by running cold water over them.  After they are washed I put them on a paper towel and dry them.  I repeat this process until they are all picked, washed, and dried.

While the elderberries are drying, I grab a one gallon zip lock bag and write the name of the fruit and the date on the bag.  Once the elderberries are dry, I put them in the bag and toss them in the freezer for processing on another day.

Making Elderberry Juice

Potato Masher

Potato Masher

The first step to most of the recipes I found is to make elderberry juice.  This involves mixing the elderberries with water, mashing them, boiling them, and then separating the pulp and seeds from the the juice.  I included this process below this article in the Recipes section so you can just use the recipe without all of my description.

The way I did mine is I dumped all of the baggies of frozen elderberries into a large pot.  I added a few cups of warm water to help them start to defrost and I used a potato masher to start crushing the fruit.  After several minutes of crushing, I added more water to cover the elderberries so they are just barely floating.

At this point I put the pan on the stove and brought it up to a boil and then simmered it for 10 minutes.  While this was going on I was still going at the mixture with the potato masher.

Strain

Once the time was up, I put a strainer in a pot and poured the mixture into the strainer.  This separates the pulp and seeds from the juice.  I let the mixture set in

Pulp and Seeds to be Discarded

Pulp and Seeds to be Discarded

the strainer for a few minutes and then I started mashing the pulp with a spoon to get a little more juice out.  Make sure you are using a strainer with small holes or you will push the pulp and seeds through the strainer.

If you look at the picture titled “Pulp and Seeds to be Discarded” you can see I have a metal strainer with very small holes.  I bought this strainer for seed saving and it works perfect for this as well.  I’ll do a separate article on seed saving in the summer or fall of this year.

After you have pressed the mixture into the strainer and no more liquid is coming out, discard the pulp and seeds.  They can be composted and you won’t have to worry about the seeds sprouting because of the heat from the boiling.

 

Rinse and Repeat

Now rinse the strainer and the original pot and run the juice through the strainer one more time into the original pot to get any pulp and seeds out that may have got through the first run.  If you have a good bit on the second run through you may want to consider a third run thorough.  I did get a few seeds on my second run, but there weren’t too many, so I didn’t do a third run through the strainer.

The Other Ingredients

The Other Ingredients

Now you can “can” the juice for another project later or use the juice for a recipe.  I immediately went on to the Elderberry Syrup recipe.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup uses the elderberry juice from above as well as honey and cinnamon sticks.  Like the elderberry juice above, I’ve included an abbreviated version of this recipe below in the recipe section so you can just copy that section without all of my details.

I measured out how much elderberry juice I had and it turned out to be 7 cups.  So I modified the recipe below to match my quantity.  The original recipe calls for 1 quart of elderberry juice (4 cups), 2 cups of honey, and 2 cinnamon sticks.  Since I was close to 2 quarts of elderberry juice, I just doubled all ingredients.  Since elderberry syrup is not rocket science, I just get close and it always seems to work out fine.  So I ended up with the following ingredients: 7 C of elderberry juice, 4 C of honey, and 4 cinnamon sticks.

For The Recipe

Processing Elderbery Syrup

Processing Elderbery Syrup

For the recipe, just put all ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  The elderberry syrup can be kept in the refrigerator, freezer, or it can be canned.  I usually can mine in half pint jars (8oz).

If you are going to can, you need to start the canning process while the elderberry syrup is cooking so the lids, rings, and canner is ready when the elderberry syrup is done.  I processed my syrup for 10 minutes.

As you can see in the picture titled “Processing Elderberry Syrup” I have the syrup cooking on the back burner, the water bath canner warming on the right front burner and the lids and rings in hot water on the left burner.  Amazingly enough, everything was ready exactly when it needed to be and was timed just right.

The picture titled “Finished Making Elderberry Syrup” shows of the half pint jars that I canned.  I also have one jar that I did not put through the canning process, I just put it in the refrigerator and I had a little more that I put in a cup and everyone in the house tried some.

Finished Making Elderberry Syrup

Finished Making Elderberry Syrup

Also notice that I label the lids of the can with the date that they were canned and the name of what it is.  I don’t can that much stuff, but I’d still surly forget what was in them a few months down the line.

Recipes

Elderberry Juice Processing:

  • Pick fruit and wash
  • Put in bag and freeze
  • Comb fruit off of branches
  • Put berries in a pot and add enough water to cover them
  • Stir / crush the berries – get up to boil, then simmer for 10 min.
  • Strain fruit
  • Heat to almost boil
  • Put in canning jar to within ¼ in of rim
  • Water bath can: 5min for pint, 10 min for quart

Making Elderberry Syrup with Honey and Cinnamon Recipe

Ingredients

1 quart elderberry juice

2 cups honey

2 sticks cinnamon

Directions

Sterilize three 16-ounce jars, keep hot. Heat lids and rings in hot water, keep warm but not boiling. Fill water bath canner and bring to boil. Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive pot. Heat and stir until all honey is dissolved. Bring to boil and boil for ten minutes (this infuses the flavor of the spices into the syrup). Ladle hot syrup into sterilized jars leaving 1/4′′ headspace. Wipe rims clean and screw on the lids. Process for 10 minutes in water bath canner (add 1 minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level). Makes around 3 pints of syrup. (You can adjust this recipe to make a smaller batch.)

Source of the recipe is http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/simple-elderberry-syrup-to-boost-immunity/.  Please note that the use of raw honey doesn’t matter that much when making elderberry syrup because you lose the benefit of raw honey during the canning process.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Now that I’m done Making Elderberry Syrup, I will start taking it right away to try and rid myself of a lingering cold.

Please give us your thoughts on Making Elderberry Syrup by commenting below.

Save

Save

Weekly Schedule 01_25_16

Weekly Schedule 01_25_16

Calendar

Calendar

Here is the weekly schedule for the week of January 25, 2016:

Monday –  Making Elderberry Syrup

Tuesday – Serviceberry

Wednesday – Introduction to permaculture design – A DVD Review

Thursday – Salal

Friday – Starting Plants Indoors

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Before and After Videos of the Blizzard of 2016

In late summer 2015 I took several videos showing the progress of plants around the yard at the Pasadena residence.  Then in December 2015 I did another video showing the difference between late summer and winter.  Just under 4 weeks later, we had a large snowfall, so I figured it would be neat to take another video of the same area.  Below is the original article followed by a YouTube of the latest video.  Enjoy!

 

https://greatescapefarms.com/a-temperate-climate-season-contrast/

And now for the YouTube video taken on 1/24/16:

 

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Podcast Episode 21 – Hardwood Cuttings Planted, Yellowhorn, Egyptian Walking Onion, Thimbleberry, and Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden

Podcast Episode 21 – Hardwood Cuttings Planted, Yellowhorn, Egyptian Walking Onion, Thimbleberry, and Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden

Great Escape Podcast

Great Escape Podcast

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.  This week we cover; Hardwood Cuttings Planted, Yellowhorn, Egyptian Walking Onion, Thimbleberry, and Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden.

If you would like to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, you can do so by clicking on Great Escape Podcast.

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Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review

This post, Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review, is about Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, by Lee Reich, and is a wonderful book that I have gone back to many times.  It gives details on many fruits that a permaculturist would call common place in their garden, but a layman will not have heard of 90% of the plants.

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review

Lee Reich is an avid gardener who previously worked at the US Department of Agriculture and Cornell University.  He now just writes, lectures, and consults about gardening.  His articles have been published in Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Martha Stewart Living, and The New York Times.

The list of fruit covered in the book includes; Juneberry, Beach Plum, Alpine and Musk Strawberries, Pawpaw, Raisin tree, Lingonberry, Actinidia, Mulberry, Kaki and American Persimmons, Elaeagnus, Gooseberry, Maypop, Che, Black Currant, Nanking Cherry, Cornelian Cherry, Red and White Currants, Asian Pear, Jostaberry, Lowbush Blueberry, Jujube, Shipova, and Medlar.

I currently have 18 of the above 26 plants and have either done a review already or will be doing a review on each of the plants I have.  I do not have the Beach Plum, Alpine and Musk Strawberries, Actinidia, Che, White Currant, Asian Pear, or Jostaberry.  I will be sure to close that gap by a lot in 2016, picking up many of the plants I do not have.

Each chapter offers an introduction of the plant followed by a description, cultivation, propagation, harvest and use, and cultivars sections.  After reviewing that chapter, you will most likely know all that you ever cared to about the plant and how to care for it.

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden Back

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden Back

I go back to this book on a regular basis.  I usually learn something each time I pick it up.  I have found that I tend to skim books and pick up only a small percentage of what is in it if I don’t have that plant.  Once I get a new species, I go back to the books and pick up a lot more on the next go round.  The reason this book comes up over and over for me is it is loaded with unique edible plants which is one of my passions.

If you are interested in Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden it can be ordered on Amazon by clicking on the link below.

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