Mead mead mead. That's what I want. We had lots of carboys, so it was just a matter of procuring some honey. And yes, a little yeast and misc. BS from the brewstore. That's covered by our party hardy instructor, so it's just honey we needed.
We asked around at a concert a couple weeks ago, and found a bee keeper. Someone gave him a bunch of already fermenting honey to feed to his bees, and he said we could have some. That rocks. Today we went over to give him a hand with his place, because we were so appreciative. Work trade begins to bleed into gift exchange...
We put horse manure on a couple of his intensive raised beds. Over the winter he planted something like "Prussian Snow Peas", a legume that fixed Nitrogen in the soil. As we turned the soil over in one bed, we could see the little N-fixing nodules. The other cover crop, barley, was just there to add organic structure to the soil.
He said he'd been developing his technique. He'd like to do no till, but he didn't have the people power to sheet mulch the weeds into oblivion. We literally forked the cover crop over, burying it in 8 inches of the soil that was previously beneath it.
We also dug a strawberry patch and saw his far-out circular house, which was timber-framed and filled in not with cob, but with a similar mixture of straw and clay slurry. He said it was 2 gallons of slurry to 1 bale of straw.
So, honey in hand and all abuz with excitement, we made mead. In fact, I'm still in the process of making it. There's a five gallon batch of boiled honey water which I'll add packaged yeast, yeast food and Irish moss to. There are two one gallon batches which, a la Ran Prieur, I innoculated with my mouth and whose honey has never known heat. One plain, as a control to compare with the plain domesticated batch. The second one gallon batch will be C-R-A-Z-Y, because in addition to my microorganisms, the honey's microorganisms and spring water, it has jioagulan, horny goatweed and ginger in it.
Jioagulan is like a more cost effective ginseng in it's effects and potency. Horny goatweed is, you guessed it, an aphrodisiac, from a fable about a goatherd observing his charges eating this plant and promptly getting it on. Ginger is for taste, and also has some microorganisms of its own to contribute.
it's hardy to zone "8", though it's growing outside here in zone "7". question authority, my friends, and smash the state. grow it if you can, for it is mundo healthy.
speaking of which, i'm making some pretty good sourdough wholegrain spelt bread these days. soon to be making more as i get comfortable with the clay bread oven here.
here are a few other plants i've been eating, for my fellow gardeners:
upland cress/creasy greens, a peppery tasting plant that has gone in some sandwiches and a salad
turnips have self seeded all around the garden. they have nice roots some of the time, but their greens in the spring are hard to beat. every Paradise gardener should find something like this, a voluminous vitamin store of a plant that can stand to be weeded out of a bed and come back in the path the next year.
ramps. wild onion/garlic relative, people in Appalachia like this plant so much they throw it festivals. it's only up one month of the year, which hear was this and last month's respective halves.
i should be doing more wildcrafting, but the honey and peanut butter sandwiches beckon. o yeah, one more...
spicebush. i've been breaking off twigs and flavoring our overnight-soaked oatmeal, so we don't always have to use cinnamon. when their fruit comes out in the fall, then we'll REALLY be cookin.