Thursday, April 30, 2009

Brunswick Community Garden Plot

My garden is coming along. The first photo is from about a month ago and below that are pea shoots from that time. The last photo I took this morning after I planted some squash seedlings by the trellis.
To the left of the rock are radishes and some are peeking out of the soil, already the size of a dime. I have mixed lettuces and arugula growing all through the bottom along the brick line. Between the radishes and lettuce are swiss chard rows running all the way to the trellis. Above those on the trellis side are kale and carrots. Above the radish are beets just beginning to sprout. The squash plants are the stringy plants at the middle and near end of the trellis.
I'm sending a soil sample off to Rutgers tomorrow to see if I should be eating any of these things. Lead is a problem in Jersey City due to its industrial past. I'm perfectly happy growing flowers if there is a problem.
Check out these beauties from the garden.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Springtime in New York! er, Jersey!

This weekend it felt like summer and we celebrated by spending most of the day outside working on our sunburns. Today Mr. Aloe is my friend and I bought some better sunblock.

I've never noticed how pretty our neighborhood is until this year. Usually we are working 18 hour days getting ready for ICFF. Since we are opting out of that expense this year we get to watch Downtown JC come into bloom. There are a couple of trees that were amazing this year. My favorites are always the magnolias.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Cha Cha lounging in the recycling. Look at those pink toe pads! This was before she was spayed but she doesn't look much different now. Her fur is almost grown in all the way. When she was shaved we discovered that she has three nipples on one side of her belly but only one on the other!

She's keeping an eye on the beer. We'll bottle it this weekend and it'll be ready to taste in about 2 weeks at which time I will give a full tasting report.

Look at these squash plants. I wish I would have remembered to bring some home to Mom and Sharon over Easter. There's a lot of squash producing capability here. Crookneck and Summer varieties.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

JC Turkey on the loose!

There was a wild turkey running around my neighborhood last week:
I've gotta figure out what type of birdseed those people have on 8th St. All I get are house sparrows and a rare bluejay at my window feeder.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Neighborhood Under Attack!

There's a lovely abandoned rail bed in my neighborhood that runs along 6th street for five or so blocks. It's raised about two stories up and provides a protected green space for local wildlife. It's called the Embankment and it is one of the few remaining historical structures that reminds us of Jersey City's industrial past. Last week on my way to the garden (it sits right next to one section of the Embankment) I encountered a sign posted on the Brunswick Street retaining wall of the structure and snapped a photo.

It is a notice of a public hearing concerning the fate of the rail bed. I was concerned enough to take the photo but mentioned it to a neighbor who shrugged it off saying, "They bring that up every few years. I think we're safe." However, this morning I received an email asking me to sign a petition to save the Embankment. Apparently the land has been sold (possibly illegally sold) to a developer who would like to tear it down to make way for condos. I think most Jersey City residents would agree that we do not need more condos. Since I moved here in 2006 they've razed most of the original factories and developed the waterfront to capacity (I hope). I'd like to see the preservation of the quickly disappearing historical buildings and structures that make Jersey City an interesting place to live.

If you would like to take action and sign the petition, click here and enter AB 167 1189 X in the first four boxes. Fill in the other required areas and in the comments section you can simply enter: I want a full and fact-based Environmental Impact Study of the entire Harsimus Branch. Living in Jersey City is not necessary. The deadline for this action is 4pm today.

You can help save those cute little gold finches that ate my sunflowers last summer!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Weekend at the Bay

We went down Friday night for Sharon's opening and along the way drove through a heavy rainstorm. The edge of the clouds were visible and eventually it was pouring and sunny at the same time. I spotted an immense rainbow, brilliant against the dark clouds. It seemed to begin right along a stretch of highway we had just passed. A half hour later in Middleton I spotted another rainbow and again could see the end in a nearby field.

Rain held off the rest of the night and we arrived in Chestertown to a large crowd. The gallery was busy and Sharon's work hung prominently in the front. We met friends and celebrated that evening at some local establishments.

Saturday I was happy to see the magnolias just beginning to bloom. The yard was filled with daffodils in yellow, orange, and white. Spring had arrived at the bay. In the spirit of the season, we headed over to a local nursery to pick out some new shrubs for the garden. Their greenhouses were overflowing with plants. Some of the colors and textures were worth photographing. The friendly proprietor shared his homegrown kale, chard, and bok choy with us.

That evening we had dinner at the Chesapeake Inn for Mom's birthday. I chose calamari because it is one of the few species thriving in the warmer, less populated seas, and rockfish because it is local to the bay. For dessert I had key lime pie because I like it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Relax, Don't Worry, Have a Homebrew.

We started our sixth batch of beer last weekend and have already had some surprises. First we managed to boil our wort without having it boil over. I was really conscious of following the directions on this batch because it is a little more complicated than usual. We are making a Dunkelweisse with the usual cans of malt syrup but we boiled some ground grains and some dried hops in the mix. We also added a yeast that came suspended in liquid in a vial. The yeast took almost 2 days to begin bubbling away. I was getting impatient, thinking we killed the yeast somehow, and researching re-yeasting methods but we woke up one morning to a lot of activity. Then yesterday we came home and beer was in the airlock. Not really sure how it happened. We cleaned it up and here is what the beer looks like right now.

The airlock is the plastic thing on top. It lets CO2 out and keeps everything else from getting in and contaminating the beer. In the past we've made brown ale, stout, bitter, and IPA. I've appreciated all except the bitter which was just too bitter for my taste.

Here's a view of the seed action in the windowsill: