Greenish antics of Nige to grow, build and make a gr8 world

Greenish antics – frugal, growing, trying and sharing

Bottled the nettle beer…. seemed nice (!?) June 26, 2009

Filed under: homebrew — Canvas Summer Nige @ 2:48 pm


Bottled all the 15 litres of nettle beer into the freecyle obtained bottles (from the freecycle fermentation bucket) but unfortuntly with the (wilko) purchased syphoning tube, bottle caps and cool capping gizmo.

So they should be ready to sample on Sunday but ideal if left for a few more weeks or month (so again, perfect for my 30th is the plan….)

Learnt a few things so far:

  • Sterlising the kit takes the longest time of anything
  • Boiling vast quantities of water is helped by the ownership of a preserving pan
  • Figuring out a way of sterlising the syphon tube but also managing an efficient pressure of the desired liquid is interesting : advice found was to pull through clean cooled prev-boiled water and close off tap to hold it in place: then carefully insert into fermentation bucket without loosing the pressure: then start pulling through the desired stuff – the water will come out first but then the right stuff.  It means your mouth doesn’t get into contact with the end of the tube at that point…..  Unfort with the nettle beer I presumed I’d be able to see the colour change when water turned into beer but couldn’t so wasted a fair half pints worth of beer before I realised…..  Not sure the way around this so will try again with the lager in a week’s time.

Gonna add these bad boys to the list of wildlife….

Filed under: Uncategorized — Canvas Summer Nige @ 2:37 pm
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Ref the previous list of wildlife we see in our parts – the wife discovered a lovely nest of these little buggers last night. 


Freaked her out a bit as they went wild taking over the kitchen.  Luckily it looks like we caught the nest at just the right point and managed to scrub the kitchen fully clean again.

Not sure at all what they are though….  They had made they home/or maybe originated in a box containing  a bag of wild bird seed.  Had wings and flew – and then had quite a pointy head.  didn’t seem to be a beetle or a cockroach…. but we not sure..  Close up below for those of you who don’t get too itchy thinking about these things….. we do….. nice…



Man they weren’t joking about the champagne…

Filed under: homebrew — Canvas Summer Nige @ 2:29 pm

It really is that fizzy!  No wonder it can blow corks out or explode containers.  I checked on the first batch of champagne last night and the bottles are balloning under the pressure.


I wonder if the wrapper labels on coke bottles somehow helps to keep the plastic from stretching.  But in trying to open the bottles to let the gas escape – I couldn’t do this as whenever it opened a little more, the champagne was going mental over fizzing and I was getting soaked and loosing loads of it….  So I managed to let some out but not really – so here’s fingers crossed that the bottles manage to hold it until my bday in mid july!  Got another double load needing bottling to cope with over the coming weeks!  So we may have a sticky cellar space in the near future!

I was at a conference on Wednesday and they had great heavy-glass water bottles which had grolsch-type tops.  I though about asking if I could take home some empty ones but they would have been really heavy to lug back from London!


BTW – a garden growing wedding project June 24, 2009

Filed under: frugal,Gardening,wedding — Canvas Summer Nige @ 8:36 pm
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I keep forgetting that I have a (mandated, inherited) project for growing towards the wedding.  The wife wanted sweetpeas homegrown for the September wedding which we talked about for a while before she got itchy worrying that it was getting late….. so we had to vigorously debate where to locate them, then I dug over two strips in the front garden and we bought sweetpeas from a garden center (rather than from seed) and got them in.   Since then, they have been my babies – mainly due to hectic real baby antics for the last few months and so the wifes’ inability to get out to them.

So I’ve weeded, watered regularly, got canes (freecycle of course, although I did buy some peasticks initially), tied the sweetpea shoots up, set-up the canes, got more canes, regularly strimmed the whole area (as it is trying to remain a nettle pasture….) etc etc.  Wifey did get out there regularly and I think she is pleased.

1) I’ve been making up the care policy as I don’t really know when to break off side shoots or where or how to do this….

2) There are a few ant nests in the strips and this seems to have killed off a few plants

3) The replacement plants I’ve put in for any failures aren’t really taking – even those not in the ants nest….


Homebrew update

Filed under: homebrew,wedding — Canvas Summer Nige @ 8:19 pm
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Follow up to the previous recent post about champagne brewing experiment.

I’ve started to get quite into this:

– First 6 litres of elderflower champagne needed a little help from some ‘super wine yeast’ to start bubbling and then was transferred into bottles a few days ago (it had been jus over a week).  It created 7 litres worth which was a bit wierd but I think I must have mis measured!  There was a little spare too and I tried it straight away and then after about an hour in the freezer to cool it.  Very nice, very sugary though.  Slight bubble feeling but not much.  Pretty much like traditional lemonade/elderflower type drink.  We followed common blog advice and used plastic screw top fizzy drink bottles – if they explode then at least you don’t have shattered glass to deal wiht and they should bulge before exploding anyway…  They have been placed in the wine cellar (a dark dank unused cellar under the house…)

– Second small batch (just cos I had an elderflower mini tree in the garden plus a spare 2 litre pimms jug…) … has been cooking away and now bottled last night.  This had a better less sugary taste and maybe a little more sparkle and slight sense of wine-ness about it.

– By the time that had gone on I was getting v excited about it all, so bought some cheap buckets and started a double batch of elderflower champagne (thinking that 7l+2l won’t go that far if it turns out to be nice – and ultimatley it’d be nice to have a load for the wedding and elderflowers will start to die now….)  This is now bubbling nicely too and expected to be bottled at the weekend.


– AND I wanted to get some nettle beer tried out – so this was started on sunday night.  IT was a TOTAL FAFF!  The young nettle heads I picked seemed to pretty much all have some kind of aphid bugs firmly attached to them so I had to wash each leave scraping it with a toothbrush.  I’m not good at boring menial monotomous tasks…  Then we had to boil up 12l of water (which was q a lot of pans/kettles) and infuse the nettles for an hour (very smelly).  Then find a way of straining and then heating it back up (we could only manage an 8l preserving pan as the largest capacity heatable container!!!) to mix the sugar etc.  Anyway, that has now been brewing nicely and is due to now be bottled as it can be ready to drink in just a week..  Will try one this Sunday/Monday but aiming for this batch to be for Birthday and/or Wedding.


– AND wanted to get started or otherwise at least be prepared for LAGER for the wedding – so bought a kit (German style lager from Wilko’s £9.99 – typical 4.5% abv) and am aiming for this to kick off as soon as the nettle beer has vacated the brewing tub.  This takes about a week in the warm before you have to transfer to a barrel (which I have) or bottles and keep cool (celler ideal then) to make the crisp lager flavour….


So to top off the excitement, I bought a cool bottle-cap attaching device today.  Will be extra handy for those times when you start a beer but leave some (EG the large cobra bottles) and you always want to re-seal ideally….  Like it. 


More Pictures to follow soon.


DIY Wedding – blog notes kickoff June 15, 2009

Filed under: frugal,wedding,Woodcraftyness — Canvas Summer Nige @ 11:36 pm
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So I haven’t started noting anything about our wedding plans.  Sept DIY garden wedding (UK legal bit first in the registry office but down-played).

So we have a host of exciting plans and bits of work/projects to do towards the event.  I won’t blog all of them because we want some of them to be a surpise to guests and some might read this…

  • Build a compost toilet.  I have a site for a poo pit and a urinal pit and have started the main frame for the former.  Poo pit will basic with an approach based on sprinkling cedar wood shavings.  I’m worried about the loo-roll as an overhead.  And needing to secure it to stop items being dragged out by rodents…..?  Urinal will be based on wee-ing on a straw bale which can then nicely rot down.
  • Move the chickens/pen.  A new fenced area will be around the most recent shed.  We were going to use this for chicks but til the wedding I think we like it as a store/workspace.  The fencing will be higher to stop way-ward chickens (currently they jump onto the fence then jump down). 
  • Build a fire-pit and firecircle seating.  To maximise capacity around it
  • Decide on marquee/shelter plans including any construction
  • Plan/arrange electricity run-out and music/lighting provision
  • Plan/consider heating options (chiminea offered, could hire, other?)
  • Obtain other freecycle things as needed – see below.


Freecycle needed/wanted:

  • Bins: for rubbish/recycling/drinks bins : Have 3ish so far
  • Sink: to provide a washing up process outdoors
  • Trestle tables: well, can ask – you never know what you might obtain
  • Garden furniture: any benches, chairs etc
  • Carpet: to create dancefloor-suitable-surface over hardstanding: have some offered to pickup
  • Chimena/other heating options
  • Garden flares/candles/other lighting

Champers anyone??

Filed under: homebrew — Canvas Summer Nige @ 11:24 pm
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New experiment – home brewing.

First is Elderflower Champagne from Hugh F-W/River Cottage as well as some other google search results.  It’s currently brewing in a tentative 6 litre quantity and I’m waiting for the visable signs of fermentation appearing ‘within a couple of days’.  Otherwise I’m to add some yeast (I bought ‘strong alcohol’ special wine yeast (tee hee!!)).  Will try to offer some posts.

I’m planning for this to be available for my 30th bday party in mid-July.  Thinking of doing another small amount in the new few days as we have an elderflower shrub in our own garden which I just noticed yesterday!  The ones brewing are from the field in front of our house which I noticed from the kitchen sink on Sat morning – I had been planning a trip out to a local hedgerow as I seem to have developed elder-radar last week spotting it all over the place…!!!

Also planning to try nettle beer as it’s quick so would be in time for 30th again.

Then planning to redo both (maybe) for the Sept Wedding – although had planned to do lager as well which I think takes more like 3 months…