Piper is a Cover Girl!

If you’re local to the San Diego area, you may have seen this week’s reader with a rather odd cover photo. A beautiful and majestic fuzzy-butted silkie hen that my regular readers have come to love and admire. Alongside some random mustachioed schlubb that as no business being on the front of anything.

Photo by Matthew Suárez

as to the former, you are quite welcome. For the latter, my humble apologies, it will all be over in a week’s time so hang in there. If you plan on using it as a liner to your birdcage, or are getting creative with a Sharpie, I’d love to see photos! If you are not one of my local readers, you can see the story on The San Diego Reader’s website.I won’t attempt to re-writing the article here as it is already done by a far better writer than I, but it talks about the neighborhood community garden that I helped set up and all the amazing work they’re doing for the community. Something I’m so proud to have been a part of.

Although I am historically hell-bent on being a giant goofball, there are a few things that I’m serious about. Quality of food is one of them. In this article I talk a lot about this “fast food” society we’re living in and how destructive food deserts are to communities and the health of its populace.

This attention from The San Diego Reader is such a welcome shot in the arm for communities like mine that are surrounded by so many awful food choices. I truly hope that this resonates with everyone so that together we can fight these patterns and continue to find ways to keep our family happy and healthy no matter your income. That’s been my driving force in the last five years of writing Mind Your Dirt. To show that you don’t need to spend money to bring back a natural balance to your surroundings and the food on your table. Mostly because I’m broke as hell and necessity is the mother of invention.

Our community garden not only provides fresh and healthy free produce, it also teaches anyone who visits how to bring these techniques into your home gardens. Between Mind Your Dirt and the Ocean View Growing Grounds (as well as all community gardens), we will always be here to help you keep your family healthy and loaded with nutrients.

So a huge big Thank You to The San Diego Reader, Barbarella Fokos (writer), and Matthew Suárez (photographer) for taking the time to help this noble cause! To everyone else, get busy with that Sharpie! 

Waxing Dionysus: A Story about Making Homemade Wine

Grape Expectations:

It is a well known fact to my regular readers that I am annually bombarded with bumper crops of my Niagara grapes. A variety that I was told was actually a concord and didn’t find out otherwise until years later when I finally got it in the ground and it began bearing fruit. Fruit of lies and deception.

And to be completely honest, these grapes taste awful. Not a fan at all. But of the three varieties I have, this one of course is the healthiest and most robust. It has been a burden of mine for years now. Why not remove it you ask? Well, it serves another purpose as well. That of a cheap shaded patio nook to beat the heat of summer as illustrated below…

Repurposing an unused clothesline: The $50 instant patio!

And it definitely does the job it was intended to do. The only thing is it does so while bearing the most yawn-inducing harvest ever. However, I do enjoy sitting underneath it during those hot days of drought and strife.

The Grapes of Wrath…and Cool Shade.

This years’ crop is no different.  Once again the vines are loaded with juicy berries ripe for the picking.

The hens might be the biggest fans of these grapes. And who am I to deprive them of such ample vittles?

My friend Matt (who I’ll be talking about later) and I connected via a Facebook page called San Diego Backyard Fruit Exchange around the time of last years harvest. When researching my Niagara grape vine, he came across the following info: “Vitis labrusca ‘Niagara’ is a cross of the V. labrusca Concord and Cassady cultivars, which are themselves hybrids. Concord is a hybrid of an unknown experimental interspecific V. vinifera and V. labrusca pairing, and Cassady is an unintentional hybrid that has V. labrusca in its genetic makeup”

Over the years I tried making homemade raisins, fresh grape juice as well as popsicles . But nothing would take away the lack-luster flavor of the Niagara. The raisins were the best results I’ve had from this vine and were actually quite tasty. However, the time it takes to process all the grapes to make raisins leaves much to be desired. I most likely will not do that again on account of my general laziness when it comes to repetitive and dull tasks.

The juice was way too tart for my liking and this may be because the skins of the grapes were included in the processing. The popsicles also sat in my freezer just hoping that I would eventually love them. But I abandoned them quickly and refused to make eye contact until I was cleaning the freezer out a year later. I apologized in my own way as I slowly lowered them into a stream of hot water in the kitchen sink while doing my best James Bond villain impersonation.

Grape popsicle: “Do you expect me to talk?”

Evil James: “No grape popsicle, I expect you to die” [screams of melty horror]

Continue reading “Waxing Dionysus: A Story about Making Homemade Wine”

Ain’t no Party like a Free Mulch Party!

“May you live in interesting times”

-Ancient Chinese curse (but not really ancient, nor Chinese)

This is what awaited me when I got home last Thursday night after a twelve hour day. And like the fake ancient Chinese curse, it made for a very interesting logistical conundrum. The city dumps a truck-load of free mulch in the street in front of your house and then the city comes and sites you for having a large pile of mulch in the middle of the street.

At least that’s what I was worried about when I pulled in at 8:45 p.m. on Thursday knowing full well that I will have to be working all through the weekend! But never look a gift horse in the mouth. Where should one look a gift horse in anyways?

Perhaps a little perspective should come into play here. Hey reader! Did you know that the city you live in will provide you unlimited supplies of free mulch!? Well, they do if you know where to look. In this instance, here in San Diego, I signed up for Chipdrop. Here’s the deal with that; you get a free truck-load of freshly chipped mulch delivered to your house… whenever it’s convenient and a chipping project is underway in your general area.

In my case, it took about eight months to receive my mulch. You can opt to pay $20 to have them deliver it a bit sooner if you like as a way to grease the wheels. You can select if you want mostly logs, chips and logs, or mostly chips and you can let them know where they should dump it. Unless you’re like me and have a super skinny anorexic driveway, in which case they’ll have to drop it in the street in front of your house. Continue reading “Ain’t no Party like a Free Mulch Party!”