Monthly Archives: January 2012

Pollarding

We did it, we finally tackled the mulberry tree. Or rather, we finally got around to hiring someone to tackle it. The tree guys came out, took a look, and decided it was way overgrown and our best bet would be to pollard it. We’ve seen some pretty strange-looking pollarded trees, especially on the Berkeley campus, but mulberry trees just grow so darn fast that it suits our main goals perfectly: keep the tree from taking over the yard/destroying our roof while still keep a chunk of the back yard in shade in the summer. Anyway, here’s the only “before” picture I could find:

(Sorry, crappy phone picture...)

And here is the pollarded, skeletal after:

So that's what the sky looks like!

The now-taller tree in the background is the elderberry tree that is leaning over our neighbor’s yard a tiny bit. We probably need to either pollard that one too, or maybe just cut it down entirely. Luckily, our neighbors are pretty much easy-going procrastinators like us, so there’s no rush.

And now, for a never-before-seen view of the back of our house!

Please ignore the pile of cardboard boxes...

Yup, our roof feels a lot less threatened now. And see that bushy green tree thing getting oh-so-much sun to the right of the house in the back of the picture? it’s our citrus tree!! And now it might actually do a little better since the mulberry tree isn’t leaning over it.

(yummy?)

We aren’t really sure if they’re supposed to be edible, but the tree trimmers chomped down on a few during their break, so maybe we should actually get it looked into. It certainly has a lot of fruit right now…

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Homebrew Kombucha

I’ve been wanting to get more fermented/probiotic foods in my diet, but I’m not very fond of yogurt. I’ve been plotting various ways to add sauerkraut and maybe kimchi, if I can find some good sources, but in the mean time I’ve fallen in love with kombucha, probably because I can get it at almost any convenience store within a few blocks of my office. (Yeah, I work in San Francisco. Sometimes it’s more obvious then others.) Unfortunately it costs more than $2 per bottle, so it was turning into an expensive habit, despite being one of those things that can be made in bulk at home pretty cheaply.

So this weekend I dragged myself out to a kombucha making class, and dragged myself back home again with a SCOBY and starter tea, as well as a 3″ diameter mesh tea ball and a blend of black and green loose leaf teas. I went out and procured a water filter and a 1.5 gallon glass container, and I was ready to go! Step one, make sweet tea:

boiling water, a task I feel pretty confident with.

That 3″ mesh tea holder is huge, but it was easier to deal with than a whole bunch of tea bags:

And then I waited for forever so it could cool down to room temperature...

Sweet tea in the big glass jar, starter tea and SCOBY in the smaller jar is about to join it:

(The SCOBY is hard to see in this picture, but it's very weird and spongy looking.)

And then it sits for three weeks in the corner of the kitchen:

Rubber band, tea towel... very high tech.

Maybe it’ll make friends with the butternut squash. Or maybe it’ll die a horrible death. Everything I’ve been told is these things are very hard to mess up, but if anyone can find a way, I can! I guess I’ll know in a few weeks. In the mean time I need to procure some bottles for the “second fermentation”…