Garden Update July 1 2017

02 Jul


June night,

Just-right-for-racoon night.

Not too dark,

Not too bright,

As we look for treats.

Out we creep

While people sleep.

Soon we hope to find a heap

Of cheese and bread crumbs,

Piled deep

On codfish bones and beets.

-Nancy Shaw

Bere barley last week

This is from one of my kid’s favorite books when they were little it’s called Racoon Tune. I must have read this to them a thousand times back when I thought raccoons were cute. I’ve since changed my mind. The barley was looking fantastic last week and I thought I may even be harvesting the Bere barley this week but they beat me to it, the masked bastards. Look at the Bere now.

Bere barley this week.

They also destroyed about three beds of the Maris Otter. I’m thinking it’s raccoons and not rats because the stems have just been knocked over whereas rats tend to chew the stalk at the base and then take the seed head. Some of the seed heads have just been chewed off and the only other animal that could do that would be a skunk but they’re quite a bit smaller than the raccoons around here. I also found some of their crap which was rather neatly deposited into one corner of the garden, at least they have manners.


Looks like raccoon crap.

Fortunately, there is quite a bit of barley left in the garden, the Chevallier looks good so I’m not giving up.


The Maris Otter












I couldn’t leave the garden today without doing something to deter these little buggers. Fencing is out of the question, they would just climb over it. So I figured I’d try to make it a little unappetizing for them. I bought three packs of cayenne pepper and sprinkled it all over the barley and I tried to get some on the ground as well so they’d get it on their paws. I know, it sounds kinda cruel, but I’m hoping they’ll just smell it and move on. Fingers crossed.


Posted by on July 2, 2017 in Garden videos


11 responses to “Garden Update July 1 2017

  1. Demy

    July 2, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Hello friend, it’s a continuous fight …
    Here in southern Italy there is a high temperature but I have experienced some things. I have malted the oats successfully, while the corn is more stubborn: I can not germinate the whole lot, there are seeds that do not sprout (sometimes 50%). Do you have any suggestions for me?
    Another thing I’m trying to do is wash the germinated barley (just before drying) for better hygiene. In a forum that talks about seeds, it recommends a bath with water + a small amount of hypochlorite (bleach): in this way the chlorine knows that it can interfere with germination, but I want to try it in the last dive phase .

    • jfdyment

      July 2, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Demy I’m right in the middle of malting some oats too. I accidentally oversteeped to 47% and my germination rate was 62% However I get a 95% rate when I test them in between some damp cloth. Still trying to figure out why this is happening. I’m steeping at 10C and germinating at 16C what temperatures are you using? I would stay away from bleach, this will add chlorophenol to your beer causing a medicinal taste. A standard practice when malting Sorghum (which I’ve also been experimenting with) is to give the grains a soak in a lye solution (sodium hydroxide) to kill any fungus and discourage mold from forming. This is done during the first steep and I’ve read recommendations to do this again after the last steep. The solution strength would be 2 grams per liter so that it’s a .2% solution. This is done for Sorghum because of it’s warmer germinating temperatures (25C). But be sure to rinse it after, many times. Lye is dangerous stuff, as I’m sure you’re aware, it can cause burns so be sure to protect your eyes and hands – always add the lye to the water so it’s instantly diluted, and do not use aluminum.

      • Demy

        July 3, 2017 at 10:47 am

        Thank you very much for your complete information. I know the licorice, there is also a way to make a biological home (if you are interested I can give you the recipe), but I do not know the concentration, or alternatively I find the granular one. In the winter I have no problems, but corn malt requires high temperatures of germination. The percentage of germination of oats and barley is very high, while corn is not. I was thinking that for some difficult “cereals” we could try what is happening naturally in the soil: short cycles of soaking, but all germination. I have read that some ancient populations have put the corn under the ground for optimal germination and then dig and clean. I do not know if it depends on the substances coming from the soil or from a slow but steady moisture (not a load of water as we do for the barley) but it made me wonder if perhaps the extended bath is not optimal for corn, what do you think ?

  2. Bill Gauch

    July 7, 2017 at 10:45 am

    I have read that the raccoon prevention fence is typically called a floppy fence. You put in 4′ fence posts with an 8′ wire fencing. The top part should lean out. When they try to climb it, it moves and makes it difficult/impossible for them to climb.

    • jfdyment

      July 7, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      That’s a good idea, I just might do this, thanks for the tip!

    • jfdyment

      July 12, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      Thanks for the link, I was really looking forward to growing bere, now the racoons have set me back a year. One thing I noticed about it was that it does not send up tillers like other barley, one seed grows just one stalk, ( at least in my little plot) this may explain why it’s about three weeks faster to ripen.

  3. marco

    July 24, 2017 at 9:08 am

    For Demy: ciao come va? Saluti dal Friuli!
    Thank you François fro the goldmine of suggestions in your site. This week I ran my first batch of barley and have also some wheat malt going. I was surprised to see it took only 4-5 days after steeping to get ready, I was expecting more. Since the barley here in Italy is harvested in june, I thought to save energy and sun-dry the malt. I started with 16 kg (so the handling of my first batch was rather clumsy). For germinating I put the basins in a thermostated freezer to keep temperatures around 15-17 C°.
    Then, since I don’t have a dehydrator but I can rely on sun for drying and my oven for curing, I manifactured some trays made of stainless steel wide as my oven.
    I found it rather practical to do them in the fashion of vegetable crates, so I can stack them, leaving free airflow between the layers and place a fan to dry all the crates at once on open air. I took some vegetable crates, retained only the 4 corner wood struts, then cut the steel net in a square (size of my oven) with 4 lateral wings, wide as the grain layer to dry (5-8 cm) and then plyed and stapled them on the corner woods. The corner woods provide structure to stack a vessel upon another on many floors.
    I didn’t make beer yet, maybe in 2 weeks I will try.
    It was a nice experience, I cured it only for 3 hours at pilsener temps, but then i had problems to remove the rootlets, so half of them are still there. I read that in your experience they don’t affect so much beer flavor, so I was thinking to leave them there without going too mad.

    • jfdyment

      July 24, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      Hi Marco, you’re very welcome! Sound interesting, if you send me some pictures I can put them in a blog post. You can e-mail them to Yes don’t worry too much about the roots but if you want, another 2 hours at pilsner malt curing temps might make them more friable. Cheers!

  4. marco

    July 27, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Sent 🙂 another question: I left the temperature of my germinating wheat uncontrolled just on the last day and some mold developed. It’s limited to small places and some ungerminated grain went purple. I started right away to dry it.
    Should I dispose of the batch or just taking away some moldy grain is enough to save the rest?

    • jfdyment

      July 28, 2017 at 2:54 am

      Hi Marco if it only developed in the last day I would try to take away the moldy stuff but I wouldn’t worry too much unless it smells really musty. Musty flavour can show up in the beer. Try tasting some of the good grains, if it’s bad you’ll know it. If it’s just a small batch there is a saying “when in doubt throw it out” Otherwise try kilning it, and check for any musty smells while it’s drying. Hope this helps, happy malting! Francois


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