Welcome to Mistik Acres.

We hope you are able to form a connection with us, and the products we grow and produce on the land we live and work with.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hypertufa Part II.

Another way to determine if your batch is the right consistency is take a handful of your thoroughly mixed ingredients and squeeze it in the palm of your hand. There should be a small amount of moisture that drips from your hand. At this point you are ready to start molding your container.
We use baskets, plant pots, cardboard boxes, Styrofoam containers and molds made of wood to make different shapes and sizes of containers. Your imagination is your only limit as to what your finished product will be. The next step is to line your mold with a thin plastic, an example would be dry cleaner plastic doubled. The thin plastic allows the cement mixture to go into all the corners of your mold. If you use a heavy plastic you may not get the true shape of the mold.
Now you can start building your container, one handful at a time. First you line the bottom of your mold with about 1 inch of hypertufa and then you start building the sides making sure the thickness is about 1 inch. Build the sides about 3 inches all around and then add another few inches until you have reached the top of your mold or the height you would like your container to be. You will need to smooth out and fine tune the surface trying to keep a consistent thickness of walls and base. Once you are satisfied with the container you need to let it sit in the mold for about 48 hours to allow the cement mixture to harden somewhat before you remove it from the mold. If you try to remove it too soon it will break apart when you take it out of the mold, but if you leave it too long in the mold it will be very difficult to remove as well. If you are making your containers in the summertime, cover them with plastic and do not set the container in full sun throughout the drying process as it will dry too quickly and not cure properly. You want the containers to dry slowly, which can take up to about 1 month, before they are completely dry.
Once you have taken the containers out of the mold it is time to scratch the outside of the surface with a metal brush, which takes away that smooth look created from the plastic liner and gives the pot a textured, natural look. At this point you also want to drill drainage holes in the container if you are planning on using it for a planter.
Once the container has dried completely, it is time to soak the container in water to wash away the lime residue from the cement. Most plants do not appreciate a strong concentration of lime, so we soak them for about 24 hours and then change the water and soak for another 24 hours. In this soaking we also brush the containers with a stiff brush to remove any loose particles. Now they must dry again for about 3-4 weeks. After they are dry they are ready to be planted. Plants of all types do very well in hypertufa containers as they do not heat up in the sun and they are porous which allows the roots of the plants to breath. The containers never fade, in fact the longer they are exposed to the elements the more natural the look to them. They will stand up to the heat, rain and cold.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hypertufa Part I

Since the weather has turned cold and the ground has frozen we are turning our attention towards other tasks that we complete throughout the winter. We received a few seed catalogues this past week, so we are checking out all the new seeds available and considering what we will grow in 2011. We also check out the internet for various seed companies and take a look at their stock. Generally we order the bulk of our seeds from T&T Seeds (http://www.ttseeds.com/), Stokes (http://www.stokeseeds.com/), and William Dam Seeds (http://www.damseeds.com/).

The bulk of Pat's time is taken over with the Hypertufa production. Hypertufa is a mixture of cement, vermiculite, peat moss and a small amount of fibre mesh. The fibre mesh acts as a bonding agent. The proportions are measured into a large tub and then mixed all together in their dry state. Once they are blended water is added. At his stage it is crucial that you do not add excessive water, as your batch will be runny and you will be throwing it out. You must add your water in smaller portions and mix it with each addition. The consistency you want to achieve is that of cottage cheese. Once the consistency is satisfactory you can start molding your containers.
Check back next week for instructions on Part II of Hypertufa Production.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Squash Recipe

We came across a recipe this fall that we really enjoyed and wanted to share with you. Another way to prepare the winter squash you may have stored in your cold room or if you don't have any go to your nearest Farmers Market and purchase one before they are sold out.
We used a pumpkin called Jamboree Hybrid, that we grew, which has a blue/grey skin. They are ornamental as well as edible. carved like a pumpkin for Halloween. The flesh is very orange and firm, perfect for the recipe below.

Squash Rings with Honey Soy Glaze
3 pounds of acorn, butternut or other firm squash
vegetable oil
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove minced (we used several cloves)
Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450F. Brush a large baking sheet with oil (can also line it with foil). Peel and seed squash and cut into 1 inch thick disks.
Place disks in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Cover baking sheet with foil. Bake about 15 minutes until squash begins to soften.
Meanwhile whisk next 5 ingredients in a small bowl to blend. Remove foil from squash. Brush half of honey mixture over squash. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake uncovered 10 minutes. Brush remaining mixture over squash; continue to bake until squash is brown, tender and glazed, about 10 minutes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wildlife sightings.

This past week we had a couple of wildlife sightings. A Pileated Woodpecker visited our yard. We see this bird on occasion, not regularly, and you may hear it before you see it. When it pecks on a tree or power pole the noise it creates is very loud. In the summertime with the windows open we can hear it in the house pecking away on the power poles in the yard. We hadn't seen the resident deer with her baby for a while, but last week we spotted them early one morning running through the front yard. The baby is not a baby anymore as it is just about as big as it's mother.
In October we attended a Proven Winners Road Show. It was a day long seminar sponsored by the Proven Winners organization. Throughout the day we listened to speakers providing everyone with information about the plants they have developed. There is a lot of time, effort and money invested in creating the plants that have the Proven Winner label,which include annuals, perennials and shrubs. Try a plant or two from their collection.
I wanted to pass along a website that I visit often. The address is http://www.icangarden.com/. It is a Canadian site with lots and lots of links to many gardening topics. They publish a monthly newsletter that you can subscribe to as well.
Enjoy the week.