Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pennyless Soda Carbonation and Using Net Cups for Gardening


EDIT: this post is now part of Real Food Wednesday.

The first section is about making your own root beer, fizz and all, without buying yeast! It is a very simple article and is explained after the jump.

The second section is about my decision to use net cups for starting seeds. EDIT: this also contains an update on how that worked out. This section also explains why net cups should be use for starting seeds. You will want to hear this if you want an easier way to transplant.

Carbonating Pop for Free

If you're reading this, you might have wanted to carbonate your own root beer. Well you can do that—for free! I actually found this by accident, but I ran an experiment on my next batch and found it to work! Let's find out how.

The way it works is that root beer's familiar head can be achieved using yeast. When you carbonate pop with yeast, the result is thousands of tiny bubbles, creating a rather fine fizz. Your pop will not be abrasive or full of large bubbles.

On top of that, you can carbonate root beer using wild yeast—the kind you don't buy! This is significant for those who make a lot of root beer or other fermented sodas. Champagne yeast will not cost a fortune when you're buying it once, but compare that to other expenses you may have. So going cheap is a good idea.

So how do you harvest wild yeast to carbonate your pop? My methodology is based on the principle of making sourdough starter—to capture wild yeast in the starter and leaven the bread. This eliminates the need to buy yeast; and the same idea can be applied to soda pop, as I have recently found out.

How, then, does this process work? It's not rocket science, actually—make your soda(with the sugar dissolved) and leave it out overnight. It can be left uncovered in the winter when flies are not harassing you or drowing in your root beer.

After this, bottle your root beer and let it ferment. Stuff like this, I've heard, has been going on since the early days of America.

Here's a side note about ginger. Actually, I tried to make a ginger bug, a naturally fermented, fizzing beverage. You can add it to soda to add the fizz to it.
The fact is you don't have to make a ginger bug if you don't want to, but doing so lets you add ginger's flavor to it. Cut up some ginger, submerse it in filtered water(no chlorine), and add sugar. Wait, lather rinse, and repeat until it is fizzy. As another side note, ginger's very good for your stomach—it can treat a few common ailments, such as an upset stomach.

Just a warning: I don't actually know what goes into your soda and bubbles it up. It could be the same yeast and bacteria that make sourdough bread, which I also made recently.—DATE: Sat May 17.

Using Net Cups for Gardening

In this section, I will explain what net cups are and why they are your best friends. And this time I actually used them, so you can take my word for it.—DATE: Sat May 17. I got this idea from watching Larry Hall's channel on Youtube.

So the question is: why should you use net cups? Why should you fork over the money for them. Firstly, they're not expensive. But this is the second reason:

Net cups improve root development. How? Via the air pruning effect. This prevents the plant from becoming root-bound, meaning it is not hard as heck to pull out of the ground, container, or raised bed. But what is the air pruning effect?

Simply put, this means that air is literally pruning back the tips of the roots. The root retaliates by branching out, creating a root system that looks like a tree. This creates a stronger plant by preventing transplant shock. It also makes the plant easier to pull up and it doesn't hog all the space of a container.

In contrast, a standard pot would have the root hit a wall and spiral downward, making it hard to pull the plant without damaging its roots. But net cups fix all that and makes the plant more stable.

How to use 3" net cups. Use regular potting mix instead of seed starting mixture. Line up the net cups in a tray and add your seeds according to your package instructions. Add a quarter-inch of water to the tray and let the potting mixture absorb all the water.

NEW UPDATE: I grew two rather hearty basil plants. That, along with pruning the herbs to make them branch out, made for two strong basil plants. I am also growing a Tiny Tim tomato as we speak.—Sat May 17.

SOURCES: Larry Hall's video

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