Wednesday, April 30, 2014

White Lisbon Onion

I really like growing these onions. They are very small, can fit in nearly any location in the garden. Several plants can fit into containers as small as 1 gallon. These are easy to cultivate and good candidates for succession planting. If you need something to fit in between your rows of carrots or lettuce, consider these.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Brew Day #8: "Burning Bear" Amber Ale + Recipe

Bear on fire
No bears were immolated in the creation of this brew
Today marks the first brew we've done since the Vanilla Porter. The house agreed upon making an amber ale using the California ale yeast we had in the fridge. In the two month gap since our last brew day, our apartment complex had microwave/hood units installed above each stove, effectively replacing all the old vent hoods. At first I was worried that the new microwave would block our kettle from being placed on the stove, but luckily there was at least 2-3 inches of clearance. Aside from that trouble, nothing else stood in the way of making some great beer.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tap Handle (Brewing)

When my brother told me to make him a tap handle I was wondering what he needed a tap handle for if he had not any taps?  Unbeknownst to me, the term tap handle also refers to the lever shaped thing you pull to dispense alcohol at a bar.  Since I had some leftover baseball bat from the hammer handle project, I decided to have some fun and try freehand wood turning.

First, I drilled and tapped a 3/8"-16 hole in the end of the wood piece.  I believe this is the standard thread for tap handles.
Tapping a 3/8"-16 hole directly into wood
I used a piece of 3/8"-16 threaded rod to hold it in the lathe.
3/8" threaded rod inserted into wood blank
All set up before turning.
Half of baseball bat set up in lathe

Thursday, April 24, 2014

More Cabbage, More Food -- Garden Update April 24

Salad bowl lettuce opening photo
Surviving the heat, and soaking up sun.
It's getting hot this April! Thanks to some cloudy weather, my plants aren't wilting as much today. It's supposed to rain tomorrow (90% chance), which is good for the state and the plants. However, the forecast says it'll reach 90 next week for 3 days or so. I think it'll be a good idea to bring out some sheets to act as shade cloth for some of these plants.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Time To Learn Excel

The Premise:
All "normal" milling machines have table feed hand wheels that move the table .200" per revolution.  This makes calculating the distance to be moved easy because it is a nice round number.  For example if you wanted to move the table 1.878" it would be 9 revolutions plus .078" on the dial.

This is not the case with my Knuth DBF 400 as the hand wheel moves the table .166" per revolution.  Where they got this number from I have no idea, though it probably has something to do with the feeds and gearing for cutting threads.  Interestingly enough, the cross feed hand wheel moves the table .100" in the Y axis which is much easier to work with.
Knuth DBF 400 hand wheel dial
Let's say we want to move the table 1.878", we would have to divide 1.878" by .166" then rotate the hand wheel by the answer and any remainder on the dial.  Thus I take out the calculator and input 1.878/.166 which gives 11.313253012048192771084337349398 which tells me there will be 11 full revolutions, then plug in 1.878-11(.166) to get the remainder.

Instead of doing all these calculations every time I want to move the table any distance over .166", I figured it would be handy to make a chart that shows the amount of distance moved in relation to number of revolutions of the hand wheel.  Therefore, the calculation would me much faster.

Option 1:
Draw a chart by inputting the numbers into the calculator one at a time........ very slow.  Upon attempting this, it occurred to me why they invented computers; to do the math for you.
Drawing a chart the hard way

Friday, April 18, 2014

Germination and Radiant Sunlight -- Garden Update 4/18

It's starting to feel like summer again. Nearly everyday in the past week has been in the high 70s/low 80s. However, the trend looks to be reversing in the next week; we might be getting some rain again. Regardless, most of the plants in the garden are still alive, despite some wilting here and there during the day. A little extra water perks them right back up. I'm not done planting new seeds yet as I have yet to finish harvesting all of the winter plants (read as the cabbages upstairs).
April 18 Grapevine overview
The grapevine has been given a new home

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Naturally Scented Strawberry Soap

Strawberry Soap closeup
Fruit leather in soap form
My strawberry plant this year has been slacking in terms of production. Luckily I got a basket of strawberries from the farmers market for only $2.50. It took some restraint not to eat all the berries before making soap since they were so tasty. The soap likewise emits a pleasant strawberry aroma.

See more scented soaps

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Naturally Scented Grapefruit Soap

Grapefruit soap
Can't get enough grapefruit in your life
When I think of grapefruit, the first thing that comes to mind is the popular fad diet from a few decades back. Although I'm not a big fan of eating straight grapefruit, it smells nice enough to be made into a soap. The scent on this soap is strong enough to notice and not overwhelming.

See more scented soaps

Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach

Spinach 4 weeks old

This is one of the oldest varieties of spinach and probably the most popular heirloom variety. I liked growing this one better than Olympia because the leaves actually got large before the plant bolted. Although some plants still bolted, this is a more reliable variety. Leaves are very crinkly and still retain good flavor for a short time after bolting.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Future Vineyard?

Central Valley Vineyard
Central Valley Vineyard (somewhere near Fresno)
What could be ahead in my future? Potentially my own vineyard. I took a viticulture class at my school last quarter and learned a lot about wines and grape varieties. From this, my fascination to try growing my own and attempts to find the different varietal style grapes (those for wine, not for table grapes as found in a grocery store) has begun. Unless you have a special order with a grapevine nursery, it isn't easy finding wine grape plants. Plus I think there are laws regarding the shipment of grapevines into California, not too sure yet. However, there are tons of wineries in the state that grow dozens of different grape varieties, so it shouldn't be so difficult to acquire wine grapevines.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Seeds for a new beginning -- Garden Update 4/11

Cabbage head
Almost time for cabbage
Although my garden isn't looking as vibrant as the same time last year, I've had a slow start this year. This week we'll be taking a look at the changes I've made so far to prepare for the longer growing season.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Field Trip

Sierra Nevada Brewhouse art
Welcome to Chico!
I got the chance to visit the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company up in Chico, CA as part of an industry tour trip the other day. Sierra Nevada is most known for making delicious, hoppy beers like Torpedo and their Pale Ale. If you've never had the opportunity to tour a brewery or visit Chico, I recommend visiting this one. They are the 6th largest brewery in America and 2nd largest craft brewery by sales volume at the time of this writing. Aside from volume, the brewery prides itself for being pioneers in both brewing and environmental consideration.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Baseball Bat Hammer Handle

You might not remember this picture from my first post, but it is now relevant.  The ball peen hammer with half the handle missing was called to my attention when a friend suggested making a hammer handle from a baseball bat.  I figured this would be an excellent opportunity to make a new handle for it and to utilize my newly acquired wood turning abilities.
Ball peen hammer with half the handle missing.
From raiding garage sales and thrift stores, I found a couple of small bats that will fit the bill.
Two small baseball bats and the hammer.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Naturally Scented Orange Soap

Broadening our citrus horizon, we add orange scented soap to our list of creations. A whole orange peel went into making this batch. Like the lemon soap, the orange smell is not overwhelming and is pleasant to smell. I like eating oranges, so getting more peel to make this again will not be a problem.
Naturally Scented Orange Soap profile
Smells like Florida!
Fun fact: Although Valencia oranges are named after the city in Spain, the variety was originally created in Santa Ana, CA.

See more scented soaps

Naturally Scented Vanilla Soap

Naturally Scented Vanilla Soap top
The finest soap made with Madagascar vanilla beans
Our next scented soap is vanilla. Using two tablespoons of homemade vanilla extract, this soap is made to be as aromatic as ice cream is tasty. The color is a light, translucent brown, like that of the extract. The odor is pleasant and not overwhelming (like the garlic soap). Now your hands can have a fresh vanilla scent to them.

See more scented soaps

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Feeding the Dragon -- Microgreens Growing Guide

The dragon is hungry
There's a dragon to feed and he's hungry!
For part 3 of my microgreens experiment, I teamed up with my neighbor to provide a solution to feed his bearded dragon, Drogo. Bearded dragons require a great amount of crickets and leafy greens to stay alive and happy. They especially love to eat mustard greens and bok choy. It has eaten some of the bok choy I've grown in my hydroponic garden and a leaf from one of my cabbages before too. We'll be testing out this method using mustard green microgreens.

A Little Rain Never Hurt Anything -- April 2 Garden Update

1 gallon lettuce plant
Rebuilding the lettuce empire, 1 plant at a time
I have returned from spring break and soap making to find my garden still alive (thanks to my housemate). There were a few chard plants looking like death (wilting), but they recovered after I applied copious amounts of water. The sky has also given quite a bit of moisture too; it has been raining really hard the last two days.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Greens and Machines is now owned by Facebook Inc! -- April Fools 2014

We have reached negotiations with Facebook Inc. today to accept a buyout for a sum of $100 million!

"Although Greens and Machines has no physical product yet, we see in them great potential to produce great things in the future. We will be working with them in collaboration with Zynga and Oculus to create the new Farmville" -- Facebook company representative.

The news comes after aggressive negotiations continued for over a month. We decided to accept the $100 million deal on April 1st after being offered half of the total sum in company stock. We believe this partnership will allow us to create and bring even better content to share with everyone. We will be working with Oculus intensively to provide streaming gardening, machining, homebrewing and more content straight to your face.