Sunday, December 27, 2020

What I Learned about Gardening in 2020

For this I'm only going to be discussing the container garden and hydroponic garden I'm maintaining at my house. You can watch my vineyard harvest video to see how my year went with that sector.
2020 has been a long year filled with challenge and adversity. But we as a species are good at adapting for the given scenario. Likewise, gardening took on a whole new found interest and popularity with the general populace confined to their homes. But in any case I'll discuss that along with what I've learnt from my gardening experience this year.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Potato Bread

This bread recipe was inspired by the old 18th century cooking that Townsends does. The idea in those days was for the baker to stretch his flour consumption by adding in wheat substitutes to the dough.

The same principle can be applied to the supply chain disruptions due to this year's forced government lockdowns. Flour was one of the hottest commodities being panic bought. Yeast was too. In case you can't source any yeast, you could try to make your own sourdough starter as a substitute. Let's take a look at the recipe adapted to the modern era.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Jigsaw Blade Clamp Repair (U-Shank to T-Shank Conversion)

Jigsaw blades are available in two major styles: U-shank and T-shank.  Unfortunately, I was unaware of this fact when I bought my first jigsaw at a garage sale for $5.  I mistakenly bought a package of T-shank blades for it when it really took U-shank.

Not wanting to admit that I wasted $12 on the wrong blades for a $5 jigsaw, I decided to use them anyways because the package said, "Fits all jigsaws".  The blades did not fit properly and would slip out during use.  I still insisted they were supposed to work, so I tightened the blade clamp harder... too hard it seemed, since I'd cracked it right down the middle.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Small Mill, Big Vise

When I won my $500 All Industrial Supply shopping spree at the Bar-Z Summer Bash in 2018, my first inclination was to buy a Kurt vise for my machine.  However, after looking at the dimensions, it seemed that even the smallest vise was still too big for my tiny machine table.  The bolt locations would not have lined up with the T-slots, and I would've had to make a fixture plate to mount it.  Even then, there might've been an issue with the vise handle interfering with my machine's Y-axis handwheel.  Not wanting to risk all this confusion, I remembered that my friend had won several vises at an auction which he wasn't using.  He was kind enough to let me have the one of my choice.

I ended up spending the $500 on other things.

The vise I chose was this large two-piece one, shown here next to a standard mill vise for comparison.  The thing I liked about this one, aside from virtually unlimited holding capacity, was the height of the jaws. By itself, the back jaw practically doubles as an angle plate!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Apple Pie (from Scratch)

 After spending a good afternoon up in the Apple Hill region near my home, I came home transporting way too many apples and apple accessories (no, not the Steve Jobs variety). What better thing to make with a bunch of apples than Apple Pie?

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

5 More Plants to Grow in 1 Gallon Container Gardens

In my previous article: Best Vegetables to Grow in 1 Gallon Container Gardens, we talked about growing the following plants in 1 gallon containers:

Basil, Swiss Chard, Lettuce, Cilantro, Green Onion, Kale, Chili Peppers

In this article, we're going to cover a few more vegetables that you can successfully grow in a one gallon container.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Vineyard Harvest Year 6 | 2020

Less than a month and a half from putting up the bird netting and most of the grapes were ready to harvest!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Hydroponic Garden Collapse! | NFT 72 Update Week of June 15, 2020

I've shown you guys the massive tomato plant growing in this hydroponic system. It's HUGE. So big I've been having to trim it because it's growing so much foilage. I had transplanted a 2nd tomato plant into this system and that one had started to get bigger. Seeing that the biggest plant had taken over a whole channel, I needed to find the second plant a new home. I rescued another used kitty litter container from the dumpster and made it into a soil-based planter for this tomato plant. Transitioning from hydroponic to soil based isn't easy on a plant, but since it had a lot more roots, it was easier to get it to stabilize in the soil. Think of it as an extended time cloning experiment....

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Growing Sunflowers in 5 Gallon Buckets #sunflowerchallenge2020

Last Year on Greens and Machines....
A challenge was issued... Nick's Allotment Diary challenged us on YouTube to grow the tallest possible sunflower. And so I accepted the challenge. And planted sunflowers.. and they grew only 3 feet tall in my container.. Now it's 2020 and Nick has once again issued the challenge. Let's get grow some sunflowers!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Restarting the 72 Plant NFT Hydroponic Garden | 2020

If you have been following our YouTube channel or blog back at the end of 2018, you may remember me showing off some of this garden. If you haven't, then welcome to Greens and Machines and I'll give you the cliff notes...This is a hydroponic garden which has the capacity to grow 72 vegetable or herb crops in ~8 square feet. That's a lot of produce! It operates by principle of the NFT method, or nutrient film technique, where the plant roots gather water and nutrients through a thin film of nutrient solution. If you want to know more about that nutrient blend, here's the link.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Casting Coach Z's Medallion (Video)

I decided this year I wanted be Coach Z for Halloween, which finally gave me a use for all the scrap brass I'd been saving up!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Planting Peppers in a Kitty Litter Container | Container Gardening

My landlord had thrown out some kitty litter containers. Now instead of going to the recycling center, I snagged them. These kitty litter containers are perfect to re-purpose into a container garden! Not only did they previously hold food grade safe material, they are around 5 gallons in total volume, which can support the growth of most plants. Let me show you how to grow vegetables in this container.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Propagating my Tempranillo Cuttings | March 2020

This year I took some cuttings from my Tempranillo grape and rooted them using the rooting compound I know and trust. Watch the video to see how it is done:

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Plants for the Pandemic -- Vegetable Gardening Under Quarantine | Coronavirus special

It is now the middle of March and we are at least a month into Coronavirus panic. As the grocery store shelves clear of toilet paper and canned food, you might want to consider stopping by the nursery.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Removing the Dead Grapevines | March 2020

Turns out those rabbits that attacked my grapevines were able to finish the job. The three grapevines I had at my house didn't return from dormancy. RIP.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Crown Victoria Blend Door Actuator Replacement

This part is one of the biggest pains in the ass to replace. But the job is worth undertaking for what you regain.
A common problem on Fords is the failure of the Blend Door Actuator. This motor controls the position of the air door in the plenum which affects the temperature of the air blown into the cabin. If the blend door actuator fails, you are no longer able to control the temperature with your climate control unit any more. Symptoms include AC stuck on cold, AC stuck on heat, and/or an annoying clicking noise from underneath the dashboard.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Lemon Sugar Cookies

When life gives you lemons, you make......
Welcome back readers, we are going to be doing some more baking with lemons today. After making lemon bars, in this blog post, we will be making lemon sugar cookies. Let's bake!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Crown Victoria Tailpipe Hanger Replacement

Time for another car repair DIY guide for my 2005 Crown Victoria.
I had taken my car to an exhaust shop for what I thought was an exhaust leak. Instead I given a diagnosis for an unrelated issue. The tailpipe was hanging pretty loose. I guess I noticed the symptoms but I had no idea this was the cause of it until I fixed it.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Lemon Bars

"I need lemons.... lots of lemons."
Well maybe not need, but I ended up with a bunch of lemons thanks to a generous friend. What does one do when life gives you lemons? Use them to cook.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Transplanting Avocado Trees

Today, we are going to be transplanting my buddy's two biggest avocado trees from these pots into a more permanent location in the ground.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Grain Mill Part 6 - Failed Roller Idea

When constructing the rollers for the grain mill, my original intent was to clad them with this stainless steel tubing because it felt more sanitary than having regular steel contacting the grain.  This didn't entirely work out for a few reasons.
Here we begin right after I had just finish turned the rollers to size.  The size was chosen for a press fit of this 2.5" diameter stainless tubing.  I began by hammering it onto the roller.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Grain Mill Part 5 - Nut Cracking Wheel

My vision for a grain mill that also cracks nuts didn't exactly work out the first time.  The major flaw was that putting a round nut between a driven and idle roller caused the second roller to spin backwards.  What I needed was a roller with lobes on it that would grip the nuts and force them into the other wheel instead of just slipping.

I had two options for making this;  1.  I could start with round material and mill a bunch of slots in the sides, or 2.  I could start with a rectangular piece, drill a bunch of holes in it, then cut it out with the band saw and turn it on the lathe.  I chose the second option because it sounded like more fun.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Pruning the Container Vineyard | Year 6 | January 2020

Now that its winter again, the vineyard has gone dormant. This is the perfect time to prune and take some cuttings before they come back to life, so let's get busy.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Grain Mill Part 4 - Hopper

The next order of business for the grain mill was to construct a hopper to hold the pre-milled grain.  I decided on a one-piece folded design made from a scrap stainless steel trash can.
Here I am cutting out the flat pattern with aviation snips, and also punching holes in some of the corners.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Grain Mill Part 3 - Assembly

Now that the rollers and housing have been completed, a few more articles need to be attended to before assembly can begin.  Firstly, we'll look at the handle.
I found this big cast iron handle at a garage sale for $2 which seemed like the perfect candidate for this build.  However, it needed a hole tapped in the side for a set screw to secure it to the fixed roller's shaft.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Grain Mill Part 2 - Rollers

My selection of roller size was decided by the fact I had two identical scrap pieces of 3" diameter steel sitting around.  I thought it would finally be a good use for them.  What I failed to consider was that a larger roller would result in more force required to mill grain.  This is due to two factors:  The shorter lever arm between the end of the handle and milling surface, and the larger contact area from the increased radius of curvature.  This I wouldn't realize until the testing phase.
Design wise, one roller is fixed, and the other is movable to allow variable spacing for different sizes of grain, nuts, and so forth.  The fixed roller would require a longer shaft for attaching the driving handle.  For this reason, I decided to make the fixed roller in two pieces, while the movable roller has the shaft built in.  The fixed roller is secured to the bearings with set screw collars, while the movable roller is held by two 3/8"-16 bolts through either end.  This was another design flaw that I wouldn't realize until later when I found out the bearings for the movable roller weren't actual ball bearings and would seize up when tightened down.
We begin with the movable roller.  First turning one end, and roughing the diameter for the bearing.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Grain Mill Part 1 - Housing

We begin the grain mill build with the outer housing.  I decided to make this from some scrap pieces of 1/2" thick stainless steel.  Firstly, squaring up all the sides in the milling machine.
Next, I drilled screw and dowel holes in the side pieces.  The screw holes were drilled 9/32" to clear 1/4"-20 screws, and the dowels were reamed for 1/4" dowels.  The dowels ensure more precise alignment of the housing pieces.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

5 Vegetables for 5 Gallon Bucket Container Gardens

Have you been looking to start a container garden, and have quite a bit of space to grow some vegetables? You may want to look into using 5 gallon buckets to grow some food. Being cheap and readily available, you can get your garden off the ground for next season with no trouble at all. Let's talk about setting up a 5 gallon container garden sand some crops to consider growing.