Greening the Balcony – Part 3

Avalus continues his balcony gardening adventures and he has shared some more thoughts and pictures. This is from somewhere mid-summer, I only got now to actually publishing it.


The Blooming Buzzing Balcony
Things are establishing, the tomato plants are continually exploding and I get a bowl of salad every day, although with late June, it gets so hot that the salads are racing to bloom. And they are not alone. So today we look at colorful hot plant sexy bits.
First, a quick overview of what changed in the meantime.

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Yes, more green, tomatoes racing up, and the added board gets really bent by all the pots. Time for a support beam. A yes, parts of an old alu camping bed will be perfect!

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On the other side, my usual chaos, more greens, a rescued kumquat bush hiding behind the table, on the table more plants waiting to be potted. The tomatoes on this side take their time. In previous years, these would grow much faster. Both pots got fresh earth so it is probably down to the variety.

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Enjoy!

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Nasturtium. The camera really struggles with their red shine. I really like putting these in salads or on just bread with cheese and butter. Yum-yum!

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Sweet potato with an extra earth bee. Sadly the other won’t bloom and all the flowers fall off. I really would have been interested in growing them from my own seeds next year.

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Ornamental Pea. I have them in a wide variety of colors but they grew down the outside of the balcony and I can’t get a good image (I am very afraid of dropping my camera).

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A very prickly aubergine, I think I will need to cut most of them off, as the plant is still pretty tiny and I don’t think it could support the many flowers it produces.

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Fiery red climbing bean, green leaves, blue sky. Contrast!

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Tomatoes. I can’t wait for tomato season, my sister is already drowning in fruits.

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Cucumber. They had a slow start and are not as sprawling as the years before. Maybe it is because of old seeds.

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Mystery capsicums, probably sweet peppers. This one I bought but the tag had fallen off.

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Tagetes, bumble bees really love them.

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Strawberries, a monthly variety that steadily produces new fruit and is nearly as expansive with its shoots as the non-blooming sweet potato.

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Stalked celery. Somehow, the wasps really love these flowers.

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Sage, this is a very small steppe variety. I bought this to attract more pollinators to the balcony. I think it worked and the smell is fantastic.

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Red cloves or small onions, leftover from last year.

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And more Beans to close it off.
Soon there will be more. The Echinacea paradoxa is still growing, as are the sunflowers and the calendula. Then there is the thyme and one of the salads I left standing.
Overall, I notice a distinct lack of honey bees on the balcony (and in general) this year, the bumble and earth bees are also few and far between. On the other hand, I get several types of wasps that crawl all over my balcony (and occasionally me, which is a bit unnerving). The climbing beans have had dozens of flowers but so far only three have started to fruit, all the others just fell off, which is disappointing. The tomatoes fared better, but a number were stung by stinking bugs and developed a rot. But these are acceptable losses, one should never expect to have 100% success while gardening.

Next time, I think I will take a closer look at my “exotics” – tropical and half-tropical plants and my experiences. Because I really just can’t throw out avocado and mango pits, or pass by sprouting ginger in a shop … .

Runner Beans Riches

Our south wall used to be shaded by a rabbit shed, later converted to a chicken hoop. Ever since I demolished that, the sun was directly blazing at it. It does not heat the house much because it is well insulated, but I felt somehow that the space is wasted. After some thinking, I have decided that it would be an ideal space for growing runner beans, one row, close to the wall. Runner beans do not mind the low-quality soil, so they do not need to be fertilized and thus there is no risk of polluting our well which is down the slope exactly on the opposite side of the house.

Last year was somewhat poor, the beans did not grow that much. There was enough rain, but not enough sun for them to really prosper. Even so, the harvest was big enough that we still did not eat it all.

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This year the weather was extremely hot and dry again. However, we managed to collect enough rainwater in the spring to be able to water the beans the whole time sufficiently, so they prospered enormously and covered the whole wall.

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They are still blooming and they will continue to grow until the first frost.  I will probably wait for two more weeks, then I will harvest all green immature pods and clip the plants so they do not waste energy on growing and instead mature the remaining pods quicker. But maybe I won’t bother. The harvest looks extremely promising even so, I will have to convince my mother to cook beans more often. I like them better than chicken anyway.

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I am thinking about buying seeds of other vine beans and planting them next year en masse on the vegetable patch where this year grew potatoes. But I like runner beans the best because they are big and thus they require the least work per weight when shelling. We used to have white runner beans too, but  I haven’t seen them in shops for a long time. I could not put seeds consistently aside, because the white and red beans hybridized and after two-three years I had neither white nor purple beans but a mish-mash.

Greening the Balcony – Part 2

Avalus continues his balcony gardening adventures and he has shared some more thoughts and pictures.


Visitors from the Past and Visitors I want to go past!

(This is from about the middle to the end of May.)

Content warning: A spider at the very end!

Green stuff is growing and exploding everywhere!

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Salads, tomatoes, nostrums, herbs, and potatoes.

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More salads, cucumbers, strawberries, and radishes. One sweet potato in the middle for good measure. The climbers will be led along the different rails or suspended on strings dangling down from the piece of wood, that also serves as an extension to the rails for balcony boxes.

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And on the other end of the balcony climbing beans, mangold, more potatoes, more salad and tomatoes On the bottom you can see capsicums. These really did not want to germinate this year, they took over four months to get this tiny.

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In the boxes, the bush beans are coming up, the ones on the right were from very old seeds, most did not germinate. The ones on the left are from new seeds. I did not take a picture of the broccoli box, but you can see, that it is still blooming. At a later date, it will sadly fall victim to tragedy.

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This year, I used up a lot of old seeds I collected over the years, just to see if they were any good. I did not expect much and was proven right, out of around sixty seeds I got three snowpeas and four to five weak bush beans. Then I got rid of the rest of the old seeds by digging them deep under the soil and, surprisingly, I was greeted by fresh pea sprouts three weeks later. Of course, this was after I bought and planted fresh seeds. Well, more peas!

I just really like peas! The trellis is made from hazelnut sticks I gathered in the surrounding area. It looks very flimsy but held up to a massive storm already.

Also, notice something odd about this sweet potato?

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There is a pumpkin, either muskat or hokkaido, growing on the left. How did it get there? Last fall I peeled pumpkin seeds and threw the supposedly empty shells in the empty bin and then later planted a sweet-potato shoot on top of the chaff. I very carefully removed the pumpkin plant. It will travel to my parent’s garden and will get a nice spot in their old compost pile. You can see the extracted plant in one of the pictures above.

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This spring I cut down my sage (it was getting constant mildew and was too sprawling) and decided to try and multiply it via cuttings. So, I used some paper pots I had left over from last spring, trying to grow some kind of tomatoes. Nothing came of these seeds, the pots have been completely dry for a year. And this year, of course, three tomatoes germinated! I wonder what kind they will be.

With greens, there are aphids.

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Especially my capsicums were hit hard, with leaves getting all curly or falling off altogether. As of writing in mid June, they are still very weak.

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But with aphids, there come fierce predators! Here is a ladybug hunting on basilicum.

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I have no idea what caterpillar/larva this is, but the empty aphid husks tell a gruesome story of brutal murder.

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The same goes for these bright orange larvae that are dining on the aphids. Probably some kind of wasp?

Sadly, with aphids also come ants.

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In a garden, I like to have them around but on the balcony, they sadly have to go. That is the one time I use poison to get rid of creatures, but in past years I learned the hard way that ants become a huge problem in compact spaces, herding aphids and eventually invading the apartment.

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Here is a very different caterpillar, happily munching on a cabbage. The cabbage itself was a result of an experiment: What would happen, if I were to just plonk the centrepiece of a cabbage I ate in a glass of water? It grew and has given me some nice leaves so far. I have no real plans for the cabbage other than pick some leaves every now and then, so the caterpillar can stay. Enjoy your meal!

And for PZ, a newly hatched batch of tiny cute orb weaver spiders and their mom hiding in the rosemary. There are many of them around on the balcony, their nets are getting filled with winged aphids!

[Read more…]

Fig Season Starts

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I picked over 800 g of fresh figs today. It is figs and yogurt for dinner tonight. Eating them all before they spoil will be challenging – this variety is supposed to be eaten fresh and these first ones are extremely sweet. It never ceases to amaze me that I can harvest figs in my garden.

A Big Commission – Part 2 – New Magnetic Thingamajig

My magnetic chuck for grinding bevels  works well and I am still using it but it is unsuitable for establishing the bevels on a huge blade like this. I have actually been thinking about this for some time, and the kukri commission was in the end just a suitable excuse to play for two days with magnets and exercise my grey matter a bit.

The thing I came up with was a combination of a magnetic jig and the sharpenatrix. That alone could not work because it does not allow me to get as close to the belt as I need. And also it has a fixed length, so in certain positions, the blade like the kukri would actually be partly above the tallest point on the belt. Thus I established that I need:

  1. a telescopic arm
  2. a switchable permanent magnet

Both of those things can be bought, sometimes even in conjunction. But they are really expensive and for my purposes, even the cheapest and smallest ones are needlessly bulky and heavy. Yes, at long last, finally a chance for me to just dick around with various scraps and it is really economic use of my time!

After some trial and error, I have gotten the best results with just two magnetic arrays from two broken speaker magnets and four flat pieces of mild steel from a broken clamp.

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The magnets are oriented in both arrays with the north in the same direction on both sides of the pipe in the middle. And since they were broken into irregular pieces, I have glued them in with a mixture of steel dust and epoxy to better facilitate the transfer of the magnetic field into the steel. With one exception – the side that is going to hold the workpiece has a bit of brass between the steel bars, so the magnetic field does not extend there all the way to the surface between them. The piece of stainless steel non-magnetic pipe in the middle allows me to connect the two magnets with an axis around which they can swivel freely. When the poles of both arrays are aligned, they repulse each other but the whole assembly sticks to steel on the sides very strongly. When they are misaligned, the whole thing is nearly non-magnetic all around.

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Here you can see me testing it. A threaded copper rod is fixed to one of the magnetic arrays and will connect it to the telescopic arm later on. A stainless, non-magnetic steel rod is also fixed (riveted) into that magnetic array. The second array can rotate freely on the top. At this stage, I got my first bonus – both extreme configurations are stable without the need for any mechanical locking mechanism and the outward magnetic force builds up/disappears quickly, not gradually.

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Now you can see it nearly finished. The telescopic arm consists of several parts:

  1. the 8 mm copper rod with stainless steel nut fixed into the array
  2. thin 12 mm steel tube lined with 10 mm brass tube in the upper half to ensure a tight fit for the copper rod.
  3. 10 mm steel rod with thread at the end on which the ball from sharpenatrix can be screwed
  4. 2 screws go through threads in two pieces of thicker tube and through all the tubing to lock both the steel and the copper rods in fixed positions. There are brass inserts under each screw to ensure they do not scratch the surface of the rods. Hopefully.

The knob was only added so I do not poke myself with the sticking screw during work and it turned out to be a second bonus – it allows me to hold onto the blade with one hand and comfortably hold and switch on/off the magnet with the other.

With that, the arm was not finished yet, but it was functional, so I went on and tested it. And it worked really well. Not ideally, but it did help a lot, especially with a complicated grind like this. Kukri changes the blade width over the lenght of the blade, so to reduce the weight, keep it strong, and optimize the cutting capability towards the end of the blade the primary bevel has to be steeper on the wider portion of the blade than on the narrow part. So I had to grind it in two steps. The first step was to establish the less- steep bevel on the whole blade (approx 5°).

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The second step was to establish the steeper bevel on the wide portion of the blade whilst carefully feathering it into the narrow portion. The grind on the intermediate portions is a bit funny-shaped, which I will have to correct with a file. Later during polishing (this will only go to 100 or perhaps 120 grit), it will smoothen out, I did make blades like this already, although not of this size and not with a belt grinder.

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I made this grind in about an hour, which is speedy, especially considering that I was working with a new jig. I slipped up on two parts on the other side before I figured out how to best use it, but nothing that would not be corrected in polishing.

As a final touch, I have encased both arrays in alluminium housing so they do not gather steel dust. And I painted ON/OFF markings with a sharpie to have visual clues during work.

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If it were a bit stronger, I would not have those two slip-ups that I had, but it is strong enough to be useful – it has over 2,5 kg lifting force, which is in my opinion impressive given that the initial magnets on their own have barely lifted anything.

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Overall I am very pleased with the result. I now know how to make small switchable permanent magnets. I still have some ordinary black magnets to play with, but I will probably also buy some small neodymium magnets and build myself a variety of magnetic holders with high force. Even a small flat magnetic plate can cost several hundred €. With some care and planning, I think I could make a useful one myself for a fraction of the cost in just a few days.

Greening the Balcony – Part 1

Guest post by Avalus. I am looking forward to the continuation(s) and once again I render my robe and put ashes on my head, this should go up a month ago.


A new project by me, Avalus. I use my balcony each year to grow veggies and some flowers, but I never thought about sharing this. Charly encouraged me to do so, so thank you very much for this opportunity! Similar to Full Fish Ahead, this will be some poorly held together train of thought with many pictures that will be written at random intervals and you all hopefully find interesting and worth your time reading. Comments are very welcome, as I learn something new every year I change my balcony in a lush green jungle (or in 2018, more like a dry brown savannah). Also, I hope to inspire people to green up their spaces, if they can!

So, this is my balcony, roughly 2 by 5 meters, facing south on the lofty hight of seventh floor and as of now, already pretty full of plants!

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

But how did I get there?

I started in late winter and early spring with the pregrowing the slower plants. Tomates and peppers mostly but also some older seeds that I expected would not germinate anymore were put in the earth*. For pregrowth I use these 2 old fishtanks that I got from a garbage pile, the seeds are planted in egg cartons and some leftover paper pots, as soil I use cocosshell soil. This foto is from late march, you can also see a sprouting avocado and a taro plant grown from a leftover from cooking.

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*That is why there are some beans growing on the right. Also, the old cucumber seeds just took some four weeks to germinate, in between I bought new ones and they just took four days and now my friends with gardens and family will get gifts of cucumber plants. XD

From last year, a broccoli and two romanesco plants have endured the winter. I thought about tearing them out but then they began to bloom and instantly attracted pollinators, so they stay and I decided to side the broccoli with pansies. Later, this one will be used as a support for peas, that I planted around it.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Then, in early April I got to work cleaning the old pots out. I kept about half of the soil but mixed it topped it off with newly bought earth. For that I use peat-free planting soil although one really needs to look at the content table, as I found out a few years ago. And in the past years, this was also more expensive but this year they did cost the same. All hauling was done from a local garden centre with a hand drawn trolley, which was exhausting as I needed some 240 litres and I don’t own a car. If I lived somewhere else or was not as able bodied this would be a major problem and I would definitively need the help of friends.

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My main growbeds are these half transparent outdoor boxes, I bought some six years ago in a large hardware store. They are mostly in the shade and have held up wonderfully. The lowest 5 cm are filled with porous ceramic balls to store water, on the backside I drilled a line of small holes at 10 cm as an overflow.

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Others are just large planting pots, buckets or plain balcony boxes and we will see more of them later this year.

Now, at the start of May, the tomatoes are finally gaining strength, as do the mangolds and the cucumbers. Both of which I apparently did not photograph in their boxes. Planting all of these will have wait though until the ice-saints, a series of days around 15th of May, where temperatures might fall deep here in central Germany. Most of the tomatoes will be given away as well, I will just keep nine of them, as that is usually enough to satisfy my tomatic needs.

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So, what will I grow? Tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, cucumbers, strawberries, lettuce, carrots, radishes, beans, onions, garlic, peas, sweet potatoes and potatoes along with a load of different herbs and some flowers for the bumbles and the bees like tagetes, sunflowers and calendula. From th last years there is Indian canna and lavender. This sounds like a heck of a lot, but the last years showed that with the right combinations these plants work well under the conditions of my balcony in summer. Over the months there will be changes as plants ripen and get collected and replacements will be seeded, grown and planted.

Why do I do it? This is of course not enough to sustain me by a long margin, but I very much do enjoy having plants around me and growing at least a bit of sustenance. It also helps me to appreciate much work goes into farming at least a little more. I cannot collect my own rainwater and the soil is bought, so there are some environmental impacts, of course, even if I try to minimize them. All in all, it just makes me very happy to eat my own grown food and gaze upon thriving plants.

And to finish this instalment, here sprout the first beans, nasturtiums and peas!

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Happy planting, everyone!

Strawberry Madness

First I must apologize to those who have sent submissions to affinity. I was busy with a lot of things and I completely forgot to check that e-mail address for over a month by now. And one of those things I was busy with were (are) strawberries.

Last year I had a successful strawberry harvest, we got slightly over 8 kg of strawberries. So this year I have decided to take a lax approach to my strawberry patches and not spend too much time on them. I have removed some of the old leaves and overgrowth from last year, I tossed some crushed reed stalks between them, and that was it. No replanting or similar. About one day’s worth of work in between repotting my bonsai trees. When the strawberries began to bloom, I thought it looks promising and I estimated that this year’s harvest might be even slightly higher than last year, like 12 kg or so.

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Boy was I wrong. Very ronk.

For over a week by now, I spend just shy over an hour picking strawberries, then laying them down on a windowsill to finish ripening (this reduces the ants and slugs damage significantly, and they also become more aromatic that way). Then I had to weigh and clean them and put them in the freezer where they slowly accumulated to a dangerous degree. With 1-2 kg of strawberries daily, the freezer got filled up in a week and was threatening to burst. I had to play Tetris every time I wanted to take a popsicle out of there. It looked like I would have to stop doing everything else for a few days and start making marmalade.

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Luckily my mother returned from the hospital last week. She has reduced mobility in her right leg, but she does not have the intensive pains she used to have anymore and thus is relatively fit. So she could start making marmalade. preventing me from getting to be totally overwhelmed by the red menace. For a few days now she is every day using up all the freshly collected strawberries and she even managed to take a few bags out of the freezer already. Approximately 4 kg strawberries go into this huge pot together with some other sekrit ingredients.

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Today’s worth of work is several huge marmalade jars filled to the brim. And on the right side of this picture you can see the up-to-date tally – 18724 g! Nearly 19 kg, so with what I see in the patches from my windows, today evening we should cross 20 kg harvest easily. That is officially insane.

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When the jars cool, we check whether the lid created a proper vacuum seal or not, and those that did get labeled and go into the cellar. You can read the secret ingredients on the labels if you wish. I do not know the exact proportions, I think my mother has them written somewhere. Other than these, she also adds pectin and Aronia juice (which makes the marmalade less sweet and gives it a slightly darker color).

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So I expected to have about 50% higher harvest than last year, instead, I got 150% higher one and still counting. We have enough marmalade to last us for years at our normal consumption rate (which is about a spoon a day). I am this year spending significantly more time harvesting than I have spent actually caring.

I am slowly starting to wish they would stop so I can do other things with my time, like being lazy.

My Auntie’s Garden – Part 2 – Tulips

Not the biggest collection imaginable, but the strategically put tulips here and there resulted in quite a few various pictures.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Eye Finished a Comishun

I got a commission for a knife, which did make me happy a bit. Making a commission has one huge advantage over making a knife just so – the existential dread questions “Will somebody want this?” and “Will they be able to afford this?” are both answered in the affirmative. And the requests were not unreasonable – a big camping knife with a striker and a ferrocerium rod. Handle from black locust wood, leather sheath with some black-locust ornament, if possible bark-like surface. Black locust has some personal significance to the customer, I did not ask what it is. And they have chosen one of my already finished blades, so I could go right ahead.

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I gave them a choice of three types of black locust wood – untreated, treated with ammonia, and a very expensive piece of burl that I bought some time ago and did not deem worthy of a blade yet. They chose the expensive burl, and I must say it does look very fancy. I infused the handle with resin, although it is impossible to get a complete soak on wood as hard as black locust. But a few mm is just fine. The bolster and pommel are stamped 1 mm bronze. Not polished, just brushed with a steel brush and allowed to build up patina. Cow bone spacers for contrast.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

It is the same design as the “not a masterpiece” knife, but the blade is from oak bark blackened spring steel. For some reason the blackening reacts differently with the unquenched steel at the spine, making this funny light triangle on it. I would very much like to know the reason for this different reaction – the chemical composition of the steel is identical throughout, it is the crystalline structure that changes. Yet, evidently, various chemicals react differently with hardened and unhardened steel.

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Google yielded no usable results for putting tree bark texture on leather, maybe nobody managed it yet. So I had to improvise a bit. I ended up with finding several pieces of sharp basalt gravel and pressing the ragged edges into the leather. It does look tree-bark-ish, I think. On the sketch, it looked a bit empty though, so we agreed to put a black locust leaf in there too. With a bit more refinement the texture would probably look even more like tree bark, but I had to end the experimentation at some point, otherwise, I would not be done on time. The tip of the leather sheath is darker, I have applied patina shading there. Now that I think of it in the photos it looks a tad peculiar.  It looks better hanging tip down. Lesson learned – photograph sheaths and knives in them tip-down. Next time, the lesson will be promptly forgotten.

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I could not buy bronze tubes for the striker and rod handles, it would seem nobody in CZ sells them. I have bought rods, but drilling a rod concentrically without a lathe has proven to be an impossible task so far. So I made the handles from brass and I coated them with a thin bronze layer electrolytically.  The patina has built up almost immediately, which is nice. It took several days for it to build up on the knife bolster and pommel.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

It is a big, heavy-duty knife weighing 224 g alone, 447 g with the sheath and accessories. Blade 4 mm thick at the base, tapering towards the tip. Fullered, flat grind. Point of balance at index finger right behind the bolster for a comfortable grip and control when cutting food. When the long grip is held towards the pommel, it gives the knife a nice heft for chopping, for example, when making splinters for starting a fire.

The knife will be given to its owner next weekend. I do hope they will be happy with it and get some use out of it.

Akin All Avo

This Wednesday and Thursday the weather was warm enough to plant pohtatohes. These are the fruits of mah lay-bour:

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In the top left corner, you can see my sewage cleaning facility, specifically, its last two stages, the gravel-reed-bed where the water is further cleaned after the anaerobic tank and the seeping pond where it seeps into the ground around the edges. The reeds grew especially big last year with some stalks exceeding 3 m in height and 1 cm in thickness, which is normally unheard of at my elevation. Hooray for global warming, I guess. Mowing them with a scythe was an extreme p.i.a.

You can also see the pollarded willow trees around the pond that are due for firewood harvest next winter, but for years I did not know what to do with the reeds so they just rotted slowly on the compost. Two years ago I tried to put them directly on top of planted potatoes before they get covered with dirt. And it worked well, it lightened up the heavy clay significantly that year and I had the biggest haul of potatoes from that patch that I ever got – over 200 kg. We had even trouble to give the taters away because of the Covid travel restrictions, so we have tried some ways to preserve them for longer storage. Which worked well, especially dried chips for soups – we have those still and they work great in combo with dried mushrooms.

Last year there were no potatoes but peas, beans, maize, and pumpkins, so the soil can recover somewhat. It did not yield 200 kg of edibles of course, but we got a few dinners out of it. This year it is potatoes again.

So I am trying to replicate the success. On the vegetable patch, you can now see nine full and two very short rows filled with shredded reed stalks. In the next days, they will be slowly covered with dirt to form mounds for the tubers to grow. Inorganic fertilizer was added over the winter in the form of several buckets of ash from the house-heating stove. Some organic fertilizer has been added now with these reed stalks and more will be added over the year in the form of mown grass and raked moss. I do hope the weather won’t be too dry, but the sewage cleaning facility should help significantly if it is, and it adds some nitrogen too since the system is not as effective at cleaning ammonia as it should.

A whole cycle from poop to food in one garden.

Today I wanted to work on knife sheaths, but I am aching all over and it is probably not just from the work. I have a slightly elevated temperature and a bit of sore throat and a mild dry cough. The weather was reasonably warm, but not really warm, so I guess I caught a bit of chill and now some strep is trying to get me. I do hope to be able to work tomorrow, I have a commission due in May and although I still have enough time, finishing sooner is always better than later.

3 Meters of Misunderstanding

I wanted to buy some food-safe wood glue because, with the overabundance of jatoba, I want to try to make some end-grain cutting boards to go with my knives. I wish I could also make those cutting boards from the very beautiful black locust but that wood is poisonous so probably not the best choice for cutting boards that come into direct contact with food even though the toxicity can allegedly be negated by heating it up to 70°C and holding it there for a few minutes. Best not to risk it, at least until I can find a reliable source confirming this.

Anyhoo, local shops did not have the glue that I desired, so I had to order it online.

And when I was ordering it, I have also decided to order some other materials. Including 3 m of 6 mm aluminium tubing for hidden pins in my knives. Aluminium is cheaper than brass, it should be more than enough strong for these pins, and I reckoned that 3 m will last me probably forever – I can cut about 250 10 mm pins out of 3 m. Enough for roughly 120 knives, so probably until I have to get employed or die of starvation. And when I was at it, I have ordered some brass and stainless steel pipes too.

However, I have assumed that I will get one delivery containing all of these assorted pipes. Which was not the case. They split it into three deliveries, each with one-two tubes in a package hundred times their volume. Already extremely wasteful – and that was not all. I have also assumed that the tubes will be delivered as 1 m pieces since that is the form in which they are being sold in the b&m stores of this company. So you can only imagine my surprise when I received this package.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

That is a huge, 3 m long hard cardboard tubing of ca 100 mm diameter. It was used to deliver a single 6 mm aluminium tube.

I will probably cut it into shorter segments and use it to ship my knives if someone buys them. I am at a loss to think what else to do with it. Simply tossing it into trash seems wasteful. I totally fail to wrap my head around this – if they were going to send this humungous package, why did they deliver all the other tubes in separate packages? They would fit handsomely in this, with room to spare. I do understand why they sent the glue separately.

 

Whoomf! Fire When You Do Not Want It.

I did not expect this to happen, which is probably why it did happen. I was cutting wood for handles and stand and one piece started giving me some grief. Either the saw is a bit dull or that particular piece of birch was exceptionally hard (birch is amongst the hardest woods, contrary to what many books say). It smoked a bit, but not much. So I paused the work, tried a different cut when suddenly there was a lot of smoke. Like, a lot lot. In seconds, the workshop was full of it.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Luckily I tend not to lose my head in emergency situations. I noticed the smoke going from the vacuum collecting dust. I have immediately unplugged it and the saw from electricity and I dragged the vac outside. The paper dust filter inside was on fire and it was impossible to put out because it was windy. I have barely managed to take it off and leave it to burn safely on the concrete pavement. The wooden dust was smoldering a bit but I have managed to scoop it out and toss it in the oven where it could burn safely.

I do not know how this could happen, I have been using this setup for about a decade by now with zero problems. Either the saw was so dull that the friction started the fire – birch is much more flammable than other woods – or a metal splinter or something somehow got in the cut and it struck a spark. Visually, the blade does not seem dull and I cannot find any damage on any of the teeth, so I am baffled.

Tomorrow I have to go and purchase a new vacuum for my shop. This one could be repaired, but it would take a really long time. I will probably not bother. But it can be easily converted now into a dedicated blower, so I shall probably do that.

I had to take a few hours rest, I was in a bit of a shock afterward.

Eye Yam on Insta Gram

It is not as if somebody complained, but I do not wish to constantly “knife up the joint” at FtB anyway, so I have finally, reluctantly, made an Instagram account to share pictures of knifemaking and knives. If nobody minds, I will still post longer written articles about knives and knife-making here, but only for bigger or more special projects, whereas on Instagram will be snippets and pictures and off-the-cuff thoughts. Probably mostly about knives. There may be some garden pictures in due time too.

There won’t be any sexy photos of my beautiful body in lingerie or insights into my lavish lifestyle with expensive gadgets, that I can promise for sure.

If you are interested, here is a link – click -.