Clay Pipe

Clay pipes these days are somewhat of a rarity, with glass being the material of choice for many. However, once upon a time clay was one of the more popular materials for pipes, so I thought in the spirit of tradition I’d make a couple, besides, I had some leftover clay and used my glassmaking kiln.

Before firing.

The above is the formed pipe before firing. I used a combination of white and black clays, although the colors are much sharper after firing. I used a bamboo skewer in a plastic straw to build the pipe around to make the hole through the stem. The skewer adds stability as an armature, but in and the straw can be slid out before firing (although if the straw gets stuck, there won’t be much trace of it after firing).

After forming, the clay must be allowed to completely dry or escaping steam may fracture the piece. It must be dried slowly or the difference in the outer and inner shrinkage can also create cracking.

After firing the colors are more obvious. This was fired at slightly over 2,000 F.

Ramen: Lucky Me! Artificial Beef Flavor

Good flavor, comes with flavor packet and garnish packet. The instructions call for 2 cups of water, but the seasoning is potent enough to season them well. Slightly spicy but not overly so. There are odd meat-ish flavored balls in the garnish. They tasted okay, but a little TVP (textured vegetable protein) tasting and may not be to everyone’s taste.

Navajo Fry Bread

3 cups unbleached flour, sifted
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 ½ cup warm water or milk
oil for deep frying

Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and knead until smooth and soft, but not sticky.

Be careful not to overwork the dough, or it will become tough and chewy.

Brush a tablespoon of oil over the finished dough and allow it to rest 30 minutes to an hour in a bowl covered with a damp cloth. After the dough has rested, heat oil in a broad, deep frying pan at 350º-375º. Pull off egg-sized balls of dough and quickly roll, pull, and path them out into large, plate-sized rounds. They should be thin in the middle and about 1/4 inch thick at the edges. Carefully ease each piece of flattened dough into the hot oil. Using a long-handled cooking fork or tongs, turn the dough one time. Allow about 2 minutes cooking time per side or until golden brown, lift from oil, shake gently to remove bulk of oil, and place on wire rack to finish draining.

Serve hot with honey, jelly, powdered sugar, or various savory toppings such as for tacos.

Diatomaceous Earth

I received some samples from the good folks over at EP Minerals and EnviroTech Soil Solutions, Inc., who make diatomaceous earth (DE) products. I like and use DE, so it won’t be hard to put them to good use.

It Starts with Diatoms

Algae are simple aquatic plants which include multi-celled forms such as Kelp and more primitive single celled forms such as diatoms. Individually, they don’t live very long, usually under a week, but as a species diatoms are thought to be in the ballpark of 200,000 million years old.

Diatoms live in the upper sunlit areas of fresh and salt waters, and are a common phytoplankton. Sunlight is critical to diatoms as they rely on chlorophyll and photosynthesis. Individual diatoms are frequently too small to be seen with the unassisted eye and are usually observed with the aid of a microscope.

A special characteristic of diatoms is their ability to make silica oxide shells called “frustules”. These frustules tend to be intricate and geometric, forming a protective silica cover dotted with openings for nutrient uptake and waste disposal.

When a diatom dies, the organic portion will decompose and the frustule will sink to the bottom. In areas of dense diatom populations, this can result in a sediment layer formed from a vast numbers of these discarded frustules. While the organic component decomposes quickly, their silica exoskeletons can remain in sediment layers for millions of years. The layers of diatom frustules can be mined, and the material collected is referred to as diatomite or diatomaceous earth (DE).

Diatomaceous Earth

Since the frustules (broken or whole) still have voids and holes they are much lighter and more porous than a solid piece of silica would be. Diatomaceous earth is used in a variety of ways: as a filtering material for swimming pool water, toothpaste abrasive, liquid absorbent, and as an important component of dynamite to name a few. It is also used for gardening. Diatomaceous earth for gardening should be amorphous silica and contain little crystalline silica or active contaminants.

Depending on mining and processing, diatomaceous earth may be sold as chunks of stone of various sizes or ground into a powder.

Uses for Diatomaceous Earth

Chunks of diatomaceous earth may be used as a component in a growing medium. By virtue of its voids, it holds both water and air well. It may be used as a substitute for perlite with similar results.

DESECT is a Diatomacious Earth insecticide.

Dry powdered diatomaceous earth is used as a mechanical insecticide. It can be used for cockroaches, ants, fleas, ticks, grasshoppers, and a variety of other pests. It absorbs fats and oils from the insects exoskeleton while the sharp edges scrape and damage their protective coating. It is frequently applied to the medium around the plant, but may also be used on plants themselves. A bulb may be used to create a dry cloud for application, but take care to limit inhalation of the powder. It can also be applied by sprinkling dry, or by mixing with water to apply and then allowed to dry. If used directly on the plants avoid harvestable portions as it will leave a residue, and avoid spraying flowers to protect bees. Reapply as needed.


While diatomaceous earth is not poisonous and is generally considered to be non toxic to animals, breathing any fine powder can have detrimental health effects. Take care to keep out of eyes and lungs.

Review: Outdoor Performance Cannabis

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a review copy from Kyle.

Written by Dustin Fraser with the help of Kyle L. Ladenburger; Outdoor Performance Cannabis is a practical guide to growing cannabis outside.

Dustin Fraser is a well known member of the Smart Pot(TM) team, and Kyle L. Ladenburger is a respected gardening author known for his insightful Maximum Yield Magazine, Hydrolife, and Garden Culture Magazine articles.

At 77 pages and written in a conversational tone, it is a quick read that doesn’t get bogged down in overuse of scientific jargon or overly abstract theories. This is a booklet about how to grow big cannabis plants outdoors in Smart Pots(TM) written by someone who grows big cannabis plants outdoors in Smart Pots(TM) in the Emerald Triangle using a method he calls “performance gardening”.

Included are suggestions for best practices based on years of experience, and opinions on the ideal cannabis garden. A chapter at a time, it walks the reader through site selection, propagation, growth, flowering, harvest, and even advice on sales.

Not everyone has the opportunity to sit down and pick the brains of growers from California’s famed Emerald Triangle, but reading Outdoor Performance Cannabis is about the next best thing.

I would recommend this to anyone curious about the methods used to grow exceptionally large outdoor cannabis plants (hint from the book: Start early), that prefers a no-nonsense direct explanation that emphasizes on the major points of what you need to know and doesn’t dally around about it.

Dutch Babies

1/3 cup butter
4 Eggs
1 cup Milk
1 cup Flour

Melt butter in a shallow 3 qt cast iron skillet in a 425F oven.
Blend eggs for 1 minute or until light and lemon colored.
Slowly add milk, then flour while mixing.
Blend for 30 seconds. Add to pan, return pan to oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Sprinkle a little powered sugar on top or with fruit, and serve immediately.