Afghani Nurmat

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since Feb 11, 2014
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Recent posts by Afghani Nurmat

If I understand your description right, a geologist would probably classify this as a (intermittent) spring horizon.

Actually a pretty common thing, that helps a lot with mapping geological features in the field. It can be developed as distinct springs in a line or as a seeping horizon that is often also accompanied by swamps (probably not in your desert setting though). That depends on the flow rate of the groundwater and the relief of the non-permeable layer (in your case apparently bedrock).


5 years ago
Hi there!

Does anyone have any experience or profound knowledge about tobacco plants as a pesticide? I already know that nicotine can be absorbed transdermal and can be very dangerous if handled careless; so please don`t tell me this. I have read lots of times that tobacco was used as a pesticide in gardens but I cannot find any information on how exactly. I am wondering particularly if the nicotine would be incorporated by the plants it is used on? (not even thinking of using it on any food plant near harvest time)

I also know that you should not use commercially grown tobacco, because it could introduce the tobacco mosaic virus into your garden. Mine would be self grown and I would know how to deal with infested plants. So please don`t tell me that either.

Maybe you could use leaves as a mulch? Or make a nicotine solution to spray on bugs?

Thank you in advance for any helpful information.

9 years ago
thanks for your answer, bob.
this gasifier approach definitely could be an option too...

and you`re right, most knifes are finished. but this is to remove the oxide layer because of look, sensibility to rust and for cutting properties. i just meant you would not have to do that because of sulphur. the sulphur liquefies your grain boundaries (where most of your carbon is anyway) at forging temp and thus the steel crumbles apart when you hit it.
this may be a bit off topic, but these are top-of-the-notch knives with oxide layer still mostly on:

by the way; if you used files, the steel still can have very different carbon contents. wood files or rasps have only about 0,4% carbon whereas precision metal files can have up to 1,4%. also, considering the facts and your experiences i do believe less and less the sulphur content of wood gas is a problem... hope to find out soon anyway and will be posting my efforts and results here
9 years ago
there has to be a way...

and this here looks pretty promising and awesome. thanks for posting! (should have looked at you link right away)
the look makes me instantly think of a bloomery (which is basically a rocket stove with extra air blown into it, that is fuel-fed from the top)

is there already a way to regulate the fire? would you say it needs more fuel than a regular rocket? would you mind maybe posting a crosssection sometime?

great inspiration anyway...
it is the final straw for me. i am just gonna build a prototype myself as soon as possible. (and then i can find out how much of a problem the sulphur will be for my purposes, if it has enough power and so on...)
maybe to build it like a bloomery isn`t the worst idea. the forced secondary air could provide a means of regulation, too.

i don`t know how easily the sulphur stuff compares to carburizing, because sulphur is already fatal in traces whereas you need significant amounts of carbon to make temperable steel; also for most works including tool steel you have to reheat more often and often use only thin sheets that than get welded together, but do expose a lot of surface before. and as i said before, for ornamental stuff and non-load bearing funktional stuff like your scoop made from regular construction steel this is probably never a problem. maybe it isn`t for any purpose. it`s just that i mend a lot of tools and during the beginnings of my apprenticeship i wrecked a pickax (my own pickax i wanted to fix after work) and was told it was because i had used fresh coal. then, when i started making knives a few years ago i experienced "red brittleness" on my first try with welding high carbon sheet steel on an anthracite fire. i changed to charcoal or charcoalmix for these purposes and never had any problems since, but the burnt child dreads the fire...(or the sulphur)

and you wouldn`t need to take material of, because the problem only occurs with "red" heat. i guess you already know about the structure of steel; "red brittleness" is caused by the lower melting point of the sulphur-carbon-compound on the grain-boundaries.
9 years ago
ok now,...
i don`t know where i had my head yesterday. was thinking about deleting the last post for its poor information. it`s been a while since i went to school and the routine did get hold of me since then, but fortunately most of it came back to me last night.(,i believe )

"red brittleness" or "hot brittleness" (direct translation from german; don`t know and can`t find english term) is caused by sulphur and carbon in hot (red glowing) steel and makes it brake apart. so sulphur is less a problem in low carbon "construction material" steel (soft steel). it is a problem in high carbon steel (hard steel).
if you use a (anthracite) coal fire you pile the new coal around the fire and pour water on it from time to time. this helps drive out the sulphur from the coal before it gets in contact with the steel (you can even see it as a thick yellowish smoke rising from fresh coals).
if you are forging (high carbon) blade steel, it is generally recommended to use char coal (which contains no sulphur) or at least a mix with charcoal. especially if you want to weld it, because the higher the temperature the more sulphur could diffuse into the steel.

a coal fire is generally a pit containing burning coal with a possibility to blow in air surrounded by a heap of non-burning coal. this creates different zones in the fire that can be used for different purposes (i.e.:burn of coatings, lowering the carbon content of the steel,...). for forging you generally want your stock in the zone that is the hottest but has no more oxygen left and also no contact to the surrounding air. that is, it is covered by burning coal on all sides that keep oxygen out (and of course heat your stock faster). this is called the reducing part of the fire.
in a rocket stove the equivalent would be directly in the heat riser and it would only exist if there were no excess oxygen. i believe both my rockets and most other well functioning rockets i have seen have at least a little excess oxygen (mine i think have plenty, which of course is not ideal in any case). for a rocket forge you would need to be able to control the airflow very accurately to the point, where it juust stops smoking. but i am sure people have made such devices already.

and then of course all my objections only make sense if you want a forge for serious work. to just make steel glowing hot, play around a little, forge some nails or hooks or spikes almost any decent rocket without barrel will do...

i hope this paints a more complete picture.

take care,

but man i can`t stop thinking about this rocket forge. i really have been sick of buying coal for a long time. there has to be a way...
9 years ago
well, i was just requoting this info i learned in school, from otherwise really competent staff ("you should not make a forge fire from wood, as it does not burn hot enough and the sulphur content makes your stock brittle"). but your remark really made me thinking. what must be also considered is that coal has twice the energy content per mass of wood and that you normally don`t use regular coal for smithing, but specially sulphur reduced coal (not all that much reduced as it seems: ca. 0,4% compared to around 1% in regular coal and to around 0,05% in wood). and i just found out on my research of wood contents that seemingly the biggest part of the sulphur is usually left behind in the ashes and does not even gasify (but i guess this is for regular stoves and not for the extreme temperatures of rockets)

probably the sulphur thing is not a problem at all! and probably i should just find out if it does affect the steel before posting crude theories based on badly researched facts...

also i have not yet found a way to short-term regulate my rockets; whereas a forge can be nearly shut down when you work your stock and then comes back to welding temp in a few moments (this really saves fuel). on the other hand i don`t need to save fuel so bad if its only sticks and punky stuff i get for free instead of expensive coal...
9 years ago
hi there,
i am a professional black- and blade smith and have built two rocket stoves by now. you can reach forging temperature in a rocket stove without any doubt, but:

- depending on what your goal is, the fumes DO affect your steel. if you are just doing artistic stuff and heat your stock only once or a few times this may not matter. if you are forging blade steel or load bearing parts it definately does! the biggest problem is the sulpuhr content of wood, what makes pine woods especially bad suited. (this should be solved by burning charcoal instead of wood)

-the conduction of heat from hot, flowing gas to solid metal is very inefficient.(i see no solution for this problem; which does not mean there is none, of course)

-as far as i can tell by now, welding temperatures are not usually reached in a rocket stove (you need to have significant higher temperatures than melting point), which is a big drawback. at least i would not consider forging on such a device as i need to weld quite regularly and don`t like machine welded joints in my work for several reasons. other people probably have other standards though. (maybe you can get a hotter burn by using charcoal, but i doubt it would suffice)

i have thought about highly insulated boxes on top of the usual barrel, containing another small fire and similar complicated devices. as it is relatively simple to build fairly efficient forges that can be run with charcoal and hand- or footpumped air i have temporarily given up on this project. (sometimes i have to think about it though and google if someone has had any good ideas about it. )

if any of you has found a working model, please let us know!

take care,
9 years ago
@ angelika

If you mean if -5 C is enough to stratify the seeds, the answer would be yes. what i found out to be important though is
that the seed must be kept cool and wet ALL THE TIME to germinate. if you buy dry seeds they propably won`t work. keep them in dampf, cool earth all the time and after about 18 months you might get lucky.
10 years ago

well I`m no real expert either. so all i say is just an opinion and does not claim to be ultimate truth.

that said, I grew potatos from seeds (I harvested myself) twice and found it great fun. But at least my experience was that the yield can be very poor. not only in the first year (i grew the most promising candidates a second time; was dreaming of my own personal strain...). I think the usually offered clones are among the rare cases with good yields...
Could not agree more with your point about more genetic variation being good for having more reliable outcomes under unpredictable condtions though. the old strains of almost anything grown in the alps used to be like that; in every crop some plants were drought resistant, some adapted to cold a.s.o.

the idea of the TPS sounds promising, altough it is much more work to grow from seeds in my exerience. the germination rate in my case was very bad and you need to start them indoors very early in the year in a cold climate to get a noteworthy crop.

i am not trying to slam your ideas. in fact i like a lot of what you say. just trying to shine a light on the potential downsides.

my suggestions on nutritional, easy to grow food for cold climate (i don`t think sweet potatoes would work, but never tried it) are:

-stinging nettle:
is so tasty and good for you (has more protein than soy!). you can dry it and it keeps for ever and by the way makes kind of an instant food powder for soups, sauces, stews... and it has no diseases i know of. comes back every year, several times a year. makes good cordage also.

-fava beans:
many parts of the plant can be eaten when young, dried beans keep forever, actually likes some cold

if you choose hardy `care for themselves` varieties like kale, purple sprouting broccoli, mustards, frisian palm cabbage, ...

-orache (atriplex hortensis):
some people consider it a weed; i say its good food for no work

-several kinds of squash and pumpkin are really easy to grow, keep very well and make a good diet.

just for a small sample in the protein section.

barley and rye would come to my mind for carbs.

the thing with the potentially much higher yield of potatos of course is a good point. if you have a certain acreage though and don`t have to be too tight with your space, i think secale cereale multicaule hibernum (can`t find the english name; it`s a kind of perennial rye) would be way less work than potatoes. it grows, you cut and thresh it. maybe spread some compost every autumn. no need for reseeding for several years, no weed control needed when established, really hardy stuff, ...

aren`t there also some indigenous staples in northern america like wild rice?

after this rather off topic ramble I will come back with a more fitting practice:

to maximize your yield per acreage you can grow potatoes in confined spaces (such as a bag or box) and bury the plants under some six inches of good soil every other month. that way there are several layers of tubers and the yield is phenomenal. definitely a lot of work though if you want to make it a staple. you have to move a lot of earth and the plants are more likely to need regular watering.

as far as i know the tubers itself are not the carriers of the spores, but if you had blight and you dig up the potatoes they get contaminated with the spores in the ground.
what i found really helpful where i live (lots of rain) for growing tomatoes is a simple transparent plastic roof, that prevents water from hitting the ground and blowing up the spores to the plant stems (at least thats the reason i was given). not really an option for potatoes.

keep it up,
10 years ago
Hi there,

few years ago a beekeeper from Northern Germany developed a "new" kind of hive that becomes more and more popular in Germany. And with good reason as I find. It is a very good compromise between easy handling (i.e. varoa control) and natural keeping. The bees overwinter on their own honey. yield is secondary and if, taken out around mid summer. The bees are encouraged to swarm and few to no premade honeycombs (if you know what i mean, don`t know the english term) are used. the interference with the bees is minimal, no drone control, no queen removals,... .
now let me try to describe how it actually works:

you might want to take a look at these fotos. if you understand German you are propably way better off with this very good and extensive website than with my poor efforts here.

It does seem very complicated the moment you realise that for actually opening the box you have to turn it on its back. I assure you it isn`t. you only have to do that when you harvest and maybe for an early spring check. for other jobs (i.e.varoa control and the like) you can simply open a little trap on the back. this design is not totally new. it has been used extensively in Austria and Slovenia but gotten out of fashion, because new designs brought better yields.
here is a link to illustrate the traditional design (only German I`m afraid, but with pics):

It does require only minimum time to handle your bees (not included building the hive, that does take some time, but you can use them for many years), yield can be good enough and you get the pleasure of having plenty pollinators and some of the most fascinating animals in your ambiance without the tiring work with Langstroth hives.

I know this is no good for a starting point and can only raise more questions. Just wanted to know if someone is interested/already knows about this/ knows about similar approaches. Feel free to ask; I will try to find answers, although I myself am just a beginner with this method.

Have fun and take care,
10 years ago