Monday, February 25, 2013

Motor electric cover

I recently purchased a motor to construct a blower for the foundry. The motor did not come with a plate to cover the electrical connections so they are wide open for the world to see.  I'm pretty sure not having the cover is a violation of common sense, but any case, scrap attack comes to the rescue.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Trellising the Peas

I think I might have done this a little late in the growth stage. Pea plants need support as they grow upward, their stem alone cannot support the weight of the entire plant. So you must give it some support by making a trellis. There are many ways to construct and install, depending on the plant. In my case, I used some twigs I found lying on the road for some adequate support.
Currently the biggest survivor, supported with 2 sitcks
As I will be needing a better design when I start growing cucumbers, I decided to find some better sticks to design a better trellis. The current plants have taken a liking to the sticks and wrapped their tendrils all around them. So adding more support was a bit tricky. Using a method I saw in a video, I propped up 3 sticks for each individual pot and wove string around the border.
After the addition of string and stick.
Now the string here hangs loose only because the sticks are pushed into the soil. When I do cucumbers, I will use bigger sticks and tape them to the exterior of the pots.
What are the advantages of doing this compared to getting a metal trellis?

  • Made from sticks and string. Extremely cheap
  • Supports weight of plant comfortably
  • Fits to the dimensions of my choice (smaller plant pots)
I would reserve big metal cages for tomato or pepper plants instead.

If your peas are in a larger area, try using a block and grid pattern.
Notice the larger grid in the bin at the bottom of the camera
This style of trellis can be used to support several plants side-by-side. Use thicker sticks in combination with string. The stringing can take some time and finesse, but can support the weight of the pea plants easily.

Peas on the larger trellis

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Home made bicycle toe straps

I know it's a good day when I find exactly what I'm looking for on the side of the road.  So far this has happened 4 times.  In this case the item is a seat belt. I've always been skeptical of toe straps as well as clip-less pedals due to the possibility of crashing and landing face first, but the guy at the bike shop recommended I make some because I can get maximum efficiency and put in 200 miles/ day fully loaded (we'll see if that ever happens)



 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My plants can defy gravity

You might have seen that ad for the upside down tomato planter on TV. Well, dozens of other plants can also be grown upside down, like peppers, strawberries, cucumbers, eggplant, and other similar plants. I recently acquired some strawberry plants from the hardware store and did quite a bit of research. I drew up a sketch in paint of what I wanted to construct.
Mad MS paint Skillz
Pretty impressive

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Worms? Under my sink?

It's more likely than you think. I recently decided to make myself a worm bin. Now you might be thinking that I'm insane (I might be) but there are many benefits to having worms in your house, especially if you're a gardener.
Nope, nothing here under the sink.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pot stand repair

A while back, I constructed a pot stand for cooking in a fire pit.  I utilized the legs from a bed frame and some aluminum angle pieces.  When we used it for the first time, I threw it in the fire before we started cooking in hopes of burning off some of the paint.  I pulled it out, and to my surprise, one of the aluminum pieces was partially melted and deformed.  So here we go again, another repair for something that aluminum did not suffice.
The legs and one of the original angle pieces

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Grenozh's evil plan of self sufficient transcendental body slammin' production

1. Make a die casting mold for a soap dish
2. Cast an unlimited number of soap dishes with the foundry
3. ????
4. Profit
Soap Dish
prototype

The Foundry: Initial Progress and Uncertainty

2-13-13

2 years ago, my brother showed me this website called backyardmetalcasting.com.  Being in shop class at the time and having done some casting, I wanted in on the action.  The idea of recycling your own metal and casting stuff in your backyard sounds all too appealing to pass up right?
Well 2 years later, all I can say is: you can't say "success" without first saying "sucks".

The furnace turned out fine, constructed out of a water heater tank, insulated with 3000 degree refractory cement.  Welding the tank was a whole fiasco on its own because of my terrible cutting torch abilities.  Simply put, it involved a lot of tack welding and hammering, and a lot of filing. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bottling the wine

Today the wine was ready for bottling. It is now bottled and ready for consumption. Cheers.

It's 5 o' clock somewhere
I will begin work on a new batch of wine within the next week. The next batch will be a red wine. But for now, there is this batch to enjoy.

Read more about the wine.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Balcony Garden As of February 2013

After much experimentation, my optimal garden location is right outside my bedroom door, the upstairs balcony. I live on the third floor of an apartment complex, so the elevation above the trees allows for more light to hit the balcony during the morning.

I have created about 5 different planting areas on the balcony. Here is a diagram in MS paint that I shall use to help explain.

MS paint balcony dimensions

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fixing a fender mount

The bracket that attaches my home made (half) front fender to the fork crown had finally become victim to aluminum's terrible fatigue strength (in other words, it broke).  So I decided to do it the right way and use steel this time.
"mud brake"


What was left of the original bracket

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Wintertime Misadventures

I chose to start gardening in October, since that is when I bought my supplies. I started my seed in 1 gallon pots which I purchased from the store.

First seedlings at new home
2 weeks after germination
Now my biggest mistake here was that I did not do my homework. I have an east facing window, but because of the way the building faces, my balcony is only hit with direct sunlight until about 12PM. I now know that my lower balcony receives significantly less sunlight than the one outside my bedroom window, meaning that my little seedlings did not grow too much in the time between when I started them and when I moved them. (My balcony still does not even get 6 hrs of direct sunlight in winter). Additionally, I started way too many carrots and spinach. I was very clumsy with the seed packets and dozens of seed fell into each pot. So I had way too many seedlings without enough light and without enough growing space. I clearly was a mess. This was somewhat remedied when I brought back two 22 gallon totes from home after Thanksgiving. I learned quite a bit from these mistakes. To summarize:
  • Find out how much sun the balcony gets
  • Locate the optimal sunny spot
  • Be careful with seed packets
  • Not everything can grow in winter
The good news is that some of the seedlings did survive and will produce a small harvest. I will be planning better for spring.

Hydroponic Plant Pots

Hydroponic hanging planters
Filling the space between the bars.

I got the idea to do this from this instructable (Thanks Professor-Mousedude!). It looked really easy to do and the materials for it are extremely cheap. To make a planter like this, you'll need:

Friday, February 1, 2013

Looking forward to Spring

I picked a miserable time to start my garden. I had absolutely no plan at all nor did I follow my first rule.

Location.

Now that I'm on the upstairs balcony, I get a decent amount of sun. Its not the 6 hours required for optimal growth, but my plants are still growin'.

Call me an addict, but each day I always look at the weather channel's website, always checking to see whether I'll need to cover the plants or not. And everyday or so, the sunrise time on their website goes up by a minute. All of these minutes add up. As of now, right in the heart of winter, there is only about 10 hours of daylight available. I lose sunlight at about noon, midday, so my plants only get about half a days worth of sun. March 20th is the Spring Equinox, meaning there will be 12 hours of day and night again. Once that day comes, I'll be able to sow my larger plants without fear of them getting too little sunlight.

48 days to go.

A small step to get the garden growing again