Sunday, December 29, 2013

Microgreens Experiment -- Seed Sprouting/Microgreens Growing Tray Part 1

You may have seen me use a pastry tray to use to germinate seeds back in fall, but this time I'm going to try microgreens with them. For those who are unfamiliar with microgreens, they are essentially mini-plants grown for their sprouts. Many different varieties of seed can be used to grow microgreens. There are the popular sprouts like wheat grass and bean sprouts, and more vegetable cropped based ones like radish, cabbage, spinach, and others. They are ideal to grow indoors or in small space areas because they don't require a lot of light and are ready to eat in 4-7 days. Since they are small, microgreens also contain a lot more flavor than their full sized vegetable forms since it is concentrated all in the little stem of the plant. The disadvantage of growing sprouts is that it requires a fair amount of seed and unless you are growing plants for seed elsewhere, you'll have to keep buying more and more seed.
Germination tray from fall

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bicycle Bell Ringer

One day the ringer for my bell mysteriously disappeared.  I had temporarily strung a baseball bat key chain around the handlebars to use as a striker, but it came time to build a new one.
The design was inspired by the plunger from a pinball machine.  The ringer is a spring loaded brass #10-32 screw with an angle iron bracket.  The bracket itself attaches onto a convenient #10-32 (M5-.8) screw on the bell's handlebar mount.
The bracket.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Aloe vera Propagation and Transplanting

New plants
My mother has a large Aloe vera plant in a container on the patio. She wanted me to help her separate some of the new plants that had grown off the main plant. Apparently this is something you do yearly since she had a bunch of pups from last year all along the side of the wall. In helping her out, I learned more about the aloe plant and how it grows.

Baseball Bat Key Chain

I was commissioned to make a baseball bat key chain similar to one I made in school.  I used a piece of recycled aluminum from a bicycle kickstand found in a dumpster about .440"⌀ to build it from.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

DWC setup maintenance

I returned home to find the hydroponic system I built at home in a sad state. Several preventative measures had not been taken to ensure the survival of the crops in the system. With many of the old plants coming out, I had to make sure the new ones being placed it would stay alive. Here are the main things I had to take care of.
How the system looks now. There are a few vacancies needing to be filled.

Operation "Woody" Part 3: Chisels

While I was raiding the tools to be scrapped at work, I came across a box of left hand metric taps.  I thought wow, this must be the most useless type of tap out there.  (Ironically I later ended up needing to buy a left hand metric tap for another project).  Since taps are made of hard steel, I took them to make some wood turning chisels from.
I originally planned to make an interchangeable handle to grip on the shank and grind the threaded ends for the cutting edges.  I ended up doing the opposite by grinding the shank end and using the threads to screw into the handle.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Free Beer*; Why the open source recipe movement is a joke

Now that I have your attention, let's discuss a movement. They say the best beer you can get is the one you get for free. Today while browsing the internet, I found out that I could get FREE BEER* (and you can get some too!) (*Free as in free speech). Free Beer is the "first brand of beer with a 'free' recipe", to which I call shenanigans. Let me tell you why this movement is rubbish.
Free Beer

Monday, December 16, 2013

Operation "Woody" Part 2: Tool Rest

In order to enable efficient wood turning on my lathe, it required a tool rest for using chisels.  Most tool rests on wood lathes are cast iron, but I made one of machined and welded parts.  My initial design looked too much like a bench and didn't seem ergonomically friendly, so I went for a more typical tool rest shape.
Initial design
The new design only used two, rather than three, pieces: a 3/4" milled piece of round stock, and a piece of plate.  It did, however, require a 45° angle to be milled on one end to accept the milled rod.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Company Analysis: Freight Farms

I usually don't endorse or review companies (I could start doing this if people want me to), but this is a company that stood out. I have been keeping my eye on Freight Farms over the past year. It is basically an embodiment and harmony of both Greens and Machines. This new startup retrofits old shipping containers, turning them into self contained hydroponic growing units for greens, vining plants, and mushrooms. They currently only offer the "Leafy Green Machine" model which claims to produce 400 heads of lettuce per week. Recently, they ran a Kickstarter to raise some cash to build a unit and get their footing and product to the market. Additionally, they have recently sold a unit to a hotel in Concord, NH and have sold a unit to a customer in San Antonio, TX. Personally, I think their idea and product concept is pretty good. Let's do some analysis.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hey I made Wine again -- Apple Cherry Wine

It's ready to go
What do winemakers do while they wait for their wine to ferment? They have a beer of course. I decided it was time to use those concentrated juice mixes I had in the freezer. The brew closet was looking a bit empty and needed something in it for the winter break.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bottling Day: English Brown Ale

Continued from Sunday
Smells great, tastes malty
Five days after transferring the brown ale to secondary, we went ahead and bottled it. We got to play around with a few new toys this time. The first of those being our new sanitation solution Star San. After delabeling all the bottles and a few squirts of the solution, we were ready to fill.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hydroponic system dismantling + tomato plant removal

Friendly and bigger cabbage
Fearing the worst, I prematurely stopped my balcony hydroponics operations. This was a multi-step process, since a few of the cabbage plants downstairs were still growing strong. I didn't want to lose them during the freeze. So I decided to remove all the tomato plants from the right side of the upstairs balcony and plant the cabbages there. In doing so, I harvested the remaining tomatoes that the plants decided to grow in this cold.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Everything I want to do requires a license

I'm going to do a bit of a follow up post of an article my brother did a while back.
Selling Homebrew is Illegal
Keep the homebrew at home: The brewers will thank you
I like to make things. Production is in my nature. Being an entrepreneur at heart, I always want to sell people stuff. Anything I can get my hands or make on, can potentially be a money opportunity. However, a lot of items people produce cannot legally be sold without going through a bunch of red tape.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

English Brown Ale to Secondary

The yeast cake at the bottom
1 week ago we brewed our English Brown Ale. Today we moved it to secondary. My roommate and I agreed that this was this was the best tasting homebrew we've made so far. The final gravity came out to be 1.012, giving an ABV of 4.1%. The next time we make this, I think it'll be able to be bottled immediately after fermentation is complete. Since we don't dry hop this one, it doesn't really need secondary fermentation.

Winter is Coming: Forecast week of December 1

Forecast from
The forecast tells me that the growing season is coming to an end. Starting Tuesday it is predicted that the temperature will drop below 32°F at night (that's 0°C for you non Americans). I'm predicting that some of my warmer crops that made it through fall, like my tomato and pepper plants, won't make it. I'm more worried about my hydroponic garden though. I've seen the pool at my apartment freeze over and I don't want that to happen to my plants. The ice could possibly damage the pump, airstones, or even the plastic bins themselves. I don't want to explain a waterfall to my neighbors below me if the bins do burst. The best possible option might be just to harvest everything now and drain the bins until warmer weather comes again.