Sunday, August 30, 2015

Slow progress

The blog is currently at a stand still, I'm working on devising a new and exciting series of content. The cloning section was a big hit judging by the views but there are only so many ways I can present putting plants in water and waiting.

  So far I have received 200 views, I thank you all for taking time to stop by and read some of the things Ive posted. I'm not sure if there is any other content I am not showing that you would like to read, If there is them by all means let me know by commenting. If I don't know about it, I can play around with experiments and present the results. there are only so many ways I've found to help you save a bit of cash and have a good time doing it.

the cloning experiments have been a great success, all but very few plants survived, Most that died were due to forgetting to contain humidity around the plant and they dried out. the orange based cleaner still smells like oranges and is fermenting under the sink. Ill find something super hard to clean to use it on and present the results in a future post. The amazon mechanical turk experiment is going well and I am almost to my first investment through lending club. The other money generating methods are not viable unless certain criteria are met. Ive been playing around with another one called swag bucks but It is difficult to actually earn points and when you finally have enough to use them they are only payed out in gift cards. The post on smart phone use and money savings didn't get as many views as I would have thought so there may or may not be a follow up post. the budget leakage was a median post and I am unsure If you want to hear more about this.

This is it for the first progress update on the blog as a whole. stay tuned for the next post and comment on what you would like to see in the future.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

making technology work for you: part one

The evolution of technology is mind boggling. cars have more computers then the first N.A.S.A space shuttle and we can carry infinite amounts of information in our pockets. Although I will not knock you many hours of candy crush and aimlessly watching cat videos, I will however point out that you can utilize that smart phone you pay so much money for every month to do a  wide array of things outside email, app games and Facebook.

   This Series of posts is targeted to those unaware of the capacity of one smart phone as it pertains to the main subject of this blog.

Coupons: you can download them through apps on your phone and use them at many stores. This being said I will remind you that just because you can get 200 tubes of tooth paste for a penny a peice that you shouldnt do it as it make as much sense as an addition hole in your head

Bar code scanning: your phone is capable of scanning bar codes and this can be used to find better deals on things. the amazon app actually has a feature that allows you to scan the object itself and it will find it on amazon.

Inventorying your pantry: you can scan the bar codes right from your pantry and even build shopping lists and weekly menus from what you have in your cupboards.

Note taking: This is something I use often as it will sync my notes onto my google+ account and onto any devices using the note taking software.

Checking your heart rate: I honestly was surprised by this function when I upgraded my phone recently. It does do it and although shaky at time it does it ok

Tracking your daily steps: got that Fitness goal in mind? your phone can help you with that.

Online Banking: Many companies have an app for Online banking. I personally use USAA, yet another perk of being a veteran is USAA's online banking app which I can use to not only check my accounts but also pay my Insurance through them in one go. Not to mention they have Bill pay, Investments and a Variety of other services

The only limitation is what Apps they come out with to accentuate the phones features. If you would like to read more on this post a comment in the comment section and I will start reviewing phone apps that I have found useful.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tomatoes: infinite plants

As has been the most popular post, I am going to continue with cloning. Tomato plants are the easiest to clone and can actually be strengthened through the same method.
The secret is the small hairs on the stock. They are essentially roots, which means if you bury a tomato to the first leaf it will create a deeper root system. This is how I saved my plants that were sickly at the start of the year by pruning all but the top leaf set and burying the stock deeper.
  On the cloning aspect of things, if you have a second branch growing between the main stem and one of the leaf stems you can use that branch to clone the main plant. The process is simple, take your cutting and put it in water or soil and wait. With the soil I put it in a solo cup and put a 9 Oz clear plastic cup over the top to create a humid environment. This process I use for all my clones being transferred into soil.
  The problem you may encounter is mold. I mix  1 tsp baking soda in 24 Oz of water and use that in a spray bottle to alter the pH, taking the molds ability to grow away. It has been a successful solution across all of my plants that I have started indoors.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Basil and mint update

The clones I planted are looking, for the most part, like they are sucessful. As I posted previously, 4 out of 9 are rooted, 3 of which are in solo cups by the window and one in going to wait a bit for the roots to grow a bit more

Rosemary clone has rooted

The cutting from my rosemary has finally rooted. The only ones that haven't are my catnip, tomato and lavender. That leaves the grand total of plants successfully rooted at 4 out of 9. Three of which are planted in solo cups and all but one are looking very lovely.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

cloning experiment plans for the winter

I have not had good luck with my gardening this year. as a result  I may not get any sort of yield from my few surviving plants. I was contemplating what would be a good way to utilize the survivors so that they don't go to waste when the weather turns colder.

I came up with the idea of systematically pruning the plants to encourage a strong stem and using the pruning to populate an indoor garden with the cuttings. there are a vast number of way you can stop your plants from blooming and inevitably dieing after they are spent. It should make for an interesting experiment even if it is a complete failure.

at worst I may have a crop of semi strong plants by spring and at best I will have a strong crop of plants that will yield massive amounts without the waiting period of starting from seeds and maturation. the worst thing that could happen is I have to start over next spring, but I'm going to have to do that anyways when the plants bloom and die off.

All things in the name of research I suppose.

Aloe vera: self cloning awsome

The aloe plant is amazing, not only for its medicinal properties but how quickly it reproduces by itself.

The aloe plants roots when exposed to sunlight will become another plant known as a pup. These can be separated from the parent and replanted. I have three aloe plants right now. The large plant has no fewer then 4 pups on it, the medium plant is a pup from the larger plant and the small plant has one pup in its tiny pot

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cloning update, mint and basil

Well, things have taken root and we're transplanted into soil. The basil isn't looking great as I had forgotten to put humidity domes on them to keep the leaves moist. The mint had rooted alot better than the basil. Now is the hard part, waiting for things to start growing in.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Enzyme cleaner part one

Making your own cleaning products is not only rewarding in knowledge but also a very economical way to not only reuse things that would otherwise be throw away, but also save at least 1/3rd of what you would be paying for a cleaner from a store.

If you have ever seen orange clean or a similar orange based degreaser, you will have some knowledge of what we are attempting to create here today. the concept is simple, take orange peels and other scraps you would otherwise throw away and ferment it in water with sugar added for roughly a month. the process can be expedited by adding some form of yeast to increase the rate of fermentation.

The materials you will need are

A container ( I used an empty 5 liter vinegar bottle)

1/2 cup brown suger per liter

water ( leave room for the other ingredients)

2 cups of orange peels/lemon peels/lime peels

combine the ingredients and shake daily for a week or so, after a month strain off the solids and you will have your cleaner

Also, ensure the container is ventilated, I made an Airlock for mine out of some small tubing but you can loosen the lid. Explosions may occur if  pressure is allowed to build up in the container.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Rose cloning part two

This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak. Gather your material and venture into the wilderness.

I cut roughly one foot sections then applied honey to the cut ends (retains moisture, protects from disease and aids in scarring of the cuts). Remove all but a small amount of  leaves at the top and put in your jar of water.

Place the jar in a well lit window (not in direct sunlight) and change the water regularly( at least every other day or as it discoloration occurs).

After a while roots should begin to grow. When a healthy amount of roots grow transfer to a pot at least twice the height of your cutting and allow to grow until it is the same height as your pot before transplanting into the ground.

Rose cloning part 1

The first step is assembling the materials.
The list is as follows

A container to hold water that is large enough to hold the cuttings.

Cutting tools (I'm using my trusty fiskar pruners)

Honey (anti microbial plant bandaid)

A plant, in this case a rose bush with new growth (the green steams are new growth and softer so they root faster)

Stay tuned for the results

Gardening mad science 1.5

This is going to be a continuation of the cloning post from part 1. The response from the first part was so massive that I decided to choose a new subject from my yard for another round of cloning.

I have a rose bush that was planted in a poor location on a shaded side of My house. I figured I was going to transplant it but the interest in my cloning post was significant.

Cloning woodie  plants take a great deal more time I've found in my research and the survival rate is 50% at best. None the less I shall undertake this using the same methods as with the basil plant.

cloning update one

My basil cuttings have rooted after roughly two weeks in water, the others are still only about a week in the water and hopefully will root soon

Monday, August 3, 2015

Budget leakage: Part two

 Technology is the life blood of the world at this point in time. Nearly everyone has some form of electronics and probably uses at least one of them on a daily basis. These things you own are probably phantom leeches on your power bill and can easily be stopped from draining money from your pocket.

I was married, divorced and now remarried, this being said I have twice the number of game consoles and TV's as a normal household. you may look at your TV and notice the little red light on it(assuming you have a modern TV) this should be the red flag that it is using power even when it is off. If you own high end electronics then you probably own at least one surge protector, this is where you can kill off any excess power usage from your electronics. I haven't done an official study on how much my electronics pull. but a Google search turned up a data sheet of various products on standby   which should prove to be Enlightening if applied to your current set up in life. just having your laptop power supply plugged in can pull 4 watts. A Watt meter can be plugged in along with whatever you think is eating up the most power to confirm it. This goes along with a saying I commonly use "the things you don't know....." which commonly indicates a failure of proper knowledge in any one subject.

 A translation of watts into what your monthly bill is measured in can be calculated here.

 or for the math wizards it looks like this

KWH= Watts * Hours/ 1000

It may surprise you month to month to know you could have saved enough for a date night with you significant other just by turning off a few surge protectors and unplugging a few things not currently in use.

This concludes budget leakage part two, as always comments, questions and petting my ego are welcome. stay tuned for more tricks and tips.

one stop composting: part two

composting is as much of an art form as it is science and there are many methods to go about it as well. I was surprised at the amount of compostable materials there are. some of which are discourage by a few people and others may not be comfortable with using a specific thing.

My current method is a bit lazy, I am working on a lot of different things at this juncture in life with my house and often find myself neglecting some of the initial projects. my compost bin is made of some old wire fencing that was along one side of my yard. I formed it into a circle and filled it with no particular blend of yard waste and left it to do its thing. but this blog post is about the over all operational theory and the implementation.

The chop and drop method: This method is used in permaculture applications primarily, you simple cut down the weeds and grasses and use them to mulch around another plant to add a slow release fertilizer
 and provide ground coverage to prevent weeds from growing back (eventually). this can be seen in nature if you pull back some fallen pine needles around the base of a tree, the soil underneath is almost always a dark rich material but normally you wont find too many weeds growing around in it.

Bin method: from railroad ties to old trash cans this method can be done in almost any container. Heat and moisture retention should probably be a concern on some methods. The helpful bacteria can only stand so much heat, the recommended range of temperatures is between 135 degrees and 160 degrees F. if the compost is at 160 degrees the bacteria wont be doing much and can possibly die off, on the other side of things compost held at 150 degrees F will kill off unwanted seeds and pathogens.

compost tumbler : as with most of my posts Ill do the budget methods to the more expensive methods. compost tumblers don't really speed up the process but rather make you more willing to do what you should be doing with any other compost pile. many of them retain water better then an open pile, retain heat to a degree and make it easier for you to turn the pile. The ease of use makes the process feel faster but a well maintained compost pile can break down at the same rate as a batch in a tumbler.

Stay tuned for part 3 where we will take a look at the mega list of things the internet says we can compost. as always comments are welcomed

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Gardening mad science part two

 you have your plants growing in the garden, happily tucked into the compost you made which such love. now what?

Cloning is a interesting pass time, most people asscoiate this with marijuana, but there are a vast array of plants that can be propagated through cloning.

The set up to do so can be as simple or complex as you want, there is a surprising amount of materials available for it. most of which can cross over into hydroponics as well. the principles are simple take a piece of a plant and suspend it in a grow medium and it may eventually root.

You can go crazy with this process if you really want to spend the money and get Aeroponic cloners and other super high tech fanciness. but realistically all you need is some water, honey and time. there are rooting hormones available which can speed this process up  but I haven't had the drive to use anything like that yet.

The first step is selecting the plant you want to clone. In this case I'll be doing basil, rosemary, mint and a lavender plant. I have never tried anything other than saving my poor tomatoes that had a case of root rot, the process is roughly the same for most plants and even trees can be cloned using similar methods(to include roses and grape vines)

To take the cutting you select a stalk that is as close to the size of a pencil as allowable. Using a sharp cutting device(I like Fiskars products personally)   make a clean cut and once the plant section is cut free dip the cut end in honey(honey is antibacterial) and Remove all but a few leaves on the top.

Fill a container with enough water to cover the stem and change it at least every other day. When the roots have formed transplant it into soil and give it a good watering.

This concludes the first official plant mad science post, sorry for the lack of photos as I am doing this post retroactively as my cuttings have been in the rooting tank for about three days now.

Home chemistry primer: part one

there are always alternatives to using store bought chemicals. most of these things are common purchases and you probably have them in your cabinet right now. this series of posts will educate you on the multitude of common household goods that can be used to do more then you purchased them for. It differs person to person but I have assembled a list of the common things I use in my household

Bees wax combined with coconut oil

white vinger

baking soda


olive oil


hydrogen perioxide


So you think you can build: part one

I find having the ability to construct many things out of a vast array of materials to be a comforting thought. the broad spectrum of this will include several of the back logged project I have constructed since owning my home and perhaps product reviews and recommendations.

As always I know a little about everything but am not an expert in all things, comments and corrections are welcome.

Budget leakage: part one

There are places that secretly take your money without you even knowing it. some you may know of and some you may not know of. This subject will cover inexpensive tactics you can use to reduce the amount of excess money being sucked from your account each month. the scope of this has yet to be determine but it may include : small energy efficiency projects and the subtle art of recycling, among other insightful looks at tricky company practices.

As with all of my post I encourage you to let your voice be heard. ask questions and if you know more make corrections.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

One stop composting tips: part one

As with all of my part one posts, This will be an introduction to what I aim to accomplish with this post. This posts purpose is to introduce the in depth science of composting. this will include the Free, Cheap and more expensive equipment list, product recommendations and in later posts a more in depth look at what you can and cant compost, acceleration of composting and alternative methods of composting materials.

Hopefully throughout this process I can teach you a more in depth methodology and perhaps learn a few things along the way. I encourage reader input, I am not a complete expert on the processes involved, but I have done a great deal of research in this field and hope to share my compounded knowledge with you

gardening mad science: Part 1

This post will be a chronicle of various semi-scientific methods used to generate an army of super  plants for your newly constructed garden and keep them healthy by using common household items.. I'm hoping to include photos of my successes and failures  as they happen.

The subjects I plan on covering over the span of this haven't been full thought out as of yet. I don't have many remaining plants to experiment on because of a series of events including some wrathful hale here in Colorado and the associated rain that came with them. I will however try to cover cloning plants, perhaps some grafting as I can and some house hold remedies for disease on your tiny monsters(err Plants). as with many of my posts I will include links to the products I would recommend for undertaking the aspects of what  I am trying to accomplish and the hyper budget version of the same process.

Hopefully I have roused the budding mad scientist within you with this introduction. As always leave suggestions and corrections in the comments.

Andy's rapid gardening techniques: part two

We left off on a basic overview of what is required to start and grow a garden. In this post we will delve into a more detailed approach.

Like my older sister  I too feel that wasting things Is just plain dumb. the world has only so much of some things and most things can be used in more way then just its intended purpose. I have to be cautious about this fact as I could easily become a hoarder.

As said in the first section in this post, you must have soil in order to plant a thriving garden. Composting organic materials is by far the cheapest way to go. there is a science to this however, percentages of green matter to brown matter, moisture content, the temperature of your compost pile(the key word here is micro organisms). I could dedicate a several post to this(it is in the works as you read this). the basics however are simple; take green matter and combine it with brown matter, turn and water. the process will happen as long as the micro organisms within the pile stay alive. Even a pile more or less left alone once formed will break down but at a slower rate.

Once you have secured you fertile soil(or compost) you will need a place to plant in. This part could be combined with acquiring quality soil in more advance gardening methods (more of a permaculture style garden) but I will stick to simple means for the hobbyist gardener for the moment(I will add secondary posts for the more advanced undertakings). In this post we will start with container gardens. there are three levels of gardening containers in my opinion

Free: reuse containers from thing you bought already such as the plastic container of cottage cheese in the back of your fridge or for good seed starter pots you can form small pots out of toilet paper roll centers. the limiting factors are what the container held (you don't want to use a container that held any kind of toxic chemical) and your imagination

Cheap: you get to test out your tag popping abilities at the thrift store, yard sales or give your local dollar store a visit to see whats available. solo cups, small paper cups and various containers can be found for little money.

More expensive: sometimes having things designed for the purpose they are being used helps make your gardening skills seem more then they are. For the initial setup you will need Seedling Starter Trays3 Inch pots, 5 gallon pots. All of which can be reused until the plastic begins to break down

 We will assume you are using the products on the more expensive side of the realm as they are less of a variable in the overall scheme of things. at this point you have soil and containers, you need seeds. I have found little difference in most of the seeds I have planted thus far. seeds can be acquired almost anywhere during the gardening season and for the most part inexpensively.   You are the one who must determine what you want to grow.

On the next post we'll start with seeds and preparing them for planting using different methods. I have an unconventional method that has proven to be reliable(roughly a 90% germination rate) and a few stand by methods that have been around for a while with a little twist to them.