Yearly Archives: 2014

Building Greenhouse Benches

I decided to build some real benches for my greenhouse. It only took me 8 years to figure out I needed to. These benches will have a bottom shelf to store things like peat moss, bags of potting soil, pots and anything else I can find.

The whole thing only cost me $12. I had the 2×2 and 2×4 laying around. I only had to buy the cedar fencing for the top.

 

Nutribullet Breakfast Smoothie Recipe

The Nutribullet is a wonderful way to get your fresh greens and fruits in the morning.  It breaks down the cell walls of the food allowing your body to more easily absorb the vital nutrients.
For breakfast, I usually only use 2 types of vegetables and many different fruits. The reason is, I get an immediate boost from the sugars in the fruit, and the nutrients in the veggies break down over a few hours.

 

Recipe:

1 large kale leaf
1 handful of spinach
Small handful of strawberries
Small handful of grapes
Small handful pineapple
Small handful of Raspberries
Small handful of blueberries
1/2 cup coconut water
Water to fill line.

Blend until smooth (about 30 seconds)

** If you don’t have fresh fruits readily available, then use frozen.

Enerplex Jumpr Slate 5K Emergency Power Bank

The more I use this device, the more I fall in love with it.
It’s very thin, lightweight and durable.

Included in the Box:
Kickr Slate 5k Power Bank
USB to Micro USB cable
Instruction manual

First out of the box, you can’t help but notice how well thought out this design is.  The holes along the side will allow you to attach it to either a binder or carabiner. Anywhere you carry this, because of its design, you probably will forget you even have it with you.

Jumpr_SlateThe biggest plus that sets this device apart from all the others, is the built in micro SD cable. No need to carry (and lose) you own cable.

Specs:
1 – USB output port 5,100 mAH/2.4 amp
1 – Micro USB input for charging the device
9.8 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
12.5 ounces


My criteria when looking for emergency power is:

1. Charging my Galaxy S3
2. Charging my Black Diamond Rechargeable Headlamp
3. Being able to have reserve power from a power bank.

#1 Charging the Jumpr Slate

Charge Time:

I plugged the Jumpr into a wall socket to charge. Surprisingly it only took about 4 1/2 hours to fully charge.

#2 Charging the Black Diamond Headlamp

I ran the headlamp down to 0%, plugged it into the Jumpr. It fully charged in about 6 hours (the Black Diamond is notorious for slow charging so disregard the time).

#3 Charging the Galaxy S3

Without recharging the Jumpr SLate, I then plugged in my S3 after running it down to 10%. It brought the S3 up to 92%.

The Jumpr Slate 5K was able to charge the Headlamp fully and the S3 to 92% all from one charge of the Jumor.

Charging my Samsung Tab 7

I decided to see how well it did with charging my tablet. I ran the tablet down to 10%. I was able to charge it up to 90%.

Final Analysis

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Enerplex Jumpr Slate 5K Power Bank. If you’re looking for a lightweight, thin and dependable power supply, then look no further.

Pro

Small, thin and lightweight.
Plenty of power (5,000 mAH, 2.4 Amp out)
Holes along the side to secure it.
Built-in micro SD cable

Con

Plastic packaging

Ascent Solar Kickr IV Portable Solar Charger Review

My continued quest to maintain independence during grid failure.

I’ve been in dozens of situations that make me uneasy. The last one being a five day outage at home due to a wind storm in Southern Oregon. From then on, I’ve been on a quest to provide my family with uninterrupted power when (not if) the grid goes down again.

For the last few years, I’ve reviewed multiple portable solar devices, however I only recommend ones that I deem worthy of our attention.

The Ascent Solar Kickr IV Portable Solar Charger is one of those devices.

Although I believe my demands are not too unreasonable, there are a few requirements that need to be met.

#1. I need a solar charger that will keep my Galaxy S3 cell phone completely juiced during the duration of the outage.
#2. I need enough power to keep my Black Diamond Revolt Headlamp fully charged.
#3. I would like to have a fully charged external power pack like the Jumpr Slate Power Bank

The Ascent Solar Kickr IV Portable Solar Charger Specs.

Kickr-IV

Product Dimensions:
Unfolded: 774mm(30.5″)/185mm(7.3″)/2mm(0.08) Folded: 225mm(8.8″)/185mm(7.3″)/2mm(0.08″)

 

Power:
6.5 Watts Unregulated/6.0 Watt, 5 Volt System Regulated

Solar Cell Type: CIGS

Output:
1.2 Amps (USB Port)

The built in USB Port will give you 1.2 amps of charging power. Although this will not be enough to charge an iPad or the Galaxy note 10, it’s certainly enough to charge most widely available portable power packs.

Charging my Samsung Galaxy S3

Samsung S3

The first test was my cell phone.
I awoke at 7am, (in Alaska that’s late)
I let the phone run down to 10%, set the solar charger in full sun and plugged it in.

Total Charge Time:
Phone turned off – 2 hours 15 mins
Phone turned on – 3 hours 45 mins.

 

 

 
Charging the Black Diamond Revolt Headlamp

Revolt Headlamp

Next, I ran my headlamp down to about 10-20%. Plugged it into the solar charger in full sun.

Total Charge Time:
3 hours 20 mins

 

 

 

Charging the Jumpr Slate 5k

Jumpr Slate 5k

With about 25% juice left in the power bank, I plugged it into the solar charger under full sun.

Total Charge Time:
6 hours 10 mins

 

As you can see, I was able to charge all three devices in one full day. We do however have longer summer daylight here in Alaska. But if you’re in an area that can give you 11 hours of daylight, you should have the same results.


Pros:

Comes in recyclable packaging
Faster charging than other solar chargers I’ve tested in it’s price range and size
Foldable and lightweight, great for carry.
Grommets to secure while unattended or for hanging.
Able to charge multiple power banks

Cons:
Has trouble putting out a charge under low light conditions, like dawn, dusk and cloudy days.
USB port too close to the pad making it difficult to slide the cable in and out.

Final analysis
The fact that I’m able to charge multiple power banks, makes me glad to own this charger. For its size, it packs a wallop, folds nicely into a backpack, is lightweight and durable.

If you’re looking for a powerful portable solar charger for backpacking, camping or piece of mind when the grid goes down, you should take a serious look at the Ascent Solar Kickr IV Portable Solar Charger

GYH Rating 4.5/5 stars

4.5

 

 

 

Disclaimer:
While Ascent Solar sent me the product for review, The opinions on this charger are based on my own honest experiences and reflect my personal use of the product.

Make Your Own Seaweed Fertilizer

Seaweed is rich in trace elements. Some say it will release over 70 nutrients into your soil. It can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for your plants.

Collection is fairly easy. I just grab a 10 gallon bucket, walk down to the beach at low tide and scoop up handfuls of it.

Be aware though, in most places seaweed collection is highly regulated. It is considered a marine plant. In some places it is even necessary to obtain a license. So be sure to check your local laws before gathering.

One five gallon bucket for me will produce enough fertilizer for the summer to cover at least 100 square feet.

How To Make

Fill a five gallon bucket half way with seaweed.
Add water to the top of the bucket.
Let it sit for about a week, stirring it once a day.

To fertilize

Feed your plants about one cup of the liquid per plant twice per week.

When the liquid is gone, refill the bucket again. The seaweed will be weaker the next time around. But this is perfectly fine.
It’s wise to cut back on the fertilizer as the season progresses. Flowering should start to occur after the second bucket is gone anyways and that’s the time to slow down on feeding.

When the season is over, just toss the remaining seaweed into the compost pile.

Jalapeno Carelessness

I have been de-hybridizing a jalapeno pepper for about 4 years now. Every year I have saved the seeds and replanted. The first year I was very careful when handling the seeds. I wore gloves and carefully placed the seeds in plastic envelopes. I did however test the seeds for heat the first year and to my surprise, they were not hot at all. In fact, for some reason unknown to me, I could put a handful of the seeds in my mouth and chew on them without burning.

So, for the past 3 years I have been saving the seeds without any skin protection. And every year the seeds were almost heatless.

Until this year

When collecting the seeds this year, I followed the same procedure as before. No gloves, just cut the pepper open and scraped the seeds out.
I laid them on a paper plate to dry for a few days and sat down at the computer to check my email.

You can imagine what happened next. My eyes started burning, and my lips actually became numb. I thought I was going into shock.
Then I remembered. I just cut open the jalapenos.

I quickly went out to the kitchen where my seeds had been cut and picked up a piece of the flesh and ate it.

Wholly Moley, that sucker was scorching.
I swiftly ran into the bathroom and scrubbed down. It was however a little too late at this point. The damage had been done.

The moral of the story

Never assume that your hybrid plants are going to produce consistent results year after year. One year no heat.. then HEAT.

Of course it’s my fault for being careless.

So until this plant stabilizes, I’m not going to take it for granted.
Even if it may be another 5 years or so.

As one reader said to me GLOVE UP!

I Grew A Square Tomato

Yes I did. In my previous post, I showed how to do it. Even though I started this project on a hybrid, I finally got the results I wanted. You may be wondering why I did this on a cherry variety. Well, I wanted to do this inside so I could keep an eye on it.

Purple Tree Collard Cutting Amazes Me

It is no surprise to my subscribers how much I love the tree collard. Not just for its looks but for its usefulness.
One thing that people will tell you though, is that it almost never goes to seed. This is true.

However, I planted a few cuttings from one of my largest plants. I put it into a small 6″ pot and waited for it to grow.
I was pleasantly surprised at how fast it starting producing shoots.
I was not, however, expecting it to start producing flowers. After just 1 month, I am seeing shoots forming and this thing is going to go to seed on me.

Of course I do not plan on saving the seeds as I believe genetically they are probably inferior.

I have to say, that the purple tree collard always seems to amaze me.

3 Natural Homemade Weed Killer Recipes Tested

I am testing the three most popular all natural weed killers from the internet.
Many people swear by these.
I will say that the methods did kill the grass to a certain extent.
Although it’s a good thing to want to use natural methods to kill weeds, we have to remember that if we kill weeds, we are also killing natural microbes and fungi in the soil and that will inhibit growth of vegetables and flowers.

Now if you’re doing this on a sidewalk or somewhere you never plan on growing anything then this could work.
But my suggestion is to use cardboard.
It will not only smother the weeds, but as it breaks down, it will add nutrients to the soil.

Plant Problem Solver

 

if you find any errors or would like us to add to this database, please contact us. check back often as we continually update

Plant

Problem

Possible Cause

All Plants Seedling Dying soil disease, temperature, bug damage, no air circulation, irregular watering
All Plants Slow Seedling Growth compacted soil, no aeration, root bound, too low temps, soil disease, bad nutrients in soil
Broccoli Bolting temps too hot, temps too extreme in either direction varying days (hot then cold, etc), root bound, too much nitrogen, any kind of stress, end of life cycle
Broccoli Holes in Leaves bug damage (possibly cabbage butterfly larva or slugs)
Cabbage Holes in Leaves bug damage (possibly cabbage butterfly larva or slugs),
Carrot Tops Disappear slugs, birds, or bugs bunny (rabbit)
Carrot Tops Falling Over stepped on by humans or animals, storm damage, voles, weevils. heat, insufficient water
Kale Holes in Leaves bug damage (possibly cabbage butterfly larva or slugs),
Pepper Blossom (flower) Drop too cool temp (especially with hot peppers), too much nitrogen, low moisture, lack of pollination, uneven watering
Not flowering Lack of pollination, Temps below 50 or over 80 at night. Daytime temps below 60 deg f.
Curled or wrinkled Leaves Pests (aphids, thrips, whiteflies, mites), Environmental stress, Virus, Root bound
Tomato Blossom (flower) Drop too much nitrogen, too warm or too cold nights, high temps during day, lack of pollination, high humidity (pollen too sticky to fall), low humidity (pollen to dry to stick to female part of plant)
White Spots (not on fruit) Powdery mildew, leaf miners, septoria leaf spots
White Spots On Fruit white flies, grubs, stinkbug damage (fruit damage has starburst pattern), sun scald, bacterial canker
Yellowing Leaves early blight, late blight, bug damage, nutrient deficiency, end of season, fungus or bacteria, irregular watering
 Lower leaves dying fungal infection like Fusarium wilt, early blight, late blight or Septoria leaf spot