Joshua Bertram

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since Dec 25, 2016
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Recent posts by Joshua Bertram

I really put a lot of thought into this project and finally came to a "kind of" idea of how I'm going to build it.  Like most things I build, there is no plan, just some ideas in my head and as I start to put things together the ideas change, and the design changes.  

For now, I'm not going to worry about the planter boxes/sip beds.  I want to get a frame up, cover it in plastic, and see what the temperatures are like.  I'll probably just use buckets if I do decide to grow something for now.  I want it to be easy to remove if I don't like it.  I'm pretty sure I'll like it though.  I think covering it in plastic during the cold season, and then covering it with shade cloth in the summer is the way to go.  Much like Rebecca is doing.
I really wanted to use the glass panels I have, but they're too permanent for what I want.  Maybe I'll make some cold frames out of them someday, or sell them.
Then, I was set on using cattle panels.  Then I got the idea to enclose the garage door/lengthen the design by five feet which would make it impossible to have a door at the end of the lean to, and I don't want to deal with framing a door into the curved side of cattle panel.  Cattle panels would have cost more too.  I'd need at least four of them, and they're about $26 a piece here.
Then I was set on bending emt 1/2" conduit, but that didn't make sense either because the span I needed to cover was about thirteen feet, and I can only get emt in ten foot lengths.  Plus I'd have to buy or make a bender.  Then I'd have to frame out the last three feet I'd need to complete the span.  Welding emt sucks, and it's dangerous because of the gas.

So I went with 1/2" square mild steel tubing.  I've used it for many projects, it's easy to weld and to cut.  I can bend it by cutting several slots/kerfs where I want the bend, and it's only eight cents per foot more than the emt.  It also comes in 20' lengths which will make everything easier for me.  I bought 140' of it yesterday @ $0.46 per foot.  I have a bunch of other scrap steel I can use for the base rail/frame, and some wood furring strips for some other areas.  So less than $70 and I have almost everything besides the plastic.  

I found out liquid nails doesn't stick to concrete yesterday.  I cleaned it but I'll need to buy a tube of epoxy.  I figure that will cost me $20 more.  I'm using some 1 1/4" concrete screws also, but I'd like to have a more secure bond to the concrete.  I don't really trust the concrete screws, and I don't have a hammer drill to put anything much bigger in.

The pictures of where I'm at as of yesterday.  Got the bottom rail cut out using some angle iron for the length of it, and some flat iron spliced in where the door will go.   Figuring out where I need to put the notches to bend the tube.  I still need to tweak a bit more on the lengths/pitch of the roof.  We rarely get snow, and when we do it's not much, so I think it'll be fine.  Also need to come to an idea on how I'll cover and attach the plastic.  I'm thinking wood furring strips.  I just need to make sure I can get to all the corners when it comes time to put it on.  
Took a picture of the sun at  noon yesterday.  The tree branches behind me aren't in the way but a very tiny amount.  The area gets pretty much full sun except the area right next to the block wall where the gate is.  
I want to put shelves to the right of the garage door/left of the a/c unit and use that for starting seeds or microgreens or?  The area all to the left of the door I would like to build the keyhole raised beds in eventually.

1 day ago
I'm going to give an update because everything went really well.  I really liked the way the cheesecloth prevented the soil from getting on the greens.  I'm going to do that from now on.  I think it's a great to keep things a bit cleaner, although I admit it wasn't that big of a deal keeping the soil out of the greens without the cheesecloth.  I found I could cut much further towards the base of the stem with the cheesecloth, thus giving more actual greens per tray, but it's not much.

Interestingly, the cheesecloth greens grew the best out of the three groups.  I harvested the nutrient solution tray first, and it was growing the slowest of the bunch, maybe the nutrient was no good, it was probably close to eight years old or so, or maybe I needed to make it stronger.
Again, of the two where I used worm castings, and everything was identical in general, the cheesecloth greens grew faster/taller.  I don't think it should have mattered, and it was probably just a coincidence.

I just harvested the cheesecloth tray this morning, and took some pictures of it.  At no point have I washed any of the greens, they've been cut and I sprinkle them all over what I'm eating straight from the tray.

Started three new trays last night with a thicker amount of cheesecloth.  About three to four layers thick this time instead of the two layers I used the first time.  Broccoli, superfood mix, and salad mix.
I'm just using 4tbsp of worm casting in the bottom of the trays where the water reservoir is.  I'm not mixing the worm castings with the soil.  It seemed to work well enough last time.  Makes sense to me when the roots are long enough they can get directly to it.

Pictures of it all.

Oh yeah, I'm only using two 20w lights for this.  In the videos I've linked they recommend three per tier, but I found two to be fine.  Maybe with a longer 10/20 tray it would make a bigger difference.
1 week ago

Burl Smith wrote:I purchased that light system you recommended but was a little taken back by the quality of the mounting clips, always being afraid they're going to fall if I nudge one, so if I decide to expand I think I'll try the T8's:

These are only 6000K versus 6500K so I might have to be satisfied with the addition of some string.

I know what you mean by the mounting clips being very light duty.  That being said, from my experience with them installed in my garage for about a year or so is that they are rock solid mounts.  The lights literally weigh a couple of ounces, so they don't really need anything beefy to hold them up.  I actually found it really difficult to remove a light to reposition it in the garage.  
I didn't even use the mounts for the grow racks.  If you look in the pictures you can see I just zip tied them directly to the rack.  Again, they're so lightweight I can't imagine them ever falling off.

Yeah, that light system you showed looks like a good deal.  I'm sure those will be awesome for you.  

That channel I recommended before is always testing lights side by side to see what the best light for the money is.  They've used high quality, high dollar led's, and although they do perform better and give a bit more weight of greens per tray, they aren't really worth the small gains in growth vs. the cost of the lights/the amount of electricity they consume/and their lifespan.  Especially for a home grower for personal consumption.  From the testing they've done, it looks like the lights are fairly negligible when it comes to microgreens.  The best light with the most output isn't much better than the cheapest light.  More isn't really all that better.  I'm not saying that, I'm just regurgitating what I've heard/watched from them.  

Here's another video where they compare t5's against the lights I bought/linked above.  
"All the details about the lights are in the video! We tested T5 HO Fluorescent's - vs - 18watt LED's - vs - 300watt LED's... The results are worth the watch!"

2 weeks ago
So I finally got around to starting some microgreens after building a small room for them inside my bedroom!  lol  I also bought a small dehumidifier, and four heating mats off of amazon.  

I bought a few pounds from True Leaf's site (broccoli, basic salad mix, and a spicy salad mix).  I haven't tried those yet.  I also got a gift of some seeds from my sister, so I tried those first.

I've only ever grown pea and sunflowers before, and only a few 10/20 trays of those.  They turned out great, so I was/am fairly confident my current batch will be fine.

Going back to the cheesecloth post I made before, okay, I don't think the cost of cheesecloth makes it viable to use as the base for the grow media.  I'm fairly confident it would work, but I just don't think it'd be worth it cost wise considering how much it would take to line a tray.

I did come up with the idea of using a double layer of cheesecloth over seed starting mix!  I think this is a great idea to keep the soil out of the tops of the greens, and so far it is working just as expected.  

I really like the small sprouting/microgreens trays off of amazon.  

I keep thinking about maybe trying to make some money on the side selling them, but I have two dogs that shed tons of hair, and they literally sleep six feet away from the racks I have set up.  I don't think I'd be able to keep their hair from getting on the greens, and I'm pretty sure that would kill any possible future sales if someone were to get hair in their order.  I know I wouldn't buy from that person again anyway.

So here's some pictures of the Rainbow Radish mix I started on December 29th.  I think I used 10g of seeds per tray (1 Tbsp), pro mix (that I got for free), and food grade cheesecloth from wal-mart.  I also put worm castings in the bottom tray under the soil where the water reservoir is in two of the trays.  About 4 Tbsp worth of castings per tray.  In the last tray I used some old Fox Farm nutrient solution instead of the worm castings, just to see if there's a difference.

I had them weighted until this morning January 3rd and in total darkness, that's why they're yellow.  They'll go under two 20w led lights from here on out.  I'll run them 17 hours on, and 7 hours off.

Happy New Year!
2 weeks ago
Okay, so I dug a little deeper into the machine today.  I pretty much knew the main blade needed to be sharpened.  For one, it was hard to push a 1" freshly cut branch through it.  The other thing that had me a little worried was that the chipper seemed more like a shredder.  I'm sure nesting birds would really appreciate the pasta like long fibers of wood, but from what I've seen, actual chips seem to be what comes out of other machines.

So I figured I'd sharpen the main blade today, and then it would be fine.  No.  The main blade is a wreck.  It's been rounded to the point where I'm just going to toss it in the garbage.  I took some pictures of it on a flat surface, and the middle has about an 1/8" depression in it, and is very badly rounded.  The 8hp engine has probably been worked a lot harder than it should have been for quite a while.  I found a blade on Amazon that I hope will fit it.  It's another $40 bucks into the nickel and dime game, but hopefully the blade works and that's the last purchase I'll have to make for a while.  Here's the blade I just ordered.  It's supposed to get here before the end of the month.  The dimensions seem to be exactly the same as my existing blade.

Then I figured I'd inspect the flails.  In all honesty I didn't know what a flail was until today.  Yeah, those were all rounded off too, but thankfully the other three cutting edges were still good on them.  
Oh my gosh, what a pain in the ass to flip them around.  I had to contort my arms in all kinds of strange ways to get the bits back together right.  I took pictures of each of the "axles" or whatever as I went.  I could see getting really confused about how they would go back together if one didn't do that.  

2 weeks ago
Since I'm obsessed with growing my own food, and enjoy making things, I think this last year pretty much sums up where I'm at mentally.  I'm not looking for a relationship, but I enjoy reverse psychology.

I've posted most of these pictures in other threads, but I think this is a neat place to show what's been done in exactly a year's time.  (well, I actually made the first raised bed in December of 2019, but close enough)

Just finished my microgreens grow room (that actually takes up half the room in my bedroom).  Well, it's for microgreens, and my seed starting in general.  It's going to be so nice this year starting the seeds with my new setup!  I can't wait!  I really think I could make a little extra money from selling microgreens.....but I have two dogs that shed tons of hair and they basically live in the bedroom with me most of the time.  I just don't think it would be possible to keep their hair out of a product.  I basically live in a tiny house kind of situation, maybe when I move back into my main house, I'll give it a try.  I do enjoy the passive income my house brings though.

I'm a total slob that has to be completely organized when it comes time to get anything done.  I'm not social, and don't enjoy being around people by choice.  I can't imagine making a connection with anyone anymore, and I'm not sure that I've ever "connected" with anyone in the past.  It's a very strange state of mind.  Maybe just crazy.  Probably........

2 weeks ago
I really like the idea of these diy concrete planter walls that interlink to make pretty much any size rectangular bed someone could want.  

In my opinion, way better looking than cinder block, can be customized with some creative thinking/art, will last just about forever.  I also like that the blocks mechanically attach to one another without having to permanently lock them together. I think cinder blocks would be more prone to moving/being pushed by the soil over time, but it's probably trivial.

Maybe someone is already selling these as a kit for DIY'ers.  I think it's a pretty cool diy project, but cinder blocks would be a lot easier to just go down and buy.  There's a bit of labor just to make the forms from wood.  Man, somebody really should just make the forms as a kit, and then sell them.  It'd be a lot easier.  

Maybe I've liked this video here before.  I know I was pretty impressed by it when I first watched it.

I think he experiments with perlite in the concrete mix, and other designs on his channel if it's of any interest to anyone.

Happy New Year!