Work Roadmap wk of 11/12

Last Week Review:

Last week I compiled a list of important facts/growing requirements for Carolina Reapers. This will beneficial as my reaper plants grow. I am very excited about getting some yields in the next 3 months or so. I also am ready for collecting sensor data and will do that this week which is exciting. I am working on honing in my weekly schedule to ensure I am executing at a high level.


Monday: Plant Microgreen Trays and look into growing Arugula.
Tuesday: Continue to collect data with sensors and continue research on Arugula.
Wednesday: Start Designing deck sun room and herb greenhouse
Thursday: Continue to work on deck sun room
Friday: OFF
Saturday/Sunday: Continue design on deck sun room

Work Roadmap wk of 11/05

Last Week Review:

Last week I did some sensor work but also didn’t complete as much as I wanted. I still have a little more to do on the sensor before they are all operational. I had some success with my first sprouts for my carolina reaper seeds and I cant wait to see where that goes. I am hopeful that this I will complete the work on the sensors and get those operating.


Monday:Square Roots Research, A very interesting AI growing company that educates others on how to do things the way they do.
Tuesday:Research on growing Carolina Reapers
Wednesday:Complete Research on Caroline Reapers
Thursday: Finish sensor software and implement
Friday: OFF
Saturday/Sunday:Collect basil data and make any needed adjustments to sensors and or software.

The Epic Gardener: Kevin Espiritu

Intro

This is the first of a blog series that I hope will provide tons of value to all of you. I am learning everyday just like the rest of you so I want to introduce to you people who have achieved great things in the growing/gardening niche. I cannot think of anyone better to start it off than Kevin Espiritu.

Who is Kevin Espiritu?

Kevin is a blogger, gardener, and former microgreen farmer among other things including being the head of marketing at Scribe(formerly known as Book in a Box). He has several projects including a blog called Thought Stack and a self named blog site KevinEspiritu.com. Quick commercial for his personal blog site, his book review on the book Viralnomics for any of you bloggers out there was so good I want to read Viralnomics now(Book Notes: Viralnomics).

Kevin is the man behind the blog site Epic Gardening, the gardening/growing niche site that I wish I owned. Epic Gardening has reached and helped millions on various topics in gardening. It is simply an awesome site that will add tons of value to you. He has great product reviews, information on hydroponics, aquaponics, gardening, plant problems, and house plants. He also has an awesome facebook group that I myself just joined Epic Gardening Facebook Group. Finally Kevin also has his own gardening podcast where he delivers tips that are actionable for any gardener Epic Gardening I will now go through some of my favorite features of Epic Gardening.

Favorite Features Epic Gardening

Blog Post:
My favorite blog post is one on grow lights that Kevin has in his hydroponic section. He does a great job of explaining the different kind of lights you can use for growing. He also goes through some of the science behind light spectrum and light intensity which I feel are super helpful in the understanding of how indoor grow lighting impacts a crop. For anyone who has questions about grow lights check this post out Epic Gardening: Indoor Grow Lights.

Favorite Podcast Episode:
My favorite podcast episode is the his Episode on entitled Artificial Intelligence and Gardening. How goes through some of the methods used by a company called Square Roots Grow. They are a very interesting company that utilizes AI to automate gardening and glean important insights on better growing methods. The same ideas that I talk about in some of my posts in a more general sense. Because of Kevins podcast episode I am going to do more research on them and see what they are all about. I loved every second of the episode. I feel it is where farming is going and I am excited about seeing what the future brings. I also like Kevin’s podcast structure. He keeps his episodes to 10 minutes so you don’t get bombarded with too much information.

Favorite Product Review:
Full disclosure here my favorite product review is really more due to personal nostalgia. My favorite product review was of the book Microgreen Garden: Indoor Growers Guide to Gourmet Greens. That is for several reasons, number one microgreens continue to be one of my favorite crops because of their culinary versatility and the nutritional value they bring. They are also great starter crop and easy one to grow inside. Another reason is that microgreens were what brought me into gardening and I am so thankful I took the steps to start messing around with them. It has lead to something that I am very passionate about and interested in. Finally that book was one of the books I read when I first started out growing microgreens.

These were just a few of my favorite things about Epic Gardening, but there is a great deal more that the site has to offer. I recommend that you spend some time on the site and I believe you will find that you really enjoy it as well! The final section of this post will be Kevin’s response to a couple of quick questions.

Q&A with Kevin

What was the crop you started with?

The very first crop I ever grew was a spacemaster cucumber in a hydroponic system. A bit over eager, right? They didn’t turn out well, having pollination issues as well as being overly bitter. My brother was growing basil in containers at the time…he had a LOT more success. But even with my first crop being a failure…I was hooked on gardening.

What is your favorite style of gardening/growing?

It used to be hydroponics, but these days I’ve been diving deep into soil gardening, specifically a no-dig approach to high-density raised bed gardening. I find this minimizes effort in the garden while still producing insane yields.

Number one piece of advice to a new gardener/grower?

Observation is the #1 skill. You can pick up all of the factoids and techniques you want, but you have to plug those into a systematic framework that you understand. Only then can you start solving problems in the garden for yourself. And you can’t start building that framework unless your eyes and other senses are open. Spend time in the garden every day – no phone, no distractions. Observe what’s happening and try to figure out why.

Why do you garden/grow?  

Too many reasons to pick just one! For health, to reconnect with nature, to cultivate life, to give away to friends…there are an unlimited number of reasons that I keep growing plants!
Very interesting answers by Kevin, I love the answer to question 3 on observation. I agree that getting to the bottom of how and why things are happening is very key. Gardening is about helping something to live and thrive. I know first hand that if you miss an observation your crop can be dead quickly. I hope this was a great post for everyone, I know I enjoyed it very much. Please comment your thoughts.

Work Roadmap wk of 10/29

Last Week Review:

Last week I ended up focusing all of my time on developing the software for the couple of Arduino Sensors I have. I had some issue with the download of the repository for the DHT 11 temperature/humidity sensor. I was able to setup the soil moisture sensor and the light intensity sensor. I also setup a database to for the data to be housed for all of the readings. I am using SQLite3 which is a smaller database software for personal computers. It does not require a server to run and you still get the benefits of being able to utilize SQL. I built all of this on my raspberry pi3 so I will be able to essentially continue to run it and only make tweaks when needed. Eventually I would like to build an app for my phone to look at the readings remotely.


Monday:Work on Arduino temperature/humidity sensor.
Tuesday:Work on Arduino temperature/humidity sensor.
Wednesday:Collect data from my basil plant
Thursday: Collect data from my basil plant and share previous results for the previous day.
Friday: OFF
Saturday/Sunday: Continue to collect basil data and make any needed adjustments to sensors and or software.

3 Key Fundamentals of Growing/Gardening

Intro

I wanted to take some time out to discuss what I believe are the fundamentals of growing/gardening. These of course are large topics in themselves but constitute what it takes to have successful growing operation of any kind. Of course some of the variables vary when talking about different plants but there are commonalities that all(or most) plants require to survive and thrive. I know there is a daunting amount of information on all of this so I would like to distill it down the way I see it. I want to simplify it as much as possible because simplicity is the mother of execution.

The System to Manage:The Environment

To have a successful growing operation you must manage the environment or some part of it. What do I mean by manage the environment? I mean ensure that your plants get what they need to flourish when they need it. The amount of environmental control increases as we move from outside growing to inside. So that means when the operation is inside there is more control . That is of course not to say that more control is always necessarily better. Growing staple crops like wheat or corn would require a prohibitively large building to house them at the scale our society currently grows them. The cost to do it and power it would be astronomical vs just allowing nature to take over an do most of the work.

The farmers that grow those crops still need to manage they just don’t have the requirements of someone who grows in side and uses grow lights. The farmer more than likely has a much larger area to cover but really is just supplementing what nature does. The indoor grower has to deliver everything to their plants.

Inside vs outside is more a matter of preference and also a function of what you are going to grow and how much space you need. To me managing the environment is the major and the most crucial feature to being successful in growing plants. I believe there are a couple of subsets within managing the environment. Those subsets are measuring the variables and responding to the measurement.

Fundamental 1: Measuring the Variables

I would consider measuring the variables the most important and obvious subset of environmental management that is needed to be evaluated. Your variables are the things you can change to impact the growth of the plant(s). The variables are nutrient availability/breakdown, light intensity/exposure, humidity, temperature, soil moisture, bacterial colonies. Of course this is not an exhaustive list but I believe they are the main ones. When those are right you will have the results you would like with your plants.

There are many devices and tools to measure the various variables mentioned above. It is key to have calibrated and tools to make sure to that you have good measurements. That will inform decisions later in how to properly manipulate the variables to get them to the right state for optimum growth. It is important to important to measure the growth variables, but also any quantitative or qualitative data about your plants. For ex. Leaf size, color, plant height, number of branches, time to maturity, etc. That will allow for you to have the correlations between the environmental variables and the results.

Fundamental 2: Recording the measurements

This is the shortest one because it is very self explanatory. You should record your measurements! There is simply too many things to keep track of to not record. I am not saying you can’t grow plants successfully without recording data, but I am saying that with record of the environmental variables associate with your plants prevent making the most consistent and repeatable results. With your measurements recorded you can start to draw conclusions about what is best to gain optimal growth.

Fundamental 3: Making adjustments

Once you have measurements recorded you need to make prudent adjustments to your environment when results are not where they need to be. So if you are getting wilt, leaf rust, mold or bacterial growth, or any other issues you make point to what can potentially cause the issues. If you don’t already have a baseline for what success looks like changes must be done one variable at a time so you know what impact each variable has. I am of course an advocate of figuring out your issues online if you can as well which can give recommendations of what to change. Making the proper adjustments will get you the success you want.

Conclusion

In conclusion while above might not be a totally exhaustive list I would suggest they are the keys to your success as a grower or a gardener. It is all about managing the system that is the environment. You need to measure your variables, record the measurements, and make adjustments where needed. If you do those things you can have success.

Work Roadmap Wk of: 10/22

In a continued effort to share my process with you here is my work/learning schedule for the week. I hope this is helpful for those of you who are still learning like me and would like to have an idea of how to become a master grower/gardener.
Monday:Manage current herbs and plants
Tuesday: Collect Data for diet problem solver
Wednesday:Collect data for diet program solver
Thursday: Develop software for temperature sensor on arduino
Friday: OFF
Saturday/Sunday: Continue Software work for arduino.

I will share results for the previous week and any tweaks to my process as I go along.

Thinking in Systems

Intro

Today just wanted to spend quick time to discuss an important idea that has reach past growing your own food and is the crux of this blog. That is a way to think about executing things in life. That is of course by thinking in systems. I will tailor it to growing in a subsequent post but will also share general ideas.

Developing a Systematic Way of Doing Something

When I speak of thinking in systems really what is meant is identifying the keep parts of how it works and how they relate or impact each other. Once you understand the various structures and how they relate to each other you can make conclusions on how to handle the various occurrences when trying to manage a situation involving those things. That gives you a framework for the set of possible inputs and outputs that can happen in a given endeavor and how to deal with each. This is powerful because it gives a way to layout a roadmap for success.

That roadmap is the system we build to manage the situation. Systems of management give you a way to make decisions quickly and effectively in a time of need. For the most part in my experience I have found that people do a poor job in a time of crisis at responding to things they don’t know or haven’t thought about yet. If you have already have a system of execution planned out then you can simply apply your solution to a given problem. If the problem is one that you have never seen or anticipated if you already have a system you at least have a starting point of potential things to try.

One feature of any system is a feedback mechanism that informs and collects data as solutions are applied to problems. That allows for try evaluation of the effectiveness of a given solution. Of course if the solution isn’t working to the desired level it must be tweaked or changed. The last piece of the system has been mentioned it is the evaluation mechanism with the data.

There must be a good way of evaluating all of the outputs from the system itself. As I mentioned above changes need to be made for solutions/inputs that don’t work and the ones that do work need to stay the same. The evaluation module should also have a way of forecasting feature issues and/or drawing some conclusions for outcomes that may not be know if possible.


Why Think and Work in Systems

Building and thinking systems allows you to develop a more scientific process for doing something. What is the benefit of a more scientific process? The key feature is repeatability and replication of inputs to achieve a desired output. So the best systems maximize the number of times a desired outcome happens in a way that is easy to execute. In my opinion that presupposes understanding the system you have built.

Your system will give you the freedom to draw real conclusions. It will also give you the ability to control your outcomes and maximize execution. It speeds up your ability to do things because you already have the answers. The next level is to use computers and hardware to make your system even more automated.

Conclusion

Thinking and working in systems gives you a solid framework for making decisions and executing things in your life. It looks at the underpinnings of how things work and how to get results you want. It requires initial and continued discipline, but delivers results, time freedom, and outcomes! Look for my post on growing systems!

Learning Roadmap wk of 10/8

This week I wanted to dicuss my current learning roadmap. That will be key in your tracking and replicating of my process. I will share successes and failures as it goes along and want to make sure to be fully transparant with everything. Right now I am in a mostly programming and tech portion of the learning that I need to complete.

Monday: Python Master Class work/study on functions/modules
Tuesday: Python Machine Learning Class
Wednesday:Python Master Class/start carolina reaper plant and get basics on growing one
Thursday: Python Machine Learning Class
Friday: OFF
Saturday/Sunday: Start build on new growing setup

One thing I want to note about this schedule is that I am going to really monitor how many different topics I am attacking at once. I have noticed a tendency to get off topic which then causes issues with execution and results. Remember to always look to simplify and that as Gary V says execution is king. My goals are to make sure I execute to the fullest.

Growing Automation

Intro

I have made the decision for my automation to only worry about the sensor portion of the growing operation. For now it to me is safer to continue to use the basic outlet timers as I learn more about handling mains power with microcontrollers and relays. They serve the purpose I need right now and are around 10-15 dollars so are a cheap addition. The next level would be to be able be a little more precise based on soil situation to add water etc, but I don’t even have the environmental sensors built yet. So the next phase is to get those built.


Methods

I will be utilizing the arduino board I have to hook the sensors up to. I also have a relay board that I can use to interface many of the sensors with so the board has more space if needed. I will use my raspberry pi to control/collect data for this arduino board. I will be testing the following things.

  • Soil/Growing media pH
  • Humidity
  • Temperature
  • Light Intensity
This should allow me to monitor the growing environment in my grow tent and provide a baseline for the expanded greenhouse later. I will also be able to test variables once I establish a baseline for my current environment. My overall goal will be to establish proper growing condition baselines to achieve a repeatable outcome when growing. Since most if not all of this data is available online for most plants I will use that to start. Once I start getting measurements I will make adjustments as needed and see the outcomes. Finally it will allow me to see those growing results to know how to create the proper environment for my plants. I hope to gain some great insights to share with you all!

Variables for My Diet Problem

Intro

Tonight I will be going through the varibles I will be using for my diet problem. That will set the stage for the solver so that I can appropriately determine what to grow and how much of each thing. Those varibles are of course the amounts of vegetables, fruits, herbs etc that I will need to grow to support my lifestyle. That again as I have mentioned many times drives the entire project needs.


My Food Panty

Below is the table of food items that I would like to potentially grow. It is a fairly ambitous list and more than likely some items maybe cut. Items like coffee(which would be sooo awesome to grow!), plaintains, avocados, etc. might not work due to size and resource requirements. So the list will be scrubbed down to more essential items required for nutrition and that are more achieveable. Also next to the items are many times the prep type so there are few multiples due to consuming them in different ways. There are 60 items in all with 3 another 3 being eggs, crayfish, and perch. So those would be animals/fish I will need to raise.
One other thing to point out is I have nutrient values for all of these so that I can have numbers for the solver. Those numbers come from the USDA National Nutrient Database. It is a very exhaustive and great resoure for this task. It has more nutrients listed than I have ever heard of and it also has a ton of food items. I really enjoyed using it and you should too for this kind of project. Let me know what you think!

Food Item
Almonds(raw)
Apple(raw)
Arugula(raw)
Avocado(raw)
Banana(raw)
Basil(dried)
Black Beans(boiled)
Blueberries(raw)
Broccoli(raw)
Brussel Sprouts(boiled)
Cauliflower(raw)
Celery(raw)
Chia Seeds(dried)
Chickpea(boiled)
Chili powder
Cilantro(raw)
Cinnamon(ground)
Cloves
Corn
Coffee(ground/brewed)
Crawfish(tail)
Cucumber(raw, peeled)
Cumin
Curry powder
dill weed(dried)
Egg(fried)
Garlic(raw)
ginger root(raw)
Ginger(ground)
Grapefruit(raw, red)
Green Pepper(Sweet, sauteed)
Jalapeno (raw)
Jeruselm Artichoke(raw)
Kale(boiled)
Kale(raw)
Lemon(juice raw)
Lime(juice raw)
Marjoram(dried)
Mustard Seeds(ground)
Nutmeg(ground)
Okra(boiled)
Okra(raw)
Olive Oil
Peaches(yellow)
Pecans
Peppermint(fresh)
Perch(cooked)
Plantains(fried)
Red pepper(sweet, sauteed)
Romaine Lettuce
Rutabega(raw)
Spinach(raw)
Spirulina(dried)
Spirulina(raw)
Strawberries(raw)
Sunflower seeds(dried)
Sweet Potato(boiled)
Swiss Chard(raw)
Tomato(raw)
turmeric(ground)
Turnip(raw)
Walnuts(raw)
Watermelon(raw)
Total Result