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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Aren't we all terrorists?

This picture has been around for awhile but it still stirs my deepest emotions and renews a profound sense of reality.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Got Roots?

Mike, a friend of mine, invented a wonderful device for root propagation - he calls it the "OxyClone".

What it does is provide a very favorable atmosphere to grow roots from plant cuttings or stems - actually does leaves as well. Here he is with a OxyClone 16 and cuttings that have been there for a couple of weeks. "Works pretty well, eh ?" he said with that devilish look in his eyes.

"Jesus!" I stated as he opened the lid containing the cuttings (actually new plants at this stage) with incredible root mass. "Ya think?"

Click on these photos below to see amazing root growth:

It operates on a principle known as Deep Water Culture (DWC) which enjoys increasing popularity in the Hydroponic Gardening community. The principle works extremely well in all sizes of hydro systems but is unique in the OxyCloner.

But before I tell you how it's principle is unique - let me explain a bit about DWC to help you get a grasp on the subject:

Plants in a DWC system are grown with the roots remaining in water throughout the plant's life. The addition of nutrients (fertilizer) and a constant supply of air into the water allows the plant to grow in an unrestricted manner. Here's a video of a simple DWC bucket system to demonstrate the principle:

Basically, the plant's root's are suspended in water and supplied oxygen (usually via an air pump and air-stone) and nutrition 24/7. To grow properly, plants need a decent outside environment; clean, warmish, with plenty of sunshine and CO2. As mentioned, in addition, the plant's root's require a constant supply of moisture, nutrition and oxygen. If done properly, with the proper ratios, the plants in a DWC system will grow at least 2 times faster than the same type plants in soil!

So, what makes the OxyClone unique? Well, as you saw in the Bucket System video, air is supplied via an air-stone by an external, aquarium-type air pump. In the OxyCloner - a submersible pump is installed directly in the rooting area solution and air is pulled in from the outside and distributed, and well circulated in the solution by the submersible pump. It is the combination of the air and constant circulation that makes this system work so well and, essentially, maintenance free.

Check out the video at this u-tube address to see the full operation of the OxyClone.

Here's a couple of larger cloning machines Mike Manufactures:

Click on these photo's for a closer view.

So, there you have it. For those of you who are not familiar with Hydroponic Gardening; not only will plants produce faster, the harvests are better and there are also organic nutrients available.

Oh - I mentioned the OxyClone will grow "roots on a leaf"?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Love my Sweet, Sweet Basil...

That seemingly crazed, redneck-looking man hugging the large sweet basil plant is me. The Ronald Reagan cap makes me look nuttier and even more rednecky...sorta makes me want to go rogue...

The basil plant was grown in a Deep Water Culture (DWC) Hydroponic gardening system I developed using a standard 5 gallon bucket and a 10" net-basket. Here's a couple of them operating together; one with basil and one with a Gynura plant (the one you saw in the last post when it was smaller).
The green bucket on the left is a kosher pickle bucket I bummed off a local deli. The Orange bucket I purchased at Home Depot. I wanted to see the if there would be any different effects caused by using different colors - otherwise, I would have bummed the 2nd one as well and they both would have been free! Turns out there was a difference: The orange color allowed more light to pass through to the roots and caused some algae growth - so, the dark green or a black bucket is a tad more efficient because there is no algae to feed.

Here is how the system is built: One hole (13/16") is drilled in the lower part of the bucket close to the bottom. This hole will accommodate a 1/2" rubber grommet which will hold a 1/2" plastic elbow. A 1/2" ID flexible, vinyl tube is attached to the elbow; this multipurpose tube serves as a sight glass, nutrient replenishment tube, air delivery tube and a drain hose. An adapter is constructed using a couple of different sized bits of tubing to adapt the multipurpose tube to a standard air pump hose.
Here is what makes it work: The plant is put in the 10" net basket using a non-soil medium - I use either clay pellets (Hydroton) or recycled glass rocks (Growstones) - they both work great. The bucket is filled with nutrient solution and the net basket is placed on top, extending into the bucket. The next step is the key to it's operation and success; the air pump is adapted to the multipurpose tube and pumps air into the nutrient solution 24/7. The constant supply of air provides the roots with more than enough oxygen and causes the plants to grow like wildfire!

Everyone who has seen this system wants one! To make things easier, I put a video on YouTube to explain the construction and use of the system. You can check it out here as well:

I do not heat my little greenhouse and the basil and Gynura will perish in the cold, so I have started two systems inside the house:

Here's a table I made from a gutted-out light fixture with a metal light stand I also manufactured using a very solid, steel metal rod holder and aluminum square tubing from Home Depot - this was the most expensive thing I actually manufactured - the stand at around $100.

Other things you see are the light above on adjustable cords, the double output air pump, and the small ventilation fan. Oh, and also a few insect sticky-traps just in case.

This set-up should provide us with plenty of basil and my wonderful Gynura plant through the Winter months. Oh, also I have a cloning station and a small herb garden in the garage. I will probably show that one in a later post.

By the way; did you know that Webster's definition of rogue is: "A dishonest or worthless person"? So ...... is "Going Rogue" really a good thing?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gynura Procumbens - Miracle Plant?

One of it's formal names is Gynura Procumbens - more commonly called "Longevity Spinach" or just plain Gynura.

The person who turned-me-on to Gynura is a Type 1 Diabetic who wears the insulin injection pump device; he claims that, since eating the plant's leaves, his insulin requirement has been reduced a considerable amount! Since he now sells the plant, rooted cuttings, cloning equipment, etc., I figured he was just being a typical, good salesman and was trying to sell me his products. Instead of selling however, he offered me several cuttings, along with a sample of his cloning machine, to try to grow the Gynura plant hydroponically - there is no way in hell I could refuse all those freebies! Also, by that time, I was very curious about the plant's properties and if any of the things he told me about it and things I found on the internet soon after our meeting were true.
Looks like there is a great deal of truth to his story, but that is not all: I started munching the leaves (roughly 6 - 7 medium sized a day) about six months ago. It was an easy task, since I was tending to the cuttings and plants in my greenhouse and - since the Gynura plant grows very fast - leaves were soon readily available.
At the time I weighed 220 pounds and basically, mainly because of my obese condition, did not feel very well most of the time. Sometimes I didn't feel like eating that wonderful Dick's Deluxe or McDonald's quarter-pounder with cheese but managed to forge ahead and eat 'em anyhow!

Now, six months later, I weigh 170 pounds naked (I guess there is part of that you don't really need to know) and I feel great! So, what happened? I have to say that I really don't know; all I did was start eating a few leaves and a couple of weeks later my wife mentioned that I looked like I was losing weight. "You talking to me?" I asked. But, at the same time, I did notice that my pants were not as tight and felt better than normal - sort of what a young buck may feel during mating season..
By the way, why is it so hard to find "stretch-waist" jeans for men? Doesn't seem fair... but, screw it, I don't need them anymore anyhow! I went from a very tight 40 to a rather loose 36 and expect to reduce to a 34 waist before long. What a rush this is to me - I haven't weighed 170 since I was in my very early 30's!!

My neighbor is a Type 2 Diabetic and I told him about the plant and it's owner's claims. I had several plants by then and gave a couple to him. A couple of weeks later he, very excitedly told me that his blood sugar got so low that he had to quit taking the pill! That has been about two months ago and he is still off the pill. My wife is eating the leaves as well - I call it bush-munching - and is also losing weight.

So, I think what Mike from Green Harmony - the Gynura guru - told me was true and I also think that the plant has either changed my metabolism, cut my cravings (it has) or both. It has, in fact, made me a lot more regular! From two number 2's a day to 3 or 4, I would say that's considerably more regular, especially for an old guy...

I don't claim that this herb will do anything for you - I know very little about herbs in general, antioxidants, vitamins, nutrients and micro-nutrients, etc. (Sadly, I've always expended more effort towards fixing my Chevy than learning that herbal stuff!) but I truly believe it has helped me lose weight and feel better so - even if it is a "sugar-pill" and it's all in my mind - I just don't give a hoot; I'm gonna continue growing and munchin' the Gynura bush!