And the GrowVeg subscription goes to…

There were 57 entries so I had my kids pick a number between 1 and 57 and they decided on 51.  So the winner is Robj98168 the 51st commenter, please send me an email using the “Contact” link at the top of the page and I will send you the information to activate your one year subscription.

Thank you for everyone that participated and hope to have more contests in the future.

Gadget to make time lapsed videos in your garden

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If you liked my time lapsed videos in my how box like the ones below.  Here is an easy way to do the same in your garden.  For just the mere price of $159.95 this weatherproof camera will take 1280×1024 resolution photos at an interval of 5 seconds to 24 hours.

Via Hammacher Schlemmer, Via Oh Gizmo

First ever CVG giveaway “ Free one year subscription to GrowVeg.com

Online Garden Planning Tool

GrowVeg.com has graciously offered us a free one year subscription to their site ($25 value) to give away.  To enter simply enter a comment to this post and a name will be randomly selected using some sort of complicated means.

We will pick a winner in a few weeks but if you can’t wait to get started planning your garden go ahead and sign up for the free 30 day trial and if you are lucky you can continue using it for free.  Good luck.

UPDATE: Just for some shameless self promotion, if you mention this contest on your site you are free to add a second comment to double your chances to win.

UPDATE #2: Drawing will be on 03/31/09, so if you have not entered time is running out.

Hardening off plants in the grow box

GrowBoxHardening

When you have seedlings growing indoors or a greenhouse during their life they have had the opportunity spending it in a near perfect environment with controlled temperatures, consistent lighting, no wind, etc.  If you take this happy plant and move it directly into the wild (your garden) it can, and probably will, go into shock leading to its sudden death.  The solution to this problem is to hardening off the plant.  This is a process of slowly getting the plant accustomed to the real world environment a couple hours at a time.

You start by bringing the plant outside for two hours in the late evening or early morning hours.  If the plant begins to wilt let it recover indoors until it appears healthy again.  Each day increasing the amount of time it is exposed to the outdoors over 1-2 weeks period, or until the plant can survive a full day/night outside.  At this time it is ready to get its permanent home in your garden.

This process takes a lot of patience, which as they say is a virtue.  Unfortunately I believe I am missing this virtue.  My history of hardening off plants follows a similar pattern; bring out a plant in the evening with the full intentions of bringing it back in after a few hours, unfortunately I forget and it spends its first day out in the cold all night which normally the demise of my summer plants.

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This year I am using my grow box to harden off my plants.  Normally the grow box runs at about 68-72 degrees which is a great environment for my seedlings.  By allowing some hot air to vent and lowering the maximum temperature setting in the software I am able to bump the temperature down to a range of 57-65 degrees.  After a few days I will drop the temperature a few degrees until it has similar low temperature to the outdoors, while still staying at a safe temperature for the plants.

Given today using an unknown neighbor’s weather station we had a high of 48.2F and low of 35.1F I still have some time before I can safely bring my tomatoes/cucumbers outside but they should be toughened (hardening) up and ready to go when it is.

Time lapse video of cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers in grow box

As you can see they are starting to take over the even larger box and the camera.

Tending your garden with am army of robots

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I must say gardening and robotics are a couple of non relating interests, well at least until now.  Fortunately some smart students at MIT have joined these two areas into one.  I am a little skeptical about the real world implementation of this, I guess if production cost was low enough and you had a large enough green house; a little army of plant tending robots would be a cool site to see.

Either way, this a really cool academic project.  See the video below for the robots watering and harvesting some tomatoes.

“The idea for the project came from work done by Nikolaus Correll, a postdoctoral assistant working in Professor Daniela Rus’ Distributed Robotics Lab. Correll, who came to CSAIL in 2007, saw the possible applications of swarm robotics to an agricultural environment. In the long view, the researchers hope to develop a fully autonomous greenhouse, complete with robots, pots and plants connected via computation, sensing and communication. Each robot is outfitted with a robotic arm and a watering pump, while the plants themselves are equipped with local soil sensing, networking, and computation. This affords them the ability to communicate: plants can request water or nutrients and keep track of their conditions, including fruit produced; robots are able to minister to their charges, locate and pick a specific tomato, and even pollinate the plants.”

[via MIT via Make via Gizmodo]