How to make Homemade pumpkin bread


After having an abundance of cooked pumpkin after over purchasing on a couple of organic pie pumpkins I decided to make some pumpkin bread, here is the recipe I have had great success with.

Using leaf mulch in your garden for weed prevention


Above is unfortunately what my vegetable garden looks like, still have some cilantro, bunching onions, bulb onions, garlic, broccoli, and spinach growing but obviously I have a blanket of tiny weeds emerging with large amount of rain we have been getting.  This gives me a few options:

  • A. Painfully pull every weed from the garden bed…repeat
  • B. Give up on my plants and just lay down some black plastic or cardboard to smother the weeds
  • C. None of the above

I am going to opt for “C” on this one and go with an alternate method of applying a mulch that I am sure many of you have an abundance of at the moment…leaves.

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Pumpkin with 259,764J of energy smashing a car

For most people watching a pumpkin dropped on a car from a crane is good enough…though the scientist in me wants to know how much force did this pumpkin have on impact.  If I have you curious as well I did the math below…


UPDATE: It has been too long since I have thought about physics…thanks for the corrections to my incorrect memory of Weight/Mass in the comments…calculations have been updated.

The easiest way to calculate this is to simply calculate the kinetic energy of the pumpkin with the following formula:


First to determine the mass…for a pumpkin that weighs 1169 pounds that converts to 530.2 kg

Next we need to determine the velocity of the pumpkin.  Since in the video they do not say the height I am going to do an estimate of 50 meters given the cars and people look pretty small when the pumpkin is released.  By neglecting wind resistance (because I am too old and tired to think about differential equations again) this I can calculate the velocity of the pumpkin right before impact by taking the square root of 2*9.80665*50 to get 31.3 m/s or 112.7 KPH or 70 MPH.

Now I simply plug in these numbers to find the kinetic energy:

KE = (530.2 * 31.32) / 2

KE = 259,764 joules

Just to put this into perspective here are some other events to compare to:

Event Joules of Energy
Swinging of a baseball bat 80 J
Shooting an elephant gun 1200 J
Shooting an M16 gun 1690 J
Exploding 1 gram of TNT 4184 J
Dropping a 1169 lb pumpkin 259,764 J


Have a happy and safe Halloween

Making a pumpkin pie from scratch


While out picking out pumpkins for my daughters I saw some nice organic heirloom pumpkins (Winter Luxury Pie) and decided to try my hand in using a couple of these to make a pumpkin pie instead of using canned pumpkin.  One note make sure you are using a pumpkin labeled as a sugar or pie pumpkin, using your standard jack-o-lantern variety will lead to very watery and less velvety pie.  So in the end, not only does this give you a better tasting pie, but given a organic pumpkin cost $6 a can you also save quite a bit of money with just a little additional work.


Step 1: Clean the pumpkin. Use a little water and scouring pad to remove loose dirt

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How to make cayenne powder


After letting my cayenne peppers ripen some more in the grow box I decided that this was good enough and decided to make some cayenne pepper for winter BBQs.  The different stages of ripeness provides slightly different flavors, from what I have read partially ripe can give an excellent heat with a unique flavor.  As you can see the color is also a little different than what you would typically think for for cayenne peppers.  The process for this is very similar to making jalapeno powder with a few minor differences.

 Step 1: Clean the peppers.  Simply give them a quick rinse and a towel dry


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Controlling my growbox with a mobile phone



How many times have you been riding the bus and have been curious what temperature your computer growbox was running and if the plants needed to be watered?  Ok maybe never, but I decided to solve this problem anyway.  There is also no point in identifying that you may have a problem without having a way to do something about so I also implemented the ability to override the controls on the growbox by using a Windows Phone 7 application on your new T-Mobile cell phone or any other cool Windows phone.



I made the design for this pretty simple, unfortunately I could not connect with my growbox directly using a mobile device because the computer is behind a firewall (which is a good thing) so I used machine that both the mobile phone and growbox can contact  After creating a quick web service with the following methods the growbox and mobile device could now talk to each other:

  • SetStatus(StatusInfo) - GrowBox sets this status every minute
  • SetOverride(OverrideInfo) - Mobile sets override to default functionality
  • GetStatus() – Mobile Phone gets status
  • GetOverride() - GrowBox checks for potential overrides requested by Mobile device

Mobile UI

Now I have the two devices talking here is the basic UI.  The top half of the screen shows the growbox temperature, cpu temperature, and the moisture content. All of these statues change color (to yellow and red) as their values get to critical levels (too hot, too cold, too dry)

The middle section shows the current state of the growbox letting me know if the lights, heater, exhaust fan, and/or water pump are on or off.  If a situation occurs where you want to override this state you can do this by simply clicking the status indicator.

The bottom part of the screen shows temperature and moisture levels over the past 24 hours.  The graphs are rendered using Google Charts for simplicity though am thinking about creating my own custom solution to get the graphs just right.  It also displays a current screenshot inside the grow box and you can transition between views with a finger swipe.


Temperature history graph Moisture saturation history graph
image image

Overriding the heater setting

Status screen following heater override
image image


Though this covers most of my required functionality, I still need to add some cool transition animations and some additional analytics, but thought I would share my current version.