Posts Tagged Gardening

Monthly Science: Vegetable Ice Crystals

Mary made a batch of veggies in tomato sauce and froze meal-size portions as winter treats. The moist air inside the containers froze into delicate ice blades on the zucchini slices:

Veggie ice crystals - overview
Veggie ice crystals – overview

A closer look:

Veggie ice crystals - detail
Veggie ice crystals – detail

The blade cross-sections might be oblong hexagons, but it’s hard to tell with crystals melting almost instantly after the lid comes off. Some of the smaller hair-like blades reminded me of tin whiskers.

Yummy!

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Obfuscated Signage

Spotted in an arboretum:

Not for Public Admittence into the Area
Not for Public Admittence into the Area

How about good old “Keep Out”?

I’m not sure what the “do not touch” icon is supposed to mean, other than a lack of “no entry” icons.

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Another Garden Hose Y Valve Autopsy

An outlet thread failed on yet another garden hose Y valve:

Garden Fittings - Failed Y valve - detail
Garden Fittings – Failed Y valve – detail

Out of an abundance of curiosity, I battered the remaining parts out of the carcass:

Garden Fittings - Failed Y valve - autopsy
Garden Fittings – Failed Y valve – autopsy

One of these days, we must buy an assortment of new fittings …

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Step2 Garden Seat: Replacement Seat

A pair of Step2 rolling garden seats (they have a new version) served in Mary’s gardens long enough to give their seat panels precarious cracks:

Step2 Seat - OEM seat
Step2 Seat – OEM seat

The underside was giving way, too:

Step2 Seat - cracks
Step2 Seat – cracks

We agreed the new seat could be much simpler, although it must still hinge upward, so I conjured a pair of hinges from the vasty digital deep:

Rolling Cart Hinges - solid model - bottom
Rolling Cart Hinges – solid model – bottom

The woodpile disgorged a slab of 1/4 inch = 6 mm plywood (used in a defunct project) of just about the right size and we agreed a few holes wouldn’t be a problem for its projected ahem use case:

Step2 Seat - assembled
Step2 Seat – assembled

The screw holes on the hinge tops will let me run machine screws all the way through, should that be necessary. So far, a quartet of self-tapping sheet metal (!) screws are holding firm.

Rolling Cart Hinges - solid model - top
Rolling Cart Hinges – solid model – top

A closer look at the hinges in real life:

Step2 Seat - top view
Step2 Seat – top view

The solid model now caps the holes; I can drill them out should the need arise.

From the bottom:

Step2 Seat - bottom view
Step2 Seat – bottom view

Three coats of white exterior paint make it blindingly bright in the sun, although we expect a week or two in the garden will knock the shine right off:

Step2 Seat - painted
Step2 Seat – painted

After the first coat, I conjured a drying rack from a bamboo skewer, a cardboard flap, and some hot-melt glue:

Step2 Seat - drying fixture
Step2 Seat – drying fixture

Three small scars on the seat bottom were deemed acceptable.

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

This original doodle gives the key dimensions, apart from the rounded rear edge required so the seat can pivot vertically upward:

Cart Hinge - dimension doodle
Cart Hinge – dimension doodle

The second seat looks just like this one, so life is good …

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Garden Soaker Hose Connector Repair

Two of Mary’s garden soaker hoses failed their pre-installation checks with leaks from around their connectors. The problem seemed to be a break in the hose inside the connector, with water spewing out of the connector around the hose. Having previously fixed a gash in another hose, I figured I might have some success at fixing these leaks.

The general idea is to squish enough silicone rubber inside the connector to seal around the hose, then clamp the hose and connector snugly enough to hold the rubber in place:

Soaker Hose Connector Clamp - Show view
Soaker Hose Connector Clamp – Show view

The enlarged recess fits around the brass connector shell, which is squashed loosely around the hose and from which the leaking water emerges. Of course, because this is a different hose, the previous model didn’t quite fit and I had to doodle up new geometry:

Soaker Hose Connector repair - Dimension doodle
Soaker Hose Connector repair – Dimension doodle

As before, I bandsawed aluminum backing plates to ensure the plastic didn’t get all bendy in the middle:

Soaker hose connector leak clamps
Soaker hose connector leak clamps

The hose clamp (!) around the connector on the far right ensures a split in the brass shell doesn’t get any larger.

They’ll spend the rest of their lives under the garden mulch, where nobody will ever see those bulky lumps. Life is good!

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

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Garden Hose Y-Valve Autopsy

One of the handles snapped off a Y valve at the garden and I finally got around to an autopsy:

Garden Y Valve - cross sectioned

Garden Y Valve – cross sectioned

That’s using a 24 tpi bandsaw blade, which doesn’t cut nearly as smoothly as a fancy diamond saw, but seems good enough for the purpose. Most of the ripply shading on the cut plane comes from specular reflections; it’s pot metal all the way through and cuts to a high shine.

A closeup shows more detail around the (now hemispheric) ball valve:

Garden Y Valve - thread detail

Garden Y Valve – thread detail

You can see faint straight lines just inside the hose threads, which gives a hint of what’s to come.

Pry out the sectioned ball and dislodge the O-ring from the now-obvious insert:

Garden Y Valve - O-rings

Garden Y Valve – O-rings

Gently squish the threads in the bench vise to pop out the insert:

Garden Y Valve - plug removed

Garden Y Valve – plug removed

If lives depended on it, one could dismantle and repair the valve without recourse to a bandsaw, but …

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