Monday, September 8, 2014

Weber Genesis Grill restore is Done!

After a few weekends and lots of scrubbing, drilling out rusted bolts and sanding, etc.. I'm really pleased with the final result.

This may not seem like much to most people but it's the first time (on something non electronic) that I tore down to the bare nuts and bolts, literally.  I learned a lot and had a blast seeing my "new" grill take shape.  My 1985 Weber grill is like new and I'm anxious for my first real cookout on it.

Enjoy the before and after:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Refurbishing an "Ol' Redhead" - Weber Genesis that is

The much older Weber grills featuring a Red Hood or lid are affectionately known amongst grilling\bbq enthusiasts as the Redhead.  I've learned a tremendous amount about grilling\bbqing in the last month or so.

Our 9 year old Charbroil, which should have only been kept or used for a few years finally gave its last flare up!  The burners have long since burned up (likely as metal mercury flavoring in my steaks, yummy) and for the last several weeks I've been "molding" burners from aluminum foil for each cookout, what a pain and waste.  So the search began for used grill to just get us by.  In my searching, researching and ad perusal I'd like to think I became educated on being a better grill consumer.  My research quickly surfaced the Weber brand to be the default must have grill.

Price points seemed high but then again so is a stove\oven, which likely gets used just as much, at least for those of us lucky enough to live in California.  Over several weeks I started searching exclusively for a used Weber and yet still they are not cheap nor easily found.  Seems just like car makers and such Weber has a strong fan-base.  Due to their similar model creation since they started back in the 70's (I think) and high availabilty of parts regardless of model year, people love to hang on to their Webers and fix them up.  For me this was a great sign and confimed my decision to attempt for a Weber purchase.   A few Craig List ads got away from me as when one does show up, it does not last and was always sold before I got a return call.  I continued to scour and crawl listings and to my delight was the first to respond on a pretty "Redhead" Weber Grill still available.  Even luckier is that it was actually still in working condition and was covered much of the time... though clearly still needs work!  We gladly gave the guy his requested $60 for this beauty and hauled it away.  Included he gave us a full propane tank along with genuine grill cover, what a deal!

Seeing as I've been without a grill now for over a week I'm really anxious to get this one cleaned up and fired up.  Thus begins the rehab.

After a couple of days or finding parts and talking to Weber I learned this grill was originally purchased between 1985-1988 and is a Weber Genesis 3 (though a manual I found declares it as a Genesis 3000 Platinum C), what excellent years those were to start with so I how can I go wrong on this one.  I've never done this kind of rebuild but it seemed like a cool thing to do, and hopefully not easy to screw up.  Since they don't make this color or wood slat style anymore, I thought it'd be a cool classic look in the yard.  After researching the current year model it looks like really small differences except for the exteriors.

Ahh a beautiful way to start my Sunday, a cold beer (or three), great sunny day and a few hand tools.

Another beer and some power washing later I'm really happy with how well this one is cleaning up.  Still some work to do with sanding, scraping more layers of 2,000 heat resistant paint, and perhaps another beer!
I completely gutted this thing down and did my best to maintain what I could to keep some costs down.  Even though these are older parts are expensive but U.S made (before Weber started facilitating production out of China) and durable.  With the new Stainless Steel parts on order I can see this grill getting another easy 10-15 years of use with proper maintenance.  Hope to be done in another week or so once the new grates and bars get here.  For now enjoy my redhead fully undressed :P

She's getting some new make-up,  ain't she puuurrty Jethro?

Brief Update on Hydro Garden

The Hydrponic garden met and then exceeded any expecations I had.  The production and quick growth of these plants was almost too much for to handle on an after work basis.  I found myself spending entire weekend afternoons gardening and prepping.

What really surprised me is how much nutrients those plants ate once they started getting fruit.  My reservoir of 22Gallons was getting depleted every 3-5 days, it was crazy.  This is a full recirculating system so no water is being wasted, and all of it is being used and consumed by these very hungry plants.

It's a little late in the season for smoe new plants and such, but I'm so enamored by the success that I am certainly going to maintain this garden through the year and likely double the production next year by adding some new varities.  This year we did and are still getting; Cucumbers, Orange Red & Green bellpeppers, about four different tomatoe varieties, Hot Chili peppers similar to a serrano but more on scovilles along a Habanero, butterleaf varieties of lettuce, Canteloupes and Basil.  We have more garden items but these were the only things in Hydro nutrient solution! Wow did they go crazy.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Gardening - My basic small footprint of a garden

We've fenced in a small portion of our yard to dedicate to what hopefully will be a very productive garden in the next few summers.  Initially the garden was all in ground planting and worked fairly well.  Now we are hoping to increase our yield many times over while not extending the footprint at all.

This area is about a 10' x 10' plot.  Lot of experimenting going on right now but by the end of the summer I hope to have it much more efficient and organized with a whole lot more actual square footage of plants.

Gardening - First Drip Hydroponic setup

I figured using a drip system is nothing new to anyone.  The only difference here is that all my plants are sitting in a mix of Perlite and Vermiculite just so the roots have something to grow on and through, No Soil.
All my buckets have a drip tube feeding from a reservoir that I buired in the ground (to help maintain water temp).  Each bucket as it fills up over about 1" it self drains back to the main reservoir.

Inside my reservoir I'm using a standard small aquarium or pond pump that feeds all the overflow back up into the drippers to each bucket.  The reservoir is a mix of the water soluble nutrients (which can vary depending on what you are growing).

Here's a few pics with the buckets and a comparison of how the growing is going over about three weeks.

This of all the different things I'm trying has so far been the best results.  I filled the reservoir once and the only thing I'm maintaining is the pruning of the plants growing.  Clearly their is still a whole lot to learn and improve on, but for not spending a lot or building some complex system this is already showing to have potential.  The other major benefit of not using soil are the lack of bugs.  I've had many problems with bugs in most my other gardening attempts.

To the left is a buried 25Gal bin feeding the 1/2" drip tube above.  It's on the backside of these buckets but the overflow pipe feeds back to the reservoir.  These plantings were put in at the same time and are same variety of plants in the self watering (grow box) container.  These ones are kicking butt!

After about three weeks of getting a liquid nutrient, very visual growth... Imagine if I knew what I was doing how much better this would be.
3 Weeks Later

I used leftover catlitter and paint buckets for my system

On the far right is my first Kratkey method, we'll see how it goes.

3 Weeks Later
Overall this setup has been really great and I will absolutely be adding to it and cleaning things up a little bit.  Something else I forgot to mention is that cost was a concern for me, but the nutrient powders I bought are really cheap.  They come in 1lb and 5lb sizes but you are only mixing about 5 grams of solution for 5gallon increments.  The 5lbs I have will last me the entire summer and comes out to literally pennies per gallon... sure beats paying $1.50 for a single pepper in the store.

Gardening - First attempt into DWC (Deep Water Culture) Hydroponic

This method DWC, is best for plants that love water and to stay wet.  Most plants I've seen tend to get root rot or "drown" if they get too much water.  However, Lettuce plants are different and a "It's a little known fact Lettuce is made up mostly of water"
.  As such I suppose it would make sense that these roots love to quite literally be suspended in water all the time as they grow.
Again using what I could find in the garage of wood scraps, paint and a piece of house foam insulation I built a trellis type structure to hold my Lettuce Rafts.  What I did purchase was a $10 air pump and a Macro\Micro nutrient powder that I'll self mix and that's it.  I could do without the air pump and then this system would have just been a Kratkey method which I've also done but will save for another post.  For now this is my time comparison of the DWC.
Each of these rafts is about 3'W x 1 1/2" D 12"H and holds about 12 Gallons of water.  I using store bough Epsom salts to make up the Magnesium Sulfate percentage, I then mixed that with Calcium Nitrate and a Tomato blend of the Micro Nutrients.  All this was dissolved and mixed into my lettuce pool.  The foam has 3" Net cups sitting in each hole with some lava rock or rock wool to hold the seedling in netcup.
The air pump sits below with 1/4" surgical type tubing running into each pool; the ends of the air tubing is covered with a small pile of Lava Rock which helps create more and smaller bubbles.  Even though roots are sitting in water they still need to breath Oxygen.  The air bubbles (smaller is better... but that's NOT what she said) introduce O into the water.

2" foam raft (house insulation) to float on reservoir of water

Two lettuce pools sitting on new trellis.  Upper trellis will later hold an NFT setup
No Soil, No how, No where.  I tried growing lettuce in the ground a few years ago and it was miserable.  Nothing grew and snails took it all like a bad poker game.  Here are my comparison picks of the DWC with a few different types of Black Leaf lettuce.
This was first week.  You can barely notice seedling sitting in each cup

About three weeks later and a huge difference.  Others doing this have gotten faster results but I had to change out the water due to algae buildup, but the important thing is that it's still growing... and this is my first ever attempt at Hydro and making a nutrient mix
3 Weeks Later - Yummy!

Gardening - Our first growing box to compare with Hydroponic methods

Not much of a writing on this one but more just a quick couple of picks to show some time lapse and comparison of my first attempt into Hydroponics.  I've learned so much about this topic in a short term of time I'm crossing my fingers that all goes well enough at the end of this summer I can come back and do three times as much next summer.

In my research I found some amazing resources and information from a host of sources, but those most positive and informative by a long shot was MHPGARDENER on Youtube.  We may not see his level of success in gardening but just a little knowledge is all you need to get started in any type of Gardening, but his first attempts and discussion in Hydroponics is terrific!

I wanted to do a fair comparisong amongst a few samplings of methods and tried to stick with just a few basic vegetables that are easy to grow.  Once I know what method is best I will hone my setup and branch out to much more variety of plants.

Method #1- Earth Box or I've also seen it called a Grow Box.  
This is basically a container of soil with a water reservoir underneath the soil, roots are fed via a wicking method.  Using scrap wood, irrigation pipe, and paint found in my garage I made an oversized container (not sure yet if that was a good idea.. we'll find out) about 4'L x 2'W x 2'H.  It holds approximately 30 Gallons of water and has a planting depth of about 20", so in that respect I'm slightly limited to things which do not need a really deep root growth.  In this I've planted two types of tomatoes, Strawberry, two types of bellpepper, sweet onion, beets, basil and cilantro.

I'd say this method is working for sure.  It's pretty cool to not have to monitor anything.  The water reservoir is large enough so I suppose I'll just add 3-5 gallons every few weeks or so.  It's been just over a month with plants in here and in full sun.  Everything but the herbs are growing ok but slow, I'm not adding any nutrients or fertilizer because I'm doing a direct comparison to the growth in my Hydroponic methods.  The herbs completely wilted and died in about two weeks.

Fill tube at top which has an elbow on inside and dumps water below soil level. Overflow elbow on bottom leaves about a 1" air gap between soil and water.

Mesh Screen to hold soil.  Cute drain pipe in background will be supports and wicks to hold weight of screen with soil

Lined with 6Mil black plastic

Soil Wicks and support being prepped before dumping 5Cubic feet of planting soil. My little helper Riley in the background keeping close supervision

Finished and populated with some new seedlings I prepped
1 Month later. No additional water has been added and soil remains to be moist about a 1/4" below surface.  All plants are green and growing, their is some progress in plant growth.  Definitely low maintenace but I did still notice some bugs as typical for soil gardening (at least for me).

3 Weeks Later