William James

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since Sep 22, 2010
Northern Italy
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Recent posts by William James

Thanks John for reminding me that there are certainly two sides to every coin.
1 week ago
Currently my biggest problem with this whole issue is being in a position where I'm surrounded by people who are very able to do jobs but aren't willing the turn any job into a business. They want a job, not a business. For me, it becomes problematic because I could actually help these people turn their passion into a business, but I'm unable (and pretty much unwilling) to turn that passion into a job for them.

I think there is a completely different mindset that one comes to the table with. One of the employee and one of the entrepreneur. One thing is that society has changed from the late 20th century and now favors entrepreneurs, but people (for a lot of good reasons) just want to be employees. Being responsible for one's situation in life, being responsible for a whole business, I can imagine that it's scary and a huge load of un-necessary.

On the other hand, personally only want to work with non-employee individuals. I think the idea of creating micro-businesses that support each other is pretty cool and can lead to some innovative stuff and general wellbeing of the participants. Although I can understand their motives, being surrounded by people who just want to plop themselves into a job, collect their wage, and go home is pretty horrifying to me.

A lot of times people are presented with a container, not a job. It becomes their life's mission to fill that container with awesomeness. Other people just see a container that doesn't hold a job for them and so they move on.

1 week ago

Walt Chase wrote:
Could you change your pot type/size/shape to match a commercially available one in order to be able to grow as mentioned in the above quote?

We've discussed that. It could be done, but we've sort of have everything based on this size. If we had a size that standardized seeding trays could work with, it'd be great. The problem is we would have to have to take it out of the tray and put it into something in order to sell it. Usually the seeding trays and the product containers aren't designed to match, so there's that.

But yeah, it's worth looking into further. It would definitely be a solution for 80 - 90% of our varieties.
3 months ago

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

That looks exactly like a measuring cup to me... Just awkward and slow because there are a whole bunch of measuring cups hooked together.

True, but like I said, there doesn't seem to be a way to get a similar weight when pulling out potting soil with a cup. Every time it's different. In the above case, when the soil is compressed, the weights are the same, within a few grams of each other. The quality is a lot better than cup-into-container-one-at-a-time. The difference in time when doing 100 is not that much different.

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Doesn't  the weight per volume vary a lot depending on moisture content?

Not very much. The coco coir stays in bags and pretty much maintains its moisture content pretty regularly. If you leave it out for a day on the table, absolutely.
3 months ago

Cynthia Quilici wrote:Could you use cut-off versions of the plastic pots themselves as measures? 

One idea I had is similar to this: use seeding trays with the exact size of the containers, and flip the greens out when done. The problem is nobody makes seeding trays that are this size/shape. Would have to be custom made and cost a lot of money and have minimium orders in the range of 20000 trays.

3 months ago
Microgreens, exactly.

@Joseph Lofthouse
You would think that a measuring cup would do it, but aside from being extremely slow (like half speed compared to other methods) the fluffed up nature of potting soil makes it so you don't actually get the same amount in the cup each time. It can vary by 10 grams from my most or least acceptable grams (85 and 77 grams)

Here's a prototype of a wooden thing I made. If you compress the potting soil into these, they come out almost exactly right. It's just slow.

3 months ago
Thanks for the replies.

The reason for the obsession is mainly aesthetic, but it's sort of what our product has morphed into after about 5 different incarnations and 3 years, so I'm kinda stuck with half-filled containers whether I like it or not at the moment.
I'm currently wondering if liquefying beforehand might have some effect. Like some slurry that gets dosed out in Ounces/Centiliters. The containers have 4 holes in the bottom so hmmmmm, maybe it would leak out.

Here are couple pics:



3 months ago
Found out that compressed cocco/potting soil mix maintains, more or less, the same grams when pressed into the same shape. Only problem is the process of pressing  and putting into containers probably takes more time than eyeballing it and weighing.
3 months ago
Currently thinking of the magic of plug-making technology. Maybe I could make a plug-transfer do-hicky that is the size of my containers...
3 months ago
This is probably a far too specific problem, but it has been seriously nagging at me for a while.

For the better part of the past year, I've been filling 10cm x 5cm x 5cm plastic containers (yuck) with potting soil (actually cocco coir with some non-peat potting soil at about 20%)

Unfortunately, I'm sort of stuck with this non-standard container and I need to fill them "half way", which means anywhere from 77 to 85 grams. Any less or more means the final product is a little compromised. It's a little difficult because volume and weight don't always correspond and the difference of 5-10 grams might not be noticeable, but hitting 80 grams is like an obsession of mine.

For most of my time doing this, I laid out the containers on a table and eyeball filled them, getting more and more precise as things proceeded. Then I weighed them. Total time for filling, 15 minutes. Total time for weighing: 5 minutes. So the whole manual process takes 20 minutes. For 100 containers.

I recently felt the need to be able to do more in less time, so I'm currently at the end of a 3 week long quest for a prototype that would do just that.

After 3 different prototypes, the total time is still about 20 minutes. I compare it to a tandem bicycle, you just can't go any faster. There seems to be some physical limit to filling manually. One prototype seems to limit physical exertion, so I've been using that exclusively, even if the time is the same.

So, one option would be to video tape myself and try and eliminate all extra movement, or I could try and find a perfect machine that would do everything for me, or I could re-engineer everything from scratch.

Most nurseries fill to the brim and they're not as precise as I'm trying to get, so they can buy a huge machine that does things for them. Anything I do needs to fit on a desk, so space is an issue.

I've recently found that getting the soil to a fine grain without any chunks in it does help in noticing a difference in volume/weight. It does add work since I now need to sift the stuff (dreaming of a small, motorized trommel screen).

If anyone has any ideas, thanks. This is quite the pseudo-MIT project.
I can add pics of previous prototypes. Coming soon.


3 months ago