Saturday, 25 February 2012

Replacing Small Parts by Rapid-Prototyping

Since getting back to the city I've been on a small spree of trying to find little things that I could replace or redesign using 3D printing, whenever there was a moment to spare.

Firstly, for a long time I'd been meaning to make replacement parts for a very humble purpose, the male buckle clips on a couple of Highlander rucksacks I have that had mostly lost their teeth after many years of fatigue when packing and unpacking heavy luggage, while the rest of the nylon construction remains as functional as the day I got it.
The buckles used here, with 'Rock Lockster' imprinted along the T-shaped guide, lasted for probably a few thousand clip-unclip cycles over the course of several years before teeth started to break off all the clips. The replacement I made is shown clipped in.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Digging A Small Swale

Towards the end of last week I posed an open question to the awesome folks on the open-source social network Diaspora*, asking if anyone could think of a good way to visualise the relationships of beneficial/detrimental interactions between various plants. If we can figure that out, it might make my job of deciding how to arrange the smaller shrubby plants a lot easier, and similarly make it easier for anyone in future.
While I got a friendly response but didn't get any answers to the question itself that night, I updated my map in more detail, noting a few places where I thought various crops ought to be planted just as a draft, using freely-available information on companion planting available online, such as Wikipedia's List of Companion Plants, which unlike some of the other lists, is more likely to evolve over time.
Extra zoomed section on the left has a key along its left border.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Taking Cuttings

When you're trying to establish a stand of trees or bushes (or planting anything that germinates slowly, for that matter), a far cheaper and faster option than buying plants in can be to take cuttings off some overgrown branches of a friend's plants with their permission, and get them to root and form new plants.Ideally, when taking cuttings you should try to start the end that you want to root around one of the points at which the parent plant branches, and trim the smaller branch of your cutting back to that point, as for botanical reasons that I haven't bothered to research yet, the cells around such a node seem to find it easier to change their growth pattern into a root. You can also improve your chances by treating the tip that you want to root with a solution of 'rooting hormone', usually particular synthetic auxins that instruct the cells there to grow root structures.

In my case, to create a fast windbreak hedgerow, I have a couple of brilliant plants available for the job, where my friend and their neighbour have willow trees and blackberry brambles, which grow so vigorously that you can often just shove a stick in the ground and it will root. In fact, the former is so good at spreading by this method that it is considered an invasive weed in Australia, and my friend tells me that one time they tried to make a fencepost out of a freshly cut beam of willow, it grew into another tree where it was placed.