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Rice Paddy Planting

April 27, 2016
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Spring Season

A Japanese farmer plants rice seedlings in his rice paddy.

A farmer plants rice seedlings in a partially flooded paddy in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan.

Japanese farmers have been in full force in their rice paddies in the last couple of weeks. As a result, once dry plots of farming land have suddenly been transformed  into flooded lakes of emerging greenery.

Rice farmers ride atop specially designed planting machines to embed neat rows of rice seedlings into the mud of their paddies.    The machines have large, broadly ribbed wheels designed for water and deep, boggy mud in the flooded rice paddies.

The machines come equipped with various arrangements of rotary planter mechanisms, fertilizer delivery boxes and driver seat positioning, amongst other features and components.

A rice seedling planting machine is loaded with seedling mats and fertilizer, ready to sow the season's rice crop.

A Kubota designed rice planting machine is fully loaded with rice seedling mats and fertilizer, and is ready to enter the flooded rice paddy to sow the season’s rice crop.

The machines typically vary in size from approximately 3-10 feet in width, with each planting a similarly varied number of seedling rows at a time.  The selection of the machinery is made depending on the size of rice paddies to be planted and the capitalization of the farming operations.

Rice seedling stock is germinated from seed in densely packed seedling trays during late Winter.  By Spring, the crowded seedlings form a sturdy mat of roots topped with vibrant 4-5 inch high blade leaves.

In preparation for planting, the young rice seedlings are removed from their germination trays as a complete mat and loaded onto the planter delivery systems at the rear of the machines.  Additional mats of seedlings are also stacked on racks by the farmers’ side, where they can be easily accessed and later loaded into the planting mechanism when seedling re-fills are required. This saves overly regular returns to the edge of the flooded rice paddy for seedling re-fills.

The rotating mechanism on the rear of the machines takes the  individual seedlings from the trays and inserts them into the water. The fragile seedling roots are embedded into the mud a few inches beneath the rice paddy’s water level.  Once planted and paddies are fully flooded, only a portion of the plants’ leaves appear above the surface of the water.

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No Frustration Egg Deshelling – Making Perfect Eggs Every Time!

February 24, 2016
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Easy peel egg shells.  It's all in the cooking.

Easy peel egg shells. It’s all in the cooking.

If there is anything that could make a free range chicken grin, then it would be this little snippet of time saving information.

You know those occasional boiled eggs you get which have the soul intention of ruining your day?

The eggs you pluck from the hot waters of your saucepan, only to spend the next five minutes fumbling around burning your fingers and separating the tiniest pieces of shell from the diminishing volume of egg left in your hand? Those eggs which …just … won’t … peel!

Well here’s the good news!

We have cracked the secret to cooking the perfect egg every time.

There is no reason to put up with clingy shells and crunchy mouth syndrome with your egg meals any longer! The perfect technique probably only takes a small adjustment to the way you’re cooking eggs already.

Here is what to do!
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DIY Oven Build Using a Filing Cabinet

January 26, 2016
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Cheap and extremely effective! A DIY Oven for DIY powder coating, wood drying, acrylics and plastic; you name it!

Cheap and extremely effective! A DIY Oven for DIY powder coating, wood drying, acrylics and plastic and any other idea that needs heating or baking in future.

You did what?  Hacked a filing cabinet to make a home DIY workshop oven?!

Yes, perhaps we are crazy, but this DIY oven really IS made from a standard office filing cabinet and it works like a dream!

It is great for curing electrostatic powder coating on CNC milled metal parts; melting plastics; bending acrylics; scorching wood, sealing natural bamboo wood wax and any number of other DIY projects where oven heating is required.

See more about how we made this DIY oven from a filing cabinet here.

Industrial, or even DIY hobby ovens are extremely useful in a home DIY workshop. Unfortunately, they are also usually unjustifiably costly for most small projects.

Cheap toaster ovens can be used for small scale applications as a ‘make-do’ alternative, but are often not physically large enough to fit many DIY projects.  They also usually offer very poor thermal efficiency.  A big downside when working over longer periods as the units tend to get hot inside as well as out.

We recently cut some large aluminium parts and components using our home built CNC machine. We wanted to coat the metal parts using an electrostatic powder coating system to give them a lasting professional finish. Powder coat curing however, requires parts to be heated to high temperatures for extended periods. (And strangely, the cooking department said the kitchen oven was considered off limits well before we mentioned curing powder coat paint or the carcinogenic gases they produce….)

We needed a large, cheap DIY solution. A robust, purpose built DIY oven capable of maintaining high, evenly dispersed temperatures for lengthy periods.

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Making a Home DIY Metal Sheet Bender

January 26, 2016
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Precision Folds from a DIY Sheet Metal and Acrylic Bender

Precision 90 degree bends in 2mm thick metal plate, made by a DIY sheet metal, plastics and acrylic bending machine.

We suddenly had the desperate need to bend stuff in the workshop!

We are talking 2mm steel sheet.  And we were not wanting to just destroy it with low quality folds either, but to effectively and precisely bend it at pre-determined fold lines to produce professional looking folds repetitively, piece after piece.

In material like 2mm sheet metal, precise 90 degree bends with quality edges would normally be a relatively difficult and frustrating task for home DIYer’s without the right equipment – as just happened to be the case for us.

So we decided to work smarter and put the DIY gray matter into gear.

After some quick mental design work and an hour or two in the workshop, we had made our new Home DIY Sheet Metal Bending Machine – See the project page here.

The tool worked extremely well and did fantastic metal folds. We later realized it was also great for bending acrylic and other plastics too!

As it turns out, we had produced an extremely simple, but very effective design.

Our DIY sheet metal bender provides sharp and professional looking bends in 0.5mm to 2mm thick steel, tin and aluminum sheet. It also does a great job of folding acrylic and plastic of up to 10mm thick (with external heat).  Maybe even thicker!

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Growing Lettuce in the Japanese Freeze

January 22, 2016
By
lettucefreeze

Lettuce plants grow protected from frost and snow in the weak Winter sun.

winter-seasonFresh, abundant fruit and vegetables in year round supply are what most residents of the modern mega-cities of Japan have come to expect.   People rarely stop to consider exactly how any of the fresh produce got there, let alone giving extra thought to how it is grown during peak Winter seasons.

In reality however, the cold temperatures and conditions in rural Japan in Winter dictate a major difference in how vegetables need to be grown in the off season.  While Summer sees various farming techniques that protect crops from persistent heat, insects and high humidity, Winter farming calls for warmth and protection from bitterly cold winds, frost and snow.  As such, when the growing days become shorter, farmers all across Japan turn to plastic …  And mountains of it!

lettucefreeze5Frost protection tunnels for lettuce are a common sight in the agricultural areas of Japan in Winter.  Preparing and planting the tunnels with seedlings is a labor intensive activity.  Specialized machines are used to both mound the soil into raised rows as well as to stretch black plastic over the leveled mounds.  This aids heat capture and prevents weed growth as the seedlings develop.   The plastic liner is pre-cut with staggered holes positioned abreast for placement of the individual plants.  The liner has the edges automatically tucked neatly under the soil to secure it in place.

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Onion Harvesting Machines in Japan

July 3, 2015
By
Rows of mature Japanese onions on raised soil mounds.

Rows of mature Japanese onions within raised soil mounds in Ibaraki, Japan.
(Click to Enlarge)

summer-seasonJapanese onion harvesting machines save a huge amount of time and effort for the farmers of rural Japan.  The machines automatically pull the individual plants from the ground, remove soil, cut away excess root material and present the stalks to the operators for neat bundling.

Non-bulbous straight onions (commonly known as “Japanese Onion”, or “Naga-negi” lit: long onion in Japanese) are a popularly farmed vegetable in Japan. We have written about this particular variety of onion in the past, so if you want more information about it’s farming and general use in Japan, please check our original post here.

Japanese onions are usually grown within mounded rows of soil approximately 3 feet apart and 1 foot high.  The mounds are formed during the growing season, as a machine is used to partially bury the plants from the side to provide development of the desired long, white stalks below ground level.  This growing arrangement is also suitable for providing access to the harvesting machines that straddle each row during harvest.

Skip to the bottom of this page to view a video of a typical onion harvesting machine in action.

Onions are automatically pulled from the ground, de-soiled and de-rooted using a Japanese designed onion harvesting machine.

A Kobashi HG100 onion harvesting machine makes fast work of harvesting an onion field in Ibaraki, Prefecture, Japan.
(Click to Enlarge)

Onions are automatically pulled from the ground, de-soiled and de-rooted using a Japanese designed onion harvesting machine.

Japanese farmers use a Kobashi HG100 onion harvesting machine to save themselves from back breaking work.
(Click to Enlarge)

Machine harvesting of Japanese onions requires at least two operators for efficient workflow.   Many farms plots however, are owned by individual families, so harvesting tasks are shared amongst family members to reduce workloads and to get the crop to market more quickly.

Harvesting machines have an automated uprooting system towards the front of the machine and a bundling and cutting area at the back.

The first part of the uprooting section is equipped with angled guide wheels that run along either side of the deep onion rows.  Along with the main rear tracks, these wheels help the machine stay on course as it moves.
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Making DIY Miso Paste with Soy Beans (Half Year Update)

June 28, 2015
By
DIY Miso Paste made from Soy Beans is mixed at six month milestone.

At the six month milestone, DIY Miso paste requires mixing of the blended Soy Bean ingredients to help development of flavor.

Spring SeasonMiso paste is an ancient Japanese preparation with origins dating back almost a thousand years. The pungent fermented food has an acquired taste, but is extremely healthy as an addition to many popular Japanese dishes.

We wrote about making Miso earlier in the year in our blog post here.

We also produced a step-by-step guide to making DIY Miso paste for those interested in having a shot at making it at home themselves.

With our DIY paste having quietly sat in a cool place for almost half a year, it is about to enter a new Summer phase of fermentation. It was therefore time to re-visit our DIY Miso paste to give it a good thorough mixing to help aerate and redistribute the fermentation culture to ensure development of a rich and consistent taste.

Our home Miso paste project was started in late Winter, which we timed so that ingredients and base flavors had a chance to soak together and spread evenly throughout the entire mixture before Summer heat arrived. The next Summer phase however, is when the real added flavor and character of the Miso develops. As the temperature rises, the fermentation culture kicks into overdrive.

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