Hydroponics – Mung Bean finale

I’ve drained, dried and put the Mung bean sprouts in the refrigerator for later use in a recipe that I have yet to determine. The countertop sprouts project was a fun first attempt at hydroponics. I will definitely do it again.

I have just received a packet of 8 different herb seeds. I plan to start them like the lettuce greens and will update as it seems valuable.

One other note. We took a couple of Service Dogs In Training to Hobby Lobby last night. It’s relatively new in the area and I had never been to that shop before. OMG! There’s so much good stuff in there. The photo above includes a wall decor painted metal sign that I purchased. I plan to hang it in the dining / living room area – so I can read it every day. The saying really speaks to me. So, I decided to add it to this post.

Training a Dog To alert To a Sound

I’m compiling videos we have taken over the past several weeks to prepare for a Handler Instruction class this weekend. The dogs’ owners are coming to partner with their newly trained Service Dogs. This video is showing Mordecai alerting to a sound by jumping up on his handler.

In the beginning, we teach a dog to perform some sort of response behavior (like jumping up.) Then, after the dog is performing reliably, we swap out the verbal cue for the alarm sound. It takes time and patience, but eventually, the dog learns to perform the response behavior even when distracted by things in the environment.

Truman, my senior Border Collie makes a cameo appearance. We weren’t sure he would still be with us when he got ill a few weeks ago. So, that he’s walking about is truly a miracle.

Hydroponics – Day Six

Project One – Countertop Sprouts

My last post showed the delicious results of harvesting half the alfalfa sprouts for sandwich fixins’ Photo below is what remains. I think it’s sandwiches again tonight for dinner!

The header photo and the one below show Mung bean sprouts, six days after the initial soak. I think I will be able to use them in a disk tomorrow. Pad Thai?

Project Two – Lettuce Greens

I have set my LED grow light timer for 12 hours of light per day. I will post again once the little roots have grown through the bottom of the rockwool and are ready for their next home.

Hydroponics – Time To Eat!

Countertop Sprouts – DELICIOUS!

The alfalfa sprouts were ready to eat by dinner time on Day Five of their growth. I harvested about half of them from the jar by filling it to the top and allowing the loose hulls to flow over and out. Then, after draining, I pulled them out with a fork and let them sit on a few layers of paper towels for about 20 minutes. I left the remaining half in the jar to mature a bit more over night before harvesting them on Day Six (that’s today.)

Then, it was time for dinner. Robert ran to the store for some fresh ciabatta rolls and some deli meat. I stayed back and prepared the rest of the condiments.

I was drooling by the time he got home. I butter grilled the rolls, then assembled the sandwiches. Robert chose the hard salami, I make an Angus roast beef delight.

Hard salami, tomato, red onion, shallots, avocado spread, roasted red peppers and of course fresh, homegrown alfalfa sprouts on a toasted ciabatta bun!
Angus roast beef and all the fixings.
My rare roast beef with sprouts sandwich all put together.

Are you hungry, yet? I definitely would recommend growing your own countertop sprouts. With a total turn-around time of just five days, it’s worth the wait for the crunch and delicate flavor addition to salads and sandwiches.

Hydroponics – Day Five

Project One – Countertop Sprouts

Alrighty then! Just five days after putting three tablespoons of alfalfa seeds in a 32 0z. Mason jar with some water and I think I will harvest them this evening. I’m having constant thoughts about food – and what sort of sandwich really deserves these beauties! We are super busy preparing to send home two Service Dogs this coming weekend, but I still think that an extra trip to the store for just the right ingredients is in order.

3/10/2020 Alfalfa sprouts nearly fill the jar before the rinse step.
Mung bean progress, shown after 12 hours of growth and before the rinse step.
Mung beans (left) and alfalfa spouts (right) after a water rinse and during the 15 minute draining step.
Alfalfa sprouts back to vertical position, after draining for 15 minutes.
Mung bean sprouts back to vertical for 12 hours, after a rinse and drain cycle.

Project Two – Lettuce Greens

The lettuce and arugula seedlings continue to grow in their rockwool cubes. Yesterday, I put them under the grow lights for a few hours. This morning, they have shot up more. The arugula has grown above the tops of the cubes. I am waiting to see roots extending down through the bottom of the cube. Then, they can be transferred to the next vessel.

Arugula (front) and leaf lettuce (back) are opening their primary leaves to the world.
My new LED grow light that attaches to the side of a table – shedding light onto the little plants.
A view from the other side of the grow light.
The grow light also offers better lighting for photography!

I’ve received all the supplies to be able to transfer the lettuce and arugula to their final growing jars. Once the seedlings are ready to transplant, I will mix the nutrients in distilled water, separate the rockwool cubes. Cull plants to one per cube. Put one cube in a net cup. Surround with a supporting medium (I happened to purchase clay balls – not shown in the photo below.) Then, suspend the cup in the water so that the roots just barely reach the surface of the water. The roots will “sense” the water and grow downwards into it. At that stage, it will be important to shield the jars from excess sunlight, or algae will grow which will harm the roots. I’ve purchased a large, black dishpan in which I will put all the jars. What I’ve read is that about 14 days later, the first leaves can be harvested.

Nutrients for hydroponic plant growth (replaces the nutrients typically found in soil.) Net cups that will hold the class balls and rockwool cube containing the plant. Mason jar to hold the nutrient water and suspend the net pot.

Service Dog In Training

This is Mordecai, a little poodle mix that is here for training. During a trip to a large and busy home improvement center, he got spooked by the noise of a flat cart that contained some heavy items.

We found our own flat cart and took Mordecai for a ride. The standard that we set was, “sit and remain sitting.” At first, he was uncomfortable. But, with time, he got used to the sound of the wheels and the movement.

Finally, I asked a customer who happened into our isle with another flat cart, if he would move it past the cart upon which Mordecai was sitting.

This isn’t an example of mere “desensitization,” because we didn’t simply immerse the dog into an environment of that which he found stressful. Mordecai had already been trained to sit and remain sitting. Therefore, the exercise was actually one of “sit – no matter what.” It is an exercise in obedience, not hope that somehow the dog will get over what frightening him.

We cannot remove fear. Why would we? It is a very valuable quality. It keeps us safe from harm. However, when the fear isn’t justified because it isn’t paired to a genuine threat, then a social animal (like dog or human) can look up to the higher ranking one (pack leader or parent) for information about acceptable behavior. A Service Dog cannot wig out when he experiences irrelevant sounds, sights or scents. It’s the handler’s job to teach him how to behave in any particular situation.

Once he was on the cart, Mordecai was asked to sit. When he chose to disregard that command, he received a collar check for non-compliance. Fear was never part of the equation. The handler responded to the dog’s actions, not his feelings. After all, can we really know how a dog is feeling? When using this method the handler cannot acknowledge the dog’s “monster.” By focusing on a dog’s behavior, exclusively, the message becomes very clear: there isn’t really a monster, therefore sit and remain sitting as you have learned through practice in many other situations. Same consequences for non-compliance apply. Dogs can understand that. It’s not complicated.

Hydroponics – Day Four

Project One – Countertop Sprouts

Getting hungry for tuna salad sandwich with lots of sprouts! I read that it’s time to process (totally dry and refrigerate) alfalfa sprouts when they are about three inches long. I think mine are racing towards that goal, quickly.

Morning of 3/9/2020: Alfalfa spouts experiencing their 15 minute drain this morning after their rinse.
Mung beans draining after morning rinse.
Alfalfa sprouts after draining, shaking out the excess water and redistributing by rolling.
Mung beans after draining and redistributing.

Project Two – Lettuce Greens

There’s been a big jump in the little rockwool germination cubes over night. The leaf lettuce has shot up above the tops of the cubes. The arugula is slower going. Also, I can now tell that the Arugula seeds in two of the six cubes have not germinated. In the future I will put more than one seed per cube to accommodate for the lower germination rate. Seeds can get stale with time. I have no idea how old the seeds were that I purchased. I, personally, planted them within a day of their arrival.

Yesterday, I gently moved one of the lettuce seeds (bottom row) that had germinated outside of a well, into the first well on the left. It seems to be doing OK. Arugula (top row) is not germinating in well #3 or #5. But, there are two seeds germinated in well #2. Perhaps, I will be able to move one of them over.
This image illustrates that the lettuce (bottom / closer) has shot up above the surface of the cubes. Arugula (back) is slower growing.

Today, my LED grow light arrived. I plan to put the lettuce seedlings under that light. I remember from botany class in college that light actually inhibits growth. You may have put a plant in a sunny window and it appeared to turn towards light. That phenomenon can suggest that light promotes growth. However, the cells facing the direct light grow proportionally slower than the cells on the “dark side.” While it might appear that light causes growth, that is just a misinterpretation of what is actually happening. If the whole plant gets sufficient light, it will grow slower and put energy into becoming stronger, rather than quickly becoming tall but spindly.

Hydroponics – Day Three

Project One – Countertop Sprouts

“Houston, we have sprouts!” No, I don’t live in Texas. Just using that iconic phrase about “lift off!” This morning the alfalfa spouts were, well, SPROUTS! So awesome. I know there are millions of people out there that have been growing their own spouts for decades. I cultured my own yogurt back in 1984, too. But, I’ve never grown sprouts and it’s exciting.

This is how the alfalfa seeds appeared this morning, Day Three (which is really not a full three days because I set them up in the late afternoon of Day One.)
After adding water, rinsing and pouring it out, this is how the alfalfa spouts appear as the container is set vertical for draining. The lids that I purchased have little legs to hold the drainage holes up from the surface. The Mason jar remains in this position for an additional 15 minutes to get as much of the residual water out of the vessel.
Alfalfa spouts, back to horizontal position, after I rolled the jar to distribute them. I will rinse, drain and redistribute them again before bed.
Mung beans are a little slower than the alfalfa seeds. But, they are germinating. Here, I have rinsed them and they are standing on end to complete their 15 minutes of drainage time.
Mung beans redistributed and laying horizontal until the next rinse, this evening.

Project Two – Lettuce Greens

I’m germinating the arugula and leaf lettuce in rockwool cubes until their roots grow through the bottom of the cubes. Then, I will put them into 3 inch net pots and suspend them in Mason Jars in which I will add nutrient rich water. For now, I am just watching the little seeds grow.

Arugula (top six holes) and green oakleaf lettuce (bottom six) are developing. I’m going to get tweezers and try to position the seeds that ended up on top of hole two (from left) of the leaf lettuce into hole one that appears empty.

Buoyancy – Update

Twelve days ago I posted about Truman, my twelve year old Border Collie. In a matter of a day, he had lost his ability to stand, refused food, and was seriously depressed. I thought his time on Earth, and with me, was over.

Then, I wondered if, perhaps, he would benefit from the same swim therapy that I use each day.

I’m very pleased to update that Truman has got his groove back. He still needs help standing (but not always – and he’s getting better at getting up on his own.) Yesterday, he trotted outdoors and this afternoon he pushed through the pack of six other dogs down a long hallway to reach the kitchen, first. Snacks were forthcoming!

I have often said that the complete mismatch of lifespans between dogs and their humans is one of Nature’s greatest injustices. However, for now, I will enjoy my Truman every day!

Public Access Training

The Service Dog Public Access Test

At the conclusion of a dog’s training, the handler and dog may be evaluated using a Public Access Test. There are a number of elements which will test the dog and handler’s ability to negotiate public places, including a restaurant, a department store and an outdoor, park setting.

The Leash Drop Exercise

In this exercise, the handler “inadvertently” drops the dog’s leash. The dog should not be alerted to the event. Rather, he should continue to remain in pace with his handler. In this video, the handler slows at a cross section of isles in the store and the dog matches her pace. The dog should stop when his handler comes to a halt, regardless of whether the handler is holding his lead, or not. The dog should remain relaxed at her side until she can retrieve the leash.

This is Mordecai, a dog we, at Committed Canine, are training to become a Service Dog for his young handler. The location is a large, active home improvement center.

Good Job, Mordecai!