All Things Gardening forum: Lego blocks as planters

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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Sep 27, 2015 9:16 PM CST
I am a member of academia.edu and an interesting paper came my way. At a university in Iowa they tested the use of clear Lego blocks to build planters to monitor root growth.

https://www.academia.edu/11766324/LEGO_bricks_as_building_bl...
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Sep 28, 2015 2:09 PM CST
That's interesting, and no wonder tuitions are going up so quickly. A decent size Lego pot would use about $100' worth of Legos!
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Sep 28, 2015 2:24 PM CST
I agree. The team probably could have used recycled milk or juice containers and poked hole in them to achieve the same result.
(Did you read the whole thing? I only skimmed for content. Rolling on the floor laughing )
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Sep 28, 2015 5:39 PM CST
I would have expected most research groups with an idea like that to buy a multi-thousand-dollar 3-D printer and manufacture something functionally similar for hundreds of times the cost.

>> used recycled milk or juice containers

Only if it were the Department of Recycling.

I didn't see that, or the Department of Common Sense in the authors' affiliations.

it's not that bad an article for an online, "open source journal". In fact, it's the best such article I've stumbled onto. Mostly I see trashy politicized nonsense in those, perhaps because I mostly hear about online "open source" papers in the context of GMO-bashing or climate-related science denying.

Other than touting an idea that seems hugely impractical, this article was totally sane and I didn't notice it concluding much that was not supported by their experiment or by common sense.

Maybe they really do know their own field, and it truly IS convenient for some ag experimenters to have flexible building blocks for root/soil experiments. I think I would try to design around standardized sizes of pop bottles or soda cans, but they have the experience.

Certainly they are honest. They said:
"Individual LEGO bricks cost between $0.10 and $1.00 "

I think that when I buy one to ten tray of inserts (12 x 6-packs, 72 cells per tray) the cost is a little more than 1 cent each. How many LEGO bricks would it take to make a cell? 10-20? Hence $1 to $20 PER CELL?

If their idea is that they found an INEXPENSIVE way to grow seedlings for experiments, they are the most honest guys since George Washington. They came right out and SAID that one LEGO brick costs as much as 10-1400 times more than buying traditional inserts.

Admittedly, they might have special requirements for their experiments, and clear LEGO bricks might be faster for the researcher than gluing a clear plastic patch onto a 1-cent cell.

But mostly it reminds me that online "journals" often prove the old saying: "You get what you pay for."

Free, but was it worth it?











Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Sep 29, 2015 3:50 PM CST
I didn't read it because even if they found that Legos made the best possible containers for plants that I happen to have, I can't afford to employ the notion. Now that I've read Rick's review, I feel like I know what's going on anyway. TY, Rick!
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Sep 29, 2015 4:52 PM CST
Rick is the greatest!! Hurray! Thumbs up
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 29, 2015 7:11 PM CST
Y'all are extremely flattering, but I'm not doing my job as a proper skeptic.

I SHOULD go re-read it as I read real scientific papers: try to intuit the authors' REAL agenda.

For example, these guys might be the frustrated experts of a scientific field no one else ever heard about, "cm-scale root interactions".

Basically, advertising for their view of what should get more attention and funding.

But in this case, I kinda believe that what they said IS really what they wanted to get across:

"We had lotsa fun playing with LEGO blocks, and every time we propose a research plan where we have to spend thousands of dollars for fancy root-cubes, they reject our application!"

At least now when they list articles about whatever their real research interest is, they can pad the list with a "paper" about cm-scale root cubes.

Actually, I didn't realize that "PLOS" was an open-source online "journal". I've seen it cited by sources I did think well of, which somewhat validates its professionalism.

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Sep 30, 2015 6:27 PM CST
"I think that when I buy one to ten tray of inserts (12 x 6-packs, 72 cells per tray) the cost is a little more than 1 cent each. How many LEGO bricks would it take to make a cell? 10-20? Hence $1 to $20 PER CELL?"

But Rick -- when you got done using it for seedlings you could take it all apart and make something else!! Rolling on the floor laughing


"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 30, 2015 6:41 PM CST
Very true! Maybe a modular bookshelf to hold virtual copies of my online journal subscriptions.

Or, as the authors suggested - autoclave them and start another round of seedlings.

I SHOULD not make light of their efforts! Ghu knows that much more solemn nonsense than theirs is published very day in prestigious journals!

And their article might have been a sense-of-humor-test even though it seemed in deadly earnest. With just a smidgen of tongue-in-cheek, it would have been an EXCELLENT submission for the Journal of Irreproducible Results.

JIRR gave me my archetypal, paradigmatic name for an academic department: "The Department of Psychoceramics". If I recall, that was part of a title under a figure that showed a small cracked pot.

Great stuff.


Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Sep 30, 2015 6:46 PM CST
" "The Department of Psychoceramics". If I recall, that was part of a title under a figure that showed a small cracked pot. "

Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 30, 2015 6:53 PM CST
Once, not quite innocently, I was demonstrating our company's barcode & labeling software to a customer, and showing him how easy it was to add custom text and pictures.

I used the names of our engineers as variable text, and whatever I had on hand as pictures.

It was not quite an innocent accident that one annoying engineer got paired with a sketch of a wingnut.

The customer just looked at me over his glasses and nodded agreement.




Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Oct 1, 2015 7:19 AM CST
Cracked pots and wingnut Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
Dare I say it? Yes, I dare. Rick, you crack me up. Thumbs up
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 1, 2015 12:10 PM CST
I tip my hat to you.

And thank you!

*Blush*

Hmmm, I wonder which micro-badge would best convey the idea of "silly person"? I need that one!
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
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greene
Oct 1, 2015 1:25 PM CST
Haven't got a clue...maybe that "what's it" badge? Shrug! http://garden.org/special/badges/badge.php?bn=Unknown
Why not a terra cotta flower pot with a visible crack? Would that work?


I started this thread just to show how silly the Lego idea was, all those brainy people. A thought just occurred to me.
What is there was a bit of an argument and someone got possessive... would they say, "Leggo my Leggo!" Rolling on the floor laughing
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 1, 2015 1:54 PM CST
The cracked pot comes pretty close to "silly".

Or one would try to find Latin words for "let go" and LEGO, and the others would all argue about whether it should instead be derived from Greek.

Darn, now I'm going to have to go back and look closer for evidence that it's a deliberate joke. Sad to say, though - academics seem to lose a lot of the sense of humor they had as grad students. Maybe tenure does that to you.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Oct 1, 2015 2:07 PM CST
I don't know Latin. I was just making a joke from the old TV commercials about toaster waffles - "L'eggo my Eggo".
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 1, 2015 2:09 PM CST
Yup.

BTW, I couldn't find a hint that the authors were kidding around. They still sound totally serious to me.

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