Link to SA Blog Article Weatherizing My House
Sustainable Arlington Committees
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You are invited to attend our monthly meetings. You will find the agendas and minutes from our meetings in the right column of this page. If you are a registered member, you can post potential agenda items to the agendas and minutes forum. The most recent posts appear on the right column of this page.
I wanted to share my spring project with everyone through the blog. I'm in the process of building 2 new raised beds on what has always been my large grassy lawn. I have always planted a garden to grow vegetables in a plot next to my house. I've done pretty well with that plot but last year I decided that the sunniest part of the yard should be tapped for more garden both to grow more vegetables and to reduce the amount of space that was covered by otherwise unproductive grass.
I'm now putting my plans into action. The plan is to add 2 4X8 foot raised beds. I've purchased the lumber (18 4X4 by 8 ft. untreated fir fence posts) and I've also ordered a Juliana Mini 3 green house for my seedlings, etc. I'm also going to setup a composter which is something I've also been meaning to do for some time now. I'm planning on using the "Square Foot Garden" method. (I'll provide a link to the site shortly). This method uses a amixture of 1/3 each compost, vermiculite, and peat. There's no "soil" involved. This method divides the garden into 1 foot squares rather than planting in rows.
As I build my beds and greenhouse I will post pictures and more details about what I'm learning along the way.
Stay tuned for more details....
Lots of progress to report. I've now purchased all of the materials and constructed my raised beds. I purchased 4"X4"X16' fir fence poasts for the beds. I got the lumber at Cambridge Lumber. For the amount of lumber I purchased delivery was free.
I purchased corner brackets and mending plates to connect the lengths of fir together to form my two 4'X8'X1' boxes. I treated the wood with pure tung oil combined in equal parts with citrus solvent to help it penetrate the wood and dry more quickly. The coats dried in a few hours.
I purchased peat, vermiculite (coarse), and 5 varieties of compost to start things off. These three ingredients get mixed 1/3 each to product the growing medium. I put a layer of cardboard in the bottom of the boxes to kill the grass and weeds while letting the water drain through the bottom when saturated.
I used eyelets to connect nylon chord to mark the 1'X1' squares (square foot gardening) and planted my first bunch of plants. I will be getting the second box into production this weekend.
The boxes cost about $150 per for the materials. The soil mix cost quite a bit as well and I will add some details when I get a chance along with pictures.
I haven't had a chance to dive into the other piece of this project which is to assemble the leanto style greenhouse that I am putting on the side of my house.
In the meantime, I also decided to replace my traditional lawn with a "no-mow" lawn of fescu grasses....I'll write another blog on this as I get going on it. The basic idea is that the new grass will be over-spread on top of the current lawn. The fescue grasses will crowd out the old grass and the weeds. It will provide a nice looking and feeling lawn but require very little water and no mowing!
More to come...
This past fall, we had a pellet stove installed and we really like it. It’s an insert to our fireplace that burns small pellets made of compressed sawdust. It heats the living room and most of the downstairs very well. We still use our regular furnace and radiators, mainly for heating upstairs. But if you leave the stove running for several hours it does a pretty good job of heating the whole house.
We bought the pellet stove from Energy Unlimited in Wayland. I also expect that we’ll be buying fuel from them.
So far this year, the stove has been our primary heat source although we do use our gas furnace regularly. Our bills and gas consumption have gone down significantly– on the order of 30%. Of course, we’ve had to pay for pellet fuel which cost $300 for a ton and $50 for delivery.
We keep up the pallet in the our garage because the pellets need to stay dry. We’ve burned through the first ton and are ordering a second ton now.
In terms of labor, you have to carry the 40-pound bags of pellets in from outside, obviously, and pour them into the stove from the top. We have been emptying the ashes out every two weeks and using a vacuum to clean it out thoroughly. We throw the ashes on the compost. We’ll also have to get the chimney checked regularly and the stove cleaned professionally.
My biggest concern with the stove so far is getting the fuel. Pellets were not available around here last winter. And getting a second delivery from our supplier has been delayed a couple of times. Places like Home Depot also sell pellets, so that’s another option. I’m told that getting high-quality pellets are important.
The stove itself cost about $2200. Altogether, the stove, installation, and delivery of ton of pellets costs over $3000.
It gives off a dry heat, blown out with the fan and it’s really nice having a fire going. Before we rarely used the fireplace, because it was so wasteful, heat-wise. You can’t smell smoke outside when the stove is burning like you can when you burn wood in a fireplace.
In theory, wood pellets are a renewable resource, although I don’t know about ours for sure. We get them from a lumber company which has set up a subsidiary to make pellets from its sawdust. In general, it seems environmentalist give pellet stoves good marks as a heating option.
See more here at Grist.org.