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A Long Awaited Update

February 29, 2012

Readers – We’ve been busy but don’t have many interesting pictures to show for our labor. Mr. B and I finished meshing the interior of the house last week, and Mr. has been working on the exterior mesh and trim around the doors. He’s is nearly finished and we’re hoping to work on sewing the bales together and putting up Tyvek this weekend. We also survived a visit from our banker and the bank inspector who had questions about straw bale houses.

We have a large stack of wood from the cabin we demolished last May. Mr. B was careful to sort out the usable old rafters and logs from the junk, and we’ve been storing them on the property. Two of the large logs are in the house as the post for the porch (you can just see it in the background of this picture), and in between the kitchen windows. We decided to use some of the old rafters as faux-exposed rafters in the great room to hold lights and a ceiling fan. Mr. B steam cleaned them, and we’ll probably finish them Waterlox to preserve their reclaimed lumber look.

Redneck roof rack

Besides meshing, I’ve also been planning my garden and a seed starting set-up for this year. The first of my seed and supply orders came in this week:


I decided to take the plunge this year and buy two soil blockers. Eliot Coleman talks about using these instead of traditional plastic pots  in the New Organic Grower and several other books. In the past I used the plastic starting trays and then progressively re-potted my seedlings into larger pots. Soil blockers create a cube of potting mix with an indentation for the seed. Each larger cube has an indentation for the smaller cube. I bought the micro-20 blocker and the 4 soil blocker, as well as a few inserts for larger seeds. In theory, soil blocks are better for plants because they allow more air into the soil and also air prune the roots (instead of the roots endlessly circling the pot). They are also space savers (no giant stack of pots).

Besides the soil blockers, I also bought heating cables this year. I’m planning on building a hoop house to start my seeds, but even with a small heater inside it will still be too cold to start seeds (which generally require at least 70 to germinate). I’m planning on starting A LOT of plants this year, and the industrial heating mats I looked into where well out my price range. I found these heating cables from Territorial Seed Company; you build a box, fill it with a thin layer of soil or sand, lay out the heating cable, add more soil/sand, and then put your plants on top. Besides the heating cables, I’m also planning to install some grow lights over my seedlings to help keep them warm and provide extra light.

Two weekends ago, we went ice fishing. I’ll leave you with a picture of Mr. B and his catch of the day.

Montana man

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rita permalink
    March 1, 2012 5:07 pm

    Thanks for the post. Love you guys.

  2. John Brown permalink
    March 1, 2012 5:40 pm

    Nice catch, B. And thanks so much for your updates. Wonderful to read/see your progress. Yea for February seed arrivals.
    For the last two years, the people in my building have been saving toilet paper rolls that we cut in half, fill with potting soil and plant seeds in. Then transplant the entire tube in the soil. Worked great last year so we are doing it again. Not sure what we might be getting from the cardboard tho.

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