Sunday, September 8, 2013

Progress on the Planting Beds

With some help from my brother in law and Kristi, we've finished two of the four (maybe three?) beds. We decided to build smaller 4x6 beds instead of the longer 4x12 beds, and so far we have been very happy with the results. Here are some pix of our progress

Those are 12-foot red douglas fir 2x12 boards from Home Depot. Actually much nicer than I would have expected. Aidan helped with the lindseed oil staining. 
Tommy with the boards after the staining was done.

We let the board sit out in the sun for a few days to soak up the staining oil before building the planting beds.
Mike and I built the first box and dug out the ground to make it level. We discovered why they call out town Rockville in the process... 
Kristi and I built the second bed together today. So far they are looking great!
For each of these 4x6 beds we needed:

  1. 40' of 2x12 boards. We used red douglas fir and stained it with lindseed oil before cutting and assembling the beds.
  2. eight 90º Decking Brackets. 
  3. two 2x4's (8 foot), which are cut in half and used as corner posts. The ends of the posts are cut at a 45º angle to a point and hammered into the ground with a mallet. Then, with the lower box in place, a level the box and drive a decking screw through the corner bracket into the post to keep it level. Also, the posts could be cut to be flush with the edge of the bed, but we're keeping them tall for now since they could be used for building a cold frame, bug netting in the spring, or as a support for a trellis for climbing plants. 
  4. 3" Decking screws
  5. Lots of elbow grease to dig out the ground (there were tons on rocks the size of fists!)
Once filled with soil (soon) these beds should last 5 - 7 years. Using the decking brackets also will make it easy to replace any boards that might rot out before then.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Progress - with some help.

So we made a trip to the Despot (aka Home Depot) and picked up some pretty nice red douglas fir boards. Our shopping list included:

The damage. (to the wallet)

12 12-ft 2x12 Douglas Fir (untreated, natural - for the sides)
10 8-ft 2x4 pine studs (for stakes/supports)
2 gal boiled linseed oil
a new cordless drill
8 corner mount decking fasteners
2 lengths of 4-ft aluminum flat stock
rags, etc etc

not including the drill, it came out to about $300 in materials.

Once home, we laid out all the boards and started staining it with linseed oil. Aidan was happy to help.

Aidan was eager to help treat the wood with Linseed Oil.

After about 2 days of staining, and letting the linseed dry, I think we're ready to get started on breaking ground. Kristi and I changed the plans a bit though: instead of two 4x12-ft beds we are going to go for four to six smaller beds (4x6). The reason being that the hill is more of a slope than I realized - so by breaking up the beds we will get a better "terracing" effect once it's done.

Tommy thinks the wood smells funny.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Planning our Garden

We've started planning our garden - to start we'll go with two 2x12 raised beds, surrounded by 3-4 feet of walking space for potted plants, wheel barrels, etc. Eventually it will be fenced in too (before we start planting next spring).

The planned spot for the garden is in the open space between two huge evergreens.

I'm completely new to gardening, so a fair amount of reading of resources on the net was needed before we get started.

Here's a list of the links so far:

Building the raised beds is one thing - but can't forget the soil. We'll probably buy ours from a local landscaping supply, it's much cheaper than buying it "by the bag" from Home Depot. We use CTI Mulch & More in the Rockville area - they are great. (but be warned: they will dump the soil on your driveway unless you ask them to haul it into your backyard, which costs extra).

According to this online calculator, for a 4 x 12 x 24 raised planting bed, we'll need about 96 cubic feet of soil per bed, or ~3.5 cubic yards of soil. They also recommend a 60% mix of top soil, 30% compost and 10% "soil-free growing mix" that contains peat moss, perlite and/or vermiculite. Ordering this from CTI will cost us $26 per cubic yard of topsoil - plus their topsoil is already mixed with compost. So about 90% of our planting bed fill should consist of this material, or ~6.3 yards worth. That will end up costing us ~$163. Add in 10%  (9.6 cu ft) peat moss will add another $31 (Home Depot). So, altogether the soil will run us just under $200 - or about $100 per planting bed. (Compare that to purchasing all the soil at Home Depot, it would have cost us ~$440 if we bought it "by the bag").

Friday, August 23, 2013

Basement Flood Update #2

Well, ServePro is nearly done. All the demo is finished and now they have set up 16 (!) blowers in the basement plus 2 "air scrubbers" to help clean the air and reduce humidity levels. These will run for the next two days, and they will be back to pick up all their equipment and haul away everything Kristi and I have decided is "a loss" (like the wood furniture, pillows, throw rugs, etc).

Here are some of the latest pix from the disaster:

Yeah... total disaster.

The rebuild will take a while - but at least we'll be able to start fresh.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Basement Flood Update #1

Flooding in your basement - even only a few inches - seems to be a great reason to do a complete remodel. After I took some initial pictures of our flooded basement, ServePro showed up and assessed the situation. Apparently I was wrong - the source of the flood water -was- from the septic system. Or as ServePro said, "This is a Category 3 Flood". Basically I should have been wearing rubber booties rather than walking around in the poop water barefoot in my Crocs.

They quickly went to work tearing out carpet and moving furniture. Today they'll be back to cut drywall and tear out the linoleum flooring that was under the carpet.

A view from the dining room. All our stuff is out on the pool deck - probably contaminated by the "Category 3" materials (poop water).


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Post - A Flooded Basement

Last night we returned to Willow Hill from a week long vacation in New Jersey and a few days in Boston. All in all - it was a hectic, but otherwise good visit with family. The trip was marked, however, by two things: our timing chain on our Chevy Traverse started going bad, and when we returned to Willow Hill we discovered our basement was flooded with 2 inches of water. Fortunately, the Chevy's timing chain was fully covered under warranty. The flooding, however, is another thing. It's wall to wall, in our basement bathroom, HVAC room, storage room, and all the living spaces.

Here's some photo's of the mess


Yeah. Soaked. 

Seems like the flood was caused by a faulty toilet lever that left the toilet running the entire time we were on vacation. It was running the whole time we were away. Since our house is on a septic system - I think the toilet eventually backed up because the septic was full. Not sure - in any case, the basement is a wreck. I immediately jumped online and checked out a few decent resources for how to clean up a basement flood - including this really good PDF from Washington County, Michigan. Meanwhile, my wife got on the phone with our insurance company. Once I had read through the PDF from Washington County, I headed out to Sunbelt Rentals and picked up a couple of blowers and a large shop vac and got to work right away on sucking out all the water.

The good news is that it looks like our insurance company is going to cover everything, even hire ServePro to come out to do all the restoration work. We do have a deductible of course, but I guess it pays to have good insurance because I don't think this is going to be cheap.

I returned the equipment to SunBelt after only a couple of hours (I had rented it for a week, thinking I would be doing everything myself), and they refunded me 100%. 

Hopefully we'll have a good story to tell after we have a chance to talk with the ServePro people.