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Blue Bungalow Farm

Heather Zydek writes about life on the east side of Tosa.

Greening Our Home

Green Neighbor, Home Energy Efficiency, Home Energy Inspections, Attic Insulation

As you may recall from previous Blue Bungalow blog posts, we had a home energy inspection in late 2010, conducted by Tim Guillama of Beyond Energy, LLC. A house is inspected to determine how much conditioned air is typically cycled through in an hour. A draftier home will have a higher "air change rate" than a well-sealed home and, thus, higher heating and cooling bills. When our home was inspected this December, Tim determined that our air change rate was about 13.8 per hour. 

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Recycling the Christmas Tree

garden journal, composting, recycling

By now most Tosans' Christmas trees are curbside as we await this week's garbage pick-up, when, on our scheduled garbage day, the trees will be hauled away and turned into mulch. In the past I have pruned off the branches of my Christmas trees and saved them for mulching and composting. This year I was busy, so I decided simply to send our dried up balsam fir to the city. My husband dragged the tree out to the curb last weekend. 

I soon began to regret this decision – especially after I came across this list of monthly gardening tips at the Hawks Nursery website. Hawks reminded me not to give up those precious evergreen boughs, as they are very useful in the garden. Thankfully, I found a bit of time to drag the tree to my blueberry patch, where, wearing heavy duty gloves, I cut it to shreds with garden pruners. I then spread the needles around the shrubs, where they will serve as mulch and, hopefully, acidify the soil a bit -- blueberries love acidic soil, and pine is a mild acidifier.
When I got most of the needles off the tree, I replaced what was left of the tree on the curb. (Note: I learned the hard way not to save the trunk and branches as firewood: pine sap tends to explode when heated, which can be dangerous and destructive).
I admit it feels a bit weird to hack apart a Christmas tree. The skeleton that now remains on my curbside is undoubtedly going to make some passersby wonder what the heck we Zydeks do in our house during the Christmas season. On the other hand, recycling my tree is such a beautiful way to continue celebrating Christmas long after December 25 -- that evergreen tree symbolizing eternal life will now also symbolize resurrection as breaks down in the soil, giving new life to other plants.
It's not too late to recycle your tree! Pull it off the curb, clip off the boughs and place them on your garden beds as mulch. Or, save the clippings in a bag and let them age, spreading them as needed during warmer weather or adding them to your compost bin.

Welcome to the Blue Bungalow!

sustainability, vermicomposting, urban homesteading, transition movement, farmers market

Greetings, friends, and welcome to the Blue Bungalow Farm. This blog is an extension of my original weblog, which has been in existence since the winter of 2009. Around that time I grew interested in raising awareness about sustainability, particularly where I live in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. So I launched a blog called "Sustainable Tosa." That blog was instrumental in the organization of the Tosa Farmers Market: through my writing I was able to connect with other folks interested in creating a sustainable farmers market for our city. After much meeting and planning, we kicked-off the market with a preview of the 2010 season on September 26, 2009. Later, in June of 2010, we launched the highly anticipated weekly market in the heart of Wauwatosa's Village. The first season had a very successful run, with over 40 weekly vendors and thousands of patrons. We're now gearing up for an even bigger 2011 season. 

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