Gilbert Fritz

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since Sep 13, 2013
Denver, CO
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Recent posts by Gilbert Fritz

Hi Jay,

I'm going to be trying some of that. I'm putting together a large insulated blanket that I can roll over the house at night, and then roll back during the day, leaving it up on the North side. And yes, the greenhouse is lined up East-West, with the long sides to the South and North.

The reason I'm trying to avoid using passive thermal mass, whether tanks of water or stacks of bricks, is that they take up precious space; active mass (fan-coil) can store more heat in a smaller space. Also, due to the curve of the wall, stacking up thermal Mass against it is difficult.

Also, the greenhouse is bermed into a slight North-facing slope. I know this isn't ideal for solar capture, but: It was the only sunny space available, and also overheating, even in the winter, is a big problem in Colorado. The exact opposite of what you're dealing with.

I thought about running pipes into the underlying soil, but this would have required burying massive amounts of insulation, which I didn't want to do. So right now I'm trying to isolate any thermal mass from the cooler soil.
3 days ago
I was thinking that a fan-coil will always be more efficient at transferring heat into the water from the air, rather than transferring heat from the water into the air, because when the air is warmer condensation will transfer heat to the colder water, whereas there will be no corresponding evaporation from the coil when it is warmer than the air.

That being the case, I suppose it would be important to have a fairly high temperature differential to improve heat transfer to the air?

In which case, would a smaller tank of water (which would have more extreme temperature swings) be better than a larger tank which only moved a few degrees?
3 days ago
Any thoughts on how I would go about building an efficient radiator/fan combo from scratch? I'm particularly wondering how to put some type of radiator inside a long length of piping so that I can blow air through it.

I imagine that putting an old baseboard heater inside a pipe wouldn't work; the airflow wouldn't work out properly.
6 days ago
Well, here it is, a new year and new thoughts about the greenhouse.

The greenhouse has a lot of problems.

The radiator/fan system can't move enough heat into and out of the tanks. This is probably for a number of reasons:

I can't turn the pump all the way up because the radiator pressure release valve pops open.

The radiator/fan is undersized.

The connection between the radiator and the fan is inefficient

I don't like the open tanks. They get full of junk. Also, the radiator contaminated them with oil/antifreeze (even though I tried really hard to clean them up.) The use up the space inside really inefficiently. And I can't really raise fish in them; if the system was working, the temperature would fluctuate too much. In any case, I probably won't be ready to raise fish for a long time. The space underneath them is good for the mice and voles to live under. Trapping mice isn't fun, and anyhow, the ants eat up all the peanut butter before I can catch any mice.

I don't like growing things in pots. They dry out/run out of nutrients really fast. Of course, there's ways around that, but still . . .

The greenhouse is full of mice and voles who eat the plants and tunnel through things.

After a greenhouse has been set up for a while, it starts to feel unhealthy and yucky inside. And of course with rodents there is a Hanta concern.

The greenhouse is overbuilt to raise greens or overwinter brassicas. It is underbuilt to grow tropicals. So it falls between two stools.

During the summer, we don't really need any heat storage; I could do better by just blowing the heat out the door, and not spending money running a pump.

Soooooo . . ..

Time to do some thinking.

What do you all think? Would a radiator like this work better?
1 week ago
We are dealing with a fairly large volume of kitchen scraps/garden produce rejects.

I've tried many different ways of composting food scraps, but they all seem to attract critters: raccoons, mice, squirrels. I really can't afford to attract pests and irritate the neighbors. I've tried various small enclosed worm bin contraptions, but they were finicky to keep running; it was easy to get them too wet or too dry, or hot, or cold, or overloaded, etc

I build a large wooden box with a wire mesh bottom full of bedding, and buried food scraps in that. The worms did fine, and could escape any environmental disturbances by moving down into the underlying soil. However, mice still found ways in, raccoons pulled open the cover (and when I strengthened the cover, it became cumbersome and unwieldy to use) and the wood warped to open up new access points.

Now I'm considering building some buried trash can compost bins, like this: I was thinking about having several so that one could rot down completely before being emptied.

I am wondering, however, if they'd go anaerobic inside. Does anyone have any experience with these? Is there are better way?
2 weeks ago
I'm involved with a group of others in editing and producing a new website, blog, and podcast dedicated to discussing the creation of Catholic Christian intentional community.

As well as the community building aspect, I think there are other aspects of the conversation that would interest the folks at permies; we'll be discussing small scale agriculture as an economic and social strategy for community, the importance of living simply and more "community sufficiently," and the importance of protecting the environment.

We welcome comments and other contributions to the conversation.

The podcasts are also available on our iTunes feed:

So far, the conversations have centered on the importance, and also the difficulty, of building intentional community. Community has to develop organically, yet in one sense "organic" is the opposite of "intentional." Intentional community building attempts of any sort can end up creating cult-like dynamics.

From time to time, I'll write posts on this thread detailing aspects of the conversation that might interest permies.
4 weeks ago
I've recently been reading a lot about woodland crafts, particularly various green woodworking techniques; the type of books that show one how to cut down a tree and turn it into handles, chairs, fences, lumber, baskets, etc.

All the books I've found, however, are based on traditional practice in places with moist temperate hardwood forests. "Find a straight hickory/ash/oak/maple . . ."

Here in the semi-arid Front Range, the trees consist of three types: conifers in the mountains, riparian strips consisting largely of cottonwood/poplar and willow, and various imported yard trees, most of which develop branchy, multi-forked shapes quite different from forest grown specimens of the same species.

Are there any resources that would be helpful here? In particular, a focus on conifers instead of hardwood would be great. How do cultures in areas dominated by conifers make tool handles and other wooden items requiring strength and durability?
2 months ago
Some are closer, some are farther away from the hose bib.
3 months ago
They are several miles from my house, and generally a few hundred feet from the owner's house. I'm working with standard city water pressure through a hose bib. The square footage is usually between 500 and 2000 square feet.

As far as a y connector, that can help to spread it out, but I've heard that a total of 100 linear feet is all that average hose pressure can manage at one time. That seems to be borne out in my experience.
3 months ago