Archive for February, 2011

Thank You to the Green Bank and Green Team America


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I wanted to post a quick thank you to Houston’s Green Bank and Green Team America for the Arbor Day event yesterday. My son was at school, but my little girls enjoyed hiding in the Southern Magnolias.

I have a Lacebark Elm now. I am not sure if I have room for it, but I think that I may be planting it near an ash, which has not been the same since the last hurricane. I am trying to be a good steward of the land; if a tree may have to come down, have another tree ready to take its place. However, I may give this away as a gift. We will see, but I do like the idea of that flaking bark later in the year.

How to Make Your Own Tomato Cage


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Tomato plants are going in the ground, and we all know that they need staking. A wire tomato cage is a frequent solution, but how about making your own.

I have not gone big on having tomato plants in my garden. I guess because it is so easy to get good quality ones at the store; however, heirloom varieties may not be so easy to find. This year sees me planting many of these seedlings, so I needed to find a way to stake them. Having pruned, I obtained several bamboo canes and thin, long tree branches, so I decide to make a rather large cage feature in the bed being used by the tomatoes.
tomato cage
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The Excitement of Spring


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Tomato plants are in at the stores, and you will find basil too. Are you ready to start planting Houston?

Last week turned out to be much busier than I thought it would be. Besides work, I ended going to a few gatherings/ meetings. One was to set up a plant exchange event in my neighborhood; we will be calling it “Plant Yourself in the Community”. I have been asked to speak at this event about how landscapes can effect the home.At the Houston Green Scene Mixer, I found myself talking about gardening quite a bit. Particularly we ended discussing fruit trees and vegetables. Even on my inspections, the landscape became a topic. In my own garden, I thought that I would have a quiet week. I was doing some final pruning to clear tree branches growing near my electrical lines and others that came down to hit me when walking by (these being from the neighbor’s trees growing over the fences. I found myself placing quite a few plants in the ground.
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Looking for a Tree to Plant on Arbor Day Houston?


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Do you want to celebrate Arbor Day? Do you want to help high school students too? Then I know where you need to be this coming Saturday.

My brother and I are sitting in the grass watching the children at play. His daughter and my youngest daughter have discovered the best game to play: working in the garden. They are churning the soil of what will be a new garden bed at my brothers house, then they work with two pots and the potting soil. We begin to discuss our current vegetables, and out hopes for the new season. My brother mentions that he hopes to have a few more trees in his yard. He is hoping for fruit trees. (He keeps giving the trees that he obtains to others that he feels are more deserving). I told him that I knew where he should be.
    There will be an event celebrating Arbor Day here in Houston. Green Team America and the Green Bank have partnered to bring us trees. Did you lose a tree after Hurricane Ike? In the aftermath of the hurricane, I went with my pruning saw to many homes in my neighborhood to remove trees from roofs. The homeowners eventually chose to remove many of those trees. That is a shame. We need to care for our trees by pruning them properly and planting them in the right locations. This event promises to help us with those choices. Here are the details:

    Next Saturday, February 26, 2011, from 8:00am to 11:00am
    at Green Bank location on Greenbriar  at the US 59 (4000 Greenbriar)
    More than 500 trees will be available

    For a suggested $10 donation, you can find a tree for your yard.
Tree varieties will include: Flowering Cherry, Pear and Plum; Magnolia; Red Buds; Crape Myrtle; Cedar Elm; Burr Oak; Chinquapin Oak; Live Oak; Shumar Oak; Chinese Pistache and a few citrus. I like the fact that there will be advice on hand on how to deal with the planting and care of these specimens on hand.  I have seen poorly planted or maintained trees during my home inspections, so I know how valuable this advice can be.
    Another fantastic facet of this event is that it will be benefiting Green Team America. This is a non-profit that helps high school clubs that have an environmental focus. This group helps connect them to other clubs with this focus around the country and the globe. I love promoting science studies in any form, so this non-profit is doing a good thing in my book.
    Thank you Green Bank for taking part in this event. I am going. My brother is going. I hope to encourage other friends and acquantainces, so maybe you will be there too. I know that your children will love being involved with a tree planting.

How Can Yard Work Hurt the Home


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During my home inspections, I see various examples of landscaping, from the I do not care to the lavish.What can happen to any type of landscape is the damage to home systems by yard work.

How did that happen? I am asked that question often when pointing out a finding. The answer is not always clear. Did the house sink, or was the patio installed at a higher grade? Sometimes the clues reveal the proper response, but other times they may not. Sometimes the answer is clear o me, but my clients can remain skeptical. That happens when I blame the problem on yard work. Surely, a person would not do that (that being the cause of the damage). Yet, I see it often enough to formulate an idea of what has happened.
cleanout with broken cover
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Flash Frying Herbs and Leafy Greens


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Does everything taste better deep fried? No, but quickly frying herbs and leafy greens gives you a delicious flavor punch.

Do you like fried foods? I have a love-hate relationship with them. Fat carries flavor; oil is fat; and fat does damage to my body. I have worked hard to reduce the amount of unhealthy oils in the family diet, yet there are those traditional dishes that taste better with fat. My wife has become more concerned with fats in the diet, so she chides me when she sees any fat in a dish. Yet I decided to quickly fry herbs for a garnish on a pasta. This flash fry added a punch of flavor that passed my wife’s inspection.
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In the Aftermath of the Frost


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We were expecting snow last night. I have ice on the plants. The garden continues.

My children awoke with a sense of wonder. Would they see snow? They did have the day off from school, so plans are being made. I would rather not drive. This is not the Houston that we are used to. I did make a few preparations, but many of these preparations had already been in the works. Beds were heavily mulched earlier. The avocado tree had its cover, and I finally pulled out a cover for the hibiscus plants. In the morning, I went out to see the state of the garden.
garlic under icemustard laying downice on collards
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Greetings

This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at yourhoustonhomeinspector.com). For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank

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