Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Keeping Branches Away from My Roof


Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2198

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2125

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2126

Home Inspector heed your own advice. My task this weekend was one that I frequently give to clients: prune tree branches away from the roof to prevent damage.



I have not had the time that I wanted to work in my garden. I still walk through each day, and I have been harvesting. Actually, I needed to water quite a bit. There have been clouds, but no rain over my home. The vegetable production has been quite good, even had my first squash. However, I have been busy with other projects in the attic and on the roof. (The roof project was an attic vent powered by a solar panel, which I will write about on the main blog). Being on the roof was the perfect reminder to follow my own advice to homeowners- keep branches ten feet away from the roof surface. This helps to prevent damage to the shingles.

    We have had enough windy days that my tree branches were rubbing against the roof at one spot. My roof has a low pitch, so it is easy to stand on the roof with my pruners. I usually do this in the spring and then again in the fall. My crepe myrtles in the front yard sprout new branches which rub against my fascia and walls. The ash tree in the backyard is a fast grower which drops branches down to the roof. I have seen branches from a tree take off the roof covering and the sheathing underneath allowing a hole for the rain to enter the attic. Giving a foot breathing space between plants and the walls prevents moisture from harming those surfaces. The foot distance permits air to circulate.
    You do not have to be exact. I pruned the branches to roughly ten feet away. Standing on the roof is not possible for all pruning. I used an A-frame ladder to reach a branch that was hitting the roof, but too far to reach from the roof. I did sweep my roof too. You do not want to leave debris on the roof, again a moisture issue.
    I need to start working on the garden again. My winter annual flowers are fading. Too bad, I love using my johnny jump ups in salads. I love the splashes of color when sitting outside. My chrysanthemums are coming back, so there is a little color. I will have to hang out at the nursery to see which annuals will do. I want something different than petunias this year.

How Much Money Can I Save by Growing My Own Vegetables?


Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2198

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2125

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2126

I have seen others write answers to this question of savings, but I think we forget the factors involved in determining costs, but the question came back to me with a statement from my wife.



My wife asked today if I could dig up part of my raspberry vine to give to her sister. I almost wanted to laugh at her, since she almost told my son to rip the plant out about a month ago, because she decide that it was a weed. Over the course of this month, she has come to really value this weed; especially after a trip to a grocery store. She discovered that a package of berries was selling for $5 (and those packages are not too big). My children have been harvesting each day (the girls have informed me that my hat makes for the perfect harvesting aid for carrying the berries). Today, as we were picking, my wife kept chiming “$5…$6..$7″; we did harvest quite a bit.
    This caused me to pay attention to other prices. Loquats were nearly $7 per pound, and I have been getting more than what I know what to do with. With the loquats and raspberries, I feel that I really did come out ahead. I did not water them much, and I did not do anything special for these plants. I do not fret over them like some other plants, like my squash or tomato plants, so the production cost was virtually zero. With other vegetables this is not the case. I spent moeny on the seeds, some organic fertilizer, and water. To really calculate cost, I would have to measure how much was used, what the cost of that would be, and then how much was produced. I would then have to include incidentals like my labor and any other odd or end purchased. For tomato cages, I use bamboo from my own plant, but I still have some wire cages. (Should I depreciate the value of that over time?-joke). My feeling is that I am coming out ahead on everything, but I am not sure. Labor could be the main cost. I find it relaxing to go through my garden each day. To really be growing all of the vegetables for your family, you do need to check on them each day.

    My son had heard a commercial that mentioned becuase of their packaging, the vegetables from this company has less nutrient loss. He wanted to know is that true, and is it a problem. Here is a hidden value that does not equate well in my savings calculation. What value can I place on being able to eat a vegetable freshly picked before cooking? At a Farmer’s Market this weekend, my little girls were quite excited to see what a grower had to sell. Back at home, they follow me and help me in the garden. They know where their food originates, which is better that most children their age. That is another value that is hard to input into the calculation.

    Considering all the factors, I think that my vegetable garden has a great value, but do I save money? I think that I do, but this may not be the case for all. I have my own compost. I do not buy all of my plants each year, since I rely upon seeds or cuttings from last year. I use my organic fertilizers sparingly, so that is not a great cost, and I try to find ways not to use sprays for pests. I think if you are just starting out, you may find yourself spending quite a lot to have your garden get into shape. It might be advisable to learn more before you start planting, or you may have wasted some time and money.

Planting for Fragrance


Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2198

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2125

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2126

Do you like sitting in your garden? Colors create visually pleasing scenes, but planting for fragrance, scents , can enhance your experience.



I may not have been writing, but that is due to being busy around the home and garden. My daughters are wild about planting seeds right now, so the moment they see seeds for sale they have to have them. Besides the seeds, we have been watching the progression of fruits. The first few raspberries were ripe, and the girls descended upon them. My neighbor commented that this will be a haven for snakes. I think that snakes may not like that location though. The girls have figured out that they can pull the branches of the plum tree down, so they have gone after the green (unripe) plums. I am glad that their older brother has not been in their employ. Then I would have a problem.  My other neighbor commented that they have not seen me out front. Well, the backyard has been more fun for the children, so I have focused on that space. I do miss sitting on my front bench with the fragrance of the roses.
    Antique roses have such a wonderful fragrance which is not overpowering. Most hybrid roses have no scent. I think that is why I try to buy older rose varieties. The rose bush has put on a fantastic show this season. I think the secret has been deadheading the flowers. Heavy pruning seems agreeable to my bush. I use slight fertilizer on them. I do not care for overwhelming perfumes, and I think the scent of roses could be associated with that memory, but my roses produce no such fragrance. It is refreshing to walk by these bushes.
    I am waiting for the jasmine to bloom. I have these by the back porch, so this will make the backyard fill with fragrance soon. The little white jasmine flowers display nicely, but I do enjoy sitting on the porch with this scent. I think that I should begin planning more fragrances near sitting areas. I have marigolds in the vegetable garden. I like that they discourage some pests. That is something to watch. Caterpillars were feasting on my fennel, and I thought fennel discouraged these predators of my plants. Parsley is also supposed to deter insects from attacking other plants. I only notice the scents of these plants after a rain. The scents in the air after a rain make walking through the garden an experience.
    Most herbs have such strong scents, but they do not release these fragrances until crushed. I took the grey leaves of a curry plant and rubbed them in my hand for my older daughter. Katya thought this was great, so she is doing this with many of her finds in the vegetable garden. The herb curry plant is not what is used for curries, but this herb does have a flavor similar to some curries. I think this may be a great scent for a man’s cologne. (Oh yeah, I could start making some colognes or perfumes with these extra herbs). I do like letting my herbs spill over into the lawn. Cut grass is a good scent, but walking on the lawn with herbs is more fun. Having the scent of mint or thyme waft up under the pressure of my step is a pleasure.
    I will be on a search for more scented flowers for the garden. Color has been taken care of, and I think that I am overly packing the vegetables into available spots. (I have to convince the girls that we cannot keep buying seeds). I am going to avoid gardenias. I cannot take that fragrance.

A Garden Table Made by Recycling


Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2198

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2125

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2126

Small garden tables can be useful. They can be planting stations, art stations, or used as additional space when cooking on the grill.


I would not exactly say that I horde, but I do have a tendency to see if I can reuse material in some other way. Much of my garden art involves recycled goods. I use beer bottles as a garden edging (old German technique). When my wife threw out our ironing board, I was convinced that I could use it in some other way. With the patio project behind us, I discovered a good deal of lumber left over. One use will be for the children’s tree house, but I wanted a coffee table for my garden reading area, which also happened to be next to the barbecue grill (and the future site for a rocket stove that I will be making next).
Read the rest of this entry »

How to Make a Roof Over Your Porch


Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2198

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2125

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2126

Having a seating area outside can be a great place to entertain. Having a roof over this space can make it feel more like a room.


porch canopy
My wife, as it seems to me, has to take on some large home makeover before any party at our house. This habit , I have to admit, is becoming a bit hard to take. The projects are fine, and frequently needed, but she gives little time to have them done before the event, which leaves me rushing to complete a task. For Easter, she wanted a roof or canopy over our back porch. I had created a sort of false roof by allowing jasmine to grow on wires over this space, but she wanted a real structure. She liked the jasmine, so she also wanted to keep these vines as part of the roof. We ended up with an open slat system for our porch roof.
Read the rest of this entry »

Decorating the Garden with Slabs of Color


Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2198

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2125

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2126

Have you ever wanted more color in your garden? Something bold that will draw the eye? Flowers or colorful bushes will do, but what about a canvas of solid color?

I know that loquats will be the first fruit in my garden, and the blooms on the plum tree were exciting, but the raspberry flowers cause me to be really excited. For me, they are the sign that a new season is coming. The end of winter has its blooms. The pansies, violas, and cyclamen are hanging onto their bursting flames of color, but spring is when we can sit back to see the real show.
Read the rest of this entry »

Recycling Bags for Garden Waste for Houston


Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2198

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2125

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2126

The date has been pushed back to April, but you will find them in stores now.

I wanted to drop a quick note to Houston residents about the new bag requirement for garden waste. I feel that Houston has been trying to implement this policy for some time, but this April seems to be the real deadline. When I was out walking (I seem to be always walking through the neighborhood), I discovered that my neighbors were vaguely aware; however, they were not ready. When I had been going to various stores, I had not seen the bags, but I did find them in the local hardware store recently.
    A few questions that I was asked: 1) Are they more expensive than the other bags? Yes, but not outrageously so. 2) Are they sturdy to hold a lot of waste? I could only find 33 gallon bags. This is the type of bag for a tall kitchen trash can, so they do not hold as much as the old leaf bags, and their thickness seemed to be about the same as the kitchen bags, which means no over stuffing. Can you find them everywhere? I have not been so diligent in looking for them, but they are not everywhere.
    Hopefully the city will have larger bags on their agenda. As one neighbor said he was going to start composting. Well, I already compost most of my garden waste. There are a few times when I need to set some things out. Maybe this new policy would force people to compost. That might not be too bad.

Houston’s Spring is Arriving; Time to Plant Seeds


Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2198

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2125

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2126

You can plant seeds year around in Houston, but this is the time of year when gardeners begin to prepare for late spring and summer crops.

As my wife opened the front door, she and my daughters began to shout with glee. They beckoned my son and me to come quick. They had discovered that the plum tree had set flowers, and these were glowing in the morning light. The tree had already began to display these flowers, but they had not noticed till this scene unfolded before their eyes. Most of my winter vegetables have been going into bloom to prepare us for a new generation with seeds. I notice vegetable gardeners who rip the plants out of the ground when this happens; however, I like to have the seeds spread to see what will arrive in my garden again.
Read the rest of this entry »

Lava Sand


Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2198

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2125

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2126

Chemicals can be good for your plants.

Alright, that statement was meant to shock the organic crowd. I stopped by Southwest Fertilizer the other day, when I saw that they had a shipment of lava sand. I bought some to use in my own garden. You may have heard that soils are rich in nutrients in volcanic areas, like in Italy around Vesuvius, and you can obtain that by incorporating lava sand into your garden beds.
    The synthetic fertilizer industry is based upon ideas of Justus von Liebig, who focused on potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Organic gardeners will use the organic chemical forms of these same chemicals. Julius Hensel had a more broad approach, realizing that he suggested the concept of mineral nutrition. He ground mountain rocks to add to vegetable beds, and found that the plants were healthier. This was adding inorganic matter ( the dreaded chemicals). I feel that if you concentrate too much on the labels organic and inorganic, you may miss an important factor in the health of your plants. Hensel showed that inorganics can be quite useful. Lava sand is a result of his work.
    This sand is made from pulverized lava/basalt rock. Decomposed granite has more silica than basalt, and basalt has higher amounts of calcium and magnesium, which makes basalt favored. The best application method is to dig the sand into the soil of a fallow garden bed (churning the soil). Since some beds do have plants, I spread the sand over the soil, and then either by hand or by hoe, mix the sand into the surface. Watering afterwards to ensure that no sand is on the leaves, and to help the sand mix in further. Lava sand then becomes the ultimate slow release fertilizer. The sand is not a complete fertilizer, so you do still need your other organic fertilizers.
    When considering your fertilizers, add lava sand to the mix. I do not know the availability of this product. I have to check if the home improvement centers carry lava sand. I am fairly certain that I have seen the sand at nurseries. I go to Southwest Fertilizer, because they have such a great selection of seeds, tools, and other products for the garden. They do sell plants, but that is a more limited aspect of their business. They are at the corner of Bissonet and Fountain View (or does the street change its name to Renwick at that point).

Tomato Plants in January


Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2198

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_post' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2125

Warning: Illegal string offset 'wordbooker_like_button_page' in /home/yourhou1/public_html/houstongardening/wp-content/plugins/wordbooker/wordbooker.php on line 2126

Being hopeful, I purchased toamto plants for the coming growing season.

I had time to really work in the garden yesterday. Using my hoe, I loosened the soil, weeded, and cleaned the beds. I plunged my hands into this rich mixture to harvest ginger. I began to pull the dead leaves away from my lemongrass. I was happy to find that new life was to be seen in shoots popping up. Lemongrass will grow well in Houston, but my plants have come under attack from the dog and family in the past. I wanted this on to survive. I began to work on other projects around the home, so I headed to the home improvement center for some supplies.
Read the rest of this entry »

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

Search
Categories

Canonical URL by SEO No Duplicate WordPress Plugin