BASIC VEGETABLE GROWING (IN A STUDENT HOUSE WITH NO GARDEN)


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I’d like to follow the theme set by Frank’s recent posts on sustainable gardening (like this, this, and this), but with the slight handicap of not having a garden.

Not having a garden probably seems like a large setback for a gardener. And truth be told, it is. But, testament to humans’ desire to innovate and adapt, ways of getting around this obstacle exist. A wealth of blogs are dedicated to gardening without a conventional garden; The 6×8 garden and Green Roof Growers are two examples of many, but all are maintained by more professional gardeners than I; this post aims to share with you the basic lessons learned in growing chillies in a gardenless student house this year.

Credit goes to my former housemate and internet-wary friend Paranoia Boy (PB) for these chilli growing tips. PB was in charge of ‘Harvey’ the chilli plant, who was grown from seeds, originally in a window box and later in a planter when ‘he’ outgrew the box. On choosing the healthiest seedlings, PB says after planting many seeds in very moist soil, select the biggest, strongest looking (and especially green) ones as they are more likely to grow into healthy plants. The plant was kept nourished through a mix of store-bought tomato feed, and working coffee grinds into the soil every now and then (though the latter technique should not be used too often).

Harvey fruited nicely around April after being planted in late autumn last year. Chilli plants thrive when kept consistently above 20°c, and frequently in the sun. Watering the plant every morning (around half a pint / 250ml) seemed to be the best time, and watering slightly less than the suggested amount seemed to make it flower better. Chilli plants flowering is a good sign, but in order to make them fruit, they need to be pollinated. PB’s policy was to leave the window open in the hope that a bee would fly in and pollinate, and it seemed to work. Manual pollination can be achieved though, through collecting pollen on a small brush and applying it to the center of the flowers you wish to fruit.

Where to go from here? I’m living in student housing again next year, and have every intention of continuing to grow what I can. I may branch out to something more adventurous if time allows; herbs and spices are a possible avenue of exploration as I’ve heard good things about growing basil, oregano and such. Tomatoes are another possibility, although it depends how easy they are to grow because I’m not a huge fan, and as a result the amount of effort I’m willing to spend in growing them is reduced.

Thanks for reading this guest post which Frank kindly allowed me to write. My name is Chris, and I keep a blog myself at http://p-latitudes.blogspot.com although it’s a bit disorganised at the moment. My layman’s interest in gardening / growing was inspired by some work I did on behalf of Tiger Sheds.

Keeping Branches Away from My Roof


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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 to Make a Roof Over Your Porch


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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 »

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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