Thursday, February 28, 2008

Drainage Wows

My wife and I moved into a rental property that our land lord just bought from a elderly gentleman that recently passed on. The man is what most would call a "weekend warrior do-it-yourself" handy man. Everything he worked on was either done half way right or all wrong.

When we first moved in I noticed, a bunch of sprinkler boxes(you know the big ugly green ones that house water valves) with a bunch of drilled holes on it. I also notice at the end of our yard up against the base of our rotting fence another sprinkler box raised up with chicken wire wrapped around it and holes drilled into the sides near the ground. I did not think much of it and thought it was a neat and cheap idea for a drainage system.

After a couple of months we had a small storm. I noticed that our screened in porch had standing water about 2 feet inside on the porch. I took a look at the drainage and saw the one of the down spouts was angled toward the house. I moved the spout and angled it toward the alley and went on about my business. Over the months we have had several bad storms and the water always came up on the porch but when it rained I was either asleep or at work. So I never how bad the drainage was or where it the problem was.

About 2 weeks ago I happened to be home when we had a light rain. I went outside and checked our drainage. I found that our gutters and drainage was homemade and not done correctly. Every joint and angle was not sealed correctly or the sealant was the wrong type. Some of the downspouts (I never noticed were uphill and would not drain until the gutters were spilling out and tearing up the flower beds. All the joints leake and those green sprinkler boxes did not even work right. The boxes were flooded and about 3 inches of standing water was up against the foundation.

After the flooding I went out a couple days later to check on the drains and to clean them out. I opened them up and they were still full of water. After looking for the drains I only found 1 actual drain in the boxes. It was just about the water level close to top of the box. I cleared it out and some of the water was removed. I checked on the box at the back of yard and found it the same way. It was to small and my shed was flooded.

When the ground was dry enough to do some digging. I removed all the dirt around the drain near the fence and made a small berm to block the water from flowing into the shed. I then cleared away some weeds and junk near the drains by the house. When fished, tested the system by putting the water hose into the gutters and started watching the show. Within about 5 minutes the drains fill up and started to flood my porch.

At that point I realized the old man did not build the system right and the land lord was going to have to re due the drainage system. The hard part is explaining this to the land lord and telling what needs to be done before the foundation is damage.

More to come on this story...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Open Air Cati Terrarium

A few months ago I saw a great idea about keeping different types of Cacti and succulents in a small space. I after reading up on the best ways to do this, I combine several different approaches, and came up with a good one. Right now I am still testing this to see how well the cacti are doing but overall they are doing great.

I made the mistake of not photo documenting this little project. But the next time I make one I will make sure to documenting this project and repost.

My wife and I worked together to create this. To recreate this you will need the following;
  1. A glass container of your choosing
  2. Cacti potting soil
  3. Horticulture grade charcoal - (regular non instant start BBQ charcoal will work)
  4. Pea Gravel for drainage
  5. Fiberglass window screen.
  6. Enough plants to densely populate the area for growing - (over crowding is good)
  7. Pea gravel, decortive rock or sand can be used to cover the potting medium
The first thing you need to do is clean your container out with a soapy solution. Once cleaned and dried. You can start creating your new cacti garden. Next you need to crush up the charcoal so it a fine powder and add that to the bowl. After that you will need to add the pea gravel for drainage. Once the pea gravel has been added you will need to cut a piece of the window screen to lay on top of the gravel. This will help keep the roots from digging into the drainage. Next you will need to add the potting soil. Add enough soil that the root balls will have enough room to be buried properly. Once you have the soil at the right height you will need to prepare the plants to be planted. Some plants will need to be divided if they are to large or if you are not pleased with the shape of the plant. In most cases you will have to gently remove the dirt from the root ball and cut away a small amount of the root. By doing this you make more room for all your plants and slow the growth of the plant. This will cause the plant to spend more if its energy on the root system. After all of your plants are planted and they are where you want them to be. You will need to cover the surface with your decortive rock. The final step is to mist your plants.

Do not water your plants by watering can or in the sink. This will cause the container to be water logged and this will kill your plants! Only water your plants by misting. If you do not have a spray bottle you can get them almost anywhere. Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depot and many grocery stores carry them for less than $5.00. You only need to water you plants about once week, if that. You should only water the plants when the soil is dry or if the plants look as if they need watering. Cacti and most succulents do not need very much water.

When placing your plants, make sure to place your plants in a sunny window or a well lit place in your house or office. Make sure the plant gets at least 6 good hours of sunlight. If you can not get enough light or the plants start browning up then add a spot light or a desk lamp will work. You can purchase CFL 26 watt Daylight bulbs that will give it the right kind of light and it uses very little energy to run.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pictures From my First Garden

I was digging through my picture achieves and I came across my pictures for my first garden that I neglected for at least ten years and is still blooming through spring and early summer.

Due to the age and the amount of time passed, I have lost the names of these roses. I have looked into finding out more about the roses in the garden but I have been unsuccessful. If anyone runs across these pictures an knows what these are please let me know what I have here.

Some day I plan to transplant these guys and move them to better home where I can take care of them.

As you can tell this flower bed is a bit dark. Although it is not Ideal, It does get about five to six hours of sunlight during the late afternoon until sunset.

After the first year or two I grew discouraged and ran out of time to work on the bed anymore. I stopped watering everyday and the 100+ degree weather in August nearly killed them every year.

Below you will find some close ups the Roses. If you see any you know or think you know. Please let me know. I need all the help I get.

As you can tell from the pictures one of the roses a crawling type. In the 10 years that it has been in the ground it has spread to different parts of the back of the yard. If the plant lived in ideal conditions it would spread and become a wild in the back yard.

Please feel free to commit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My first attempt at gardening

Just last July my wife and I moved into our first house, or rent house I should say. My loving wife let me spend a lot of money on starting our first garden! I have a lot of great pictures of our new garden.

- Warning, I am just a beginning gardener and when I started I made a lot mistakes that I have learned not to do this year. Another problem I have fixing the mistakes the original owners did to the landscape and the property. -

A little background on my sorta green thumb. I started growing roses about 10 years ago. What I should say is I planted 3 roses in my parents backyard and just left them. I did not listen to rules for these little guys. I planted them in a backyard in good soil but not enough sun. In the spring the plants were pretty and had lots of flowers. As the summer came and the trees above filled out and kept most of the bed in shade the plants just start stretching for the sun. If you want to know about the current status of those roses are, as of last season they were still producing flowers and I plan to transplant the flowers next year, if I remember to do that.

Before and after my wife and I were married I kept about 6 Roses and several flowering plants on her apartment porch. I have several pictures of the plants in bloom. My plants did great and I actually care for these little guys. Because of that success I had at the apartment we started looking for a house to buy/rent with potential.

When we moved into our new place, I bought several more roses, and started taking cuttings of different plants, and buying plants for indoor uses or outdoor uses through out the year.

Currently our screened in porch has been covered in clear shower liners and we have a lot plants we are overwintering plants that I did not want to loose because of the cold weather. Our makeshift green house stays anywhere from 20 degrees to 40 degrees above the outside temperature. Of course during those long cold winter nights I had a small shop heater running.

This spring, we will be starting our organic contain garden and vertical garden. We have somewhere around 150 plus plants that are germinating in my homemade seed closest.

I will be posting my garden efforts with pictures to go a long with them. Please fill free to comment and help me with doing a better job with my garden.