22 July 2013

Storm Damage Repair Update

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Today I am having the flooring people come in to work on the carpeting and padding in 3 bedrooms and the flooring in 1 of the bathrooms.

I have an appointment in August for the drywall/painter to come and fix the ceilings in the same rooms. Then all that's left is to have the carpets cleaned.

By that time it will be over 4 months since this nightmare started! I cannot wait until it's all done!

Update: The flooring is all done and I'm very pleased. Here is a shot of the new bathroom floor. It looks very nice!

17 July 2013

My Petunia Experiment

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I have had petunias in the past and always remarked about how short-lived they seemed to be. I admit I didn't look into it at all, I just pulled off the spent blooms and called it a day. Obviously it didn't matter too much to me. I bought a petunia this year and here it is when I bought it.

I planned on caring for it same as always. However, I ran across an article that caught my eye about keeping your petunias full of flowers all summer. Ok, I can't pass that up, so I read it and discovered I was doing it all wrong. I was just removing the bloom itself, which cleaned up the plant, but I was leaving a very crucial part on the plant that should have been removed. The picture below shows you what you should remove.

When you remove the blooms you have to make sure you get the part it is attached to. That is the part that will create seed.

So, my petunia has all these little things still on it where I've pulled off the blooms. It was starting to go downhill. But, the article also stated that you can cut your petunia way back somewhere along the middle of July and it will come back with lots of blooms in a short time.

This is my experiment. My petunia still had some nice blooms on it, but mostly it was getting leggy. I cut it back, trying to get all the future seed capsules off. Here's what it looks like now, hope I didn't kill it.

I then watered and fertilized it and said a prayer over it. Looking through the cuttings I found a bunch of the seed capsules and am now wondering if I waited too long or if not removing them up until now is going to prevent a re-bloom. We shall see.

Anyway, I decided that I would save all this seed and have experiment #2 next year. Here is what the seed capsule, or whatever you call it, looks like. You just open that little thing in the middle and there's your seed.

I held mine over a white paper towel and then put them in a little bowl. I would suggest pulling off the leaves first 'cuz petunias are kinda sticky and the little seeds will stick to them.

The way annuals work, or at least the petunia, is that it will grow and produce for a while and then start setting seed and then it will die. But, by removing the future seed capsule you are tricking the plant into thinking it still needs to produce blooms, therefore extending the flowering season. I'm afraid that my plant may be on its way out, I didn't trick it soon enough. Take a look at all the seed I got from it. I think this is a wave petunia, which is a patented hybrid I think. I don't know what the seed will produce next year, that's experiment #2. I won't be sharing the seed 'cuz it's patented.

Now I just sit and wait. If it comes back I will be thrilled. If it doesn't, I will have at least learned something and will never lose another petunia too early again. So, stay tuned for the results of my petunia experiment. And, as always I welcome your comments and suggestions, 'cuz I'm still learning.

Update: It's been 1 week since I cut back the petunia. Here's a shot of it. It's got 1 open bloom, as you can see, and another just about to open. It also seems more full.

And after 2 weeks. As you can see there are numerous blooms, however I noticed that several of the blooms are wonky. They're bent backwards and upside down etc., weird.

And at about 2 1/2 weeks. I think it's safe to say that I didn't kill my petunia. I'm calling the experiment a success. It is definitely what I'm going to do with all my petunias from here on out. Next season I will do experiment #2 and plant the seeds I got off this plant just to see what grows.

16 July 2013

Backyard Makeover part 1

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All along the base of the back deck we have a conglomeration of hedges/vines/opportunistic nightmare weeds/trees that have been the bane of my existence since we've lived in this house. I'm not sure what the hedges are called, but there's wild grape in there, honeysuckle, thorny locust...needless to say it's a mess.

So, we decided to remove it all, finally. I think what started it was that we lost the only beautiful part of the whole thing, a gorgeous tree on the corner, to the April storm. After that we knew it all had to go. I neglected to take some before pictures, but I do have the ones I took after the storm. Keep in mind that this is early in the season and the honeysuckle, wild grape and thorny locust have not as yet graced us with their presence.

Did we hire someone? Did we rent equipment? Did we at least do it on overcast days or early morning/later evening? No, no, and only sometimes. We did use a four-wheeler and chain to help remove the roots/stumps. I can't remember when I've worked so hard and I didn't even do the hard part. My husband and son are both very strong men and on a rare occasion they were both here to do the job.

It took several days to get it all out. Then we had to remove the decorative rock, which wasn't fun either. We probably should have done it a different way, 'cuz I think we caused ourselves more work, but we just raked it back out of the bed onto the yard. We laid landscape fabric and edged the whole length with scalloped brick. Then we shoveled the rock back in. There's still a bunch of rock on the yard and we'll probably never get it all out of there. I should note here that the original bed is much much wider than the new bed, so technically the excess rock is still in the old bed. It looks funny for now, but it's a WIP.

We repaired the lattice work and added new lattice work around the hot tub enclosure. Then we scrubbed the deck and resealed it with a stain/sealer to try to match up the different wood tones a little. That didn't happen too much, maybe they will look better with time. The whole deck probably should be replaced but we're trying to squeeze a few more years out of it. We did replace the handrail on top though. The lattice work leaves a lot to be desired as well. But again we are trying to make it last a little longer. The previous owners had an extra sheet of lattice that they overlaid on top of another piece. That turned out to be a good thing because one piece was too far gone to continue using it so we took it apart an used the slats as framing. I know, I know, it's all wobbly looking and is probably making you cringe, but believe me it is a far cry better than what it was.

I may or may not put some plants in the new bed in the future. For right now, I am enjoying the cleaned up look.
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