Archive for the 'Home Projects' Category

Sunflower part duex

Since the first post on the sunflower last week, the big guy grew another foot to foot and a half and bloomed. It is now standing above my roof line by a foot or so, and the only way I could get a decent picture was to get up on my roof.


Why they call them sunflowers.

I’m sure most people assume that they are called sunflowers because the blooms look very much like a big yellow sun. It is my intention to demonstrate in this post, that they are called sunflowers for a very different reason. I’m going to show you guys some photos of sunflowers I planted this year. They all came from the same pack of seeds and were planted at the same time.

Exibit A:
This guy was planted under my big tree in the front yard, and gets much more shade than sun.

Exibit B:
This guy was planted on the side of my house, and this time of year gets full sun from about 9 until about 3-4. For the rest of the day it gets diffused light through the crepe myrtle. It made it up to around 7-8 feet before it stopped growing!

Exibt C- This one has gone crazy. This plant gets full sun from about noon until sunset. It is currently above my roof line, and the flower head has not even appeared yet. It may have several more feet to go before it blooms.


If you want to see how aggressively it is growing, here is a pic of it just 2 weeks ago clicky

So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I hope that I have made my case a convincnig one, and demonstrated that a sunflower gets it’s name because of how they react to the sun!

Everyday I have come home for the last month, I have seen this same bug sitting on this leaf looking at me. Kinda strange… kinda cool

Workbench and such

I think it’s about time to share some pics and document some of the recent home projects I’e been working on. I’ll try to keep the text/photo ration in the favor of the photographs.

Meet my old mailbox post. It was leaning over about 20 degrees, falling apart, and the mailbox was all beat to hell.
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This is the new cedar post with the new mailbox. This badboy is set almost 2 feet in concrete stained and waterproofed.
I added a few elephant ears to my front bed. The plants from last year are HUGE, and getting bigger all the time.
I raised up both of my garden beds by one tie, and added a crapload of dirt to fill them up.
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The bed in front of the deck was added this winter, as was the path between the deck and the house next door:
I call this the ass and fire wood holder. It opens from the back to store wood, and you can put your ass on the lip that over hangs the deck and use it as a bench.

Garden/Yard update

I was just messing around with this pic, but it turned out pretty cool. It is a 180 degree panorama of my backyard. The photomerge wasn’t perfect (far from it) but it still turned out pretty cool.
To see it at full size, click on it, then in Flickr click the “all sizes” button, and then select the original size.


I have been surprised at how many people have asked me for updates on the garden. So, here it is. :)


Overall things are going well. The smaller (newer) garden is prodcing more agressivly than the older garden. I think the few extra hours of full sun that the smaller garden receives is what is making the difference. My celantro is starting to burn up, and I had to transplant one of the tomato plants into a pot because it started to take over the garden.


I built this little bench as a test to see if it would work and be strong enough. It works really well, and I think I will keep it out there, and also add a 2nd bench at a 90 degree angle to it to add more seating to that end of the deck.


All in all things are going really well with the backyard and with the gardens. Both gardens are doing pretty well and are starting to produce fruit and peppers.



Controling crepe myrtle aphids

Update- May 2013- This post still seems like it is getting a lot of traffic! Full origional post below the image, but here is a quick update. They Bayer product noted below seems to be the winner. My first application kept me bug free for years. I had one bush have another outbreak last year, and one application fixed it again. In the comments below, EMiller left this helpful info- The active ingredient in the formula is Imidacloprid (the original formula also has another chemical but it’s not used anymore). Amazon sells different brands that contain Imidacloprid, here’s a link to the Bayer concentrate: clicky


Secondary update- Late June 2012- I see the popularity of this post is still growing, and wanted to give an update. The Bayer solution noted below that requires you to pour a bucket of their mixture at the base of the plant worked, and kept me totally bug free for aprox 3.5 years!!! This spring, the little buggers were back, and I re-treated them about 2 months ago. I used a hose spray solution (of the same mix, they also sell it that way) to quickly kill them so I could de-sticky my deck/patio furniture for a party I was having the same weekend. At the same time I applied a bucket of the “Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed” and have been bug free since. Below are the pics of the product and label. I know they change the names/packaging over the years. All of the other solutions tested below, and most of the ones in the comments are very temporary. This is the only thing I have done that has kept them away for more than a month.

When I bought my house last year, I told myself that I would give myself one year to see if I could figure out a way to control the aphid/spider mite infestation that all 3 of my Crepe Myrtles had. For those not familiar with the issue, the aphids infest the bottom sides of the leaves. Once there they eat the sap and then proceed to crap the sap out on whatever might be below. This aphid crap is affectionately known as “honeydew” by some, but I like to call a spade a spade and refer to it as aphid crap. You feel it as tiny mist like drops falling from the tree above. If the infestation is bad, the mist can be heavy and annoying. It is also sticky and will get all over any furniture or deck that it is above. Heavy infestation can also cause mold and other problems for the plant. Since I have one large crepe myrtle that is in the middle of my deck that provides shade in the summer, I have been determined to see if I could control the problem so that I would not have to cut the tree down. That sounds harsh, but the shade the tree provides is useless if nobody wants to sit in the mist of aphid crap. It basically makes the deck unusable.

All this black crap that I had to power wash off of my deck was caused by the aphid honeydew.


This year I tried to take a scientific approach. Since I had 2 in the front yard, and one Crepe Myrtle in the front yard that were infested, I though I would try 2 different products to see which one worked best.

Update: I see this post still gets a lot of traffic, so I thought I’d share this update. The year after I wrote the post below, I used a Bayer 12 month systemic insecticide. You mix it in a bucket of water and pour it at the base of the plants. It wiped out the problem completely and hasn’t ever required a reapplication. The bushes have been Aphid free for the past 2-3 years now!


First up- Ortho Total Kill- Lawn and Garden Insect Killer. The list of bugs that it kills includes mites and aphids, and it also claims that it has long lasting effects, and keeps killing after application. I used this on the Crepe Myrtles in the front yard. Over a period of a few days, it did kill a lot of the aphids, but it didn’t do a real good job. After checking out ground zero a few days later, it looked like about %70 of the bugs were dead on the back of the leafs, but the rest were alive and well.

Next up- Ortho Systemic Insect Killer- This stuff rocks. Within 24 hours there was not a living aphid to be found. It totally killed all of the mites and aphids, and kept them gone for about one month before I started to notice a few bugs starting to come back. This one is the winner for sure. I think if I spray with this product about once a month, I can control the aphids, and live on a deck that is free of aphid crap.