Around your house 6/13/07

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Plant tropical water lilies when water temperatures rise above 70 degrees. When night temperatures stay above 50 degrees, bring houseplants outdoors for the summer. Apply a balanced rose fertilizer after the first show of blooms is past. Rhizomatous begonias are not just for shade. Many varieties, especially those with bronze foliage do well in full sun if given plenty of water and a well-drained site. Most houseplants brought outside prefer a bright spot shaded from afternoon sun. Check soil moisture daily during hot weather. Apply organic mulches as the soil warms. These will conserve moisture, discourage weeds, and enrich the soil as they decay. Apply a second spray for borer control on hardwood trees.


Summer berries

The warm weather brings a bounty of fresh summer fruit, and strawberries are among the first. Supermarket berries, which come almost exclusively from California, peak in early July. Local berries will be staggered through early summer by region. Make sure strawberries are at room temperature when eaten. As with tomatoes, cold dulls their flavor. Kept in their clamshell or farm stand container, unwashed berries last 10 to 14 days in the refrigerator (not washing them is key). If you can't eat them fast enough, wash them, cut off the tops, toss them into zip-close bags and freeze them for up to three months.

-- AP

Concrete walls

Q: The poured concrete walls of my basement are beginning to bow. Will installing anchors be a good way to repair this?

A: The reason most basement walls begin to bow (curve inward at the center) is because of hydrostatic (water) pressure from the surrounding soil. Clips, bolts and connectors will normally not solve this problem. Basically, your basement walls are telling you that the surrounding earth is stronger than they are. Chances are you will have to strengthen the bowed walls with new, stronger ones constructed along the inside. This is truly a structural problem that needs to be addressed by a geotechnical (soils) engineer, who will conduct an inspection and be able to make suggestions as to the best course of action. Keep in mind that your basement is only part of the problem. Your entire home rests on those bowed walls. Don't take this one lightly.

-- AP

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