Show Notes: Christmas Cactus
Show Notes for On The House with the Carey Brothers aired December 15th, 2018.
With the official first day of winter nearly upon us, we provide you with some of the best tips for planting trees and shrubs in what remains of fall.
Live in an area where your front walkway can get icy? We’ve got some tips on how make your concrete not-so-slippery! Or have you ever considered getting a walkway warmer??
Those snowy days can also lead to power outages! Find some tips on how to be prepared below.
Have an old 5 gallon bucket lying around? Great! We’ve got some cool uses for that ol’ bucket.
As the nights (and days!) get colder, you need to be safe about using those space heaters. See some of our safety tips below.
On the other side of the winter spectrum is the desert! Got a cactus? They can be festive too. Make a Christmas Cactus!
Planting Trees & Shrubs In The Fall
Fall is the Best Time to Plant
When adding trees and shrubs to your landscape, planting in the fall offers several benefits. It’s an ideal time for you, as all the hard gardening work of spring and the upkeep of summer will be winding down – plus it’s the best time for the tree. The combination of warm soil and cool air stimulates root growth to help your tree or shrub get established before the ground freezes. In the fall, trees and shrubs are either sold in containers or with root balls, where the root and soil is wrapped in burlap (often called “balled-and-burlapped”). Planting them is easy. Just follow these simple steps.
Select Your Trees and Shrubs
Healthy trees and shrubs will last for decades, so consider your longer-term landscaping goals and how the full-grown trees and shrubs will fit in. Consider trees and shrubs that will provide different features year-round, such as fruit in summer and changing leaf colors in fall. For beautiful blossoms, consider a redbud or ornamental cherry tree in Northern regions, crape myrtle in the Southeast or desert willow in the Southwest.
Leave Ample Space
Give the trees and shrubs plenty of room to grow, making sure you research the plant’s full-grown size. Refer to the information that comes with the tree or ask your garden center for recommendations. Use a tape measure to gauge how your new trees and shrubs will fit into your existing landscaping. You don’t want to plant a tree too close to your home or neighbor’s property, which may cause damage to the buildings and tree roots.
Now you’re ready to dig. Create a hole that’s twice as wide as your container and deep enough that the root ball’s soil line sits slightly above ground level.
Nourish Your New Trees & Shrubs
Your new trees and shrubs need a good home in nutrient-rich soil. When planting, blend in Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Trees and Shrubs with your native soil in a 50:50 ratio. Make sure the soil line of the root ball is slightly higher than ground level. If you have a balled-and-burlapped tree, remove all of the twine and as much of the burlap and wire cage as you can. It is especially important to clear off the top half of the rootball, to give roots room to grow. Then, start filling the hole with your soil mixture. When the hole is half-full, water the tree, then fill in the remaining soil. Finally, pull some soil away from the tree trunk to create a donut-shaped ring of soil that will act like a basin to hold water and funnel it to the tree roots, and water moderately again.
Retain Moisture with Mulch
Most new trees and shrubs will benefit from mulch, which helps conserve moisture in the soil. Using a bark-based mulch layer 3 inches of mulch on top of the soil, leaving about 1 to 2 inches of space around the trunk to prevent disease.
Watering Your New Tree or Shrub
When watering your new tree or shrub, keep in mind that water needs will be considerable at first. But since you’re planting in fall, those needs will soon taper off until spring. As your trees and shrubs are becoming established, water two or three times a week, adjusting for weather and soil condition. Go for infrequent but generous deep soakings.
Fixing Slippery Concrete Steps
Luckily, there’s no need to remove and replace your old steps if they have a problem with being too slick. There are various ways to create traction on old steps as well.
Painting concrete steps can help make them less slippery. This tends to be a temporary fix since paint does peel over time. Especially if your steps tend to freeze, painting will help only minimally, so this may not be an option for you.
2. Slip-Resistant Tape
Tape is an inexpensive, quick solution for slippery steps. The tape comes in an array of colors and is easily applied to clean concrete. The ideal temperature when applying primer and tape is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Artificial Grass Carpet
Grass carpeting is a common solution for slippery stairs. Most outdoor carpeting is resistant to color fading from the sun, and some even have small holes within that carpet that allow water to drain, making them even more effective at being slip-resistant.
4. Silica Sand
Silica sand can be used in the same way on existing concrete steps too. Again, put a second coat of sealer on after application and you will have a slip resistant finish. The downside is that it will often make your sealant turn milky or cloudy in this case.
5. Clear Grit
Clear grit resembles silica sand, except it won’t make your sealant cloudy. You can buy it in most home improvement stores and apply it just as you would the sand.
Got a 5 Gallon Bucket?
If you have that orange bucket sitting on a shelf in your garage here are some clever ways to put it to good use
No More Rusty Garden Tools
When you change the oil in your lawn mower, here’s a great way to reuse some of it. Pour a quart or so into a 5-gallon bucket filled with sand. Now store your garden tools in it. This keeps them rust free and ready for use.
Portable Tool Kit
For many electricians, a 5-gallon bucket tool kit is a constant companion. Making one is super simple. Use an awl to poke holes around the perimeter for screwdrivers and store the rest of your tools in the bucket. Everything you need is at your fingertips and easy to carry from job to job.
Spin most of the excess paint off your roller sleeve by holding the roller frame inside a bucket and hitting it with a nozzled garden hose. In seconds it’ll be nearly paint free. You’ll still have to use soap and water to finish, but this’ll give you a huge head start.
Christmas Cactus 101
• Christmas cacti flower according to light and temperature cues: to bloom, they need cool nights (around 50 degrees Fahrenheit) and more than 13 consecutive hours of uninterrupted darkness. To encourage the cactus to bloom, turn off lights at night. You also can cover the plant with a black cloth or set it in a dark closet overnight.
• Christmas cacti usually bloom naturally at the beginning of winter. Buy one a few months before the season begins.
• If you’re feeling particularly festive, string Christmas cacti or their pots with white twinkle lights during the holidays.
Keep It Alive
• Don’t leave Christmas cactus high and dry: Unlike typical cacti, this plant is actually native to the rainforest. Water it when the top inch of soil is dry, but be sure that there’s no excess pooled in the pot. Water slightly more frequently (but do not change the volume) when the plant is in flower.
• Make sure your home is well-humidified; in keeping with its tropical habitat, Christmas cacti thrive when there’s moisture in the air. (Keep this in mind if you have a fireplace or wood stove.)
• Keep Christmas cactus in bright light during the day, but be sure it doesn’t burn—a windowsill is a good place.
Space Heater Safety Tips
Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States. More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year. These fire result in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and millions of dollars in property damage.
Portable electric space heaters can be a convenient source of supplemental heat for your home in cold weather. Unfortunately, they can pose significant fire and electric shock hazards if not used properly. Fire and electrical hazards can be caused by space heaters without adequate safety features, space heaters placed near combustibles, or space heaters that are improperly plugged in.
Safety should always be a top consideration when using space heaters. Here are some tips for keeping your home safe and warm when it’s cold outside:
• Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
• Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
• Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
• Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep, and don’t let pets or children play too close to a space heater.
• Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes.
• Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
• Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.
• Locate space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard.
• Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
• Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
• Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.
Consider a Heated Walkway
What You Need to Know
• Best time to install is from late spring to late fall
• Can be installed under concrete, asphalt or pavers
• Can be installed on walkways, porches, ramps, stairs, patios and driveways
• Different systems and controls are available depending on your needs
First off, it’s important to know the best time to install a snow-melting system. Although it’s usually top of mind when we get the first snow of the season, snow-melting systems must be installed before the ground freezes. That means the best timing is between late spring and late fall.
Electric snow-melting systems can be installed under concrete, asphalt and in mortar under pavers. It’s important to note that electric heating elements can withstand the temperature of hot asphalt because most hydronic (hot water pumping through plastic tubing) systems cannot. They can be used to melt snow and ice on walkways, porches, ramps, patios, driveways and even stairs. Just identify the riskiest area for slip-and-fall accidents and there’s a solution available.
Snow-melting systems are available in mat or cable formats, and there are options available for controllers.
Generally, it costs about $10 per square foot for a paver walkway; asphalt costs between $3 and $12 per square foot; and concrete costs between $6 and $10 per square foot. Calculating the cost of the walkway and the cost of the snow-melting system will give you a pretty good estimate of the total cost of your heated walkway.
7 Steps to Get Ready For a Power Outage
1. Get your flashlights ready. Put flashlights near each family member’s bed and in other key spots such as in your kitchen and living room. Also you can stock up on light sticks (glow sticks) and candles (remember matches.)
2. Restock your emergency supply kit as well as your food and water supplies. Ensure your food is not out of date and that you have enough food and water for everyone in your family for a few days. If your kids love drinking milk, consider getting some UHT long shelf life milk. If it isn’t opened, it has a typical unrefrigerated shelf life of six to nine months.
3. Use a surge protector on your power supply to computers. If you know a storm is coming, then unplug computers.
4. Purchase a few portable device chargers and keep them charged. Even short power outages can be a real hassle if your mobile phone runs out of power.
5. Be sure to have enough warm blankets to keep everyone in the family warm.
6. Always keep your car’s gas tank full. If your local area loses power, you can’t buy gas because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
7. Have a generator ready to help you power your freezer and keep other key appliances such as sump pumps running.
Unfortunately, power outages do happen. But with a little preparation, you can reduce the impact on your family and your home.
We hope these tips help you this winter.