Author Archives: Joe Bent

What size portable generator do I need?

What size portable generator do I need? Well, this is a very important question to ask yourself before making any purchase. It is true that the market holds many portable generators distinguished by their size, color, quality, and weight. But if you are looking for a portable generator, then the size is one important factor that you should consider first. The best portable generators are not the smallest in the market, but those that are lightweight and have a capacity of producing enough power to cater for all your indoor and outdoor needs without any risk of failure. Continue reading

How to Use a Wood Router for Beginners

Wood routers are one of the best tools to use especially if you are really familiar with hardware works. For experts, wood routers are very effective and efficient to use but for beginners, it is another unfamiliar tool from the outer space. So let’s learn the basics about wood routers. Continue reading

Porter Cable C2002 WK Air Compressor Review

Until recently, I was sentenced to hearing my wife’s objections (suggestions?) regarding repairing that old fence of ours. And I was too lazy (I prefer scared) to go to the store and buy us an air compressor. The problem was that I didn’t know which one to buy and I didn’t want to spend my money on some big, noisy compressors that are too hard to handle and even harder to clean after them. I can imagine how desperate I looked when the store clerk approached me and said, “Don’t worry, we got you covered.” And he pointed at Porter Cable C2002 WK Air Compressor. That was a sign!
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Black and Decker LHT2220B Hedge Trimmer Review

The great way with which you will be able to fulfill your work is through the best hedge trimmer. From the start to finish, the cordless hedge trimmer is very powerful and gives 40% less vibration with the full amount of comfort that comes along with a rechargeable battery. It can give out the trimming activities with the powerful experience.

boxwood

Soft And Secure Gripping. The grip should be very secure and safe that will enhance the supremacy and gives out a comfortable use. The safety of the gripping too facilitates the all together supreme experience.

Fast Cutting Of The Branches. With this product you can from small to long branches without any kind of hassle or trouble. You can also create a lot of designs while trimming with this perfect solution.

Dual Battery Life. What makes a trimmer a good one is that it should have a battery life which is very durable and long lasting. The battery life with this product is dual in nature. As far as the other products life is concerned one should be able to get positive aspects from it and it is one of the prime reasons that often compel the customer to buy the product.

Comfortable. Another good feature of the product is that it is very comfortable to use and can be managed very conveniently.

Pros and Cons

  • Safe To Use: Black and Decker LHT2220 22 is primarily a product which is quite safe to use and is also full of security and feasibility. It offers you with the great amount of exposure and is also very secure.
  • Powerful To Use: The product is very powerful to use and can be very easily delivers efficient operations with the help of the salient features that gives you the essential productivity.
  • Versatile: The product cuts the variety of branches with different shapes and sizes. The flexibility which is provided by these machines is really full of impact and gives amazing impact.
  • 40% Less Vibration: The vibration of the product as compared with other products is quite less and gives you a very refines productivity as well as supreme affinity.

 

The disadvantage of Black and Decker LHT2220 22 is that the lights of the product constantly blinks to red as soon as the products get charged. This can consume the battery, and apart from it, you are able to get the best customer satisfaction programmed.

The Black and Decker LHT2220 22 is a special hedge trimmer that will enhance the productivity and operations of the hedges that can at times make your hedges very prim and proper. The safety and convenient feature that will enable you with the best hope to give your product a very promising one. It also caters to varied kind of branches and hues.

Gardeners Question and Answer: Spuds, Carrot, Soil.

Spuds and Slugs

Question: I have had a very bad crop of Valor’ main crop potatoes. I grow this variety for their resistance to blight, scab and eel worm but my crop has been decimated by slogs. Can you recommend a variety that has the same resistance to all the above? Any advice would he very welcome.

Answer: I wish I could. Slug resistance is not often given in the descriptions (nor attained in the field). It is possible to find varieties even more susceptible such as ‘Cara’ and ‘Mans Piper’. The renowned horticulturalist Lawrence Hills reckoned ‘Estima’. British Queen’ and ‘Vanessa’ had some dug resistance; however, these do not score highly against the other problems. You will generally find early sorts can be dug and removed before a slog problem gets damaging; second earlies suffer in wet years and main crops nearly always suffer Slug control n possible but expensive if you apply the commercial nematodes Trapping is cheaper; hollowed-out courgettes, fruits, old potatoes and root vegetables, buttered cabbage leaves and even cat food will all attract slugs and can be policed at night.

potatoes

Just visiting at night with a torch will usually give a good catch. I use strips of carpet between beds to keep in moisture and suppress weeds and these also can be rolled back to reveal many concealing slugs during the day. Slug pubs of beer, milk, fruit juice also trap many You may also lure an increasing crop with chips of old potatoes fit into the soil nearby (from when the flowers blossom), scrutinizing twice weekly.

It’s All About Soil

Question: How can I stop multi-roots on my parsnips? It is a new plot and this is the first year of growing parsnips and only the second year of it being a vegetable patch. I dug n bagged farm manure and 6X compost and the soil looked quite good but the result did not look good at all. Potatoes, runner beans and dwarf beans all did wed.

Answer: Growing good carrots and parsnips is not easy unless you have perfect soil for them but let’s start with the manure. Look up the growing of roots and you’ll always be told to opt for a bed of rich, light soil, free from stones and flints and, crucially, one that was manured for the previous growing season. Newly manured ground is recognized for causing forking however you can add a general purpose fertiliser before sowing. My garden soil is basically day with flints, so I have to choose my bed carefully as some areas of the kitchen garden have better soil than others. Forking will occur if the roots hit stones or lumps of clay too solid to penetrate. I keep meaning to create some raised beds, so I can fill them with lighter soil and make life a bit easier for these fussy roots.

Why Did My Carots Go Curly?

carrot

Question: Owing to the dreadful spring and summer in this part of the world my carrots were not growing very well, so for the first time ever I bought some carrot plug plants from a largo reputable garden centre. There was no variety label on them, just ‘carrots’. They grow very wall. Unfortunately, when I harvested them they were all fat and short with multi-twisted fingers and were not viable to use. Can you tell me what went wrong as they were grown in a raised bed with no stones to split them? The ones I sowed myself were fine.

Answer: I ‘m not a terrific lover of raising root crops like carrots in pots because observation and time have to be place on. Several seeds are usually sown per pot so they’ll develop as a small dump. It must be hard for a garden centre to monitor this and I imagine the roots had begun to circle the pot. You could have sown at home into the longer sort of 9 cm pots placed in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame where it would be easy to keep an eye on root development. However, you have a raised bed. Why not make a plastic covered ‘lid’ to fit over the bed? Then you can warm the soil for direct sowings and keep the cover on to protect the seedlings from wet. Propping up one side would provide ventilation should the sun come out.

 

Back to Nature

Jane Griffiths converted her chlorine pool into a natural wetland, using plants to filter and clean the water.

water-lilies

When we moved into our house, there was a sparkling blue pool. After the first summer storm, it instantly turned green. So began an ongoing battle involving pool testers and endless visits to the pool shop to have the water assessed, which usually resulted in adding chemicals with scary warnings.

When the pipes developed yet another leak, we covered it up and there it remained for three or four years. Until Tosca arrived.

A cute package of fur that was white, who shortly spotted the pup-sized puddle in the centre of the pool covering. It took her about two seconds to bite on her way through the netting. It was very cute while she was a pup – but we had visions of Tosca drowning and 30kg of fully grown German shepherd began wearing the edges of the cover.

The pool was uncovered by us immediately. And the thought of an all-natural pool began to germinate.

How a Wetland Pool Functions

hotel-swimming-pool

Water is circulated by means of a pump between the swimming area of a wetland and the pool. The wetland with creatures, its plants and substrate, filters the water, returning it. The water needs to circulate constantly to keep beneficial organisms alive, but as a lower wattage pump than that of a swimming pool does this, much less electricity is used and all compounds that are dangerous are eliminated.

The Design

Our pool was a standard rectangle, a thing I’ve never liked, as all the shapes in my garden are natural and flowing. Instead of dividing the pool (the way most conversions are done) I wanted a deep splash pool inspired by rock pools with a wide step for lounging in the water and flat rocks to bask on. It was a daunting task and I decided to call in an expert. Architect Anthony Philbrick of wetland POOLS built his first wetland pool in 2007 for his four-year-old daughter. He has since built more than 200 wetland pools, perfecting the art of using nature to purify the water. With his imaginative architect brain, he jumped at the opportunity to build something different.

He suggested an elliptically-shaped pool rising out of the shallow end with a seat running around the inside. Water would flow from the ellipse, over a waterfall and into the wetland, which would lie in the remaining area of the pool. This would completely change the shape of the old pool resulting in a new and exciting space.

How We Did

water

The pool was emptied, all cracks were fixed and the surface sealed. In the shallow end, the outer walls of the ellipse were built using bricks with the inner step made with concrete and bricks. In its centre, the ellipse is 1,8m deep, ideal for dunking. It was plastered, sealed and the exterior clad in Latitude Tile & Decor Autumn cladding to give the impression of a stacked stone pool rising out of the water. Larger pieces of the same stone were laid on top of the ellipse.

Gravel was added to one-half of the remaining area of the existing pool. Using sand bags filled with gravel, a bank was built to retain the gravel on one side. This produced different levels ranging from the original depth of the deep end to a few centimetres deep, providing environments for various wetland plants.

Suction pipes were laid under the gravel and a 200W high-flow submersible pump was installed inside a barrel and buried just under the gravel. This sucks the water through the wetland and pumps the clean water into the ellipse in a continual cycle. Stepping stones, plants and fish were added.

The Result

On the very first evening after we filled the pool, a frog began croaking, the first I have ever heard in my garden. Although the water was murky in the beginning, within a few weeks it cleared. After a month, it was crystal clear and has remained so ever since. The only maintenance required is to trim back the plants, occasionally vacuum the swimming area and top up the water.

Although we swim far more often than before, it’s become much more than a swimming pool. Everyday birds splash in the pool or use the papyrus fronds to make nests. Damselflies and dragonflies dart above the surface and bees sip water from the moist rocks. In addition to the ever-changing textures and colours of the wetland plants, I’m now experimenting with edible water plants.

A previously sterile area of my garden has been revitalised by reconnecting it to nature. And Tosca now has a dog-sized pool to play in.

Useful advices for gardeners

Zinnias

flowers

Zinnias are back in fashion and there are many new cultivars and hybrids. Some arc tall, others small and neat. They have single, double and even cactus-type flowers in colours you’ll find in a Persian carpet. Height: 15-90cm.

GROWING TIPS: Plant them in full sun. They’ll tolerate dry periods and heat. Don’t plant them too close together to reduce possible outbreaks of mildew. Deadhead regularly.

PROPAGATION: Grow them from seed.

MAKE THE MOST OF THEM: In borders and flower beds: use the smaller cultivars as edging or in containers and window boxes.

GOOD COMPANIONS: Agastache, sunflowers, cosmos, penstemon and bedding dahlias.

Diascia (Twinspur)

nature

This dainty, indigenous spreading perennial, with its abundant upright spikes of orchid-like flowers, has many cultivars and now comes in colours like strawberry, coral, apricot and red. Height: 35em.

GROWING TIPS: A sunny position in well-drained, fertile soil is best. Deadhead to stimulate reflowering, removing only the flower heads. Don’t overwater during hot spells in summer.

PROPAGATION: Buy pot-grown plants from the nursery.

MAKE THE MOST OF THEM: As a filler in garden beds and in rockeries (they love growing tucked in between rocks), in window boxes, hanging baskets and containers.

GOOD COMPANIONS: Verbena, ivy-leafed pelargoniums, sun-tolerant coleus and portulaca.

 

Helenium autumnale(Common Sneezeweed)

helenium

There’s nothing common about these stunning, free-flowering herbaceous perennials. They’re covered in brilliant red, yellow, orange, gold and bronze flowers for 8-12 weeks from late summer into autumn. They make good cut flowers. Height: 1 – 1.3m.

GROWING TIPS: Plant them in full sun in rich well-drained but most earth; they want a regular supply of water. They’re freeze-tolerant, bushy, compact plants that don’t need support. Deadhead consistently and cut them back in February or January change flowering.

PROPAGATION: Grow them from seed or division in spring and autumn.

MAKE THE MOST OF THEM: Ideal for autumn borders, they add colour to meadow and cottage gardens, wild grass gardens and naturalised areas or in seasonally damp places.

GOOD COMPANIONS: Phygelius spp. (river bells) and Lobelia cardinalis which have an upright growth habit. Grey Juncus edge for a foliage contrast, heuchera, for their colourful leaves, and ornamental grasses.

 

Capsicum

Capsicum

The mix of colours of these compact, shrubby chilli bushes is simply glorious and adds a totally new dimension to autumn planting combinations. “Although edible, they’re grown mainly as an ornamental. I’ve tasted one and would say it’s slightly hotter than a jalapeino,” says Grant Muller of Seeds for Africa.

Height: 20cm.

GROWING TIPS: Plant them in full sun in fertile well-composted soil. They tolerate high temperatures, but they’re tender, so treat them as an annual in frost zones.

PROPAGATION: They grow quickly and easily from seed.

MAKE THE MOST OF THEM: In pots, window boxes and containers on a sunny patio or as a feature plant in a rockery or in the border of a flower bed.

GOOD COMPANIONS: Strawflowers, portulaca and torenia, Bidens ‘Yellow’ groundcover, cosmos and the Osteospermum Flower Power series.

 

Echinacea

Echinacea

The flowers of the new cultivars are held both in size and form and come in shades of yellow, orange, red, pink and cream. The prominent cones in the centre of each flower make a welcome addition to the winter garden. Height: 60cm.

GROWING TIPS: Coneflowers love sun, but will tolerate some shade and like well-drained, but water-retentive soil. They’re frost hardy and can take periodic dry spells. Don’t overfeed and keep them well mulched. Although deadheading prolongs flowering, leave some flowers on the plants in late autumn to produce seed heads for winter interest.

PROPAGATION: From seed: don’t cover, just press into the soil. Dividing clusters have a rejuvenating effect.

MAKE THE MOST OF THEM: Use bold clumps to make a statement in beds and herbaceous borders. They also look good in Mediterranean landscapes, meadow, grass and wild gardens, especially with ornamental grasses.

GOOD COMPANIONS: Team coneflowers with flat-topped achilleas, tall goldenrod, the new dig Alexis hybrids, vetbascums, late-summer annuals like petunias, bold daylilies in complementary colours and foliage plants like Nandina Domestica ‘Pygmaea’.

 

How To Heat A Pool With A Heater

Swimming pools are important recreational facilities both for domestic and commercial use. They, therefore, need to be maintained and installed with all equipment that is deemed necessary for them. Several methods can be used to heat you pool. Every method has its strengths and weaknesses. While making a decision on which method to use for heating your pool, all costs, and benefits of every method should be put into consideration.

underwater

The heating method of the pool should be the most appropriate. The method should be in a position to heat the pool water at the required rate and up to the needed heat level so that it can serve the purpose either domestically or commercially. The power controller/owner should thus make a wise decision on the method to be used in heating up the pool subject to the need. This article discusses several heating options that can be used to heat a pool together with their strengths and weakness.

Electric resistance heaters, to begin with, require electric current to heat the pool. Heat is applied to a metal resistor that serves as the heating element. It is housed in an assembly housing in such a way that water passes through the housing and gets heated by the metal resistor as it moves out through the other end. The pool heaters are mostly used with spas and small pools. They are beneficial in that they are cheap to acquire. They do not rely on air temperature to heat. They are environmentally friendly since they do cause air pollution and, they require a small space. However, they consume large amounts of current thus expensive to operate.

Recommend to read: Top 5 Best Pool Heater Reviews

The second option for swimming pool heaters is the gas heater. They have been used largely in the past. They have a combustion chamber in which copper coils, through which pool water is run. As the water is passed through the coils inside the combustion chamber, it gets heated. The gas burns to heat the coils inside which the pool water is flowing. sunglassesThe water is then directed back to the pool. The advantages of this method are that the heaters are relatively cheap to purchase. Gas heaters take a short time to heat the pool. Their operation is independent of air temperature. However, gas heaters have proved to be expensive due to the increased gas prices. They do not last for long, approximately five years. Besides, they are not environmental friendly.

Solar pool heaters are the next option that can be considered. The heating system uses solar collectors that are mounted on nearby roofs. Pipes are used to connecting the pool water to the collectors having a pipe to take water to the collector and another one to take heated water back to the pool. Water gets heated up as it moves through the collectors. The advantages of this method are after installation; the system does not have additional costs to operate. They are environmentally friendly. They systems are long lasting, 25 years on average. The system can as well be used to cool pool water. However, the system as expensive to buy. The systems are dependent on the availability and strength of sunlight. Also, the heating process is slow.

Another way to that can be used to heat your pool is the water source heat pumps. Water from a large source enters the unit as and heats the cold liquid in the evaporator coil. The heated liquid, now hot gas passes and moves to the compressor, where the pool water passes. The water passes over the coil where it acquires the heat in it, exits the unit as warm water, and flows back to the pool. On the other end, water from the source is directed back to the source. The two flows continue until the pool water is heated. The method is cheap to maintain and can last up to about ten years. The system is as well environmental friendly. The system, however, is expensive to install since its prices are high, and it heats the pool water slowly.

The water source can alternatively use air where, instead of using water from a source, air is drawn from the environment that is used to heat the cold liquid in the evaporator coil. The system then proceeds as the water source heat pump as explained above. The two systems use the same technology. They may be ranked the same, other factors constant.

In conclusion, the choice of the heating system depends on om the available resources, pool owner preferences, pool size, heating speed required, just to mention a few. All factors should thus be scrutinized before one can settle on a given method of heating the pool.

 

Wild about grasses

grass

Strap-like leaves that sway in the slightest breeze and the variety of attractive forms are two of the reasons ornamental grasses are so popular.

Ornamental grasses include both true grasses and plants with a grass-like appearance such as indigenous ratios, water-loving sedges (cyperus) and rushes (Juncus), plants in the lily family like Ophiopogon spp. (better known as mondo grass) and Liriope spp. Most are perennial and either clump or spread.

Clumping grasses gradually increase in diameter and arc easy to contain while creeping grasses spread by means of rhizomes. Vigorous varieties should be kept under control by planting them in containers sunk in the ground or just cut back when necessary. Whichever type you prefer, grasses will give your garden a lush, textured feel.

WHY PLANT THEM

• They’re versatile, grow virtually anywhere and are suited to all types of landscapes including cottage, water-wise and contemporary surroundings.

• They’re a quick and easy way to fill up spaces.

• They sway, nod and ripple in the slightest breeze, making a restful, rustling sound.

• The wide variation in form will give your garden structure. Choose from elegant dumps with vertical spikes, willowy fountains, compact domes or spiky tussocks. Add interest with smooth, sandpapery,  felt-like or corrugated textures.

• Variety in size means they can be used as groundcovers, tall screening plants and eye-catching local points.

• Their long strap-like leaves provide a contrast to broad-leafed shrubs and perennials.

• They’re low maintenance and virtually disease and pest free.

• Use them for year-round colour in your garden. Apart from shades of green, some like Japanese blood grass (Imperata  cylindrica ‘Rubra’), have red leaves, others yellow or gold, while many arc steel grey or silver. Vertically and horizontally striped varieties also add interest.

• Their attractive seed heads look beautiful in late summer and autumn. Natal red top (Melinis repens) is an indigenous favourite.

• Many attract wildlife. Birds feed on the seeds (Setaria megaphylls) with its corrugated leaves is a good seed producer) and use the grass for nesting while several are hosts to butterfly larvae.

grass

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONES

With new forms every year being released, the best method to narrow your alternative down will be to consider how, where and why you’d like to include them in your landscape.

• Match the plants to your climate zone, the soil in your garden and the position you’ll plant them in.

• Choose plant sizes to fit your setting.

• Ensure they’ll create the effect you have in mind, whether it’s a meadow or cottage-garden look or something more dramatic and modern.

• Decide whether to plant them massed in natural curves and drifts for a loose, informal look, or singly, in groups or even as matching pairs for a local point.

 

ALIEN ALERT

Numerous grasses like common pampas grass, fountain grass (Pennisetum) and Stipa terniisima syn. Nassella tenuissima are stated invaders. Choose indigenous Aristida junciformis or Ngongoni three -awn grass instead.

GROWING TIPS

• Take into account that some grasses are evergreen and look good for most of the year. Others come into their own in late summer with attractive flower heads and seed heads and coloured leases in autumn. Most of the deciduous types die back in winter and can look a hit tatty. If this is a problem, plant them in between evergreen shrubs – you can simply cut back dead leaves and the shrubs will hide them.

• Regular feeding and watering ensures that plants grow well and look healthy.

New House

Carved out of a piece of veld, this country garden features organic lines and a multitude of grasses.

In mid-2013, before their new house was built, Dawie and Marika Swart approached landscape designer Grant Gove and requested him to turn their bare “plot of veld” in an estate in Gauteng into an appealing garden that would be in keeping with the natural environment.

bullerbu

They had in mind open spaces where the children could play, surrounded by beds of plants that would provide texture, colour and screening that tied in with the style of the house.

«The house can be described as a contemporary farmhouse,» explains Grant. “To complement it, the design is quite organic with large swathes of mixed plantings and hard landscaping elements like boulders, slate walkways, and cladding.”

Male things 

For Dawie, the driveway was a very important aspect and he was quite specific about how it should look. “I really like the farm style of the gravel roads and driveways in the area and this is what I wanted here,” he says. To satisfy his request a sandstone-coloured aggregate which gives a natural looking surface was laid. “It creates a warm, welcoming first impression and sets the tone for what’s to come,” explains Grant.

cart

As the garden had to flow harmoniously from the house, once the walls and roof were up, FSG Landscaping Group started establishing the levels specified by Grant. This was fairly challenging as the site sloped down to a small perennial stream. “I was concerned when Grant mentioned how much soil would be needed, but the results were well worth it,” says Dawie.

“We brought in 1 000m’ each of filling and topsoil,” Grant explains. “Some big trees and large boulders were craned into specific positions to give a sense of perspective and structure while 20 trees were hauled in using old-fashioned muscle and sweat. All this had to be done before the levelling was complete.”

Garden

Blair Atholl doesn’t permit walls between properties, so Grant used raised soil berms and wooden fencing to add and for solitude farm-style authenticity. Eventually, it was time to lay the Cynodon turf (the only lawn permitted on the estate) and plant the annuals, perennials, ornamental grasses and shrubs in tilled, compost-enriched soil.

Grant believes a variety of grasses such as Aristida junciforms and Miscanthus Sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ add softness and texture to a garden and he combined these with Kniphofia praecox, achillea, Scabiosa columbaria and gaura. A fully-automated irrigation System controls water usage.

“I just love our new garden,” says Marika. ‘There’s plenty of space for guests and the children to play in. On top of that, there’s always something coming into bloom or interesting to draw your eye.”