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So I have been a home owner for 6 years…isn’t that crazy how time flies. And since I bought this home, the number 1 thing I said I needed to do is stain my deck.
You see my deck is amazing – just an atrocious red color. Plus, I added an addition a couple of years ago that didn’t match. Oh, I tried to ignore it…but you can see in the picture…it was like Clifford, the Big Red Dog:
So I put my mind to it. Here is how I stained my deck – 1,4oo square feet of it.
Nine Steps to Staining Your Deck:
- Create a plan – with the handy dandy advice from my dad.
- The Plan- wash deck, dry deck, stain deck – seems simple enough–oh no.
- Spray and scrub your deck – 2 reasons to clean your deck before staining – 1- you need to remove the mold and mildew, 2 – the dirt must be removed so the stain will adhere to the deck surface. You can powercwash or you can find several deck washes at Lowes/Home Depot – you will need a little sprayer and a scrub brush. SUPER Important.
- Dry deck for 48 hours at least
- Enlist help – I asked my family if they would come help – I called it a deck staining party…and provided lunch, snacks and festive beverages. Plus, co-blogger Chris, watched my dog. They graciously helped. Help is important…doing it by myself would have been miserable.
- Buy all staining materials – I bought a couple of rollers with extensions, a mini roller, several paint pans, gloves, 2 large brushes and a small one, oh and the stain.
- Pick the right kind of stain – my big red deck wasn’t going to be covered with a semi-transparent stain, so I had to go with a solid. Not what I would have picked, but I refused to sand down the whole deck. I labored over the color – I picked a blue, grey. I figured since I couldn’t go natural, why try. It felt so permanent. In the end, it was fine, beautiful actually.
- Get to work – the four of us stained for 4 hours straight…start at the top and work your way down…in case of spillage. Then my dad came over to finish the next day for a few hours.
- Let dry and touch up as needed.
That’s it. A new and improved deck….that zen-like experience in my backyard oasis is complete.
Remember that cold, cold December we had? It didn’t matter. My October transplants of kale, cabbage, collards and leeks are great food right now, chocked full of flavor and vitamins. I just harvested a batch for one of my famous greens pies.
But you have to plan ahead, especially for a leek crop. Leek transplants are almost impossible to find in garden centers. I always have to start my own.
Below is a recent photo of next spring’s leek crop growing from seed on my dinning room table.
I’ll transplant these seedlings to the garden in late summer or fall. Next spring–fresh leeks–so much better than those woody things that show up at the grocery store. And much, much cheaper too. Leeks are pricey.
Don’t do seeds? Here’s a short cut. Next New Year look for bundles of “baby leeks” in the produce section of up-scale grocery stores. Take them home, and plant like transplants in your garden. I had leeks galore using this method one year. Give it a try. You’ll be hooked on homegrown leeks like I am…
Of all the wonderful shrubs that grow and bloom in North Carolina gardens (and there are many) the Sasanqua Camellias have to be my favorite.
They bloom in fall, bringing color to my Apex woods from September to the hard freezes of December.
They are shade-loving, strong, and drought tolerant once established.
They are good blenders–open, lax and more at home in a woodland setting than their rather formal spring blooming cousins–Camellia japonica.
Sasanqua Camellia are evergreen–always a plus if you have neighbors or live in a deciduous forest.
Finally, I love the way Sasanqua Camellias smell–woodsy and clean–kind of like kicking your feet through newly fallen leaves, only sweeter.
Five Sasanqua varieties are blooming in my garden this week. All but one came from the fabulous Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill. My two favorites are Camellia Forest introductions: (They are world-famous camellia breeders by the way)
Favorite Number 1) Midnight lover–the reddest of the sasanquas. I can see the blooms clearly from my kitchen window even though it’s planted deep in the woods–110 feet away from the house.
Favorite number 2) William Lanier Hunt–a huge, trouble-free shrub that covers itself with hundreds of double rose-colored blooms around the time of my mother’s birthday in late Nov. Like I told blog-partner Melissa at the Camellia Forest open house last spring–”Wm Lanier Hunt–You should grow that”.
Sasanqua Camellias–give them a try.
Bulb update: My order from Tera Ceia Farms arrived this week. Here’s how I’m storing my bulbs until planting time next month–
Find a cool, dry spot–this is my shady screen porch table. Get the bulbs out of the bags and lay them out in a single layer. Now, go ahead and stock up on some BULBTONE–organic plant food for bulbs. Your grandma may have used bone meal but I’m told that the bones aren’t what they used to be. Blubtone is a better option. I’ve used it for years with good results.
I heart the rain. I want to thank all of you who danced around a jug of water like I did after my rain dance post. Bravo! Let’s remember this for the next time we need rain.
I also was able to do some massive clean up before the rains came this weekend. The cooler temperatures inspired me to get out and dig. So check out my vegetable garden clean up video to inspire your weekend plans.
Add these three things to your fall vegetable garden prep list:
1)Dig up and compost ragged summer vegetables
2)Prepare the soil for the fall crop. Till or shovel at least 6 inches deep. Add in new soil, compost, fertilizer mix. I usually do half soil and half compost. I follow the directions on the slow release fertilizer. I like to mix it up in my Wheel burrow like a cake and dump it into my vegetable frames.
3)Make your list and shop for seeds to plant. I am going for some greens–collard, turnip, Kale, cabbage. I am going to try beets again, although my crop this year totally fizzled. And I will triple my planting of dill and cilantro. I didn’t have enough this year at all.
When I give tomato plants to kids, I always give them cherry tomatoes. They grow and grow, produce a ton of fruit and don’t have many problems.
And of all the cherry tomatoes I have grown–Sweet Chelsea is the best. The fruit is big, the plants, healthy, and trouble-free. The leaves are even greener than my other tomato plants. And Sweet Chelsea plants grow and grow–giving me a bowl full of big- flavor tomatoes every 2 or three days.
That’s a lot of tomatoes. But I can use them all. I love to slow roast these lovely tomatoes and enjoy them all year round.
Cherry tomatoes are good candidates for roasting. They have thin skins and not much water inside. Here’s how I cook my Sweet Chelsea tomatoes and turn them into my favorite Summer Tomato Jam.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Wash tomatoes and drain them dry on a kitchen towel
- Cut each tomato in half. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, 1 tsp sugar
- Cover a cookie sheet with foil, then spray with cooking spray
- Place tomato halves cut side up and roast until cooked but not crispy=about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
- Cool and cover with olive oil (and spices if you like. Oregano is nice.) then refrigerate or freeze for later.
I use these in pasta, on pizza or as topping for crackers and toast. The flavor is great. People rave.
For Sweet Chelsea seed, go to Superseed.com. Plant them indoors mid–March. The rest is easy. Or pick up some extra plants at my tomato party next year. There are always extra Sweet Chelsea plants to share.