How to Stamp Concrete

If you want to know how to stamp concrete, let me start by saying that this is a skilled trade. Most concrete contractors don’t know how to do it correctly. It requires a whole different set of knowledge and skills aside from normal placing and finishing of concrete. I would never recommend attempting a stamping project on a large scale without any previous experience. The most any do-it-youselfer should attempt at once is 50-100 sq ft. This is assuming you’ve done thorough planning and preparation.

So what makes it difficult relative to normal concrete finishing? In the construction industry, concrete is one of the few perishable materials. Once you add the water, there is a small window in which to place and finish concrete. This window ranges from several minutes to several hours. But when it hardens, there’s no reversing it and any mistakes made during the process are usually costly to fix.

During the process of placing and finishing concrete, things can happen such as accidentally dropping a tool on it or stumbling and stepping on it. Those are usually no big deal. Just rub it out and broom it again. With stamped concrete, after the release agent is applied, there’s no rubbing out mistakes.

Release agent comes in either a liquid or powder form and is applied just before the actual stamping begins. It keeps the stamp mats from sticking to the cement. When the release is down, any marks or impressions made are there to stay. If you try to rub them out you will cause permanent discoloration and possibly scaling. You must be careful and precise on where you place the stamp mats. There’s no starting over.

Having the knowledge and “know how” to place and pour regular concrete is a crucial prerequisite for doing quality stamp work on a large scale. It is possible to get by without it on a small slab. The smaller the amount of concrete pour means the quicker you can place it, which allows more time work with it and finish it.

Knowing how to stamp concrete is a “learn as you go” process. The key to a successful job is planning and preparation. Try a small slab first. If you’re doing a patio, break it down into smaller sections and do it one piece at a time. Have plenty of help. Find the quickest way to get the concrete where in needs to go, whether it’s pouring right from the truck, using a buggy, or wheelbarrow, etc. The faster you get the concrete down, the easier it will be to make a nice finish.

Hort Report – by Leslie Crawford

October is one of our busiest months in the garden. The weather has cooled down, making garden time pleasant again, and days are still long enough to enjoy some afternoon time outside. We need to continue on from September’s work to get our gardens cleaned up and planted.

Garden Prep:

A thorough garden cleanout is a good way to look things over. It also helps to reduce insect problems because they won’t have plant debris to nibble on. After you clean out, turn the soil and continue to be aggressive about weeding. Add composted material or planting mix and all-purpose plant food and turn the soil again to dig in deep.

Watering:

  • Water your roses with 1 inch of water twice a week unless it rains.
  • Plants in the ground need deep watering. Plants in containers need frequent watering.

Fertilizing:

  • Fertilize your tropical plants for the last time, only if they really need it.
  • Your houseplants would love a dose of fertilizer now which will hold them until early next year.

Pest Control:

  • Watch for aphids and whitefly. As the weather cools down, these pests can become more problematic in the garden. Washing your plants down with water will help control them, or use an insecticidal soap.
  • The fungus that causes petal blight in azaleas and camellias over-winters in fallen flowers, leaves, and old mulch. To decrease the chances of blight remove all the debris under the plants and apply new mulch.

Pruning:

  • Geraniums: To encourage growth during the winter cut back your geraniums by half. Make straight cuts 1/4 to 1/2 inch above joints leaving several healthy leaves on all branches.
  • Look over your trees now and hire a competent tree trimmer to lace and trim heavy branches before winter storms come.

Planting:

  • This is the time to plant cool season flowers, annuals and perennials, and vegetables. This is also a great time to plant trees and shrubs so they can grow a good, strong root system for the coming year’s bloom without having to go through the stress of the summer heat. It is NOT the time for subtropicals or bareroot plants. Look over native plants when you are shopping at your local nursery.
  • If you haven’t planted your early sweet peas for a Christmas bloom yet, it’s time NOW! Look for “early blooming” varieties. Spring and Summer flowering types won’t bloom until the days are more than 12 hours long. Soak your seeds overnight before planting. Also, set your climbing poles now so you don’t damage the plant roots after they have established themselves.
  • Plant bulbs now for blooms as early as February. Store your bulbs in a cool, dark area until you are ready to plant. They suffer when they are exposed to light. Freesias are always so satisfying because they are beautiful and smell so nice. Plant them in sunny areas of your garden. They are great in containers, also. Once they establish themselves in your garden, they will come up year after year. Watch for Tecolote hybrids which are so colorful and the most fragrant. The daffodil is another great bulb that is easy to grow and many varieties will naturalize in our local gardens. Groupings of daffodils are always spectacular and such a treat to have in your garden in the spring.
  •  Paperwhites in water are fun and easy to make. What a beautiful treat at the holidays, and a perfect hostess gift. You can start assembling these now by putting the bulbs in bowls, surrounded with pebbles. Put away in a cool dark place WITHOUT water for the time being. Starting in November, if you want to have ongoing paperwhites in bloom, add water to a new bowl every two weeks and keep them in the dark cool place until they are pretty well established with growth. When you bring them out into the light and the warmth of the house they will come into bloom very quickly.

Flowers From Seed – These can be planted anytime this month: African daisy, Alyssum, Bachelor button, Bells of Ireland, Calendula, California poppy, Candytuft, Canterbury bell, Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Cineraria, Clarkia, Columbine, Delphinium, Forget-me-not, Foxglove, Gerbera daisy, Hollyhock, Iceland poppy, Larkspur, Nicotiana, Pansy, Phlox, Pink, Scabiosa, Shasta daisy, Snapdragon, Stock, Sweet pea, Sweet William, Verbena, Viola, Wildflowers

Flowers From Bedding Plants: African daisy, Alyssum, Calendula, English daisy, English primroses, Gerbera daisy, Iceland poppy, Pansy, Penstemon, Primula Snapdragon, Stock, Viola

Vegetables: Beets, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Oriental greens, Peas, Potatoes, Radishes, Spinach, Sugar snap peas, sweet peas, Turnips

Food for Thought: When planning your fall garden remember that the angle of the sun changes from spring-summer to fall-winter. Areas of the garden that were in full sunlight during the summer may be in partial or full shade during the fall and winter.

Okay, that’s enough information to keep you busy for awhile. Now, go get dirty and have fun!!!

Master Gardeners Will Accept Applications For The First Time In Two Years

Dedicated gardeners, who are willing to volunteer in exchange for expert training, can apply for a series of classes which will begin in January. Applications will be provided at an orientation meeting on Tuesday, September 1 from 10 am to noon in the Balboa Park War Memorial building. To receive a letter with directions to the meeting site visit www.mastergardenerssandiego.org and add your name to the mailing list or call the MG office at 858-694-2860 on week days from 9 am to 3 pm.

Don’t be put off by the title. Master Gardener doesn’t mean genius gardener. MGs are equal parts experienced gardener, generous volunteer and lifelong learner. Membership introduces you to some 200 folks with a passion for plants for sure but not every plant. What you don’t know about succulents for example, another knowledgeable member of the group will and will be glad to share. Through the training course, monthly meetings and volunteer activities, you get to rub shoulders with friends in San Diego’s enthusiastic and growing gardening community. You become part of the local MG Association, now more than 25 years old, and in the process you will have a lot of fun. Interested? You need to submit an application that details your gardening and volunteer experience. A group of current Master Gardeners then interviews candidates to select those invited to join.

If you are invited and accept, you will begin a training program Jan. 5 of classes that meet from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm every Tuesday through June 15. Topics range from basic botany to citrus culture and pest control. Class instruction is free but there is a $180 materials fee. In case you are wondering, no you don’t have to know plant Latin and yes, there is a take home exam that you must pass. When you do, you will be certified as a Master Gardener Volunteer by the University of California Cooperative Extension.

In your first year after graduation, you are asked to donate at least 50 hours, participating in various MG public education activities, including staffing the popular MG hotline. There you will field phone and email gardening questions from the public, which is both a teaching and learning experience. Whether answering a hotline inquiry or staffing an MG booth at various events or mentoring a school gardening program, you will be sharing your love of home gardening and helping others.

The Feng Shui of Plants in the Home

While certain plants may look quite pretty they can still be very inauspicious within your home. Read this article to learn more.

While certain plants will definitely bring good luck into your home, others are quite inauspicious. Here are some examples of such inauspicious plants.

You should avoid planting cactus plants within your home or office. No matter how pretty the blooms may look, they cannot compensate for the bad energy that is created by the plants’ deadly thorns which create poisonous energy. Such energy will, over time, cause illness, misfortune, and loss.

If you really want to keep a cactus plant, then keep it outside where it will take on the symbolic role of a sentinel protector. These thorns will then effectively serve to counter any Shar Chi (KILLING BREATH) that may be attempting to enter your home or office.

Bonsai plants are also quite inauspicious since they represent stunted growth. (By the term Bonsai plant I am referring to the wide variety of large trees that have been artificially stunted over numerous years with a great deal of money. I do not mean artistically pruned shrubbery and plants since these actually bring a large amount of good energy to your home.)

Genuine Bonsai plants are very valuable. Nevertheless, they still are not good Feng Shui since they signify blockage to both your growth and your business or job. If you simply cannot resist having a Bonsai tree, then you should place it in the Northern corner of your home where it will cause the least amount of harm. You should especially avoid placing these plants in the wood corners of your home and garden (the East or the South-East).