Over 1.4 million Houstonians garden for a hobby or pastime, and GardenLine is where they listen for advice and information on gardening and landscaping.
Every Saturday and Sunday morning from 6 to 10, GardenLine's Randy Lemmon answers listeners' questions on everything from aphids to zoysias. He's Houston's absolute expert on lawns and gardens, offering help to listeners both with and without "green thumbs."
Randy's a Texas Aggie who truly KNOWS plants and flowers. He explains them with ease and candor, and is as competent a "plant person" as there is. He studies, and he practices. He embraces "new methods" as well as the "old" ways of dealing with problems. Call for Randy's solution for your question ... 713-212-KTRH (5874).
The only time a donut could ever be good for you is when you don't eat it, right?!
Well, the donuts I'm referring to are hardly edible. And they're good because they could help reduce your water bill. Plus, you might get some free this weekend.
First, as promised on last weekend's GardenLine show, the formal introduction to Houston's own Concrete Donuts! As your personal gardening information specialist, I try to attend the Texas and Nursery & Landscape Association Expo each year to see what's new and innovative. If I find a new product or service catches my "green" eye, (that's a play on words, but my eyes actually are green) then, I do whatever I can to introduce it to my listeners.
Of all the cool and unusual products I saw at the August expo, the invention that most caught my attention was the seemingly standard concrete donut, intended to protect irrigation valves in your lawn. You may be saying. "Ahem ... Randy, concrete donuts have been around forever. My grandpa made his own back in the day!" And, you would be correct. But have you tried to find any lately? And, if you did, were they made entirely of concrete and therefore weigh a ton?
Well, these new concrete donuts are not only about half the weight of grandpa's version — because of their high-tech fibers — but they're permanently dyed a lighter shade of green. The manufacturer is Backflow Armor, based right here in Houston and a company that knows a thing or two about protecting irrigation valves. If you're not familiar with the name, I know you've seen their product. They developed those one-size-fits-all cages (left) that protect the backflow valves at commercial properties. They keep thieves from ripping out the highly sought-after brass or copper headings, which can then be sold to scrap yards for top dollar.
The brain behind Backflow Armor's donuts is Chad Touchet, who has been in the irrigation business for over two decades. He's fixed his fair share of sprinkler heads, and it always seemed he was being called out to fix the same ones over and over. This irrigation issue is caused by wayward drivers, dogs, and landscape crews with big mowers and equally big wheels. In my case, it was a year-old white Labrador named Ellie who was responsible for the damage.
Two different sizes are available, to accommodate the difference between rotary and pop-up heads, and they are specifically designed for turf irrigation heads. They're also extremely easy to install. If you have 12 sprinkler heads, and if it takes 2-4 minutes to install each one, you could be protected with a dozen donuts in less than an hour.
I asked Chad how many trys it took to come up with the right combination of cement and reinforcing high-tech fiber before hitting the perfect combination. Let's just say it took a couple dozen experimentations before he had the right recipe. Then he dyed them green, so they would blend into lawns quite nicely.
Let's recap all the benefits.
So, if you're tired of damaged sprinkler heads causing your water bill to skyrocket, Backflow Armor's concrete donuts make all the financial sense in the world.
And where do you get 'em? Right now, about 20 Gulf Coast-area Ace Hardware retailers have them, as does Southwest Fertilizer. If you're a landscaper or irrigation company, you can get them at wholesalers like Ewing, John Deere or Irrigation Station. But the list of retail vendors is growing each week, and I will update you regularly on GardenLine.
Plus, this Saturday, you can register to win a baker's dozen at Ace Hardware City on Memorial Drive or at the GardenLine appearance below.
While actually have to register for a chance to win the concrete donuts, you need only show up at the GardenLine appearance (preferably in the first hour) to go home with an innovative product from Lady Bug Natural. Andy with Lady Bug will be on hand with a whole pallet full of goodies. From their vaunted Vortex potting soil to their always-famous Revitalize Compost, Lady Bug has a myriad of 100 percent organic products for you to try. Just find me between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Buchanan's and I'll hook you up.
But, that better not be the only reason you come to Buchanan's this Saturday. It's the start of their Fall Festival, and they will be holding fall/winter vegetable classes with Gary Edmonson of The Urban Harvest. (You need to register for a spot at one of the two sessions.) They will also have food trucks on site and wonderful kids' activities throughout the day.