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Home & Garden > Spring: Stuff Grows

Spring: Stuff Grows

I was determined to prevent the problem I’ve had in recent years with the downstairs basement door (that opens into the garage). It swells shut every spring, because of the extreme damp, and I can’t budge it until fall. In past years I needed to keep that door closed, because mice were getting into the garage, so I wanted to keep them from the house.

But I’ve kept the door slightly ajar this year, so it didn’t swell shut this time. One small plus. I really hate the basement, and would like to clean it up. Its ceiling is one of those unfinished ones, so anything you leave in the basement — boxes, whatever — will soon have dirt and soot and plaster crumblings on top of it, shaken from the movement of the wooden rafters and floor above.

It smells awful too. A damp, awful smell has plagued the basement for months, so I opened both garage doors and then the connecting door to the basement, and set a big fan at the doorway to pull air inside. I left it running all day long so a complete air exchange could happen. This hasn't been possible most days, with all the rain.

The air downstairs is fresh now. I guess I’ll keep doing that, getting as much fresh air to the basement as possible, as long as it isn’t raining. Just have to make sure small animals don’t come in.

I wonder if I could rig up a screen or mesh curtain/barrier that I could put there, with an opening cut for the fan. I’d like to keep being able to open the basement and garage during the summer, but it would get buggy (and I do NOT want another mouse infestation).

Out in the yard, the Rose of Sharon bush (by the front door) and the wisteria (at the side door) look good — and it seems to be from the pruning I did last year. That Rose of Sharon bush grows so fast, and has to be chopped regularly. If I leave it too long, once the flowers come out it’s too late, because the millions of bees make it too dangerous to come near. And as I’ve seen, the bees do not go away immediately at sunset!

The rosebushes, unfortunately, both have black spot and the leaves are falling off. They’re covered with blooms— which will do miserably if they don’t have leaves. I think I already have some fungicide spray for it.

I will also have to heavily treat the blacktop driveway with weedkiller, because it has a big network of cracks that grow weeds and even moss. Here, it seems like the state of the verdure is: Stuff grows; other stuff rots. Rinse and repeat.

posted on June 9, 2017 7:07 PM ()


You need a handy man with good carpentry skills so ask all your friends. Then he can fit a screen on your partial wood frame and finish off the frame. I wonder if a little lime might not deoderise the basement. Just
put the lime in a box and let it set there. I love old houses but there are always things unforseen.
comment by elderjane on June 10, 2017 10:09 AM ()
Lime, that sounds worth trying. The door thing will probably boil down to whatever I can do myself, since the owner is not exactly quick to do anything.
reply by drmaus on June 10, 2017 7:49 PM ()
garage screens that fit inside of the door are available. See if you can have one installed. Then you can have the garage open to the air without allowing insects in. Vinegar will kill weeds -- Google vinegarand weeds to get details.
comment by tealstar on June 10, 2017 8:42 AM ()
Yes -- I was going to try vinegar on the rock wall, which also sprouts weeds. That Jillee lady who writes a home blog says for sidewalk weeds she mixes vinegar and dish soap -- but imagine soap on your driveway!
reply by drmaus on June 10, 2017 7:47 PM ()
Wow! That's is some situation if a dehumidifier can't handle it. A skilled carpenter can build a screen door to fit any area in an hour.
comment by jjoohhnn on June 10, 2017 6:49 AM ()
Aren't they mythical?
reply by drmaus on June 10, 2017 7:51 PM ()
I guess an invasive plant is good to hold the soil in place, but bad when it takes over everything. But can you eat the peas? I just realized I can't remember the right name for what I called wisteria. It's not wisteria, it's that yellow flowering bush on brown branches. Names are so hard to remember...
comment by drmaus on June 9, 2017 10:17 PM ()
How about some sort of screen door for the basement like you mention plus, maybe, a humidifier for the room?
comment by greatmartin on June 9, 2017 8:24 PM ()
The doorway is only a partial wooden frame, so it would be hard to put another door on. Or at least I don't know how to do it. My dehumidifier runs all the time, except for when I propped open all the doors. It's not enough, and I think it's related to the old structure of this house. There are half-walls and weird partitions in the basement and I keep wondering if there's another old well behind one. There's one well outside, on the side of the house, but it's filled in.
reply by drmaus on June 9, 2017 10:11 PM ()
Here at our house, it's a good year for flowering bushes. I have honeysuckle that my mother planted various places 30 years ago, wild roses, mountain mahogany, and Siberian pea shrub aka caragana. The pea shrub does well in poor soil and drought conditions, grows like a weed. It has seed pods that burst open when ripe, shooting seeds 3 or 4 feet away. We are in the mode of trying to discourage it wherever we can, but up until now it was good vegetation along the bare river banks following our big 1976 flood.
comment by troutbend on June 9, 2017 7:53 PM ()
oops, my reply above.
reply by drmaus on June 9, 2017 10:18 PM ()

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