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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
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8605895155

Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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Articles

O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.

 

Filtering by Tag: garden

It's Not Too Late To Reap The Benefits of a Veggie Patch

Chelsea O'Donnell

If you think late summer is the time to give your garden a rest, think again. This time of year is perfect to get late fall and winter veggies into the ground to enjoy a delicious harvest even when the frost sets in. For those of you with a green thumb or even if you regret not getting in the garden earlier this year, now is a great time to get planting. Let’s start with three basic tips.

First, make a note of the frost dates. A smart cool weather garden will thrive if it’s in the ground and has time to mature well before the daytime temperature starts to settle at around 55 degrees. The almanac has the first frost at around October 8th which means you have over a month to get your crops settled in. 

If you’ve decided on a fall garden, you might want to think about building a cold frame. You can buy one at a local hardware store, or make your own using plywood and plastic with holes for ventilation. For a small garden, a hinged plexiglass box will do the trick but for larger beds, consider heavy duty plastic sheeting.

Lastly, use this opportunity to give back to your garden and get it ready for next season. If you’re not too picky about what to plant or you aren’t interested in harvesting, consider a cover crop - a species that will improve the health of your soil, enhance your garden’s biodiversity, and keep pests and weeds at bay. Peas and beans are the best choices for veggies, and clover works really well too.

Once you’ve committed to a fall garden, the only decision left is what to plant! Some of my favorite vegetables do really well in the colder months so luckily you have tons to choose from. In terms of leafy greens, you have your pick with chard, kale, lettuce of all kinds and spinach. Other tough veggies like broccoli, beets, carrots, and radishes are plenty strong for these colder months.  My favorites roasting veg like fennel, parsnips, turnips, and Brussels sprouts also do incredibly well this time of year. And let’s not forget rhubarb for a delicious late season pie!

If you love all these veggies but can’t get yourself to commit to a late summer garden, don’t worry. Bookmark this for six months time and get excited to kick off the spring with an early planting. Happy Gardening!

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.


Seven Fun Outdoor Projects for the Last Week of Summer 

Chelsea O'Donnell

With only one week of summer left, I can imagine that parents and grandparents are pretty exhausted of ideas to keep the kids occupied before school starts. That being said, fall will be here before we know it and the weather will be cool again. So let’s make the most of our last days with some of my favorite outdoor activities that the young ones will love - and you will too. 

Plant a Wagon Herb Garden

Gardening is a great way to teach kids responsibility and it’s a lot less messy than getting a family pet. Grab an old wagon or wheelbarrow from the shed or a local garage sale and drill some holes in it. Then let the kids choose their own herbs to plant and grow. I like basil, mint, cilantro, rosemary, and thyme because they all come up quickly and offer a lot of versatility in the kitchen. 

Build a Lemonade Stand

Entrepreneurship at its finest! There is nothing more fun than helping the kids build a lemonade stand to make a few bucks for a special back-to-school treat. You can nail three pallets together to make a u-shape and then paint it your favorite color. Let the kids make the sign and the lemonade and you’re ready to start selling.

Set Up Yard Game Olympics

Here is a great idea for a group. Get everyone to help set up “Yard Game Olympics” for a friendly competition that will keep the young ones occupied for hours. From croquet to cornhole, sprinkler jumping, frisbee throwing and a good old fashioned game of HORSE - anything goes with this one. Get creative and make it fun. 

Make a S’mores Bar

Sure they are messy but nothing says summer like the gooey mix of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. In my house, we compete for the perfect golden brown marshmallow and the first one who burns theirs is out. We love creating out of the box sandwich ideas too.

Create a Mosaic

Collecting seashells and beach rocks is a popular summer past-time, but what do you do with them once they are home? You can get cement at a local hardware store and mix it according to the directions. Then spread it evenly on a planter, frame, a piece of plywood or even a birdhouse. Then firmly press in your shells or stones and get creative with fun patterns. 

Start a Compost Pile

Here’s a great one to teach kids about recycling and the environment. Choose any large container that you can drill holes into in order to get airflow. A plastic drum will work just fine. Lay a few inches of twigs and straw on the bottom. Then begin adding your compost materials. Alternate between green and brown to keep your pile healthy - green being fruit and vegetable scraps and brown being wood, leaves and garden matter. Green produces nitrogen while brown delivers carbon. Maintaining balance is the key to healthy soil. 

Build Your Own Slip-n-Slide

This was an all-time favorite when my kids were growing up. Grab a 100-foot roll of thick, clear plastic sheeting and a dozen landscaping stakes from the local hardware store. Remove any rocks or sticks from the lawn and roll out your plastic. Fasten it down with the stakes and then squirt some no-tear body wash or soap evenly down the slide. Finally, take the nozzle off the hose and position the water flow right down the middle. Now take a dive!

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.


It's Time for Spring Planting

Chelsea O'Donnell

With the weather finally getting warmer, now is a great time to start preparing the garden for planting. While most people think the cold ground is too brutal for little sprouts to handle, there are a handful of hearty veggies that can thrive in the early spring. Let’s get the growing season started with these tips.

First, you need to prepare your beds or planters so your seeds can thrive. Once the soil is dry, you can start to turn it, but only if it crumbles in your hand. If soil sticks together like glue, you should wait or you’ll risk destroying the structure. You can topdress beds with compost to give the soil a nutrient boost when the time is right.

Once the soil is ready, it’s time to get planting. If you’re Irish, you know the old tradition of planting peas on St. Patrick’s Day for good luck. I don’t mind waiting a few more weeks, but getting them into the ground in early April is a must. They don’t call them spring peas for nothing!

After your peas, you can start to pop in other cold-tolerant vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. You’ll need to ensure they are protected, but getting them into the ground early is a good idea as they’ll get a headstart before the onslaught of pesky bugs and rodents. Radishes, spinach, and lettuce varieties are good spring plants too as they can generally survive a late-season frost.

If you have an indoor gardening facility, now is also a great time to get tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers started. The seeds can’t take the outdoors yet, but getting them ready to bask under fluorescent lights will ensure that you have a healthy harvest come summer.

As for other gardening jobs, early April is a good time to begin pruning apple trees, shrubs, and rose bushes. Deciduous trees and shrubs can be planted and now is a good time to get the lawn aerated. If you’re desperate for some color in the yard, spring-blooming pansies are a good pick for planters or beds since they do well in the colder weather and come in nearly every color under the sun. Daffodils and crocus are also popular and will make a nice backdrop for a neighborhood Easter egg hunt.

Of course, you know your own yard best, and getting in the garden too early can set you up for a disappointing harvest come summer. When in doubt, consult with your local gardening expert and use this time to get your soil in tip-top shape to ensure your plantings can survive and thrive this season.

Bob O'Donnell is the owner of O'Donnell Bros, Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro”. All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O'Donnell Bros, Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.