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Are You Making These 7 Rookie Mistakes in Your Vegetable Garden?

by Chuck Cady & Associates

Even the best vegetable gardeners can forget basics and make rookie mistakes. Here are 7 no-nos to avoid.

 

Even if your vegetable garden is the envy of neighbors, it’s still easy to make rookie mistakes that waste precious resources and growing time.

Avis Richards, whose Ground Up Campaign teaches New York City school kids how to grow their own food, reveals the rookie mistakes that all gardeners should avoid.

1. Unwise watering. Too much, too little, too hard, too soft — they’re all watering mistakes that'll wreck your garden. Before adding water, poke a finger a couple of inches into the soil. If it’s moist, save the water; if it’s dry, train a gentle spray at the base of plants. Better yet, wind a drip hose ($13 for 50 feet) through your garden; that way, you’ll deliver moisture to the roots without wasting water on leaves and to evaporation.

2. Forgetting to test. Even veteran gardeners forget to test their soil every year to make sure it has the pH and nutrients plants need. For about $10, you can send a sample to your state extension service and receive a complete analysis. Or, buy a DIY test kit at your local garden center. When you know what your soil is made of, either select plants that thrive in that type of earth, or amend soil to match your garden’s needs.

3. Planting garden divas. Of course you love summer tomatoes, but they can be tricky to grow during summers that are too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry. So newbies should try growing a couple of tomato plants just for fun, then load gardens with foolproof veggies and herbs, such as beans, peppers, oregano, and parsley. If you must grow a tomato, plant cherry tomatoes that can survive anything summer can throw at them and even yield fruit into fall.

4. Raising too much. One cherry tomato plant can yield 80 fruit, and a single zucchini plant can keep your neighbors in zucchini bread through winter. So don’t plant more than you can eat, put up, or share with friends. The National Gardening Associationsays an edible garden of about 200 sq. ft. should keep a family of four in veggies all summer. If you do grow more than you need, donate it to a local food bank or plan a swap with fellow gardeners.

5. Growing everything from seed. Some crops, such as salad greens, radishes, carrots, peas, beans, and squash, are easy to grow from seeds that germinate in a couple of weeks. Experience will tell you that eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes are better grown from seedlings, which someone else has nurtured for months. Pick plants that are short and compact; avoid leggy plants with blooms that are liable to die on the vine as the plant acclimates itself to your garden.

6. Assuming you know. Gardeners often read seed packages and figure they know everything about growing vegetables. Wrong! The more you know about your hardiness zone, soil, weather, insects, and vegetable varieties, the better your garden will grow. So curl up with a good gardening book, and surf the web for garden bloggers that share your passion. Better yet, join a gardening club where you can share tips and seeds.

7. Relying on pesticides. Don’t bring out the big guns, which can contaminate the watershed, until you’ve tried less-toxic ways to get rid of garden pests. Ladybugs and praying mantis, which you can buy at garden supply stores, will eat garden intruders, such as aphids and beetles. Non-toxic insecticidal soaps will take care of soft-bodied insects (don’t use if ladybugs are around).

Have you made any rookie mistakes? Got a tip for your fellow newbie gardeners? Let’s hear it!



Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/growing-vegetable-garden-rookie-mistakes/preview/#ixzz32w6Y1lsL 
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Salvaging & Recycling Building Materials!

by Chuck Cady & Associates

When homes are renovated or demolished, all too often lots of materials are put in a Dumpster and hauled to the landfill. This is both wasteful and costly — many parts of homes can be reused, re-purposed and recycled, saving both money and increasingly scarce landfill space.

We all know how to recycle newspaper, cans and bottles in the bins provided by our local government. Recycling construction debris is more involved, but with a little extra effort and some cooperation between remodeling contractors and homeowners, it can be very successful. Let’s look at what can be recycled in a remodeling project or when tearing down an old house.

Starting at the top, most roofs are covered with asphalt or fiberglass composite shingles. These can be recycled into a gravel-like material that is used as a base for driveways, roads and parking lots. After the roofing comes off, roof decking, rafters and other framing material to be removed. Many older homes were built with heart pine lumber, a rare and valuable material that can be salvaged and re-milled into things like flooring, trim and cabinets. Any unpainted lumber can be ground into mulch and used for erosion control or plant bedding. Some framing lumber is easily reused once the nails are removed from it.

Masonry and concrete are easily recycled. Landscape contractors may be interested in older bricks, which they can use to build walls and walkways. Broken or unusable bricks, concrete block and clay roof tiles can be ground into gravel.

Homes undergoing kitchen renovations and living area renovations are full of treasures that can be re-purposed. Cabinets, appliances, doors, windows, plumbing fixtures, lighting and flooring can be reused or donated to nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity that reuse or resell them to support their programs. Copper wiring and piping, aluminum gutters and other non-ferrous metals provide a reasonable return on the time spent. The packaging that products arrive in is a major source of jobsite trash. Cardboard boxes, wood pallets and clear plastic all can be recycled, often removed at no cost by salvage companies. A little planning and jobsite management can reduce renovation waste by more than 50 percent, providing both cost savings and environmental benefits long after construction is complete.

Lawn Care Maintenance Tips to Revive Your Frozen Turf

by Chuck Cady & Associates

Has the polar vortex wrecked your lawn? Here’s how to bring back the green.

 

“Snow acts like a cover, but ice is bad for turf,” says Chris Lemcke, technical director of Weed Man USA lawn care. “Ice freezes plant cells and crushes blades and leads to death.”

Freeze-thaw-freeze conditions are even worse for turf roots, which can become brittle and die.  Road salt also is bad for lawns. The turf near streets and along driveways and paths may need resuscitation or replacement when spring grass should be greening up.

Dead or Sleeping?

When snow and ice melt, your late-winter turf starts awakening from hibernation and changes from brown grass to green; if your lawn died, it won’t change color.

The best way to see if your lawn is dead or sleeping is to tug the brown areas. If the turf comes up easily, the roots have failed and the grass is dead. If there’s resistance, then there’s hope.

How to Bring Lawns Back

When is the right time to bury your dead lawn -- grass, roots, clinging soil -- in a compost pile and start growing new grass?

  • After the last chance of frost
  • When night temperatures top 35 degrees
  • When soil temps reach 50-65 degrees

Dead patches of lawn are easy to pull up because no roots bind the turf to the soil. Cut around dead areas with a spade, then yank up the patch. 

Then it’s time to reseed.

1.  Scatter seed on soil and lightly rake it in.

2.  Water daily with a light mist for 15 minutes to keep soil moist. If the soil dries out, seed will not germinate.

3.  When seed germinates, water deeply.

4.  Feed young blades a high-phosphorous fertilizer.

5.  Let grass grow at least 3 inches before its first cut. 

If you can afford sod -- 8-30 cents/sq. ft. compared with $28 for a 5-pound bag of seed that’ll cover 2,000 sq. ft. -- Lemcke recommends laying sod on dead patches instead of seeding. Sod is more forgiving when it comes to watering and resists weeds better than seed.

An Ounce of Prevention

You can’t control the weather, but you can mitigate winter’s affect on your lawn.

  • Add topsoil to low areas of your yard to reduce the impact of ice. Then reseed or sod.
  • If you notice dead turf where you piled shoveled snow, spread out your snow pile next year.
  • To reduce salt damage, apply deicers after you shovel snow, so salt doesn’t seep into your grass. Also, use calcium chloride-based deicers, which do less damage than sodium chloride-based salts.

Related: Season-by-Season Lawn Maintenance Calendar



Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/lawn-care-maintenance/preview/#ixzz2vrio5cQx 
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Water. Your home's worst enemy!

by Chuck Cady & Associates

Water damage is the No. 1 culprit that weakens your home’s foundation and the very core that holds your house together. You’ve heard about core strength for your body. Well, water damage hits at the core strength of your house, eventually causing serious structural damage. Damp wood invites termites and carpenter ants; plus, it causes mold and mildew. Here are three easy things to do to that will give you peace of mind the next time heavy storms hit.

#1 - ENSURE GOOD DRAINAGE
Clean your gutters.
Direct downspouts 5-10’ away from the house.
Slope your yard away from the foundation.
#2 - TEST YOUR SUMP PUMP
Check your sump pump once a year.
Test more frequently during storm season.
#3 - FIX WATER LEAKS
Repair any noticeable dripping pipes.
Check for dark spots under pipes & on ceilings.
Repair any cracked caulking.
Inspect the roof for missing, loose or damaged shingles.

 

Sound Transit-Northgate Link Extension News

by Chuck Cady & Associates

Update: Northgate Link Extension
December 11, 2013


Nighttime equipment delivery this weekend


Construction crews working to build the Northgate Link Extension for Sound Transit will be making an early morning equipment delivery to the Maple Leaf Portal site. The delivery may cause some noise.
Two large sections of a tunnel boring machine will be unloaded at the former North Seattle’s Park-and-Ride south lot early in the morning on Saturday, Dec. 14 and again on Sunday, Dec. 15. Crews expect the delivery to arrive at approximately 5 a.m. each morning.
Nearby residents may hear continuously running engines while crews use a crane to unload the TBM segments from over-sized trucks.
The work is expected to take about 3 hours each morning.
 
Image and video hosting by TinyPic For issues that need immediate attention after normal business hours, call Sound Transit's 24-hour Construction Hotline at (888) 298-2395.
 

 

November Gardening Tips!

by Chuck Cady & Associates

There's still time to plant. To ensure roots have plenty of time to grow, you want all new additions to the landscape -- including spring flowering bulbs and hardy garlic -- tucked into soil about 6 weeks before it freezes.

If you are planting late in the season, give your plantings a leg up by applying a thick mulch (up to 4 inches) of chopped leaves, pine straw, compost, or straw. This will insulate soil enough to postpone a freeze.

Make sure to keep an eye out for rodents. Mice especially love to nest in mulch through winter, and voles love nothing better than a thick cover to burrow beneath.

Leftover Leaves: Fallen leaves provide over-wintering shelter for insects. It's a good idea to allow a few leaves to remain beneath shrubs to harbor insects -- good and bad -- which can help feed hungry birds in spring.

On the other hand, leaves piled up against a shed, garage, or home can shelter and provide cover for pests -- including rodents -- seeking winter quarters. Remove these leaves. Chop them and use them as mulch, or add them to the compost pile.

Gather stakes and plant supports from the garden. Store them in a spot where they'll freeze to help destroy over-wintering pests.

Power Tools

  • Run the gas out of the mower. You can add fuel stabilizer to the mower if the tank is more than halfway full. Just be sure to run the mower a bit to circulate the stabilizer through the engine.
  • Prepare your mower now for spring use. Sharpen the blade. Check and/or replace the air filter, which tends to clog up when you chop lots of fall leaves.
  • With battery-powered mowers, store your battery according to manual instructions.
  • Make sure your snow blower is fueled and ready to go.

Housing market in Washington State continues to recover - Still a Seller's Market

by Chuck Cady & Associates

As announced by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the housing market in Washington State continues to recover.  "Despite improving inventory overall, supplies remained low, particularly around job centers. Area-wide there is about 2.6 months of supply, which indicates a seller's market. (In a normal market, a healthy supply level favoring neither buyers nor sellers is around 6 months, according to industry analysts.)"  Read more of this article at:  http://www.nwrealestate.com/nwrpub/common/news.cfm

Guide to Paint Sheens: Oooo, Shiny!

by Chuck Cady & Associates
  • Guide to Paint Sheens: Oooo, Shiny!

    You think choosing the right color for your paint job is hard? Try picking the right sheen. HouseLogic will help you tell your semi-gloss from your satin finish. Read

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2013 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Housing Recovery - See how Seattle measures up!

by Chuck Cady & Associates

After months of robust and seemingly unsustainable annual home value appreciation, the housing market is showing signs of moderation in the first quarter, according to data from Zillow.

The Zillow  ($58.60 -1.19%) home value index increased 5.1% year-over-year to $157,600 as of the end of the first quarter.

March marked the 16th consecutive month that U.S. home values rose, although last month marked the second straight month of slowing annual appreciation. Additionally, home values appreciation was 0.5% in the first quarter, compared to 2.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Typically annual home values appreciate roughly 3%, according to research done by Zillow. The Zillow Home Value Forecast anticipates national home values will rise 3.2% through March 2014, indicating an appreciation more in line with historic norms.

However, in some local markets, home values continue to rise at a rapid pace. According to Zillow, five markets it covers saw a year-over-year appreciation of more than 20%: Phoenix (up 24%), Las Vegas (up 22.3%), San Jose (up 22.1%), San Francisco (up 21.4%) and Sacramento (up 20.1%).

"The national housing market has rebounded strongly over the past year. But the sometimes dramatic home value run-ups experienced during these months were never expected to be sustainable, and recent slowdowns are indicative of a market that is slowly finding its natural level," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries.

"Looking forward, we expect annual home value appreciation to continue to slow, as more inventory comes up for sale," Humphries added. "But pockets of very rapid appreciation will remain, a troubling sign of volatility and a potential future headache as affordability is compromised and homes begin to look much more expensive to average buyers."

Surprisingly, seven of the top 30 metro markets that Zillow covers experienced a home value decline in the first quarter. New York metro’s home value dropped 0.3% after three consecutive quarter of positive appreciation. Chicago saw the largest depreciation as values fell 1.4% in the first quarter after falling flat in 2012’s fourth quarter.

*Information obtained from an article written by: Megan Hopkins for Zillow.com on 4/24/13

 

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10 Clever Hydrogen Peroxide Uses In Your Home!

by Chuck Cady & Associates

Okay...this is cool!

Here are 10 ways you can use that ubiquitous brown bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide to your home’s advantage: Best part? One bottle only costs you $1.00

In your kitchen

1. Clean your cutting board and countertop. Hydrogen peroxide bubbles away any bacteria left after preparing meat or fish for dinner. Add hydrogen peroxide to an opaque spray bottle — exposure to light kills its effectiveness — and spray on your surfaces. Let everything bubble for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse clean.

2. Wipe out your refrigerator and dishwasher. Because it’s non-toxic, hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning places that store food and dishes. Just spray the appliance outside and in, let the solution sit for a few minutes, then wipe clean.

3. Clean your sponges. Soak them for 10 minutes in a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water in a shallow dish. Rinse the sponges thoroughly afterward.

4. Remove baked-on crud from pots and pans. Combine hydrogen peroxide with enough baking soda to make a paste, then rub onto the dirty pan and let it sit for a while. Come back later with a scrubby sponge and some warm water, and the baked-on stains will lift right off.

In your bathroom

5. Whiten bathtub grout. If excess moisture has left your tub grout dingy, first dry the tub thoroughly, then spray it liberally with hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit — it may bubble slightly — for a little while, then come back and scrub the grout with an old toothbrush. You may have to repeat the process a few times, depending on how much mildew you have, but eventually your grout will be white again.

6. Clean the toilet bowl. Pour half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet bowl, let stand for 20 minutes, then scrub clean.

In your laundry room

7. Remove stains from clothing, curtains, and tablecloths. Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a pre-treater for stains — just soak the stain for a little while in 3% hydrogen peroxide before tossing into the laundry. You can also add a cup of peroxide to a regular load of whites to boost brightness. It’s a green alternative to bleach, and works just as well.

Anywhere in your house

8. Brighten dingy floors. Combine half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with one gallon of hot water, then go to town on your flooring. Because it’s so mild, it’s safe for any floor type, and there’s no need to rinse.

9. Clean kids’ toys and play areas. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe cleaner to use around kids, or anyone with respiratory problems, because it’s not a lung irritant. Fill an opaque spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide and spray toys, toy boxes, doorknobs, and anything else your kids touch on a regular basis. You could also soak a rag in peroxide to make a wipe.

Outside

10. Help out your plants. To ward off fungus, add a little hydrogen peroxide to your spray bottle the next time you’re spritzing plants. Use this helpful chart to determine the ratio of hydrogen peroxide to water for your types of plants.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 200

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