Whether you start your vegetables directly from seed or you buy a plant from a local garden or home center, you won’t give it much of a chance if your soil is simply not that good to begin with. What I mean by that is, and this stems from a conversation I had with a friend, if your soil lacks in nutrients or the pH level is too high or too low, seeds may never germinate and plants will never grow to their full potential. Then what happens is you blame the seeds, maybe they were too old, or the plants, ah they looked dead to begin with, as opposed to getting at the root of the problem…literally.
Like a skyscraper, your plants need a solid foundation. If a skyscraper has a poor foundation it could never get built because the base would never be strong enough to support it. Same goes for your plants. If you have a poor foundation, in this case your soil, they will never grow. You are in luck. There is one technique you can implement immediately that will have a long lasting effect on your foundation for many years to come…composting.
Composting is when you take organic material (i.e. leaves, twigs, grass clippings, last night’s left overs etc.) and let them decompose into its final usable product, humus. There are a number of ways you can compost, and which one you choose should not only fit the amount of space that you have but your lifestyle as well.
For example, trench composting, which I will touch on again in a moment, is one of the easiest and least labor intensive forms of composting is virtually ideal for anyone, especially those with very little time. You dig a big hole (hence, trench) and dump your organic material into the hole and then bury it. Nature does the work while you are hard at work uploading your vegetable gardening photos to our Facebook page.
Other forms of composting include vermicomposting, the use of red wiggler worms to do the work, and a compost pile. A simple Google or Bing search on any of these will give you step by step instructions on how to get started.
Always start small. I recommend you keep a big Tupperware bowl close by where you can put your coffee grinds, egg shells and food left overs in so you can bury them in your garden. When the Tupperware bowl gets full or near full, take it out back and dig a hole about 24 inches deep, put the contents of the bowl into the hole and then cover. Repeat these steps over choosing a new location each time and never use the same location earlier then 1 to 3 months. On a side note, do not bury steak or ham bones or meat for that matter. The bones will never break down and the meat could attract unwanted rodents.
After you get the hang of trench composting move on over and start a compost pile. This is where you will put all of your leaves, twigs and grass clippings. Over time the pile will breakdown into a nice, rich soil that your plants will love. Just remember to turn the pile over with your pitchfork once in a while. It will help speed things up.
So why do you compost in the first place? Beyond the “keeping it out of the landfill” aspect, composting adds nutrients into your soil, creates volume in your soil which allows for better soil retention and water drainage and helps maintain a constant yet beneficial soil pH level. All items you need in order to grow healthy and safe vegetables.
Bring a touch of nature to the room by transforming a boring headboard into a grand focal point. Simply spray paint it with Krylon’s Natural Stone Textured Finish, which goes on easy and gives you the natural beauty of stone. Available in eight designer colors, this paint features a smaller particle size for an elegant and professional-looking appearance. To complete the look, add a new comforter and accent pillows to your bed to complement your new creation.
Don’t stop there. Give outdated dressers or vanities a facelift with a fresh coat of paint. You can match the furniture to your new headboard, or paint each with a complementary color for extra visual intrigue. For the finishing touch, add new decorative knobs – or simply paint your current ones – to create additional dramatic impact.
Next, look to the accessories around the room that might need a bit of improvement or pizzazz. Lamps, frames and vases can be easily updated from bland to beautiful with a quick spray of paint to coordinate with the rest of your room’s new color scheme.
Finally, add a bit of cheer by filling your newly painted vase full of fresh cut flowers on the night stand. For an ultra-relaxing vibe, add lavender to the mix, as the scent soothes and comforts while you drift off into dreamland.
From the moment you wake in the morning to the moment you close your eyes at night, your bedroom should be your haven. By rising to the occasion and incorporating some small spray paint updates, you can kick back and enjoy – morning, noon and night.
For more product or project ideas, visit www.krylon.com.
Preparing to buy a home requires more than just a down payment. Before you purchase property, take time to understand your available mortgage options and balance your debt load. Thorough planning and smart budgeting now can help you avoid running into high debt or repayment problems down the road.
Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust, says that first time home buyers should answer three important questions before they start hitting any open houses this season.
1.) Do I understand the process?
It never hurts to meet with a mortgage specialist to learn more about the home buying process and the different mortgage options available, such as fixed versus variable rate mortgages, flexible repayment schedules, and even mortgages that offer cash back. Before falling in love with a home, consider getting pre-approved so you know what you may be able to afford and avoid getting disappointed by falling in love with a home that is outside your price range.
2.) What is my personal debt load?
If you have other obligations like a car payment or student loan, ensure you are taking on a mortgage that you can manage within your total budget. Try using an online debt management calculator to help determine how much debt you can reasonably take on based on your income, current debt payments and expenses.
3.) Can I afford my mortgage and save for the future?
Sometimes home buyers take on more debt than they can manage and quickly find themselves “house poor” – with no money left for future savings or a rainy day. Before you take the leap into homeownership, crunch the numbers to ensure your budget reflects the lifestyle you want after you move into your new home, and you are clear on what sacrifices you may need to make to continue to live comfortably and save for your future.
CALL YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT
One mistake that home owners make when they are ready to sell their home is getting their home “ready” to sell before they call an agent. The home owners will make repairs or upgrades that have will little or no return on their investment. Your real estate agent (hey, that’s me) will give you tips on what renovations are necessary to sell, if any.
Remove everything but the essentials. Donate what you don’t want and store the rest. Plenty of people prefer to use storage units for items they want to keep. Take a minute to organize kitchen cabinets, closets, bathrooms and the pantry. It if looks like a clothing store in your closet and a well-fronted grocery store, you’re doing great.
Potential buyers want to be able to walk into your home and imagine themselves living there. They can’t do that if you have pictures of your family up and decor like “Thomas Family. Established in 1988” hanging on the front door. Remove these items, and any built-in items that you’ll be taking with you. Place personal items from your bathroom vanity in accessible boxes.
Wax the floors, dust everything, and polish metals. Get every single crack and crevice as clean as it can be and remove odd odors. If this seems like an overwhelming task, break it down into smaller tasks and put it on a calendar.
REPAIR THE BASICS
If the door squeaks, get some WD-40. If the bathroom needs re-caulked, that’s okay. Small projects are good, large ones are not (i.e. you do not need to replace all of the windows in your house). The biggest project you should tackle is painting bright colored walls. Bright colored walls says to potential buyers “this is going to take work.” Try neutral colors, off whites and light grays.
SPRUCE UP THE CURB APPEAL
Maintain the lawn, pressure wash the exterior, and clean up the shrubbery. Hire a professional or shell out a couple of bucks for flowers or seasonal plants for the garden!
If you’re looking into the option of buying a house, you probably already know that the Mortgage Rules have changed recently, and you’re probably concerned.
What is this new rule anyway?
“Effective October 17th all high ratio buyers will have to qualify at the benchmark rate for all terms.”
And just what does that even mean?
It means that you’ll have to qualify for a higher interest rate than what you’ll actually end up paying, which will reduce the dollar amount for which you’ll qualify.
Dominion Lending Centres gives this example:
“… a home buyer currently qualified to purchase with 10% down for a mortgage of $527,000. After October 17th, this home buyer would qualify for a $420,000 mortgage. This equates to a 20% drop in buying power. (All things being equal in terms of property taxes, income, debts, etc).”
So what do we do?
In this situation, you have a few of options:
- Make up for the shortfall with more money down; or
- Add another person to the mortgage to help qualify; or
- Purchase a lower priced property
But mostly…talk with your REALTOR® Ann Hayes, and your mortgage professional about your options.
So what’s the purpose all this?
Well, the new mortgage rules will likely reduce the risk of a housing crash. The government and the banks are looking out for own interests in keeping the housing market going, but in looking out for their own, they’re also looking out for yours. Qualifying for a lower amount might just put less stress on your wallet. That can’t be too bad.