Composting

I am always trying to find ways to reduce my “footprint” on the planet.  I drive a hybrid car, I don’t use K-Cups, I try extra hard to remember reusable bags at the grocery store.  It’s the little things, right?

So, I thought I’d do some research into composting; making less trash is a pretty big deal now days.

The Do’s and Don’ts  of Composting.

DO:
Alternate layers of nitrogen-rich greens & carbon-rich browns.
Greens:
• Vegetable peelings
• Rotten fruit & Fruit Peelings
• Leaves & Grass ( green & dry)
• Coffee grounds &  Tea leaves
• Manure from vegetarian pets: rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, sheep, horses,cows, llamas, etc.
Browns:
• Dry leaves, grass and plant stalks
• Shredded newsprint (non-toxic inks only)
• Shredded Brown Paper bags
• Unbleached paper towels, napkins, wet is okay, greasy no!
• Cardboard (small pieces)
• Corncobs
• Straw
You can also add:
• Rinsed, crushed eggshells
• Pet hair, to help discourage rodents
• Dryer lint
• Wood ash
Tips:
• Select a level, partially-shaded spot for your bin with good water drainage. Be sure it is at least 8 in – 12 in away from walls, fences, bushes, doors and windows.
• Cut kitchen scraps up into smaller pieces – faster decomposition.
• Whenever you add any food layer, top it off with brown material. Keep a pile of dry browns near the bin to sprinkle on top each time you add kitchen scraps.
• The beneficial microorganisms in your pile need oxygen. If too compacted (like in a landfill), they produce methane as they decompose, which is a greenhouse gas. Leave lots of air space in your bin and mix the contents every week or two with an aerator tool, or an old broom handle.
• Collect dry leaves and grass in a separate, dry container. Then you can use them year-round.
• Compost is generally ready to use after two or three months but aging the pile another one to two months before putting it on lawns or garden will improve it.

 DON’T:
AVOID ADDING THESE TO YOUR COMPOST:
    • Grease, oils or fats.
    • Bread or bread products
    • Rice
    • Pastas
    • Salad dressings or sauces
    • Dairy products
    • Nuts or nut butters
    • Fish
    • Meat
    • Bones
    • Dog or cat feces, kitty litter, human waste – Meat-eating animals, including humans,  carry diseases, and kitty litter may contain chemicals.
    • Ash from barbecues or coal Contains harmful chemicals.
   • Weeds with mature seeds. When you spread the compost, you’ll spread those weeds, to your garden.
    • Treated wood products May contain harmful chemicals.

Troubleshooting (Symptom-Diagnosis-Treatment):
Compost is attracting pests: dogs, rodents, raccoons.
Improper materials added.
Use a pest-resistant bin.  Put kitchen scraps in the center of the pile and cover with soil.
Compost pile is wet and stinky, too much green material.
Add brown material. Turn pile. Insufficient covering.
Put scraps at the center of the pile.
Pile is dry too much brown material.
Not enough water.
Add fresh kitchen scraps. Moisten with water.  Cover pile to reduce evaporation.
Pile is cold.
Lack of nitrogen.
Add green materials such as grass clippings, kitchen scraps.
Compost is attracting flies.
Food scraps are exposed.
Cover green material with browns. Avoid adding grease, oils, meats, breads, etc (see checklist above). Cover food scraps with soil or brown material. Put kitchen scraps in the center of the pile.

July Landscaping Checklist

Every month brings a unique set of challenges for landscapers. July is no exception, and protecting landscapes from intense heat, severe weather, and annoying pests is not an easy task. Here are some landscaping tips to keep in mind during July so that you can keep your yard thriving even during the most intense and unpredictable summer months:

July’s hot, humid weather means a spark in insect and disease populations. Be especially diligent this month in your pest prevention methods. Check plants and grass regularly for signs of infestation or disease, properly identify the pest responsible, and then research the best kill method for that particular insect. Pesticides are usually specific to certain species of insect, so, if you plan on spraying, make sure you’ve chosen the right pesticide by reading the label closely. Late evening is the best time to spray during the hot summer months.

Keep lawns mowed and watered regularly, but don’t overdo it. If you have an irrigation system, consider installing a rain sensor so that your system can recognize the amount of rainfall your yard is getting from passing thunderstorms or summer rain showers. The sensor will prevent the system from coming on when the grass has already been watered, thus preventing over-watering. If you don’t have an irrigation system, keep in mind how much water your garden is losing to evaporation and run-off and water approximately twice a day if it doesn’t rain. When mowing, always avoid over-mowing. Grass grows quickly in the summer, but never remove more than one third of the height of the grass. Cutting grass very short can stress its roots and lead to discoloration and dehydration.

Deadhead annual and perennial flowers so that they can bloom later in the season. The top buds of dahlias, phlox, garden mums and other flowers can be plucked to limit seed development and channel energy into the production of blooms. This will give you another rush of color and fragrance in late summer!

Beware of poison ivy! This poisonous plant loves popping up in the summer. You can identify poison ivy by its signature look: three pointed leaflets per leaf. If you see it, avoid touching it directly and pull it up using gloves or yard tools!

Fertilize and prune. Herb and vegetable plants like nitrogen-rich fertilizer applications about once a month in the summer. This will keep them healthy and strong. It is best not to fertilize on dry garden soil; instead, wait until after a rainstorm or irrigation to apply new fertilizer. After each application, water your plants deeply. Summer is also a great time to prune trees and shrubs. Be thorough, but don’t go crazy. You shouldn’t remove more than 15% of a tree’s leaves and branches if you want it to stay healthy. Focus on removing dead or dying growth primarily.

Harvest fruits and veggies! July is full of critters just itching to get their hands on your produce. Birds, rabbits, deer, and insects can all make quick work of your garden labors. Be sure to check on fruits and veggies daily and harvest as soon as they’re ripe enough to pick off the plant.

Prepare for the fall: fall vegetables like broccoli, carrots, turnips, radishes, and lettuce can be planted now to be enjoyed when fall rolls around. It’s always good to have something to look forward to

Sequim Lavender Festival

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This weekend is one of my favorite weekends on the peninsula; the Sequim Lavender Festival!  There are all sorts of neat things to do–farm tours, street fair & vendors, and fun foods using–you guessed it–lavender! Enjoy a lavender lemonade (or margarita!) and lavender garlic fries while checking out some pretty fantastic Northwest Vendors and artists, then visit some of Sequim’s lavender farms, and don’t forget the live music and entertainment too!

Find out more here.

Creative House Numbers

Little things add a lot of curb appeal.  Yes, house numbers are available at the hardware store, and they’re relatively inexpensive. But putting a little extra effort pays off big on curb appeal.  Here are a few fun ideas.

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Contemporary Frosted Glass. Instructions here.

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“Hit the nail on the head” with this easy project! Pick up a piece of wood of the right size from the scrap bin at the hardware store. Stain or paint if desired. Print out your house numbers in a bold font of the size you desire. Make sure to tape it to the house where it will be displayed, then step back and make sure it’s large enough to be seen from the street. Now tape the paper over the wood base. Starting in the center of each number and working your way out, tap nails into place within the printed number. The closer you can comfortably space the nails, the easier it will be to read. Use a needle nose pliers to hold each nail as you tap it into place. Try to get them straight! When finished, tear away the paper. This look would look great on both a more modern home, or if you are creating a more rustic feel.

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Find instructions for these fun “bucket” house numbers here.

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These are similar to the buckets, but with pots instead.

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This one is a fun and inexpensive one that allows you to get creative. Instructions here.

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I love this “grass” house number! It’s so fresh, modern and fun! Instructions here.

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Use succulents and scrap wood to make this modern chic address plaque. Instructions here.

Mosquito Repelling Plants

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There’s nothing worse than settling down in your backyard for a nice, relaxing evening only to be interrupted by the constant buzz and annoyance of mosquitoes! If you’re anything like me, mosquitoes love your blood and never have mercy when it comes to sucking you dry! Don’t worry anymore about those pesky bugs, try landscaping with some of these plants that help keep mosquitoes at bay.

Lemon Balm: Not only does this plant repel mosquitoes, but it also gives off a wonderful smell! Lemon balm is also known to help alleviate stress, which is always an added bonus.

Citronella: This plant is thought of as the “original” bug repelling plant because there is a similarly named ingredient used in many common repellents.

Catnip: Catnip not only repels mosquitoes but it also keep cockroaches away, which can be a great asset for lots of homeowners! If you have a cat, just make sure to keep this plant away from the others because cats enjoy rolling in it and may destroy other plants.

Marigolds: Other pests are also kept away with marigolds, not just mosquitoes. This plant is also edible and adds a great dimension of color to your garden.

Lavender: The great thing about lavender is that it can be grown inside and outside. So if you find mosquitoes coming into your home, just keep a pot of lavender near a window and watch it do its work!

Peppermint: Peppermint also has a great smell to invite and relax your guests in the yard. It also can be used to relieve itches if those mosquitoes do end up finding some victims!

Basil: Either you can grow basil nearby to ward away mosquitoes, or you can squeeze out its oils and make a spray to take with you wherever you go!
Cadaga Tree: This is a tree, so it takes a little more work than a smaller plant, but it can be a great feature to your yard and has bright colors in the foliage.

Garlic: Garlic can be used to repel mosquitoes and to add flavor to your food! This is a great choice to get as many uses as possible from the plants in your garden

Clove:The great thing about clove is the pretty color and the interesting shape of the buds! Add some protection and pop to your yard with this plant.

Floss Flower: If you want a variety of colors to choose from, then here’s the plant for you. Floss flower both repels mosquitoes and comes in blue, pink, and purple.

Eucalyptus: This requires quite a bit of work to grow and maintain, but I find the smell relaxing.

Pineapple Weed: The name may be a turnoff, but it has a great smell and is supposedly great for salads!

Pitcher Plant: This plant is cool because it doesn’t technically repel mosquitoes but eats them!

Rosemary: Rosemary is great by itself for repelling mosquitoes, or you can extract its oils and put it into lotions to make some fresh-smelling repellent on the go!

Snowbrush: Snowbrush is effective in repelling mosquitoes, but it is considered a weed in many areas.

Sweet Fern: Sweet Fern is especially effective in repelling mosquitoes when it is burned in a fire.

Tansy: This plant is very colorful, so it’s a great addition to your yard.

Tea Tree: Tea Trees repel mosquitoes but their oils can also be used to sooth irritations caused by mosquitoes or other outdoor factors.

Vanilla Leaf: This plant is a great choice because it has an interesting shape and is also effective in keeping away mosquitoes!

Home Buying in Years Past…

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Recently, the Seattle Times published a piece about a home on Capital Hill in Seattle.  This home, like most in the neighborhood is beautifully well kept, and has stood the test of time.  Although originally built as a single family residence, it has since been renovated to hold 11 apartments.  What makes this property unique though, is that it was ordered from a catalog! Sears Catalog Homes were just that.  You could browse floor plans in the catalog, decide which you liked, and they’d ship all of the materials to you so that you could build the home yourself! Pretty wild!

To read the Seattle Times piece, click here.

**photo taken from previous Zillow rental advertisement.

Home Improvements that Pay Off

Here’s a look at this year’s trends for popular remodeling projects and how those projects retain resale value in the Pacific region of the country for mid-range homes.

Entry Door Replacement (steel) – Job cost: $1,366 Resale value: $1,683, Cost recouped. 123.0%

Deck Addition (wood) – Job cost: $11,685 Resale value: $11,828, Cost recouped. 101.2%

Garage Door Replacement – Job cost: $1,756 Resale value: $1,929, Cost recouped. 110.0%

Attic Bedroom – Job cost: $60,675 Resale value: $55.646, Cost recouped. 91.7%

Bathroom Remodel – Job cost: $19,436 Resale value: $16.681, Cost recouped. 85.8%

Window Replacement (wood) – Job cost: $12,489 Resale value: $11.911, Cost recouped. 95.4%

Two-Story Addition – Job cost: $183,801 Resale value: $136,524, Cost recouped. 74.3%

Deck Addition (composite) – Job cost: $17,484 Resale value: $13,995, Cost recouped. 80.0%

Sunroom Addition – Job cost: $83,694 Resale value: $47,488, Cost recouped. 56.7%

Bathroom Addition – Job cost: $45,635 Resale value: $33,715, Cost recouped. 73.9%

Window Replacement (vinyl) – Job cost: $11,465 Resale value: $10,372, Cost recouped. 90.5%

Source: Morderno Real Estate