Old and dried out PointsetaAre you a plant killer?  If so, don’t feel discouraged.  Many people looking to add a touch of green to their homes end up on the “most wanted” list.  Luckily for them (and perhaps you as well), plant killing isn’t a crime.  Also, there are a few plants that can survive even the most neglectful of plant keepers.  If you think that keeping houseplants healthy is out of your league, then give these hardy friends a chance to shine in your home.

Air Plants – Also known as Epiphytes, these plants derive most, if not all of the moisture and nutrients they need from the air.  They can be put almost anywhere in your home, and are virtually indestructible.  These plants don’t even need soil.  At most, they’ll need a light mist every few months.

Succulents – These plants are known for their large, fleshy, unusual appearance.  A common misconception about Succulents is that they are cacti.  While it is true that most cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti.  They are relatively cheap to purchase, and once rooted, can be a beautiful addition to your home.  Given the abundance of varieties to choose from, odds are you’ll be able to find a succulent that complements any home style.

Aloe – Not only is aloe a succulent, it is one of only a few plants that can be kept for not only decorative purposes, but medicinal as well.  The gel in aloe vera plants has been used for skin irritations, such as cuts and burns.  The gel can also be processed into soaps.

Jade – Jade is also a succulent, and can be a beautiful addition to your home.  Many jade plants are purchased as bonsai trees, and upkeep is minimal.  While not as hardy as the other plants on the list, this is a good plant to take a shot at after you’ve managed to keep a few air plants and hardier succulents alive.

Golden Pothos – Not only is this plant incredibly hardy, it also qualifies as an “air scrubber”, removing toxins from the air in your home.  Trimmings can easily be cultivated into plants, and the rate of growth can be incredibly fast.  Care should be taken to avoid ingestion by pets and children.

It is time to start thinking about this summer’s vegetable garden. By starting your garden indoors you can get an early start on the season and save money by starting your plants from inexpensive seeds.

This guide from GardenGuides.com has everything you need to get started.

What You’ll Need

A Sunny Window:
Plants like a southern exposure. If you don’t have a window that will do, consider investing in some cool-white florescent bulbs.

Containers:
Try all kinds to see what works for you. Make sure they are clean and have good drainage. If you are using a fiber or peat pot, soak it well before adding soil. Dry fiber pots draw moisture away from the soil.

Seeds:
You’ll get the best results if you purchase fresh seeds, packaged for the upcoming growing season. If you have saved seeds that you purchased last year, test the germination rate before planting.

Growing Medium:
Nothing beats a good commercial medium because it is sterile and free of unwanted weed seeds. If you want to make your own, here are a couple of good recipes:

Cornell Mix
4 quarts of shredded peat moss or sphagnum, 2 teaspoons ground limestone, 4 tablespoons 5-10-10 fertilizer.

Simple Mix
1 part loam, 1 part clean sand or perlite, 1 part leaf mold or moist peat.

Sowing Seeds
Fill pots or flats to within 1/4 inch of the top with your potting mixture and level the surface. It’s a good idea to water the soil and allow it to drain thoroughly before sowing the seeds. Make a hole for each seed with your finger or a pencil. Keep in mind that most seeds need to be planted four times as deep as the seed is wide. If your seeds are very fine, cover them with a fine layer of soil.

Moisture and Humidity
Germinating medium should be kept evenly moist but not soaking wet. Too much moisture will cause the seeds to rot. Use a fine sprayer to water newly planted seeds and tiny seedlings or, if possible, water from the bottom. If you can, slip your pots and flats into plastic bags to keep the humidity and moisture even and reduce the frequency of watering.

Light
Some seeds require light to germinate while others prefer total darkness. Your seed packet should tell you what your seed’s requirements are. Once germinated, all seedlings need light to develop into strong, healthy plants. Supplement the natural light with florescent bulbs if necessary.

Seedling Care
The care you give your seedlings in the weeks following germination is critical. Keep it moist, but not dripping. Small pots and flats dry out quickly, so check it often. If your seedlings are growing in a windowsill, turn often to encourage straight stems.

The first two leaves you will see on the plant are not true leaves but food storage cells called cotyledons. Once the first true leaves have developed, it’s time to start fertilizing. Choose a good liquid organic fertilizer and use a weak solution once a week.

Hardening Off
One week before transplanting your seedlings outdoors, start to harden them off. This process acclimates the soft and tender plants, which have been protected from wind, cool temperatures, and strong sun, to their new environment. Move the plants to a shady outdoor area at first, and bring them indoors for the night if night temperatures are cold. Each day, move them out into the sun for a few hours, increasing the time spent in the sun each day. Keep them well watered during this period, and don’t place them directly on the ground if slugs are a problem. Monitor them closely for insect damage since tender young seedlings are a delicacy for insects.

Transplanting
Don’t be in a rush to set your plants in the garden. If they won’t withstand frost, be sure all danger of frost has passed before setting them out. Plan the garden in advance. Consider companion planting and plant sizes. Make sure your tall plants won’t shade low growing neighbors.

Water the ground outside and the seedlings thoroughly before transplanting. This helps prevent transplant shock. It’s preferable to transplant on a cloudy day so strong sun won’t wilt your seedlings. Dig a hole about twice the size of the root ball and set the transplant into the hole so the root ball will be covered by 1/4 inch of soil. Press the soil firmly around the roots. A small depression around the plant stem will help trap moisture. Water immediately after transplanting and every day for the first week. Be sure to water deeply so you plants won’t develop shallow roots.

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When it is time to sell your home you may have much work to do before the sign is placed on the front lawn. If you would like to sell your home for more money or in less time you will need to prepare your home to sell.

One way to sell your home for more money in less time is to stage your home. Statistics show that home staging is credited with selling 95 percent of homes within 35 days or less.

Here are some tips to get your home ready for the market:

Prepare your home to sell to the most likely buyer. The average buyer nationally is 32, while the average seller is 57.  Remove items in the home that may be out dated and add in more modern items that appeal to a younger buyer.

Start at the front door. The front door is the first thing a potential buyer will see, so make a good impression. Spruce up the landscaping, wash the front door and clean up the trim around the door. Make the entry neat and welcoming.

Clear out the clutter. A good rule of thumb is to remove about one third of your belongings. Pay special attention to removing extra pieces of furniture, like ottomans, bookcases, and decorative pieces.

Depersonalize the home by removing all photos, memorabilia and other personal items.  This will help the buyer envision the home as their own, picturing their personal items around the house rather than yours.

Clean the home very thoroughly. Dust under the furniture, clean the grout and all the other places that may not receive everyday upkeep. “

Freshen up the paint and neutralize your wall colors. It is best to stick with white, cream or pale earth tones.

Where you place your furniture can make a big difference. It sets the mood and tone for that room.

Most homes are filled with furniture-arranging challenges. Follow these simple tips to turn your design dilemmas into successful arrangements.

1. Take Measurements

The first step in arranging a space is to know the size. Determine the dimensions by measuring with a tape measure. You will want to know the dimensions before shopping for any furniture. If the room is not square you may want to also do a drawing to bring shopping with you.

Make sure to also measure the doorways, dimensions of the hallways, and stairs that lead into the space. You will want to make sure any purchases you make will be able to fit into the room.

2. Mix It Up

Choose furniture of different volumes; each piece of furniture has a height, depth and width mix up the pieces to create an interesting look. If you want a modern or peaceful feel keep the volumes of the pieces similar.

3. Remember Scale

The size of pieces should be relative to the space. If you are furnishing an older home with smaller rooms adding large overstuffed furniture makes the room feel crowded and out of place. Alternatively, if the room is large having small pieces seems odd.

4. Create Relationships

Furniture and accessories have relationships with other items in the space. You will want to create balance; it could be symmetrical or asymmetrical balance. Asymmetry is an imbalance. For example, place two similar accessories of slightly different sizes next to each other. Symmetry would be two accessories that are the same next to each other.

5. Split it Up

All furniture arrangements take on a certain form or totality. For example, if you have a large rectangular spaces it can be split into separate forms or spaces. Think of creating zones within a room; one zone could be for the media area and another for conversation.

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