Interested in growing your own vegetable garden but not sure where to start? Whether you’re a novice or have some experience with gardening, it’s not difficult to learn the basics of how to create one. What’s most beneficial about planting your own fruits and vegetables is that you can feel good about using them in the foods you serve your family every day. Most would agree that gardening is also a fulfilling hobby that will give you many hours of enjoyment. There is nothing quite like growing your own vegetables with all the aromatic flavors and vibrant colors, not to mention all the health benefits you’ll receive. Serving your family garden-to-table organic food is one of the keys to living a healthy lifestyle. In April we celebrate Lawn and Garden Month and National Gardening Day on April 14th #nationalgardeningday. So, if you’ve never planted a vegetable garden and can’t wait to get your hands in the spoil, here are some great tips to get you started:
1. Find a Sunny Location
Vegetables thrive best when basking in lots of sunlight—most will grow well with at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun each day. Even though some leafy vegetables like lettuce may do fine in some shade, you’ll still want to give the entire garden as much sun as possible.
Smart Tip:Try a container garden if a backyard vegetable garden seems too ambitious. You can plant your vegetables and herbs in containers and place them directly on a terrace or patio where they will get the most sun.
2. Consider the Size of Your Garden
If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start small. Make sure your vegetable garden is large enough to ensure the proper growth of your plants. Consider how much space each vegetable needs to grow by following the spacing guide directions on the seed packets or plantings. You can also check out the “Old Farmer’s Almanac,” where you’ll find an excellent online garden planning tool.
Smart tip: Climbing produce like tomatoes, cucumbers and winter squash do well on vertical supports like an A-frame trellis.
3. Proximity to a Water Source
This tip is essential, especially during the first few weeks of planting. To help the seeds germinate properly, you’ll need to water them frequently to ensure they produce strong roots. Once your plants are established, you can water them less frequently, like every few days.
Smart Tip: Water sources set on timers can help you save money and ensure your vegetable garden receives the optimal drink at the right times during the day.
4. Soil that Works Best
To grow a successful vegetable garden, you must first start with great soil. You can buy a specially prepared potting mix for vegetable gardens at your local garden center or save money and make your own. Experts say a good gardening soil should be loose, not be too sandy or heavy like clay, and contain a combination of potting soil, compost, and organic matter that helps the roots of the plant retain water and remain aerated.
Smart Tip: Prepare your own compost with a mixture of vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and eggshells. It’s easy to do and eco-friendly, too..
5. Gardening Tools to Use
Working with the right gardening tools is necessary to ensure your vegetable garden thrives. You’ll need:
- Gardening Gloves—available in fun colors, gardening gloves are necessary to protect your hands from the soil, sharp stems or vines. Make sure they are water-resistant and not too tight.
- Trowel—an essential tool for every gardener, a trowel acts as an extension of your hand, making digging holes, mixing potting soil and planting your seeds much easier.
- Garden Fork or Rake—you’ll need to keep these tools handy to loosen the soil and pull up any surrounding weeds.
- Sharp Shooter—this tool is similar to a trowel, but creates more precise, deeper holes for your seeds and plantings.
- Hand Pruners—this is tool is an essential item in every gardener’s toolbox. Pruners are used to trim each plant, so it remains healthy and does not overgrow. They are also used to cut thorny or dead branches away.
- Spade or Hoe—these handy digging tools come in many sizes and help you prepare your plant beds. A wide flat hoe is recommended for digging a vegetable garden.
- Watering Wand—a watering can cover a larger area, but this handy little tool allows you to pinpoint precisely the area you want to receive water.
Smart Tip: Use a wheelbarrow or garden cart to easily transport your soil, plants and gardening supplies.
6. Select the Right Veggies
Kids can be picky eaters when it comes to eating vegetables. But allowing them to select the ones they would like to see grown may encourage them to try new varieties. You should always plant the fruits, vegetables, and herbs you are most likely like to eat and use in your everyday cooking.
Smart tip: The best vegetables to start a vegetable garden with include carrots, beets, zucchini, peppers, peas, cherry tomatoes, spinach and lettuce. These are considered among the easiest to grow.
7. How to Get Rid of Small Pests and Bugs
Gardeners and farmers everywhere share the age-old problem of trying to keep pests from eating what they’ve grown. While there is no tried-and-true way to accomplish this, expert gardeners suggest trying things like spreading eggshells and coffee grounds beneath plants, or planting aromatic herbs like citronella, mint, and fennel, which have been known to keep insects away. Also, making an effort to control weeds will help keep the bugs at bay.
Smart Tip: A short mesh fence may help deter unwanted small animals like rabbits or squirrels from eating your fruits and vegetables.
Your Garden Oasis Awaits
Have you always dreamed of owning a home with a backyard where you could spend hours planting and tending to your garden? Do you long to see the vibrant colors and taste the freshness of the vegetables you’ve grown? Celebrating your home is what Premier Mortgage Associates is all about, and that’s why our experienced loan officers are always ready to help you finance the perfect home where you can build your garden oasis! We have a variety of different loan products that may fit your needs.
There’s no denying that the experience of moving, especially moving day, can be overwhelming, triggering emotions like stress and anxiety in even the calmest and most organized person. Whether this is your first time or 10th, moving is just one of those life experiences you have to go through to get to the happy result—living in your beautiful new home with your cherished possessions surrounding you! No matter if you’re moving five miles away or 3,000 miles away—the moving process is one you can’t skip. You’ll need to be present to pack up your stuff into boxes, load it onto a vehicle and have it transported from your old residence to your new home. But the moving process doesn’t have to be difficult. You can create a seamless transition from point A to point B by following a few simple tips. Whether you’re moving on your own or hiring a mover, here’s how to make your moving journey as hassle-free and easy as possible.
1. Prepare. You’ll need to put your moving plan into action.
- Call a mover. If you’ve decided to use a mover, it’s best to call around and get a few quotes. Although affordability is a factor, the lowest-priced mover may not necessarily be the best. There are other factors to consider: Are they licensed? Do they have five-star Google reviews? Do they use newer trucks? Do they include packing materials and insurance in the quote? One of the best ways to hire a mover is to ask your neighbors in the community and friends for recommendations.
- Rent a POD. A POD, or portable storage container, is a perfect option if you are not in a rush and want to move your belongings at a leisurely pace. It is also more affordable than a traditional moving company. You can pack and load your stuff yourself, and then the POD company will move it for you locally or long distance. You can also store it at one of their facilities until you are ready to move into your new home.
- Check into moving insurance. Most movers will offer some insurance in the quote they give you. You might opt for extra moving insurance if you have costly items that would be irreplaceable if they get damaged, like a piano, paintings, or other heirlooms.
- Call the utility company. Cancel your present utilities at least 48 hours in advance and let them know your move date. Call for an appointment to install your utilities in the new home at least one month in advance. The services you’ll need to set up may include water, electricity, Internet, cable and a security system.
- Change your address/forward your mail. You can fill out a change of address form at the post office and submit it up to three months before your move at www.usps.com. The mail can be unpredictable, so it’s best to notify your homeowner’s insurance company, car insurance, life insurance, medical insurance, and credit cards online or by calling, as these are services you can’t afford to lapse. If you’re moving on your own or your mover does not provide packing supplies, you can start accumulating boxes from your office or ask neighbors if they have any to spare. You’ll need to visit your office supply shop to get packing tape, markers, bubble wrap, and other essential packing materials.
- Donate to Goodwill. Now is a great time to start looking through your closets for the stuff you no longer need or wear to donate to Goodwill. You can donate clothes, kids’ toys, dishes, sheets, towels, electronics, and anything you don’t use anymore. The best part is that you’ll have a lot less packing to do and get a charitable donation tax break.
2. Pack. Packing is the most time-consuming part of the moving process, but with a little careful planning, you’ll sail through this step like a champ!
- Bubble wrap your fragile and breakable items. If you’re not adept at wrapping and would prefer a professional to help, most movers offer this service, or you can find a service online that will help you wrap and box up most items in your home.
- Leave clothes in drawers. Don’t waste time or energy packing clothes that you are just going to put back into the drawers anyway. If they are too heavy, take the drawers out, and bubble wrap them separately.
- Color-code boxes. Designating colors for each room with a sticker or marker makes it easier to remember where everything goes when you get to your new home.
- Photograph the backs of TVs and computers. This helpful hack ensures you’ll know exactly where your wires go instead of facing a confusing tangle of wires when the time comes to reinstall your electronics.
3. Move. Moving day is finally here! Even with the best-laid plans, things may not always go as expected. But you’ll be more than prepared with a few simple tips.
- Pack a moving kit for the car. This kit should include essential items for the day like water, snacks, plates, cups and plastic utensils for later when you’re hungry and can’t find your box of utensils or plates. It happens!
- Have a plan for your kids. If you have small children to care for, it’s best to leave them with a relative or family friend for the day so you can focus on the move. Allow tweens and teens to help by packing their own items and setting them up in their new rooms later.
- Have a plan for pets. Your fur babies are precious members of your family; take steps to ensure they don’t get lost in the chaos of moving day. Open doors provide the perfect escape for your pet to go exploring around the neighborhood unaccompanied. Avoid losing your pet by arranging for a trusted person to care for them on moving day.
- Take treasured smaller items with you. Even with the most experienced movers, accidents happen, and they can break things you can’t replace. If there is room, taking them with you can minimize any losses.
- Finish all your packing the day before the move. Having last-minute things to pack and sort while movers are putting stuff into the truck can lead to confusion, and ultimately more stress. You’ll find things go smoother when everything is boxed up and ready to go on moving day. Now you can breathe easier!
Welcome to Your New Home!
We want you to have many wonderful years in your new home, making memories with the people that matter most to you. That’s why the mortgage team at Premier Mortgage Associates works hard to assist you in finding the best financing, whether it’s for a refinance or a new purchase. For more than 25 years, we’ve been helping clients find exceptional loan products to fit their lifestyles and budgets
You’ve just closed on the home of your dreams, and now moving day is finally here! And if that isn’t stressful enough, you need to get your pet safely from point A to point B without causing either of you too much anxiety. If you’re moving with your dog or cat, or both, then you may be wondering how to make the transition as smooth and hassle-free as possible. What obstacles will you encounter along the way, and how can you prepare for what lies ahead with a minimal amount of stress? After all, Fido and Kitty may feel uncertain and even frightened in a new environment, not knowing what to expect. And since most of us consider our pets family, finding safe and comfortable ways to move them, causing them as little upset as possible, is a high priority. So, if you want to learn how best to navigate your move with your furry companion, read on for 5 great tips to ensure you and your pet experience a smooth and safe transition to your new home!
1. Preparing Your Pet for the Move
You can never be too prepared when moving with your pet. Some can experience major anxiety and stress when moving, especially cats. Pet experts suggest taking your dog for a short walk around the new neighborhood a few times if possible, to acclimate them to their new environment. Once your pet is familiar with some of the new sights, sounds and smells it may encounter, you can face moving day with more confidence.
Flying on a plane with a dog or cat can often be challenging. Your airline will have specific rules for flying with pets. Call the airline ahead of time to see what precautions to take to ensure they’ll be as comfortable as possible.
2. Research a New Veterinarian in Your Area
If you are moving to a new area, you should begin researching a new veterinarian asap. Ask your present vet or new neighbors for recommendations. Make sure to note the address and phone number of the closest pet emergency hospital to be prepared if something unexpected happens during the move. You’ll also have one less thing to worry about if you ensure your pet’s vaccinations and prescriptions are up to date before you move.
3. Your Pet’s Moving Day Essentials Kit
Remember to set aside a labeled box for your pet’s belongings. Keep their favorite toys on hand to make them feel more comfortable in their carrier or crate. Also, it’s a good idea on a long trip to keep your pet’s food and bowls, treats, grooming supplies, leash, litter boxes and cleaning supplies handy. Keep your new vet and the Animal Poison Control Center hotline (888) 426-4435 accessible. It’s unlikely, but sometimes, a beloved pet may temporarily get lost in the confusion of moving. To prevent this from happening, ensure your pet gets chipped before you move, or if that’s not an option, ensure its collar tag is up to date with your correct phone number and new address.
4.Traveling the Day of Your Move
Whether your new home is 20 miles away or 1,000 miles away, traveling in a car with your pet isn’t always fun. Vets say to resist the urge to take Fluffy out of the carrier or crate while the car is in motion. Remember that just like a human, an unrestrained pet can get seriously hurt in an accident. Experts agree that restraining your dog or cat in the back seat with a crate or pet-safe seat belt is the safest practice for everyone. Your pet will feel more secure, and you’ll breathe a sigh of relief knowing it will arrive safely at your destination. Most cats are especially stressed in cars, so keeping them in their crate at all times is the smart choice. On a longer drive, to prevent bathroom accidents, make sure to stop every two hours to allow your pet to relieve itself, drink water and stretch its legs. While this is not difficult for dogs, for cats, experimentation with their litter box and its placement may require some patience.
5. Adjusting to a New Home
Adjusting to a new home takes time and patience for the whole family, especially your pets. Some may adapt quickly, while others may adjust in time. Dogs usually have an easier time than cats, who will ultimately need more time to explore their new environment on their own terms without any pressure. The main thing pet experts say is to maintain your pets’ consistency with meals and potty breaks. Always ensure that there is a designated place for water, food bowls and litter boxes. Try taking your dogs out for walks several times a day to tire them out when they seem stressed.
Moving with pets is never easy but following these essential tips may help make the transition to loving their new home much quicker and easier.
Pets Make a House a Home
At Premier Mortgage Associates, we know your furry companion means everything to you, providing endless hours of joy and making your house feel more like a home. Whether you’ve found a property with a big yard that offers more space for your pet to run around, or an area with walking trails and a dog park, our experienced team is ready to assist you in financing the home of your dreams. For more than 25 years, Premier Mortgage Associates has been helping clients find exceptional loan products to fit their budget and lifestyle. Our mortgage specialists are the best in the business and are passionate about helping their clients.
Has your dream of homeownership been dashed because your credit score doesn’t measure up? Well, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans just like you have less than stellar credit scores that can impact the ability to purchase a home, new car and get personal loans or more credit. If you’re saving to buy a home soon, then arming yourself with a good or excellent credit score is essential. Interest rates are still at record lows, and if you plan to take advantage of these competitive rates, your credit needs to be in top shape. Finance experts agree that checking in on your financial health, including your credit score, is one of the smartest moves you can make. Your FICO score is one of the most important indicators of your credit health. The scores range from 300 to 850, with scores between 800 and 850 rated as superior by lenders. Aim high and make it a routine to do something every month to improve and raise your score. Consolidate your debts into a credit card with a low balance transfer and try to pay off as much of your debt as you can. Check out these other practical suggestions to get smart about credit and give your score a boost:
Pay your credit card bills on time.
It seems like a no-brainer. But you’d be surprised how many people forget to pay their bills on time. When it comes to your credit health, late payments are a detriment. It’s important to keep track of when your bills are due, whether you pay them online or through the mail. Late fees can be exorbitant, some up to $40 a cycle and can negatively impact your credit score for up to seven years. Yes, seven years! When you pay your bills on time, it shows lenders you are responsible and can be trusted to pay back their loan on time.
Lower your utilization rate.
Your credit score is affected by your utilization rate. So, if you have a $2,000 limit on one card and your balance is $1,000, your utilization rate is 50%. Financial experts agree that your overall credit utilization should not exceed 30%. A good strategy to lower your utilization rate is to pay off your balances every month. If that’s not possible, you should try to pay more than the minimum payment. Even $10 extra more per month will help you get there faster.
Keep old credit cards to establish a long history.
Your credit card’s age can impact your score—positively. How long you hold on to your credit cards accounts for 10% of your credit score. You may be inclined to cut up your credit card after you’ve paid it off like a job well done—but not so fast! If possible, your older cards should be held on to because they help establish a beneficial credit history.
Pay down your cards to lower your DTI ratio.
It’s essential to pay the minimum balance on your credit cards and loans at the very least. The more you can throw at your balance every month, the better. That’s because lenders look at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio when determining how much house you can afford. A DTI is determined by the amount of debt and how it relates to your income. In general, the lower your DTI ratio, the better the chance you’ll have of obtaining a mortgage at a rate you want. Lenders like to see a DTI ratio lower than 36%, with no more than 28% of your debt going to your mortgage payment each month.
Don’t open new lines of credit or take out new loans.
Your credit history is one of your credit score’s main components, and new credit inquiries, called “hard” inquiries, can harm your score and mortgage eligibility. Hard inquiries can stay on your credit report for years. So, if purchasing a home in the near future is your goal, then hold off on buying that new car, large appliance, or new computer for the time being because it could impact your credit score negatively.
The Bottom Line
There are many ways you can improve your credit score and build it up, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s an easy fix. Take the time to do it right by consistently paying your bills on time, not spending more than you earn and putting as much money as possible towards the monthly balance. In time you’ll see that balance shrink and your credit score rise leading to better loan opportunities! The mortgage specialists at Premier Mortgage Associates have been helping people achieve the dream of homeownership for over 25 years. We know that qualifying for a mortgage can be frustrating at times, and you may not always know who to trust or turn to for advice. We’re a trusted lender with a reputation for customer satisfaction. We’ll help you make smart decisions by presenting you with your best options. And to ensure you don’t make any mistakes, we will be with you every step of the way. To learn more about our loan products and programs, contact one of our mortgage specialists today!