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If you’re going to start a garden one of the most important things to consider is the structure of the soil. Not all plant life will grow in all soil conditions and therefore before you waste your seeds, it is best to know what type of soil you are dealing with and how you can go about improving it so that it can properly nourish the plants you wish to grow.

Soil Tests
In order to achieve high quality plant growth the soil has to have decent pH levels. PH levels are measured on a scale of 1 to 14 with 7 being neutral. Soil that is rated below a 7 is acidic (also known as sour), whereas soil rated higher than a 7 is alkaline (also known as sweet). These numbers are needed to determine how well the plant will draw nutrients from the soil.
By taking a soil test you can easily find out if your soil is neutral, acidic, or alkaline and make the proper adjustments according to the types of plants you wish to grow. In any case, most plants can withstand the neutral soil conditions with a rating of anywhere from 5.2 to 7.2. If your soil is too acidic or alkaline you will need to add either lime or sulfur.
You can easily find a soil testing kit by visiting a home improvement store. The kits will provide you with an instant analysis of the type of soil you have, its pH levels, and the nutrient levels. If you don’t want to test it yourself you can also check local laboratories that can test the soil for you. Results will not happen instantly and take a few weeks to return. However, some new gardeners prefer going to a lab because they also receive advice on how to amend the soil to better conditions.

Steps to Home Testing Your Soil
If you’ve purchased a home soil testing kit you will see that it includes some vials and tablets for you to test the soil. There are charts available to help you interpret the results with ease. Be sure to carefully follow all the instructions on the kit for the best results. All you need to do is stick the meter probe into the soil and review the chart for your results.

Steps to Lab Testing Your Soil
If you are going to send your soil samples off for analysis by a laboratory you are going to need to have a garden trowel, a clean bucket, and a clean plastic container. Next you will need to sterilize and thoroughly clean the tools you will be using to collect the sample. Then in the area you intend to plant in, dig up five holes that measure about six to eight inches deep. Remove a ½ inch slice along the side of a hole and put it into the bucket repeating this process for all five of the holes. Mix all the soil into a bucket and then spread it onto a newspaper to fully dry out. Collect a least a pint for a significant sample.

Weeds whether pretty attractive or downright ugly can be a pain in the neck. They can grow in your garden, walkways, sidewalks, and even up the side of your home if not properly removed. If you are looking for safe do it yourself solutions on how to rid yourself of weeds, you have come to the right place. Below are a few common and uncommon ways for which you can kiss those weeds goodbye.

Baking Soda
If you’re looking for a great way to keep the weeds at bay you can easily sprinkle a handful of baking soda onto the concrete areas in your yard which can include the driveways, patios, and walkways. The sodium makes it a less friendly environment for troublesome weeds like dandelions.

Bleach
Another option for getting rid of weeds found on concrete is to pour a bit of undiluted bleach over the concrete. Let the bleach sit for about a day or so and then proceed to remove them. They should remove much easier and the bleach prevents it from returning so soon.

Carpet Scraps
Did you know that a few pieces of carpet scraps turned upside down can keep your garden free from weeds? Place the carpet upside down and cover it with mulch.

Plastic Shower Curtains
Another great way to keep the weeds at bay in your garden is to utilize a shower curtain. When doing landscaping that involves gravel or bark chips all you have to do is place the shower curtain underneath the mulching materials. This prevents the weeds from poking through.

Vinegar
Another great solution for troublesome weeds poking through your driveway or patio is to try some vinegar. Using a plastic spray bottle you can easily rid yourself of weeds by spraying some full strength apple cider or white vinegar. Early in your gardening season gently spritz your plant in the middle of the flower before the plants go to seed. Spraying more around the stem near the ground will allow the vinegar to also soak into the roots. However, this should be done on a day where there won’t be any rain for a few days after. If it does rain you will need to re-spray the plants again.

Vodka
You probably wouldn’t have though to look to your liquor cabinet for a safe remedy to get rid of weeds but vodka can work wonders. All you need to do is mix about one ounce of vodka with a few drops of liquid dish soap, about two cups of water into a plastic spray bottle. Generously spray it on the leaves of the weeds until the solution is dripping off. By also applying it to the weeds on a sunny day is a great way to help the alcohol break down the wax barrier found on leaves. This allows the leaves to become hydrated and thus will kill the weeds.

Last but not least on the list of easy remedies to try for getting rid of weeds is WD-40. This is great for prickly weeds such as the Russian Thistle. WD-40 will speed up the withering process and cause them to die.

If you’re a new gardener the very sight of warm spring weather makes you think about planting. The onset of warmer temperatures is nature’s way of saying that the winter frost has passed and gardening season is well on its way. While your seeds will need to be prepped in different ways, there are some basics you can do such as prepping the soil so that you’re ready once planting season begins.

Let’s Get Physical
It is important to point out that there is going to be quite a bit of physical work involved, however, it is very self explanatory and can be done with ease. The process is simple step by step and does not all have to be done at once. So for those who have a larger garden area, prepping your soil in parts is okay so that you don’t stress yourself out physically.

Start Date
Don’t let the warm weather fool you. Simply because the temperatures have changed does not mean it is the best time to begin working on your soil. Prematurely digging into wet soil can damage the structure and cause long term damage to your crops. A great way to test the moisture levels in your soil is to take a handful of it and drop it to the ground while holding it approximately at waist height. If the soil does not break apart that means that it is not ready to work with.

Making Room
If your soil is dry enough to work with then you can begin garden bed preparations by getting rid of all the surface vegetation. This means removing any unwanted weeds or dead crops from the ground.

Fixing the Soil
Once you have your garden bed all cleared out it is time to add any amendments to the soil that you may need. Some prefer to add in a few inches of compost as well as fertilizers to enhance the quality of the soil. If you can, you should also check the PH balance of your soil to see if you need to add either limestone to acidic soil or pipe sawdust for soils that are alkaline. This can be done by scattering either limestone or pipe sawdust around the soil and then incorporating it in. When soil is in good shape you only have to dig a few inches utilizing a fork, however, for compacted soil it may take more time to dig so that you can get the ingredients mixed into the soil.
After you have completed adding the amendments to the soil to improve its overall structure and quality you are now ready for the final step. You will need to break apart all of the large solid clumps of soil you might find laying around. This can be done with a fork easily. Then after breaking up the clumps you should shape the bed using a rake. After your garden bed has been shaped properly you are ready to begin sowing or planting once your garden season officially arrives.

If you’re new to vegetable gardening there is a lot you need to learn about the planning process. There are particular times of year when it is best to plant gardens and if you’re not fully aware of this you could end up wasting a lot of energy, time, and money. Aside from knowing exactly when to plant your garden there are other basics that include selecting a site to plant, measuring the plot size, determining which vegetables you’re going to grow, and making the actual design.

One of the most common errors made by novice gardeners is planting too many vegetables before the actual planting season begins. This leaves them with more vegetables than anyone can eat. It is important to keep in mind that its best to start with a small garden than a large one that turns out to be a waste and a disappointment. Below are some other basics you should know about when to plan your gardening.

Timing is Everything

Below are a few of the basics that should be consider when deciding on when to plan a vegetable garden. With growing crops it is important to keep in mind that timing is everything and growing vegetables too soon or too late could really be the worst thing you could do.

Obtaining First and Last Frost Dates

Check a reputable site such as the almanac for the first and last frost dates in your area. The dates you find are typical averages for light frost. Keep in mind that local weather could cause these dates to vary just a bit so checking back periodically is an ideal choice. Chances of frost happening after the spring and prior to fall are about 50%. Below is a ideal definition for each frost category. Remember that these categories are based on how the temperatures will affect plants.

Light Freeze

This is 29 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. While tender plants can easily be killed there is little or no effect on other forms of vegetation.

Moderate Freeze

This is between 25 and 28 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures are seriously dangerous on most vegetation types with particular severe damage to tender plants, semi hardy plants, and fruit blossoms.

Severe Freeze

This is between 24 degrees Fahrenheit and colder. These temperatures are severely detrimental to all plant life.

Now that you have a general meaning, check the farmer’s almanac to determine when these dates are for you in your location as they vary around the US. These dates should be marked on a calendar for reminders of planting and harvesting.

When to Plant

When trying to figure out the best time to begin planting your seeds in the spring you should pay close attention to the last spring frost as this is essential to successful planting. Other factors to consider would be the temperature of the soil, slope and altitude of the land, length of daylight, and nearby waters.

By keeping a decent record of your garden and how it grows each year, you can make a determination the following years as to when to start planning and planting.

Gardens can be a great pastime that not only gives you something enjoyable to do each day, but also that provides many benefits to your health and the environment. If you’re new to gardening it can be daunting if you don’t start with a plan. There are plenty of decisions that will need to be made and having a plan in place can really make all the difference in how your garden turns out. Below are a few bits of advice on how to get started in producing a garden full of fresh foods you can enjoy.

Select a Location
You might think that you can just set up your garden in any location but this is not the case. You are going to need to select a good location for your crops to grown. You want to select a location where there is a decent amount of exposure to the sun as well as easy access to water.

Check the Soil
Another part of starting your own garden is checking the soil. You will need to make sure that you have checked the soil to see what type you have and also assess whether your soil needs anything else to help your garden grow more productively. If you’re not sure of how to test the soil you can easily talk with a landscaping professional who can have it tested for you.

Choose Your Crops
Now comes the most challenging part of gardening. There are so many plants out there to choose from that making the best decisions can be tough. The main things to remember when choosing plants are the soil type as not all plants will grow in all types of soil. Other than that you must consider the types of plants you want to grow and how much time you have to invest in caring for them. Consider choosing plants based on their level of maintenance.

Purchase Your Tools
There are plenty of varieties of tools and resources that you can use to make the task of gardening a lot more convenient and fun. However, there are some tools that just about every gardener should have including shovels for digging, pruners, and other tools. It is ideal that you don’t go overboard when choosing tools for gardening because chances are you won’t get much use out of them. Be sure to purchase tools that are comfortable and durable for longer use.

Now all that’s left to do is plant your seeds or plantlets and begin caring for your garden. Try to keep a list of the crops you have, their care instructions, and a schedule for caring for them. This will help you to remember to care for the crops on the routine basis. While you may have heard that gardening is hard, once you’ve gotten the hang of it there is something so rewarding about growing your own foods that the chore of gardening becomes relaxing. With a bit of hard work and routine maintenance you should be able to start harvesting your crops within a few short months.

Your website is where your business resides — it’s like the headquarter of an offline company. Hence, it is important to practice good design principles to make sure your site reaches out to the maximum number of visitors and sells to as many people as possible.

Make sure you have clear directions on the navigation of your website. The navigation menu should be uncluttered and concise so that visitors know how to navigate around your website without confusion.

Reduce the number of images on your website. They make your site load very slowly and more often than not they are very unnecessary. If you think any image is essential on your site, make sure you optimize them using image editing programs so that they have a minimum file size.

Keep your text paragraphs at a reasonable length. If a paragraph is too long, you should split it into separate paragraphs so that the text blocks will not be too big. This is important because a block of text that is too large will deter visitors from reading your content.

Make sure your website complies to web standards at www.w3.org and make sure they are cross-browser compatible. If your website looks great in Internet Explorer but breaks horribly in Firefox and Opera, you will lose out on a lot of prospective visitors.

Avoid using scripting languages on your site unless it is absolutely necessary. Use scripting languages to handle or manipulate data, not to create visual effects on your website. Heavy scripts will slow down the loading time of your site and even crash some browsers. Also, scripts are not supported across all browsers, so some visitors might miss important information because of that.

Use CSS to style your page content because they save a lot of work by styling all elements on your website in one go.

When it comes to graphics, most Internet marketers shy away from using graphic templates whether it’s ebook covers, website layouts or promotional banners because they firmly believe that by using graphic templates, they are tarnishing their own business. They want to own a unique identity and hence will always find a professional graphic designer to do the job. Well, you’re in for a big surprise!

When you purchase a graphic template, you will be able to customize it to an extent or even build a totally new design based on it! What’s the point of using the template then, you say? Well, it serves as a source of inspiration and ideas for a totally new design. You can’t derive anything from a blank canvas, right?

On top of that, you are actually saving a lot of precious time that you can otherwise spend on more important matters like developing new products or market your products. When you buy a pre-made template, you only need to edit a thing or two to give it an identity of your own, and that gives you more time and flexibility to work on other stuff.

Okay, let’s say you argue that hiring a designer to do the job is equally fast. That may be true but don’t forget, hiring a professional designer to do a custom design for you will cost you a lot of money. Unless you need a totally unique identity that you are aiming to establish firmly in your niche market, you don’t need to get a designer to design it for you.

Not all graphic templates are suitable, so you have to be careful when choosing one. Consider quality over the price, and you’re on your way to creating a positive image for your business while saving more time for more productive chores!

In today’s economy more and more people are looking for ways to cut down on their spending without sacrificing the things that matter. This article is going to suggest some tips that you can apply to your life in order to reduce your spending. Remember that this is about making a lasting change, so there is no reason to implement these all at once. Implement the ones you are comfortable with and slowly add a few as you adjust.
Some of these ideas are mentioned in other articles I’ve posted but this is a quick list of 30 ideas.
Adjust the items to fit you and your lifestyle and add your own that you think of yourself. If you keep a hand written list somewhere that you can look at and work on then you don’t have to turn the computer on just to look at the list.

1. Replace Your Light bulbs with energy saving light bulbs.
2. Turn off your devices.
3. Unplug your devices.
4. Invest in vampire power protectors.
5. Turn off your heat, wear a sweater or snuggle up in a blanket.
6. Turn off your AC. Open a window and turn on a fan.
7. Hand wash your laundry.
8. Set your washer settings to cold water.
9. Invest in a drying rack instead of your dryer.
10. Cut liquid soaps with water.
11. Buy natural foods.
12. Don’t eat out or order in.
13. Exercise at home (with the help of online tutorials).
14. Start hobbies with the help of online tutorials before investing in lessons or tutors.
15. Become familiar with Craig’s List and Freecycle to pick up free things you may need.
16. Buy a coffee maker if you’re a coffee drinker.
17. Buy food in bulk.
18. Invest in a bike or a skateboard for local travel.
19. Use ridesharing sites and communities to cut down on the cost of gas.
20. Don’t pay for cable, the internet is better.
21. Cancel your land line, you don’t use it anyway.
22. Take shorter showers.
23. Get regular check ups and keep abreast of your health. Preventative care is much less costly than restorative care.
24. Go to community college for two years, then transfer to another school. It doesn’t matter where you start, it only matters where you finish.
25. Cut your own hair (much more advisable if you are a man).
26. Women, learn to style and care for your hair in order to cut down on salon trips.
27. Learn how to fix things such as clothing or household appliances. Something should only be thrown out if it’s unusable, not if you just don’t feel like fixing it.
28. Go to sleep earlier. The less you are awake during the darker hours of the day, the less you have to spend to light your house.
29. Get an induction stove top. This can be a major renovation, but it will save you money over the years as it is a much more efficient way of cooking.
30. Eat less. Americans tend to over eat. Most people do not need three meals a day. Eat smaller meals, spread out through the day. Light breakfasts, followed by snacks and light lunches (unless involved in heavy labor during the morning hours) and a solid dinner at night. Deserts should be small. You’ll find you need a lot less food than you’re accustom to thinking you need. This change will make you healthier and also save on health bills over time.

Living frugally does not have to mean living in conditions that you don’t like. There are often many things in our lives that we pay for, but rarely use or wouldn’t need if they were gone. Cutting back on spending is about finding these things and eliminating their costs from your life.

Laundry

Laundry is one of the most expensive luxuries most households maintain. A majority of our energy bill is generated by heating water. Cutting back on the amount of laundry you do will help conserve. But does that mean you have to live with dirty clothes? No. There are many simple hand devices that make hand washing much easier. Hand wash the clothes you wear on a regular basis so that piles of dirty laundry don’t accumulate in your hampers. This allows you access to your favorite clothes much faster than if you’d waited to throw them into a large load, and saves money. You also can cut costs by hanging the clothes on an inexpensive drying rack (which will also cut back on the need to iron them).

TV

Even if you are an avid TV fan, the internet makes most TV’s obsolete. You can follow your favorite shows online without needing to pay a monthly cable bill. Select TV watching also cuts back on your energy bill as you are much less likely to drift from show to show while online. Most newer TV’s also come with an HDMI hookup that allows you to connect your computer to your TV and turn the TV into the monitor. This way you don’t have to miss out on the definition that you can get from your TV. TV’s also come with Netflix and Hulu services even if you don’t already have these services on your laptop. Between the internet and a connecting cable, there is really no reason to pay for a cable deal.

Cut off your landline

How often do you use it? Most telephone communications are done via cell now. There is really no need for a land line.

Cancel Private Mortgage Insurance

If you put less than 20% down on your mortgage when you bought your house then you may have been asked to pay .5% in mortgage insurance. However, once you have paid 20% of your equity, you are no longer obligated to pay the insurance. Remember to cancel it with your bank. It can save you a significant amount every month.

These simple ideas will help you cut back on some of your major expenses and save you money month to month. Money saved is money earned, and the savings will add up. If you are looking to live a bit more frugally, without feeling as if you are sacrificing your comfort and your standard of living, look into these sorts of changes. Try one change at a time, or try one out for a while to see what works for you. Remember, it’s about making a lasting change, not the short term benefit.

If you would like to cut down on your living costs one of the best tools is a budget tracker. Many banks will offer you the option of tracking your spending and sending you a monthly spending report. You can also do this on your own by going through your account activity. There are also mobile and web apps that will help show you where you are spending a majority of your money.

Now, cutting down on your spending may not mean drastically changing your life style. If you track your expenses you may begin to notice how much little things add up. For example, if you buy coffee every morning then you are spending somewhere between $2 and $5 every day. Over the course of a month that adds up to $60-$150. Therefore, cutting back on your bill may simply mean investing in a coffee maker or giving up coffee altogether (which would also have a health benefit).

Once you have looked through your budget and helped eliminate small expenses, the next thing to do is to eliminate the small things that help add to your big expenses. For example, you may start looking into ways to save on your energy bill. Many energy companies will offer you guides on how to cut back on your energy consumption, especially in peak usage seasons, but here are some general ideas. 1) Take shorter showers. 90% of your energy bill goes to heating water, so find ways to avoid using hot water which brings us to tip 2) Hand wash your laundry and/or wash with cold water. Don’t let it pile up. Hand wash the t-shirts and other small items that you wear every day. This will help you have access to them faster and will also mean you don’t need as many clothes. 3) Reconfigure your dishwasher to use less hot water. 4) Unplug your devices. Devices that are left plugged in suck energy and add to your bill. If you don’t want to bother with unplugging your devices all the time then invest in a few AC protectors that will guard against vampire power usage. 5) Turn off your lights and switch out your bulbs with energy saving bulbs. 6) Turn off your TV, your computer, your radio, etc. In general, just turn things off.

Saving on your energy bill will definitely cut down on your expenses, and the savings will add up. Lastly, look at your other major expense, food. To save on food costs don’t eat out. Buy natural foods. They are healthier and you also get more meals for the same price than if you were to buy processed foods. Junk snacks are particularly unhealthy and costly. Avoid anything with corn syrup or hydrogenated oils in them. Not only are those foods poison, they are also expensive. A healthier diet will also make you feel better, and cut back on your health bills over the course of your lifetime.

With this simple guide to thrifty living you will save a lot and money saved is money earned.