Archives

All posts by Mark Smith

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.

I thought of something I did not put into my first posting of What People Need To Live

An Address
I guess sometimes that would be the place you live but in the case I pointed out in the Shelter part of that first article I typed, some people might have to resort to keeping their belongings in places where you can not use the address for a mailing address. So, if you don’t have a friend or family member that will let you use their address you will need to try to get a rented mailbox somewhere. Lucky for me I already have one that is a really good deal for $15 per month or less if I pay for 3, 6 or 12 months at a time. Just don’t forget to pay it when it’s due.

Expanding on the shelter idea, I have been looking into offices that rent by the month as well as storage places. I know there are limitations on some office rentals but there are some that include electric and or internet in the price of the rent. There are some that do not require a bunch of money up front but most will require a deposit & at least 1st month rent. Some will want the deposit and 1st & last months rent. There are also some that want proof of income and other information that some people won’t be able to provide. I have rented an office at two different times because I needed someplace quiet or quieter than the place I was living. I did have a job at the time and was able to provide all the information the office renter wanted. But if someone does not have the required information or a current job, they may find it hard to rent an office.

The main thing to think about before you actually need to rent a storage or office is what proof of anything you will need to show and keep those documents handy so you’ll know where they are if you have to go searching for a place to keep your stuff or a place to “sit” that is at least out of the weather. Another thing to think about with these ideas is how far it is to a bathroom/restroom from your storage unit or office door. It wouldn’t be good if the bathroom/restroom is a long walk and have to unlock a door or maybe wait for someone that is already using it.

Having a small backpack with a change of clothes that you can grab quick and carry with you no matter what would also be a good idea, in case you don’t make it to the restroom in time.

Office vs. storage
The office with electric is a better deal if you can find a good cheap office because then you can have a coffee maker to do hot water for any “instant food” and maybe even a microwave to heat food in. You may want to ask about these things before renting since some office rentals have cleaning people that have access to your space in order to keep everything clean. And that brings up another problem since you may not want people seeing everything you have in your office and you’d have to get to know their schedule for cleaning so you are not sleeping or something when they come and open your office door. The coffee maker and microwave also brings up another problem of possible fire hazard and the people who own the property may require renters insurance. Renters insurance might be a good idea anyway depending on how valuable your belongings are and if you are liable for damage caused by any break-in.

A gym membership would be a good idea as long as they are open 24/7 (not sure about holidays) and not always busy … I’ve been looking into the Planet Fitness membership that includes access to “all locations” and that said haircut services available which would take care of another thing that should be done once in awhile.

Another possibility for a place to “sit” that is not really cheap or convenient for many reasons is a day use pass to a State Park (SP), Recreation Area (SRA) or other places. I have bought the SRA day use pass before which was good for one year and it granted unlimited access to any of the parks on the state list which you can get when you buy the pass or look up on the .gov site.
California Park Info Looks like the Golden Poppy Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass (Hangtag) is $125 (looked up on Oct. 31, 2018)
The ones I went to most had showers and picnic tables with bbq stand near the tables and most of the time it was not crowded. Summertime was a bit crowded because everyone wanted to be at the lake and picnic or bbq and have a good time. Plus you have to have a good vehicle and gas money to get there. Most of these places are not close to a city where you can get your other stuff like food.

I might add more info to this article later.

1. Air/Oxygen (duh)
2. Clothing
3. Food/Water
4. Shelter
5. Sleep
6. A Purpose/Something to do

I am just starting this on Oct. 29, 2018 and I did not have a plan for how I’m going to organize my ideas and info yet but I’m working on it and I will probably edit this later as I go.

The list above is probably not in the right order but I’m just brainstorming here and I don’t know if any one of the above things is more important than the others except you better have clothes if you have to go out in public to get the food, water, etc. or you could get arrested for indecent exposure unless you are in a nudist colony or on a nude beach.
So let’s start with clothing – you can probably find cheap clothes at yard sales or thrift stores that will work at least to get by. They may not be what you like or want but as long as they fit right and look good enough to be able to walk into a store they should do fine. The shoes are most important because if you have to walk, you need good shoes that fit right. If your feet hurt then you won’t be able to walk to get the rest of the things you need or do the things you need to do. I used to wear 11½ but somewhere the shoe and boot makers decided that half sizes were no longer needed. I now have to buy size 12 since a half size to small would hurt my feet.

Food/Water
This is really hard to find things that are cheap & good (or good for you) but sometimes people have to buy things from stores they are close to in order to save time, energy, gas if you have a vehicle. If you have some place to put the stuff and find a good deal, buy extra if it will not spoil. Canned food is usually good to store for at least a year and rotating the cans by using the first one bought first is the best way to use canned food. You’ll need a can opener I bet.

Water should be free but sometimes it isn’t. People pay a utility bill at houses and I’m sure the cost is added onto rent at apartments but there are some places where you can still get water from a drinking fountain and if you have a re-usable bottle or cup I’m sure nobody would complain if you fill it & go. Parks, schools, etc. should have drinking fountains and some of those can be accessed 24/7 if they don’t lock all the gates at night.
I do not recommend going onto school grounds at any school you do not have children attending in the daytime when there are children in classes since there have been way to many problems at schools lately. There are colleges and universities that should have drinking fountains and should be accessible even to people not attending the school. How else could a “new” person enroll or check out the campus if they were not allowed to walk into the grounds. But being there at night may be a problem if the campus police want to be stupid and harass someone.

Shelter
This could be a problem if you become homeless but I’ve been doing some research (just in case) and I’ve got prices in my area for self-storage places and am planning what I could fit into a storage, what size I really need and trying to get a plan formulated just in case I lose the place I’m living now. Some storage places are open for customers 12 hours a day, except holidays at some. Leaving a vehicle in the driveway in front of your storage unit for 12 hours may not be a good deal for anyone that might need to get into the storage on either side of yours but there should be some place to park out of the way and “sort” your stuff inside your storage unit where you might not be disturbed while you are there. I haven’t figured out how you could keep someone from locking you inside your own storage yet but I’m sure there is a way even if you happen to be napping.

Sleep
Did I mention napping? Yes well that brings me to the next thing that most people need. Sleep is very important to the human body, especially the brain. I won’t go into all the medical detail here but lets just say that if you don’t get enough good sleep you can have hallucinations and delusions – I’ve done a search on google and found THIS and THIS if you care to read about that. Another place to get sleep if you don’t have a place to live could be any park that is open, and even some at night if you don’t mind being harassed by homeless people, cops, animals, bugs …

I seem to have slipped into the no place to live type of thinking but anyone can or could become homeless in an instant. There are many reasons including natural disasters, weather problems beyond our control, fire burns home or apartment, vehicle runs into your house, etc. I know there are “agencies” that are supposed to help with things like this but sometimes it’s only a temp fix and then what? Insurance? Um yeah well I don’t have renters insurance, so I guess I should look into that expense.

Which brings me to the last thing on my little list at the top, A Purpose!
I’m trying to find information on everything I can and I am trying to share it here in my articles site hoping to help someone, somewhere and keeping the info in a kinda organized way for myself. I may be posting links to things I find in my articles and each new article in any category will post above the old ones so it might be good to start at the bottom of any page with the oldest thing posted.

Advertising your services or products on the Internet is both extremely effective and extremely competitive. There are several ways to go about attracting traffic to your website; Pay-Per-Click is one of the options you can choose from, along with developing an SEO, or search engine optimization campaign. Both pay-per-click and SEO are targeted to get your website placed as close to the top of search engine results as possible. One of the differences is that it takes minutes to set up a pay-per-click campaign versus months for a good SEO campaign.

Pay-Per-Click is a simple type of paid advertising that most search engines, including some of the largest ones, now offer. It requires a bid for a “per-click” basis, which translates to your company paying the bid amount every time the search engine directs a visitor to your site. There is the added bonus that when a per-click site sends your website traffic, your site often appears in the results of other prevalent search engines.

As with all marketing campaigns, there are advantages and disadvantages. If you understand the process and monitor your pay-per-click campaign frequently, it can be very effective. One of the greatest advantages is that you never have to tweak your web pages to change your position in search engine results, as you must do in a typical SEO campaign. What you do have to do in a pay-per-click campaign is pay a fee.

Another advantage is the simplicity of the pay-per-click process. You just bid and you’re up and running. It doesn’t demand any specific technical knowledge, though the more you know about search engines and keywords, the easier – and more effective – the process will be.

The downside is that pay-per-click is essentially a bidding war. A higher bid than yours will lower your position on search engine results. This means that you will have to raise your bid to regain your position – which can obviously become quite expensive, especially if you are bidding on a popular keyword.

In order to determine if pay-per-click is a cost effective form of marketing for your business, you must do some computing to figure out how much each visitor to your site is worth. You can compute this value by dividing the profit you make on your website over a given period of time by the total number of visitors for that same time period. For example, if your site made $5,000 in profits and there were 2,5000 hits, each visitor would be theoretically worth 50 cents. The basic formula is profits divided by visitors.

The figure of 50 cents per visitor is the point at which your business breaks even. The idea, of course, is to show a profit, not to merely cover your costs. Therefore, you are aiming at a figure less than 50 cents per click.

Be aware that the most popular keywords often cost considerably more than 50 cents a click. The only way around this is to bid less for these phrases or you will be paying too much for each individual hit.

The key (pun intended) to success is to learn everything you can about search engine keyword research. The good news is there isn’t a limit to the amount of keywords you can add to your bid because additional keywords do not add additional cost. This translates into a lot less hassle for you because there is no need to optimize your site to index a particular set of keywords.

Obviously, some keywords are much more effective than others are, but they will not cost you anything except time to set-up your account in your pay-per-click bid. Of the popular search engines that offer pay-per-click, one called Overture provides an online tool that will give you the data on how often particular keywords are entered into their search engine. They also offer suggestions for keywords after you enter a description of your site.

In pay-per-click, this written description is crucial. You must understand that the object of your description is not to generally attract visitors, but to be as specific as possible so that only those visitors who are likely to buy your service or product go to your site. You must use expert marketing copy to guarantee that your description is both precise and enticing to attract the most ideal candidates to your site. This description is your most powerful tool to insure that your bid is profitable.

Another essential element of pay-per-click advertising is that you constantly monitor your bid. It is very important that you bear in mind that the results of the top search engines providing pay-per-click advertising, which are Overture and Adwords Select, usually appear on other popular search engines. Because of this, the competition for top ranking is intense, and very often you will find that the bidding price balloons too high for pay-per-click to yield a profit.

If this happens, it is advisable to withdraw your bid on that particular keyword and try another one. Remember: when you pay too much per click to make a profit, you are in essence losing the bidding war.

Since losing is not acceptable, you must have a plan in place to closely track the effectiveness of your keyword. It is advisable to monitor your keywords on at least a monthly basis.

Not only is careful monitoring important, but the analysis of visitor behavior can produce invaluable knowledge about consumer motivation, habits, and trends. Expert monitoring and consumer analysis is essential to your overall business needs, and will also insure that your pay-per-click campaign is a success.