Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc



Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 4/27/2015

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.





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 4/6/2015

Are you looking for inexpensive ways to add value to your home without breaking the bank? Whether you're getting ready to sell your home or just making some home improvements for your own enjoyment, it isn't that difficult. There is an old saying that kitchens and baths sell homes so these tips focus on those two rooms. Here are some good strategies to help you started: The kitchen For just a few hundred dollars: -Replace the kitchen faucet -Add new cabinet door handles -Update old lighting fixtures   With a slightly larger budget: -Give the cabinets a makeover by refacing them -Get a facelift for your appliances buy ordering new doors or face panels for them   The bath -Replace the toilet seat -Add a new pedestal sink -Replace the old bathroom floor with easy-to-apply vinyl tiles -Re-grout the tile and replace any chipped tiles in the tub and shower -If a new grout job won't do, try a complete cover-up with a prefabricated tub and shower unit Remember the actual cost of the renovation, and the value it adds to your home, depends on many factors including the real estate market value in your area.





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 3/16/2015

If you were to guess which area in your home poses the most safety hazards, what would be your answer?  The kitchen?  The basement? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 235,000 people over age 15 visit emergency rooms because of injuries suffered in the bathroom, and almost 14 percent are hospitalized. More than a third of the injuries happen while bathing or showering. More than 14 percent occur while using the toilet. By taking some simple steps in your own bathroom, you can cut the risk of serious injury to yourself and your loves ones dramatically.

  • Install support railings right outside of your tub.
  • Put down an anti-slippage mat on the floor of your tub.
  • Take extra care when using electrical outlets in your bathroom. Install a hand towel holder next to outlets, and get in the habit of making sure your hands are dried before plugging and unplugging electrical devices.
  • Be sure that bathroom rugs around your toilet and sink have excellent anti-slip capabilities, and replace your rugs when they become worn.
After following these steps, re-evaluate your bathroom. Can you find anything else that may pose a danger?





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 2/23/2015

It gets dirty easily and can be a pain to clean. It is your microwave and you may think closing the door is the best solution. There is a quick and easy way to get your microwave like new and you probably have everything you need in your cabinets. The recipe is natural, low cost and very effective so go ahead and open the door to your microwave and clean away. Here is the recipe to a clean and shiny microwave: Ingredients Vinegar Water Essential Oil (if desired) 1. Combine the vinegar and water in a microwave safe bowl.  If you would like a pleasant smelling microwave you can add a few drops of essential oil. 2. Place the bowl in the microwave. Heat the water and vinegar mixture until it is boiling. 3. Let the bowl stand in the microwave for a few minutes. The steam will soften any dried splatters of food. 4. Remove the bowl and wipe down the walls of the microwave with a damp sponge or a soft absorbent cloth.





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 2/16/2015

Each year in the U.S. there are more than five million home burglaries. Most of those crimes were preventable. There are simple steps you can take to make your home less enticing to would-be burglars and reduce your risk of being burglarized. Here are some ways to keep your home safe from thieves: 1. Don't advertise After you buy that expensive new television or computer do not leave the box sitting on the curb. You are telling would-be burglars you have things in your home that could fetch money. Cut the boxes into smaller pieces and put them inside the recycling bin out of plain sight. 2. Pretend someone is always home Typically if burglars think someone is home, they won't attempt to break in. When you leave the house, create an illusion that someone's still there by leaving a light on, or even the television. You can also set timers to set lights to go on and off throughout the home at different times. 3. Secure sliding doors Locks can easily be picked on sliding doors so take extra precaution to secure them. Place a strong dowel, steel bar or two-by-four and slide it into the back groove of the sliding door to prevent the door from being opened even if the lock is picked. 4. Lock it up Forty percent of break-ins happen without the use of force. Lock all the windows and doors and use the dead bolt on the door if you have one. When you leave make sure to lock the door leading from the garage to inside of the home. Even if your garage door is down, someone can easily open it. 5. Don't provide easy access Never leave a spare key hidden outside of your home that's an open invitation for a burglar. Instead, give a spare key to a neighbor or hide a combination lockbox to keep a key in. 6. Trim the shrubs. Don't provide a hiding place for criminals. Keep the shrubs in front of windows low and cut away any tall tree branches that reach upper story windows. 7. Don't advertise you are away If you're leaving town for a while, let the police know and request that they drive by your property to check on things. Break-ins spike during July and August when homeowners are usually away on vacation. Tell your neighbors you will be away and ask them to keep an eye on your property. Have a house sitter pick up mail, shovel the driveway or mow the lawn. These are all telltale signs of an empty home.