Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc

Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 1/28/2018

Bonsai is a Japanese artform that originates from the ancient Chinese practice of potting trees. Although it is an art that has existed for centuries, bonsai needn’t be inaccessible to the average person looking for a new household hobby.

To successfully grow and care for a bonsai, all you need are a few tools and a lot of patience. In this article, we’ll cover bonsai basics to help you get started in this craft. Keep in mind, however, that there are thousands of resources and communities to help you out along the way.

To buy or to cultivate?

The two most common ways to start a bonsai tree are to buy a pre-cultivated tree online or at a greenhouse, or to cultivate one yourself with seeds or cuttings. Many beginners elect to buy a pre-cultivated tree to decide if they enjoy the hobby before devoting years to cultivating a tree from seed. If you enjoy caring for plants and think you’re up to the challenge, starting from seed or cuttings could be more rewarding.

A third option is to collect a tree from nature that has been stunted by natural conditions. These types of trees are called yamadori and can be difficult to collect because their roots may be in a precarious location. Also keep in mind that it is illegal to remove plants from some parks and forests.

How to shape your tree

Once you obtain a bonsai your work has only just begun. The real challenge of bonsai is caring for and shaping your tree. That means clipping off growth, repotting, watering, moving it indoors and outdoors, and shaping/training its branches to grow a certain way.

Every tree is different and will require different care. An important thing to remember about bonsai is that many of them will need to be brought outside to mimic their natural conditions. Trees survive winters because they have prepared for it through the process of dormancy. By bringing your tree outdoors, it will keep its internal clock on time to prepare for winter. In this way, cold-climate bonsai trees can handle the harsh temperatures and weather that comes with the winter time.

Aside from subjecting it to different temperatures and weather, your bonsai will also need to be pruned and wired. Pruning thick branches that grow high up on your tree will help you maintain the natural look of its larger counterparts out in nature. Similarly, wiring helps you transform your tiny tree to look fully-grown and weathered.

Tree care

Just like other plants, your tree will need water, sunlight, and fertilizer. The amount of each will depend on the type of the tree, so you’ll want to do that research before you ever buy, cultivate, or collect a bonsai to make sure you can adequately care for the tree in your area.

Overwatering causes the death of countless bonsai trees. Root rot occurs when soil stays too damp for too long. Roots need air, and damp soil suffocates the roots causing them to rot. When it comes to fertilizer, follow the advice of others of have successfully grown the type of tree you have.

Tags: gardening   houseplants   plants   Trees   bonsai  
Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 6/18/2017

A rising trend in urban and suburban neighborhoods is the concept of a community garden. What began as a way for people living in cities to grow some of their own vegetables has turned into a community-building sensation across the country.

Why start a community garden?

The benefits for having a community garden in your neighborhood are endless. First, it allows people to grow their own food--a rewarding process in itself. You'll learn about sewing seeds, caring for plants, and harvesting the vegetables. When it's all said and done, you'll save money as well, since it's much cheaper to grow your vegetables than to buy them from the grocery store. Gardens are also a great way to build a sense of community in your neighborhood. You'll meet new people, make new friends, and have something to be proud of together. Plus, talking about what you're planting is a great ice-breaker when it comes to meeting the neighbors for the first time. Aside from helping you and your neighbors, community gardens are also a modest way to help the environment. A garden means more food for bees, a refuge for local critters, and more plants producing oxygen. Plus, when you get your vegetables right from your garden you cut back on all of the resources used to wrap, pack, and ship vegetables across the country to grocery stores, reducing your carbon footprint in a small way. Excited yet? I hope so! Now that you know why to start a community garden you need to know how.

Steps to making a community garden

  1. Get the neighborhood together Invite your neighbors to a local cafe or library to talk about starting a garden. To build interest and awareness, start a Facebook group and post a few flyers in your neighborhood.
  2. Figure out the funding and logistics  At this meeting, start talking about how the garden is going to be funded. Seeds, tools, fertilizer, and other expenses don't have to put a damper on your fun if you're prepared. The three main sources of funding for a community garden are finding sponsors, running neighborhood fundraisers, or having a membership fee for plots in the garden.
  3. Find a spot for your garden The best places to turn into gardens are plots of land that currently bring down the aesthetic of the neighborhood. Find an area that could be cleaned up and approach the owner of the land with the idea. You can offer them free membership or whatever other resources are available in exchange for being able to use the land.
  4. Throw a cleaning and a kick-off party To build the garden, invite everyone from the neighborhood over to the plot of land for pizza. Then once they're there stick a shovel in their hand (okay, maybe let them eat a slice or two first). Once the garden is ready to be planted, you can host another "kick-off party" so everyone can celebrate their hard work.
  5. Rules are made to be spoken  Community gardens are a ton of fun. But to keep them that way you're going to need to decide on some ground rules for things like open hours, membership acceptance, tool usage, leadership, and so on. Post the rules on the Facebook, website, and at the garden itself so everyone can see them.
  6. Keep the momentum If you want your garden to last you'll need to do some work to keep everyone excited. Make a Facebook group, a website or whatever else you think will help people stay connected. Ideally, you want your messages to include everyone involved in the garden so that everyone feels involved.

Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 9/25/2016

You've just bought a house…or maybe you're about to sell one. You look around your property and realize it's less than attractive. The grass is patchy and yellowed in some areas; the shrubs that came with the property look overgrown or spindly; and there's no color anywhere. So how do you go about making your yard an inviting oasis--a place that you or a potential buyer would like to spend time in? You start with the base--the soil. An inexpensive home soil test kit will tell you if your soil is too acidic or alkaline. Depending on the results, you can add a lime or a sulphur mixture to obtain the correct pH. Another factor is your soil's composition and texture. The best soil has the perfect proportions of clay, silt and sand and has some organic components as well. If your soil is so dense you can barely get a spade into it, you need to to loosen it up with a good hand tool and some loam. Loam is basically "perfect soil", with the correct proportions of sand, clay and silt. Loam is available at your local landscape supply business and is sold by the cubic yard. You can mix it into your existing soil or--if your soil is very poor and rocky (as is often the case here in New England), you can remove it and replace it with loam. The other important component of soil--especially if you plan on planting flowers and/or vegetables is organic nutrients. There are two ways to enrich your soil: on the surface and in the soil itself. The best way to add nutrients from the inside out is with compost, which is organic material that has been partially broken down. Old-fashioned composting takes time and work. You need a bin, lots of organic material (leftover food, leaves, grass clippings, etc.), time for the material to break down and someone willing to turn the compost frequently (mixing it up). There is an easier method, however: recycling yard waste. Many landscape suppliers will take your branches, limbs and clippings and turn them into compost for you. Typically, you drop off your yard waste and drive off with someone else's that's already been turned into compost--everyone benefits. Once the soil is good, you can then go onto to the fun part--choosing and planting flowers, shrubs and trees.

Categories: Uncategorized