Container Gardening 101: How To Grow Vegetables, No Yard Required

This is the perfect time to start a garden to grow your own flowers or even vegetables. But what if you don’t have an open plot of land to start a garden? Container gardening is great for homeowners who don’t have a plot of land for planting to get their grow on.

Container gardening is when you cultivate flowers, greenery, or vegetables in pots and containers instead of the ground. A beautiful container garden allows you to add living color to a patio, balcony, deck, or even an indoor windowsill.

For supplies, you only need a good container, the soil mix, and appropriate seed (or transplant) varieties. Typically, your plants will need 5 hours or more of full sun, and watering is critical! As mentioned above, you may need to water daily or twice daily; in hot weather, the soil can dry out quickly. The good news: less weeding! Containers are generally low-maintenance.

What You Can Grow In a Container Garden

If you’re interested in growing your own vegetables, here is a list of vegetables that do well in containers and the type of containers you’ll need:

Beans, snap
Container: 5-gallon window box
Varieties: Bush ‘Blue Lake’, Bush ‘Romano’, ‘Tender Crop’

Broccoli
Container: 1 plant/5 gallon pot, 3 plants/15-gallon tub
Varieties: ‘DeCicco’, ‘Green Comet’

Carrots
Container: 5-gallon window box at least 12 inches deep
Varieties: ‘Danvers Half Long’, ‘Short ‘n Sweet’, ‘Tiny Sweet’

Cucumbers
Container: 1 plant/1-gallon pot
Varieties: ‘Patio Pik’, ‘Pot Luck’, ‘Spacemaster’

Eggplant
Container: 5-gallon pot
Varieties: ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Ichiban’, ‘Slim Jim’

Lettuce
Container: 5-gallon window box
Varieties: ‘Ruby’, ‘Salad Bowl’

Onions
Container: 5-gallon window box
Varieties: ‘White Sweet Spanish’, ‘Yellow Sweet Spanish’

Peppers
Container: 1 plant/2-gallon pot, 5 plants/15-gallon tub
Varieties: ‘Cayenne’, ‘Long Red’, ‘Sweet Banana’, ‘Wonder’, ‘Yolo’

Radishes
Container: 5-gallon window box
Varieties: ‘Cherry Belle’, ‘Icicle’

Tomatoes
Container: Bushel basket
Varieties: ‘Early Girl’, ‘Patio’, ‘Small Fry’, ‘Sweet 100’, ‘Tiny Tim’

For specific instructions on how to grow each vegetable, check out this Better Homes and Gardens article!


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Home Buying: 10 Steps to Home Ownership

Buying a home can be a complicated and stressful process, but these 10 steps can help make the home buying process manageable. You could swap the order of a few early steps – you can get pre-approved before finding an agent, for example. But you don’t want to find the perfect place first, only to have a better-prepared buyer swoop in and snag it.

Step 1: Check Your Credit Report And Score

Before contacting a lender, it is always best to check your credit. A credit report will be a score based on these factors:

• Payment history: Have you paid your bills on time?
• Amounts owed: What is your overall debt?
• Length of credit history: How long have you been borrowing money? Mortgage lenders like to see a long credit history.
• New credit: Have you applied for new credit?
• Types of credit: Lenders like to see a variety of types such as bank cards, car loans and student loans.

Many people wonder what is a good credit score? You can expect a good mortgage rate at anything above 720. However, the minimum credit score varies by lender. Home buyers who pursue an FHA loan can usually secure a loan if their credit is 580 or over. Conventional loans usually require at least 620. The minimum credit scores fluctuate, so it is best to speak with a loan officer who knows the current mortgage requirements.

Step 2: Figure Out How Much You Can Afford

Or better yet, decide how much you’re willing to pay for your mortgage payment each month. Just because you can qualify for a larger mortgage doesn’t mean you want to have that kind of payment each month.

Step 3: Find A Real Estate Agent

Your REALTOR will be your lifeline and chief advocate throughout the process. During your initial consultation with an agent, you should use this time to ask the agent all the questions you have about the buying process.

Step 4: Get Pre-Approved By A Lender

The next step is to get pre-approved for a loan. Pre-approval requires the lender to pull the credit information and assess your current financial situation. The lender will then give you a letter that states the amount they would be willing to lend you. If you get in a multiple-offer scenario, being pre-approved may give you an edge because the seller will have more confidence that you will be approved for a loan large enough to purchase their home.

Step 5: Start Viewing Homes

Here comes the fun part! By now you’ve talked things over with your agent and you both know what your requirements are. Armed with this, your price range and knowledge of the local area, your agent will present you with listings that you can tour. There’s a good chance you’ll discover some new things to love or hate about homes and refine your search.

Step 6: Make An Offer

For most buyers, this is when the butterflies really show up. Once you’ve found a home you want your agent will work with you write up your first offer. Your agent will understand the market and help guide you to make the best offer based on the current market conditions. Once you’ve submitted the offer, you wait. You may get neither a simple yes or no but a counteroffer to consider. It can be something of a dance. If you get a solid “no,” it’s back to Step 5. If you get to a “yes,” celebrate!

Step 7: Home Inspection Day

If your offer called for a home inspection, this is a big day. Sure, you get to have a home inspector look over the home to make sure there are no unseen defects you want to negotiate to have fixed.

Step 8: Homeowners Insurance and Turn On Utilities

If you already own a home, simply call your insurance agent and let them know you’re buying a new home. They will handle writing a new policy. If you don’t have an insurance agent, now’s the time to find one because your lender will require it. Even if you don’t have a mortgage, insurance is a critical part of protecting your investment.

Step 9: Closing Day

Closing Day! The closing process itself can take several hours. It involves reading and signing a lot of papers. Even though you’re just sitting around a table, it can be exhausting.

Step 10: Get The Keys To Your New Home!

That’s it! You are now a homeowner! You’ve just ended the adventure of home buying and started the adventure of homeownership.


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Tips For Working From Home

When you’re used to driving to the office every day, sitting through long meetings, and sharing a community microwave, working from home can sound pretty good.

It’s a nice option to have, but working from home take a special kind of discipline and flexibility. This is especially true if your spouse is also working from home or if your kids are out of school. If you’re new to home-office life, here are a few tips to help it go smoothly.

Eat and Drink – The Right Stuff At The Right Time

It’s easy to get caught up in work and forget to eat or stay hydrated during the day. It’s also easy to take too many trips to the kitchen for snacks and overdo it on the potato chips. Try to stick to your usual mealtimes, and stock up on healthy food to resist the temptation to snack all day.

Build In Exercise

Working from home means you’re out of your regular routine. You’re not moving around your office or stopping at the gym on your way home. Make exercise a part of your new routine. Schedule it on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone. There are tons of ways to get in a workout from home – especially now, since gyms and fitness experts have put their workouts online for free.

Be One With The Mute Button

It might be cute to hear the dog or kids in the background of a call – once, but don’t make a habit of it. Even small noises, like ruffling papers, can be amplified over a cell phone. Get used to hitting the mute when you’re on calls from home to eliminate the background noise and embarrassing interruptions.

Designate A Work-Only Space

This may be easier said than done. In some homes, there just isn’t space for a dedicated home office or even a bedroom with a door you can close. Do what you can to find a private space you can make your own while you’re working from home. It can increase productivity, and it also allows you to separate work from your personal life.

Make A Schedule

“Clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many remote workers maintain work-life balance. That said, one of the benefits of remote work is flexibility, and sometimes you need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else’s time zone. When you do, be sure to wrap up earlier than usual or sleep in a bit the next morning to make up for it.”

Leave a comment or share your experience adjusting to a new routine!