Conversations on Real Estate

July 28th, 2014 4:19 PM

QUESTION:  Is it necessary to take the dead blooms off our rhododendron?  Our neighbor says we should.

Ask any gardener about dead-heading their rhododendrons and more than likely they’ll tell you it’s one of their least favorite tasks and often does not get done.  Rhododendron enthusiasts however, recommend removing the seed capsules from rhododendrons as soon as possible after they flower.

Dead-heading allows the energy that would have gone into seed development to be directed towards new growth and the production of flower buds for the following year. Deadheading is relatively easy when plants are young but can become a monumental task on older shrubs that are nearing maturity. Fortunately as the plants get too large to dead head, they have the energy to carry the seed. They may not produce quite as many flowers and the new growth may not be quite as vigorous, but they will survive just fine with normal cultural practices. 

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Posted by John Borgert on July 28th, 2014 4:19 PMLeave a Comment

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April 9th, 2012 3:53 PM

Important news. If you sell your home, you now have to install carbon monoxide alarms. Since January 1, 2011 these alarms have been required for new construction, but now this requirement has been expanded to include all single-family residences being sold.

As of April 1, 2012, this new code is in effect for Washington residents. RCW 19.27.530 requires that any seller of an owner-occupied single-family residence must equip that residence with carbon monoxide alarms before a buyer or any other person may legally occupy the residence following the sale. This requirement applies to all single-family homes, including condominiums and manufactured homes.

The building code (WAC 51-51-0315) lists just how the alarms are to be installed. You have to install these alarms even if you don't have fuel-fired appliances, or attached garages. The places where you install the carbon monoxide alarms is similar to the places where you install smoke detectors.

You also must install these alarms when you make alterations, repairs or additions to your property if you have to get a permit.

The legal bulletin that the NWMLS publishes says: "Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that kills approximately 500 people in the United States every year. Carbon monoxide killed over 1,000 Washington residents between 1990 and 2005. You cannot hear, taste, see or smell carbon monoxide. In many cases of reported carbon monoxide poisoning, victims were aware they were not well, but became so disoriented that they were unable to save themselves by either exiting the building or calling for assistance. Young children and household pets are typically the first affected.

Carbon monoxide alarms are intended to trigger at carbon monoxide levels below those that cause a loss of ability to react to the danger of carbon monoxide exposure."

So, if you are preparing to put your home on the market you might as well go ahead and install these alarms now.


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Posted by John Borgert on April 9th, 2012 3:53 PMLeave a Comment

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March 27th, 2012 5:56 PM

Most of us know that all of Mason County is eligible for USDA home loans. But did you know that USDA also provides financial help to qualified low income homeowners who need to make repairs or make improvements to their home?  You can find out more at the USDA website:  Here.

To qualify you need to be the owner-occupant of a home in a rural area, as in Mason County, WA. An area is considered rural if the population is 10,000 or less.

This is a loan program for repairs, with a 1% interest rate. You can use this loan for health and safety repairs, as in electrical or sewage disposal concerns. Other repair items could include weatherization, as in window replacement, insulation, heating, and things like that. You can make repairs to manufactured homes, too, as long as they are owned land and permanent foundations.

Applicants that are age 62 or older may also be considered for partial grant funding. Check things out Here.

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Posted by John Borgert on March 27th, 2012 5:56 PMLeave a Comment

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Anyone who watches the news has probably caught an interview with Warren Buffet. He is becoming quite the economy guru, and so people like to hear what he has to say. We are just like everyone else, so we were tickled to hear what he had to say about purchasing houses recently.

He says that he would buy up a couple hundred thousand houses, if he could manage them, and recommends that houses are even better to purchase than stocks. He also believes that this year the housing market will improve. He says, "If you factor in that prices in some areas are at a 10-year low and inventory levels are high, the conditions are  ideal for buying." He also mentions the low interest rates. These factors are all things we know, but it is rather nice to hear from someone that many recognize as an expert. 

There is an increasing atmosphere of optimism in the air lately in regard to the housing market. Not anything we can put our finger on as a fact, but when we talk with individuals, we notice a difference from even a few months ago. As people who are real estate professionals, we are looking forward to helping more people with their real estate needs.

Here are some links to the latest interviews with Warren Buffet:

Enjoy the interviews. And, if you have an opinion about the housing market, and your expectations for this year, let us know.  We'd love to hear from you. 

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Posted by John Borgert on February 28th, 2012 3:45 PMLeave a Comment

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July 22nd, 2011 2:11 PM
Poisonous Plant Myths

It’s that time of year when the rural landscape throughout our coastal area is filled with a variety of plants sporting colorful berries. Although most of us are familiar with the more common ones, like the prized little wild blackberries, Oregon grape and huckleberries, there are many other berries that ripen this time of year that are tempting for both children and adults to sample. The question however is: Are they safe to eat? When it comes to wild berries the list of safe vs. unsafe plants is never complete. In addition, plants are often more dangerous at one stage of growth than another.

Unfortunately, there are a number of “myths” regarding edible berries which continue to be handed down from one generation to another. For example, despite what you may have been told, “cooking” poisonous berries does not get rid of the toxins.

How about “all berries that taste bad are poisonous.” The fact is that some toxic berries taste very bad and some non-toxic berries taste really bad. You cannot tell if a berry is poisonous just from the taste.

Another common myth is that “all plants that are not toxic to humans are safe for animals.” The fact is that some plants that are not toxic to humans are harmful to animals. A good example is lilies which are toxic to cats, but not to people. Pets need protection just like children. By the same token, some plants toxic to humans are safe for some animals.

More than likely, you’ve heard that white berries are highly poisonous. According to the Washington Poison Center , most white berries are not poisonous. Eating one will probably not hurt you, but its always best not to guess.

Many poisonous berries produce very minor symptoms such as stomach upset, mouth and throat pain or skin rash. If large quantities are swallowed, or if a person frequently ingests smaller amounts of the fruit more serious symptoms could develop. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of toxic berries than are others.

The best way to help avoid a poisoning is through education and common sense. Teach your children to never put leaves, stems, bark, seeds, nuts or berries from any plant into their mouth. Children are curious and if it smells nice or looks good, they will try to eat it. Watching adults pick blackberries, strawberries and other edible fruit may encourage a child to pick and eat berries. Remember, plants can be tricky with one part being edible while another part is poisonous. A good example is rhubarb where the stalks are used, but the leaves contain oxalate crystals which can irritate the skin, mouth, tongue and throat.

Poisonous plants are not limited to those found in woodlands and meadows that have toxic berries. Many can be found in our backyards. The leaves of tomatoes, potatoes, peaches, and cherries are considered dangerous if eaten. Many plants used in landscaping , such as daffodils, holly, lily-of-the-valley, English ivy, primrose and rhododendrons cause sickness or possibly death if eaten in large enough amounts. The best information I have found regarding plant toxicity is a FACT sheet available from the Washington Poison Center titled: A Guide to Plant Poisoning Prevention and Treatment. It is an excellent publication that provides a list of safe, as well as poisonous, plants. It indicates which types of poisoning symptoms are likely for each plant listed. You can obtain a free copy by calling 1-800-222-1222.

See more garden tips for Western WA: Here.

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Posted by John Borgert on July 22nd, 2011 2:11 PMLeave a Comment

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July 14th, 2011 6:19 PM

We’re not the only ones who enjoy these warm summer days—as the mercury climbs, ants become one of our most common and persistent insect pests. Before you bring out the aerosol bug spray, however, there are some things you need to know about these industrious insect pests.

To most people, all ants look pretty much alike. In reality, there are over a dozen different species which occur in our coastal area. Fortunately, we do not have fire-ants and their painful stings which can be life-threatening to hypersensitive individuals. One of the most visible ants this time of the year are thatching ants.

Thatching ants are most easily recognized by the large mounds they build from small sticks, grass stems, leaves and pine or fir needles. They may also nest in decayed logs. The majority of thatching ants found here are bi-colored red and black. A few are all black. They are medium to large ants, averaging 3/16 to 5/16 inches long with a notch or depression on the top of the thorax (the segment between the head and abdomen) when viewed from the side. Thatching ants can be confused with carpenter ants. A sure way to distinguish them from carpenter ants is to view them from the side and determine if the top of the thorax is smoothly rounded. In all carpenter ants it is rounded while in thatching ants there is a notch or dip.

Under most circumstances, thatching ants should be considered beneficial since they are fierce predators of other insects. However, when they occur in lawns, rockeries, picnic areas and other areas of human habitation, they can become a severe annoyance. Thatching ants are often injurious to seedling trees or plants near their nests, and they have been known to damage the buds of apple, pears and other tree fruit in the spring. The landscape can be visually disrupted by the presence of their mounds. Physical contact with them is also displeasing since they can bite quite hard. They also usually spray the area they have bitten with formic acid, which produces a painful sensation, and the acid can result in blistering of the skin, if it is not washed.

An interesting phenomenon demonstrated by thatching ants , as well as other ants, is the habit of “herding” and maintaining aphid colonies on trees, shrubs and weeds. This occasionally leads to an aphid problem because , while keeping aphids for their sweet honeydew, the ants protect the aphids from natural control organisms such as wasps and lady beetles.

Thatching ants may be a threat if you find their mounds on your property. Frequently, though, they do not pose a serious problem and no control is recommended. If they are a pest and you have to get rid of them, WSU currently recommends using insecticide products containing the active ingredient cyfluthrin or cypermethrin. The entire surface of the nest should be treated as well as the subterranean portion. One method is to penetrate the nest by digging deeply and stirring the nest contents with a shovel while pouring the recommended dosage of insecticide into the nest and surrounding area.

WSU Master Gardeners will be conducting plant diagnostic clinics on Saturday, July 30th from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. at the Dennis Company in both Aberdeen and Montesano. This is a great opportunity to have your plant pest problems identified along with information on control options. Don Tapio's book, More Than Just a Green Thumb, which covers a variety of gardening topics appropriate to our coastal area , is also available for $15 at the plant clinics.

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Posted by John Borgert on July 14th, 2011 6:19 PMLeave a Comment

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We get Garden Articles from Washington State Universtiy Extension Services. This latest article is an announcement for a garden tour by master gardeners:

With a theme of “Garden Gems”, WSU Master Gardeners in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties have scheduled their 14th annual Garden Tour for Saturday, July 23rd. This year’s tour showcases six truly extraordinary private gardens located in Aberdeen and Central Park.

Stepping into someone’s garden is much like a treasure hunt-you’ll never know what you may find and this year’s tour will not disappoint you. The detailed descriptions of each of the individual gardens listed in the ticket brochure provide insight to the horticultural and artistic

talents of local gardeners. Ranging in size from a garden paradise that encompasses 4 entire building lots to a small garden that borders the Wishkah river, each of the six gardens has its own palette of plant combinations that validate our cool, cloudy climate is an ideal place for those who’s passion is growing plants.

You won’t want to miss the formal garden high on the hill in Bel Aire with its fountains, fishpond, and manicured hedges of yew or the medical clinic garden in downtown Aberdeen that showcases a host of medicinal plants. Those focused on edible plants will enjoy the garden that features an orchard full of tree fruit varieties along with berries and vegetables that thrive in our coastal climate.

There’s no question that art is as much a component of gardening as knowing the difference between a rose and peony. While each of the six garden on this year’s tour reflects their owner’s style and palette of color, those with an artistic flair will be inspired with the garden that has a unique potting shed and a porch filled with antiques and garden art.

For gardeners there’s nothing that excites a sense of adventure more than being able to go inside the gate of a private garden. You don’t need to have a green thumb-just a sense of adventure and delight in seeing some of the best gardens the Harbor has to offer. Tickets, which cost $10.00 and include a detailed description and directions to each of the gardens, can be purchased from: Marshall’s Garden and Pet in Aberdeen, Harbor Drugs and Gifts in Hoquiam, Valu Drug in Montesano, Elma Variety Store, Everyone’s Video and More in Raymond, Coastal Garden Center in Grayland and Gallery Marjuli in Ocean Shores. Tour hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. WSU Master Gardeners will be on hand as docents at each of the gardens to help identify plants and answer your gardening questions.

Included in this year’s tour, will be a book signing from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. by Don Tapio, author of “More Than Just a Green Thumb.”

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Posted by John Borgert on July 8th, 2011 3:27 PMLeave a Comment

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There’s no question that for many gardeners, last summer’s tomato crop left a lot to be desired. Even those of us who had plants loaded with fruit wound up disappointed as the first killing frost of the fall arrived before the majority of fruit had ripened. With our current Spring weather resembling last year’s unseasonably cold and wet growing season, here’s some time tested tips to get tomatoes to produce and ripen ----even when heat units are lacking.

First, choose the right variety. WSU Master Gardener Emeritus Cindy Knight has conducted exhaustive tomato research trials at her home in Elma for over thirty years to determine which varieties will do well in our cool, cloudy, coastal climate. According to Cindy, “Big Beef” has performed well in the large tomato category. For salad tomatoes, “Early Girl” and “Early Cascade” are recommended. “Sugar Lump”, “Sweet Million” and “Yellow Pear” are the favored cherry tomato varieties. For paste tomatoes both “San Marzano” and “Roma” have done well, and for a tasty yellow tomato try “Lemon Boy”.

Oregon State University has also introduced a number of tomato varieties that set fruit well under our cool coastal climate. They include: Legend, which is resitant to the Late Blight fungus, Willamette which was the standard in Western Oregon for 15 years, , Oregon 11, which in Oregon produces the first ripe fruit in early July, Gold Nugget, a golden cherry tomato, Santiam which produces fruit up to 3.5 inches in diameter, Saucy, an early paste tomato, Oregon Spring, which produces incredibly early yields of 4 inch oval tomatoes and Siletz which is similar to Oregon Spring but with larger fruit and better flavor.

Second, when planting tomatoes, set plants deeper in the soil than they came in the pot. Tomatoes are unique since they are able to develop roots all along their stems. You can either dig the planting hole deeper, or dig a long, shallow trench, remove the lower leaves, and lay the stem down in the trench and cover with soil. Gently bend the top of the plant so the tip leaves are above the soil level. Roots will grow along the stem, providing a better root system early in the year.

Third, mulch the plants with a red plastic mulch. Now available in most retail nurseries and garden stores, the benefit of using red mulch is that it reflects the far-right part of the light spectrum onto the tomato plant foliage. This in turn increases the production of the plant’s phytochromes which are color sensitive proteins that regulate plant growth and development. Researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture and Clemson University found that using red plastic mulch not only resulted in increased tomato yields, but also earlier harvest.

Fourth, increase the temperature of the micro-climate around your plants by using a floating row cover or water tubes. The advantage of water filled tubes, which are commonly sold as “Walls of Water” is that they collect heat during the day, releasing it at night. You can make your own inexpensive walls of water simply by filling used one gallon milk jugs or 2 liter soda pop bottles with water and completely circling your plants with them. Be sure to remove the water tubes before the plant becomes crowded inside.

Finally, there’s no hard and fast rule about leaving or taking off suckers from tomatoes. Many of the most popular tomato plants grown today are what are referred to as determinate or upright bushtype plants that need very little staking, pruning or sucker removal. If you grow some of the older indeterminate varieties like Early Girl, however, you may want to pinch out some of the suckers that originate between the main stem and main branch. Removing all of the suckers could potentially result in sunburn to the fruit, so leave a few!

All too frequently the home vegetable gardener will trim leaves from tomato and other vegetable plants, hoping that the fruit will ripen better if exposed to a greater amount of sunlight. Sufficient foliage must be present for photosynthesis to continue at the required rate. If the essential “food” is not manufactured as needed, normal fruit production will not exist. Cutting away an excessive amount of foliage destroys the process that produces the fruit. Removing a few leaves would be okay-----just don’t overdo it!

Remember to water plants on a regular basis making sure to wet soil to a depth of eight inches. Irregular watering leads to blossom end rot and cracking of the fruit.

Do we need to purchase more than one tomato variety to insure good pollination?

No! Tomato flowers come complete with both male and female organs and are self-fertilizing. Pollen is shed with great abundance between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m on dry, sunny days. Normally, the wind will pollinate the flowers sufficiently. To insure better pollination, gently shake or vibrate the entire tomato plant. The best time to do this is mid-day when it’s warm, and the humidity is low.

Optimum fruit set occurs within a very narrow night temperature range of between 60° to 70°F. When tomato plants experience night temperatures lower than 55°F or above 75°F, interference with the growth of pollen tubes prevents normal fertilization. The pollen may even become sterile, thus causing the blossoms to drop. High daytime temperatures, rain, or prolonged humid conditions also hamper good fruit set.

For more Garden articles go to: FREE Garden Articles for 2011.

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Posted by John Borgert on May 14th, 2011 12:46 PMLeave a Comment

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Many of you follow our Market Reports on John Borgert's website, but did you know that we also have a website dedicated to providing good resources and information for just about everyone?  This website is packed with links running down the side, all of it stuff we find useful, and think you may find useful, too.  Click here to go to the website.

One of the pages we'd like you to notice is the FREE Garden tips for 2010.  These articles are provided by the Washington State University Extension Services.  They are geared toward gardening in our local region, and toward the particular time of year.  We enjoy these articles ourselves.  The article for this week is "Choose These Plants for Fall Color."  Excerpt:  "Home gardeners can easily create a riot of fall color in their own landscapes by incorporating a number of plants that are prized for their fall foliage displays." 

If you are looking for articles on how Escrow works, checklists for buyers, credit scores, septic systems, or resources like phone numbers for Mason County, information on our lakes and golf courses, and links to other places in our community, check out this website.  We have also added links to daily weather reports, tide tables, well logs, and the history of Mason County.

There are some links that are just links that we enjoy, like an Inflation Calculator, search engines, world news sources, and more. 

This website is not so much a real estate site, as it is a site for all of us to enjoy.  Come and take advantage of this site!  If you have links to resources in our state that you would like to see included, let us know. 

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Posted by John Borgert on September 24th, 2010 3:45 PMLeave a Comment

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