How to Clear Your Garden in Time for Winter

Vegetable gardenThe following article is a guest post. Please see my disclosure statement.

Now that we’re in the Fall, it’s the time to start preparing your garden for the harshest months of the calendar year. The cold weather of winter, and particularly frost, will cause the cells in your plants to freeze, making them look withered and draining them of their natural colours. Even evergreens can fall prey, as the soil becomes frozen and roots are unable to take in water. Here’s how you can prepare best prepare your garden in time.

Clear out Any Neglected Overgrowth
The first thing you should do is clear you garden any of neglected overgrowth that’s been building up. Weeds can quickly start to run rampant when left alone, so take out the lawnmower to handle any large patches of grass. Use a strimmer to deal with any thicker, less manageable areas. If you’re using chemicals to remove the roots, bare in mind that the residue can last for the following few days. While the soil that you’re left with at the end of all this may not be the most attractive, it should still be able to provide you with a good base to work from.

Take Steps to Protect Your Soil
Protecting your soil is the most important thing you can do to prepare for winter. If you leave it bare, winter weeds can still germinate. If you have any leafmould compost left from the previous year, this will provide a great overlay. Spread the compost over the vacant plots of land to help retain moisture, keep weeds to a minimum, and keep the soil healthy for when it’s time to start planting again. If you don’t have any compost, a wood chip based mulch will also do a good job of protecting your soil.

Cleaning up Your Greenhouse
Finally, use this opportunity to give your greenhouse a good cleaning as well. With all of the extra wind and rain, the glass can quickly start to build up a large amount of dirt. Not only does this look unattractive, but it can also start to block out valuable sources of light as well. Inside, move around any badly placed plants so that everything is getting the ventilation it needs. During the less busy months of the year, try to wash all of your pots and seed trays in preparation for the spring season ahead.

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5 Tips For Simplifying Your Finances

Saving MoneySo many people that I talk to want to get a good handle on their family’s finances, but they are so intimidated by their finances that they don’t know where to start. How can they stay on top of all of their financial assets, their goals, and their debts at the same time? The overwhelming stress over personal finance can cause people to avoid even beginning to work through their concerns.

The stress can make sense. Finances become pretty complicated over the years. You might have a 401(k) with your employer, a checking account, a savings account, an IRA (rolled from an old 401(k) with a different employer) and a couple of credit cards. Then, you get married and find that your husband has his own version of the same things. The whole situation adds up to a lot of accounts to manage.

The trick to managing everything is to simplify wherever you can. If you’re hoping to wrangle your finances into a more manageable form, you can try these five easy tips.

Consolidate your finances
There are some accounts you can’t control. The brokerage company that holds your 401(k) is chosen by your employer, and you have no input in the matter. Many other things, however, are completely in your control. Merge multiple checking accounts into one, main household account. Use one credit/debit card for all of your purchases. The fewer different accounts you have out there, the less time you will spend reconciling statements each month.

Use financial tools to track your accounts.
No one wants to have to pull a bunch of different statements together to get an idea of their financial position. Fortunately, you don’t have to do that. There are multiple ways to tie all of those accounts to one tool, and some of them are free! While our family uses Quicken, one of my friends prefers to use The site has a cool budget tool, too.

Make automatic savings contributions
You don’t need the hassle of writing a check each month to your savings account. By simply enrolling in automatic deposit you won’t have to worry about making those extra trips to the bank. Instead, your money will automatically move to your savings account on the day that you instruct it to move. No fuss; no muss!

Utilize your bank’s electronic bill payment tool
Forget the days of writing a check and mailing it to your creditors. Manual check writing is inconvenient, and the checks take too long to process. Today you can pay your bills with a click of a button or two. You can also enter payments ahead of time, and specify the date that you want them to be paid.

Go green!

Did you know that simplifying your finances could be good for the environment? It can be if you turn off the paper statements for your accounts. Instead, access them online. You can print or save any statements you need from the appropriate website.

What ways do you simplify your finances?