Weather in March is so unpredictable. It may say Spring on the calendar, but the weather rarely cooperates completely.
In Zones 8 and higher, the average dates of the last killing frost occur throughout March. Zone 7 gardeners must beware of frost throughout April.
Make the repairs to fences and arbors now so they will be ready when the weather settles down. Clean out bird houses, if you dare. Watch out for wintering mice.
March is the perfect time for starting summer blooming seedlings indoors. By now, seed packets are available everywhere. It usually takes about six weeks for seeds to become strong enough for plants to be set outside in pots or a garden.
Some vegetables can be planted right now in Zones 7-8, but start later in more northern climes.
Vegetable seeds may be started in prepared starter pots made of compressed peat and filled with a proper soil mixture.
It’s a good time to test the ph of your garden soil. You can add whatever you need as soon as the soil is dry; not wet and clumpy.
Some pruning this month
Roses, in particular, can be pruned and fed this month. Cut roses back sharply for more compact bushes and long, slender stems. Cut honeysuckle vines back to three feet. Prune the fruit trees before the buds appear.
Trees and shrubs
You can still fertilize trees and shrubs. Acid types go with azaleas, rhododendrons, evergreens, and conifers.
Coronavirus and investments: Don’t worry, be happy
The stock market dropped on the news of the coronavirus Covid-19.
Investment experts at Market Watch say ignore the headlines.
The market will go up and down during the virus crisis, but no experts think it will stay down.
Long-term investors need not worry
Those with a 401(K) or IRA are probably still doing well compared to the same time last year or even the year before. If you have some time before retirement, take a deep breath. You made a lot of money in the last three years, and you are probably still ahead.
Don’t let bad news make you sell good stocks
Headline risk. That’s what stock advisers call short-term bad news that panics some investors into selling.
Apple, for example, was selling for around $146 in 2018 but soared to more than $330 before the virus crisis. During the crisis, it dipped to around $220. But, even though in the short run, sales will be slower and the supply chains crazy, it’s still Apple. Still a great company to own.
Plus, in the meantime, as stock prices sink, buying opportunities arise. Buy the bargain. A short-term crisis offers lots of buying opportunities.
One caution from Market Watch: Don’t try to guess when the market will be lowest. No one can. Buy when the bargain seems good.
It might be time to look at your portfolio and consider rebalancing your ratio of stocks to bonds, according to Market Watch.
Top 13 eco-friendly ideas
1. Recycle as much as you can
In addition to recycling paper, glass and cardboard, be sure to drop off your no-longer-wanted electronics, batteries, ink cartridges, light bulbs, and building materials at a recycling depot or other drop-off point.
2. Rent instead of buy
Some types of equipment only get used occasionally. If you don’t need them regularly, consider renting instead of buying items like compressors, lawn aerators, pressure washers, ATVs and RVs. This will help reduce over-consumption.
3. Plan your route wisely
Reduce your carbon footprint by using public transit, carpooling, cycling, walking, using a carshare service or swapping your gas guzzler for an electric vehicle.
4. Choose certified goods
From cleaning products to clothing, food, cosmetics, and building materials, you’ll find many items on the market with easy-to-recognize environmental certifications. Look for them in stores near you.
5. Support local businesses
When you buy locally-made goods, both you and the products you purchase spend less time on the road. This means that there’s less fuel consumed and fewer greenhouse gases generated. Additionally, local products tend to require less packaging.
6. Renovate with sustainability in mind
If you’re renovating your home, consider making it more energy efficient by insulating the basement, installing Energy Star windows, switching to geothermal energy or installing a green roof. You should also consider using recycled materials if possible.
7. Reduce the amount of water you consume
Install a low-flow showerhead and toilet, repair leaky pipes, collect rainwater to water your garden, take short showers and keep water chilled in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.
8. Avoid overpackaged products
If you buy products in bulk, you’ll generate less waste. Many communities have zero-waste retailers that allow customers to fill their own bottles and bags with products such as shampoo, vegetables, dish soap, and even windshield washer fluid.
9. Upcycle broken or unused items
Find a new purpose for broken and unused things. For example, you can transform a chipped teapot into a vase, get your furniture reupholstered and drop off toys and clothing that no longer get used to charities that will redistribute them.
10. Endorse eco-friendly businesses
Many companies have taken steps to become more environmentally-friendly or have adopted programs to reduce their carbon footprint. Take the time to search for and support such businesses.
11. Save paper
When you must print documents, use recycled paper, print on both sides and reduce margins and font size to fit more on each page. To reduce paper consumption even further, be sure to sign up for electronic bills.
12. Use electricity wisely
Choose energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, turn off the lights when you leave a room, turn down the heat at night and plug your electronics into smart power strips
13. Choose reusable products
Opt for reusable versions of disposable products when possible. Straws, sandwich bags, water bottles, sanitary napkins, and makeup removal pads all come in reusable formats that can be washed and reused repeatedly.
Composting lets you turn your kitchen scraps into fertilizer for your garden. Here’s how to do it.
• Place the compost on the ground. Either bare earth or grass works. You want worms and other beneficial organisms to get in to aerate it.
• Add green and brown compost in layers. Green compost consists of mostly table scraps, tea bags, and coffee grounds. Brown compost includes leaves, grass cuttings, newspapers and paper towels, among other things.
• Keep the compost damp. It should be the consistency of a moist sponge. If you don’t get a lot of rain in your area, sprinkle it with water periodically.
• Turn it every few weeks. This helps distribute oxygen throughout the heap, which enables the compost to decompose.
Within a few months, your compost pile will be full of nutrients and ready to incorporate into your garden.
How to tackle YOUR student loan debt
For more than 15 years, the government has recognized April as National Financial Literacy Month in an effort to teach Americans how to reduce debt and make better financial decisions.
Unfortunately, one of the highest sources of consumer debt in the United States is student loans. Totaling nearly $1.6 trillion, this debt burden doesn’t just affect young adults. More than three million Americans over the age of 60 are still paying off their student loans.
If you’re one of the nearly 45 million Americans struggling to pay off their student loans, here are some ways to reduce your debt.
• Understand your repayment options. There are eight federal plans with varying time frames and monthly payment sizes. You can change your plan at any time to better suit your evolving financial situation.
• Ask for forgiveness. Nurses, government employees, military personnel and teachers in low-income schools might be eligible for a loan forgiveness program. The government will also forgive your remaining debt after 20 or 25 years if you’re enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan.
• Consider consolidation. You may be able to save money by combining your existing student loans into a single loan and negotiating a new interest rate and loan term based on your current credit score and income.
Keep in mind, a proactive approach to paying off your student loans will put you in a better financial situation to reduce credit card debt and save for retirement. To pay off your student loan quicker, consider tightening your budget, using windfalls to make additional payments and if you can manage it, getting a second job.
Last year, the Financial Literacy and Education Commission urged higher education institutions to provide mandatory financial literacy courses, in part because studies show many borrowers don’t fully understand the repayment obligations when they obtain a student loan.
4 ways jobseekers can stay motivated
It’s easy to get discouraged during a job search, especially if you’ve gone weeks without hearing back from potential employers. Here are four things you can do to stay motivated.
1. Make a schedule
Establishing a routine will ensure you remain productive. Every morning, get up, get dressed and have breakfast around the same time you would if you were working. Set aside time each day for the job hunt and for household tasks. Don’t forget to give yourself a lunch break.
2. Set goals
Setting measurable goals will help you stay on track. For example, make it a point to apply for two jobs every day, or try to make one new contact in your industry every week.
3. Use rewards
Don’t wait until you’ve landed a job to applaud your efforts. Instead, be sure to celebrate minor achievements like being contacted for an interview with a small reward like a latte from a coffee shop you like or a hot bubble bath at the end of the day.
4. Find a coach
Appoint a friend or family member as your job search coach. They’ll make sure you meet your daily goals and give you a little push when you need it.
Finally, don’t forget to get outside help. Reach out to an employment agency or organization in your area to help you find leads for potential jobs.
7 movies (or TV shows) you should really read
Everyone has seen the Wizard of Oz. Can there be anything more lovely than Oz and all its characters?
Yes! The book by L. Frank Baum. You’ll find out about The Nome King, Pyrzqxgll, and the magic flower pot. Although written for children, it is a fun book to read with (or without) a kid.
So many other movies you have surely seen make delightful reading for children and young adults.
And for adults, too. These are books to read for a break. Easy and fun, they offer a quick trip out of the digital, workaday world.
Here are a few:
* The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The movie was great but you’ll come back again and again to the lovely book.
* Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Happiness guru Gretchen Rubin says if you have only seen the movie you have never known Pan, a haunting, mind-blowing book for kids.
* Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Tons of movies made for this book. But it is a classic of modern literature.
* Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Amazing journey.
* Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The TV show was wonderful, but this is a masterpiece.
* Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. If you love Mary, read the book to find out how much more interesting she really is.
* Anne of Green Gables. Television does a good job with Anne, but read the books to really understand her.