Wednesday, February 27, 2013

real estate report card for 4th qtr

Just in....Matthew Gardner's 4th quarter 2012 report on the real estate market in Western Washington.

Highlights from his conclusion:

"I remain in somewhat befuddled awe when I think of the resiliency of the United States economy and how we, as a nation, are emerging from this recession bruised but, for the better part, intact. Inasmuch as the government has tried, hopefully unwittingly, to hinder our growth with various budgetary issues and the like, we are doing our best to adapt to our environment and grow the economy. 

I started out this piece with  quote from George Orwell which inferred that our job recovery, although occurring across geographic board, will be unequal. I certainly expect that the power centers that accommodate a majority of our businesses in the state (Washington) will expand at a faster rate than counties that are more removed. That said, the overall picture is a positive one and I expect that 2013 will be another year in which our regional economy outperforms the nation as a whole.

From a real estate standpoint, it is clear that we are now well removed from the days when home prices were hemorrhaging. Home values have stabilized and a recovery in values is underway. The credit markets have thawed and getting a mortgage is easier now than it has been since the housing "bubble" exploded. Interest rates remain at historic lows, and although I believe that they will rise in 2013, the increase should be modest. 

The outlook is getting clearer. Home values will appreciate in 2013, but not all markets are created equal and some will fare better than others."  Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner is a land use economist and principal with Gardner Economics and is considered by many to be one of the foremost real estate analysts in the Pacific Northwest. 

Mr. Gardner shared his outlook for 2013 to a group of my clients on January 30th. If you would like a copy of that presentation, please let me know-I will see that you receive a copy quickly!

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

potager garden

Potager is a French term for a type of kitchen garden where vegetables, herbs and flowers are grown together in traditional rows or blocks.  The goal is to make the function of growing food aesthetically pleasing (oh how I love the French). Plants are chosen as much for their functionality as for their color and form.  A well-designed potager can provide food, as well as cut flowers and herbs for the home with very little maintenance.

With increased interest in organic and sustainable living, many people are turning to vegetable gardening as a supplemental to their family's food source. Food grown in the back yard consumes little, if any fuel and the grower can be sure of what exactly was used to grow it.

How the plan comes together

Location -  You will want to choose a flat, sunny spot. If you intend to grow vegetables, you'll need six to eight hours of direct sun a day. Shade problems? See if you can do a bit of tree pruning to allow more light to reach the beds.

A typical potager can be found at the rear of the house close to the back door. However, sun might dictate a different spot for your garden.  Check the side and front yards for continuous sun.

Design - Potagers can disguise their function of providing for a home in a wide array of forms - from the carefree style of a cottage garden to the formality of a knot garden.

The key to creating a true French feeling for your garden is to use formal lines and clearly delineated beds which will give the plants space and dignity.

Raised Beds - The raised beds are the work horse of this type of garden. Raised beds are essentially boxes without bottoms filled with topsoil and compost. The beds can be made from cedar or non pressure-treated fir planks (12' fir boards $15/each at attached at the four corners.  For efficient drainage, the beds should be at least 8 inches deep.

Dimensions - The number of beds and their length are up to you but the longer the beds, the bigger the garden. The width of each bed however, shouldn't exceed four feet-you want to be able to reach in from either side without stepping into them. Leave paths at least two feet wide between beds for wheelbarrow access.

Line the paths with pea gravel ($5 for 50 lbs at, brick, walking stones, grass or wood-chips. 

Perhaps what is best about a potager is that it needs minimal maintenance. And because the beds offer superb conditions, you can let your imagination run wild when it comes to choosing what to grow. Simply know your sun and shade conditions, and then plant what you love.

I ran across this lovely cookbook - Potager, Fresh Garden Cooking in the French Style. Currently available through Amazon, this is a wonderful cookbook for any gardener/cook seeking to create the freshest meals!

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur