Links and Tips for Gardeners


Orange County Appraiser

You may be looking to sell your house, added a pool, or looking to refinance a home mortgage, whatever the reason may be, getting a property appraisal done can help protect your investments. Appraisers take many steps to make sure that their work is diligent and precise.

What is an appraisal?

The appraisal process is a regulated and concise method of reaching an estimate of value for a property.

There are six major steps:

1. Definition of the property
2. Preliminary survey and appraisal plan
3. Data collection and analysis
4. Application of the three approaches to value
5. Reconciliations of value indications
6. Final estimate of defined value

This process assists the appraiser in reaching the right conclusion. With this foundation appraisals are consistent at being accurate measures of value for current market conditions.

The primary phase of this process involves applying three approaches to value:

* Market Data Approach
* Cost Approach
* Income Approach

These approaches are reconciled and the value is defined by the most practical and applicable approach by the property appraiser. In most residential appraisals, particularly those of small homes, the direct sales comparison or market approach best reflects the actions of buyers and sellers and is the most convincing and defend-able approach to the property’s value.

Difference Between Appraisal and Realtor Values

It should be noted that, while real estate agents and brokers are available, typically at no cost to you, to provide you with a market value estimate, these are often inflated values. These services are most typically provided in order to secure a listing from the property owner. A real estate appraisal, prepared by an experienced appraiser, will provide you with a clear estimate of the market value of your property. A California Certified General Real Estate Appraiser can provide you with a solid market value, with consideration for the ever changing market conditions. This is particularly important during this challenging economic climate. Our appraisers are highly experienced and familiar with the Orange County market area as well as market trends and various influences on property value.

Orange County Property Appraisers


Federal statement on Prop. 19

Let’s close the loop on some unfinished Proposition 19 business from over the weekend.

We recently wondered about what the feds were likely to do if California next month passed Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana for recreational use. The Justice Department hadn’t spoken on the issue, but most experts we talked to seemed to think that the DOJ would have to do something, if only to help other states safeguard their own drug laws.

Well, now we know. Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that the Obama administration “strongly opposes” Prop. 19, and warned that federal drug-enforcement efforts would be “greatly complicated” if the measure passes.

He also said in a letter Wednesday to nine former Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs that the administration would continue to enforce federal law if California legalizes marijuana. The DEA chiefs had urged him to speak out on the matter.

So what possible avenues does the federal government have?

On the one hand, it could simply step up its enforcement by boosting the number of federal agents in California. Still, experts we spoke to said that even if the feds took this route, it would still take a while to get up to speed. It would be a big effort: the federal government typically works with local law enforcement when carrying out marijuana and other drug busts.

The letter sent by the former DEA officials suggested that the Justice Department should sue to to prevent Proposition 19 from becoming law, much as the department has sued to block Arizona’s enforcement of a state law that seeks to crack down on illegal immigration. Holder, in his letter, shied away from that question, saying only that the Justice Department is “considering all available legal and policy options” if the measure passes.

There are some differences in the Arizona and California cases. According to the federal government’s legal position—which Arizona is challenging—the Arizona law required state law enforcement to take action that infringed on federal immigration responsibilities. The California measure, by contrast, wouldn’t go so far, resulting only in the state withholding its assistance on federal marijuana drug enforcement.

Pest Control Tips

Unwanted insects in your garden are just that: unwanted. Unwanted insects may eat and destroy your crops, something shared by any farmer or home gardener. Organic gardening is a means of controlling unwanted insects naturally, without the use of dangerous pesticides. There are many ways to control garden unwanted insects naturally that are also cheap, easy and good for the earth.

Protect your organic soil and beneficial insects
While pesticides may eliminate the pest, they most often cause more harm than good. Unfortunately, many home and commercial gardeners are unaware of alternatives to pesticides. That’s because s are a big part of our culture. Reaching for a quick fix—albeit a dangerous fix—is a deep seeded and detrimental habit.

Yet apart from damaging the soil and being a health hazard to people—including our children—pesticides present a major problem. They eradicate species indiscriminately, causing helpful garden co-habitants to disappear along with the harmful ones.

An organic garden with beneficial insects
Indeed, the fact remains that not all insects are unwanted insects. Any kindergartner can tell you that bees help flowers. He or she could also tell you that a ladybug is good luck. But more than just good luck, ladybugs are a highly helpful natural pesticide to have in your garden, feeding on a myriad of insect unwanted insects including aphids if you ever see little alligator like insects around your garden, leave them be! These are the larval stage of ladybugs. Obviously, s are not as intelligent as your average kindergartner—they kill bugs on a wholesale level while upsetting ecosystems and ruining your plants as well as your soil.

Are your garden pests resistant to pesticides?
Commercial farmers today have a strong reliance on pesticides. Large companies sell pesticides to farmers who use them on their crops. Over the years the unwanted insects become resistant to the pesticides and increasingly larger amounts must be used. So it is that the farmer pays more and more money and dumps more and more of them onto his/her crops-our food. The result is a coated crop and a pesticide resistant bug, a crop that is more susceptible to the insect pest.

Are you harming the local bird population?
Recent studies have been conducted concerning pesticides’ effect on local bird populations. Birds eat the insects, which have ingested the pesticides. Because the pesticide is an indiscriminate poison, the bird is targeted as well. Furthermore, if the birds do not immediately disappear, their eggshells become thinner and thinner and often break when parent birds sit on the eggs. This is a huge problem with bald eagles in North America. With no insects and no birds those predators which live off of the birds disappear too, causing a huge disruption in the local ecosystem which is never beneficial to growth of any kind.

Birds eat insects!
Encourage birds to come into your garden by placing a bird bath in the garden and by planting plants that will attract birds such as sunflowers. There are even perennial sunflowers that not only attract birds year round but, can also be planted like a hedge and repel deer and other animals. Helianthus maximillani.

Natural pest control is rooted in a vigorous, balanced ecosystem. Years of pesticide use may be so disruptive to a local ecosystem that the land may become unusable after only a few years. They remain in the soil and become more concentrated with each year of use, eventually rendering the soil unable to produce vigorous plants.

The soil can heal
However, there is hope. Some products like methyl bromide can be amended by simply adding organic matter to the infected soil. The result is addition of the organic portion of this pesticide to the organic matter that you already added and liberation of the bromide ion. At the very least, you can add organic matter to a laden soil to simply dilute the concentration. However, you can also look up the MSDS online for that to learn how to amend it.

Organic alternatives to pesticides
There are many natural, organic alternatives to pesticides that are more long lasting, safe, vigorous and generally effective.

One of the simplest pest control devices is a barrier. By covering a row of crop with a light netting (which allows the sunlight to come through) flying unwanted insects are effectively kept away from the plants. These are generally used for food crops. Cabbage can be protected from flea beetles and green beans from Mexican Bean Beetles.

Another simple method of pest control for a small garden is handpicking. Many slugs and Hornworms can be handpicked off of plants with great success. Drop unwanted insects into a dish of soapy water to kill them. Certain moths and bugs can be knocked out of trees with a stick; allow them to fall onto a large piece of cloth so that they can be gathered and, later, submerged in a soapy solution or incinerated.

Beneficial Insects Will Control the Bad Insects
Some insects like the Ladybug and the Green Lacewing are called beneficial because they are the good guys who are on the hunt for the bad guys that are feeding on your plants. Here is a list of beneficial insects, with links to where they are offered by an Earth friendly distributor.

Green Lacewings Chrysoperla carnea

Green Lacewings Chrysoperla carnea
Green Lacewings are an all purpose beneficial insect that feed on insects such as aphids and other insects that will come and feed on your plants. Green Lacewings are perfect for a backyard garden, larger garden, or a greenhouse.

Easy way to get rid of slugs and aphids!
Certain varieties of plants are more resistant to insects. Some research into the types of plants you grow and the unwanted insects common to your area could prevent a lot of pest problems. Also, some plants themselves are pesticides. For instance, planting tobacco around your vegetable garden is an excellent way to discourage slugs and aphids!

How native plants can revive your garden
Buy local transplants to avoid bringing non-native unwanted insects into your garden. Add mulch and other simple barriers around your crops, check your garden regularly. Healthy plants are naturally more resistant to predators; just like having a strong immune system. All of these methods are natural and easy preventative measures to help you obtain a pest free garden.

If your preventative measures did not work, there are many, natural and organic plant sprays that can control unwanted insects. A mixture of Petroleum oil and water sprayed onto a plant is a natural pesticide that has been used effectively for hundreds of years. Many oils, shells and plant extracts can also be used as safe, effective, natural pesticides.

Natural pest control is a safer and, ultimately, more effective means of keeping a vigorous organic garden. With a little more knowledge it becomes obvious that the use of non-organic pesticides is not only ineffective but dangerous and irresponsible. By understanding your native habitat ecosystem and working in partnership with establishing a balance of beneficial insect predators such as ladybugs, praying mantis, and birds, as well as planting species that naturally prohibit invasion by unwanted insects, you too can have a vigorous garden by working in partnership with your garden.

Winter Time – Gardening still possible!

Brighten Up Your Winter Garden With Colorful Berries

Just because the trees are bare and there is snow on the ground doesn’t mean that your garden has to become a winter wasteland. A well-planned garden will provide year-round interest and visual treats. Many evergreens and hardy ornamental grasses can be quite stunning in the colder months.

But perhaps nothing can compare to the vibrant color of berries during the winter. Berry palates range from bright red to yellow to pale blue and white, so there is something sure to please your eye. Many berries will also attract a variety of birds to your garden. Here are a few suggestions for hardy berry-bearing beauties that can provide a bit of pizzazz to the drab winter landscape.

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