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Garden maintenance and cleaning

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By Debby Looney, gardening expert

There are always things to be done in the garden, but at this time of year it is maintenance and cleaning, neither of which are my favourite jobs!

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Glasshouses should be tidied and cleaned, as bugs and diseases will lurk and survive in the relative warmth of the glasshouse. An ideal, though not organic, way to get aphids and other insects under control is by using an insect ‘bomb'. This will diffuse a toxic smoke killing all insects. If you are keen to use the glasshouse during the winter, remember to insulate against frost, unless you have heating, of course. There are several ways in which to heat your glasshouse, paraffin heaters would have been the most common way of heating in the past, though they are near impossible to purchase these days. Most heating nowadays uses electricity. I see solar panels popping up beside glasshouses, which is a great thing with heated beds being the most cost effective and energy efficient method. This essentially involves running specially designed heating cables under the beds which keeps them at a constant temperature. Insulate with a horticultural grade bubble wrap. Remember, the only heat your polytunnel or glasshouse gets is that from the sun, which, in the winter can be very little, and disappears fast, or the heat from the ground. It is this ground warmth which is your main source of heating, especially at night, so if you have tender plants, protecting them from above with horticultural fleece will minimise the effects of cold air.

If you have plants in pots outside, try to group them together. This will keep the roots that bit warmer, especially during very cold spells. Make sure drainage holes in pots are clear and plants do not become waterlogged. Here in Kerry waterlogging is more of a problem than frost damage, so it is worth your while to put pots under cover or on a side of the building that does not get all the rain!

Perennial summer plants, such as geraniums, gaura, osteospermum, fuchsias etc are much more likely to survive winter if brought indoors, where the temperature is guaranteed to stay around 10 degrees Celsius. Cut back now to a neat manageable size, and check occasionally for watering. It is unlikely they will need more than a once a week water.

The last few days have been very wet, surely a reminder of how the winter might be! Covering over beds, both inside and outside, with black polythene and/or a mulch will prevent nutrients leaching out, and keep the soil a little drier. It will also benefit you in the spring when it comes to sowing and planting out potatoes as the soil will be significantly warmer than if it is unprotected.

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Is it a good time to sell your property?

By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year. The MyHome.ie quarterly report found the market had held up […]

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By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY

Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year.

The MyHome.ie quarterly report found the market had held up better than evidence had suggested in 2022. The number of vendors cutting asking prices remained at low levels, while many house prices were being settled above asking prices.

However, the report warned that the resilience of the housing marking is set to be tested this year. It found annual asking price inflation slowed to six percent nationwide, meaning the asking price for the average home in Ireland is now €330,000.

There were 15,000 available properties for sale on MyHome.ie in the fourth quarter of the year – an improvement on the same time last year but still below pre-pandemic levels.

Average time to sale agreed was 2.7 months nationwide which the report said is indicative of a very tight housing market.

The report said it expects to see 28,400 house completions in 2022, exceeding its previous forecast of 26,500 finished units.

The author of the report, Conall MacCoille, Chief Economist at stockbrokers Davy, said it appeared the market had held up better than evidence had suggested.

“The number of vendors cutting their asking prices is still at low levels. Also, transactions in Q4 were still being settled above asking prices, indicative of a tight market,” he said.

Recent months had seen worrying trends in the homebuilding sector, with housing starts slowing, and the construction PMI survey pointing to the flow of new development drying up.

“We still expect housing completions will pick up to 28,400 in 2022 and 27,000 in 2023. However, the outlook for 2024 is far more uncertain. The Government’s ambitious plans to expedite planning processes are welcome although, as ever, the proof will be in the pudding,” he added.

Locally, and unsurprisingly, the lack of supply of new and second-hand properties remains the dominant issue. There has been very little new construction due largely to the rising cost of construction, labour, materials and utilities which in turn is putting pressure on the second hand market.

This market proved particularly strong in 2022 with active bidding experienced on the majority of house sales and a large proportion of guide prices being generally exceeded.

The detached family home end of the market is particularly strong with increased competition for a limited number of available well located family homes.

So, what lies ahead and is it a good time to sell your property?

The answer is a tight market with scarcity of supply being a factor. If selling now you will benefit greatly from a lack of supply of available homes (therefore less competition) provided your property is marketed correctly of course!

For anyone considering placing their property on the market, contact DNG Ted Healy 064 6639000 killarney@dng.ie for genuine honest advice on how to achieve the best possible price for your home.

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Tourism VAT rate should be “continued indefinitely”

A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its […]

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A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its customers”.

The reduced VAT rate of 9% was introduced by the Government in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 to the hospitality sector.

“I believe a return to a 13.5% Tourism VAT rate would be counterproductive at this stage, to small and medium businesses that welcome visitors to our country and our county,” Councillor Michael Cahill said.

“Catered food is already charged at 13.5%, alcohol at 23% and accommodation presently at 9%. This sector is providing pretty decent returns to the Exchequer and should be supported. All parties in this debate, including the Government and accommodation providers, should review their position and ensure their actions do not contribute to ‘killing the Goose that laid the Golden Egg’.”

He explained that the tourism industry is “in a very volatile market”, as can be seen by the enormous challenges “posed by COVID-19 in recent years”.

“A grain of rice could tip the balance either way and great care must be taken not to damage it irreparably. We are all aware that the next six to 12 months will be extremely difficult for many businesses with the increase in the cost of oil and gas, etc,, and a return to the 13.5% VAT rate will, in my opinion, close many doors. If a minority are ‘price gouging’, then it should be possible to penalise them and continue to support the majority who offer value for money to our visitors.”

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