Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Birdhouses & Cages

Grow your own birdhouses

Bottle gourds (Lagenaria siceraria) are easy to grow on fences or trellises, and once dried they make an ideal home for purple martins, swallows, chickadees and wrens. Besides bringing beauty and interest to your home, these birds will eat thousands of insects each day.

Although gourds can be grown in hills as you would grow squash and pumpkin, gourds that are left lying on the ground will flatten on one side and may be susceptible to rot. If you prefer to grow them in hills, try providing several inches of hay as a mulch to keep the gourds off the ground. Bottle gourds will tolerate a light frost; so allow them to dry on the vine as long as possible. Once harvested, they will need a cool, dry place to complete the drying process. They are completely dry when you can hear the seeds rattle inside when you shake them. This may take several months.

To fashion your birdhouse, drill a hole 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Smaller holes will accommodate small birds such as wrens, while a larger hole will allow larger birds such as martins to take up residence. You should also drill a few tiny holes in the bottom of the gourd for drainage. Drill two holes in the top, and thread a cord through them. Now your birdhouse is ready to hang. It will last up to two years untreated, or you can varnish the gourd for a longer lasting birdhouse.

For the birds
Stack six or seven pages of an old catalog in the birdcage and remove each one as they get soiled.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tip Mix Clips

Larger blooms

For larger blooms on your fall-blooming chrysanthemums, dahlias and camellias, pinch off the small side buds surrounding the large main buds. The plant will concentrate it's energies into making one large flower instead of several smaller ones.

Coupon savvy

Make notes on your shopping list marking which items have coupons. It will save you time and money in the long run!

Talking photo cube

For my boyfriend's birthday I got him a talking photo cube. I put 5 pictures of us together in the frame. Then for the speaking part I said, "Happy Birthday Honey! Thanks for all the wonderful memories." This is a great gift idea for any special day.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Berry Pickin' Good!

Whether you pick strawberries from your own garden or at a Pick-Your-Own farm, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Be careful that your feet and knees don't damage plants or fruit in or along the edge of a row.

Remember that heaping strawberries more than 5 inches deep will bruise the berries.
Only pick the berries that are fully red. Part the leaves with your hands to look for hidden berries.
Remove berries that show rot, sunburn, insect injury or other defects and destroy them.

Pick berries for immediate use any time, but if you plan to hold the fruit for a few days, try to pick in the early morning or on cool, cloudy days. Berries picked during the heat of the day bruise easily and will not keep well.
Keep picked berries in the shade and cool them as soon as possible after picking. Berries that have been handled carefully will keep up to three days in the refrigerator.