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.

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