DIY Bird Feeders – How to Make a Bird Feeder

DIY Bird Feeders
There are tutorials available for all of these bird feeders.

With the weather cooling in many parts of the country (I’m still waiting here in Texas, but it will happen eventually.), it’s time to think about our feathered friends. Construct one of these DIY Bird Feeders and make it a little easier for birds to find nutrition.

I think all of the examples are elegant. These bird feeders will not only make the birds happy, you’ll enjoy them too. Who doesn’t like watching birds in their garden? I bet you also know someone who would appreciate one of these for their garden. Make one as a Christmas gift. That’s what I’m thinking of doing. I have wine bottles on hand, so I’m leaning toward that design. I also have terracotta pots that I could re-purpose. All of these great designs use recycled materials.

Here’s your key to the DIY Bird Feeders:

  1. DIY Bird Feeder using a Melamine Bowl and Plate
  2. DIY Wine Bottle Bird Feeders
  3. DIY Bird Feeder from a Flower Pot
  4. DIY Tea Cup Bird Feeder
  5. DIY Tea Cup Hanging Bird Feeder
  6. DIY Acorn Bird Feeder (site unavailable as of June 2014)

DIY Bird Feeders for the Kids

If you want a project you can work on with the kids, consider Bird Seed Feeders.

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Spring Gardening – Make Origami Paper Pots

I love spring. I take pleasure in seeing my garden mature. I also enjoy watching seeds turn to plants. I’m like a kid; I check my little paper pots everyday to see if a seed has sprouted. If ever there were something to be considered a miracle – it is a beautiful plant born from a seed no bigger than a pin’s head.

This year, I started my seeds in origami paper pots. I was inspired by a  very informative video for constructing paper pots for seedlings. The great thing is when the plants have matured enough to endure the elements, I can plant the entire pot. The paper will dissolve. Making these seed pots is a pleasant project to work on while watching TV.

Recycle Paper for Seed Pots
My origami seed pots with plant markers.
Seedlings in origami seed pots
Sprouts are beginning to appear for poppies, money plant, and basil. I anticipate more sprouts for other plants in a few days.

Other good things are already growing in the garden.

The beginning of a rhubarb plant. I have two of these plants underway. I can’t wait for pie! Me oh my!

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you planted an onion that sprouted in your refrigerator?

I planted the onion. It will make beautiful ornamental flowers and the leaves can be trimmed and used in salads or recipes calling for green onions. Don’t expect baby onions though!

I grow an abundance of herbs (rosemary, thyme, onion and garlic chives, two varieties of mint, bergamot, etc.). Here is a view of a sage plant. I let it blossom so that the bees can enjoy it. I plant for myself and for the bees which need all the help they can get these days. Purple and blue flowers are most attractive to bees.

Sage is a wonderful herb and it will seed itself in other places in your garden. You’ll be surprised where it will show up.

A garden is incomplete without flowering plants.

I have no idea what this plant is, but it’s in my garden because I liked its little bell-like flowers.
A view of herbs. A butterfly plant rests in the foreground.
Tommy sits at the end of the garden path.

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Growing Bee Balm

I found Bee Balm (also known as Bergamot) in a garden nursery in a section of plants labeled “adored by bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.” I liked the color of this variety, and bees and butterflies are most attracted to blue and purple flowers.

I was interested in this fact because we are in the midst of a honey bee crisis – colonies are collapsing everywhere. The next time you are in the produce section of the grocery store, consider this: agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees. Often bees are shipped into areas to pollinate crops. If we don’t take an interest in what is happening to bees, we may soon see empty produce bins and shelves. You must also consider all the plant life that sustains the animals we eat as well (e.g., cows, sheep, pigs). Bees are essential to our survival!

You will not be disappointed by the show of wildlife attracted to Bee Balm.

If you’re a gardener, you should add this perennial to a sunny space in your yard. If you live in a hot climate like I do, this plant is ideal. The only negative characteristic of Bee Balm is that it is a “spreader” like mint, so you’ll have to periodically extract portions from the growing area or it will overtake everything.

I enjoy the blooms in the spring and fall.

Bee Balm like other herbs can be used to make a tea or added to other food to enhance flavor.

  • For tea: Place a tablespoon of fresh or one teaspoon of dried Bee Balm leaves and/or flowers in a tea strainer and pour one cup of boiling water over it. Allow it to steep for ten minutes. Remove tea strainer. Sweeten as you like.
  • Chop the leaves and flowers finely and add to fruit salads for extra flavor.

Other posts which discuss bees:

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How to Make Homemade Tomato Sauce

Not too long ago, I planted several tomato plants. My plants have been bountiful, and I’ve been eating tomatoes harvested from my garden in a variety of ways. Today, I wanted to “get rid of” a large harvest, so I decided to make homemade tomato sauce. If you’re overwhelmed by the tomatoes you’re reaping in your yard, you might want to try this recipe. I’m pleased to say that the fresh herbs in this recipe also came from my garden.

preparing tomatoes to roast in the oven
Step 1 – Set oven to 350 degrees. Wash, then cut the tops off of your tomatoes. Place on a baking sheet covered with foil. Slather each tomato with olive oil. Use your hands to be sure the entire tomato gets a light coating. Salt and pepper each tomato. Bake for 60 minutes.
tomatoes roasted in olive oil
After your tomatoes have roasted in the oven, you’ll see that their skins are wrinkled and soft. Let the tomatoes cool until you’re able to handle them. You don’t want to burn your hands.
how to peel roasted tomatoes
Now that the tomatoes are cool enough for you to handle, gently remove the skin. It’s easier than you think. Hold your tomato over a bowl so that juice escaping during the skinning process is captured. After the skin is removed you can leave the tomato whole or cut/tear it into a few pieces.
roasted tomato sauce
My efforts yielded 3 cups/24 oz. of roasted tomatoes. Now, I’m ready to make sauce. You’ll have to adjust the recipe if you have more or less than 3 cups/24 oz.
fresh herbs enhance tomato sauce
Put the tomato sauce into a sauce pan. Add 1/4 c. of brown sugar and 1/4 c. of red wine to the sauce. Saute 1 large shallot, a few fresh oregano leaves, and some fresh thyme (about 1 tbls) in some olive oil (about 1 tbls). Once the shallot is opaque, add this mixture to the sauce. I also added a frozen cube of homemade pesto sauce. You can learn about freezing pesto here – http://www.instructables.com/id/Pesto-Freezing-Method/.
fresh tomato sauce
Simmer all together until you’re ready to serve it. I’m serving mine with homemade meatloaf and roasted root vegetables.

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Gardening – Starting Seeds is Easy!

I used to have difficulty getting anything to grow from seeds. Now, I’m a master.

Recycle containers as seed pots.

Here are my secrets:

  • Use recycled plastic containers for your potting soil. My favorite containers are those that once held yogurt. They are the perfect size and it’s easy to transplant from these to larger pots. Stop the soil at about one and half inches from the lip of the container. This allows space for your seedlings.
  • Plant 5-8 seeds in each container. Don’t plant them too deep; cover them lightly with soil. Water, but don’t drown your seeds. Next, cover the containers with plastic wrap. If you have rubber bands handy, you can slip a rubber band around the plastic wrap to hold it secure. If you don’t have rubber bands, wrap as tightly as you can. Once you have your plastic wrap in place, write with permanent marker on the wrap the name of the plant you’re trying to grow. When you are ready to remove the wrap, you can write the name on a Popsicle stick and insert it into the container. Keep all of your containers in a tray of some sort. This will keep your growing area tidy. Place the tray in a sunny spot (mine sits in a kitchen window). After 24 hours, you’ll notice that you created mini terrariums (self-contained atmospheres). Water gathers on the inside of the plastic wrap and keeps the container environment moist. Some seeds will sprout in as little as two days, others will need a bit more time.
Transplant seedlings to pots outdoors to season.
  • After seedlings are evident and pushing against the plastic, remove the plastic. Don’t forget your Popsicle stick. Allow your seedlings to mature. Once you think the small plants are hearty enough for the outdoors, transplant them to larger pots. This step is necessary to “season” your plants.

You’ll know when the plants are ready to move to the ground. If you’ve ever purchased plants from a nursery, you know the approximate size of a starter plant.

  • Once your plant is in the ground, be sure to water it and watch it carefully over the next few weeks. New plants need extra attention.

Small seeds can make big plants.

  • Before you know it, you’ll have hearty and healthy plants. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing something in your garden that you started from seed. Nature is amazing. Every time I consider a big plant, once a seed the size of a pinhead, I’m awestruck!

Good luck out there. Let me know of your success if you have a moment.

Related post: Build your own compost bin.

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Gardening – First Summer Harvest

Ripe cherry tomato
The first ripe cherry tomato in my garden.

Yesterday, I picked the first ripe cherry tomato of the season. Today, I’ll pick the other shown here on the vine. I love gardening. It’s really rewarding gathering vegetables from one’s yard, rather than from the produce section at the grocery store.

Soon, I’ll be harvesting Big Boy tomatoes. I can’t wait! I like sliced tomato with just salt and pepper. MmMm good!

Juicy Big Boy Tomatoes
Coming Soon: Juicy Big Boy Tomatoes

 

 

 

 

I have peppers, rhubarb, and various herbs growing. I’m most excited about the things I started from seed this year. I’ve never been too successful with planting seeds. I usually buy small plants to populate the garden, but this year I have grown from seed: morning glories, basil, cilantro, columbine, and some sort of flower that arose from a seed pod I gathered on a walk.

All of the cats kept me company while I was outside. In this photo, Archie and Stoopy show their appreciation for each other.

two cats in the garden
No garden is complete without a cat or two.

While I was taking their picture, I noticed the world between the rocks on which they sit. There I saw a whole other universe. Fascinating.

Here lies another universe.
Here lies another universe.

The very tiny shells are amazing. I imagine these are the shed exteriors of the creatures nibbling at the leaves of my peppers. Scoundrels. They obviously don’t know who they are up against. They need to inform themselves by reading this post. Also, I thought peppers were immune to insects. What’s up with that? Clearly, I’ve been misinformed.

Well enough of this blogging…I want to go enjoy the rest of this very lovely day outside. I may take a swim.

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