Saturday, 19 November 2016

Birdseed Wreaths - For The Birds Updated

Three wreath recipes

As we slowly start edging towards the holidays and outdoor decor, my thoughts immediately turn to the birds ... and making dozens and dozens of birdseed wreaths.

I love the look of them against my tree, while birds of all sorts, from Nuthatches to Sapsuckers, happily and busily visit them all season long. 

Several years back, I conducted a small trial using three different recipes, to see which one the birds preferred (they actually loved them all). To check out those recipes, please see HERE!

Since then, I have stuck to making the two suet versions, as I just cannot bring myself to believe that corn syrup and flour are the way to roll in my organic garden and landscape ; )

The one and only problem with these lovely wreaths, however, is that sometimes, after much love and attention from the birds, they crack in two at the weak point.

The birds like to start pecking up at the top, by the ribbon, and then work their way down. As the side gets narrow and weakens, it eventually cannot stand up to the weight, so cracks and falls to the ground.

Photo-bombers Ruby Tuesday and Penelope

When the wreath falls, it is quickly gobbled up by my garden helpers, who love anything with peanut butter... and bespeckled remains then grace the yard ; )

Therefore, it was time to come up with an organic strategy to ensure that the wreaths would stay together as long as possible, for the birds to enjoy, not the pups.

After some reading, I found an idea using a wire wreath shape, but knew I did not want to go that route. Then came upon one that was using bits of twigs all tied together with florists wire and decided to use that idea ... but modified.

Gathered some grapevines from the garden and simply twisted them together, making these wee little wreath forms. Popped two of these 'wreaths' into the cake pan, and stuffed the warm seed mixture all around them.

They need to set and harden for 12 hours at room temperature, or can be popped into the freezer for a faster chill. Then hang from a branch or fence or shepherds hook. Mine are hung against a really, really big cedar tree.

Though the grapevines are showing through, it still looks amazing!

The proof is in the pudding. The grapevines work like a charm! Holding together and they still look good, too. So very glad I used vines and kept it all natural.

Mini wreaths! 

Birdseed wreaths look super cute when made in a mini bundt pan form, as well.
'Decorate' your trees or fences with super cute mini's.

  Happy Decorating! 

Friday, 4 November 2016

November Garden Ramblings

The month of November blew in something fierce this year, all blustery, rainy and cold. My motivation to go outside and muck about quickly crumpled into nothingness ... though my garden helper had no problem with the weather.    

Garden helper Ruby Tuesday! 

Luckily, I can putter away in the greenhouse while I wait for nicer, warmer yard work weather.

What to do in the greenhouse this month? 

Turn on the heating. If you have an automatic system, turn your heat on low for the winter months, just a wee bit above freezing. I keep mine at 5° to 7°C all winter, and then in March I will up it to 10°C for all my lovely heirloom tomato seedlings.

Clean up! If you have not yet scrubbed down your greenhouse, do it now. Disinfect to kill any over-wintering bugs and wash down walls and roof to let in as much of our weak winter sun as possible.

Insulate. Bubble wrap or add a layer of poly to retain heat better. Each layer adds 2 degrees of warmth.

Do some planting. Pot up bulbs for a wonderful display of colour in spring.


Take cuttings. Rosemary, pelargoniums, lantana, fuchsias, other hardy annual and perennial cuttings can be potted up now for new plants in spring. Start your own topiary from a cutting.  

Lift bulbs. Lift and clean up your dahlias, canna lilies, and glads to store in the greenhouse or basement (ideally at 5° C) for the winter.

Brush off the soil and little cormels, let cure for a week or two, then trim up and pop into a box for the winter. Toss on a bit of vermiculite or lightly moistened potting mix. Check on all bulbs once a month for mould, shriveling or sprouting.

Meyer's Lemon tree in pot

Bring in citrus trees. Is time to clean up citrus trees (all kinds -lemons, limes, oranges, etc...) and bring them into your cool sunroom or greenhouse. Though it is not yet too cold for them outside, is definitely much, much too wet! If you have no such space, then tuck them under the eaves of the house or in the carport. Citrus trees prefer to be kept on the dry side, at about 5°C, during the dreary grey winter months. Only bring them into a warmer space during frosty weather.

Check your citrus super duper well for bugs. Check anything and everything you introduce into the greenhouse for bugs or disease. The last thing you want is a pest explosion when your greenhouse is full of fragile seedlings! Wash any new introductions with a strong jet of water or a bucket of soapy water, spray with Safer's Trounce or Insect Soap, rinse off all residue after 15 minutes.

Water sparingly. Be careful when watering during the damp winter months, to not wet the foliage. Also, do not over-water your plants, keep them just slightly moist, never wet, to prevent stem rot and disease.

Yellow sticky strips will help you monitor greenhouse pests

Pest control. Monitor pest population with yellow sticky strips.

What to do in the garden? 

Grow great garlic ... get it in the rich, loamy bed as soon as possible! 

Plant garlic. If you have not yet done so, try to get your garlic in the ground as soon as possible. The sooner you get them in, the sooner they start making roots and growing in size!

Lift spring planted garlic and onions. Time to lift and cure onions and spring planted garlic in a warm, dry, and well-ventilated area.

Cut back herbs. Trim down your oregano, marjoram, sage, and mint to short stubs. Give thyme a haircut and remove any dead bits. I bring my Sweet Bay Laurel into the unheated greenhouse, just to protect it from all that excess rain, leave the hard pruning haircut till spring.

Support your sprouts! Be sure to support your plants as the winter winds, heavy rain or snowfall may rock or uproot your Brussels Sprouts.

Finish clean up and top dress. Remove all spent annual flowers, summer veggies, and weeds. Top dress your beds with 1 to 3 inches of manure or compost.

Wormy apples? If you had apples with worm holes, do not compost them in case the grubs are still inside. Take any spoiled or fallen fruits to the dump. Leave the pruning and spraying (with horticultural oil) till late winter (February).

Rake and gather leaves for spring use

What to do in the yard this month!

More cuttings. Take hardwood cuttings now from fruiting shrubs, roses, dogwoods, hydrangeas, and more.

Leaf control. Rake leaves and save to use for mulching veggies and berries in spring. 

Put things away. Put away clay and ceramic pots, birdbaths and fountains that may get damaged by the freeze and thaw. Tuck away potted perennials into unheated hoop houses or under the eaves to keep them from getting water-logged and prevent pots from cracking and crumbling.

Cut down perennials. Time to cut down those over grown asters and fall mums, right to the ground! Trim back lavender blooms now, too.

Weed! Remove new weed seedlings now while they are young.

Moro Blood Oranges and Meyers Lemons

Happy gardening! 

Moving Thyme

Sadly, the Nitty Gritty Potager blog is no more... but the good news is that I can now be found at my new blog called the Olde Thyme F...