Thursday, May 21, 2015

Painted Birdhouse

My sweet husband gives such thoughtful gifts. For Mother's Day he gave to me this birdhouse and a box for saving seeds, both unpainted. We have no birdhouses in our garden, so this is a fun first. I may have been bitten by the bug. Painting it was such a joy, more birdhouses might just find their way to our home. 
I am no professional artist, so I hesitate to act like I really know what I am doing regarding painting. I have taken no classes, just sort of jumped in and tried things, so I'll share the photos but won't go into detail about how to paint. There are lots of wonderful painting tutorials online done by people who really know proper technique. My technique goes sort of like this: Add a little here, add a little there...oops...don't like that part so wipe it off. Try again, etc. The wonderful thing about creating something for yourself is that it is art for the sake of enjoyment. I used acrylic paint, and various brushes and sponges. 

As soon as I saw the birdhouse I knew I wanted to paint it to look like our home. Of course I took plenty of creative license and so it is loosely based on our house. After a light sanding with fine sandpaper,
I primed the whole thing with an exterior primer (including the bottom).
Next I painted the walls tan and the roof a deep charcoal gray.
I drew the door and windows using pencil.
The bottoms of the windows are to be covered by flowers so the lower edges are ragged.
Shutters aren't very even. Oh well. As my father would say, "It's good enough for the girls I go with." He's a character, that one.
The grass is done in layers, this is the first lightest green color. I painted the bottom of the birdhouse green too.
For the roof I started at the bottom and layered up toward the top.
Then the fun really begins, adding the garden! The green was added mostly using sponges.
That plant under the window box just seemed too heavy so I wiped it off with wet paper towel and painted over it with tan for a fresh start. 
Then the garden bloomed. I didn't take pics as I went but here are the finished sides.
As with many projects, I drew inspiration from things I found online. For ideas for this birdhouse I looked on Pinterest and found someone who sells them. She does a lovely job painting them in different color combinations. Click here for the link to her Etsy page. 

Now I have to get started painting the seed box. Oh, the possiblilties!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Giving Melons Room to Grow

My dilemma: How to contain the 6 melon varieties in my small space and maximize my yields? I decided to place a row of fencing across the middle of the bed to make the vines climb up and over as they spread into the empty zone. This will allow the vines to grow longer in the same amount of space. Longer vines will make more melons and I can hardly wait for the harvest!

This year I planted my favorites (Hale's Best cantaloupe, Honeydew, and Crenshaw) and some new varieties (Saskata's Asian melon, banana melon and Sugar Baby watermelon). I have pruned the vines to train them to grow from left to right in this photo. 
They follow the sun so they want to grow that direction, so that is why they are planted to the left. That allows room for them to spread. The problem is, the space is small. By going vertically, I hope to reduce the crowding and promote better air circulation. This will hopefully help with the mildew that will be coming soon. 
Last year my melons were amazing. They grew up an over my rabbit fencing that surrounds my garden. They grew beautifully suspended by the fence, so I know the rabbit fencing is strong enough if it is supported every four feet by a metal "T" stakes. 

I am also training the vines to climb the perimeter fence by poking the escaped vines back through the fence. My goal is to try to arrange the vines so that the flowers are on the inside of the fence. We definitely want the melons forming on the inside or my dad's dog will help herself to them like last year.

Vines escaping through the fence.
Vines trained to grow up the fence from the inside. I carefully place the tendrils in contact with the wire to encourage them to grab a hold.
There are lots of flowers blooming, and with this obstacle to climb there is plenty of room for the melons to grow.
Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Succulents in Birdcage

This birdcage has been around my garden for years. How it came to be a part of our garden is a detail which has been long forgotten. I seem to remember it once held a stuffed parrot. For many seasons it has been empty in the garden, hanging from one nail another, or sitting on one table or another. Lately it has been hanging from our pergola.
Recently I have seen photos online of wire birdcages holding succulents but I didn't put two and two together. Then the other day I went into a little shop that specializes in succulents, and there were lots of adorable wire birdcages used a planters. That's when it struck me that I have the perfect birdcage just waiting for some succulents. 

This is one of those quick and easy projects that gives instant gratification. I bought dried moss and some succulents. I already had some cactus mix so I used that. 
Soaking the moss in water makes it much easier to use. 
Work with a handful at a time. Squeeze the water out and form it into small flat pieces.
Line the bottom of the birdcage.
Then line the sides as high as you want to go. Take care to fill any gaps.
Add the cactus mix to the center then start adding plants.
I wanted to add some plants along the side, poking out through the bars of the cage. First I used my finger to make a hole in the moss and soil.
Then I removed as much of the excess soil as possible to make the root ball small enough to be pushed between the bars.
It took some effort, but it squeezed through.
Once all of the plants were situated, I added more cactus potting mix to fill the gaps. All that was left was lightly watering the plants and hanging it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Pole Beans that Aren't

Bush bean "mix" on the left, pole beans on the right.
I thought I was planting pole beans, but they aren't. They are bush beans. It was my mistake, no one to blame but me. I decided not to buy bush beans this year. Instead my plan was to make 5 tee pee trellises and plant pole beans in succession. Somehow I bought a mix of bush beans by mistake, and planted them first. They came up beautifully. Three weeks later I planted the second tee pee with Cosse Violetta pole beans.
April 23, 2015
Imagine my surprise when the mix didn't start to twist their way up the twine. The "mix" are bush beans, and they are bushy! They won't be climbing anything.
Bush bean mix
Bush bean plant with multiple stems.
Bush beans grow to about 3 feet high and two feet wide. They tend to produce their beans all at one time.

Pole beans are vines that can grow 8-10 feet long. They need trellises like my tee pees. 
Cosse Violetta pole beans climbing the tee pee.
Pole beans have one twining stem.
The bush beans are healthy so I'll let them grow. They are starting to bloom.

Next time I'll read the package better. But for now I'm going to enjoy those bush beans that are coming soon!