Wednesday, September 4, 2013

In the Gutter Gardening

Do you dream of having a garden but live in a small space?  If so, the gutter garden is the perfect solution!  It consists of 3 (3 foot) sections of gutter wired together to create a narrow and suspended look.  Here are the necessary steps:

  1. Measure the distance from your patio or other designated space where you want the first gutter to hang.  Measure all the way down to ensure all three gutter pieces will fit without hitting the     ground.
  2. Have gutters cut into three 3 (3 foot) sections at local hardware store or big box store.
  3. Gather supplies and begin the drilling process.  Using a 1/8" drill bit, drill holes at least 4 inches apart along the bottom of each gutter for drainage.  Next, drill 1 hole at the front and back of each gutter section to place cable through.  Be sure all holes are drilled the same in each gutter section for it to line up equally when suspended.
  4. Place end caps on the sides once holes are drilled.
  5. Run the cable through the top (front and back) holes of each gutter section and secure with a ferrule.  The ferrule will be clamped shut using bolt cutters.
  6. Pull the unattached end of the same cable through the drilled hole in the next higher gutter section.  Slip on the ferrule and then clamp it shut.  Measure your cables throughout the process to ensure ferrules are put on in equal lengths.
  7. Attach thimble sets to the end of each top cable.
  8. Place screw-in hooks in designated space and suspend your new gutter garden!


- 2 Thimble sets (used to create hook loop on the top cables)
- 2 Ferrule sets
- 1 10 foot plastic gutter cut into thirds (Big box store will do this for you)
- 6 Gutter end caps (3 sets of 2)
- 2 Screw-in hooks to suspend from patio roof, shed, fence
- 16 Feet of 1/8" non-coated cable (2 lengths of 3 feet for top cables and 4 lengths of 2.5 feet for rest of project)
- Dirt and plants

*You will need to measure for yourself how far down you want your top cables to hang or if you'd like more space between the middle sections.  The lower cables give us a 12" space in between our gutters.


- Bolt cutters
- Drill
- 1/8" drill bit

Just Plum Delicious!!

There is nothing like the taste of cool fresh fruit on a warm summer day.  If you like plums then here is a wonderful recipe sure to make any gathering a festive one. 

All you need is the following:

2              Ripe Plums.  Pitted and cut into wedges
3/4 cup    Chilled sparkling Rosso Dolce or medium-bodied red wine (Yum!!!)
1Tsp.        Packed of fresh tarragon leaves

Place plums in a shallow bowl.  Top with wine and tarragon: season with pepper

Rather simple recipe which is what I love about this scrumptious snack but also very healthy for you.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stackable Crate Garden

For an interesting focal point in the garden, make a stackable crate garden!  This unique display is super easy to create.  Begin with unfinished wooden crates.  The number of crates will depend on the height you would like in the garden.  We used three crates.  Use any color of wood stain and brush the stain onto the wooden crates using a foam brush.  You may blot excess stain with paper towels. Once the wooden crates are completely stained, spray or brush on a clear water sealer to protect the crates from the outdoors.  Stack the crates as you wish.  Line crates with plastic bags or another product that will keep dirt inside the crates.  Fill the crates with herbs, flowers, or a variety of plants and enjoy your stackable crate garden!


-Unfinished wooden crates
-Wood stain
-Foam brush
-Paper towel
-Plastic bags
-Herbs, flowers, and/or plants

Snail Patrol

Those little slimy snails and slugs can cause a big problem in the garden.  They can munch to the ground seedlings, make your hostas and other perennials unsightly, and destroy a vegetable garden  in just a few days.  I have 3 great homemade slug bait remedies.

Chris's Yeast Slug Bait Recipe:

1 cup water
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of flour
1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast

Just mix in a bowl and place a couple of small bowls full of your mixture out in the garden.  It is best to tuck the bowls of this secret mixture under the foliage of your garden plants where the snails and slugs hide.

Chris's Slug-Be-Gone Natural Spray:

I use a spray bottle 3/4 filled with water, few drops of liquid soap and 1/4 cup of ammonium.  All you have to do is just squirt the chlorophyll suckers whenever you want.

Kid Art

Water Gun Painted Canvas (Kid Art):

School may be starting back in just a few weeks, but it's not too late to still have some fun with the kids!  This fun involves water guns and paint!  Take as many water guns as you'd like and fill them with acrylic paint (1/4 full) and add water.  Place a drop cloth or some type of protection to cover a space outside.  Prop any size blank canvas against the drop cloth.  Let the spraying begin!  Mix it up or use one color.  Either way your kids will have great fun with this summer fun project!  


-Blank canvas any size
-Water guns
-Acrylic Paint
-Drop cloth

Destructive Ivy

Slowly but surely both the tree and the building will be sorry they couldn't move to get out of the way of English ivy.  Ivy won't pull off tree bark unless you try to remove it by brute force, but as it spreads upward and throughout the canopy, it shades out the tree's inner leaves.  None of those leaves are there just for decoration-the tree needs all the food they can make.  A trunk covered by ivy can also make it hard to see structural damage from other sources.  It isn't that ivy attacks in the way that twining vines can strangle a tree, ivy does its damage inadvertently.

We may think ivy is beautiful on buildings, but the ivy League grounds and buildings managers at Harvard and Yale agree it's a problem.  Ivy grows small rootlets, called holdfasts, which make a glue that dissolves some of the mortar between the bricks.  Worse, the ivy traps moisture, dust, and debris next to the building.  Between acid rain and the decomposition of the debris, the acidity next to the building increases.  That causes further damage to mortar eventually need repointing (replacing worn mortar).  Ivy makes it happen sooner.

Boston ivy because it was used to cover Harvard's brick buildings, is a least deciduous.  In the winter, snow and ice are able to drop off and the walls are able to dry out.  But because English ivy is evergreen, in never takes a break.

For the Birds

Bird Feeder Chandelier:

Any time of the year is the perfect time to feed the birds!  Why not add a decorative touch while doing so with a chandelier!  A candle chandelier can be turned into a bird feeder by completing a couple of easy steps.  Preferably metal, the candle chandelier usually provides a nice size "cup" to house the candle.  Instead of a candle, you will be adding a clear bowl to hold the birdseed.  Either snip off the metal pick (the part that holds the candle) or hammer it flat.  This leaves a surface perfect for the clear glass bowl.  Using a silicone glue (this is an all weather glue), simply glue a clear glass bowl to each "cup" of the chandelier.  Painting the chandelier a fun color or choosing a shabby chic look will enhance the look either way.  Fill each clear glass bowl with birdseed, hang your chandelier in a special spot, and watch the birds flock to your new bird feeder!


-Metal Candle Chandelier
-Small clear glass bowls 
-Silicone glue
-Bird Seed Cakes

Now that we have created the perfect bird chandelier, we also need to create birdseed cakes to feed the birds.

Here is what you will need:

Gelatin (2 packages)
No Waste Birdseed
Molds or cups

This is a simple way to make birdseed cakes so we can use them with the birdseed chandelier.    First you dissolve 2 packages of gelatin in hot water on the stove.  Mix until the gelatin becomes thick and not milky in color.  This should take about 10 minutes.  Then in a separate clean bowl pour the gelatin and  carefully mix in the birdseed.  2 cups at first.  If the mixture is soupy then mix in some more seed.  Then place in molds or shape in cups each cake.  Remember to put a straw in each cake so when the cake hardens you have a hole for the twine if needed.   Last put in refrigerator for a least 3 hours.  8 hours is best.  Take out, do twine and hang or place on chandelier.

Teachers Pet

Back-to-School Teacher Gift:

Summer is winding down, and it's back to school!  It is also a great time to surprise your new teacher with a special gift!  Give your teacher a decoupaged terracotta pot wrapped in dictionary paper. Copy dictionary pages with words like teacher, education, school, etc.  Next, decoupage the copied dictionary pages onto the terracotta pot using a paintbrush and Mod Podge.  Cover the entire terracotta pot with the copied dictionary pages.  Fill the new decoupaged pot with a plant or your teacher's favorite snacks.  Attach a sign or card that reads "Teachers plant seeds of knowledge that will grow forever!"  This great gift will make your teacher's day!  


-Terracotta pot
-Copied dictionary paper
-Mod Podge
-paint brush
-Plant or teacher's favorite snacks
-Sign that reads "Teachers plant seeds of knowledge that will grow forever!"

Deadhead We Must

Deadheading is not simply a matter of keeping things neat.  When you remove spent flowers promptly after they bloom, you direct the energy of the plant away from seed making.  Most annuals will, when deadheaded, use that energy to bloom and bloom, since making seeds is their whole mission in life.  The more thwart them, the harder they try.  And don't wait until the blossoms look tired.  As a genera rule, annual flowers signal "mission accomplished" shortly after they're pollinated, so you get the longest season of bloom if you cut lots of bouquets.

It does pay to let a few seeds form.  Many annuals will self-sow for next year, among them nigella, alyssum, nicotiana, calendula, cleome, larkspur, and marigolds.

Remember it is time to prune and deadhead some perennials as well.  This is the time to cut back some ornamental grasses such as maiden grass if they get to big for their space.  If you lightly prune them back about one-third and before they set their seed heads,  they will stay more compact and full.  Also, this is the perfect time to prune back flowering perennials like rudbeckia.  I trim my back about 12 inches and before you know it they will bloom again in the fall. 

Grilled Donuts


Summer time is the perfect time to grill donuts for that perfect lakeside breakfast or even just for a snack.  Heat up your grill and just place several glazed donuts from the box on the grill.  You need to grill both sides of each donut.   Keep them on heat long enough on each side so that you can see the grill markings.  Then  serve with a fruit dip.  I will buy at the grocery store fruit dipping sauce and spice it up with some fresh basil and mix in a table spoon of strawberry jam.  Donuts dipped in this custom sauce are a delightful fresh treat on a sizzling summer day.