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UPDATE FROM THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN

Yesterday afternoon I spent a few hours in the garden putzing around.
 
Our garden is different from most community gardens in several ways: Every bed is different. [Some are pots and some are plots. Some are wooden box raised beds, some are lasagna beds, some are keyhole gardens, some beds grow vegetables and some beds grow food for pollinators.]
 
Our garden is located on a flood plain between a riparian area and a meadow. We are a certified wildlife habitat with a resident owl, several cardinals and a bluebird and at least one coyote who lived in the woods that we share a border with. Feral cats also often visit the garden. In the early spring people from our Asian community come to harvest new bamboo shoots. We have several chairs and two picnic tables. Many people have told us that our garden is a special, magical place and I know just what they mean. Families come down to look at our plants, read our signs and have picnics.
 
I helped to establish it in 2014 with several other people and I'm so glad I did.  Our mission is to encourage people in our community to grow some of the food they eat because we know of all the great benefits they and their families will get when they do this.  That is one of the reasons our garden features a variety of gardening places--from traditional in the ground plots to pots made from recycled containers.
 

A FEW PHOTOS FROM YESTERDAY IN THE GARDEN:

BECOMING:  They may not look like it now, but the photo on the left shows  California giant zinnias that will bloom from June to November.
Cactus leaves or Nopales have sprouted all over the cactus in the Medicine Wheel. After they mature into full grown leaves people can eat them as a vegetable. Nopales have a moist crunchy texture with with a slightly slimy texture similar to okra. In terms of flavor, they are tart, with a slightly citrusy taste.
 
 
COMMON MILKWEED (Asclepias Syriaca). Our milkweed bed for the Monarchs is coming to life.  This plant is a perennial and its leaves are the only ones that the so-called milkweed butterflies will lay their eggs on.  The Monarch butterfly is a member of that exclusive club. The Black Swallowtail butterfly, of which we have plenty, lays its eggs on plants of the carrot family which includes fennel.  We also have plenty of fennel and carrots planted at the garden.
 
 
 
 
LETTUCE, KALE, CILANTRO - This has been a great spring for lettuce and cilantro--The best I remember.
Our greens patch would make Mr. McGregor jealous.
 
 
EXPERIMENTS IN ACTION - In the photo on the left we have a yellow plastic cup that is covered in vaseline.  The idea is that aphids and gnats and other pests will fly into and get trapped.  We will monitor it carefully to ensure that we don't trap too many pollinators.  But, if we have as many aphids as we did last year, there won't be room for any pollinators.  Just above the yellow cup is a pot with a huge sage  growing in it.  The photo on the right shows a trellis for zucchini plants that I installed yesterday.  It is a cattle panel (4 x 7 feet) folded in half and  wired to two T-poles..
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Yesterday [April 10] in honor of coming Earth Day, The Nicholson Memorial Library System and Loving Garland Green, representing the Garland Community Garden, partnered to bring a gardening event to children in Garland, Texas.

 

Andrea Leon, Children's Librarian at Nicholson Memorial Library, and Jane Stroud, board member Loving Garland Green, and I were the official hosts. The event was held outside on the porch of the downtown Nicholson Library.

 

As always, with my many gardening interactions with the children of Garland, they were great--polite, attentive and intelligent. The age range for this group was 5 to 9.   The library is a wonderful place with lots of resources to add to the education of a community.  Although books to borrow are its main products, the library offers many more opportunities for fun and learning for people of all ages.  For example, in May, Loving Garland Green will be back to the library to lead a container gardening event for adults.

At the event yesterday, the children learned all about peas and container gardening. Some of the takeaways for them from the event included: a two-gallon pot with a month-old pea plant growing in it in addition to three seeds they planted during the event in the pot; a pan to keep it from leaking on the floor when watered; a trellis made of an upside-down tomato cage; a packet of goodies that included a zip-lock bag with snow peas and sugar snap peas; instructions for care of their plant; a pea recipe book prepared by Andrea that included a recipe for pea cookies; a journal for keeping track of their pea plant as it grows also designed by Andrea;  an information sheet about the Garland Community Garden.

 

During the presentation, the children learned they can grow just about any vegetable from a five-gallon bucket--provided it is the right size and has good drainage holes and the soil is properly amended.  They were also introduced to books that teach children more about gardening.  After they planted their seeds, Andrea passed out stickers of rainbows, butterflies and flowers and the children decorated their pots.  It was interesting to see their designs emerge on the pots.  Although the children had the same sticker resources to choose from, there was not a design on a pot that was like another--just more evidence for the fact that we each have something unique to bring forth to the world. 

 

It was a great day and once again an honor to interact with the children In our community.  In closing, I leave you with this garden riddle: 

How is a seed like a book?

Answer:  BOTH CONTAIN INFORMATION.  The seed provides all the information needed to produce a plant and it is specific to a topic. This is sometimes referred to as genetic coding.   For example, a pea seed will never instruct the development of an oak tree.  A squash seed will never grow a tomato.  The same may be said for a book.  It too contains information specific to a topic.  You'll never learn how to repair a car by reading a cookbook for making desserts.

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SCOUTS DO THE JOB WELL

This has been a busy weekend in the garden!  I recently got a call from Charlotte Savage asking if there was some project she could work on at the garden.  Charlotte is a Senior this year in Garland and will go off to college in the fall to become a cyber security expert.  She is working to attain Eagle Scout rank which is not an easy accomplishment.  To attain the Eagle rank, a Scout must earn at least 21 merit badges, fulfill leadership roles and display outdoor skills, demonstrate by example the Scout Oath and Law, and complete a comprehensive service project in the community.  

We have a spiral herb garden that is in need of serious repair so I suggested that Charlotte come help me work on that. I don't know all the rules for a "comprehensive service project in the community" but Charlotte was aware of these rules and for several reasons, helping to repair our spiral herb garden doesn't qualify.  However, Charlotte came down anyway on Saturday to help me out.  Judging from what Charlotte demonstrated on Saturday, I'm certain she will attain the rank of Eagle Scout even though, since its inception in 1911, only four percent of Scouts have earned this rank after a lengthy review process.  Becoming an Eagle Scout offers many benefits.  For example, Eagle Scouts are eligible for many scholarships. Unigo, a network for future college students, offers a list of Eagle Scout Only Scholarships.

We had fun figuring out how to repair the spiral garden and together we came up with a great solution:  concrete blocks for the main part of the wall that was broken and stones that we will set in concrete when we have warmer sunny weather.  The stones will cover up gaps and enhance the appearance of the spiral.

One thing is certain!  This project would not have been half as fun without the cheerful addition of a scout like Charlotte.


About Spiral Herb Gardens

An herb spiral is a raised garden built in the shape of a spiral. It’s taller in the middle and circles down to ground level. It can be made from a variety of materials like stone or wood, and offers different growing conditions within the same bed. Herb spirals are popular in permaculture design.  The raised shape of a spiral herb garden also means there are areas of the bed that receive full sun and areas that are a little more shaded. This mix of microclimates means you can grow both sun-loving and shade-tolerant herbs in a single garden. Basil and oregano are suited for full sun, while cilantro and parsley can grow in less light.

 

NOTE:  IF YOU KNOW OF A COMMUNITY PROJECT THAT MIGHT QUALIFY FOR AN EAGLE SCOUT PROJECT, PLEASE TEXT ME AT 972-571-4497 and I'll pass that information along to Charlotte.

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ONGOING CARE OF A LASAGNA BED

The ongoing care of a lasagna bed includes weekly and seasonal replenishment.

At first the bed will be about two feet high but it will gradually sink as time goes on.  After about a year to 18 months as decay and worms do their work turning the leaves and organic matter into soil. the bed will be reduced to half its original height.

You will need to feed your bed about once every week or two.  To do this, for a four foot by eight foot bed, you'll need two coffee cans (1 pound 14 oz each) stuffed with unused fresh produce such as tops from carrots, bottoms from lettuce and cabbage, apple cores, etc.  You can make a little hole in four different places in the bed and put half of each can in the hole.  Cover with leaves to prevent attracting critters.  

As for feeding your plants, there are few things better than compost tea.  Get a five gallon bucket with a lid. Dump some unused, uncooked produce from your kitchen in the bucket along with some coffee grounds which are rich in nitrogen and potassium.  Fill with water near the top.  Cover tightly with a lid.  Keep the can near your garden and use to water your plants once a week.  Just continue to add more spoiled produce and water each week.  Make sure and leave about 1/8 of the water in the bucket as this ensures you'll have plenty of microbes as a starter for the new batch.

In the winter you can let your bed  rest.  In December, cover  the bed with leaves and water well so your leaves don't blow away. This will also discourage pests from over-wintering in your leaves.  Return to it in March.

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Mar 13 @ 7:08 am

THE GARDEN IS A HEALING PLACE   

and often a family affair

There are many different reasons why people turn to gardening, but from what I’ve seen, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find that overwhelmingly it is the desire to heal that moves people to the garden. We turn to the garden because of our deep natural connection to nature and the encouragement we find in things that are growing.

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to introduce a beautiful family to the garden. Kischa Howard, the matriarch of this family, last year suffered one of life’s most difficult injustices to a parent---the loss of a child. Kischa called me a few days ago and asked if I teach her how to garden. She also mentioned that she had lost a son to cancer just last year. He was teaching her how to garden and she wanted to continue in memory of him. Yesterday, on Sunday afternoon, not only Kischa, but also her daughter, son, sister, granddaughter, grandson and daughter-in-love came with her.  All will be working this beautiful family memory garden.

On Sunday, they completed the build for a lasagna bed and planted two yellow squashes.

I’m sure they will teach me much more that I’ll ever teach them--that’s the secret that many don’t realize but the teacher almost always learns more from the pupils than they learn from the teacher. At the very least, it is a mutual exchange.

Scientific evidence abounds in literature to support gardens as being healing places for human beings.  Gardens provide psychological, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits to humans.  The term healing gardens is most often applied to green spaces in hospitals and other healthcare facilities that specifically aim to improve health outcomes. These gardens provide a place of refuge and promote healing in patients, families, and staff.  Any environment can promote healing, but gardens are particularly able to do so because humans are hard-wired to find nature engrossing and soothing.

Regardless age or culture, we find nature restorative. In one study, researchers Marcus and Barnes found that more than two-thirds of people choose a natural setting to retreat to when stressed. In another study, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to calmer and more balanced. [Source: University of Minnesota]

Why do we find nature so restorative? As mentioned, some believe that it is because we are hardwired in our genes. Roger Ulrich, a leading researcher in healing gardens, summarizes it thus: "We have a kind of biologically prepared disposition to respond favorably to nature because we evolved in nature. Nature was good to us, and we tend to respond positively to environments that were favorable to us." [Note: Dr. Ulrich is Professor of Architecture at the Center for Healthcare Building Research at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, and is adjunct professor of architecture at Aalborg University in Denmark. He is the most frequently cited researcher internationally in evidence-based healthcare design.]

Another reason for our biological connection to nature could be that humans who paid close attention to nature gathered key information that helped them survive and reproduce. So, the tendency to find nature engrossing lived on in those genes.

The importance of gardens figures large in literature and religion. For example, the Christian story begins in the Garden of Eden.  Our literature abounds with stories developed around gardens in such works as Shakespeare’s Richard II; Keats Garden poems; Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass; Virginia Woolf’s Kew Gardens; etc.

I hope you'll visit the Garland Community Garden because then you will see what I mean.

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A woman called me a few days ago and asked if I could teach her how to garden.

THAT remains to be seen.  However, I did accept the challenge.

I'm meeting her in the garden tomorrow, Sunday, March 12 at 3PM.  I'll gather the materials and provide her with the instructions.

It takes about one hour to make and plant a lasagna Garden--much easier than tilling up the soil.

You are welcome to come and watch.

 

YOU CAN DO IT! Let’s make a Lasagna Garden

Lasagna beds are a no-till easy method of constructing a garden bed.  Great method for beginning gardeners.

 

Lay the cardboard the shape and size for your. garden. Wet it 
thoroughly with water. Worms are attracted to we cardboard and
will come to the surface.  No need to till. The cardboard blocks
sunlight and thus the grass and weeds die.

MATERIALS:

Cardboard (Enough flat pieces for a four by 8-foot bed)

Decaying logs (about 4)

Twigs (enough to cover the entire bed)

Newspaper (or any uncoated paper)

Uncooked vegetable scraps (enough to cover most of the bed)

Coffee grounds

Dead Leaves (about three or four large leaf bags

Two 2-cubic feet bags of garden soil

Vegetable transplants and seeds

Water

Six night crawlers (Get them at a bait store.  Walmart sells them in sports section.)

STEPS:

  1. Lay down the cardboard right on top of weed or grass.  Don’t leave any gaps between cardboard and ground beneath. This will kill the grass and weeds because they won’t have sunlight
  2. PUT DECAYING LOGS AND TWIGS ON TOP OF CARDBOARD
  3. Soak well with water.
  4. Crumple paper and put on top of logs and twigs.
  5. Pour two bags of dry leaves over twigs and paper.
  6. Pour uncooked vegetable scraps over entire bed.
  7. Water well.
  8. Sprinkle coffee grounds over vegetable scraps. (Worms love them and they add nitrogen and potassium to the soil. Amount no more than 25% of bed.)
  9. Gently release the night crawlers near the middle of the bed.
  10. Pile another bag or two of leaves on top of this.  Water well.
  11. Sprinkle entire bed with 1 to 2 cubic feet of garden soil.
  12. Now you are ready to plant.  Before planting seeds or transplants, dig a hole in the leaves and add about a cup or two of soil to anchor the roots or seeds.

You don't have to spend a lot of money buying wood to enclose your bed.  You can let the worms
and natural decay of organic matter to create most of your soil free of charge!

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?  $25 to nothing

If you buy four cubic feet of garden soil and purchase the night crawlers, building a lasagna garden will cost about $25 plus seeds and plants unless you can get them from friends.

But if you have a yard, you can dig some of that soil and amend it with about 20% sand and about 10% dry leaves.  The sand can be purchase by 40 pound bags for about $6.

 As for night crawlers.  You can get them free by digging in the soil near a shrub.

 One of the easiest ways to gather worms is by leaving a wet piece of flattened cardboard in your garden or lawn overnight. Worms are attracted to wet cardboard, so they will crawl up to the surface in no time. Once you remove the cardboard, you'll have countless worms to place into your worm bin

 I get cardboard by driving behind businesses and taking cardboard from their bins.

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Left to Right:  Girl Scouts, Liz and Calley (supposedly the adults in the photo)

 

SUNDAY! WHAT A WONDERFUL SERENDIPITOUS GARDEN DAY!

It seems like for a few days that I've been nudged back to promoting my permaculture roots. All the gardeners at the Garland Community Garden and most community gardens are organic gardeners--that is to say that we do not use any chemical fertilizers, GMO seeds, pesticides or herbicides.
 

Permaculture takes organic gardening to another whole level.

Permaculture, at its core, is sustainable agriculture. It also includes 12 design principles that expand beyond farming and offer an ecological approach to modern living and communities—for example, energy conservation and zero waste living. All in all, permaculture takes its lessons from nature and how things grow naturally in a forest in particular.
 
In the beginning of the Garland Community Garden almost 10 years ago now, we "made" the soil for most of our beds the permaculture way: Lay down cardboard the entire area of your bed, right on top of the weeds or grass; Water it well; put a layer of twigs and several large old porous logs on top of the cardboard; Pile brown organic matter such as leaves on top of the logs; old newspapers torn up; mix a little green from shrub trimmings; and some rotting produce; straw; water well and wait for the worms to come.
Vegetables grown in our lasagna beds did not grow well so we gradually moved away from this method. It takes at least a year for most lasagna beds to attract enough worms to harvest the organic materials into rich soil.
 

Monica Escamilla, Starbucks Store Manager and community gardener

FRIENDS AND NEW ACQUAINTANCES ADD VALUE TO THE QUALITY OF OUR LIVES

Monica Escamilla Store Manager at the Starbucks on North Garland Road between a Walmart and Target store recently has come to our garden to help us out. Monica mentioned that her previous experience included working in a permaculture garden in Nashville. There are several in the Nashville area so I don't know which. one but talking with Monica reminded me of the value of this method of gardening. But more importantly Monica mentioned that you can buy live big night crawler worms and also the red wiggles at Walmart or any bait shop and add them to your soil.
 
I decided to make a lasagna bed on Sunday, bring worms to it and see what happens. So I bought three containers of worms collected the leaves I had raked from my yard and some cardboard and headed for the garden. At least as far as the beginning of this bed goes, it was magical.
 
I had barely started to pull the cardboard out of the truck when a troop of girl scouts flooded the garden like so many butterflies.
The girls were not only strong and enthusiastic, great listeners and action-oriented, they displayed great teamwork and kindness to one another.  This photo shows one of the older girls helping a younger one to loosen the roots of a transplant.  Yep, the garden encourages all kinds of good manners.
 
They were curious about what I was doing. When I told them they begged enthusiastically to come and help. Of course I said yes and Calley, one of our new gardener members joined in to help us. With the exception of going into the woods to get the old rotten logs, we let the girls do everything--from laying the cardboard to planting the plants which included some herbs, a tomato plant and a pepper plant. (The tomato plant was planted at the other end from the pepper plant as they are not good companions.)
The girls were fearless with the worms which surprised me. It was so much fun to see their enthusiasm and sheer joy.
 
After we were finished and the girls had left the garden it struck me that I had helped to create a happy memory for a group of children. This was likely an event that many of them would remember their entire lives. And I, as a participant, would also be remembered as well. I guess this is the closest we come to immortality--to make happy memories for others. No better place to do this than in the garden.
 
The Girl Scout's lasagna bed.  They have eight plants (herbs, one tomato plant and one Banana pepper plant.  In addition, this bed is the new home for about 15 worms.
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SPRING IS THE TIME FOR PLANTING.

When it comes to seeds,  you have three choices: Open Pollinated; Hybrid or GMO

I took up gardening late in life--about 10 years ago. One of the main reasons I did was to escape the world of politics but I soon found out as I dug up my front yard that such an act is rift with political ramifications.  You'll have people cheering you on and others criticizing you. Someone once wrote that digging up your front lawn and planting a garden instead of a lawn is one of the most political acts that a person can undertake.  You are defying the status quo that says all front yards must be an uninterrupted flow of green from one house into the next.  No dandelions allowed.  Do what you have to do: pull them out by hand or use an herbicide like Roundup.

Over the course of the two months that it took me to dig up half of my front lawn, over 120 people stopped by to chat with me, ask what I was doing, and talk about gardening.  Prior to that time, I had lived at this address for about 8 year and no one had ever stopped to chat when I was in my front yard.  [Note: I say over 120 because I didn't start counting until I was into my second week of digging up my lawn and people started stopping on day one.  It was from this group of people that the Nonprofit Loving Garland Green was started.

It’s amazing how steeped in politics that gardening is, but it is--right down to the seeds that one chooses to plant.
 
Open pollinated (OP) seeds are naturally pollinated by wind and bees. These are seeds of value to be saved from your healthiest plants and replanted. Preserving an heirloom means growing it out, maintaining the variety and sharing its seeds with as many growers as possible.
 
Hybrid (F1) seeds come from two inbred open pollinated parents bred for specific characteristics. For example, most of the tomatoes you buy in the chain grocery stores have tough skins. This is because they were grown from hybrid seed that was developed to create tougher skins for tomatoes so they could still look good after traveling the average 1,500 miles that fresh produce in our inefficient agricultural system must travel to get to your grocery store. Seeds from hybrid plants will not breed true to the plant they came from. Some might, but few will and you cannot count on seed from hybrids. Thus, for example, if you want to always get tomatoes with a tough skin, you’ll have the go to the store any buy these seeds. [Get the picture? A captured consumer.]
 
When it comes to seeds, GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) are typically hybrid plants whose DNA is artificially altered to tolerate higher levels of pesticides/herbicides. Note that hybridization has already achieved the beneficial plant traits; further genetic modification is strictly for monetary reasons. Europe has banned GMO’s for a multitude of reasons, including higher levels of chemicals.
 
In the final analysis, if gardeners only chose hybrid and GMO seeds, our food source (seeds) would totally be in control of a few people. Some say that we are headed in that direction. I’m sorry to say, but the evidence does seem to be pointing that way.
 
Seed banks have not prevented the loss of 93 percent of heirloom varieties since 1903.
 
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SECOND LIFE FOR THE PLASTIC MILK JUG

Use the plastic milk jug as the perfect one-gallon measurement for watering in your garden.  It takes six of these filled with water per square yard once a week to adequately water most plants.  Use a utility knife to cut the carton along the dotted line, put some holes in its bottom and voila! You have a pot for your seedlings.

SECOND LIFE FOR THE CARDBOARD CARTON


Birdhouse

You can make a birdhouse from cardboard milk cartons:  Rinse well and make a hole around the side of the carton. Then, add pine needles, straws, and any other natural liner. Ensure it comes off as a soft and comfy nest for the bird.  Place the carton somewhere high. This way, mice and rats will not be visiting your birdhouse.


Plant Protector

Cut on the dotted line, turn upside down and place on tender transplants to protect them from an unexpected cold snap in the spring or fall.

Detail for:

MAKING BIRD HOUSES WITH CHILDREN FROM MILK CARTONS

First there is the adult only preparation part:

  1. Rinse the milk Carton
  2. Paint the outside of the carton with an outdoor paint
  3. Cut the necessary holes:
    - The entrance hole should be large enough to admit the bird, but not so large as to admit unwanted species. If you want to attract smaller songbirds, a 1½" diameter is a common size of entrance hole; however, it is an advantageous to use a smaller size if you are planning to attract chickadees and wrens specifically. Entrance holes to bluebird nesting boxes measure 1½ inches in diameter because this size prevents European starlings from entering. Starlings compete with bluebirds for scarce nesting sites. The hole should be placed 4" - 6" above the floor. The hole for a Chickadee birdhouse is 1 1/8” in diameter placed 4 to 6 inches above the floor.  Entrance holes for other species: 
    The entrance hole size depends on the species you hope to attract: 25 mm for blue, coal and marsh tits. 28 mm for great tits, tree sparrows and pied flycatchers. 32 mm for house sparrows and nuthatches.

    -Air circulation holes
    Drill small holes (1/8 to 1/4-inch diameter) through each side of the birdhouse just below the roof. This will provide better air circulation.

    - Approximately 1 inch below the entrance hole cut a small X with a utility knife.  Once the child has decorated the birdhouse and put in the nest, you will insert a twig or dowel and hot glue to secure it in place.

    -Poke holes in the bottom of the. Carton to allow water to drain. (8 small holes are sufficient)

    -Cut a small hole on either side at the top of the carton.  After it is decorated and the nest made by the child, you will run strong twine or wire through these two holds for hanging the birdhouse.
  4. Have the child decorate the box with water-based paints.
  5. After paint is dry, adult spays with a clear sealer
  6. After   dry, insert the material for the nest--dry grass, straw, bits of string , tiny scraps of cotton fabric.
  7. Some like to put a couple of rocks to weight the birdhouse a bit.
  8. Insert the perch into the X you cut if you are going to have a perch and hot glue it to the carton.

    PERCHES ARE TRICKY
    Perch diameter should match bird size. Birds should be able to wrap their toes around a perch to grasp it, not just stand on top of it with their toes spread open wide. If a perch is too big, a bird can fall or slip if they cannot grasp it properly.

    Bluebird boxes do NOT need perches on the exterior of the box.  They will fly straight into their home. Also, the presence of a perch may attract house sparrows which seem to prefer them.  The entrance hole for a blue bird house is 1 ½ in diameter.
  9. Slide twine or wire through the two holes near the  top of the milk carton for hanging.
  10. Hang the finished birdhouse and wait. . .

    NOTE:  The birdhouse should not be swinging in the wind. Nestle it in branches.  Secure it by wrapping the twine or wire around a branch above it.  Make sure the entrance hold is clear and accessible. You might use some Gorilla tape to secure it.

 

FAQ 

WHERE TO HANG?

Keep bird houses out of the sun.

WHEN TO HANG?

The best time to put up a new birdhouse is in the fall or winter so that birds will have plenty of time to locate them before the breeding season.

HOW HIGH SHOULD THE BIRDHOUSE BE?
 The following heights (in feet and meters) are the ideal ranges for how high to mount birdhouses for different species.

  • Barn owls - 8-25' (2-8 m)
  • Bluebirds - 4-6' (1-2 m)
  • Chickadees - 5-15' (2-5 m)
  • Finches - 5-10' (2-3 m)
  • Nuthatches - 5-10' (2-3 m)
  • Purple martins - 10-15' (3-5 m)
  • Screech owls - 10-30' (3-9 m)
  • Titmice - 5-15' (2-5 m)
  • Wood ducks - 6-30' (2-9 m)
  • Woodpeckers - 10-20' (3-6 m)
  • Wrens - 6-10' (2-3 m)

WHAT COLOR?

Birds are attracted to the color red, according to a Chicago zoo authority. Birds protect their nests by flashing red and use the color to attract mates. 

Do birds actually use bird houses?  The answer is “yes”.

About 30 bird species in each region of the country are so-called cavity nesters, which means that most of them will also use a birdhouse. Bluebirds, purple martins, house wrens, chickadees, tree swallows and house sparrows are the most common birds that nest in houses.

 

ADDENDUM:  DON'T PUT SHINY OBJECTS OR TINKLY BELLS ON YOUR BIRD HOUSE.  They frighten the birds 

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We loaded up an upside down tomato grow container this afternoon. I'm curious to see how well the plants grow in this container.  Supposedly, its two-foot square  6 1/2 inch deep bed on top will support four four  tomato plants growing from beneath  and at least 4 other vegetables or herbs on top.

EXCITING GENTLY USED UPSIDE DOWN TOMATO BED COMING TO THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN

This bed is 2 feet square; 50 inches tall; and 6 1/2 inches deep on top. The first photo shows it in our truck laid on its side. You can see the underside of the bed. It has four holes about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You poke the roots of four transplants (one plant through each hole and then add soil to the container and plant herbs or vegetables in the top.
 
My friend, Jane, who donated this container bought it in 2008. I was able to find a photo of it on the Internet but nowhere could I find it for sale today  on the Internet. Perhaps you can get one on E-Bay? Jane said the she grew indeterminate cherry tomatoes in it. First they grew down toward the ground and then they curve back up toward the sun when they almost touched the ground.
 
In the top bed we will plant basil which is a great companion plant for tomatoes and perhaps parsley as well.
 
Since the bed really isn't that large 2 foot square and 6 1/2 inches deep) for supporting four tomato plants and four basil plants we will have to watch to ensure that we feed and water the soil well and regularly. If indeed, we can grow four tomatoes upside down, this container will really be an efficient one for urban dwellers as it only takes up two square feet and yields the growing space of four square feet.

The photo below shows what the container looks like with plants growing in it.  To set it up, you first fill the base with gravel, sand or water.  It has a hole with a cap for  filling.  You need to do this  to  stabilize it with some weight.  The next step is to poke the roots of four tomato plants up through each one of the four holes (upside down from the bottom of the container).  Then add soil that is  rich with nutrients. Fill the rest of the container  with soil up to the top and plant basil and parsley.