Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gourd Birdhouses

Looking for a simple and attractive birdhouse for your yard? Why not try one made out of a gourd?

For this you need:
  • a dried gourd (you can plant gourds in your garden in the spring, and dry one of those out, or you can purchase already dried gourds.
  • a drill
  • a small spoon or stick
  • cord or wire
First step is to clean your dried gourd. Was it with warm, soapy water, and let it completely dry.

Drill a hole in the gourd that is 1-2 inches in diameter. The hole should be placed about just a big above the halfway point on the gourd, as most birds like to hop down into the gourd. Clean out the inside of the gourd (using a stick or a small spoon).

Drill a couple of really small holes in the bottom of the gourd. This will help with drainage, and will keep the inside of the gourd dry.

Drill two small holes in the top of the gourd that you can thread your cord or wire through. This will be used to hang the gourd.

Put two layers of varnish on your gourd, to help it last longer. Wait at least 24 hours between each layer of shellac so that it dries completely.

Your birdhouse is now ready to hang!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Saving Water Never Felt So Good!

There are two reasons why rain barrels make sense:

(1) Global shortage in drinking water- Global warming is turning fertile land into arid deserts, and
(2) Environmental reasons- Man-made creations are altering ground-water run-off patterns, which is damaging the environment.

Prior to urbanization, rainfall soaked into vegetation and slowly flowed underground. This natural filtration process removed sediments and pollutants that can clog streams, reduce oxygen in the water, and poison aquatic ecosystems.

Unfortunately, in urban communities, paved surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent stormwater runoff from naturally soaking into the ground. Instead, the downspouts of houses are usually directed into sewers, which is discharged untreated into bodies of water. Sediments, debris, and harmful wastes from this stormwater can cloud the water, and damage local eco-systems. Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms; these algae blooms suffocate fish and other aquatic wildlife by stealing their oxygen.

One way you can eliminate harmful stormwater run-off is to invest in a rain barrel. Rain barrels prevent stormwater from entering directly into the water table, thus helping the environment. And rain barrels can look nice! The Agua rain barrel, depicted in the image above, is very elegantly designed, with smooth clay-like contours. It's made in Canada (Cambridge, Ontario) and is designed to withstand a Canadian winter. Call 519-624-2554 to inquire.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pond Filtration – How much do you need of what kind?

Figuring out what kind of pond filter you need can sometimes be a little overwhelming. There are so many different filters that claim to do so many different things, so how do you know which one is right for what you need?

Filters can be broken down into three main categories – mechanical filtration, biological filtration and UV clarification. Mechanical filtration easily removes any large particles in your water, while biological filtration breaks down organic material that may be in your water. UV Clarification sterilizes algae, and causes small particles to clump together which makes it easier for a mechanical filter to remove the particles. The best filters that you can get have all three types of this filtration in them.

Pumps can also be classified by how they are used and installed. For example, a pre-filter is usually something that is attached to a pump, and filters the water so that it doesn’t clog the pump. They do not remove waste from the water, and usually are only mechanical filtration.

The submersible filter is a pump that can sit in the water of your pond. If you decide to use this type of pump, you need to remember to keep it somewhere accessible for you so you can clean it occasionally.

An in-line filter is one that is pressurized. This filter is typically installed outside of your pond, near the pump out-take. This filter should not be installed inside your pond, especially if there is a UV light included in it. Because this filter is pressurized, it can be used to feed water to a watercourse or directly back into your pond.

External filters are typically the largest ones you can get. Again, this is not something that is installed inside your pond. If your pond is larger than 1000 gallons, this is what is usually recommended. What’s really great about this kind of filter is that it is probably the easiest type to clean, as it’s the easiest to get to.

So what kind of filter is best for your pond?

If you have a small pond, you would probably be okay with just a pre-filter or a submersible filter. As soon as you start adding plants, fish or more volume, however, you’re going to want a larger filter, preferably with all three types of filtration (mechanical filtration, biological filtration and UV clarification).

Friday, September 12, 2008

There's More To Gazing Globes Than Meets the Eye

One garden decor fad that has hit gardens across North America is the gazing globe (or gazing ball): a colorful, mirrored sphere that typically sits on an iron stand. But there's more to a gazing globe than meets the eye. I installed one in my backyard and found that they make for great conversation pieces because there's an entire story behind them.

In the 13th century, kings and royalty would use gazing globes in their backyards to repel evil spirits. Many believed that these orbs would also repel witches, so they would adorn them near entrances in hopes they would scare witches away. has several variations of gorgeous, glimmering, and decorative gazing globes for sale.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Compost Tea

I’ve had a lot of people asking me lately what the benefit of compost tea is, and how to make it.

So, what’s so great about compost tea, anyway? Well, it’s a very easy way to add nutrients to your garden. It can be used either by spraying it on the leaves of your plants, or watering your plants with it. Personally, I like using it for my houseplants and container garden where I don’t get to use my compost as mulch.

There are a lot of tea brewers out there, and other instruments that claim to help make your tea brewing easier, but you really don’t need these. It’s a very simple process to make effective compost tea.

What you need:
  • Burlap bag

  • Large Bucket

  • 1 part compost

  • 5 parts water
Place your compost into the burlap bag, and let it soak in the bucket of water for a few days – I wouldn’t recommend longer than 5 days. By five days, you’ve already got all of the good nutrients into the water. At this point in time, your compost tea is ready to use! Just put your compost tea in a watering can, or a spray bottle, and go at your plants. Keep in mind that compost tea does not keep for a long time – if you don’t use it up almost immediately, it can become anaerobic.