Archive for January, 2011

It’s been too long since we’ve posted a new recipe for the Garden to Kitchen page. Oh we talk about it from time to time and vow to be more diligent, but… you know, stuff happens and suddenly it’s been months. We’re not promising an end to this procrastination, but here’s at least one more addition to the files.

This Spelt Honey Bread is really delicious and it’s great for those of you who might not be able to tolerate wheat in your diet. Spelt is an ancient grain that still contains gluten, so it’s not for anyone with strong wheat allergies. But if you’re on the less reactive side like I am, this bread might be friendlier to your digestion.

For a long time I thought I might never be able to eat yeast-raised bread again, but I’ve been eating this bread for a couple of months now. Being able to once again have warm bread fresh out of the oven and slathered in butter is heaven for me.

Click here for the recipe.


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A couple of Tuesday’s ago we wrote a post about hacking a birdfeeder from an IKEA shelf. In our post we promised to share any pictures that readers sent to us showing how they’d created their own birdfeeders out of repurposed materials. We received a charming email that depicted birdfeeders so clever and attractive that we decided to give their inventor her very own guest post.

From Okie at REWINEDesigns:

I love to feed and watch all my backyard birds. It’s not a cheap hobby with buying birdfeeders and seed too. Worse yet is watching all the black birds and squirrels eating all the goods.

I have a business called REWINEDesigns and my slogan is “a purpose to repurpose”. Typically I make wine bottles into new and fun things such as lanterns, accent lamps, plant watering tools, and birdfeeders. I’ve attached a couple of pictures of the things I make with the birds actually using them.

The Pink Flower Birdfeeder is a repurposed winebottle that I got from a local wine store. I drilled small holes into it so the birds can peck out the seed. The top is a plastic plant liner used to guard the birds from rain. The platform is a pillar candle holder I got from a local thrift store. I used a special glue to adhere it to the bottle. A hose clamp and wire are used to hang it. I used enamel paint to give it come pizazz. Pretty huh?

So rather than spend say 20 bucks or more for a new birdfeeder I spent only about $4. Now the time it took to drill out the holes, glue it together, assemble the hanging mechanism, and paint it is all together a different matter. I had so much fun doing it though.

The House Finch Cage Birdfeeder is a wire votive candle holder that I bought on clearance. It is glued to a plastic flower pot liner and the flowerpot liner serves as the rain guard. I might have spent $4 on this too. It’s obvious the house finches like it.

The Titmouse on the Bottle Birdfeeder is another wine bottle that I drilled a hole in and glued in a feeder perch. I did buy the perch feeder online as a replacement part. Same hole clamp and wire to hang it. Cost – $3.

I love finding new uses for used things, especially things I can use as birdfeeders or houses.

I just started my own blog called A Purpose to Repurpose. I hope to use it as tool for showing people how to reuse stuff.

Thanks for allowing me to email my repuporsed birdfeeders. Okie

You can contact our new friend at okie@rewinedesigns.com

Thanks for sharing your ingenious designs, Okie!

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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California

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The contrast between my garden in Southern California and Mary Beth’s garden just outside of Durango couldn’t be more different than it is right now. In Southern California we’ve had a week of warm weather and my garden thinks it’s spring. The daffodils are pushing up, there’s new growth on the roses, and I have small splashes of color from camellias, pansies, and  a lovely pair of hardenbergia vines that frame the fountain in my atrium.

Mary Beth on the other hand is desperate for color. Some days it seems that the only color is in that blue, blue sky. Her garden is covered in snow with a few brown stems and seed heads braving the frigid air. But she’s not letting a little thing like freezing temperatures get in her way. She’s got an old trick up her sleeve — forcing tree and shrub blooms — a great way to start spring indoors.

Ornamental Plum

There are a number of spring-flowering trees and shrubs that will bloom indoors including: apple tree, azalea, cherry tree, flowering quince, forsythia, pear and plum trees, pussy willow, rhododendron, serviceberry, and witch hazel. Forsythia and pussy willows are the first to try in mid-January. Others such as beautybush, crabapple, magnolia, redbud and spirea can’t be forced until late February to mid-March.

  1. Try to go out on a day where the temperature is above freezing. Look for branches that have many prominent flower buds (bigger and rounder than leaf buds) and cut as you would for pruning — at an angle near the base of the stem. Make the branches at least 12″ long.
  2. If the outside temp is above freezing you can bring the branches directly indoors. If it’s colder, you’ll need to transition them by putting them in an unheated garage, cool basement, or enclosed porch for a day or two before bringing them inside.
  3. Remove any buds or twigs that would be under water in your vase. Cut a little off the branch again, then split or smash the bottom 1″ of the stem and put it in cool water. You can add some floral preservative if you have any.
  4. Place in bright, indirect light and mist every so often. Change the water when it becomes cloudy.

You should have blossoms within 2 to 6 weeks. They’ll last for quite a while and make you feel like spring is just around the corner.

Peach Tree Branches


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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California

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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California

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I love watching birds in my yard and I encourage their visits. I plant shrubs that have berries they like and I don’t let a few aphids or other pesky bugs worry me too much because the birds (and beneficial insects) usually do a good job of keeping those populations down.

Lately though, the number of birds visiting my yard has diminished a great deal because of competition from my neighbor’s garden which is pretty much in a wild state that the birds seem to prefer. So I decided to try to lure them back with some tasty snacks.

Having gotten rid of my yucky old tube feeder and not wanting to spend any money on a new one, I decided to look around the garage to see if there was something that I could hack or repurpose into a bird feeder.

Lo and behold, I found some dusty little Ikea shelves that I bought for some long-forgotten purpose. The more I looked at them, the more it seemed like a good idea. They are a good size and have an edge that let’s them hold a decent amount of food. Another thing I really like about them is it’ll be easy to keep them clean — don’t want to invite the little guys over and then make them sick with a dirty feeder!

Putting them up was ridiculously simple and after a few days my friends came back. Wish I’d done it a long time ago.

Those of you who know about feeding birds will probably note that I haven’t got the best feed in my new feeders. So we asked Mary Beth’s birder friend Peter to do a guest blog post telling us how to care for our wild birds. We’ll get that post up soon.

Next I’m going to make a tripod out of some dowels and top them with a beautifully glazed saucer I found at the hardware store. And after that…I don’t know, but there must be hundreds of simple, creative ways to make bird feeders. If any of you have hacked or repurposed something to create a bird feeder email us a picture (barbara@beesandchicks.com) and we’ll share it. I’m also percolating ideas for a bird bath. Any ideas?

Coming up: next week we’ll get back to the bees. We’re working on a post about the state of things in Bee World and then we’ll do an update on Mary Beth’s hives.

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