Category Archives: The Garden

Hello Spring! Giveaway

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

 

Okay, folks! Here it is! Spring is in the air so it is time to get your garden on–who’s with me???

We’ve got such amazing products in this fun gardening gift basket that will go to one lucky winner. Enter here or by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post.

But let’s run through all the goodies first, shall we?

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

WOOT!! A 6 Month Seeds of the Month Club membership! If you all haven’t joined this amazing program, you simply must check it out. Every month, they send you four packets of non-GMO seeds (mostly veggies and herbs) selected specifically for your growing zone and season. You never know what you are going to get, but that’s part of the fun! You can find out more by following them on Facebook, and Twitter.

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

A sampler pack of my favorite fertilizer: Authentic Haven Brand Manure Tea. This stuff is good, you guys. I’ve been using it for a couple of seasons now, and I am a huge fan. ‘MooPoo Tea’ is 100% organic and sustainable, and the plants really dig it. Furthermore, it is produced here in sunny Southern California on the Haven Family Ranch: follow along with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and see some amazing snapshots of ranch life on Instagram.

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

A copy of one of my favorite small-space gardening books, Vertical Vegetable Gardening, by the incomparable Chris McLaughlin. Chris is the author of several gardening how-to books, the homesteading guru for About.com, and queen of all things Home-Ag. For more about her, visit her website, Home-Ag.com, and you can also follow along with her on her suburban farming adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

A hand-painted 12″x12″ reclaimed steel message board, made by yours truly (multiple versions coming soon to a certain Etsy storefront!).

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

Well, you need some garden-themed magnets for that message board, don’t you?

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

A package of seed storage envelopes from Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian Collection, in case you have any leftover Seeds of the Month Club seeds.

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

My favorite little garden gnomey and gloves from Threshold Target. Every garden needs a gnome to watch over it, in my professional opinion.

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

A set of gorgeous copper garden tools (a hand fork and trowel), and a brass-tipped tamper-dibber all from Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian collection.

Hello Spring! Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

And last, but not least, this gorgeous gathering basket to put it all in (also from Williams-Sonoma).

Contest begins today, Friday, April 4th, 2014, and ends at midnight, Wednesday, April 9th, 2014. The only mandatory entry requirement will be for you guys to leave a comment on this blog post (but please do so by using the Rafflecopter link below and following those instructions), but I will give you lots of non-mandatory extra entries by going around and following all our contributors’ social medias. The more you follow, the more entries you’ll earn.

So who’s ready to win this thing?!

Enter here!!!!

A Monarch Chrysalis

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38For everyone interested in seeing the photo progression of the monarch chrysalis…this post is for you!

Of course, a few weeks back, my milkweed plants were teaming with monarch larvae:

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

Eventually, they got big and fat:

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

 

And then they proceeded to trek away from the milkweed to find a place to pupate (build their chrysalis). We found them cruising in the very far reaches of our yard. Incredible.

But I was especially astounded when I went to give my Lady Scarecrow a spring makeover (her clothes are so Spring 2013), and as I was stripping her down, I found this!:

Monarch Butterflies at Farmhouse38.com

It was attached right to her wrist, like a little charm. Of course, I carefully readjusted her clothes and left everything just as it was.

So thrilling!

I proceeded to check on it everyday. For about a week, it looked just the same, and then suddenly, one day, it looked like this:

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

 

I knew it must be close, so I started checking on it about once an hour, like a maniac. When it didn’t hatch that day, I knew that probably as soon as it was warm the next morning, the game was on.

The next morning, it looked very similar, but those pretty golden accents had all but disappeared, and the shell of the chrysalis was so very transparent, it was crazy!

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

Once it began to warm outside, we began to check on it at five minute intervals.

And lo and behold, we missed it emerging! :-(

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

Within a five minute span, it had hatched, and pumped its crumpled wings full of fluid.

I was so upset that I missed it, that I swore I was going to sit there and watch it until it took its first flight. So I sat and watched.

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

Slowly it flexed its wings and legs, and made its way up from the chrysalis and into the sun.

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

I waited.

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

And I waited.

A Monarch Chrysalis from Farmhouse38.com

And the white dog waited.

Until finally…it really began to stretch its wings in the sunshine.

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

At this point, I was finally able to tell that this was a male (by the two black spots in the center of each lower wing).

They say that it takes about an hour before a monarch is ready to take flight, but the white dog and I waited two and a half hours for this little guy.

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

I could see him start to vibrate and really pump his wings, and I knew it was the moment.

And then–just like that–he was off!

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

A bit out of focus, but there he went–tumbling clumsily around.

And then we were super tired so we had to rest on a nearby rose bush:

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

First flights are exhausting.

After a bit of a rest, he flitted to a few different resting spots in the yard, and then he was off, tumbling and flying with the other monarchs that had been playing in the garden that day.

Magic. Complete and utter magic.

A Monarch Chrysalis at Farmhouse38.com

The white dog just really wasn’t all that impressed.

 

Of Monarchs and Milkweeds

Monarch Butterfly Gardening at Farmhouse38.comI attended college at UC Santa Barbara, and my very first apartment was just outside of campus in Goleta, CA. My neighborhood there butted up against a chunk of undeveloped land peppered with trails that led all through and eventually down to the beaches there. I felt very fortunate to live so close to such a place and spent a lot of time exploring and running on those trails, always taking different directions and footpaths to see where they would take me. One afternoon, I was doing just this, running a trail, and all of a sudden, I stumbled into a eucalyptus grove that was alive with monarch butterflies. Stunned and all alone, it was just I and the butterflies, the flipping of their wings dripping from every leaf, every branch, and ‘puddling’ in various spots on the grove floor. It was magic, and I have never ever forgotten it.

Monarch Butterflies at the Goleta Monarch Grove via Farmhouse38

This is how I remember all the trees looking when I happened into the grove back then. Image borrowed with permission from the City of Goleta’s Butterfly Grove website.

What I didn’t know then was that I had probably stumbled into what is now the Goleta Butterfly Grove; at the time, I was totally unaware of its existence (it wasn’t designated as such until 2005, several years after I would have been there). But that beautiful, spiritual, quiet moment has haunted me ever since, and is a large part of what bothers me so much about the current decline of these incredible creatures.

First things first; a bit of information on the monarch…

The monarch butterflies comprise two separate but similar migratory patterns in the US: one west of the Rocky Mountains, and one east. The smaller western migration consists of generations of butterflies that overwinter in coastal California (anywhere from just north of San Francisco to as far south as Mexico). In the spring, the migration moves up through the Central Valley and Sierra Nevadas of California, up into Oregon, Washington, and even sometimes as far north as British Columbia. In the fall, a special generation of monarchs are born; ones that live up to 8 months. These special butterflies make the long move back down to their sites in California where they stay until spring. These are the butterflies that I have grown up with in Los Angeles, that filled my childhood backyard, that I witnessed in the eucalyptus grove in Santa Barbara, and are the very butterflies that now visit the Farmhouse garden. These monarchs and I go way back.

The eastern monarch migration is the stuff of legends, with its individuals traveling possibly as many as 3,000 miles in a season! The special migratory generation of butterflies begin in the US and Canada when milkweed and nectar sources begin to die back in the fall, and will then fly all the way to overwinter in Mexico. In the spring, they make their way from Mexico north to the US Gulf Coast, where native milkweed is just beginning to bloom, and it is here that they lay their eggs and start the next generation. Sometimes up to three generations will successively travel north, following the bloom of the milkweed back to their predecessors’ starting points.

This is where milkweed (genus Asclepias) becomes really important. It is on this that the females must lay their eggs, as it is the only thing that the larvae (caterpillars) can eat.

Building a Garden for Monarch Butterflies at Farmhouse38.com

Tiny babies in the milkweed.

So what is happening to these butterflies (and so many other invertebrate pollinators)?

The Xerces Society website states:

In 2008, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), a tri-national organization covering the United States, Canada, and Mexico established by the North American Free Trade Agreement, published the North American Monarch Conservation Plan. The Plan identifies several factors that have contributed to the steady decline of monarchs across their native range:

• loss of overwintering sites in Mexico due to deforestation;
• degradation of overwintering habitat in Mexico due to forest fires, diversion of water for human use, and poorly-regulated tourist activity;
• loss of overwintering sites in California due to development;
• degradation of overwintering habitat in California due to aging trees;
• loss of breeding habitat due to the ongoing decline of native milkweeds (Asclepias spp.), their larval host plants; and
• disease, parasitism, and predation.

Additionally, The Xerces Society states:

In the western U.S., overwintering populations of monarchs along the California coast have declined from over 1 million individuals counted at 101 sites in 1997 to less than 60,000 individuals counted at 74 sites in 2009. Most scientists believe that this decline is due to the loss of milkweed from a prolonged California drought and the extensive use of pesticides.

Sad face.

So what can we, as individuals, at home in our own gardens, realistically do to help? First and foremost, put down the pesticides and the herbicides. Just stop. It may be a little trickier sometimes to deal with pests and weeds organically, but we’re all better off for it. If you’re spraying for ants (even with some so-called ‘organic’ sprays) any other unlucky invertebrates that come into contact with that stuff are going to suffer the consequences. Pesticides don’t discriminate, even though their packaging would have you believe otherwise. Herbicides are just as bad, if not worse, because they tend to be broadcast in larger quantities across much larger areas; inevitably coming into contact with more organisms, and depleting vast sections of critical native vegetation (milkweed, anyone?). Additionally, they can hang around in plant tissue (especially when we’re talking plants that have been genetically modified to resist such products), soil, and ground water for a very long time. Ick. Beyond the negative impact on pollinators, do you really want to spray that stuff on your lawn and then let your kids and pets roll around in it? Don’t. Just don’t. If you simply must use them, apply them in careful, specific doses; avoid aimless, broad applications.

That brings us to the milkweed. Plant it. Wherever, whenever, however you can (for a fantastic article on planting milkweed, visit one of my favorite blogs: Julie’s Garden Delights). But proceed with caution when going out and buying milkweed plants: most nurseries still subscribe to conventional practices, which means that that beautiful milkweed plant you bought with the bestest of intentions (that may or may not even be the right variety for your region), may be doused in some awful chemicals. Chemicals that, until they run their course (which could be quite awhile) are going to do the exact opposite of what you intended the milkweed to do. So the safest option is to find out what species of milkweed is/are native to your region (there are more than a hundred varieties in the US), buy seeds, and grow it from scratch.  Or find a reputable source for organic, native milkweed plants (don’t know where to go for that?-see below!).

Monarchwatch.org has an excellent list of milkweeds by state here, where you can figure out what kind you need to be growing in your yard. And even better: you can actually purchase flats of native milkweed plugs through them by going here. Huzzah!

Xerces.org also has an awesome milkweed finder here.

MonarchJointVenture.org lists some additional resources, and also a fabulous set of guidelines for planting and managing milkweed not only in home and public gardens, but also in agricultural areas (where milkweed populations have been notoriously wiped out), managed corridors, and natural and restored areas. Check out these guidelines here.

Building a Garden for Monarch Butterflies at Farmhouse38.com

A well-fed monarch caterpillar makes its way around a milkweed stem.

It has taken me a long time to get to planning, planting, and growing the Farmhouse38 garden (had to get the house renovation done first, and, as we all know, that still isn’t done). In fact, it has only been in the last two seasons or so that I have really gotten to give it a go. It was always my intention to make the garden a haven for pollinators, but most especially for monarchs. Two seasons ago, I went to my local big-name nursery and eagerly bought three mature Tropical Milkweed, (Asclepias curassavica) plants to put in my garden. My heart was in the right place, despite being a bit misguided. Firstly, this isn’t a native variety (for my region it is the Narrowleaf Milkweed, (Asclepias fascicularis). And secondly, I have no idea what sorts of nasty stuff the plants might have been treated with. I was clueless. Thirdly…well, three plants is just not enough. Plant as much of it as you can possibly stand and/or fit. If three plants is it, well, then that’s it, but if you can fit more, do it. In its natural state, milkweed grows in thick colonies, which not only provide ample food for the monarch larvae (as well as being a natural nectar source for a variety of pollinators), but offer much needed shelter. Ideally, your garden should have generous native milkweed interspersed with a wide variety of native, flowering plants (with staggered bloom times); milkweed for the babies to eat, nectar-filled blooms for the adults to feed off of, and plenty of shelter for all. I am working towards having milkweed planted in every single bed in my entire yard.

Building a Garden for Monarch Butterflies at Farmhouse38.com

This season was the first that I had caterpillars on those three Tropical Milkweeds (for the past two seasons, even though there were monarchs in my yard, they wanted nothing to do with those plants–you do the math), and they absolutely decimated them! Hungry little fellas!

Building a Garden for Monarch Butterflies at Farmhouse38.com

A female and several babies vie for space on a milkweed plant.

So what am I planting in the Farmhouse garden besides milkweed? I’m shooting for as many native flowering plants as possible. Xerces.org has an awesome list of regionally-specific native pollinator-friendly seed mixes here. Additionally, I’ve got many non-native pollinator-friendly ornamentals interspersed with vegetables and herbs (as I am also working towards having a self-sustainable vegetable garden as well as a bit of a cutting garden). It is important to plant your garden for continuous bloom; all pollinators need nectar sources spring, summer, and fall. Here is a really great article by the National Wildlife Federation with some guidelines on planting a butterfly-friendly garden.

In addition to plant selections, the NWF article lists several important non-botanical features that your butterfly garden should have; mainly, that butterflies need places to rest, and they need places to ‘puddle’. ‘Puddling’ is a behavior where butterflies congregate on damp sand or mud to drink water and draw minerals. Make sure there is a spot (or two) in your garden where they can do this, and if need be, place a low dish, filled with sand or soil, and keep it damp. Place rocks and twigs within reach of the sand for the butterflies to land safely on. Butterflies also require spots where they can stop and rest in the sun; recharge, if you will. Provide flat rocks that are placed where they receive around six hours of sun a day. This will ensure that the rock is always warm and welcoming to a little butterfly-style relaxation.

Building a Garden for Monarchs at Farmhouse38.com

A monarch caterpillar begins to build its chrysalis.

It was always my intention that once the garden was up and running and properly outfitted for monarchs and pollinators alike, I would have it certified as a Monarch Waystation. This is a wonderful program run by MonarchWatch.org that encourages the implementation of monarch-focused butterfly-gardening. Through their site, you can learn about the Monarch Waystation project, see guidelines for buidling a monarch-friendly garden, purchase Waystation seed kits, as well as certify your garden as an official Monarch Waystation. Done and done.

Building a Garden for Monarch Butterflies at Farmhouse38.com

I was so surprised and excited to find this gorgeous monarch chrysalis hanging off the wrist of my Lady Scarecrow.

The plight of the monarchs is obviously a tiny, tiny facet of a broad, insidious epidemic. It isn’t just the monarchs suffering, it is many, if not all, invertebrate pollinators. They are a pivotal and now precarious support on the food chain, directly responsible for the pollination of over 2/3 of our food supply and reproduction of over 70% of the world’s flowering plants. Without them, we are in deep trouble. It is important that we sit up and pay attention, and become more responsible with our actions. The Monarch Joint Venture views the monarch as “a flagship species whose conservation will sustain habitats for pollinators and other plants and animals”; ie, if we all take the urgently necessary steps towards preservation of the monarchs’ habitat, we will be helping all the other little guys, as well.

Now will someone please help me down from this soapbox? Thanks.

Building a Monarch Butterfly Garden at Farmhouse38.com

Let’s do what we can to help them.

Sources:

Adolf, Julie. (2014, March 6). Feed the Monarchs! You Can Grow That [blog post]. Retrieved from http://JuliesGardenDelights.com.

Goleta Butterfly Grove. (n.d.) Goleta Butterfly Grove [webpage]. Retrieved from http://www.goletabutterflygrove.com/.

McLaughlin, Chris. (2009, February 5). The Fantastic Monarchs of Pacific Grove [web article]. Retrieved from http://examiner.com.

The Monarch Joint Venture. (n.d.). Create Habitat for Monarchs [website article]. Retrieved from MonarchJointVenture.org.

Monarch Watch. (n.d.). Milkweeds by State [webpage]. Retrieved from http://MonarchWatch.org

Monarch Watch. (n.d.) Milkweed Market [webpage]. Retrieved from http://MonarchWatch.org

Monarch Watch. (n.d.). Monarch Waystations [webpage]. Retrieved from http://MonarchWatch.org

National Wildlife Federation. (n.d.). How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden [website article]. Retrieved from http://NWF.org.

The Xerces Society. (n.d.). Milkweed Finder [website article]. Retrieved from http://www.xerces.org/.

The Xerces Society. (n.d.). Monarchs [website article]. Retrieved from http://www.xerces.org/.

The Xerces Society. (n.d.) Monarchs, Conservation Status [website article]. Retrieved from http://www.xerces.org/.

The Xerces Society. (n.d.). Pollinator Conservation [website article]. Retrieved from http://www.xerces.org/.

The Xerces Society. (n.d.). Pollinator Conservation Seed Mixes [website article]. Retrieved from http://www.xerces.org/.

Pot O’Gold Terrarium

St. Patty's Day Pot O'Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.comEver since attending the Terrarium Class at The Nest Reno a few weeks back, I’ve had terrariums on the brain. I figured that St. Patrick’s Day was a good excuse to get it out of my system.

I started with a nice big glass jar (the kind that comes with a lid, but we’re leaving that out this time around), and filled it about two inches or so with some green recycled glass fragments (obtained at a gardening store).

St. Patty's Day Pot O' Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.comNext, I dropped in two generous handfuls of activated carbon (you can find this, most likely, at your local nursery, but also in the aquarium section of the pet store).

St Patty's Day Pot O' Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

The third layer is a bit of sheet moss (from the nursery or craft store):

St. Patty's Day Pot O' Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

Now, it’s time for potting soil. Put enough in to accommodate the size of the plants you want to use.

St. Patty's Day Pot O'Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

Time for the fun part: planting. I chose several tiny plants from the nursery, including a couple of shamrocks (oxalis) and a couple of seloginella ferns.

St. Patty's Day Pot O'Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

My local nursery has an entire ‘fairy garden’ section with itty bitty plants perfect for terrariums.

But I also just happen to have some wild oxalis growing in my yard, whose leaves are much tinier and more ‘fairy garden-ish’–so I wanted to transplant a few of them, also.

St. Patty's Day Pot O'Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

I wasn’t sure if these would survive transplanting–but they totally did! Shamrock on.

St. Patty's Day Pot O'Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

I planted all my tiny plants and then tucked sheet and reindeer moss all around them, then gave everything a really good misting of water.

Now it was time to make my tiny pot of gold. I started with some broken mirror glass gravel (found at the craft store). It was kind of a cool yellow glass, but I spread it thin and sprayed it with gold spray paint, let it dry, shook it up a bit, sprayed it, let it dry, etc., until it was well-coated with gold. Any type of small gravel would work for this, I just really liked the size, shape, and reflective quality of this stuff.

St. Patty's Day Pot O'Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

On the left is the original look of the gravel. On the right is how it looked lightly sprayed gold.

Now to create the pot: I went with the most wee terracotta pot (also from the craft store) I could find:

St. Patty's Day Pot O'Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

We have three sizes: wee, not so wee, and FRIGGIN’ HUGE!!! (Who’s good at their obscure SNL skit lines?)

I then sprayed it black with chalkboard paint. When it had thoroughly dried, I ‘seasoned’ it a bit with chalk to make it look a little aged (giving the whole thing a coat of hairspray to help make the chalk stick). I then hot glued a craft stick into the bottom of the pot (sticking out the drain hole). Next I layered hot glue, then gold gravel, then hot glue, then gold gravel, etc, building the gravel up until it looked like a nice, full pot of Leprechaun gold.

St. Patty's Day Pot O'Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

Unhand me gold.

Now…for the rainbow. I began with an empty plastic bottle:

St. Patty's Pot O'Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

I drew a rough guidline, spiraling down the bottle, and then cut along this line.

This left me with a curlycue strip, like so:

St. Patty's Day Pot O'Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

Next, I took some fine gauge sand paper and sanded both sides of the plastic (this removes any printing or label remnants, and gives the surface some ‘tooth’ for the paint to hold on to).

St. Patty's Day Pot O' Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

Tape or weigh down both ends of the plastic so that it is laying flat. Choose your rainbow colors (I used basic craft acrylic paint), and thinly paint your stripes of colors (thin the paint with clear gloss if you have to so that the final result is a bit transparent). Once that has dried, hot glue one end of the rainbow to the back edge of the pot of gold, and place your pot in the terrarium.

St. Patty's Day Pot O' Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

For some reason I really wanted a little paver path leading to the pot. So I placed some tiny stones. I think I am still fixated on Olive and Love‘s adorable pathway in her Terrarium Class terrarium.

St. Patty's Day Pot O'Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

This little path makes no sense. What leprechaun in his right mind would build a path leading to his pot of gold. I mean, really.

The final step is to apply your cloud to the top edge of the jar. I swiped a handful of fiber-fill stuffing from a pillow, ran a bead of hot glue along the back edge of the jar, and stuck the fluff on. I then ran a bead of hot glue along the loose end of the rainbow and lodged that in the cloud.

And there you have it! A pot o’gold at the end of the rainbow, cloud and all:

St Patty's Day Pot O'Gold Terrarium from Farmhouse38.com

Kitchen Scrap Fertilizers: Waste of Time?

Kitchen Scrap Fertilizers from Farmhouse38.comWe’ve been composting for awhile here at the Farmhouse (see my composting set up here). I love being able to hang onto kitchen waste for a higher purpose. Some scraps go as treats to the chickens and parrot, while others go into a special compartment in our freezer (so they don’t attract flies) before being taken outside to the compost bins. But I was unaware until recently that certain scraps, mainly eggshells, used coffee grounds, and banana peels, can allegedly go straight into the ground as fertilizers.

There are a ton (okay, slight exaggeration) of these three things going into our compost bins, and so when I realized that they could possibly skip the bin and be applied straight, I got real excited. Because these are the things I get excited about. What.

So I broke out good ol’ Google, and I started doing some research. And just like anything that you hear going around the internet, I came up with really mixed messages. Allegedly, coffee grounds add nitrogen to the soil, and as such, are great as fertilizer for any acid-loving plants. But you’ll find people out there also warning you that they can make the ground too acidic. And you’ll find people saying they do absolutely nothing. Great. Banana peels, buried in the soil near the roots of the plant (or dried and processed into a fine powder), are thought to be a slow-release dose of potassium and phosphorus, as well as magnesium, calcium, nitrogen, and sulfur, and are especially perfect as a rose fertilizer. In fact, banana peels have been used as such since the Victorian era. And yet, you’ll also find people saying they do absolutely nothing. And that the garden rodents dig ‘em real quick-like. Super. Finally, ground eggshells mixed into the soil around a tomato plant are supposed to prevent the dreaded blossom end-rot. But there are a lot of people who say this doesn’t even begin to work (that the calcium carbonate in egg shells takes so long to break down and be released into the soil, it’s just not worth it). Fantastic. Furthermore, it’s nearly impossible to find anyone committing to how much of any of these ingredients you should add to your soil. Which is frustrating, and also a bit suspicious. Is this all just wives’-tale-ery?

So what do I do? Test it for myself, that’s what.

Let’s start with adding eggshells to the tomato planting process. Tomatoes need calcium in order to resist blossom end-rot, and there are many conventional products on the market that can be added to combat this. But I don’t want conventional. I want to use my garbage. I’ve got a lot. The Ladybirds make sure of that. And you need a lot of eggshells for this (depending on how many tomato plants you’ve got or plan to have). As you use the eggs, rinse and then store the shells in a bowl in the fridge. I saved up about two dozen for this first trial run.

Kitchen Scrap Fertilizers from Farmhouse38.com

The eggshells pass general inspection; ready for processing. Transfer them to a baking dish or cookie sheet.

Kitchen Scrap Fertilizers from Farmhouse38.comWhen you’re ready to process them, heat your oven to 200-250 degrees F and bake them in a baking pan for around 30 minutes (or until all the moisture is cooked off of them. If they start to brown a little, that’s ok). When the time is up, pull them from the oven and let cool. Now pop them in a food processor (or coffee grinder) and pulverize them into as fine of a powder as you can get them. The finer the powder, the quicker the calcium will break down in the soil. Apparently.

Kitchen Scrap Fertilizers from Farmhouse38.com

This batch of two dozen eggs generated a half pint of egg dust.

Your (hopefully) magic egg dust is ready to use! Allegedly, the most ideal time to use it is when you transplant your seedlings; you place it in the bottom of the hole. But here’s where I could find no information on just how much you are supposed to use. So I am going out on a limb and trying several different quantities to see if there is any variation in results. In a few of my plants, I will use 1/4 of a cup sprinkled in to the bottom of the transplant hole, for a 4-inch pot sized seedling, in a few I will do 1/2 cup, and in a few more I will try 3/4 cup . I will report back on how this works; in previous years, I have always had a few plants suffering from blossom end rot–so we shall see how things go this season.

Kitchen Scrap Fertilizers from Farmhouse38.com

1/4 cup of egg dust sprinkled in the bottom of the transplant hole.

Kitchen Scrap Fertilizers from Farmhouse38.com

Another application method would be to sprinkle the egg dust around the soil at the base of an existing plant, and work it in.

So let’s move on to coffee grounds; acid-loving plants, such as hydrangeas, camelias, and azaleas can benefit from the application of coffee grounds. Even for plants that like it a little acidic, such as roses and tomatoes, they can be used sparingly. Supposedly, worms love them (and they’re great for adding to vermicompost). But…of course, when you start reading all the information out there about this, you undoubtedly run into the same cautionary tale: coffee grounds are great, but don’t use too much! Dear Zeus, no! Not that! And then, beyond that, there are plenty of accounts of how they do nothing at all. Great. Awesome. So how much is too much? Of course, no one wants to commit to this, and just like the eggshells, there are no quantity guidelines. Super. Thanks, The Internet.

So once again, I must go my own way. While I allow a good portion of our grinds to go out and into the compost bins, I reserve some in a bowl in the fridge. When I’ve filled the bowl (approx. 8 or so cups of used grounds), I place them in a baking dish and pop them in the oven (alongside the eggshells) for a half hour at 200-250 degrees F to dry them out. The reason for this is that damp grounds have a tendency to grow mold pretty quickly and this helps to prevent it.

Kitchen Scrap Fertilizers from Farmhouse38.com

Bake them till they’re nice and dried out.

It seems as though there are several methods out there for applying the grinds. Many people will make a mulch of it around their acid-loving plants (and the thicker this is, the more likely it is to grow mold, so go thin with it). But if you’ve got chickens, this is not a good idea. Coffee grounds=sick chickens. So I prefer the idea of burying them pretty deep down by the roots of the plants–we’re talking several inches here. How much coffee grounds? Again, I have found no direction with this. For my rose bushes, I decided, at random, that I’d go with 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup, buried in a hole near the roots. My hydrangeas are all in the front yard, and therefore, out of the reach of chickens, so I’ve been applying coffee grounds as a mulch basically whenever I have them. I should also mention that I take any leftover coffee and, after it has cooled off, water my hydrangea bushes with it. So, they are pretty much coffee addicts at this point. In previous years, my hydrangeas have been pink, indicating the soil being neutral to basic–if the coffee grounds do their trick, the hydrangeas should become more purple to blue. They are leafing out now, so I’ll have my answer soon.

Kitchen Scrap Fertilizers from Farmhouse38.com

My hydrangeas previously…pretty basic. :-)

Finally, we come to the banana peels.

Kitchen Scrap Fertilizers from Farmhouse38.com

These were kicking it in the freezer with the rest of the kitchen compost waiting to be used, so they have a little extra debris stuck to them.

As I mentioned before, banana peels have been used as a rose fertilizer for a long, long time. Burying a single banana peel at the base of the plant is the simplest way to do this. As the peel decomposes, it releases nutrients into the soil; nutrients that roses, especially, are said to thrive upon. Some people suggest drying the peels and grinding them into a fine powder (to speed up the absorption process), but I feel like that’s a lot of extra work. So I went with the peel.

Kitchen Scrap Fertilizers from Farmhouse38.com

I dug a hole several inches deep near the roots of each rose plant, and placed a banana peel and 1/4 cup of used coffee grinds in the bottom of it: a little nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus cocktail.

Of course, truly the only way to be sure of what’s going on in your soil is to do a soil test. I really want to know if these methods work, so I tested my soil in each spot before application, and I will test again in a couple of weeks and see if there is any change, and then I’ll come back through and report my findings in this post.

Kitchen Scrap Fertilizers from Farmhouse38.comI should note that over-the-counter calcium tests are not super easy to come by, that I know of– so I’m probably just going to sit around and wait to see if I still get blossom end-rot. The tomatoes. Not me. In related news: does anyone know of an easy calcium test?

I’m curious to hear from anyone else who has tried these fertilizers; please comment and let me know your experience!

DIY Tillandsia Wreath

DIY Tillandsia Wreath by Farmhouse38

Oh, how I love tillandsias! After making off with a boatload of them from my recent trip to Reno (thanks again, Sierra Water Gardens!), I knew immediately that I wanted to make a wreath with some of them.

DIY Tillandsia Wreath from Farmhouse38.com

You will need: raffia-covered craft wire, a length of craft store grapevine, thin craft wire, and a selection of your finest mosses and air plants. Oh, and scissors and a hot glue gun. And hot glue. And a little bit of patience.

It would be very easy to start with a craft store grapevine wreath. Very easy, indeed. But I feel like I have used too many of those lately–and I was thinking I wanted something a little less chunky. So I decided to build a more slender wreath form, using raffia-covered craft wire and a length of store-bought grapevine.

I began by measuring out three lengths of raffia wire (I measured approximately 54″ lengths, which by the time you twist and bend and shape, etc., gives you approximately a 17-18″ wreath form). Twist these together into a single piece, twist the ends together, and bend and shape the wire to create a circle. (The more lengths of wire you twist together, the sturdier the form will be–go ahead, do four, five–get crazy).

DIY Tillandsia Wreath from Farmhouse38.com

It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle. Let’s be honest here; it probably won’t be.

Next, cut a length of grapevine to fit exactly on the form of the wreath.

DIY Tillandsia Wreath from Farmhouse38.com

Lay the grapevine cord along the wire form and cut it so that it fits perfectly on the form.

Every so often along the length of the grapevine, you will find little bits of wire lashing it together. One by one, undo these, and lash them back around the grapevine and the raffia wire to secure the whole thing.

DIY Tillandsia Wreath from Farmhouse38.com

Now we are ready to start attaching some air plants! There are a couple of ways of doing this: fishing line, thin wire, or non-toxic glue. I prefer (and happened to have on hand) wire. You want to carefully thread the wire (or fishing line works, too) through some of the base leaves the plant and then twist (not too tight, just enough to be secure).

DIY Tillandsia Wreath from Farmhouse38.com

For the larger plants, you may need to slip a wire around the base, as well as another towards the top of the plant. They can be heavy.

DIY Tillandsia Wreath from Farmhouse38.com

The smaller plants are fine just having one wire threaded through the base.

Now place the plant where you’d like it, wrapping the wire around the backside of the wreath form and twisting to secure. I also like to put a dab of hot glue on this back twist (being VERY careful not to get any on the plant itself), just to give it a little extra hold. Try to attach your plants so that they hang horizontally, as this is how they would attach themselves in nature, and this will help prevent water from collecting in their armpits (where the leaves join the plant–I’m so scientific), which is not good for them. If you must attach them so they sit upright (which a few of mine are), you may need to lay the wreath flat when you mist  or rinse the plants (this is how you should water them).

Add plants to your heart’s content! When you are happy with the arrangement, tuck some bits of moss in and around, securing with a bit of hot glue when necessary (again, being SO careful not to get it on the tillandsias).

DIY Tillandsia Wreath from Farmhouse38.com

Honestly? This looks pretty dang good. I almost stopped here. Almost.

For some reason, I had it in my head that I wanted a couple of tiny floating air plants in this thing. So I selected some small specimens, threaded them with wire, and then attached them to the top of the wreath (twisting and securing with hot glue there). I then applied bits of sheet moss at random to the rest of the naked wreath using plenty of hot glue (also covering the spot where the hanging plants’ wires attached to the top of the wreath).

DIY Tillandsia Wreath from Farmhouse38.com

Ta-dah!!!

Hang your wreath in a protected area with bright, indirect sunlight, and be sure to water regularly by misting or running under water, depending on climate and plant type. For a great article on how to care for your tillandsias, check out this post on FloraGrubb.com.

Coop Du Jour 3.0

Chicken Garden and Coop from Farmhouse38The very fate of my marriage rests on the functionality of our newly made-over coop.  The Texan has really put his foot down; this is the last time we are re-doing the darned thing.  The. Last. Time.

Roger that.

The original coop design was….okay.  It just wasn’t great (even after we gave it several cute cosmetic overhauls).

The Original Chicken Coop from Farmhouse38

The made-over original coop.

It really was more of a run than it was a coop, and a rather useless run, at that.  Inside, there was a tiny curtain-enclosed roost box that also doubled as a nesting box.  It was always a mess, and also, I fear, not really protective enough in the winter.  In fact, last winter, we actually moved the coop and temporarily enclosed the whole thing with insulation and tarps to keep everyone warm and dry, which worked great, but gave the yard a rather shanty-like vibe.  Which made me nuts.

The Old, Worthless Coop from Farmhouse38

It still makes me twitchy to look at. Make it go away!!!

We finally decided that tweaking it one more time was just adding insult to injury.  With a year and a half of chicken-keeping under our belts, we went back to the proverbial drawing board.  I knew we could do better.

Additionally, my once gorgeous ‘secret garden’ that originally looked like this:

The Old Secret Garden at Farmhouse38

Was now looking more like this:

Do Not Repin this Awful Image from Farmhouse38

The junk scattered in the background is definitely because of the chickens. Definitely.

So, I knew that it was time to make this garden a ‘chicken garden’.  Which meant planting only chicken-friendly and chicken-proof plants.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

The driving force behind the design of the new henhouse was insulation, insulation, insulation.  And a legit peaked, shingled roof (as opposed to the old slanted corrugated plastic one) so that this adorable weathervane had somewhere to sit.

New Chicken Coop from Farmhouse38

This sucker is sturdy: studded walls, filled with insulation sandwiched between an interior and exterior layer of plywood.  The entire coop and run sits on a bed of cement pavers.

This summer, with temperatures hovering up over 100 degrees, the inside of the henhouse stays pretty darned nice.  Fingers crossed, the same will hold true this winter.

I wanted every single element of the coop interior to be removable so that I could easily clean things–because cleaning was a real bear in the last set-up.  The roost bar, shelves, perch, and nesting boxes all come out easily.  Additionally, the shelves, nesting boxes, and floors are all lined with sections of vinyl flooring and oil cloth so that they slip easily out for quick cleaning.

New Coop from Farmhouse38

Gertie’s telling me about the egg she just laid (lefthand nesting box), while broody Clementine grumbles at both of us from the righthand nesting box.

I must sing the praises of this set-up.  With the shelf under the roost bar to catch all their nighttime droppings, this house stays SO CLEAN.  I simply take out the removable oil-cloth lining and hose it off every morning.

Interior of New Chicken Coop from Farmhouse38

A shelf holds important supplies up out of chicken-reach, and hooks allow for bundles of fresh herbs to be hung (which ward off pests and deodorize the joint naturally). This is a good shot of the oil-cloth lined ceiling. A note about oil-cloth–it gives off a lot of fumes when it is new; I cut these pieces and aired them out outside for several weeks before installing in the coop.

The Abominable Brood-Monster of Farmhouse38

The Abominable Brood-Monster….oh, broody girl, you really must get out and do something with your life!  Obviously, the new coop suits her just fine.

Chicken Run with Living Roof from Farmhouse38

The new run has a living roof and a offers a little bit of shady outdoor space for them during the rare times when they must be locked up.

Green Roofed Chicken Run from Farmhouse38

The roof is built on a gentle slant, and consists of a ‘planter box’ frame built of sealed 1×8′s, with corrugated plastic roofing (salvaged from the roof of the old run) as the bottom of the box. Moisture and weed barrier layers affixed to the inside of the ‘box’ assure that the soil will stay put, and that any water will funnel off the end of the roof and not into the run.

Green Roofed Chicken Run at Farmhouse38

Living Roofed Chicken Run from Farmhouse38

I absolutely heart the green roof.

Coop Weathervane from Farmhouse38

Some might say I did this remodel just for this adorable weathervane.

The New Coop at Farmhouse38

The door’s vents are covered in hardware cloth for safety, and cut into star shapes for cuteness.  Certainly gives it a little bit of an outhouse-y vibe, but I think that’s hilarious, personally.  The little lantern has a timer-operated candle that comes on every night at dusk.

The New Coop at Farmhouse38

Millie has a knack for perfectly-timed photo-bombs.

Armoire Garden Storage Closet from Farmhouse38

To the right of the hen outhouse is an armoire that I rescued from the curb and fitted with doors. This serves us well as a chicken supply cabinet.

Rusty Star Washer Stepping Stones at Farmhouse38

Some rusty star washers serve as stepping stones to the supply cabinet.

The chicken garden surrounding the coop has been a bit of give and take.  It is a finely-tuned balance; equal parts protective plants and shrubs, pest-deterring herbs and flowers, edibles for the chickens, and a few little bits of annual color (which are hard to have because the chickens usually qualify these as ‘edibles for the chickens’).

Scrap Wood Garden Pathway from Farmhouse38

The annual-lined pathway leading to the chicken garden is ‘paved’ with bits and pieces of wood salvaged from the old coop and our recently renovated old deck. Had to put all that scrap wood to good use somehow!

Scrapwood Garden Pathway from Farmhouse38

The bits of wood are adhered down with concrete and then backfilled with soil (as my intention is to try to grow some sort of creeping green, like thyme between them). Most of the wood bits are painted and sealed, but I did leave many completely naked so that they would weather. Obviously, if you want this sort of thing to last as long as possible, you need to seal every surface.  I regret nothing!!!!

Garden Gate Door from Farmhouse38

The entrance to the chicken garden is still this lovely old door (which was the original front door to the house), though I have gone and painted it a chippy green. I’ve had it pointed out that the sign phrase, which I intended to mean something like ‘Little Chicken Garden’, really doesn’t hold up in French.  It should probably read ‘Potager des Poulets’, as the term ‘de poulet’ refers to chicken as an ingredient–as in chicken soup, chicken sandwich, or chicken McNuggets.  I was going to change it, but upon reflection, I kind of found it funny to leave it this way…anyway, you can see a tutorial on how to make the sign, improper French or not, here.

The Frog Fountain at Farmhouse38

Just inside the gate is the frog fountain which is pretty much my favorite thing ever. It adds a fantastic amount of lovely water background music. I’ve obsessed over having this fountain since the first time I saw it in the Ballard Designs catalog.

Chicken on a Mission at Farmhouse38

This photo cracks me up. Eloise is on a mission. Around the backside of that fountain is a little protective, shady area where I actually have an automatic waterer set up for the girls. This is where she is headed. So far, the girls have wanted NOTHING to do with swapping spit with that frog.

The Chicken Garden at Farmhouse38

The main chicken garden is full of rose bushes, which offer great predator-protection and shade. A couple of wine barrels overflow with mints and basils and bright annuals.  I have also planted a small swatch of lawn for the girls to snack on.

I make a point to plant lavender, rosemary, mint, and basil wherever I can possibly find room for them in this garden.  The chickens are not interested in eating any of these plants, so they remain lovely, and they really help to deodorize the area and ward off flies and other creepy-crawlies.  Basil, especially, seems to send the flies packing.

The Chicken Garden at Farmhouse38

The Chicken Garden at Farmhouse38

The girls wonder why I have a random yellow chair in their garden. Sometimes I wonder this, too.  It’s there because I like it and it offers a fabulous place to sit for a spell and get your ankles pecked.

The Chicken Dirt Bath at Farmhouse38

At the far end of the garden is a designated dirt bathing spot (even though they have about twenty other self-designated spots throughout the property).

Chicken Garden Bench at Farmhouse38

A bench (and a mirror!) under a vine-covered arch offers yet another tranquil spot to sit and be pecked at.

Zinnias in a Rustic Caddy at Farmhouse38

This is a cute, colorful little moment I set up for the photo shoot….I give it a day.

Chicken Busywork in the Farmhouse38 Chicken Garden

Chicken busywork.

Despite this lovely little chicken-oriented garden, I still let my girls free range in the rest of our small yard for the majority of the time.  I like to allow them a ‘soft-supervised’ free range, which is where I am home and keeping a fairly close eye on them, but not stalking them throughout the yard.  When I have to leave for short periods (ie, running errands or something of the sort) I lock them in the chicken garden, which keeps them contained and fairly reliably safe from aerial predators.  There are times when we leave and know we won’t be coming back until after chicken-curfew, and these are the moments when they must be on lockdown in the coop and run.  It all seems to be working pretty well for us, so (knock on wood), I don’t see a Coop 4.0 happening anytime in the near future.

Do you hear that??  Somewhere a displaced Texan is sighing in sweet, sweet relief.

An Updated Fairy Garden

The Fairy Garden at Farmhouse38
Yep.  Even the fairy garden’s getting a makeover.

For anyone who has followed along for awhile, you might know that the center point of our yard and gardens is a big ol’ grapefruit tree that I’ve bedazzled with chandelier crystals and mason jar candleholders.

The Old Grapefruit Tree of Farmhouse38

She’s a pretty old girl.

Quite some time ago, I ran with a whim and added a fun, little vignette to the base of the tree.  I do love some quirk in the garden:

The Fairy Garden of Farmhouse38

No. I am not too old for this.

I always thought this was pretty cute.  But, to be perfectly honest, while I appreciate those brightly-colored ceramic mushrooms they were a bit….how do I put this?  Obvious.  They just really stood out.  I don’t know why, but it kind of bugged me.  When you looked out into the yard at that gorgeous tree, your eye immediately went to those little pops of red and orange at the base.

The Fairy Garden at Farmhouse38

They are cute. Can’t deny it.

So after far too much deliberation, I decided to paint them a satin cream color; cutting down on both the color and the gloss.

The Fairy Garden at Farmhouse38

Painted like this, they are very similar to some of the real mushrooms that push up in these parts.

The pathway is still more or less the same.  It is made from pieces of Home Depot off-the-shelf ’tile’ sheets which are composed of little limestone pebbles adhered to plastic tile netting.  Cut into several bits and pinned by landscape staples into a meandering shape, they look pretty good as a little cobblestone path.  The problem?  Boy do those pieces fly like missiles when the chickens get to chicken-scratching.  Staples be darned.  I needed to make the thing a little more poultry-proof.  So for this reincarnation, I actually cut a pathway shape from 1/4″ plywood and then used dirt-colored grout to adhere the pebble tile sheets to the wood.  This created a very heavy single unit that the birds can’t do a darned thing to other than take a leisurely stroll along.

The Fairy Garden at Farmhouse38

While I wanted the mushrooms to be less conspicuous, I wanted the door to stand out a little more.  The original color of the thing was so weirdly close to the color of the tree bark that it practically disappeared into it.  Besides….I just love me a chippy turquoise door.  So using acrylic craft paint, I gave it a fresh coat, then distressed it with sandpaper.

The Fairy Garden at Farmhouse38

Chippy turquoise is, indeed, my favorite color.

The ferns have really filled in, and I love the way they create natural, pretty arches over the pathway:


The Fairy Garden at Farmhouse38

I’m also quite happy with the way everything kind of disappears into the grapefruit tree garden….

The Fairy Garden at Farmhouse38

Much less obvious.

I kind of wanted the vignette to be hidden in the fern forest under the tree.  I want people to stumble upon it, not see it from across the yard.  I think my little refresh achieves this quite nicely.

Cheers to never growing up! :-)

DIY Galvanized Pedestal Fountain

DIY Galvanized Pedestal Fountain from Farmhouse38

So this happened.

I have an odd assortment of galvanized buckets and trashcans sitting around this place.

DIY Trashcan Lid and Bucket Fountain from Farmhouse38

The white dog wonders why I have so much junk.

One day, I’m randomly looking at these things, and the way they were stacked I suddenly thought, “Those would make a great fountain.”  And so it began.

The majority of these buckets and lids come directly from the cleaning aisle at Home Depot.  The three small buckets are from Ikea (though they are from awhile back, so I am not sure they currently carry them–but craft stores always seem to have similar ones), while the tall french flower bucket….well, I have no idea where I got that.  Similar ones can be found just by doing a Google search for ‘galvanized french flower bucket’, but also, I constantly see them at stores like Michaels, HomeGoods, World Market, etc.  Sometimes they have them, sometimes they don’t. Not pictured in the previous photo is the little milk bucket I happened upon at the last minute at Michaels which wound up being the top tier of the fountain:

DIY Trashcan Lid and Bucket Fountain from Farmhouse38

Initially, I was going to top the fountain off with one of the tiny Ikea buckets, but then I saw this and it was just too cute to pass up.

Aside from your fine selection of buckets, there are a few other items you’ll need for this project, including:

–small fountain pump (I got this one from Lowe’s)

–a fountain nozzle kit (I also got this one from Lowe’s)

–pond liner patch kit (like this, also from Lowe’s)

–clear silicone caulking

–tin snips

–needle-nose pliers

–1/2″ or so metal drill bit (and a power drill to use it with….just sayin’….)

–matte light grey spray paint (optional)

First things first: A lot of my buckets have been sitting around in my yard, so they’ve started to dull with age (which is how I like them).  But several of these buckets, lids, and especially the brand new milk jug, were super new and shiny.  Eventually, they’ll all start to age, but to fake it a bit, I give them the lightest dusting of matte light grey spray paint–something like Rustoleum brand auto primer.

DIY Trashcan Lid and Bucket Fountain from Farmhouse38

That’s the ticket.

Go easy with this–hold the nozzle far from the object and let the mist lightly hit the metal–the goal here is to still have a bit of shininess showing through the duller paint.

DIY Trashcan Lid and Bucket Fountain from Farmhouse38

I’m showing you this image again because I took it right after spraying the can with the Rustoleum.  Sorry–I forgot to take a ‘before’ shot.  Suffice it to say the metal was blindingly, tin-foil-y shiny.

Now, the two trashcan lids that are going to be the fountain tiers come with handles on them.  These need to be removed.

DIY Trashcan Lid and Bucket Fountain from Farmhouse38

Nope. Don’t need that.

These particular handles are set into the lid fairly simply:

DIY Trashcan Lid and Bucket Fountain from Farmhouse38

The ends of the handle poke through the lid and curl to lock it in place.

To remove, you just have to uncurl the little end and slip the handle out.  I did this using a pair of needle-nose pliers.  It’s a little tough, but just beat that little tab into submission and get it sort of flattened out, and then you can work the handle out of there–you’ll be left with two holes, but these will just be filled with silicone later.

DIY Trashcan Lid and Bucket Fountain from Farmhouse38

Ta-dah! Holes. In the portion of the fountain that needs to hold water. Perfect.

Now that that little detail is taken care of, let’s assemble the pedestal.  I used a 10-quart bucket that I had lying around (like this one) turned upside down as the base, with an 18 inch tall french flower bucket flipped upside down on top of that (for an overall pedestal height of 24″).  Before you silicone them together into one unit, we’ve got to cut some holes.

In the base of the bucket, you’ve got to cut just a big general hole–shoot, you could cut the whole bottom out of it, but that’s a lot of work (that being said, it would make threading the pump cord much easier if there was no bottom at all–so have at it!).  Punch a hole with a metal drill bit, and then use tin snips to make a hole at least big enough for a plug to fit through, slightly bigger is better.

DIY Trashcan Lid and Bucket Fountain from Farmhouse38

Be careful, always, when you are cutting metal–wear gloves, even. Those jagged metal edges are no joke.

Now, so that you don’t have sharp metal edges cutting into your pump cord, run a nice bead of silicone around the jagged edge:

DIY Galvanized Pedestal Fountain from Farmhouse38

Yay for not severing electrical cords!

Now, do the same in the bottom of the french flower bucket, only cut the hole off to one side.  Trust me.

DIY Galvanized Pedestal Fountain from Farmhouse38

French flower bucket is horrified. (I already had drainholes punched in this because I was using it as a succulent planter before all this fountain craziness).

After you’ve let the protective silicone edging set just a bit on each of these, flip the 10 quart bucket so that it is upside down (drilled hole side up), run a thick bead of silicone around the top outer edge of it, and slide the upside-down french flower bucket over the top of that–give it a hard push so that they really wedge together.  Let the silicone set thoroughly.

Meanwhile, go ahead and cut a similar hole (big enough for a plug to fit through, but not much bigger), into the larger of your two trashcan lids.  Use one of the two small handle holes as your start hole. What’s nice about these is that they have concentric circle ridges in them (like a bull’s eye), which help you pinpoint where you should put the new cord hole.  Again, this needs to be slightly off-center, right between the first and second circular ridges of the trashcan lid:

DIY Galvanized Pedestal Fountain from Farmhouse38

The hole sits just within the second and first rings of the bull’s eye.

Run your protective bead of silicone around the cut edge, as well, fill in that other small hole leftover from the handle.  While you’re at it, go ahead and fill the handle holes on the other, smaller trashcan lid, too.  Let the silicone set completely.

The next piece of the pedestal is a small bucket, approximately 2 or 2.5 quarts in size.  This is going to fit over the fountain pump housing, and needs to have a hole drilled dead-center in it that will just barely fit the adjustable fountain neck extension that came in your fountain nozzle kit.  The largest drill bit I happen to own is a 1/2″, and the fountain neck part was slightly wider than that–so I had to drill, and then take my tinsnips and carefully snip away at the edge to widen it just enough for the part to fit snuggly through–the tighter the fit, the better.

DIY Galvanized Pedestal Fountain from Farmhouse38

Proof of where this bucket came from!

Because the part that threads through this hole is made of a rigid plastic, it isn’t necessary to run a bead of silicone along the edge (unless you choose to use a bit of flexible tubing instead of a nozzle kit).  De-burr it as much as possible, though.  Just because.

Now drill a similar hole, centered, in both the smaller trashcan lid (once the siliconed handle holes are set), as well as the bottom of the milk jug, or whatever item you choose to be your top fountain tier.

Assembly time:  run a hefty bead of silicone around the base (now the ‘top’) of your french flower bucket, and place your larger trash can lid, upside down onto this, aligning the hole in the lid with the hole in the flower bucket.  Let set completely.

Once that silicone is dry and secure, set your pump in place (centered in the trashcan lid) and feed your plug and cord down through the hole and out the bottom of the base pedestal.

DIY Galvanized Pedestal Fountain from Farmhouse38

Leave a bit of slack cord up with the pump- it wants to loop around the pump, so let it. This will allow you to clean the pump later on without disturbing the seal in the trashcan lid.

Now, cut a piece of that pond liner patch big enough to cover the trash can lid hole with a little overlap–but not enough overlap that it sticks much outside of that second bull’s-eye ring (you don’t want it to show outside of the bucket that will cover all this).

DIY Galvanized Pedestal Fountain from Farmhouse38

Cut your circular patch, and cut a little slit in one side (make a little Pac-Man). This little slit will fit over the cord.

Peel the protective backing off the patch and press it firmly over the hole, with the pump cord coming through the Pac-Man slit.  Now silicone thoroughly around all edges of the patch, slit, and where the cord goes through the patch.  This is critical.  No gaps.  This is what will keep all the water in the darned fountain.

DIY Galvanized Pedestal Fountain from Farmhouse38

Don’t be stingy with that silicone!

Now let that set (I let it cure overnight, just to be sure).

Oh, you are so ready to put this baby together!

Move the pump back into the center of the trashcan lid and suction it down with it’s little suction-y feet, and then add the nozzle extension neck thingy.

DIY Galvanized Pedestal Fountain from Farmhouse38

Now thread each section of the remaining buckets and lids into place over the nozzle extension neck thingy.  They are going to be tight (I effectively ‘screwed’ mine on).  Once they are in place, fill the whole thing with water, and plug that bad boy in.

DIY Galvanized Pedestal Fountain from Farmhouse38

Fountain-ing like a boss.

Eventually this thing will rust and weather (which I want it to do), especially the spots that have been drilled through where the galvanization is now compromised.  Will it last forever?  Nope.  But hey, it’s cute until then.

All Dolled Up for the Fourth

Fourth of July Decor at Farmhouse38I really, really love fourth of July decorating.  This house kind of seems to beg for it, in my opinion.

Fourth of July Decorations at Farmhouse38

Patriotic Garden Plantings from Farmhouse38

Fourth of July Garden from Farmhouse38

I love a little patriotic garden….this one includes red zinnias, blue scabiosa, dark blue petunias, white shasta daisies, purple alyssum, bright green creeping Jenny, and of course red fountain grass (which my mother always warns me will take over but I never listen).

Patriotic Bunting at Farmhouse38

I just can’t not put up some traditional bunting. Someday I might get around to making my own, but so far these basic store-bought deals have done the trick just fine.

American Flag Bunting from Farmhouse38

I did, however, make the American Flag bunting hanging from the pergola and front gate….store-bought craft flags, removed from their stems, and then stapled (with your average, everyday desk stapler) to jute rope (with a little dab of hot glue on each staple to hold it in place).

DIY American Flag Bunting from Farmhouse38

I do love me a good no-sew, DIY bunting project. Oh, yes.

Fourth of July Decor at Farmhouse38

Usually, I swap out my rocker pillows for some theme-y patriotic versions–but I kind of dug how the orange and white chevron played nicely (in my opinion) with the Fourth of July stuff….it’s a little quirky–I’ll take it!

Fourth of July Decor at Farmhouse38

A bouquet of flags anchored in vases of bottle caps. That’s a lot of bottle caps….a lot of work went into the acquisition of those bottle caps.

Fourth of July Decor at Farmhouse38

Again, I kind of went off-topic with my colors in this little front door vignette, but that’s probably what you gotta do when you have an orange front door.

Patriotic Cupcake Liner Wreath from Farmhouse38

My festive cupcake liner wreath….see the DIY here.

4th of July Decorations at Farmhouse38

All dressed up and ready for the festivities.

Happy Fourth of July, people!

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