Birdhouse Gourd: Open for Nesting

After all the worry and fuss about drilling holes in my precious gourds, the first of two is open for nesting.  My resident handyman drilled a bird-sized hole on the front of the gourd, two small ones at the top for hanging, and drainage holes below.

dried birdhouse gourd

Birdhouse gourd: open for nesting

birdhouse gourd opening

Closeup: The opening should be the size of the bird you want to attract. We want to attract all the cute birds. That made it easy.

holes drilled in bottom of gourd

Tiny holes in the bottom allow for air circulation and drainage. Nesting is a messy business.

It’s amazing  how soft it is inside, almost like downy wool. I wasn’t expecting that. The walls of the gourd are thick and sturdy. It’s no wonder a bird might call this home.

I threaded a piece of florist wire through the top and I’m having fun hanging it from various trees. We’re months away from nesting season, but I’m glad to have one ready to go.

Several of our trees are deciduous, so they won’t provide adequate protection for a nest, but I do have a couple of ideas.  Our orange tree is fairly dense and in fact, houses a large nest from a few years back. The Star Jasmin vine in our side yard is another possibility. It’s so dense you can’t see to the center.

Mama birds know best, so all I can do is provide the medium and hope she likes it. Maybe I’ll write her a little note that says ‘pick me! pick me!’ and leave it on a branch nearby.

dried birdhouse gourd

Mama Bird Wanted: Inquire Within

In the meantime, I’ll hang the beautiful gourd in plain view. As nesting season draws near, I’ll tuck it away in a  tall, densely foliaged tree with hope in my heart while listening for the song of baby birds.

Do you have nests in the trees nearby?  Do you offer nesting material for your feathered neighbors?  Photos also welcome in the comment section below.

cat and seeds

Hmmmm…they do look a bit like cat treats.

birdhouse gourd seeds and gourd wall

This shows the thickness of the dried gourd. Bonus: look at all those dried seeds from inside.

Brown is the New Green

In most gardens green is good.  Brown, not so much. That old saw gets turned on its ear, however when you’re drying birdhouse gourds.

I planted these gourds from seed for the first time last summer. Adorable green mini-gourds came and went, but in the end only two grew to full size. Then the cold weather set in and that was that.

green birdhouse gourds

The Birdhouse Gourds Twins

I brought ‘the gourd twins’ inside thinking the forced-air heating would speed up the drying process. You can’t rush nature so I did the next best thing: I dressed them up in scarves, moved them around as household decor, and eventually set them on top of a cabinet to dry undisturbed.

birdhouse gourds with scarves

Cozy gourds settling in for the winter

A few weeks ago, my son came to me and said “Mom, I don’t think you’re going to like this.”  He assumed they had gone bad.  In this case, brown is good.  It means the gourds are finally dry and ready for crafting.

DSC_0003

Of course, now I’m afraid to make my move.  I want to use one of the twins for its intended purpose: a birdhouse.  To do that, I need to drill a hole.

What if it cracks?

What if it snaps?

What if “I” make the hole too big?

Truth be told, my husband is the power tool guy around here, so he’ll be doing the drilling with me hovering nearby like the nervous new mom that I am.  Let’s face it: I’ve waited nine months for these twins.  I don’t want to mess this up.

The second gourd, if all goes well, will be welcoming garden fairies.  I don’t really have an heir and a spare. I’ll be pressing both gourds into service.  That’s a lot of pressure resting on their sloping shoulders.  Let’s hope we are all up to the task.

 

Waiting for ‘DaGourds

a pair of birdhouse gourds

Keeping cozy

Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot was required reading during my college days.  It’s summarized as an absurdest play, with two men waiting in vain for the arrival of someone named Godot.  Interpretations of the play vary widely.

I’m waiting for the gourds to turn brown. How’s that for absurd?  I waited months for the birdhouse gourds to turn green.  Now I’ll wait even longer for them to turn brown.

My wait isn’t political, psychological, Freudian or existential. It’s craft-based. I’m waiting for the gourds to turn brown so I can carve them into birdhouses.

I’ve bundled them up to keep them warm and dry.  I give them a spin now and again to be sure they’re drying evenly. Today I wrapped them in scarves and set them on a chair where they sit mocking me. They seem determined to remain ever-green.

Waiting for Godot is “a tragicomedy in two acts.”  Waiting for the gourds is just silly.

Birdhouse Gourds in Scarves

Birdhouse Gourds Staying Dry and Warm

 

Harvesting the Gourds: I Grew a Pair

It’s pouring today. (I love it). Good thing I cleaned the garden box when I did. After a midweek frost, the birdhouse gourd vines shriveled up. I cut down the last of them and brought the pair of gourds indoors for drying.

Tidied Garden

Tidied Garden

I have a good giggle whenever I pass them. They look exactly like a pair of bowling pins.

two birdhouse gourds

Lindy keeps an eye on the “bowling pins.”

Earlier in the year, one of the vines grew up and over the telephone line. Eventually one of the two large gourds took hold, putting weight on the lines. I came up with a quick fix using garden twine and a mesh bag, pictured below.

Birdhouse Gourd:  In the Bag

birdhouse gourd in the bag

It worked really well, allowing the gourd to grow unhampered and at the same time it kept my internet up and running. I have my priorities.

What I didn’t expect was the honeycomb pattern the bag left on the gourd. It’s not imprinted but rather faded from the lack of sun. Isn’t that interesting?

Honeycomb Patterned Gourd

Honeycomb Patterned Gourd

Now we wait.  While the gourds are drying, I’ll be dreaming of a way to decorate each one. Here are a few ideas:

Debbie Almond: Birdsmiths

Linseed Oil finish from Fun In The Making

Vegetable Box Quandry

My vegetable boxes resemble “before and after” pictures, but not on purpose.  Once the pumpkins were out, I cleaned the box to the right of the garden, and planted winter vegetables.  The box to the left, however, was chugging along with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and a bird house gourd so I let it be.

Vegetable Box, Stage Right: Neat and tidy winter veg

Vegetable Box, Stage Left: chaotic jumble

The top-tier of the left box has eroded nearly a foot.  On the plus side, the erosion created a nice spot for one of the gourds to rest.  That said, I’m not sure how to save the existing plants while topping off the box with more soil.

Birdhouse Gourd

We live on a tiny lot, so sunny space is at a premium.  I try to maximize what I’ve got but was realizing today that I need to rethink the boxes.

This is year three for the “blueberries,” but they still aren’t producing.  The plant remains small, though healthy but at this rate I may as well call it a shrub.  We haven’t seen a single berry since we planted it.

Blueberry Shrub

Raspberry Vine

Raspberry Vine

The raspberries, on the other hand, took off this past summer and produced sweet and delicious berries for several weeks.  We enjoyed standing in the garden and eating them right off the vine. Is there anything sweeter than a sun-warmed berry?

I’ve considered transplanting the canes along the back fence, but I’m afraid I’ll set them back two years. It’s also a bit crowded there so they may not get adequate sun. I think the blueberry needs more room or more sun, maybe both.

My indecision (and the colder weather) leaves me in a quandary.  Should I leave well enough alone and wait till next spring to decide, or should I move the blueberry plant and raspberry canes now while they’re at rest?

Recommendations welcome.

 

Birdhouse Gourd: Free Fall Averted

I took a field trip with my husband to the side yard on Monday. He hadn’t seen our birdhouse gourd in a week so I was happy to show it off. The added girth was indeed impressive, but he was also concerned that the weight would snap the vine. His concerns were well founded. We lost a pumpkin this summer in the same way. One day it was hanging from the trellis; the next day the weight snapped the vine and dropped the pumpkin to the ground.

birdhouse gourd with tape measure

birdhouse gourd perspective with orange tree

Above: A bit of perspective. The raspberries and oranges look tiny next to the gourd.
Left: measuring up.

As if on cue, when I checked on Birdhouse Gorgeous today it hung nearly six inches lower on the trellis. Further, the vine was putting weight on the phone wires under the eaves. I had to leave for a meeting, but couldn’t face returning home to a smashed gourd. I needed a way to support it without hindering its growth.  Did they sell gourd hammocks, and if so, where would I find one on short notice?

My quick fix?  A few pieces of garden twine and a color-coordinating mesh shopping bag. It took less than five minutes to rig and it solved both problems.  The bag supports the weight of the gourd while at the same time allowing air to circulate.  The twine lifts the vine up and away from the phone lines.  I can’t write my blog without an internet connection!  Crisis averted.  The vine is now free to grow about its business.

Mesh Grocery Bag and twine

Mesh grocery bag

Gourd support

It’s in the bag

Halloween Countdown

vampire pumpkin

Vampire Pumpkin

I raided my son’s dress-up box for this week’s Halloween countdown. In the meantime, snails continue to “carve” the Snail Hotel.

 

Blooming Thursday: Last Call

Anemones

The party is over. We’ve had a good run. The last of the anemones are finally winding down, with just a few new blooms here and there.

blooming Anemone

A few remaining blooms

We’ve enjoyed eight weeks of snow-white blossoms meandering along the back fence.  The anemones appeared at our dinner table, at my book club and in several gardeningnirvana posts.They helped soften the departure of the summer cosmos.They’ve continued to bloom into early fall, waiting for autumn color to set in before making a quiet retreat.  In a few more weeks the plants will blend in with the other greenery, and if it gets cold enough, they’ll go dormant.  See you next summer!

Katydid on Anemone

What do you mean, the party is over?

anemone spent blooms

Spent and dying blooms

water color edges

Watercolor Edges

Birdhouse Gourd

larger birdhouse gourd

Birdhouse Gorgeous 10/5/12

I’ve decided to rename the gourd below, “birdhouse gorgeous.” I’m stunned at the rapid acceleration in the past ten days. Count me grateful, too, that it’s growing off to the side of the trellis or I would have hit my head on it by now.

birdhouse gourd

Birdhouse Gorgeous 9/6/12

Halloween Countdown

Warm and toasty pumpkins
Handmade scarf by Mary Ann Askins

September Treats: A Little of This and That

purple flower polka dot plant

Tiny purple blooms dot the Polka Dot plant

My garden’s been busy over the weekend. In just 24 hours, the Pink Polka Dot plant produced several flowers.  I didn’t know the plant would actually bloom.  All plants have a flower and a fruit, but many are subtle and therefore go unnoticed. Tiny purple flowers dot the plant.  They’re quite small, no bigger than a centimeter, but they look vibrant against the mostly pink and green backdrop of the spotted leaves.  What a fun discovery.

yellow daisy like flower

Three cheers for yellow!!!

Also growing in one of the pots is a fresh, yellow daisy or daisy-like flower.  It’s another surprise from the packet of wildflowers planted in early spring. Every few weeks, a new flower appears. Today’s gorgeous bloom is as bright as a sunflower, but smaller in size. Yellow flowers are the garden cheerleaders: upbeat and sunny.

In that same pot, one or two fuchsia cosmos remain, a nice backdrop for the hummingbirds darting in and out at the feeder.

bird house gourd

Bowling-pin Gourd

I smiled when I rounded the corner of the trellis and saw a rapidly growing birdhouse gourd still thriving on the vine.  Most of the early fruit was small, but this latest gourd is growing at break-neck speed.  In its present form, it reminds me of a bowling pin.  Several smaller gourds grew up the trellis to the side of the house and they now hang below the eaves like a string of Christmas lights. Every time I see them I get a good giggle.

Tomorrow is October 1st with a projected temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit  (34 degrees Celsius). Crazy weather!  I’m starting my Halloween countdown in earnest tomorrow, featuring something seasonal daily.  Stay tuned.

I love October!  How about you?

cosmo and hummer

Cosmo and Hummingbird
Beauty Times Two

Christmas light gourds

Who needs to hang Christmas lights?

Garden Sunshine: September Winding Down

A special thank you to all my gentle readers for your comments and advice. The birdhouse gourd vine will stay through the winter. I”ll keep you posted on how things go. Late this week I noticed one of the gourds had doubled in size. Woo-hoo! What would a gardening gal do without this community?

Speaking of community, many thanks to gardensunshine for including me in her list of Beautiful Bloggers. I appreciate your kind words  I’ve been following her five-part series as she transforms her “shed” from drab to fab. Honestly, it’s more rustic house if you ask me and I’m positively envious of all that space. The shed even has a bit of history:

 It is believed to be one of the oldest buildings in our county. From what we can tell it was used as a house or bunker for the men working in the clay pit making clay bricks around 1890 and earlier. It is a really neat crooked building and as we found out when we power washed it full of water, it leans heavily to the left.

Historic Garden Shed

Garden Sunshine’s Historic Garden Shed (before)

Pop on over to read her five-part series, and to see the beautiful transformation in words and pictures. It was lovingly restored.

Back at gardening nirvana, we’re in for an early fall heat wave, with temps floating in the low nineties. I’m glad I got the winter garden in when I did. It’s a happy garden too, if that’s possible. The worm bin is a bustling place, thriving on kitchen scraps and leaves.The composter is “cooking” away, making organic mulch for next summer’s garden. I covered the seeds with wire and mesh, to ensure tiny critters give them a chance to grow.  Lindy thought it was a new litter box, so I had to put that to rest as well.

October is almost here. I’m so excited.

Birdhouse Gourd: Numbered Days?

The watched pot never boils, and the watched gourd never grows.  Or so it seems…

birdhouse gourds on trellis

Christmas lights in September?

Now that I’ve filled one of the planting beds with an assortment of winter vegetables, I’ve turned my attention to the runaway birdhouse vines (Lagenaria siceraria).  I have just two, 4 x 4 planting beds, so space is at a premium. The vines are occupying one of them.

birdhouse gourd buds

Still growing…

I read the fine print inside the seed packet today, and learned that some gardeners let the gourds harden on the vine all winter. I just assumed the plant would die off and we would harvest them much like the pumpkins. So…it’s decision time. Do I leave well enough alone and sacrifice the extra winter planting space? Will I face my disappointment gracefully if the vines die off a month from now, too late to use the beds till spring? Do I need to get a grip?

birdhouse gourd drying flower

Shriveled flower and otherworldly baby gourd

Mini hard-shelled gourds are forming along the vine, but before today, none of them seemed viable. I finally spotted one, twice the size of the others. I got excited all over again.

bridhouse garden large

How slow can you grow?

birdhouse gourd tendrils

Nature’s twine: super-strong vine tendrils

Should they stay or should they go? What do you think?

Resources: