odds and ends

How To Grow Chick Peas

A veggie by any other name.

A veggie by any other name.

AKA Garbanzo Beans or Ceci beans, these legumes are actually neither a pea nor a bean.

They are not often found in the home garden, especially this far north. The reason is they prefer much hotter temperatures and lots of rain.
We are just getting our first beans now, partly because of the weather but also because the rabbits got to the plants early in the spring, setting them back a few weeks.

As we understand it these are delicious fresh, so of course we had to find out for ourselves.

Plant like you would any other bean, waiting until the ground is warm and after all danger of frost.
Put the seed in the soil twice as deep as the size of the seed, about 1/2 inch.
Rather than purchase seeds, we just bought some dry beans at the market.
Same thing, but cheaper.
And that way, we know we will have chick peas no matter what.

Chick peas don’t have to be staked, but they do fall over a bit when they get taller. If you prefer you can grow them along a support and tie as needed.

They really are a pretty plant, with delicate leaves similar to some ferns, and pretty little white flowers.

As for the taste? Give us a few weeks, and we’ll let you know first hand.

Botanical name: Cicer arietinum
Height: 10-18 inches
Days to Maturity: 75-90, depending on whether the rabbits find them or not.
Hardiness: Prefer heat, but will grow in cooler climates with lower yields.
Yield: One plant will provide a number of pods, each pod will produce 2-3 peas.
Use/Storage: Eat fresh, cooked, or let dry and store as a dry bean.


Categories: beans, How to Grow, odds and ends, peas


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February Friday Fairy Gardens

how to make a fairy garden

plants and power tools, gotta love it

As a child I vividly remember watching one evening as the fairies danced and played on top of the tall grasses in the fields near our house.

I have no idea where the memory comes from- a dream perhaps, or a book- but the memory remains.

how to build a fairy garden

seeds for planting and for decorating

So when I heard about ‘Fairy Gardens’ recently I was immediately intrigued.
The folklore goes that if a Fairy takes up residence in your garden, your plants will benefit.
So- how do you attract a Fairy or two?

Simple- give them a place to live.

So this is my first Fairy House.
Over the remaining Fridays this month you’ll learn more about Fairy Gardens from a few guest authors.

fairy gourd house

a nice thatched roof and windows for a little light

Oh- but hold the phone!
This is First Friday- which means a give-away.

building a fairy gourd

oh I see she's been collecting marbles

How abut a few plants-or perhaps some furniture?
Better yet- a surprise!

fairy gourd garden

ooops- she's missed a few

Just leave a comment here. If it’s your first time, I’ll just need to approve it before it shows up.
I’ll let the online randomizer choose two names on Monday- and they will each receive a package to help them get going on a Fairy Garden of their own.

Fairies in the garden? Oh yeah, I’ve seen them.

Making Gourd Bowls and Planters
Wake Up! with guest Jayne Locas

NOTE 2/6/12Thank you all for your comments and for stopping by the blog! Through the use of Random.org’s online randomizer, the first 2 names to come up were Trish and Tom.
Remember every First Friday there will be a chance to win something gardening related!

Categories: fairy and miniature gardens, garden projects, gardening people, places & things, Keeping up with the Joneses, odds and ends



Growing Things- Vases

We talked before about Growing Gourds, Drying them and Crafting Birdhouses-
today let’s talk about making vases.

gourds how to

homemade gourd vase

These are also made from the ‘Birdhouse’ or ‘Bottle’ Gourds, you will need one that stands without wobbling.
The first thing to do after the outside of the gourd has been cleaned is to cut the top off.

crafting gourd vases

vases shapes and sizes

How I do this is:
1. use a pencil to draw where you want to cut
2. holding the gourd well, cut- using a regular hand-held saw
1. make a hole with a sharp knife or drill a hole big enough to get a blade into
2. cut CAREFULLY using a small crafter’s jigsaw- don’t use this method unless you have experience using a hand-held electric saw

Keep in mind that the longer the growing season the gourd has had, the thicker the walls will be.
Thicker is great for birdhouses, but makes cutting gourds more difficult.
You can also buy precleaned and precut gourds- follow the link at the bottom of the post.

Now that your gourd is cut, remove as much of the insides as you can by shaking them out, using a long handled tool such a a meat fork to scrape some out.
If your opening is big enough to get your hand in, just reach in and grab the stuff; or use the highly coveted gourd tool- a spoon- to scrape the sides.
It is not imperative that you get everything when making a vase.

gourds how to

waterproofing a gourd

What is absolute is that you make sure your gourd has no leaks and that you waterproof it.
Place your gourd in a sink and fill with water.
Any leaks will show up in a short amount of time.

If there are no leaks- great!
Continue on by keeping the gourd filled with water for 3 days.
Changing the water every day helps get more of the dusty insides out, but isn’t necessary.

how to make a gourd vase

ooop! found one

If you find a leak or multiple leaks, which happens occasionally, it is easy to repair.
Empty the gourd and let it sit a day or so to dry.

paraffin seals gourd leaks

paraffin seals gourd leaks

Then melt some paraffin in a double boiler and carefully pour it into the gourd, making sure the leak is covered.
Let set to dry completely, then water-test your gourd again to be sure you got it, and let set filled with water to complete waterproofing it.

Once your gourd is leak free, waterproofed and dry- you are ready to have fun crafting it.

One word of advice passed on to me by me Great Uncle, the Florist-
“A vase should never be prettier than its contents.”

I’ll add more pictures here as I get more vases crafted.
If you make a vase- send me a picture and I’ll post it here!

How to make Bowls.

Welburn Gourd Farm is a great source for thick walled gourds.

Categories: gifts from the garden, How to Grow, odds and ends



Growing Things

Our gardens provide us with beauty, with food, and with good health-
they can also provide us with ‘items’.

lebanon farm market gourd art

at the Lebanon Farm Market

The list of what plant life can be turned into items is long.
For example, most of us have come into contact with a wooden bowl- did you know they can actually be made out of wood, not just wood-looking plastic?

Probably the most common example of growing items is found with gourds.

vase gourd

ready to hold those pretty flowers

Our American Indians knew the value of this vegetable-
Canteen Gourds were used for carrying water
Dipper Gourds for spoons and other utensils
Birdhouse gourd bottoms were often used as bowls, and as molds for clay bowls

birdhouse gourds

at the Green Dragon Farm Market

Over the course of this upcoming season I hope to be able to introduce you to a few more plants-to-items like this.
For now, I’m going to show you a few gourds turned into birdhouses.

birdhouse gourds

paisley woodburn pattern

I already talked about how to grow birdhouse gourds,
but I also wanted to get a little more specific on how easy it is to refinish one-
or better yet, how much fun.

Gourds are a plant life and very similar to wood when it comes to crafting them.
You can use stains, oil pencils, paints…
decoupage, wood-burn, weave like baskets…

birdhouse gourds

woodburn plus colored oil pencils

…pretty much any way you can finish a wood piece you can finish a gourd.
To me, that’s what makes them so much fun.
You can also take them beyond crafting- and into Art Form.

lebanon farm market gourd art

at Lebanon Picture Frame & Fine Art

lebanon farm market gourd art

Indian woman holding baby

No matter what you choose to do in life-
always remember to have fun.

birdhouse gourds

I sure hope the birds can read.

More on Crafting Gourds
Growing Gourds
Drying Gourds

Categories: garden projects, gifts from the garden, How to Grow, odds and ends


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How to- Dry Birdhouse Gourds

drying gourds

gourds come in many sizes

Gourds are about 90% water.
Towards the end of the growing season, about the mid to end of September here in Zone 5, reduce watering to encourage gourds to dry.

It is best to leave the gourds on the vine until after the first frost. They can be left this way all winter, but will dry better if taken indoors.
Be careful not to bruise the gourd, this will cause it to rot.
Cut the gourd from the stem leaving 12” or so of stem where possible. The stem helps draw the moisture from the gourd.

drying gourds

and can be made into many things

Spray the gourds with Clorox Spray or dip in a bleach-water solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water to cut down on the amount of mold that develops.
The gourds will need good air circulation.
It is best to store them in an out building as they have a disagreeable order as they dry.
Wood pallets are a good surface for them.
Spread them out giving each plenty of room.
You can wipe the mold off occasionally if you wish, but it isn’t necessary.

Drying can take up to 6 months, depending on the conditions – I’ve never had any that took that long.
The gourd is ready when you can hear the seeds inside rattle and the gourd is completely tan.
Sometimes the seeds will form a ball inside that is still attached to the inside wall. This can be deceiving as the gourd is completely dry but there is no rattle.
Don’t let them fool you!

Before crafting wash the gourd off thoroughly.
Let it dry, and then wash again.
The life of the gourd will depend on this step.

Growing GourdsGourd Resources:
AmishGourds.com Gourds, Craft Supplies
welburngourdfarm.com Thick walled gourds, gourd craft supplies, and tutorials
Numerous people sell the gourds they grow on Ebay.

Categories: drying-roasting, How to Grow, How to Store, odds and ends



Grow Your Own Birdhouse

As a Master Gardener, I go out to groups to present talks on different gardening subjects.
My most requested presentation is on how to grow and craft birdhouse gourds.

birdhouse gourd

pretty in pink, and mauve

Birdhouse Gourds, Lagenaria siceraria (also known as Bottle Gourds) are the seeds most commonly used for gourd birdhouses.

They require a full growing season, 100-120 days.
The longer they have to grow, the thicker the walls become- making them sturdier.
The vines grow 25 ft. long and longer, and usually produce 10-12 gourds per vine.
Vines can be trellised up, but keep in mind that each gourd can easily weigh 10 pounds.

Start seeds indoors 4-5 weeks before expected last frost date.
In this area that would be the third week of April.
Start in peat pots so there is little disturbance to the roots upon transplanting outside.
Keep moist and give plenty of light.

birdhouse gourd

and blue

Gourds need a lot of sun and a lot of room.
Gourds are usually grown in ‘hills’ of well composted fertile soil.
You can dig a hole about 12” deep, pour in some composted manure and top off with good potting soil.
Plant seeds about 3” deep and cover with soil.
Water in the morning so leaves are dry at night to help prevent leaf mildew.
Water well throughout the growing season. Do not fertilize again or you will get more vine than gourds.

Gourds have male and female flowers.
The female is distinguished by the bulb at the base of the flower, resembling a tiny gourd.
You will get more gourds if you hand pollinate the female flowers by using a Q-Tip (cotton swab) to get the pollen from the male and generously dusting the female flower’s interior.
Male flowers generally bloom 2 weeks prior to the females.
The females only bloom for about one day.

gourd birdhouses

or with a simple design

If growing gourds on the ground, it is best to put hay or straw underneath to prevent rot.
You can also use a wooden board to give the gourd a nice flat bottom.
If trellising, you may want to help support the gourds using pantyhose legs or net bags (like onion bags).

I will be following this post with information on drying gourds and making the birdhouses.

Gourd Resources:
AmishGourds.com Gourds, Craft Supplies
welburngourdfarm.com Thick walled gourds, gourd craft supplies, and tutorials
Numerous people sell the gourds they grow on Ebay.
Audubon.org For more information on birds/birdhouses

Categories: How to Grow, odds and ends



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