Category / Gardening

Gardening Projects

Stackable Beehive Composter

I have been looking for beautiful ways for the past year on how to “blend” my composting bin into the garden setting without it looking like an ugly eyesore.  I think the UK is much more ahead of us, with their thinking and I have discovered these gorgeous composting bins designed to look like beehives.  I love the ones like in the picture above featured on grow4it.

The design is incredibly unique.  Opening at the bottom, an individual would continue to stack another addition to the composter once it is full.  Each level is entirely removable including the lid.  However, the only downfall was that through my searches high and low, I never did locate any plans online or any places in the US where I could order one.

My search efforts were exhausting!  Then, just as I was about to give up, I found an obscure website that mentioned there were plans inside of a book that was no longer published and out of print.  I just had to get my hands on that book.  Unbelievably, it was very easy to find in Amazon’s used books.  Within days, a copy of Geoff Hamilton’s Cottage Gardens was in my hands!

Sure, enough, there on pages 67 and 68 were the simple plans.  Today, I am going to share them with you.  If you don’t already compost your shavings, kitchen scraps and chicken manure, you no longer have any excuses.  These beauties make it easy to provide your garden with black gold.

Beehive Composter Instructions
Please note that these measurements are from the UK and converted from millimeters to inches.  You may need to improvise at the hardware store.  Also, these directions have been converted from a sketch.  They may need some tinkering and adjustments.

Supplies:

Tools:
screwdriver
drill-recommend pre-drilling your holes
saw
paint-color of your choice

Lid:
26″ long Feather edged fencing~ Quantity  7
wood screws and nails
4 metal angle brackets
4 metal corner brackets
26″ long hardwood moulding-for top of lid roof~ Quantity 1
1″x1″ timber- cut to 22 1/2″ long~Quantity 2
2″x1″ timber-cut to 22 1/2″ long~Quantity 3
4 1/2″ tall  x1″wide timber 26″ long cut into piece as shown below~Quantity 2

 

Base:
The sides are angled upward
9″x1″ timber cut to top measuring across 20″/bottom measuring across 22″ with angled sides~Quantity 10
9″x1″ timber cut to top measuring across 22″/bottom measuring across 24″ with angled sides~Quantity 10
wood screws
2″x2″ blocks for corners 7″ long ~Quantity 20

Directions:

Lid:

Cut all of your pieces out first.

Screw one of the 1″x1″ timber pieces to the bottom of the 2″x1″ timber piece.  Repeat with other two pieces. (see below)

Stand the two 26″ side pieces parallel to each other and place the 2″x1″/1″x1″ piece that you just created in step one between the two sides.  The 1″x1″ portion should be closest to the ground leaving a “ledge” above it.  This should look like a square.  Screw together one side.

Place the remaining 22 1/2″ piece of timber between the lid’s apex and screw that in using four corner brackets, one on each side.

Complete the square by screwing together the last side. Then flip it over and for extra strength, screw a metal angle bracket into each corner.

Next adhere the feather edged fencing starting at the base of the lid on each side and work your way up.  Top the roof off with the hardwood moulding.

Base:

Take two 20″x22″ pieces and two 22″x24″ pieces.  These will be assembled to make a square.  The longer pieces will form the front and back and the two shorter pieces will become the sides.

Place one of the 2″x2″x7″ wooden pieces perpendicular in the corner.  Keeping this piece flush with the top while leaving a 2″ gap at the bottom of the corner, screw 4 screws into the 2″x2″ piece.  Repeat all the way around until you have a square.

Repeat this process until you have created 5 total squares. In the very bottom square, create an access panel, similar to the one in the photo below. This is to access the finished compost.

Stack the remaining four bases upon each other and top with the lid.

Garden Storage Unitwp

I suggest that you make two.  These are too darling to stand alone.  I have this on my summer to-do list!  Are you going to add it to yours?

Photo Credits:  headwaysshowgarden, hippyshopper, thecompostingpeople, grow4it, owenchubblandscapers, Tilly’s Nest

Findings Gardening

4th of July

Scenes from the parade on Main St, Cotuit
Children decorated their bikes and wagons.

Betsy Ross

Antique cars paraded patriotically one by one.

Children threw candy from classic cars.

A local artist captures the scene.

Hydrangeas and roses quietly watched as people passed by

all on the 4th of July.
Sunshine was not happy that we were not home all day.  I think she missed us.

Hope you and your family had a wonderful 4th of July weekend!
Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Gardening Plants Stories from Our Nest

Nasturtiums

 

Nasturtiums are wonderful, easy to grow annuals that your chickens will love.  Officially known to those in science to be in the family of Tropaeolum, this entire plant is edible, even the beautiful golden yellow, burnt orange and blazing red blossoms.  The plant has a slightly peppery taste as it is a relative to watercress.  These plants have long been used by people to attract beneficial bugs to their gardens and also ward off unwanted pests, such as squash bugs, cucumber beetles and some caterpillars. High in vitamin C, even their seeds, when pickled, are likened to capers.

There are many varieties.  Planting climbing varieties along the outside edges of the run, they will gracefully climb up the hardware cloth or chicken wire around your run.  As they climb, they offer tasty snacks for the girls.  They also offer some welcome shade and some protection from the elements as they form a blanket of beautiful leaves and flowers.

My girls have been sampling them this Spring and cannot get enough.  It truly is a frenzy.  They twist and tilt their heads in all directions, even upside down, to get a nibble of the leaves and flowers.  They jockey for the best position, especially when I push the leaves into the run.  As expected, the girls at the top of the pecking order are the ones involved as I near the coop.  Tilly, Oyster Cracker and Sunshine are all there.  There was also a surprise; Dottie Speckles.  Yes, apparently, she has surpassed all of the Silkies in the pecking order and is now one of the big girls!  She too, timidly got in on the action and the other three could have cared less.  In fact, although they noticed her little beak between theirs, they did not seem to mind.

This weekend, head over to your local garden center.  It’s not too late to plant them, and your girls will love you for it!

Yes, did you notice that the two best friends, my Buff Orpingtons, made a heart with their faces?

Chickens Gardening Tours

Summer’s Gardens at Tilly’s Nest

The warmth of summer is upon the gardens of Tilly’s Nest.  It seems as though we have had a late start this year as compared to last.  The coral bells greet you at the gate as you begin to enter the gardens.

Early hydrangea blossoms begin to bloom and are dotted amongst the gardens.  Our soil tends to be quite acidic, so all of our hydrangea blooms have tinges of blue.

 

Subtle garden sculpture accents the blooms, such as this immortalized shell sculpture.

 

I am particularly fond of succulents given my Southern California roots.  Every chance I get, I incorporate them inside and out.

 

I love mossy clay covered pots and keeping a natural feel to the gardens.

 

In my succulent container garden, a bunny hides amongst the leaves.  At least, this one doesn’t steal nibbles.

 

With the rain we have had the last few days, tiny clumps of mushrooms have popped up in the lawn.  I like to tell the children that fairies live amongst them.  Next month, we are going to create a fairy garden.

 

An oak leaf and pollen were dancing in the bird bath, as the daylily’s leaves reflected in the water.

 

The foxglove has the most gorgeous little speckles peeking out from it’s trumpetlike blooms.

 

The bees too are happy the rain is over, they have been very busy today.

 

Finally, as we make our way through the garden we reach Tilly’s Nest.  The fennel and marjoram are growing nicely and the lovely flowering tree by the coop is done with its show of beautiful white little flowers.

I enjoy gardening very much and love the addition of backyard chickens to the gardens.  I believe that gardens and backyard chickens compliment each other beautifully.

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Gardening Gardening with Chickens Health Issues Plants Projects

Fresh Herb Garden for Chickens

 

 

Summer is almost upon us.  My daughter and I today took a trip to the local garden center to purchase more herbs for our herb garden and our chickens.  This year, we have decided to place the herb garden in the mulched beds around and near the chicken coop. We thought it was great idea to plant an herb garden for the chickens.

Chickens Findings Gardening Stories from Our Nest

Chickens to the Rescue

I have been very involved in creating and developing an organic schoolyard garden at my son’s elementary school.  This is the first of it’s kind in our town and we have been working steadily, seeing our visions come to fruition.  In mid April, we built 30 raised child sized planting beds.  Slowly, we have been filling those with compost and soil.

Last week, as the children began to plant seeds in the classrooms, we were given some beautiful seedlings from our local organic farm.  Several parents and I began to plant the beets, swiss chard, thyme and lettuce.  As we planted in the earth, another parent called us over to look at some bugs she had found.  They were termites and they were already eating the wooden side of the untreated wooden raised bed.  Ugh!  What an upsetting moment.  As we discussed treatment options with our soil team, it was difficult to determine what we could use to treat the beds organically and not affect the produce grown in it’s soil. 

These are worker termites like the ones we found.

Feeling disappointed, I came home and returned a call to my friend with the farm.  I told her of the situation and she said to me, “Why don’t you just bring down a few chickens for a couple of hours to do the job?”  Genious!  With that said, we are going to bring an enclosure that will fit over the affected raised bed on Monday morning.  As we sit and sip our coffees, the chickens will be hard at work discovering tasty termites for their voracious appetites.  I was thrilled with this solution to say the least,  the chickens will be removing unwanted bugs and fertilizing our soil at the same time.  What a great learning experience for the students and grown-ups alike.  Somehow, I always seem to forget and underestimate the power of the backyard chicken.

Photo Credit: http://www.dpughphoto.com/

Chickens Gardening

Gardens and Supermodels

 

My poor girls, they are so sick of the rain!  I do have to say I am too!  We have had almost 7 straight days now and I just had to get outside.  So, with dinner cooking and camera in tow, I went to take some photos of the beauty after the rain.  Can I just say that Sunshine LOVES the camera?  Well, she does and loves to pose.  She is so curious and somehow in that little chicken brain of hers, she must know that she was destined to be a chicken model.

 

Mom, whatcha doin?

 

Oh, you have your camera with you!

 

Do you mind if I pose for you?

 

Oyster Cracker in all her beauty. Her beak is healing too!

I always find the garden during Spring incredibly beautiful after the rain.  Everything is green and beginning to emerge from the ground.  Here are some of the beautiful things that I discovered today.

 

Findings Gardening

The Wren’s Surprise

A Rare Glimpse

I had been trying all weekend to capture a picture of the Carolina Wren’s eggs that they have built in the nest of my window box.  This is the third year that they have returned to the same window box on our deck!  Last year, we were deeply saddened to find out that their brood had died because their nest had been predatorized by a female Cowbird.  You can imagine our surprise and dismay when both the Carolina Wren parents were doting on a baby Cowbird triple their size! 

Finally this morning, the mother came off the nest.  Instead of discovering tiny little eggs, I witnessed five small little bobbing heads with yellow beaks open for a treat!  I was delighted and happy to see no baby Cowbirds in the nest. I was lucky to have captured this stolen moment. 

This morning I also found the eggs from our house finch’s nest have hatched. I featured their nest a few posts ago hatched.  Here is a glimpse into their world.



There were 3 eggs.  Do you see three babies?

Sorry for the getting sidetracked.  I just could not help share these moments with you. Now…back to blogging about chickens!

Findings Gardening

The Nest

Catching a glimpse
It’s not only the girls at Tilly’s Nest that are having babies.  We’ve had a few house finches busy in our topiary by our garage.  Today I peered in and this is what I saw; three light blue eggs with brown speckles.  I was so touched by the nest’s tranquil beauty. 
Today, I am spending most of my time in the gardens preparing the beds as they wake from their Winter slumber.  I am also cleaning up around the outside of the coop and reseeding some of the lawn that the chickens enjoyed to death! 
This is my favorite time of the year.  Signs of life are everywhere.  Take time to enjoy life’s beautiful quiet moments.  You’ll find you are surrounded by them.
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest