Grow Your Own Birdhouse
Bottle gourds (Lagenaria siceraria) are easy to grow on fences or trellises, and once dried they make an ideal home for purple martins, swallows, chickadees and wrens. Besides bringing beauty and interest to your home, these birds will eat thousands of insects each day.
Although gourds can be grown in hills as you would grow squash and pumpkin, gourds that are left lying on the ground will flatten on one side and may be susceptible to rot. If you prefer to grow them in hills, try providing several inches of hay as a mulch to keep the gourds off the ground. Bottle gourds will tolerate a light frost, so allow them to dry on the vine as long as possible. Once harvested, they will need a cool, dry place to complete the drying process. They are completely dry when you can hear the seeds rattle inside when you shake them. This may take several months.
To fashion you birdhouse, drill a hole 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Smaller holes will accommodate small birds such as wrens, while a larger hole will allow larger birds such as martins to take up residence. You should also drill a few tiny holes in the bottom of the gourd for drainage. Drill two holes in the top, and thread a cord through them. Now your birdhouse is ready to hang. It will last up to two years untreated, or you can varnish the gourd for a longer lasting birdhouse.
A Legacy of Luffa
By Elizabeth Harwick
In an area where corn, cotton and soybeans define a true farmer, my grandfather was a true eccentric. The rumor goes that he made a bet with one of his friends that he could grow a sponge of sorts, something that they could not only eat but that they could also use year round. The bet was made and my legacy of luffa began.
Guide to Composting
by Jackie Carroll
Across the planet earth an amazing process is continuously taking place. Plant parts and animal leavings rot or decompose with the help of fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Earthworms and an assortment of insects do their part digesting and mixing the plant and animal matter together. The result is a marvelous, rich, and crumbly layer of organic matter we call compost, which is nature's gift to the gardener.