Magical Lights in the Fairy Garden

Make a little magic using solar LED twinkle lights in your fairy garden. Instructions and recommended plants are included.

 

I enjoy growing flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruit, but my favorite yearly project is always my fairy garden.  One year, I was installing solar twinkle lights over an arbor and I thought it might be pretty if I could do the same to the arbor in my fairy garden.arbor at night

PREPARATION

Here is a list of the materials you need

Large container with drainage holes (e.g., half whisky barrel, wheelbarrow, tub)

Potting soil with fertilizer

Drip irrigation kit (optional)

Structures (e.g., arbor, gazebo, house)

Decorative elements (e.g., furniture, decorative stakes, fencing)

Plants

Garden staples

Solar LED wire lights

I initially started with solar lights that looked a lot like the lights you might use at Christmas.  This year, I found these Amir solar LED wire lights on Amazon and they worked SO much better.  I recommend this brand because another brand that I bought stopped working after a couple of weeks, but the Amir have been going strong for several weeks now.  The ones that I bought had 100 lights on the string.  That may seem like a lot, but I thought it was just right.   Here is what they look like when they first arrive:

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Once you have all of your materials, fill the container with potting soil until it is just a few inches below the top. You will fill it to the top later when you are almost done.  Lay out all of the larger structures and plants until you have a general idea of where you want everything to be. You will then need to move some items in and out while you install the irrigation and lighting.

IRRIGATION

It is not required, but if you live somewhere hot and dry like me, you might need to water as much as twice a day unless you are using a drip system.  I use drip irrigation on a timer for all of my containers, and I first started with this Drip Irrigation Kit for Containers  which is quite easy to use.  This kit would water several containers, not just your fairy garden.  For more information about drip irrigation, please see The Beginner’s Guide to Using Drip Irrigation in your Container Garden.

With that said, drip irrigation is a must if you want to successfully grow plants in miniature containers like these in a hot climate.  I insert an emitter directly into the bottom of the planters and urns.  This takes some fiddling around to get it right.  I also arrange one emitter such that it will drip into the little pond and therefore stay full of water all summer.  Garden staples are helpful in getting the drip irrigation installed if you want to do some of these extras.  For more information on this, see 6 Creative Uses for Drip Irrigation .

LIGHTING

Install the solar string lights starting  at the end nearest the solar panel.  Unfortunately, the lights are kind of far apart, so it is sometimes necessary to twist or loop the wire around so that the lights are closer together.  I like using the lights in a way that you cannot see a continuous string of lights.  Instead, some are hidden under plants or gravel such that the lighting appears to start and stop in different places. This year, I added solar light strings over a “patio”, which is really an old mosaic stepping stone.

When I’m done, any leftover lights are placed in the house so it looks like the fairies are at home.

PLANTING

Place your plants a little above the soil line, remember that you will add the rest of the soil later.

I especially like alyssum (pink) and lobelia (bright blue) because I can buy them quite reasonably at a flat sale every year.  These light blue ageratum are also nice, but only when they are planted towards the very back because they get tall.

Garden 2013 (9)

Some kind of miniature tree is also a nice addition. My favorite is this mini variegated olive.P1030816

I use Wire Vine over the arbor (left) and Isotoma Laurentia (right) which has tiny little blue flowers.  These two plants are great because they often come back after a mild winter.

If you want a vegetable garden, simply break the tips off the branches of succulents and place them in the soil to mimic tiny cabbages.  They will eventually take root, needing only a little water.

cabbage crop

Lastly, I use some premium annuals such as Baby’s Tears (left) or Leptinella (center) which looks like tiny fern plants.  I also like Irish moss (right) because it looks so much like grass.  

To learn more about fairy garden plants, visit fairygardening.com

DECORATE

Once the plants are planted, add a couple inches of soil to the top covering the drip irrigation and solar lighting.  Add some rocks for decorations or paths.  Here is a path made of expanded shale.

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Add fun little extras (e.g., furniture, fencing, decorative stakes, etc). I have a lot of trouble restraining myself on this step.  I really tend to junk it up!  For me, that is part of the fun.

MAINTAIN

Keep the garden watered and cut plants back by half when they get tall or scraggly, which is what happened here..

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I hope that you enjoy creating your own magical fairy garden!

Make a little magic using solar wire LED twinkle lights in your fairy garden. Instructions and recommended plants are also included.

 

Biscuits and Cornbread Thanksgiving Dressing

biscuits-and-cornbread-dressing


Biscuits and Cornbread Thanksgiving Dressing


Can’t decide between cornbread dressing or traditional bread stuffing? Here is a recipe that combines the best of both! Please also see the included printable recipe.

Living in the center of the Heartland can make Thanksgiving a little confusing. Should I make a cornbread dressing like they make in the South or a bread stuffing that is more common in the North? My family has roots on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, so choosing one or the other means somebody isn’t happy.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t just prepare the family recipe because it was no more than a list of ingredients. No quantities were listed. Well, unless you count my grandmother’s not at all helpful “ten cents worth of sausage”…and I don’t.

So, I struck out my own. I researched on-line, asked friends to share their favorites, and made batch after batch of dressing over several years. I am happy to report that I finally perfected my favorite by piecing together components of several different recipes. Everyone who has tasted it raves about the flavor.

The main secret to this dressing recipe is the use of biscuits AND cornbread AND dried stuffing cubes. In a nod to my grandmother, I do use sausage, but not ten cents worth. It turns out that 12 ounces of raw breakfast link sausages works well. Oddly enough, after removing the casings and mixing the raw sausage into the dressing, it is not readily apparent that sausage is even in the dressing, but it adds a LOT of flavor.

I strongly recommend making this as a dressing baked in a dish separate from your turkey. Because this recipe contains both raw sausage and an egg, it cannot cook to a safe temperature when used to stuff a turkey.

Here is a nifty little trick that I learned from my mother and grandmother–start with the minimum amount of salt and poultry seasoning. Then, after you mix the dressing, form a small amount into a little pancake and fry it it in a little butter to cook the egg and sausage. This will allow you to taste it and decide if you prefer more salt and/or poultry seasoning.

This recipe makes an ENORMOUS amount of dressing. I usually fill a 9 x 12 inch dish with the dressing for Thanksgiving day and then use the rest to make some Stuffing Muffins. These freeze exceptionally well. Since I also freeze some cooked turkey, we are all set to enjoy some quick turkey dinners all winter long.

You might also want to save a cup or so of dressing to add to your gravy. It helps gravy to thicken while adding additional flavor. Just be sure to let it simmer until it is dissolved.

Serves 18
Ingredients:
10 ounces refrigerated biscuits, baked according to package directions,
8 1⁄2 ounces Jiffy cornbread mix, baked according to package directions,
1 egg, for cornbread mix,
1⁄3 cup milk, for cornbread mix,
1⁄2 cup butter,
1 onion, minced in food processor,
3-5 stalks celery, chopped fine in food processor,
1/2-1 teaspoon salt,
12 ounces breakfast sausage links, raw (slit casings and remove meat, discard casings),
1 egg,
1.5-2 tablespoons poultry seasoning,
1⁄4 cup dried parsley flakes,
12 ounces herb-seasoned or country-style CUBED stuffing,
4 -6 cups chicken broth,

Instructions:

The day before:
1. Bake cornbread and biscuits using the instructions on the label.
2. Cool and roughly chop biscuits into large cubes.
3. Let biscuits and cornbread sit out uncovered overnight to dry (or put in cooled oven).
The next day:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat.
3. Add onions, celery, and salt.
4. Saute, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until soft.
5. Scramble egg in a very large mixing bowl.
6. Add raw sausage with the casings removed, poultry seasoning, and parsley. Mix well.
7. Add cubed stuffing and mix well.
8. Lightly toss with chopped biscuits and cornbread.
9. Add broth and mix again. Avoid over mixing, but incorporate most of broth for a heavier dressing, less for a slightly fluffier dressing.
10. Place in a large baking dish and bake uncovered for about 45 minutes-1 hour at 350. The top should be light brown. Alternatively, portion some or all of the dressing into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners. Bake for about 30 minutes. If you put half of the dressing in a muffin tin and the other half in a regular baking dish, the dressing in a baking dish will take about 30-40 minutes to bake.

Due to raw egg and pork, do not stuff a turkey with this recipe.

Biscuits and Cornbread Thanksgiving Dressing

  • Servings: 18-24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

10 ounces refrigerated biscuits, baked according to package directions
8 1⁄2 ounces Jiffy cornbread mix, baked according to package directions
1 egg, for cornbread mix
1⁄3 cup milk, for cornbread mix

1⁄2 cup butter
1 onion, minced in food processor
3-5 stalks celery, chopped fine in food processor
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces breakfast sausage links, raw (slit casings and remove meat, discard casings)
1 egg
1.5-2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
1⁄4 cup dried parsley flakes
12 ounces herb-seasoned or country-style CUBED stuffing
4 -6 cups chicken broth

The day before:
1. Bake cornbread and biscuits using the instructions on the label.
2. Cool and roughly chop biscuits into large cubes.
3. Let biscuits and cornbread sit out uncovered overnight to dry (or put in cooled oven).

The next day:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat.
3. Add onions, celery, and salt.
4. Saute, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until soft.
5. Scramble egg in a very large mixing bowl.
6. Add raw sausage with the casings removed, poultry seasoning, and parsley. Mix well.
7. Add cubed stuffing and mix well.
8. Lightly toss with chopped biscuits and cornbread.
9. Add broth and mix again. Avoid over mixing, but incorporate most of broth for a heavier dressing, less for a slightly fluffier dressing.
10. Place in a large baking dish and bake uncovered for about 45 minutes-1 hour at 350. The top should be light brown. Alternatively, portion some or all of the dressing into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners. Bake for about 30 minutes. If you put half of the dressing in a muffin tin and the other half in a regular baking dish, the dressing in a baking dish will take about 30-40 minutes to bake.

Due to raw egg and pork, do not stuff a turkey with this recipe.

littletudorontheprairie.com

I hope that you enjoy this dressing, at Thanksgiving or anytime of the year.

Happy Cooking!

Creating a Decorative English Fireplace

Create a Decorative English FireplaceLiving in an old Tudor, I have a special affinity for English decorative elements and I cannot think of anything more English than a cast iron Victorian fireplace in a bedroom.  Unfortunately, these are not easily found in the United States.  The ones I did find cost around $1,000, definitely not in my budget!  Fortunately, I was able to assemble a similar faux fireplace at a greatly reduced cost.  Although we cannot heat the bedroom with this fireplace, it does add decorative warmth and ambiance to our space.

I started by stalking Ebay until I found an antique cast iron fireplace surround for just under $150, this was by far the greatest expense.  I could have purchased one even less expensively if I hadn’t had my heart set on an arched fireplace.  Once I had the surround, I could determine the measurements of the rest of my materials.  I was working with a very narrow space, be sure to adjust all measurements to work with your available space.

Supplies

Cast iron fireplace surround

Picture wire strong enough to hang the surround

Tin ceiling tile or another material to hang behind the surround

Thin lumber cut to the width of the surround

2” thick lumber cut to the width of the surround. to serve as the mantel

2” thick lumber cut larger than the bottom of the surround. to serve as the hearth

4 x 4” post for beneath the hearth

12 x 36” marble tile to sit on the floor

2 thick corbels

1 piece decorative moulding

Glue

Screws

Spray paint

Paint for wood

Sandpaper

Supplies for English bedroom fireplace

Steps

  1. Cut all lumber to size
  2. Glue the moulding to the thin lumber backing.  close up of ornament
  3. Sand, wipe away dust, and paint all wooden materials.
  4. Spray paint the iron surround.
  5. Glue the 2″ hearth on the 4 x 4 lumber.
  6. Attach the tin ceiling tile or other backing to the wall with screws.
  7. Place the marble tile, 4 x 4 lumber and 2″ hearth in the desired position.Hearth of a marble tile, a 4 x 4 post and 2 inch thick lumber
  8. Hang the surround so that it will just rest on the hearth materials.
  9. Screw the thin lumber above the surround, hiding the screws behind the corbels
  10. Hang the corbels on the thin lumber backingclose up of mantel
  11. Glue the 2″ mantel on the corbels, making sure the mantel is pushed back against the wallside view of mantelOnce your fireplace has been assembled, you can decorate the inside with logs, a fireplace screen, Christmas lights, or candles.  The mantle can be decorated with a vase, clock, candles, books, lamps, pictures, or sculptures.

Happy Decorating!

 

Freezing Aromatic Flavor Cubes for Asian Stir Fry Suppers

Freezing Aromatic Flavor Cubes for Asian Stir Fry Suppers

 

Do you love stir fry, but find the prep work tedious?  I felt the same way until I learned some easy short cuts that not only cut back on my prep time, but also meant less clean up time.  One of those short-cuts involved the mixture of garlic, ginger, scallions, and red pepper flakes that add complex flavors to my stir fries.  No matter what meat or vegetables I cook in my stir fry, I always make a little well in the center and quickly fry some aromatics in it before adding a sauce.  Unfortunately, it takes a long time to mince the aromatics small enough that we don’t end up biting into a big, unappetizing hunk of garlic or ginger. I could use the food processor, but I don’t want to get it dirty for such a small job.  I also don’t want to have to buy ginger every time we have a stir fry and ginger doesn’t  really last all that long.  The solution that works for us is to prepare enough aromatics for several stir fry dinners at once and then freeze them in ice cube trays.

Asian Aromatic Flavor Cubes

Ingredients

4 heads peeled garlic (about 8 oz once peeled or 1 cup minced)

2 oz peeled ginger (about 1/4 cup minced)

Whites of 16-20 scallions

1 TB red pepper flakes (optional, adjust according to heat preferences)

¼ cup sesame oil

Unless you love chopping food into tiny bits, use a food processor to mince the garlic, ginger, scallions, and red pepper flakes.  I try to process until it is just short of a puree. Asian aromatics after mincing

Spoon the mixture into an ice cube tray in 1 TB portions, making about 18 portions.  Press the aromatics in tight and then spread the sesame oil over the top where it can soak in and fill in any holes before freezing.

When you are ready to make a stir fry, get an aromatic flavor cube out as soon as you start cooking.  This will allow it to thaw a little before mixing into your stir fry.  I set the cube near the pan to help the thawing process.  This mixture can also be used to flavor a marinade for grilling meat.

Simplify stir fry with aromatic flavor cubes.  Happy Cooking!

 

Create a Useful Dining Centerpiece

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I have a minor obsession with centerpieces.  Over the years, I have tried one thing after another, never satisfied with my efforts.  I guess it is important to me because centerpieces are usually the focal point of any dining room, so I want ours to make a statement.  Unfortunately, sometimes that statement was, “I am too tall to have a conversation over” or “I am really easy to knock over”.  More than once it turned out to be, “I looked good on Pinterest, but I don’t work in real life”.  Even when a centerpiece was attractive, the look was always marred by the practical items that needed to stay on the table for meals.  Finally, it occurred to me–why not make those functional items into one centerpiece?  Doing so had the added benefit of allowing us to stop moving items to and from the table every day.

There are many possibilities for a container in which to place your centerpiece items.  The one that I used is technically a condiment server.  When I was looking for just the right item, I also looked at trough planters, caddies, old wooden toolboxes, and even copper fish kettles.  I especially wish I had seen this gorgeous wine trough to use as a centerpiece.  Etsy has some great options, but I also looked on Amazon and Ebay.

The item that I eventually bought is 18″ long, which allows space for me to place food on either end when we eat.  If you have a long table, you might go as long as 24″ or possibly longer.  As you can see, mine is divided into sections, but I am not sure that I would choose a sectioned centerpiece again unless the sections were at least 7-8 inches wide.  This would have allowed the trivets to fit in without angling them.  Also pay attention to the height of the items that you want to put in there.  These sections are 4″ deep and my salt and pepper shakers are just barely tall enough to easily access.  If you use a shallower container, you might use jelly jars or other containers to hold items upright.

The items to put in your centerpiece depend entirely on what you typically need at the table.  For us, that meant napkins, trivets, salt & pepper shakers, silverware, and the pink-striped tea towels that we use as place mats.  You could also consider other condiments than do not require refrigeration.  Another possibility would be placing all of your serving spoons in your centerpiece.

I hope that you are inspired to design your own useful centerpiece.  Happy Decorating!

 

10 Container Flowers that Bloom All Summer

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When I first started gardening, I chose flowers ENTIRELY based on looks…I was so superficial back then.  I scoffed at those who bought petunias.  They were so boring..  I was only going to plant the less common flowers.  No impatiens for this girl!  So, I planted those unusual flowers.  Some of them made it and some of them didn’t.  At first I thought it was due to my inconsistent watering. After I improved my watering by using drip irrigation (see here), I realized that it hadn’t been just my poor caretaking, it was also my flower choices.  Turns out, the flowers that  I so readily scoffed at were probably so common because they were much easier to grow than the flowers I was choosing.

Urn with petunias, impatiens, euphorbia, dusty miller, dichondra, spike
Impatiens, Bacopa, Euphorbia, Petunias, Dusty Miller, Dichondra

Cool-Season Annuals.  I realized that I was wasting a lot of money buying plants that didn’t have much of a chance where I live, so I started making a list of the flowers that I bought in the spring and then taking an inventory in August to see what was still blooming.  If a plant didn’t make it to August for two consecutive years, it was downgraded to a “maybe” plant.  I didn’t want to completely stop buying all of the flowers that petered out in the heat, because that would mean giving up some of my favorites. Instead, I bought very limited quantities of flowers such as alyssum, pansies, and lobelia and planned for their demise.  In other words, during the spring, I would enjoy these short bloomers next to longer-blooming flowers.  Once they died or flowering slowed considerably, I would pull them out to make additional room for the flowers that had proven to be longer blooming.  Another option is to wait for cooler weather in the fall when these flowers may bloom again.

Heat Tolerant, but Require Deadheading.  I also noted that, for some flowers, it wasn’t about the heat.  For instance, geraniums and marigolds do well in the heat, but they require deadheading to keep blooming.  I began to also limit these to small quantities, no more than I was willing to deadhead.  Similarly, Cosmos and Zinnias do well in the heat, but require deadheading to keep blooming.  For these, the solution was a cutting garden, the frequent cutting of flower bouquets means an abundance of these flowers for most of the summer.

My Top Ten.  The ten cottage annuals chosen for this list do well in containers, even when temperatures top 100 degrees.  They do not require deadheading, although a few will benefit from being cut back by half midway through the summer.  I usually do this shortly before we go on vacation.  We return to find the flowers blooming even better than before they were cut back.

Torenia and Double Impatiens in a Brick planterTorenia.  It is a mystery to me why torenia, also known as wishbone flower, is not more widely grown.  It is incredibly adaptable, doing well in both sun and shade.  Heat doesn’t seem to affect it one little bit, it just keeps on trucking.  I now only buy the Summer Wave series from Proven Winners.  Any other cultivars have been a disappointment.  The above photo was taken of two Violet Torenia plants and one double impatiens, midway through the summer; they were even larger by fall.

euphorbia, impatiens, petunia, spikeEuphorbia.  These tiny white flowers that resemble baby’s breath are a versatile filler in both sun and shade. Don’t over water, it is drought tolerant.  Euphorbia is exceptionally easy to take cuttings from and some also overwinter this plant indoors.  “Diamond Frost” is a favorite.

 

petunias with bunnyPetunias.  Petunias are known as a flower for full sun, but in my area, they seem to do well even in partial shade.  Although deadheading may increase the number of blooms, I find it sufficient to cut them back about halfway once in the middle of summer. Petunias seem adaptable to a variety of watering conditions.  They come in a rainbow of colors, but I am partial to the pink and purple varieties.  If I could afford to do so, I would love to buy dozens of the expensive cultivars, but I am always satisfied with the less expensive plants that I buy in six packs.

 

Angelonia.  Also known as Summer Snapdragon, Angelonia requires full sun and is fairly drought tolerant.  Most varieties grow over one foot tall.  It is sometimes helpful to cut these back once during the middle of summer.  The Serena series is grown from seed and easiest to find, but I prefer Proven Winner’s Wedgewood Blue when I can find it.

 

bacopa, euphorbia, petunia in urn croppedBacopa.  The little white flowers of this delightful plant continue to bloom in part shade to full sun, as long as they are not allowed to dry out.  If blooming slows, cut back once about halfway during the summer.  Bacopa drapes beautifully over the side of a planter.  In addition to this white, it also comes in pink and purple.

 

Calibrachoa.  Once you have grown this prolific bloomer, it is easy to see how it earned it’s nickname, Million Bells.  Single Calis looks like mini-petunias, while the double Calis look like mini-roses.  It comes in several colors, but I am partial to this Double Pink Calibrachoa.  As pictured here, Calibrachoa fills in the planter, as well as spilling over the edge.  Calibrachoa needs full sun and be careful not to over water.

 

Impatiens.  Of all the flowers I buy, I depend most on lovely impatiens, also known as, “Busy Lizzies”.  There are now some more expensive varieties that do well in sun, but I love the inexpensive varieties that I can afford to buy by the flat to brighten up the shady areas of my garden.  In recent years, I was surprised to realize that my impatiens can also do well in sun.  The above variety is called Blue Pearl, although they are pink.  Impatiens require regular watering.

 

Salvia.  Although these Victoria Blue Salvia were purchased as annuals, many plants often return after a mild winter…or perhaps they just self sow.  Salvia are known for their drought tolerance.  Be sure to check the projected height of any salvia before purchase.  Some grow too tall for smaller containers.  Salvia are best in full sun, but also do well in partial shade.

 

Verbena.  While I love the many shades of verbena, most that I have tried required some cutting back for continued blooming.  Not so with these little Imagination Verbena.  Verbena do well in partial shade to full sun.  Although they tolerate some dry conditions, they seem to flower best when kept continuously moist.  These verbena are especially useful for adding height to containers.

 

VincaVinca. As a beginning gardener, I could not tell the different between impatiens and Vinca to save my life.  Even today, I pay more attention to the foliage, than the flower.  Vinca, also known as periwinkle, does well in full sun and is fairly drought tolerant.  For me, the plants stay relatively small, but still provide a nice pop of color.

 

 

Honorable Mention:  The following flowers also do well in heat and do not require deadheading:  Pentas, Lantana, Scaevola, Begonia, Moss Rose.

Spend less time deadheading and more time relaxing in your garden.

Happy Gardening!

Make a Fireplace Screen from a Stained Glass Window

Make a Fireplace Screen from a Stained Glass Window.  Photos and a printable with materials and instructions are included.I didn’t particularly like the gas fireplace insert that came with our older home, but a new one was not in the budget.  My next thought was to buy a fireplace screen to cover it up, but they were all expensive, unattractive, or you could see through them, which rather defeated the purpose.  When I fell in love with an old stained glass window in an antique store, I knew that I had to have it, but could it serve as a fireplace screen if I attached some shelf brackets?  I decided to buy it and figure out the “how to” later.

After some thought, the answer came after I bought the shelf brackets and realized that the metal part inside could be unscrewed and turned upside down, such that the large part where the screw was inserted was at the bottom and the smaller part was at the top.  Once the screw was attached to the stained glass window, the window sat on the brackets, even without wood glue.

Shelf BracketStill, for added strength and stability, I used wood glue and secured the bond with C-clamps to dry overnight.  Incidentally, I chose these particular shelf brackets because the open design would allow me to easily attach the C-clamps.

unpainted stained glass window with brackets

Once the brackets were attached, I taped off the glass and painted all of the wood black.

It should be noted that a fireplace screen such as this should not be placed in front of an open flame.  Our fireplace has a gas insert, so all flames are behind glass.  A fire lit up the stained glass, but we just don’t light our fireplace all that often.  I eventually tried Christmas lights hung on a couple of nails behind the glass.  Much better!

The warm lights give the room a nice amber glow at night.

Stained Glass Fireplace Screen with Christmas lights

 

Please click here for a printable list of tools, materials, and instructions.

Happy Decorating!

 

EPSON MFP image
Make a Fireplace Screen from a Stained Glass Window

 

6 Creative Uses for Drip Irrigation

 

6 Creative Uses for Drip IrrigationI love drip irrigation!  If are interested in using drip irrigation and would like to learn how to do so, please read The Beginners Guide to Using Drip Irrigation in Your Containers.  If you would like to consider some different uses for drip irrigation, please keep reading…

Living Wreath.  Have you ever seen a planter like this and thought it would be too difficult to use?  I had purchased this wire living wreath form before I started using drip irrigation, but I quickly learned there was no  easy way to keep it hydrated.  It was awkward to water with a hose and plunging it into a tub of water frequently enough to keep the impatiens hydrated just wasn’t practical.  The solution was a loop of tubing going around the inside of the wreath with 4 emitters attached.  Another alternative would be using a small length of drilled soaker tubing inside the form.

impatiens wreath using drip irrigation
Living wreath hanging on a ladder with peat moss sheets and pink impatiens.

Birdbath.  Do the birds in your garden have to miss their baths during dry weather?  We have many birds in our backyard and they just love this little birdbath.  It only took a few seconds to fill when I was hand watering, but once I didn’t need to hand water anymore, I didn’t always feel like making a trip out to fill it on a hot day.  I could have hung an emitter over the side, but that would have ruined the look of this birdbath.  The solution was hiding a drip emitter over a branch in the dogwood tree overhead.  It drips into the birdbath while my flower containers are receiving water from their drip emitters.bunny in birdbath with drip emitter in tree overheadDifficult-to-Reach Containers.  At one point, I had my many containers around the fence line of our property receiving water, but I still had to go out daily to water this urn in the middle of our garden.  When we went on vacation, I would run a temporary line of tubing to it, but that was not a permanent solution because the tubing would show and/or accidentally be mowed.  The solution was using a slim piece of PVC pipe with the drip tubing inside of it and burying it between the nearest flower bed and this urn.  It took less than an hour to dig a shallow trench and bury a piece of PVC with the drip irrigation inside.  In just a short time, the grass had filled in and the tubing was no longer visible.  It’s been quite a few years and this solution is still going strong!

urn planter in middle of yard

 

PVC and drip tubing in bed and about to go underground
Drip tubing inside a slim PVC pipe is about to travel underground to the planter in the middle of the yard.

Container Water Garden.  Have you ever made a container water garden?  They are so easy and fun!  For the first one that I made, I just hung an emitter inside it to keep the water garden full.  You could not easily see the tubing behind the plants.  I later learned to bring the tubing up through the planting hole before plugging it with plumber’s underwater epoxy putty.

butterfly
Water garden with water celery, sweet flag, and copper butterfly dripper fountain.

Fairy Gardens.  Do you have a fairy garden?  I love these tiny little pots that go in a fairy garden, but how could I possibly keep something so small hydrated during our long, hot summers?  I learned that I could insert the tip of an emitter into the bottom of each little container.  This one is a little tricky because you have to bury the emitter with it facing directly up and then fiddle with it a little until it stands up straight.  I think it’s well worth it!  For more about creating your own fairy garden, see Magical Lights in the Fairy Garden.

drip irrigation in fairy garden

Butterfly Puddlers.  Did you know that butterflies benefit from the nutrition that they find in mud puddles?  For more on that, read this.  My latest project is hanging a drip emitter over some sandy, salted mud to make a butterfly mud puddler.  The emitter could be hung in a tree or on a Shepard’s hook overhead.  You could even just identify a hanging flower container that starts dripping pretty quickly when watered and move away some mulch underneath to make your butterfly mud puddler there.  We will see if this works.  It isn’t terribly attractive, is it?  Hopefully the butterflies won’t mind!

butterfly mud puddler

I hope that you found a fun project to use in your garden!  Happy Gardening!