Found this fire pit frame at a yard sale and knew it would look good planted with succulents that looked like fire. First I lined it with aviary wire and sprayed it black. Then came a layer of moss, and potting soil.
The ‘Campfire’ crassula capitella and Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’ really do look like flames.
The new batch of nesting wreaths are bigger and better than before. Made with mosses, dryer lint, pet fur (freshly washed), strips of material, dried flowers and seed. With your feathered friends in mind, it’s wrapped onto a vine wreath with a wire hanger (no glue). Nesting wreaths start out as holiday decoration for your door or mantle. After the end of the year, it can hang outside, where the sunflower heads and amaranth will feed hungry birds, and then provide them with nesting material for spring.
All year long, Shelly gathers materials with potential at yard sales and thrift stores. These baskets are really starting to multiply in the garage… in preparation for the holidays. Hanging on the chandelier is the perfect spot to keep them up out of the way until they are ‘upcycled’ into Fire starter Baskets and Succulent & Flower Baskets.
This is how I make the garden stones that are so popular during the holiday season. I mixed up a couple of batches using plastic frames and stamps (e.g. Poetry Stones kit). I use the vinyl patch type of cement and mix according to directions. Filled each frame, smooth flat, and pressed in a few new phrases. When they were totally dried and cured, I painted on some watered down paint… filling in the letters.
When that coat was dry, I sponged on a contrasting color on the top and sides. These make nice gifts that last forever… inside or out.
It’s easy to refurbish succulent containers when they get overgrown and leggy. Almost as easy as arranging flowers in a vase.
Take cuttings of the succulents that you want to replant and set aside. They can be stored face up, in a shady spot, for up to a month.
Trim up any succulents that are left or start fresh with new potting soil.Â Poke holes in the soil and stick in the cuttings where desired.Water once a week and provide at least half sun. It only takes about a month for the succulents to fill back in nicely. This method also works for succulents in the ground. Take cuttings and stick them right back down in the soil. Dig out or trim the old stem… it will often come back with new growth.
This simple system stores enough water for my plants during the current California drought. It has been in place for over six years and consists of two rain barrels under roof downspouts, with 15 garbage cans between them. About an inch of rain fills all the containers yielding 570 gallons of rainwater storage. Our coastal fog (as seen in the background), slowly drips from the roof, and provides gallons and gallons of water with no rainfall, during the summer.
Tip: These dark colored garbage cans start leaking after a few years from being in the the sun, and last much longer sheltered with a redwood cover like the one shown here.
Overflow water from the barrels goes into garbage cans using short sections of garden hose. Drill hole into top of lid.
Each adjoining garbage can is connected by drilling holes into the sides and inserting a section of garden hose. Drill holes a little bit smaller than the diameter of your hose and a fraction of an inch lower in the side of each additional can.
Tight fitting lids keep out mosquitoes and other varmints.
Dip in to fill up a watering can or pump out using a submersible pump.
This setup is handy for drenching plants in cans or soaking in inverted lids full of water.
Almost any downspout can be put to use collecting rainwater.
Ready made barrels are available (about $80 – 100), but it is easy to make your own using used salvaged food barrels if you can find them ($15-20 in materials).
After a few years of draining the system overflow rain away from the house, we added this 550 gal tank. Once all the barrels and garbage cans are full, we open up the low faucets on the two downspout barrels, which have connected hoses flowing downhill to the tank. The barrels, then mostly empty, have the space to hold more water from the roof which then flows into the larger tank. This also prevents excess rainwater from flooding the area once the cans are full. This tank fills up with just 2 inches of rain.
Update: February 2016 – Added a 710 gallon tank, as well as more garbage cans to the barrels behind the greenhouse and in the dog yard. These two cans reside about 20 feet away from the barrel, overflowing through a hose downhill. With all the extra barrels and cans, we are now storing 2292 gallons of rainwater.
It started with a plan to replace the porch steps on the chicken shed and put in permanent stone path leading to it.
The rotten wooden steps were falling apart.
Railroad ties and stepping stones kept slipping around on the steep slope.
The project started with over 10 tons of rock on the driveway:
Nephew Joey and buddy Ray M. helped deliver the huge load.
Then more faux stones for the big steps and gravel:
It took Ray months of moving rock and digging into the hard soil (and getting everything dusty in the process):
But it turned out really nice:
For two to four weeks, the wreaths have laid flat where they get 2-3 hours morning sun, and dunked into rain water when dried out (about once a week). Stuck a few more cuttings into the bare spots and they are ready to go.Â They sold that day – at a bargain price of $60 = 14″ $45 = 10″ to a returning customer. See How to Part 1 & Part 2.
The first step to making good succulent wreaths is growing the succulents that you intend to take cuttings from. When I prepare a wreath or other container, I start thinking about what kind of succulents to use, keeping in mind the plant’s needs (water/sun) and growth habit (tall/short). Pay attention to how your plants grow in different conditions to see what I mean. When working on wreaths, I stick with plants that will stay compact. Aeoniums are perfect with their rosette shapes and straight, sturdy stems. The cuttings should have a day or two to scar over and can sit for weeks.
Cover the area, laying on your favorite type of sedum and using a dowel, skewer or other pokey tool, make a hole and insert the cuttings around the frame. Starting with dry wreath forms helps keep the holes you poke open for the cuttings.The succulent cuttings secures the sedum in place where it can take root and fill in nicely.
Continue inserting succulent cuttings close together until the wreath form is full. Dunk into or drench with water. This plumps up the moss/soil and hold the cuttings tightly. Lay flat where it will get at least 2 or 3 hours sun (preferably morning or afternoon) and dunk/drench again when it’s dried out and feels light. We’ll check it again in two weeks…See How to Part 1 & Part 3
Start with two wire box wreath frames (10″ to 16″D work best). Buy a few at your crafts store or larger quantities online. Soak some green moss (available at home/garden stores) in water. Squeeze out excess water (being wet helps hold to the shape of the frame). Line each wire frame a thin layer of damp green moss, pressing down the center all the way around.
Add water to some of your favorite potting soil, stirring until it sticks together. Squeeze a handful at a time between your palms and make a continuous mound of soil around the circle.
Update 2019: I have found that it’s easier to lay the moss over the top of the soil instead of lining the frame and flipping. Quickly flip the empty moss lined wreath frame on top of the soil ring, Squeeze it together and tuck in the moss on the sides. Fasten together by tightly wrapping with three pieces of heavy gauge wire (2-10″ and 1-14″ long). After fastening the 2 short pieces, flip it over so that the 2 twisted ends are on the front of the wreath (soon to be hidden by growing succulents). Wrap around the longest wire, bending the excess unto a loop for hanging. Twist wires and bend and stick the points into the wreath (this hides the sharp wires and secures the hanger in place).
Let dry for a day or two before planting with succulent cuttings. See Succulent wreath How To Part 2 and Part 3.