Make An Inexpensive Outdoor Candle Chandelier!

I made an outdoor chandelier for our new pergola, and it was pretty easy to do.  This original idea came from an old Country Living magazine, but I refined it to suit my tastes.  You will need:

  • Some wire garden edging, long enough to make the circle of wire that will form the base of your chandelier.  Part of it has single straight pieces of wire that would normally be the part that you push into the ground, and the top part features curved wire and is decorative.  I found this locally at the Camas Plant Sale, but likely it can be found from online sources, or if you are lucky a thrift store or garden center.

  • Some glass punch cups.  These I got second-hand at a local thrift store.
  • Light-weight wire
  • Wire cutter
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Some tea lights.  I prefer these to votive candles because they keep your punch cups cleaner.
  • A long-neck candle or fireplace lighter
  • Three pieces of chain, cut by the hardware store to your preferred length for hanging the chandelier.
  • Single chain links with a screw mechanism on the side.  You unscrew the link, insert the ends of the chain lengths, and screw them closed to attach the chain to the chandelier, and the three chains together at the top for hanging.
  • A hook or additional piece of chain and chain link for hanging the chandelier

Here is what I did:

1.  Turn the wire edging upside down, so the curved parts are facing downward, and form the wire into a loop the size that you would like your chandelier.  Cut the wire to size, leaving a couple of loose wires on the ends.  Use the loose wires to wire the circle of edging closed, trying to match the pattern as much as possible so it all blends together somewhat invisibly.

2.  Using lighter-weight wire, wire the punch cups to the wire edging.  These will hold the individual tea lights.  Use the wire cutter to cut the wire as needed, and the needle-nose pliers to wrap the light-weight wire around the heaver wire tightly.  I wrapped the wire around the handle of each punch cup, then around the “belly” of the cup to the other side.

3.  Attach each of three pieces of chain to the top of the chandelier’s ring, equally spaced so that you can use them to hang the chandelier.  Use the individual chain-screw links by unscrewing one, slip the end of the chain length inside it, and then screw it closed around the top wire ring of the chandelier.  Repeat with the other two chain lengths.

 

4.  Attach all three of the chain lengths together with another single screw chain link.

5.  You are now ready to hang the chandelier.  You could put a heavy hook into the wood where you want to hang it, but we chose to instead place a chain loop around the top beam of the pergola, and hang the chandelier from that.  Use individual chain screw links to attach the chain around the beam, and then to attach the chandelier to the chain loop.

 

6.  Add a tea light to each punch cup, and light using a long-neck candle or fireplace lighter that will reach inside the punch cups easily.

7.  Enjoy!

The directions are more complicated than the actual making–this is really super simple to make!  Give it a try–having outdoor lighting adds so much to your seating areas, and allows you to use them even into the evening hours.

Head on over to the Tuesday Garden Party, too.

Corn Germinated Yesterday!

My corn seeds germinated yesterday, June 25th.  I planted this new variety for me called ‘Quickie’, from Territorial Seeds, on June 18th, so 7 days to germination from planting.  It is listed as a sugar enhanced hybrid that is supposed to be mature in only 64 days.  The seed packet says that it has 7 1/2 inch long ears of corn, and that the plants reach 4 1/2 feet tall.  This is a bed that I covered with plastic to help heat it up a bit, and that helped this seed germinate.  I will try to post a picture of this tomorrow.

What a gorgeous day it was here–I planted more basil, and just did some tidying of the garden.  I also sat in the pergola, sipped a glass of wine, and enjoyed the surroundings–I hope you were able to do the same somewhere in your garden!

Support Local Growers And Stock Your Pantry For The Winter

Now is a great time to purchase the beginnings of the berry harvest here in Clark County.  The Master Gardeners have put together a great list of all the local farmers that have produce and fruits to sell to the public.  Some are u-pick, while others offer produce stands with picked produce.  The listing gives the address and other contact information for each farm, plus a listing of exactly what types of produce and fruit they have available for sale.  Here’s the list.  It’s never too early to put up some jam or freeze some berries–you will be glad you did come next January or February when you are craving strawberry shortcake or lemon blueberry muffins, for example.  Freezer jams are so quick and easy to do, taking a lot less time than canned preserves, so if you are starting out, give those a try.  It is also a great way to fill in any gaps in what you yourself can produce on your property.

Dinner From The Garden Harvest Today

I have tons of mustard greens ready, getting more mature each passing day, and I know that I need to be using them up.  So, we’ll have some greens sauteed in a little olive oil and dressed with lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Then I have some sugar snap peas that are ready, so that looked like it would be good in a fried rice recipe with a little leftover chicken and some shrimp, a couple of scrambled eggs mixed with green onion and roasted red pepper, and if I had them some bean sprouts, but I don’t so I’ll substitute some sliced water chestnuts instead for some crunch.  A healthy, high fiber dinner that is easy to do with food from the garden–yeah!

Here’s a picture:

Planted The Last Of The Tomato Starts

Yesterday I planted twelve tomato plants that I started from seed back in March.  I put them in a front terrace that originally held flowers, but I needed more room to grow vegetables, so the center of the bed is now devoted to veggis and the flowers ring it on either side.  The soil is very full of clay, and so I added several buckets of homemade compost to help lighten it a bit, plus fertilizer and dug it all in.  Then I planted the starts, which include these varieties:

  • ‘Gardener’s Delight’ cherry tomato  (supposed to not split like other cherry tomatoes–we’ll see)
  • ‘Brandywine’ tomato (a wonderful, late in the season producing heirloom tomato)
  • ‘San Marzano’ paste tomato (looks like a Roma, has great flavor and less water inside, so it works well for drying)
  • ‘Costoluto Genovese’ tomato (this is my go-to tomato plant, which along with the ‘San Marzanos’, has pretty much replaced my use of ‘Early Girl’.  The Costolutos have rumpled shoulders and are an heirloom variety that produces lots, as does the San Marzano.)

Here’s a picture from a couple of seasons ago of Costoluto:

Also another tip:  I like to put my plant labels on the top of the tomato cage, so I can read them even when the plant gets big.  I use electrical tape, which you can get at the hardware store, to tape the label in place at the top of the cage. 

I also started a few more ‘Pacific Pearl’ green onion seeds inside under lights.  I planted out my green onion starts yesterday, so we’ll see how they do.  I have not been able to get those to start outside from seed, so I tried transplants this year instead.  I also planted out my ‘Cinderella’ pumpkin chitted seeds yesterday in prepared hills, and some dill seed in an empty hole I had in one of the salad greens beds.

I still have more basil starts to plant out, and I am quickly running out of room in containers–I may need to find another in-ground spot for some of them.

I soaked morning glory seeds overnight, and will plant them on a decorative blue and white gate that I use in the garden just as a decoration, and on a metal tuteur, so they have room to grow up, and hopefully cover the gate and metal with flowers.

Hope you can get out into the sunshine and get gardening today, or at least this weekend!  How are your plants doing thus far?  Are you harvesting anything yet?  Feel free to leave a comment!

Planted More Basil Starts Yesterday

Gorgeous weather and I have to work, wouldn’t you know.  However, I eeked out a few minutes to run out and plant some more basil starts outside in containers late yesterday afternoon.  Also some coleus and lobelia starts into my flowering containers.  I always start those from seed because it’s too expensive to buy as many as I want to use (ie. lots), and they’re pretty easy to start from seed indoors under lights.  I especially like ‘Cambridge Blue’ lobelia, which is a sky blue color and so pretty when paired with other yellow-foliaged plants as well as dark burgundy ones, such as the coleus leaf color often provides.  I will try to work fast so I can get outside later and continue planting.

It was warm enough–around 74-76 degrees–yesterday and today that I uncovered all the plastic-covered veggi beds outside.  I’ve gotten germination on my new salad greens bed, and I am seeing some ‘Royal Burgundy’ bush beans and I think ‘Scarlet Emporer’ runner beans (I mixed some of the seed in the row, so I won’t know for sure until they get a bit bigger) germinating.  The Sugar Snap peas are now finally ready to pick and eat at the baby stage–absolutely sweet and delicious–(I know, I tasted some last night!)  I’m also seeing baby apples on my ‘Spitzenburg’ mini-dwarf apple tree that I grafted four years ago–this is the first time I am letting it produce fruit!  My ‘Einset’ grape that is growing up the side of the pergola in the backyard is covered this year for the first time in tiny grape clusters–I will need to thin these out a bit so the vine doesn’t get overwhelmed.  I also have an ‘Arbequina’ olive tree that is hardy down to 14 degrees that is covered with flower buds–we will see if it gets hot enough to actually produce any olives.  It produced a few last year.  This is another dwarf evergreen tree that will top out around 8-10 feet tall.  My Aronia berry shrub is also loaded with immature fruit as well.  I will try to add some pictures to this post later today if I have time.

If you are in Camas this afternoon, the Farmers’s Market is on downtown in front of the library from 3-7:30pm.  They had great cherries from Zillah last week, and are supposed to have fresh almonds this week, so check it out.  This will be the first market of the season with no rain–about time!

An Oregon Cottage–Check Out This Blog!

This is a fun gardening blog written by an Oregon gardener–here is a link to her blog post that she calls “Tuesday Garden Party.”

She has a beautiful vegetable garden, plus some good recipes for how to use the harvest economically, and how to store the harvest for use in winter.

Check it out!

Got Some Things Planted Before It Started Raining This Evening

The weather was quite nice this afternoon, and so I dug in and reseeded a lettuce bed that did nothing earlier.  Normally I’d put a thin layer of fine compost on the top of the bed, make my rows and plant, but I didn’t have any really fine compost left, so I spread what compost I did have, and on top of where I wanted rows I put seed starting plant mix, which is very fine and light, and then planted the seeds into that.  I decided to cover the bed with PVC pipes and clear plastic, just to warm it up a bit and give those seeds a fighting chance.  I think I may also be having issues with flea beetles in this bed as well, so as soon as the seedlings emerge, I will dust the whole thing with diatomaceous earth.  And Sluggo, as always.

I then moved on and planted my chitted cucumber seeds.  See how to chit seeds here .I started chitting the seeds on June 11th, they sprouted in the plastic bags by June 16th, but the weather was crummy, so I had to wait to plant them until today, June 18th.  In my composted and fertilized bed, I made super-fertile hills that had extra compost and an extra cup of complete organic fertilizer, and worked it into the soil, then I scooped a little bit out of the center of the hill, and put three chitted seeds in every hill, which I will eventually thin to the one strongest plant.  This is the method recommended by Steve Solomon in Gardening When It Counts, and I tried it out last year, and had tons of cucumbers.  I left room in between my hills for trellises to be placed after the seedlings get growing, but for now I covered the bed with plastic and hoops, because you don’t want the chitted seeds to get rained on until they emerge from the soil.  Obviously, Mother Nature is in no mood to cooperate about this, so I covered the bed, which worked for me last year in this same situation.

I also planted three kinds of runner beans that have very pretty flowers–‘Scarlet Emperor’, ‘Violet Podded Stringless’, and ‘Trionfo Violetto’, all of which the hummingbirds like as well.  I left room in between the rows to place trellises after they emerge, and, you guessed it, covered the beds with plastic.  I also planted a small spot with ‘Quickie’ hybrid sugar enhanced corn, and did the plastic cover with them as well.  Beans and corn like warm weather, and since it’s cool, this will hopefully help to warm things up for them.  About half-way through planting the beans and corn, it started raining, so I was none too soon in getting these things in the ground.

In all honesty, my beautiful tomato starts that I planted out on June 3rd are looking a little worse for wear due to sun deprivation, so I put plastic around the tomato cages–I probably should have done this earlier. 

Surely it will warm up soon–we’ve had, according to my records at our place for the month of June thus far, eleven days out of eighteen with rain.  Only four days out of eighteen with actual sun. 

Onward and upward, fellow gardeners!

How Do You Pronounce The Name Of That Plant, Anyway?

I sometimes get asked about correct pronunciations of plant names.  This is pretty common because most schools do not teach Latin anymore, and all plants have Latin botanical names as well as common names that gardeners give them.  I have three good resources for you if you are curious about the correct way to pronounce the name of a plant:

  • Webster’s Dictionary online has an audio pronunciation guide.  Make sure your speakers are turned up on your computer, click on the link, and you are good to go.  Here is a link for pronouncing the word “peony”: http://www.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/audio.pl?peony001.wav=peony
  • Another excellent pronunciation resource is the online version of Fine Gardening magazine.  They have a large listing of plant names with an audio pronunciation guide.  Find it here: http://www.finegardening.com/pguide/pronunciation-guide-to-botanical-latin.aspx      They also offer a pronunciation guide in the back of every print issue of the magazine as well.
  • In the back reference section of the Sunset Western Garden Book–you can find this at the library, or there are often older copies available for purchase at second hand stores–there are two sections that can be very helpful.  They offer a Glossary, which defines certain basic gardening and plant terms that you will run across and may not know exactly what they are talking about, such as sport, sepal, layering, node, etc.  They also offer a very short and helpful section called A Guide To Understanding Botanical Names.  This takes you in a very easy manner–it’s only one page long– through the Latin for the colors of flowers and foliage, form of leaf, shape of plants, where it came from and plant peculiarities.  If you learn a few Latin terms, you will find that they are used repeatedly throughout the plant world, so knowing a few key terms can help you when you are looking at plant labels at a nursery of plants unfamiliar to you.  Copy that page and stick it in your back pocket for reference the next time you go plant shopping.

This is something that the botanists, scientists who know a lot about  plants but nothing about what to name plants for brand recognition and ease of pronunciation, have a lot to learn about.  It can be intimidating for the home gardener to go to a gardening center and try to ask for a particular plant, and not really know how to pronounce the name of the plant correctly. 

It is always a good idea, if you are shopping for a particular plant, to know both the Latin name and common name of it.  While different regions of the country may use a plethora of common names for a plant, the plant has only one Latin name, so if you use that when making a purchase, you are sure to get the plant you want. 

If all else fails, look it up online, and write down the Latin and common names of the plant and take it with you to the nursery.  The staff there can usually also help you with pronunciations–it is part of their job to know them, and they are there to help you.  Also, here is a tip from my radio days–if you do not know how to pronounce something, go with your best guess and say it with conviction.

Hope this helps you!

Clematis ‘Princess Diana’ Starting To Bloom

I have a clematis ‘Princess Diana’ that is just starting to bloom in amongst the Roses ‘Zephrin Drouhin’ (flowers about the same color as the clematis) and ‘Golden Showers’ (yellow flowers).  It has very healthy foliage low on the plant, and it also blooms rather low on the plant at about four to five feet, and these qualities make it a good companion for the bare bottom stems so common on climbing roses.  The flowers on Diana are approximately one and a half inches long and bell-shaped.  They are a rose color, with white to soft pink around the edges of the sepals.  A very pretty clematis that does well here in gardening zone 8 in Southwest Washington state.  This is a member of the C. texensis grouping of clematis, meaning that they all tend to have flowers in the red color, and Diana likes a sunny spot with ample water and good drainage–put a good shovelful of gravel into the planting hole to help with this.  It blooms on new growth, which means that you will want to prune this clematis back to eighteen inches tall or so when it is dormant, usually in February or March in this area.  Fertilize it once a month starting in April and continue through the growing season.

And more of a close-up of the flowers:

Please feel free to leave a comment–have you grown clematis ‘Princess Diana’ in your garden, and with what other plants do you combine it?

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