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Recipe for Hummingbird Food

Who said sugar is bad for you? Hummingbirds would disagree! These small, high-energy birds flit from flower to flower looking for nectar. You can get a bird’s-eye view of them by adding a hummingbird feeder close to a window in your house.

Select your hummingbird feeder carefully. Make sure the feeder you choose: 

  • has sufficient capacity for the number of hummingbirds in your area. A dish feeder has limited capacity but may be enough if you have a small number of hummingbirds visiting you.
  • is made of heavy glass and sturdy plastic. You will want to test it’s sturdiness with the “drop test” … can it survive a 5-foot drop onto grass?
  • has replacement parts available. Hummingbird feeders are constantly exposed to the weather and parts will become brittle as they age. When this happens you’ll have to replace those parts or the whole feeder.
  • is easy to take apart for cleaning. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned frequently. This means every other day during hot summer days and at least every 5 days at other times of the year. Ideally, cleaning involves soaking all the feeder parts in a mild bleach solution (10 parts hot water to 1 part chlorine bleach). Be sure to rinse it thoroughly before filling it again.

Once you’ve made your selection, you are ready to make the sugar water that is the hummingbird’s food of choice. It’s quite simple:

Add 1/4 cup of white granulated cane sugar to each cup of boiling water.

You must boil water (stovetop or microwave) and then add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Boiling helps dissolve the sugar and kills off things that may make the sugar water spoil faster. It must be cool before you add it to your hummingbird feeders! The sugar water can remain in your refrigerator for 2 weeks. However, it spoils rather quickly outside in the hummingbird feeders. This is why it is important that you replace it (and clean the feeder) every 2 days throughout warm weather and at least every 5 days the rest of the year. You can usually tell when you’ve waited too long and the sugar is becoming spoiled; it will start to cloud.

Why do you usually see a red liquid in hummingbird feeders? Some people like to add a touch of food coloring to the sugar water. It is not necessary to do this and is more for your pleasure than the hummingbird’s.

What you do NOT want to do is use any other form of sugar in the hummingbird food: not molasses, not brown sugar, not honey, not artificial sugars. These do not provide the same resemblance to nectar that white granulated cane sugar does.

If you decide to put hummingbird feeders in your yard, please keep them full and clean. The hummingbirds will get used to finding a food source in your yard and, when natural nectar resources are hard to find (e.g. frost has killed off the flowers), they will come to you for food. Think of them as one more mouth to feed from now on.


Advice to Homeowners BEFORE Landscaping

How many times have you gotten excited about a project and rushed into it only to find you forgot something? Landscaping takes considerable time, effort, and money … so you want to do it right the first time. There are a few, crucial steps you need to take before starting your landscaping.

You must first take the time to consider what purpose your front and/or back yard will have in your family’s lives. Do you want to sit on your patio and enjoy the birds and butterflies flitting around your flowers? Do you want to have a place where your children or grandchildren can play? Do you want a serene hideaway where you can read and enjoy the sounds from a water feature? Do you want all these things? Until you know how you will be using your yard, you won’t be able to decide how to landscape it to best suit these purposes.

Next (or throughout that thought process), clip pictures from magazines or the newspaper of outdoor spaces you find attractive, make you smile, or give you a good feeling. While not all these designs may be practical for your own yard, most of them can give you a target for what you’d like to achieve with your landscaping.

Measure your yard and draw it on graph paper. Play with ideas of how much space you would like for the kids to play or your hideaway spot. The graph paper will help you better understand the dimensions of your yard and how much is possible within that space. Allow plenty of space for the bushes or flowerbeds you want to use to separate various aspects of your yard.

Decide if you will be doing your landscaping yourself or hiring out some or all of it. If you will be using a landscaper, now is the time to present your ideas and let them design a realistic plan based on what you have drawn or collected. 

If you plan to landscape yourself, collect catalogs from nurseries and visit a few of your local nurseries. You will want to start learning which plants, grasses, bushes, and trees do well in your area. Nurseries are great for seeing the actual plants, but they will usually only carry what is commonly sold in your area. If you would like a few unusual plants or variations, reviewing your catalogs will yield some delightful surprises.

The last step? Add your comments to this post and let me know if you have followed similar steps and whether or not it helped. Or let me know if you wish you had given your landscaping just a little more thought!


The Secret of Rain Chains

In case you don’t know anything about rain chains, let me introduce you. A rain chain is usually installed on a choice corner of your house as a decorative (and useful) replacement for your gutter downspout. The rain chain connects to your gutter at any corner. Rain chains and rain cup chains are basically the same thing. Rain cups are the cup-like decorations down the chain, such as flowers or teacups.

If you’re thinking a rain chain is a chunk of chain you find at a hardware store, you’d be very wrong. Rain chains are typically made from pure copper so they start out attractive and the verdigris patina that copper attains over the years keeps it attractive. In addition, copper needs no maintenance so you can enjoy your rain chain without effort!

Imagine how soothing it is to hear the rain chain’s tinkling sounds (similar to a water fountain) each time it rains. Rain chains allow the water to flow down them and then disperse the water over a wider ground area. No more water gushing through the gutter downspout!

Not only do rain chains add an upscale feature to your home, they become part of your decorating theme. At the base of your rain chain, you can decide whether to let the water run into a water fountain, a large flower planter that likes water, or you can design a feature that will encourage the water to flow into another part of your yard. Rain chains are available in a variety of link designs and decorative rain cup designs so it’s easy to match your outdoor decor.

The secret of rain chains is that they are an amazing combination of gutter downspout, garden sculpture, and water feature. You must experience the wonder and beauty of this particular decorating addition to your home.



Outdoor office space

I just ran across a unique way to expand your living space … put your home office outside! There’s a company in England, I-Scape, that builds modular garden offices, called iscapes. According to their press release, “An iscape comes complete with integral electrics, a host of optional extras and a wide range of exterior finishes including natural western cedar, low maintenance plastic coated steel, or multi colour scheme plywood.” This takes the yard shed to a whole new level! If you’ve been wishing you had a spare bedroom for a home office or if your home office is a small table squished to the side of your bed, you might explore the possibilities available for expanding your rooms outside.

They have designs intended specifically for an office space and another for what they call a “lifestyle building.” Now that term brings up interesting things, doesn’t it? But think about it. Are you into exercising and need a nice space to do your yoga or set up your weights? What about a play room for the kids? As you can see, with a little thought it’s easy to think of great ways to use this concept. Check them out at www.i-scape.co.uk/.