Now that a two week break from school is looming, it’s the perfect time to spend some family time crafting fun garden projects, like pinecone bird feeders, which also make thoughtful last minute gifts. These three projects are easy to make and use common materials like pinecones, birdseed, cranberries, fruit slices and evergreen boughs. As with all crafty projects, it’s best to assemble all your materials before you begin in case a last minute trip to the supermarket - or the garden - is necessary!
Pinecone bird feeders
1 cup vegetable shortening mixed with 1 cup oatmeal or corn meal
OR 1 cup peanut butter
Thread or twine
Begin by tying your thread or twine around the top of the pinecone, leaving a loop for hanging. If using vegetable shortening, combine with the oatmeal or corn meal in a bowl until mixed, or alternatively you can use 1 cup of peanut butter. Spread the vegetable shortening mixture or the peanut butter thickly over the pinecone with the butter knife. Pour the birdseed into the pie plate and roll the pinecone in the seed, covering well. Hang them outdoors where you can enjoy the birds feasting on their treats!
Cranberry and popcorn garlands:
As children, my sisters and I used to love making popcorn and cranberry garlands to adorn our Christmas tree, but they also make great outdoor decor when hung on trees and shrubs or draped over fences. The birds will also appreciate your crafting efforts and it’s fun to watch them devour the goodies!
Thread, cut to desired lengths
Once your needle is threaded, start by piercing a cranberry and pushing it to the end of the thread, tying a knot around it to anchor your garland. Continue threading cranberries and popcorn in any pattern you like until the thread is filled. Tie a knot to secure the garland and hang with pride!
Assorted greenery, cranberries, orange or lemon slices, apple slices, pinecones, etc.
It doesn’t get easier than an ice wreath. Just grab your supplies, fill the pan with bits of pine and spruce, a handful of cranberries, some slices of fresh fruits and then add a few inches of water. Place outside to freeze - assuming the temperature is below freezing - or in a deep freeze for a few days. Once the wreath is completely frozen, pop it carefully out of the pan and tie it to a strong tree branch with a large ribbon. As the wreath melts, the birds will enjoy picking the fruits from the ice.
Niki Jabbour is the author of the award winning book, The Year Round Vegetable Gardener (2012 Book Award American Horticultural Society) and the host of The Weekend Gardener radio programme, which has gone dormant for the winter. Find her online at www.nikijabbour.com or on facebook and twitter.