Home & Garden Feed

Homemade bird bath for the backyard using a coffee canister and a dinner plate


Homemade bird bath
An existing fence post, a coffee canister, and a dinner plate

I've been into bird feeding lately, recycling some food and drink containers in creating some homemade bird feeders for my backyard.  Bird watching adds to the ambiance of the home landscape, the flowers, the veggie garden, and bird watching.  When I need to chill, I just take a seat on my back patio and enjoy the view. 

Adding to my growing homemade bird feeder collection, I decided to include a bird bath, which will attract even more birds.

Bird bath
Total out-of-pocket project cost: $1.25 + tax

Using an existing metal fence post that was installed years ago and way before my time at this abode, I simply took a used coffee grounds container, stuffed it with some styrofoam, glued the lid back in place using silicone, cut out a 'T' shape to match the fence post in the lid and inverted the canister, stuffing it onto the metal post.  I then glued a nicely concaved dinner plate to the coffee canister base.  Now the birds have a place to get a drink or splash around.

Items needed to create a homemade birdbath:

  • Used coffee canister (plastic)
  • Styrofoam or other packing material
  • Silicone glue
  • Exacto Knife or scissors
  • A dinner plate
  • A post to fasten it to
  • A piece of paper and a pencil
  • Water

You can fashion your own bird bath for little or even no cost by repurposing materials and taking advantage of anything in your landscape/hardscape that you can put a plate on.  My cost was just $1.25 for the plate at Dollar Tree.  An old plate will do, as long it has a pretty good concave shape to it, a standard, flat plate just won't suffice.  The timing on the coffee container was timely, I emptied out the last of the grounds for a pot of coffee and thought about creating a new birdfeeder with it, but then the birdbath idea hit me.  I had some styrofoam needing to go in the trash from a recent Amazon shipment, which came in handy in packing the coffee container to provide a stable base for the plate on the fence post.  I simply stuffed the canister full enough with styrofoam to firmly wrap around the "T" post to prevent any sway. The only tool I needed for this project was an Exacto Knife to cut out the "T" fence post shape in the coffee canister lid.  I used a small piece of paper and a pencil to capture the shape of the "T" post, making a template for the coffee lid cutout.  After gluing the coffee canister lid and dinner plate in place, I left things alone for 24 hours to allow the glue to fully set.  I added water the next day.

It's a functional birdbath and not the 'purdiest' thang in my backyard, but it certainly does the trick and is Bachelor on the Cheap Wallet-Friendly at just $1.25 plus tax to create.  Compare that to entry-level bird baths on Amazon for about $20.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike


Related:   Repurposing: Turning a used rice container and a couple of kitchen utensils into a bird feeder

Repurposing: Turning a used rice container and a couple of kitchen utensils into a bird feeder

Arborio Rice container turned bird feeder
Repurposing a container


Why spend a bunch of money on a bird feeder online or in-store when you can make one from stuff you were going to throw in the trash or recycle bin at home?

That's what I did today, it took me all of 10 minutes.

I've been toying with the idea of hanging some birdfeeders and placing a bird bath in my yard, and I've done some shopping online, but I haven't bought anything yet.   I don't think I'm going to, it's more enjoyable and productive to make my own.

I took an Arborio Rice container, a couple of old kitchen spoons that are past their prime, and a bamboo skewer and made a bird feeder.

Bird Feeder
Dinner is served! Sunflower kernels!

I could have used a water bottle, but I like the rice container because it has a big lid, I won't have to use a funnel to refill the container with birdseed.  In creating the feeder, I simply drilled a quarter-sized hole near the bottom of the container, pushed a utensil through (wooden or plastic spoons work fine) handle first to the other side, then drilled a second hole big enough to accommodate the spoon handle.  I repeated the process further up the container, this one was a more custom hole drill, as the spoon had a slant to the handle, so it wasn't a straight shot.  To give the birds a place to perch while they wait to 'dig in', I drilled a few small holes for a bamboo skewer.  It will be fine for the smaller birds like finches and chickadees, and the bamboo will hold up to the weather.  I also used a stainless steel screw and washer to secure the container to the post, safe for birds.  Finally, the way I secured the container to the post will allow me to swivel it upside down, and easily clean it by hosing it out, letting it air dry, and then refilling it.

This was a fun little project that didn't cost me a thing (well, birdseed, but that's it) and will provide some bird-watching entertainment!  Next up, repurposing a plant container saucer into a bird bath!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Spend less money on fertilizers and bagged dirt by composting

Tumbler style compost bin
Easy to assemble


Ask any serious gardener if they compost, and 9 out of 10 will answer, "Yes!"

The benefits are many, the challenges are few.

In my early days of gardening, I was a store-bought fertilizer and bags of peat moss guy, never giving much thought to composting.  It was 'easy' or so I thought, to hook up the MiracleGro "Liquafeed" gizmo to the garden hose and 'feed' the plants...  with chemicals and salt...   Experience has taught me a few lessons.  While MiracleGro can provide short-term green growth to plants, in the long term, it's not good for the soil.

Composting, and the organic matter it creates is a much better alternative to chemical fertilizers for several reasons.

  • It's a slow, steady release of nutrients, no danger of burning plants, or over-fertilizing
  • No salt build-up
  • All natural, safe for kids and pets
  • It builds the soil, as opposed to killing soil microbes, worms, and such like chemical fertilizers can
  • Healthier soil means healthier plants, and fewer problems like disease and infestation

And composting is so easy to do.  All you need is some veggie scraps from dinner prep to get started.  I have a large Tupperware container with no lid - the "garbage bowl" - that I keep on my counter to hold kitchen scraps, i.e., the outer leaves of heads of lettuce, cabbage, carrot and potato peels, egg shells, that kind of thing.  Part of my daily routine is dumping that bowl into my compost bin when I play in the garden.  

Dual chambers
Easily put waste in one chamber, and remove compost from the other.

My compost bin is a dual chamber, tumbler style, which gives me ready-to-use organic matter to amend my soil with in about 4-6 weeks.  It's a perfect size for a small yard, the best thing is, I don't need to buy fertilizer for the garden anymore.  With two sliding doors (one for each chamber), it's easy to add waste or remove compost.  And because it's a tumbler, all you have to do is give the thing a spin, which mixes things thoroughly for faster decomposition and there's no worry about critters or smell from having an open bin.

I'm able to feed my veggie and flower beds organic matter throughout the growing season, solid, slow-release nutrition from kitchen scraps and yard waste.  In the winter, I still feed my compost bin, which will generate a lot of 'black gold' even during the cold months, to amend the soil in my veggie and flower beds in the spring.

Composters aren't expensive either, with prices starting at $20 and up.  That beats buying chemical fertilizers and bags of compost!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Spring photo
43-gallon composter fully loaded with black gold for spring planting


Wichita area received a nice drink of rain over the weekend


Wrapping up Mother's Day weekend was a nice, gentle rain for the Wichita Metro area.  According to my backyard rain gauge, we received 0.85" overnight.

That puts the area at 1.625 inches for May, a month that historically delivers about 5 inches of rain to make those lawns and gardens happy.

We're not out of the drought woods yet but in far better shape than in recent years.  

More rain is in the forecast, with showers likely today, and Wednesday through Friday.

KS Drought Map 9May2024

Click here for the weather forecast

Happy Planting!

~ Mike

Rain Gauge May2024

$15 Rose Bushes at Lowe's

Pink Double Knock Out
Pink Double Knock Out Rose Available at Lowe's


If you're into roses, now is a good time to purchase, garden centers and pop-ups are well stocked.  Needing to replace a rose bush that didn't make it through the winter, on a whim, I stopped in my neighborhood Lowe's this morning to see what they had to offer.

Rose bushes are a great feature or anchor plant in the landscape.  There are so many varieties, making it easy to plan a flower bed around them.  Roses produce all kinds of colors in variations of white, yellow, pink, orange, red, and even purple and blue!  Then there are the types, such as climbing roses, tea, hybrid, rambling, miniatures, and lately, I'm partial to "Knock Out" roses.  Knock Outs are a shrub, that flower from spring until frost, and look great as a single feature plant, or in a grouping to form a hedge.  Disease-resistant, this type of rose does quite well in the Wichita garden climate.

Lowe's receipt
A very reasonable price at $15

I found a rose to my liking, a pink knock out, and the price on the one-gallon container was reasonable at $18.98.  I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the register and it rang up for $15 + tax!  I love it when shopping works out like that.

So enough writing, it's time to plant.  It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping.

Happy planting everybody.

The Lowe's visited on this occasion is located at 11959 East Kellogg Drive, Wichita, KS 67207.  It was busy there on this Thursday morning, but the line at checkout wasn't too bad.  It moved right along.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Gardening is a season-long adventure

A harvest of peas, coming soon!


With a thunderstorm forecast to move in this afternoon in my Wichita neck of the woods, I've been busy this morning planting a few things.  I love it how Mother Nature helps out, after I'm done planting today, I won't have to water!

I've been working on succession planting since late March, spacing out the veggies I plant so I can harvest throughout the growing season, rather than have a boatload of produce all at once.  Back in the day, I would anxiously plant my entire garden, getting those seeds and starter plants all in by the time the last frost date arrived.  While it was satisfying to have everything all planted, the result was an overload of veggies, more than I could consume or freeze (I don't can).  

April 18 was the approximate last frost date according to the Farmer's Almanac.  I started planting cold-tolerant veggies, a little of this, a little of that, such as onions, carrots, radishes, chives, lettuce, and peas the last week of March.  I've done a little of this and a little of that weekly, since then.  I also pushed the envelope with NOT cold-tolerant veggies and herbs, both seeds and starter plants, getting some planted the first weekend of April.  Mother Nature has been kind, my cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, and more went unscathed through that last possible frost date.  I've continued planting in small batches weekly since, putting in more green beans, onions, and herbs such as basil and cilantro today.

One thing to consider when succession planting is how much of a particular veggie you eat on a regular basis.  I go through A LOT of green onions for example.  I cook with them, snack on them, I'll chop some up for an occasional lettuce salad, and slice some up to finish a dinner dish with a nice topper.  I NEVER have enough green onions!  This is a crop that I will continue to plant weekly, replacing what I consume.

Tomato in a potato bag
Tomato companion planted with cucumber in a potato bag w/trellis

Lettuce is a crop I enjoy growing with all the various leaf colors and shapes, but I'm not a big-time salad eater.  I've planted lettuce on a bi-weekly basis, spacing it out a little more, and in smaller batches, based on my salad-eating habit.  Lettuce also tends to bolt and can develop a bitter taste in hot weather, and you can't freeze it, so that factors into how much I plant.  I've been planting a boatload of green beans and peas! Not only are they tasty in a number of dishes, but they freeze well.  I've really amped up the peas this year, this is another plant that doesn't fare so well in Wichita's hot summer months.  Peppers are another veggie that freezes well, but it can be a challenge to succession plant depending on the variety.  Some plants mature in 70 days, others up to 150.  This year, I'm experimenting.  Rather than plant them directly in the ground or in a raised bed, I'm going exclusively to containers for my peppers.  Many folks treat peppers as annuals, but they're actually perennials.  That means they can continue to grow well past one season for those of you who live in Valley Center.  Planting them in containers means I'll be able to extend the growing season by bringing them indoors and harvesting them into the winter months.

The best part about succession planting is the ability to just walk out to the backyard and select your veggies for dinner.  It doesn't get any fresher than that!  Happy planting!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Now is the time to buy plants for your garden beds

Flat sale pre-order from Johnson's
Tropical Hibiscus, French Marigolds, Moss Rose


You won't find better prices or a wider selection from three Wichita Metro area greenhouses than now.  Johnson's, Stutzman's, and Tree Top are all doing their annual flat sale, $17.99, that's 6 - six packs of plants (a total of 36 plants for those of you who live in Valley Center).  I don't know who first started the flat sale, but greenhouses now compete big time for gardener dollars and we plant lovers benefit from the low prices.  What normally would cost you $24 and up per flat, is only $17.99 as a result of three competitors fighting for your patronage.

I pre-ordered two flats and a Hibiscus plant from Johnson's earlier this month and picked the order up today.  When I pulled into the parking lot at about 1 P.M., there was like two parking spots available, that's it.  The place was crazy busy!

This is kind of a tight window for great price and selection (hurry before they're gone kind of selection) from what I'll call the Big 3:

  • Johnson's Garden Centers Flat Sale: April 17 - 21
  • Stutzman's Flat Sale: April 15 - 28
  • Tree Top Flat Sale: April 17 - 21

Johnson's has its brick-and-mortar east and west locations, Stutzman's has three Wichita pop-up locations, and Tree Top is in northeast Wichita.

I'll be 'participating' in all three of the flat sales, one down (Johnson's), two to go...

Kaw Valley Greenhouses, based out of Manhattan, has a pop-up location in the Ollie's parking lot on N. Woodlawn.  They have a nice selection of starter plants and more but aren't currently advertising a flat sale.  Their potting soil is top-notch.

It will be chilly during the overnight hours starting tomorrow through Sunday, with forecasted lows around 41 degrees.  The tropical hibiscus I brought home today, will have to wait for a bit before going in the landscape.  They don't like it when it gets below 50 degrees.  Happy Planting!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Johnson's Fill-A-Flat Sale starts in stores today!

Flat SaleToday is the FIRST day of our 35th Annual Fill-A-Flat Sale! Stop by this weekend for your favorite summer flowering annuals.

April 17-21, 2024

$17.99 per flat

6 six packs = 36 plants

Regular price $23.94

Johnson's Garden Center - East:  6225 E Shadybrook St, Wichita, KS 67208

Johnson's Garden Center - West: 2707 W 13th St N, Wichita, KS 67203

Companion planting in the Bachelor on the Cheap Garden

Photo by Aaron Burden on UnsplashBachelorontheCheap.com

What a BEAUTIFUL Easter Sunday!

It got up to 80 degrees today in my Kansas neck of the woods and after enjoying a wonderful dinner of spiral sliced ham, scalloped potatoes, and spring peas w/bacon a bit before noon, I slipped outside to play in the garden.

In expanding my garden space this year, I decided to include some sunflowers in the landscape, and bonus, if I can keep the birds at bay, I'll have some seeds to munch on come August/September.  I'm also toying with a lot of companion planting options this season.   If you're not familiar with companion planting, it's a technique of pairing different plants together to enhance growth and productivity.  Companion planting can also aid in pest control and as a side benefit, it can save space and allow you to include more plant varieties in your garden than you would otherwise be able to.

Traditionally, I've done a bit of companion planting, such as planting radishes with carrots.  Carrots take a while to mature (most varieties about 60-90 days, some even longer) and need space to get big.  Radishes mature quickly (about 30 days) and are friends with Mr. Carrot.  Instead of planting a bunch of carrot seeds and having to thin them out with the goal of bigger carrots in mind, I interplant radishes with carrots.  As radishes are harvested, space is created, giving those carrots more room to grow.  Another example of companion planting is putting cucumbers and marigolds together.  The scent of marigolds helps to ward off the dreaded cucumber beetle.

A couple of good companion plants for those sunflowers are pole beans and cucumbers.  Not only is this a space saver, allowing me to add other plant varieties to my garden, but I don't have to break out the trellis to support those beans or cukes, the sunflowers will support them just fine.  In the eight-foot row of sunflowers I planted today, I partnered four feet of that row with pole beans, and the other four feet with some cucumbers.  Whichever fares better, will be a repeat for the next season.

With that done, now I need to figure out what I'm going to plant where the pole beans and cucumbers WERE going to go...  Fun problem!  And out with the Bachelor planting, in with Companion planting!  See what I did there...  

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike