We’re visiting with Cheryl Joslin today, who is sharing how she gets through the long New England winter.
Our growing season here in central Vermont (Zone 4) is really short. We have an 8×14 greenhouse to aid in extending our season, but we don’t heat it through the winter. In late October to early December I repurpose my greenhouse to become a workshop to make wreaths, garlands, and winter arrangements. Once that wraps up, I turn the greenhouse over to making birdseed ornaments to put out for the birds. I use the Christmas tree and whatever I find to put some color back into my winter gardens. This January, COVID has given me more time to be creative because of mandatory quarantines and because I can’t watch my daughter play ice hockey. Spring is just around the corner and this will keep me busy till I start laying out seeds and begin the process of making my gardens colorful again. In the meantime, the pretty things I make keep it colorful around here.
A beautiful homemade wreath
In the winter, the greenhouse gets turned into a workshop, with lots of cut branches loaded with berries ready to be added to wreaths.
The greenhouse/workshop from the outside, with cut branches filling the planter boxes outside.
These beautiful birdseed ornaments are as tasty to birds are they are attractive. Here’s the recipe Cheryl uses to make them:
3 cups of birdseed
1/2 cup of hot water
1 packet of Knox gelatin
1/2 cup flour
3 Tbs. corn syrup
Spray cookie cutters, a cupcake pan, or whatever you’re using with cooking spray. Set on a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Add seed to bowl. In a separate container, dissolve the gelatin, then add corn syrup, followed by the flour. Stir it all together, and add it to the seeds.
The mix lasts about 30 minutes before it starts to become stiff.
Cheryl uses this same mix as “glue” to adhere birdseed and other treats for the birds to simple wooden birdhouses.
To make these birdseed cupcakes, Cheryl used a mix of seeds on the bottom, added a layer of peanut butter, and then placed raw sunflower seeds on the top. Each one is garnished with a crabapple from the garden.
Since she is not allowed to host humans for a gathering at this time, Cheryl decided to throw a party for the birds!
Here’s a close-up of the various offerings out for the birds to gather and enjoy!
And a final creative and colorful way to feed the birds and add interest to the winter garden.
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