Luffa Sponges DIY

Luffa pads/ Loopha sponges/whatever you call them can be found in just about every corner of the great Interweb, most of them fairly cheap. But I’m here to tell you that you can grow them yourself, for almost free. It’s pretty amazing actually.

There are a couple of things you should know about growing luffas. One, patience, which is needed for growing most things, is a must. It takes a while for the seeds to germinated, for the things to grow, but once they do they really, really do.

Two, it’s a vine. It needs a trellis.

Three, I’m no luffa growing expert, so I’ll leave the rest to someone else.

I do fancy myself somewhat of an expert in luffa harvesting and I have the amazingly soft hands to prove it.

You can tell when they’re ready to be picked because they have a yellowish color instead of green and the skin feels loose and soft. It took us a good few months before we got to this point and when we did they were pretty large.

Almost ready luffas.

Once your darlings are ready to be picked, carefully twist or cut it off the vine.

The next steps will only get messier. Seeds and sap will be flying, so do this outside or in the kitchen.

Step 1- take your luffa and bang it on the edge of the table. This will knock some of the seeds loose.

Step 2- at the opposite end from the vine there is a weak spot in the skin, dig your thumb into and pull that piece of skin off. This will make it easier to get the rest of the skin off. It’s very sappy.

Step 3- cut the luffa into sections. Depending on how long it is, you may be able to get two or three sections from it.

Step 4- Next you’ll shake the seeds from the luffa. You’ll probably want to do this into a bowl. This part is a bit time consuming at least. Again, banging it against something helps make the seeds come out.

Step 5- Take your seedless luffas and soak them in water for a couple of hours.

Next, take each luffa put a spot of soap on it and hand scrub the rest of the sap off. When you can squeeze the water from the luffa against the sink without any soapy type residue that usually means you got the sap off.

Once you’ve got that done, let the luffas dry out for a couple of days.

And that’s it. You got yourself some new luffas and some amazingly soft hands.

If you want some seeds, check out my mom’s etsy page.

And if you don’t want to do all the work but still want luffa sponges then you may check her page out because have the sponges for sale as well.

Want more ideas? Check out my DIY page.

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Garden Stepping Stones DIY

I do believe this will be my last garden related post for the time being. Sooner or later I’ll put photos of my mom’s garden up, but I probably won’t do that until next week.

Things you need:

Molds (one bag makes 13 or so 8×8 molds, so however many you want to make)

Sand Topped Quickcrete

A Bucket to mix in- we started out with a paint bucket and moved to a wheel barrel. (Make sure if you use something that you’ll need again to wash it out.

Something to mix with- we used with a shovel. (Again, make sure you wash this)

Creative medium- we used everything from glass to marbles to rocks to plastic. Most of the glass was broken at a thrift store so they gave it to us. The marble were given to us by a friend. Some rocks came from our yard or another friend. We did buy a couple of glass and plastic pieces from a thrift store, but we didn’t buy anything new. Don’t use metal, it will eventually rust.

If you decide that you want to make the patio you’ll need:

Sand-for our 10×10 block we need 20 bags of sand

Gravel-10 bags

Select an area, however big you want it. Mark it off and dig down four inches. Make sure that the area is as level as possible. Add your bags of gravel. They should be about one inch deep. Then add a few bags of sand. We needed 16. Lay out your stepping stones. Then cover the stones with sand. Take a broom (one that you don’t care if it gets ruined) and move the sand in between all the cracks. This is pretty hard work, so be prepared. Every few sweeps, spray it down with water. When it’s pretty spread out, you can continue to spray the sand in between the cracks.

Bee Part of the Solution

I have given you the subject, give you the problem, but today I’m going to give you the solution.

I have clarified that without bees there will be no humans, bees are dying still. People have tried to pollinate plants without bees and have been unsuccessful. The good news is there are many actions that can be taken to help and restore the bee population.

http://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/act-today-2/act-today/

Plant a bee-friendly garden. Flowers – especially ones native to your area – help feed bees and other valuable pollinators.  Native plants also oftentimes require less water and fertilizer than non-native plants.  You will be doing a huge favor to native species of bees, who have adapted over thousands of years to feed off these plants. http://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/act-today-2/plant-a-bee-garden/ . This will vary from place to place, but as a general rule bees don’t like red or pink nor do they like double topped flowers such as double impatiens because they produce little nectar and it’s hard to get to.

Plan for blooms season-round. Plant at least three different types of flowers to ensure blooms through as many seasons as possible, thus providing bees with a constant source of food.

Start a honeybee hive. You can directly impact the health of your local ecosystem by starting a honeybee hive.  Plus, you get the added benefits of bee products such as honey, beeswax, as well as the satisfaction and joy derived from working with a hive.  Contact your local beekeeping club for more information.

Sponsor a Hive. If you can’t start your own hive or would like to help increase the number of hives, why not help fund new hive installations? The Honeybee Conservancy is working with Bee Native to install stocked honeybee hives and provide beekeeping training to American Indian communities across the U.S.

Support your local beekeeper. Support local beekeepers who nurture their bees while providing local communities with healthy bee products including honey.

Protect bee habitat. One of the largest threats to bees is the lack of habitat due to urban sprawl.  You can volunteer to plant native vegetation such as wildflowers along roadways and other common areas, and advocate sensible limits to development where you live.

Build homes for native bees. Since many native species of bees build their nests in undisturbed land, why not keep an undisturbed plot of land for them in your garden?  Gaiam has an interesting “bee condo” for non-stinging orchard mason bees to take up residence and pollinate your garden.  The Solitary Bees site has tips on how to create spaces for your native, solitary bees.

Petition and ask the US and other countries who allow freedom of speech, etc.  to stop using the neonicotinoid pesticides: Plant bee-friendly plants such as wild flowers and flowering trees Five or six large trees can provide as much forage for bees as an acre of wild flower meadow. They also provide a single source of nectar that bees find easy to harvest.

Don’t use pesticides and herbicide on your garden plants, if at all possible.

Purchase organic foods whenever possible and ask organic farmers to stop using pesticides. Don’t support farms that do use pesticides.

Join local initiatives dedicated to helping the bee colonies.

Bottle Cap Flowers

I personally love this project. It was an experience for sure to get a complete, satisfactory product, but I’m pretty happy with how the last ones turned out.  There are two ways to do it. The only difference is whether you have a tin can lid.

 For the First Way You Need:

A tin can lid- the one I used was 3 inches wide

16 bottle caps

JB Weld- you can find it in the automotive department of Wal-Mart. There is a picture of what look like below.

Pliers

A fork (optional) and 2 Heineken bottle caps

JB Weld

Step 1

Step 1-With a pair of pliers, pull a side of the bottle cap out, I will refer to this part as the pulled out edge. There will probably be a little bit of bump on the underside, but try to make it as flat as you can. Fold the rest of the sides down as shown in the picture, I will refer to these sides as the folded down sides. Leave an unfolded bottle cap for the middle. This picture is of the front side, but I will make a lot of references to the underside which is just the opposite side.

Step 2

Step 2- For the first row, I needed 9 caps, but I think that I had enough extra room for one more. Mix up the separate JB Weld liquids together with something and in something you don’t mind throwing away. You only can do a layer at a time, so just mix up a little at a time. Squeeze out about a little smaller than a dime should do. Dab a little JB Weld on the backside of the edge that you pulled out and then lay the cap on the edge of the can. The edge of the pulled out part should lay just on the innermost raised edge of the tin can as show in the picture. I had the ends of plastic spoons to put under the bottle caps to keep them from falling down. It takes at least five hours for the Weld to dry.

Step 3

I didn’t take a picture of this next part. Step 3- The middle row has six bottle caps in it. The side that you pulled out flat now needs to be pulled back a little farther towards the underside. Put the Weld on the tip of the pulled out edge and about half way up on the underside and then place it about halfway down the first row. Where you should place them is represent by the picture. Let it dry.

Step 4

Step 4- Dab the liquid weld on the very rim of the unfolded bottle cap and then place it in the middle.

Step 5 (optional)

Step 5 (optional)- put weld on the handle of a fork and place in the middle of the backside of the flower. Fold the two Heineken bottles like the petals and then weld it to the ‘stem’ of the flower. I have the weld bottles there to support the leaves.

Garden Stake

Here is what it looks like after all the steps are complete.

For the Alternative Method You Need:

13 bottle caps

JB Weld- you can find it in the automotive department of Wal-Mart. There is a picture of what look like below.

Pliers

Optional – A fork and 2 Heineken bottle caps

Alternate Step 1

Step 1 (alternative)- With a pair of pliers pull out all sides of one bottle cap. This will be the center of your flower. For the other 12 bottle caps, pull one side of the bottle cap out. There will probably be a little bit of bump on the underside, but try to make it as flat as you can. Fold the rest of the sides down, For the center cap pull out all the sides as shownin the picture.

Alternate Step 2

Alternate Step 2- Dab some JB Weld on the inside edge of six bottle caps that you folded and then glue it to the flattened part of the center bottle cap as shown in the picture. Then let it dry.

Alternate Step 3

Alternate Step 3- Then add six bottle caps onto the outside layer. This was my first project and I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing. I only used six bottle caps on the outside layer, but I’m sure you could probably use more. Read the optional step 5 of the first method to see how to put on the stem and leaves.

Want more ideas? Check out my DIY page.