Make an Outdoor Evergreen Wreath

Making outdoor wreaths is much more simple than the indoor wreaths in the previous "Indoor Wreath" blog post.

For this project you are going to need grapevine dried into a circle, covered wire, thin light wire, pinecones and evergreen branches. You can also add any little red berries and bells that you might have and you will need a big bow.

Start with the same grapevine as in the previous post. The directions are the same as far as making the initial wreath, however, for an outdoor wreath you need to wrap the wire closer. All of the greenery stem will be held in place by the wire, so it needs to be wrapped close for a full wreath.

When you have the wreath completely wrapped with wire and the hanger on the back then you prepare the pinecones. Any pinecones will look good. I have both the short, squat, round ones and the long, curved ones. I am going to use the long, curved ones for this wreath. The pinecones are wired to the wreath so they can withstand outdoor winds.

After you have wired all of the pinecones you plan to use, you can start to attach them to the wreath. Wrap the wire around the wire on the wreath, securing the base of the pinecone. Take a small piece of wire and also secure the top of the pinecone to the wreath, making sure the wire does not show. This will keep the pinecones from coming off in a storm or hanging down if they become loose.

When all of the pinecones are attached, you begin to add the greenery.

Cut the greenery into small pieces. I have collected both pine and cedar here. It takes a lot to make a wreath, more than you think. I made one large full wreath from one wheel barrow full of greenery. Any everygreen will make a nice wreath. I have also used spruce which looks very nice. I particularly like the cedar due to the sweet scent, but the spruce has a stong everygreen scent that is nice too.

This is about the right size for a wreath. I cut a small pile to start with and continue to cut them as I go.

Stick the bottom of the cut branch piece under the wire. I do across the wreath in one area first, getting the outside of the circle and the inside, as well as the front. It is not necessary to leave spaces for the pinecones as you can cut the tiny pieces hiding the pinecones off the branch later.

Go all the way around the wreath, making it as full as you can. When you have done the entire circle, go back and fill in any open spots until you are happy with the wreath.

Using the clippers, remove any small pieces that cover a pinecone. Make sure you leave enough greenery to cover any wire.

When your wreath is completely filled in and finished, it is time to add the bow.

Directions for making a bow are on the previous "Indoor Wreath" blog post.

Wire the bow onto the wreath. You can wire two long pinecones handing down under the bow and some berries above it. You will need to attach wire to any berries, bells or other decorations you want to add. Everything needs to be wired on to withstand the freezing temps and winds outdoors.

The Cold Cellar

This picture above is not my cellar. It belongs to someone else. Someone with a lot more time, energy and planning than myself. This is my dream, my goal for our cellar.We have the underground stone root cellar. Its one thing I love about old, old farm houses. I love old farmsteads. The old houses have such character and so many details that are left out of the newly built homes and barns. 

Some cold cellars are built into a hillside, separate from the house, but that makes them difficult to access during the hard, cold, stormy winter when the doorway is buried under feet of snow.

Our cold cellar is in the basement, under the front porch to be exact. Our basement is unfinished and unheated throughout the winter and so is the cold cellar.

Cold cellars are also called "root cellars" and are not necessarily used just for roots but are also used to store jars of jams, pickles, etc, as well as tender and tropical bulbs and plants that need to stay above freezing in the winter. It can also be used for a spare fridge for a lot of the year. This is a box of eggs destined for the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen.

The cold cellar needs to be below the frost line to keep the food from freezing, but unheated to keep it cold enough. It also needs to be a bit damp, as most underground cold cellars are.So many vegetables that we grow in the north can be kept all winter in the right conditions. Unfortunately it is sometimes difficult to provide just the right conditions for every vegetable. Each one can require something different. All you can do is provide what you can and check on them often, removing first the ones that look like they are not going to go the distance. This is where a canner or freezer comes in handy. After the first winter with a cold cellar and your vegetables, you will have a general idea of what you can keep in your cellar and what needs to be kept in a different environment.

Below is a list of a few of the most common vegetables that we have in this area and how to keep them in a cold cellar. Some of them do not really require "cold" but can be hung and kept dry at room temperature. Very few vegetables will survive being kept damp at room temperature. We try not to use peat, since it is a quickly dwindling natural resource. Some tropicals and tender flowers are also discussed below.
Important Note: Do not store apples (or anything else that produces ethylene gas) in the same room with other vegetables or fruits, It will cause them to ripen and sprout prematurely. Potatoes are especially suseptible. Yes, this means you cannot store your potatoes and apples in the same room, unfortunately, not if you expect the potatoes to keep very long.* Carrots: Pack in damp sand. Keep damp and very cold, just above freezing.

Onions and garlic: Keep dry at room temperature. Separate them until the tops are completely dry then braid the tops and hang the braids in your kitchen for a country decoration or hang in netting to keep dry. You can also dry them and make your own onion/garlic powder. Commercial spices contain filler. Homemade is so much better!

* Most hard skinned winter squash: After curing at room temp, store in a cool but not too cold, dry area with good air circulation. No cold cellar needed for these. Shelves in a closet with openings in the door would be a good place, but not in the bathroom or kitchen where it will be too damp. Store acorn squash in a slightly cooler and moister environment without curing.

* Cabbage: Hang in a damp cold cellar, roots and all, or cut heads, remove loose outer leaves and spread one layer deep on shelves in a damp root cellar. Keep as damp and as close to freezing as possible.

* Rutabagas and Turnips: Cool (not too cold) and dry. Do not wash before storing. You can give Rutabagas a quick, light dip in hot wax to seal them in order to keep them even longer, but they will keep for a few months in the right conditions without the wax.

* Potatoes: Keep just above freezing (40*F). If you wash them after digging,
make sure they are dry before packing in boxes for storage.

* Beets: Cut the tops to 1" and dont cut the root tip off. Store very cold, just
above freezing and very damp.

* Apples: Store very cold, just above freezing and very damp. Do not store with
other vegetables.

I know its hard to find a separate place to keep apples just above freezing.

Perhaps it is possible to close off a small corner with heavy, air tight
plastic. I have considered doing this but have not tried it yet. I may do that this year, if we buy apples in bulk.

I also store my tender bulbs in the cold cellar. I grow cannas, calla lilies, dahlias, glads and elephant ears. I also plan to overwinter the four o'clocks I grew this year in the cold cellar.

Canna lilies like to be kept quite damp in storage and just above freezing. I have tried several methods of overwintering them. Last year I put the cannas in a single row in a box and set it directly on the stone (we have a field stone cellar). I also wrapped some little dahlias and small cannas in newpaper and piled them in a clothesbasket in the cellar. I lost a few of those so I won't be doing that this year. All the cannas that were in the bottom of the box on the stone survived very well, so I will be keeping all of the cannas and a lot of the other tender bulbs that way this winter. I have read that dahlias do well in a plastic bucket with the lid on, so I will be trying that with some of the dahlias.

This is my best beloved dahlia, 'Keri Blue'.