July 21, 2017

Growing Patchouli and Homemade Mosquito Repellant

Patchouli was my favorite fragrance in the 70's. Yes, I was a wanna be hippie. I had no idea then that I could grow it in my yard. I had nearly forgotten about it until this spring when I saw Patchouli plants for sale at my favorite wholesale nursery. I brought a tray home for my spring sales and kept some for me too.

Patchouli is not hardy here in zone 6b but it's worth growing. It is a pretty plant, smells wonderful when you brush by the leaves and if you dry them you can make essential oil or tincture.

It blooms in the fall so I haven't seen the blooms yet but I did find this picture on the internet of the flowers.
I read somewhere that the plant needs total darkness after sunset to bloom. A little like a poinsettia but I'm not going to all that trouble. I'll report here if mine blooms when the days get short this fall.

Patchouli grows fast and is pretty easy to care for. I have mine in a low bowl type pot and it doesn't get a ton of water. If it wilts, just give it a drink and it pops back in no time.

It is is good insect repellant. I'm going to add it to the mix in my favorite Mosquito spray.

Mosquito Spray:
Lavender oil
Citronella oil
lemon grass oil
Patchouli oil or Tincture
Witch Hazel as a carrier liquid

I use a tablespoon of each the oils and top off a 8 oz spray bottle with Witch Hazel. Shake and spray every couple of hours for a bug free day.

July 14, 2017

I'm So Glad I Planted Sunflowers!

Actually, the birds planted the first ones and after seeing how pretty they were, I planted more. Now we see the real benefit! The Goldfinches love them! I'm going to plant more next year. These are in a big pot on the deck where I can see them from the kitchen table. They are pretty in a vase too.

July 7, 2017

The Saga Continues...

Baby Wren story continued from last week.

Well, the baby survived the rain storm. He was hidden in the rose bush the whole time. I didn't see him (or her) because he was perched on a branch behind one of the deck posts.

Sunday morning I looked for the baby but he was nowhere on the deck. I could hear the chirping so I knew it was somewhere sending Mama a signal, "I'm here and I'm hungry".  Finally, I spotted him high in a tree about 20 feet away from the deck. Flying is getting better.

Today is Monday and I haven't spotted him but I can hear the chirp. I'm certain he will make it now. It has rained both days and the chirping seems to be higher in our trees and farther away from the house. This tells me he is able to fly pretty well by now. Mama is still coming to the feeder often to carry worms away to all her babies. At least we don't have a cat and our dogs are clueless!

This afternoon as I was taking cuttings of some shrubs right under the place where I first saw the bird perched on a wire. I heard the wrens chirping excitedly. There were 3 adult wrens on the roof and having a fit! I was afraid the snake that lives back there was near their nest (wherever it is). I carefully looked for him...that snake and I have a love hate relationship. I love that he is there eating mice and voles but I hate it when I happen upon him unexpectedly. This time I didn't see the snake anywhere but the birds were upset for sure. That was when I saw that darn baby bird hop upon the gutter near the very first place I had spotted him when this whole thing started days ago!

I couldn't do much about that and the mama bird was right there with worms ready to feed him so I went ahead with my cuttings.

All of a sudden the baby bird fell into a big potted raspberry bush right beside me! Scared us both half to death. He took one look at me and dived into the middle of that bush! I finished my cuttings, left the area to the wrens and went to the greenhouse. When I got finished in the greenhouse I couldn't resist looking into that bush for the little bird. Gone again!  That baby is an escape artist! I bet mama bird will be glad when he gets his flight feathers and leaves home for good! Here is a picture of him before he jumped off the roof.

July 1, 2017

The Baby Wren Saga

  Late yesterday afternoon as I was leaving the greenhouse, I noticed a baby bird perched high on our electric wire that goes into our art studio. The studio has a metal roof and gutters so there was not much place for a fledgling to land. I figured it had fallen out of a nest that may have been in the tree that shades that area of our yard. It was grey and fuzzy. I didn't think it could fly and wasn't sure what kind of bird it was. It was chirping loudly for it's mama. 😟 Since it was too high for me to rescue (that's usually not a good idea anyway), I kept an eye out for mama. Soon a Wren came to the gutter just beneath the baby but I didn't see her feed it.

Bill and I kept watch on it all afternoon and it was still there when we went to bed. I said a little prayer for God to take care of it. Which reminds me of a prayer I learned as a child:

"God bless the beasts and flying birds
and all small things that have no words"

Anyway.. this morning when I got up it was not there. I was sad thinking a night creature might have gotten it.

But wait, what was that noise? Oh, yea of little faith!  Sure enough, it was that little critter chirping for mama! It was on our deck hidden in the rose vines! I quickly filled the worm feeder with meal worms so mama would have food for it close by. I even put a few in the ground feeder right in front of where baby was perched. At one point I accidently scared it and it flew across to a tree where we have a suet feeder. So it can fly if it has too but not far and not high.

I saw mama Wren feed it several times and as of this writing it is 2:00 PM and it is still chirping for food around our deck. It did make it back to it's safe place in the rose bush.

It's pouring down rain right now! Lighting and wind too! I do pray the baby finds a way to survive the storm!

Stay tuned ...the saga will continue.