Day In, Day Out…

Every so often my routine begins to blur together and days become months and months become years. I usually try to stay positive and cheerful most of the time, but I am deathly allergic to routine. I don’t think that we as a species are hardwired for this type of life. We long for ways to escape its stagnant grasp in any form we can.

I recently installed a few motion cameras in the backyard just in case that racoon shows up again to dine upon my precious flock of hens. Better to be safe than sorry and these little cameras are relatively cheap and simple to install. No predators yet, but I’m watching.

What I didn’t expect them to capture was my sad sorry self heading off to work every morning. When I began to look at the images all together, it made me a little depressed. Maybe after a month or so I can make a nice little flip-book of the mundane. Something to enjoy after retirement.

I do enjoy my job, don’t get me wrong. Handling art and antiquities is a particularly amazing honor and I do it with great reverence and pride. There have been more than a few times when I’ve held in my hand a painting or sculpture that I wrote a paper on in college. The trust that my, and other, institutions place upon my shoulders to be a caretaker for these objects does not go unnoticed by this gentle writer.


I feel like I need some sort of It’s a Wonderful Life type lesson to refresh my outlook on work in general. Perhaps a visit from three ghosts? Or a near death experience to get a new perspective.  I used to consider myself to be always in high spirits but lately these doldrums have been slowly scratching away at me.

That said, can someone facilitate a near death experience on my behalf without my knowledge? Perhaps an angry grizzly released into my backyard? I guess it’s all about perspective.

What do you do to break up the routine? I’m open to suggestions! My usual distraction is gardening of course but this years continued drought and the recent long lasting heatwave have stifled that. On top of that, my hard work of doing a winter cover crop has failed miserably with the discovery of root nematodes in my veggie garden!!

I’m not sure if you noticed or not, but I haven’t posted much on my veggie garden this season. On account of not really having one. It’s truly a sad and anticlimactic end to a long, hot and dry growing season.

I’ve ordered some predatory nematodes to have an epic hidden battle beneath my brown and wilted vegetables. There can be only one in the end but I fear it’s too late for this season for me to reap any rewards.

But all is not lost. And I refuse to leave this post on a sad note, so here are some highlights of the past week.

I spent all weekend in a 100°+ garage working away at Piper’s new mini coop. I’m almost finished and will keep you posted on those efforts in due time. Here it is as of this morning…

Piper's New Coop Pt II_Nearing CompletionI know she’s gonna love it! And she’ll finally get some peace and regrow all her fluffy feathers.

There was also an amazing change in the status quo regarding the chemical warfare against the bees!! A federal court overturned the EPA’s approval of sulfoxaflor, a pesticide linked to the mass die-off of honeybees that pollinate a third of the world’s food supply. Do I sense a change in the tide? Read more on that here!

Maybe things are looking up! Stay positive y’all and break up that routine!

A Bird in the Hand…

Well I’m just about at my wits end with the chicken bullying going on. Most likely, I’m not as fed up as poor Piper is though. I’ve tried making her armor which really helped her body from getting pecked at, but did little for her poor head and neck. She is now less fluffy and cute as a result. This is how she should look…

Piper the Silkie

Quite the difference isn’t it? Well, I’ve decided to do what I should have done months ago. I’m going to get her away from the big brutes so she can regrow her feathers and get some much needed rest. This will of course mean I need to get another silkie hen to keep her company. In the meantime, I need to design and build a second chicken coop. This one will be much smaller than the first one I built. Here’s how far I’ve gotten with the sketch today…

Pipers New House

The ladder will hinge up to close off that section and there’s a door I removed so you can see the inside. I’m still working out how best to allow her access to the bottom floor which will be in the grass so she can scratch and peck during the day. When I’m home I’ll let her have the run of the entire backyard as she doesn’t do much damage at all.

I’ll post more as I build it so you can see the final product. It’ll be small, but she’ll love the peace and quiet for sure!!


Here’s as far as I got last night. Everything appears to be functioning well in my 3D program, so tonight I will begin construction!

Pipers Brand New House

In other news, my passion fruit vine is in full swing these days. I originally planted it for a privacy fence but now I just can’t get enough of the fruit it puts out! Here’s what I gathered over a few days. Just about 1/10th of this years harvest so far.

Passion Fruit Harvest

And there’s plenty more ripening on the vine as I write! Very excited to be reaping this harvest!

And also as a follow up on the willow water post from the other day I’ve decided to begin a little experiment to determine exactly how effective this home made witches brew is as a rooting hormone. I have two pathos cuttings from the same host with the same nodes as well as size and health. One has the willow water mixture and the other is just tap water.

Willow Water Experiment

I will be monitoring their progress and taking weekly photos to compare the root growth. More to come on this experiment.

Well, that’s it for now. I hope you all had a great labor day weekend! I’ll keep you posted on the Piper drama as it unfolds!

DIY Natural Rooting Hormone: Willow Water

If you’re anything like me and really love to discover new plant species by taking small clippings from their host plants you’ve most likely run into the burning need for rooting compounds. Not every plant can be simply rooted by sticking it into a glass of water. In fact, most can’t.

Now, you can purchase some hormones from The Interwebs and pay for shipping or you can go to your local marijuana… er…I mean hydroponics supply store to procure the magical tincture.

Side note: I feel I’m the only customer in the hydroponics store that’s buying supplies for plants and veggies that you don’t smoke. The aisles are filled with listless dreadlocked hippies slowly dolling out slurred sentences as they look for green cubes and grow lights. You’re not fooling anyone stoner. I like to keep my habits more private and not wear them around as fashion accessories. To each his own. However, there are some inherent dangers when dealing with white people having dreadlocks:

Willow Water Rooting Hormone 01_The Dangers of White People with Dreadlocks

I feel like this joke about people with dreadlocks may be cutting into a large portion of my readership. Sustainable organic gardening and permaculture is their bread and butter. Therefore, I’d like to clarify that this is all done in humor and I have never had any problems letting anyone’s freak-flag fly! Soar into the heavens my little unkempt homies! Like the majestic penguin.

As usual, I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, rooting compounds.

You can indeed spend all this paper money (Twenty five of paper and six of coin!) on some unknown chemical mixture and dip away! Or, you can make a batch of your own natural rooting hormone at home in just a day or two. Witchcraft you say? Not exactly…

Some Science in your face!

You see plants contain certain substances that help them form new growth and save off bacteria, infection and fungi. The mighty willow just happens to be loaded with these substances which is why you can basically stick a freshly trimmed branch into the ground and it will grow into a new tree in short order.

Salicylic and Indolebutyric acids more specifically. They really help to speed up the rooting process.

Willow Water Rooting Hormone 02_Salicylic Acid and Indolebutyric Acid Chemical Structures
The chemical structures of Salicylic and Indolebutyric acids

“But, them there chemicals are all trapped in the tree man” you say? I can dig it, but there is a simple way to leech these acids out simply by soaking the clippings!

 The Witches Brew:

It doesn’t get any easier than this folks! All you need is a willow tree, or access to one. Weeping willow contains the highest levels of these chemicals by the by. So let’s get started making some homemade rooting hormone!

Willow Water Rooting Hormone 04_Willow tree by the water feature
Here’s a detail of my willow tree. Gracefully sweeping my lovely little babbling brook. I like to trim off the tips that dangle in the water for a cleaner look which gives me exactly what I need for my willow water!

You want to fresh green new growth. The freshest and greenest you can get. That’s where all the magic hides.

Willow Water Rooting Hormone 05_New green growth on Willow tree

You’ll only need a handful, so don’t get to greedy. In this tutorial, we’ll be making a Ball jar’s worth so adjust your needs accordingly if you want to make a large batch. The ratio of willow to water is 1:2.

Willow Water Rooting Hormone 06_Cut Willow branches

Clip off the tips of the branches and then strip off all the leaves and put them into the compost bin. Then take those thin little shoots and cut them into smaller one inch segments.

Willow Water Rooting Hormone 07_Willow leaves removed and stems cut into one inch segments

Fill up your jar one third of the way with the willow and then top it off with boiling water.

Pop the lid on and let it sit for at least 24 hours. For a stronger batch, you can put the jar in the sun and let it steep for a few days.

Willow Water Rooting Hormone 010_Willow water steeping in the sun

When it’s done to your liking, strain out the willow and store the water in a cool dark place. In a cupboard it will last for about two weeks, in the fridge, it’ll last about a month. Super simple isn’t it?!

Willow Water Rooting Hormone 011_Willow water steeping in the sun detail

How to use the Willow Water:

This will be a little different than your usual overpriced rooting hormone.

  • For cuttings that can be rooted in water you can use a 50/50 ratio of willow water to regular water and leave it on a North-facing window sill to keep algae growth down. This will speed up the rooting process. You can then plant the clipping once roots have been established.
  • For hardwood cuttings or plants that are a bit more difficult to propagate, you’ll want to soak the cutting in full strength willow water for several hours so that the nutrients can be taken up into the cutting and then plant it in well draining soil.
  • for new plantings of young plants, use full strength willow water for the first few waterings to help give a boost to aid in the plant becoming established in its new home. After that, use regular water.
  • If an established plant undergoes stress or damage, use willow water to help give it that little extra boost.

There you have it folks! Simple, fast and 100% free and natural. It doesn’t get any better than that! And seeing as willows are all over the place, it should be relatively easy to find one that doesn’t mind a little trimming. I’d love to hear some success stories if you give this a try, so keep me posted on your experiments with mad science…er, I mean botany.

Willow Water Rooting Hormone 012_Willow water outro image