Coffee Grounds – Mosquito Repellent or Just Gardener’s Gold

There’s a lot of things flying by on the internet these days.

Facebook is adding to it.

But some of it is true, some of it is false, and some of it has a bit of both in it.

I may have stumbled onto something here.

When I moved to South Florida, I ended up with a lot of really fascinating people around me.

My godmother was fresh from being one of the people directly responsible for having pig production being protected so that they do not end up in crates on factory farms.   She’s a gardener and her husband was into making some amazing Bonsai trees.  I’m fortunate to have her and two of those trees in my yard today.

I have other friends here who amaze me just as much as my own godmother.

Some are teaching appreciation for the environment by their own hands.  Others have a strong hand in creating ecological parks.  More are directly involved in horticultural pursuits.

I find life greatly improved as a result.

I do my own part to give back.  I’ve got a pot farm.  Well not THAT kind of pot.  A farm of pots with gardening plants in the back yard.  One after another is growing and taking root to later go into the garden.

The yard is so chock full of plants that I have a lot of trouble finding room for them.

Meanwhile I am trying to figure out how to grow more.  Our hedge is dying back so I am pre-growing Podocarpus for the next hedge.  May as well, I have the time!

I go out in the morning with coffee mug in hand and look for things to improve the yard.

But that coffee.  I was told never to throw the grounds in the garbage.  It’s “Rich Organic Material – Gardener’s Gold”.  May as well just toss it in the gardens, right?

We had gotten a few pots for the front porch, Lemongrass.  It was bought to keep down pests, mosquitoes primarily.  I would splash water on it when I go to wash the dog’s feet off before going into the house, and didn’t think too much more about the lemongrass.

At one point I was having a discussion of how there seemed to be fewer mosquitoes out front as a result.  The problem was that out back where there was another plant, I had a much worse problem with mosquitoes.  It wasn’t working.

But out front was tolerable.  I just would spray a fog of poison out the back door before going onto the Lanai

to cut back the mosquitoes.

There was something different about out front and one of those annoying Internet Memes gave me the answer.

That gardener’s gold – Coffee Grounds seemed to be having its own effect.

You see, to the one side of the lemongrass, I would throw the morning’s coffee grounds onto the top of the soil.  It was right under the bathroom window and the soil was visibly just a sheen of soil over some stones put there over the years.  It was getting thicker.

The picture in the meme said to toss the grounds near where you have a problem spot with mosquitoes, drain your pots.  This was because “Mosquitoes Hate The Smell of Coffee Grounds”.

We may be onto something.

My backyard was a fog of little tiger mosquitoes that I would literally run away from to get out to work in the yard.

My front yard and porch I could work on the windows, even rest my coffee mug on Aunt Betty’s table and not get bit badly.

It’s all relative.

So I got a lightbulb go off in my head.

Why not try coffee grounds in the plant pots out back.  I have more than 30 of them.  Orchids, Podocarpus,

Hibiscus, and Banana Trees.

So I did.  Started on the Lanai, worked my way out.  When I got to the end, repeat as needed.  I even put a stripe of the stuff over by the pool equipment which is a corridor about the same width as my own armspan.  I can touch fence and wall and it collected a cloud of the nasty little blood suckers.

I won’t say that the mosquitoes are all gone.  I would need a dome over the property and then pump it full of pesticides.  That would be no fun because I would never be able to use the thing.

But…

I have to say that since I started doing this, there is a definite difference.

Much fewer mosquitoes.

Much less of a panic.

I can use the lanai out back and my front porch.

Yes there are mosquitoes, but they are the exception and not the rule

My Lanai does not smell like a combination of Brazilian Cerrado and Pumpkin Spice at all.

And I can actually use it!

This is kind of a “Chicken Soup” thing – It couldn’t hurt.  May not work for you, but couldn’t work

But…
I will keep doing it since it IS working for me.

While those folks up North won’t need to think about this since it is getting colder and they’re going into winter, down here we wont’ see 60F/15C for another two months.  By then I will have a nice coating of brown over all my plants and much fewer mosquitoes.

I guess once in a while, those memes have something to them.  At least in my eyes.

Your mileage may vary.

A Wife Sends Her Husband To Get Snails At The Market

His wife warns him “I don’t want you to stop at the bar on your way home! I want you to go to the market, buy the snails and then come straight home just after. You always find an excuse to get drunk, not this time if you know what’s good for you!”

The guy agrees, takes his basket and goes to the market.

On his way home, he passes in front of the bar. What the hell, he thinks, if I just take one drink the wife will never know.

A dozen drinks later he realizes the night has fallen. He thinks, the wife is going to be so angry!

He takes his basket and start running toward his home.

Because of the dark, and probably also because of the alcohol, he misses a step just in front of his door and all the snails fly out of his basket.

Damn!  Damn!  Damn!  He thinks…

He goes flat on the floor so he can pick back up all the snails sprayed in front of him. The door opens and his wife is looking down on him. She doesn’t look pleased.

“Come on you guys, he says, we’re almost there! Just one more yard.”

The Confession

THE CONFESSION

Hi Bob, This is Alan next door. I have a confession to make. I’ve been riddled with guilt these past few months and have been trying to pluck up the courage to tell you to your face, but I am at least now telling you in text as I can’t live with myself a moment longer without you knowing.

The truth is I have been sharing your wife, day and night when you’re not around. In fact, probably more than you. I haven’t been getting it at home recently, but that’s no excuse, I know. The temptation was just too much. I can no longer live with the guilt and I hope you will accept my sincerest apologies and forgive me. It won’t happen again. Please suggest a fee for usage, and I’ll pay you.

Regards, Alan.

THE ACTIONS Bob, feeling insulted and betrayed, grabbed his gun, and shot his neighbor dead. He returned home where he poured himself a stiff drink and sat down on the sofa.

He took out his phone where he saw he has a subsequent message from his neighbor:

THE SECOND MESSAGE Hi Bob, This is Alan next door again. Sorry about the typo on my last text.

I expect you figured it out anyway, & that you noticed that darned Auto-correct changed ‘Wi-Fi’ To ‘Wife’. Technology hey?

Regards, Alan.

Rack the McNab Superdog (TM) Discovers the Cat Door

The hardest part of having a smart dog in your life is keeping their mind occupied.

We have all heard the stories of someone who has a Border Collie that goes everywhere with them.  The dog is perfect, goes where you tell them, knows when to back away from an encounter, and does all sorts of tricks that will blow your mind.

You probably have heard about someone hearing that story and thought “I want that”, and proceeds to make their lives miserable because they really don’t want to put the time into the dog that they deserve.

They – because it really is a partnership.

Now, I don’t have a Border Collie.  BC’s are great dogs, but they’re a bit “twitchy”.  Always on, a BC doesn’t know how to relax.

I have a McNab Dog.  They do know how to relax.  That is probably why the breed works so well with me.  I give my boy Rack, just like I did my departed Lettie before him, jobs.  He knows that there will always be praise or sometimes a treat after a well done job, but the whole “Lets Make The Human Do Things” doesn’t work well with me.

I’ve described him as my Business Analyst to my own Project Manager.   Go find the problem and report back and I’ll tell you what to do.

So running around the yard one day, he found a problem.  Someone was in the driveway.

We were in the back yard, and he was getting all excited.  Did another circuit of the pool, ran up to me and sat down.

“What is it Rack, show me!”

He stood up and ran to the gate to the front yard.   We have six foot fencing around the property to stop people from turning the pool into their own private spa.

It was a breezy day that day. Winds coming in from the ocean were making the palm trees sway.  They were feeling good on the skin, and would tousle your hair with a soft caress that you just don’t get in a cold climate.

 

At this time, Rack was startled by something.  I watched from the entry to the pool equipment, a good 15 feet, 5 meters behind.  It is a narrow corridor between the house and the property fence.  The air gets funneled between the area and that day blew out the plank that serves as a cat door.

He backed up.
“What’s the matter, Boy?  Go look!”

He looked back at me as if to say, “you’re kidding me, boss”.

“Go on!  Look!”

The wind was blowing the cat door out toward the yard.  He stuck his nose through it.  That was enough.  He discovered a portal to the outside world.

He also discovered that one of his very favorite people, Kevin, was standing in the driveway chattering away on the phone.

That just would not do.  Rack pulled back.  Looked back at me as if to say “Hey, Boss, can you let me out?”

Nope.  You need your boundaries just like the best trained McNab Dog out there.  That’s your task, watch but do not get involved.

He went back to looking through the cat door and wagging his tail.  He also had a new toy.

We all have a routine.  If someone pulls into the driveway, we hear it from the back yard.  I can also see what is in the driveway through the bougainvillea in the back and out the front windows.  I know just where to stand and can get Rack his exercise when he runs around the pool, behind the shed, and out the wormhole to the alternate dimension where his alternadog family lives on the other world.

He still visits them from time to time, using time and space dilation to jump the light years across the multiverse where he is the Emperor of the McNab Universe.

But here, he is content to run back around the shed, and down the corridor to the cat door where he can watch you and I and the rest of the world.

It is indeed a good time to be a dog.

If This Doesn’t Bring a Tear to Your Eyes, You Have A Heart Of Stone

In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Louisiana State University.

On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully.

He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to face the man and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled.

Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned and walked away. Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son.

As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing.

The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant.

Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure.

He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder.

The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn’t the same “trumpeting” elephant.

One Suitcase To Heaven

There once was a very wealthy man who was near death. He was very upset because he had worked so hard for his riches that he wanted to be able to take them with him… to Heaven.

So he began to pray.

God heard his plea and spoke to him. “Sorry My Son, but you can’t take your wealth with you.”

“Please God, I have worked so long, and so hard, for so many years. I have lost my wife, my kids, my dog, my health, and my happiness because of it… It is all I have left.”

God understood and said. “If it means that much to you, I will allow you one suitcase.”

Overjoyed, the man gathered his largest suitcase and filled it to the brim with pure gold bars. He then placed it beside his bed and died in peace.

Soon afterward the man showed up at the Pearly Gates of Heaven and was greeted by St.Peter.

St. Peter was happy to see the man but was puzzled by the suitcase.

The Man said, “I realize this is not your normal policy but I was given the authority by God that I may bring one suitcase with me.”

“I see.” said St. Peter. “Let us open it then.

St. Peter opened the suitcase, curious to see what worldly goods the man found too precious to leave behind and exclaimed,”YOU BROUGHT PAVEMENT?!!!”

Urban Gardening and Help From Little Friends

Somewhere in the city of San Juan, in Costa Rica, there is a man.

He was out in his yard pulling weeds.  He looked up and said something to the effect of:

Estamos en los tropicos.  Si tu pones unas semillas en la tierra, ellos van a viver.

If my memory and my Spanish serve me correctly, it means or should mean that “We are in the tropics.  If you put some seeds in the ground, they are going to live.”.

Bueno.  Great way to kill time.  Seeds.  Ground.  Water.  Sun.

Estamos en los tropicos, indeed.  We are in the tropics here in South Florida.

As we do our weekend shopping, I see plenty of plants on offer at the big box stores.  This happens everywhere, in planting seasons.  Not exactly every time seeing that some areas have something called Winter.  Ours is blissfully short at two weeks long.  We schedule it for the first two weeks of February and are invaded by something called Snowbirds that will clog our skies and our roads and our hotels.  They pay our taxes so I can’t complain too much, just as long as they stay out of my way.

Well never mind that.  I did “Go Into Production” here.  You see, instead of buying those plants in black plastic pots that are designed to break on the way home, I make my own.  I have my own irrigation chain out back that was designed with prominent citizens with parks named after them and people who work in something called Code Enforcement.  We designed my one irrigation chain to be a drip feed waterer that could be used any given day to mist the orchids.

Now under the orchids that hang on the fence are small muddy patches where the water drips.  May as well use that water too.  In some spots, I have three pots deep.  One pot watering the next and so forth until you eventually hit the deck.

All that nonsense gives me the opportunity to plan ahead.

I take cuttings from plants that I like, and follow my friend’s advice.  Stick them in that wet soil and hope they “take”.

It is possible that I am over-watering things in the yard.  My Night Blooming Jasmine is dying off in one spot so I am starting something that is a temporary hedge made of Hibiscus.

If the big hotels can do it, so can I.

Between the Hibiscus and the Podocarpus cuttings I have in pots and in that bare area in the back of the yard, I have easily 50 plants growing that are destined to be moved.

Great.  I have made myself work.

Every morning between 7AM and 7:30AM, I am inspecting that zone.  Making sure that the orchids are getting watered.  Making sure the Podocarpus and Hibiscus cuttings are getting dripped on with the excess.  Inspecting the Rosemary shrub in the corner.  My In Ground area of Podocarpus and Hibiscus way out back.

I am also being a bit overly productive.  My Condo Mango now has its own cutting to create a tree for a good friend in Key West.  That in itself is like taking Coal to Newcastle, but he liked the idea of a 15 foot maximum mango tree.  The last four mango pits from Mango Season, it is an event after all, were dropped into a pot and have all sprouted.

I will have three trees I have to find homes for since the Mother Plant is currently over 40 feet tall – Think 13 meters for the metrically endowed.

Anyone need a Mango Tree Seedling?

But it is a nice hobby and it does attract attention.  My McNab SuperDog (TM), Rack, will come out with me and water the palm trees writing strings of “M’s” on their side.  It gives me a chance to be watched by the creatures in the yard, my friends the wee little Lizards.

In the case of some of them, they seem to enjoy being watched.  I have been followed rather than being avoided more than once.   The little “Cuban Browns” are harmless and seem to hang out catching rays and insects while watching me watch them.  The worst that a Brown has done to me was to once get surprised and climb up my leg.  Luckily I was in the back yard so I dropped Trowel as well as my Shorts and let the little creature have its freedom.

Just can’t hurt them, they’re too comical.

So if you are fortunate enough to have the room, and the need, you may as well start some seedlings.  After all, they don’t all “take” but many do.  Why not, you’ll have the time!

Remember

The link for the 9/11 memorial site is here.  You can watch the memorial ceremony today live from New York at the site, and find out more about how they are honoring those fallen on and after September 11th.

http://www.911memorial.org

World Trade Center, 1986 – Photo Courtesy of Eric Reivik
In my own case, that morning was until the time, unremarkable.  I arrived at the university, had my 7:15AM Call with Purchasing to work over things that they had needed, and was settling in at my desk to get started.
The hallway was abuzz with very random activity, more like when you knock over a hornet’s nest than anything else.
I took my headphones off to get a clearer picture of what was going on, and went back to the routine.
I noticed that the internet was becoming quite slow.  In a large university, the internet would run well until something major happened in that time and place.  I was trying to hit the news site of the BBC, and it simply stopped loading.

My boss and my team crowded around asking me what was up when some people began to get details.  The world had changed, and not for the better.

Anger almost never effects positive change.

A Man Is Walking Down The Street

You know, this actually sounds like a good deal…

As he’s walking down the street he comes up to a prostitute that says “I’ll do anything for $300”

The man asks “anything?”

The prostitute replies with “yes”.

So the man goes away to the money machine and gets $300

After getting the money he asked once more if the prostitute means absolutely anything, yes, but only if you can tell me in 3 words she replies.

He’s goes away and thinks for a little bit, after returning he takes the money out and hands it to her and says “Paint my house”

Converting a Solar Light to Low Voltage Using a LM7805 Voltage Regulator

Standard Internet Warranty Applies here:  Ramblingmoose.com takes no responsibility for damage.  If you wire this up incorrectly, shock hazards may occur.  You could burn yourself with the soldering iron.  You could also cut your finger and give yourself a “boo boo”.  We are not responsible.  We’re simply saying “Hey, it worked for me, it’s easy, give it a try!”.  The parts needed are commonly available online and can be read about in depth at this wikipedia page.

This is actually my Second Conversion.  The first one is in the first picture.

We’ve probably all chewed through a collection of solar powered lights for the yard by now.

I say chewed through because they generally do not last very long.  The first wave of lights were particularly awful.  Under powered, lit with a single LED that is about as bright as an indicator light on a stereo, and connections that are not suitable to be used outdoors,  you may get a year out of these if you were lucky.

Then there came another wave with brighter LEDs, but they wouldn’t last long due to the batteries failing in about a year.

There is a theme to this.  Batteries have a set number of times that they can be recharged.  No matter how cheap or expensive the light, if that battery that is being charged by the solar panel dies, the light is normally dead.

Besides, everything being cheap Chinese garbage manufacturing, you can’t generally get better life out of this stuff.

We went to a “rather nice” light the last time this happened, and got a year out of it.  Since I liked the fixture, I tried soldering in a collection of batteries to power the thing.  After the second try the light failed.  I set it aside hoping for a “Bright Idea”, pun intended.

Our own house ended up going with Low Voltage LED Security Lights.  My front porch is now bright enough to read from the light, and the power consumption is all of 4 watts at 12 volts AC.  Doing the math, that works out to 4/10th of a watt at 120 VAC out of the plug.  Adding the traditional 10 percent for error, we’re consuming 1/2 watt of mains power to light a room worth of porch.

Next to nothing to get our security lighting sorted out.

But those solar lights were waiting to be used.

Here is what I did…

The Solar Lights had a battery pack inside of them that consisted of three AA rechargeable cells.  Maximum voltage would be 4.5 VDC.  I had 10 L7805 Voltage Regulators here, and I decided to try one out on the solar light.  It would be over powering the light at the high end, but since the light was either being reused or disposed of, if I got a couple months out of it I was happy.

TS7805 Voltage Regulator.  Picture from Wikipedia.

A L7805 is a voltage regulator that puts out 5 Volts DC.  I had a low voltage supply for the yard at 12 Volts AC.  The wiring was simple, I put one together to see if it worked.

It did work.  It worked since the Light had three cells in its battery pack – 4.5 volts of AA batteries.  If your light is a different voltage being supplied, use a different voltage regulator!

I allowed it to run in the intervening two and a half months and it was still working.

So the L7805 converted the 12 VAC to 5VDC plus some heat.

The circuitry is dead simple.  Three conductors on the L7805.  The center conductor is the ground.  If you connect the positive line from the input to the first conductor, and the positive line to your appliance (my light) to the third conductor, you are done.

The entire soldering job took me less time than it took for me to take the pictures for this article.

These chips also come in differing voltage output from 3V to well more than I need at 40V. They all work the same way.  The voltage comes into the center conductor as ground and one of the two outside conductors as positive.  Voltage goes out from center conductor as negative and the other outside conductor as positive.

The proof is in my yard.  That easy.

Just remember, match the voltage regulator output voltage to the supply voltage of your lamp or other appliance.