Start Planning Your Summer Adventures!
Start Planning Your Summer Adventures!
Its that time of year….warmer weather….longer days….and being outside! If you are like me though, you don’t appreciate the mosquitoes and flies joining you.
I am not a fan of spraying my yard with chemicals to keep these pesky bbq visitors at bay and have found that certain plants can help serve as a replacement for those synthetic insecticides, as long as you know how to use them to your advantage. Plants have unique natural abilities to emit different chemical substances with them they repel or attract specific insects. Flowers bring a pretty sight and a pleasant fragrance for us, however, for pests they often pose a life threat.
Herbs That Repel Insects
Apart from mosquitoes, lavender oil can chase other bugs, such as fleas, flies and moths.
Although a domesticated plant, the mint still spreads like weeds if left in the ground, therefore it’s best to grow it in pots. Placing mint pots around your patio and garden will also help you keep mosquitoes away.
Mosquitoes are repulsed by the basil scent. A pot of basil, or a stalk hung is a natural repellent. There’s an oil in basil that kills mosquito eggs too.
Rosemary is one of the herbs that are multifunctional. It’s extremely resistant to outer conditions, however, it needs a lot of sunlight. Repels mosquitoes and a variety of insects harmful to vegetable plants.
Having lemon balm in your garden will repel mosquitoes, thanks to the natural essential oils and strong smell of the plant.
The lemongrass is a perennial tropical grass plant (so sadly only an annually up here in the cold states) Citronella is a natural oil found in lemongrass so its the perfect repellent not only for mosquitoes but flies and other unwanted bugs!
The lemon thyme is a bush, with yellow-green small leaves that smell like lemon. The fully-grown plants blossom during the summer with pink, lavender-like flowers.
In order to infuse its qualities and repel the nasty mosquitoes, you must first release the chemicals in the plant by crushing the leaves. Make sure that, at first, you are not allergic to those chemicals by smearing a piece of crushed leaf on your arm for a few days.
Oregano is one of those universal spices used throughout the world and is well-known to everyone who’s spent at least some time in the kitchen. Not many knows, on the other hand, that oregano belongs to the family of natural insect repellents. Mosquitos, cabbage butterfly, and cucumber beetle don’t stand a chance, amongst others, however, some insects won’t bother, such as spider mites, leafhoppers and aphids. Therefore, you can plant the oregano near garlic and onions.
Flowers That Repel Insects
In the wild marigolds are agile and also happen to grow out of dumping-grounds. The marigold is a peculiar barometer – if the blossoms remain closed after 7 in the morning, then it means it will rain during the day.
There are different kinds of marigolds – lighter and darker, with larger and smaller blossoms, but they all carry the same health benefits. Plus, marigolds’ smell chases off not only aphids and mosquitoes but also big animals such as rabbits.
This seasonal flower effectively repels mosquitoes with its fragrance. During production of some repellents, one of the important ingredients comes from the plant. However, it’s not recommended to rub your skin with ageratum leaves . That might cause unwanted and very unpleasant allergic reactions. The ageratum is extremely easy to grow – undemanding to the soil and light-loving.
A special chemical in the chrysanthemums, called pyrethrum, is the thing that keeps bugs away. Roaches, ticks, fleas, bed bugs, spider mites, Japanese beetles and ants – be gone. The ingredient is part of different insecticides in the USA and is used in sprays and flea pet shampoos. Be careful with the spray bottles, if you happen to have one, since pyrethrum is poisonous to people in certain amounts.
So get out there and plant and enjoy your backyard and beautiful weather!
Pesticides and chemical fertilizers may give your garden a boost at first, but in the long run they’re doing a lot of damage to the environment as well as to your little plot of land. Here are some alternative ways to green your gardening.
Also called “soil conditioners,” natural fertilizers don’t only help your current garden grow, they also promote healthy soil for your future plant growth by making the earth more inclined to hold water and nutrients. Manure is one of the best natural fertilizers you can use.
If you’ve already got a compost pile going, you’re one step ahead! Compost can give your fertilizer a boost by holding the nutrients until the plants are ready to use them. Not a composter yet? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has some tips.
It may sound odd, but there are a variety of little critters that you can purchase to benefit your garden. Ladybugs will eat those awful aphids and many other plant-eating pests. Earthworms will help aerate the soil, allowing nutrients to soak down and roots to expand. Other multi-legged fauna you should encourage in your garden include spiders, praying mantises, bumblebees, lacewings, and braconid wasps. Best of all, most of them can be ordered online and shipped directly to your home!
Setting up a rain barrel will help you save on your water bill while providing untreated water to your flowers and food. Water from your utility has chemicals and additives that your plants can do just as well without, and some of the treatments may even inhibit the soil from holding the nutrients you’ve added and your plants from absorbing them properly.
Lay the foundation.
The organic matter, that is. Mix your compost and manure well and spread it generously on your garden — about a half inch to one inch deep.
Loosen the earth.
Using an aerator, a tiller, or just a trowel, stir up the earth to mix in the organic matter and allow plenty of oxygen to infuse the dirt. This is a good time to “plant” some earthworms as well.
Adding mulch to your garden is especially critical in dry climates, as it helps retain moisture. Mulch can also reduce the amount of weeds that poke through your carefully cultivated land. Gardens generally need 1 to 4 inches of mulch, depending on the type you’re using and the plants you’re protecting, with most recommendations coming in at 2 to 3 inches. More than 4 inches could suffocate your garden.
Scientifically Speaking …
If you’re so inclined, testing your soil before planting season will let you know exactly which nutrients are lacking so you can make up for them with additives.
When you switch to green gardening, you’re not only cultivating your own bit of earth — you’re also helping to strengthen and enrich the soil for future generations. Who knows what will be growing in your garden in 50 years?