Daisies, in the chrysanthemum family. They contain a chemical bugs hate.
Have you been looking for an alternative to DEET bug sprays? I use the conventional sprays on occasion, but they give me a headache, and remind me way too much of the agricultural pesticides you’re supposed to cover up before using. Are there other options? I have seen natural repellents at about any store that sells herbs- in my area, that includes Dave's Herbs, Herbs for Health, Whole Foods Market (the store that used to be "Wild Oats"), Sunflower Markets, Smith's Marketplace. It seems like several of their repellents have Neem oil as their base. Neem oil is an extract of the seeds and fruit of a semitropical evergreen, Azadirachta indica. It's shown to be quite effective against insects, both for people to use, as well as for growing crops, but there are some cautions to be aware of. On testing with rats, it caused abortion of fetuses when ingested within a few days of conception. So don't use neem oil if you're pregnant or trying to conceive. See here for one source of more information.l The Chrysanthemum family of plants contain pyrethrum or pyrethrin, which is a natural repellent. (Permethrin is the synthetic version of this.) It's also been used for hundreds of years. You can crush the plant and rub it on you, or dry it, powder it, and mix it with water. (DON"T DRINK IT!!!). Some of the plants in this family include the white daisies with yellow centers, mums, and Gerbera daisies. You can use essential oils as repellents- dilute with a carrier oil first- a little goes a long way!. Ones that turned up in my search include lavender oil, lemon balm, catnip, tea tree oil (also called melaleuca), neem oil (again), basil, garlic, geranium, tansy, thyme. A carrier oil is just a plain vegetable oil- olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, whatever you want to use. Several years ago, I read that lemon thyme had repellent properties. I planted a mat of it underfoot my garden swing. We brushed our feet on it as we would swing in the evening. It smelled wonderful to us, and I hardly ever was bothered by mosquitoes. We even had a large pond (perfect mosquito breeding ground) nearby. My recent reading indicates that lemon thyme’s effect lasts only about 20 minutes when rubbed on your skin, so be aware you may need to do some personal experimenting here. (Use common sense!)Here are two sites with some instructions on making your own repellent, if that's what you're after: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/homemade-natural-insecticide-and-repellent-recipes.html http://www.anniesremedy.com/remedy_use137.php And a recipe, from Mother Earth News (disclaimer- though they have some great information, they are very pro- ‘save the planet’-forget those invasive humans). They adapted this one from The Green Pharmacy.
Herbal Insect Repellent 2 ½ teaspoons total of any combination of the following essential oils (available at health food stores): basil, cedarwood, citronella, juniper, lemon, myrrh, palmarosa, pine, rose geranium and/or rosemary 1 cup 190-proof grain alcohol (available in liquor stores)
Put everything in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake it hard. Store in small bottles; glass is best. To use, rub a small amount on any exposed skin (test first to be sure you're not allergic to the repellent!) or dab it on clothing. You might put it in a small spray bottle.Experiment a little to find which essential oils work best with your body chemistry. If you're lucky, you also will like the way they smell; otherwise, add a few drops of peppermint oil to fine-tune the fragrance. recipe from http://www.motherearthnews.com/Nature-Community/2003-08-01/Outsmarting-Mosquitoes.aspx?page=5
It felt like spring today! I love the warmth of the sunshine, the smell of the moist dirt, the sight of daffodils and tulips popping out of the earth, the plump firmness of leaf buds swelling. If you’re thinking about gardening this year, the stores (and catalogs!) have the seeds and bareroot plants you may want. For instance, this week’s CAL-Ranch ad features packets of seeds 10/$1. (No, that wasn’t a typo.) They also have onion sets, a bag of 100, for $1.99. (Onion sets are baby onions, you plant them to harvest onion bulbs this year. You could plant onion seed, but it’d likely be two years before bulb harvest.) Smith’s Marketplace had bareroot raspberries and blackberries a month ago, and have their roses and fruit trees now. I assume everyone else does, too. When you buy seeds, keep any you don't use. They will be good next year if you take good care of them- keep them cool. dry ,and dark. They will last at least a few years if you store them properly. I usually get a good four or five years out of my packets. After that, not as many of the seeds germinate. You can use seeds from your pantry, too: the dry beans you buy will grow in your garden. Other seeds you may have in your kitchen are flax, mustard seed, celery seed (this one is NOT celery plant, you grow this for the celery-flavored seeds), coriander seeds (the plant is cilantro, the seeds are harvested as ‘coriander’), fennel seeds, aniseed, raw unsalted sunflower seeds, popcorn, raw peanuts, other raw nuts (if you want a tree!)…. If you have any onions, potatoes, or garlic that are starting to sprout, plant them instead of throwing them away.Edibles look good in your flower beds! Planting a few of those in existing beds is an easy way to get started. Leave a few carrots or parsnips in the ground for year #2, or plant carrots from the grocery store. They'll send up beautiful, lacy white flowers in the summer. (I love them in flower arrangements.) And then the next year, you'll have volunteer carrots 'naturalized' into your flower bed! Onions and carrots have some of my favorite flowers.
Fresh herbs make nice companions in a flower bed, too. The foliage is great, and most have pretty flowers as well. My 'kitchen garden' is just off the front porch; hardly anybody even notices that it's food. It's only 6x22 but in the bed are LOTS of edibles. To get the whole mixed picture, here's what's in it: lots of spring bulbs (NOT edible), rock cress/aubrietta, pansies (edible leaves and flowers) a couple strawberry plants, a young crabapple tree, a really gorgeous yellow rose bush, garlic chives (white 'firework' flowers), chives (purple ball-shaped flowers), a trailing mini red rose, shasta daisies, lavender, catmint, oregano, parsley, lemon thyme, regular thyme, marjoram, purple-leaf sage, green-leaf sage, a few annuals, one ornamental grass (Miscanthus), sedum and aster for fall color. Even better, I can use the herbs in the dead of winter- I just plunge my hand down in the right place through the snow, and come up with a handful of parsley or thyme for the soup pot. Yummy.
Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) are beautiful, too; they look like small sunflowers. They're pretty pricy to mail-order the roots, though. I just bought a 1-lb bag from the grocery store, though, for $3. Much better. I also got my horseradish start from the grocery store, and I'm thinking of growing some ginger that way.
There’s quite a bit of gardening, or ’pre-gardening’, that can be done right now. For instance: -If you have fruit trees, now is the time to prune and fertilize them. -If you’re up for a bigger challenge, you can graft fruit trees right now. -You can till when your garden soil doesn’t stick to your shoes. (Another test is to make a ball of it; if it compacts densely, it’s too wet.) You COULD till it before that, but your garden will end up compacted and clumpy. Your plants would not appreciate it. There is a month-by-month gardening guide on our local Glover Nursery’s website. Here’s a piece of it:MARCH• Early March is a great time to plan your garden layout.• Make corrections and amendments to your garden if the soil has dried out enough.• Start eggplant, peppers and tomatoes INDOORS. (6-8 weeks before setting plants out)• Plant bare root raspberries and strawberries.• Plant kohlrabi, lettuce, parsnip, potatoes, rhubarb asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, parsley, swiss chard, spinach, turnips,onion, peas from mid-March until the first part of May.• Plant carrots, beets and endive from mid-March until mid-June.• Plant radishes from mid-March until September.• Use floating row cover to help warm the soil for faster plant growth.For info on how to start a garden, or improve the one you have, see Gardening 101 The how-to-start–it is the first page. The other pages have the chart for last average frost dates in Utah, links to good gardening websites, ideas for gardening cheaply, etc. Have fun!