10 Plants That Repel Mosquitoes

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Summer has finally arrived and with it’s arrival the proliferation of the blood-sucking and possible disease-carrying garden foe: the mosquito. In my home garden, I typically place several types of plants to deter mosquitoes. Typically, I either plant them in masses or dry leaves such as sage or rosemary to burn during outdoor gatherings. I also crush fresh leaves from my citronella grass, lemon thyme and lemon balm plants in my hands to release the oils and rub them on my skin instead of using chemical mosquito repellents (if you have skin allergies or sensitivity, I would not recommend this method).

The following plants are well known repellents for any home gardener to keep mosquitoes at bay:

Basil – Usually grown in many gardens, the lemon and lime varieties are my favorites.

Catnip – This useful herb is also a favorite of cats and makes a tasty herbal iced tea.

Citronella Grass – Although it has not been proven as a reliable repellent in its natural form, by crushing the leaves you can release the oils and let the scent permeate the air to deter mosquitoes. Citronella oil is also extracted from the leaves to produce essential oils for candles and sprays.

Lavender – A true world wide garden favorite, the oils from the flowers can deter mosquitoes and other insects. Crushing the flowers can release scent and can be rubbed moderately, directly on the skin. The flowers from lavender can also be used as a culinary and medicinal herb.

Lemon Balm – Another home garden favorite, this highly prized herb repels mosquitoes when the oil is released from the crushed leaves or extracted. It has numerous culinary benefits as well and is a favorite addition to any summer time iced beverage.

Lemon Grass – This herb can be difficult to grow from seeds but can be easily propagated from cuttings. The leaves carry the beneficial oils to deter mosquitoes and is also used quite extensively for it’s culinary and medicinal qualities.

Lemon Thyme – As a deterrent for mosquitoes or used for culinary or medicinal purposes, this spectacular herb is a summer favorite of my family. I typically place them in numerous containers throughout my garden.

Marigold – The Mexican and French varieties are extremely effective as deterrents for mosquitoes, aphid, white flies and bad nematodes. They also repel small mammals such as rabbits.

Rosemary – Very difficult to grow from seeds and has a long germination period, but can easily be propagated from cuttings. I usually dry the leaves and burn them to deter mosquitoes. This well known herb is also used for it’s phenomenal culinary and medicinal uses.

Sage- Can easily be grown from seeds and its crushed fresh leaves releases it’s oil to keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay such as cabbage moths, carrot flies and ticks. It can also repel mammals such as deer.

Additional Resources:

www.herbsociety.org

www.herbs.org

 

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Fallen Fruit…..

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(Revised from my sister blog: Anna’s Gardening Antics and Musings)

Greetings fellow gardeners! We are experiencing great weather in my area, so I am writing this post on my laptop, in a shady part of my garden. It is so beautiful outside. Nature is a beauty to behold and a true testament of God’s presence.

I had an intriguing conversation yesterday with my great aunt who lives in North Florida. She is the daughter of my late great-grandmother Anna (to whom this blog is dedicated) and lives in the very house my grandmother raised her five daughters in. My grandmothers’ garden is a bona fide confirmation of her love of gardening and is one of my favorite places on earth.

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My aunt is having a problem with her persimmon and grapefruit trees. Everyday, young fruit are dropping from her trees. I asked her the basic questions: is there any noticeable damage to the trees such as disease, pest infestation, have they been over-watered or over-fertilized, etc. She answered no to all of them. She mentioned the trees had nice, healthy blooms and high fruit production. But the fruit was dropping. Not all of the fruit, but enough to have her worried. I told her I would look into it. After, a bit of research, I found out about “June Fruit Drop.”

June Fruit Drop is natural process in most fruit trees. The tree produces fruit so it can provide seeds. However, if it produces too many fruit, they will begin to compete against each and tap the tree’s resources; thus leading to smaller, inferior fruit with less seeds. To counteract this, the tree will thin out the crop by dropping some of it’s fruit. It is generally recommended to hand thin fruit trees that produce less seeds such as persimmons, plums, nectarines and figs to add the trees with this process. This process can occur during June, but earlier in southern states.

I have included several links below to give you a little more information about June Fruit Drop:

Royal Horticultural Society

Stark Brothers Nursery

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My Japanese Knotweed Nightmare….

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Re-adapted from my sister blog: Anna’s Gardening Antics and Musings

Greetings my fellow gardeners. Thirteen years ago I purchased a beautiful old home with a tiny yard full of miscellaneous shrubs and unusual mystery plants.  I had lovely thoughts of creating a private haven of flowering vines, small fruits trees and edibles, similar to my late grandmother’s garden. I had very little knowledge at that time about gardening, so I read hundreds of books, watched gardening videos and took various classes for over a year.

The following Spring, I emerged outside with my gardening gear, ready to clean up the yard when I noticed several tall, red stalks protruding from the ground next to a concrete pad where a garage once stood. Uncertain of it’s identity, I shrugged and continued my yard work. Two weeks later, my curiosity became relentless so I took of picture of the stalks…now a good 4 feet tall and looking a bit like bamboo and sent a picture to our local extension office. Soon I received bad news, it was Japanese Knotweed.

Thus, a 11 year battle has ensued and it is ongoing as you can see. Because of the concrete pad, it has remained in a small area. At the end of the summer, the bees descend on the tiny  flowers and the birds eat the seeds.

A few more facts about this invasive weed:

Japansese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)

  • Originated from Asia and was introduced to the US in the 1800’s as a ornamental
  • Has rhizome runners that can extend 60 feet
  • Can grow under any conditions and is listed as one of the world’s most invasive species

I have tried nearly everything to combat it organically. Next Spring, I am going to try something new.  Because it is invasive, you have to be extremely careful handling it and with it’s disposal. I have included several links to provide you with more information.

http://www.newsweek.com/2014/07/11/japanese-knotweed-driving-men-murder-257257.html

http://www.nyis.info/index.php?action=invasive_detail&id=43

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Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly Recipe

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Re-adapted from my sister blog: Anna’s Gardening Antics & Musings…..

Recently, I had the honor of sampling a delicious jelly made from Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) flowers. It was absolutely wonderful: sweet with a mild, flowery taste.

Of course, I simply had to ask for the recipe so I can make a big batch of this fantastic jelly to share with family and friends (I am sharing the recipe at the end of this post). This jelly will be perfect on dry or buttered toast or scones.

Here is a little information about this lovely and underrated plant:

Queen Anne’s Lace, also known as wild carrot or bishops lace, can usually be found in ditches, meadows, roadside and dry fields. It is considered an invasive weed in many places, but it has culinary and medicinal properties. As a naturalized plant, it attracts many beneficial insects, such as butterflies, bees, wasps and lacewings.

The flower head or umbel of this beautiful plant is flat and has delicate looking tiny, white flowers with a small purple dot in the center. The plant itself usually grows between 3 to 4 ft feet and the flower head 3-8 inches. They flower between May-October and are biennials. The stalk is tall, woody and hairy; the leaves flat and hairy. The leaves and stalk are not edible and may cause skin irritation. The taproot is long with hairy stems. It has the faint scent of carrots and is edible if eaten young.

There are other plants that are similar in appearance to Queen Anne’s Lace. The first is called poison or water hemlock (Conium maculatum). The entire plant is extremely toxic and can be fatal if ingested. The other, fool’s parsley (Aethusa cynapium), is poisonous and can cause rawness and burning. Both plants produce strong, putrid odors and have smooth stems, leaves and taproots.

Do not attempt to eat Queen Anne’s Lace unless you have a positive identification from an expert!

Now, here’s the recipe:

Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly
(Using a standard hot water bath canner)
Makes about 6 jars

1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups of fresh Queen Anne’s lace heads
4 cups boiling water
1 package of SURE-JELL “Less/No Sugar pectin (save and use the instructions on the box for safe canning)
3 1/2 cups of sugar

Slowly add the boiling water in a large bowl with the flower heads (make sure the heads are full submerged). Cover the bowl and steep the flower heads for thirty minutes. Strain the mixture and add 3 cups of the infusion in a medium cooking pot. Bring the liquid to a slow boil.

Gradually add the lemon juice and pectin. Stir the mixture frequently. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil and stir in the sugar slowly until the mixture returns to a rolling boil. Boil for one minute then remove the pot from the heat. Skim the foam from the top and slowly pour or ladle the liquid into sterilized jars. Allow a little head space and make sure you wipe the rim of any excess liquid with a clean cloth. Then seal the jars with sterilized lids and tops. Place in hot water bath for 5 mins. Allow the jelly to set overnight before relocating the jars.

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What is Melilot?

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Photo via: Flickr

Melilot (Melilotus officinalis), also known as Yellow Sweet Clover, is a non-native plant originating from Eurasia and brought to the US as fodder for animals and a cover crop to produce a bust of nitrogen to poor soil and fields. It is not considered a weed but can become invasive if not monitored properly as it can be found in all types of soil.

Melilot benefits honeybees with it’s abundance of nectar and pollen and several types of butterflies and moths larvae which consumes the buds, leaves and flowers. Many mammals such as rabbits, moles and deer typically enjoy the leaves and flowers from the life benefiting plant as well as various birds who consume the seeds. As an herb, it is used medically under a physician’s care for a variety of ailments such as bruises and circulation problems.

In the home garden, Melilot is usually grown as an annual but is actually considered a biennial. It has a scent similar to fresh hay or mowed grass and it’s muted yellow flowers can be an asset to any wildlife or pollinator garden.

Resources:

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/melilo29.html

https://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/species/melilotus/officinalis/

 

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Benefits of Basil

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Garden Quote…..

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