Around the Yard, Garden and Home
Here are a few tips for using herbs, instead of chemicals, to keep your yard, garden and home pest free.
Moths find another home when southernwood is strewn about. Lay branches in a closet or cupboard to protect clothes and linen.
Plant marigolds and garlic among your vegetables. Their roots secrete an enzyme that many insect pests find toxic.
Deer are often more than just pesky critters, they can do real damage to gardens and yards. Here are a few tips from Jessica Walliser at TRIB Live about some characteristics of plants that may help deter the deer because they won’t eat them. Plants with hairy, fuzzy or prickly foliage are avoided by deer. This would include lambs ear, yarrow, sedges and ornamental grasses. Deer like plants that smell good to them so they turn up their noses to plants that are heavily fragranced. Ornamental and culinary sages, rosemary, thymes, oregano, lavender and catmint are good choices in this category. If all else fails, the best bet is to build a tall, strong fence.
Squirrels are not fond of peppermint according to Mike’s Backyard Nursery. Keep a few live peppermint plants positioned around the yard and garden to dissuade the squirrel invasion. If needed, put 2-3 drops of peppermint oil on cotton balls and place around plants to be protected. We found squirrels to especially enjoy tulip bulbs.
There must be thousands of methods for deterring slugs and maybe they all work but the problem is slugs are so plentiful they just keep on going and going like that TV bunny. Look for natural tips at www.organicauthority.com. We are also trying southernwood laid around our catnip plants to keep slugs away. Oh, those nasty slugs. We’ll let you know if it is at all helpful.
Any standing water is a mosquito breeding ground. Check your yard regularly for water that may have collected in pots or other outdoor containers. Refill birdbaths every couple of weeks to discourage mosquitoes. Here at the farm we keep goldfish (I think maybe they’re “herbal” fish) in our large watering tanks to remove the mosquito larvae population.
Mosquitoes are kept away with a combination of rosemary and catnip which you can weave together and attach to your hat or wear as a necklace. We provided this combination to some food vendors and they said it was very helpful. Using a double infusion of feverfew to bathe arms, face, neck and exposed skin, then letting it dry, will provide protection from gnats, mosquitoes and flies. Pennyroyal and southernwood as well as rosemary and catnip, grown in pots on patios help to keep mosquitoes at bay.
Here are three herbs that are known to repel insects. They are all perennial and typically grow well in our area. (Exceptions are 2 weeks of temperatures in the teens and freezing snow like last winter.) They can all be dried and used in the home for a variety of purposes.
Catnip – a member of the mint family, catnip is well known to cat lovers as the “drug” of choice for kitties. It is a hardy perennial that grows 1 to 3 feet high in a bush type plant. In a tea, it is soothing and helps sleep to come more easily.
The essential oil in catnip that gives it that special odor, is also known to repel mosquitoes according to the American Chemical Society. Often better than commercial products. The extension office of the University of Illinois indicates that catnip repels a large variety of insects and sachets around the kitchen help keep flies and ants away.
Rosemary – grows wild along the warm Mediterranean coasts. But it can be a somewhat tender plant and freezing temperatures can kill it even in our somewhat temperate climate. It is a perennial that in sunny well drained soil can grow quite large, as much as 4 – 6 feet. The roots are susceptible to rot and somewhat fragile. Mulching over the winter might provide some protection.
It has a very long history of multiple uses. Its strong taste has made it a favorite flavoring herb for centuries. The pungent odor makes it useful in moth repellent sachets and room potpourris to keep insects away.
Southernwood – is a member of the artemisia family. It is a hardy bush and can grow to 3 feet. The leaves are fragrant and feathery and need a trim in the spring. There are three varieties: lemon (the most common), tangerine and camphor. It dries well and maintains its fragrance. Just cut a few small branches and hang upside down in a brown paper bag. It has no known culinary uses but is well known for keeping ants and moths out of a house. It makes a lovely ornamental addition to any yard.