It’s that time of the year again folks if you have trees especially citrus ones that you want to have full of fruit year around got to make sure to fertilize at the right time. I have a lemon tree and grapefruit so this is something I definitely keep up on but I do have to keep my dogs away so they don’t eat it. If you have doggies or a tree in the walkway of other doggies always make sure to use organic pet friendly fertilizer in the event they happen to get into it! http://www.gardeningknowhow.com did this great article help for anyone who needs it:
When to Apply Citrus Fertilizer
In general, you should be doing your citrus fertilizing about once every one to two months during active growth (spring and summer) and once every two to three months during the tree’s dormant periods (fall and winter). As the tree gets older, you can skip dormant season fertilizing and increase the amount of time between active growth fertilizing to once every two to three months. To find the best citrus fertilizing time frames for your tree, judge based on the tree’s physical appearance and growth. A tree that looks lush and dark green and is holding onto fruit does not need to be fertilized as often. Fertilizing too much when the tree has a healthy appearance may actually cause it to produce inferior fruit. Citrus trees are most nutrient-hungry from the time they bloom until they have firmly set fruit, so make sure you apply citrus fertilizer when the tree is in bloom regardless of health so that it has enough nutrients to properly produce fruit.
How to Fertilize a Citrus Fruit Tree
Citrus tree fertilizing is either done through the leaves or through the ground. Following the directions on your chosen fertilizer, which will be to either spray the fertilizer onto the leaves of your citrus tree or spread it out around the base of the tree as far as the canopy reaches. Do not place fertilizer near the trunk of the tree.
What Kind of Citrus Fertilizer Does My Tree Need?
All citrus trees will benefit from a slightly nitrogen rich or balanced NPK fertilizer that also has some micro-nutrients in it like:
Citrus trees also like to have somewhat acidic soil, so an acidic fertilizer can also be beneficial in citrus tree fertilizing, though not required. The easiest citrus fertilizer to use is the kind made specifically for citrus trees.
Every kitchen needs to always be stocked with garlic and onions for all the recipes. So if you don’t want to ever be caught without start growing them at home. Check out step by step from http://www.oldworldgardenfarms.com:
Fall is the perfect time for planting a delicious crop of garlic and onions in your garden! And with just a little work now, you’ll be rewarded with a bountiful harvest early next summer. Although both garlic and onions can be planted and grown as traditional spring crops, an early Autumn planting has several advantages.
For one, fall planting allows each plant to grow a larger, more robust bulb come harvest time. But even better, overwintering these two crops also helps to develop better flavor in the bulbs – as if they both weren’t already tasty enough!
And let’s face it, you can never have enough delicious homegrown garlic or onions on hand. In fact, we use at least one or both everyday, whether it’s for fresh-made dishes, or as ingredients in tried and true recipes like our homemade garlic pasta sauce or overnight garlic pickles.
And that is exactly why planting our fall crop is important! Here is a look at how we plant both onions and garlic, along with a few secrets we have learned along the way to growing a successful crop.
3 Big Secrets For Planting Fall Garlic & Onions
#1 Plant The Right Way – At The Right Time!
When planting a fall crop of garlic and onions, it’s important to get your bulbs in at just the right time. For both, that means planting to allow 6 to 8 weeks of growth before the cold of winter sets in and they go dormant.
That growing time is critical for both crops, as it allows them to set their roots for strong growth in the spring.
Here on our little Ohio farm, we usually plant during the first week of September. But wherever you live, simply count back 6 to 8 weeks from when your fall frost / freeze dates occur, and plant accordingly.
Great Soil = A Great Crop
For maximum growth, it is critical for both crops to have fertile, well draining soil. It not only allows bulbs to grow larger, but keeps them from rotting in the sometimes overly wet conditions of late fall and early spring.
Before planting fall garlic or onions, add in generous amounts of compost to the bottom of each planting furrow. The compost will provide both the nutrients and improved drainage the bulbs need to thrive.
To accomplish this, we first dig our furrow, and then add about an inch of compost into the bottom of the trench. Then we plant the bulbs down into the layer of compost. This allows the seed to be surrounded by life-giving nutrients as it sprouts and grows.
Both garlic and onions can be planted in rows, but they can be grouped closer than you might think no matter how you plant. In our 18″ wide raised rows, we plant both crops 3-wide down each row, with 4″ spacing between bulbs.
This closeness not only helps conserve space, but also helps to keep weeding and maintenance to a minimum. In a single 20′ long bed, we can grow close to 80 heads of garlic or onions.
As for the depth of planting, we plant our garlic bulbs 3″ deep, while the onions go in at 2 inches. And remember when planting – always plant with the pointy tip of the bulb facing up.
#2 Soak Before Planting – How To Plant Fall Garlic & Onions
One of the best things you can do to get your onion and garlic crops off to a great start is to soak them before planting.
Soaking allows the bulbs to absorb moisture before heading into the ground. And without moisture, bulbs simply won’t sprout.
To soak, simply fill up a 5 gallon bucket of water the night before planting and dump the bulbs in. Be sure to use water that is not treated as it can actually harm the bulbs.
The simple task of soaking bulbs can speed up sprout times by a week or more!
#3 Mulch Those Crops – How To Plant Fall Garlic & Onions
And perhaps the biggest secret of all for a great crop is to mulch that crop! Not only does it help protect the crop through winter, it also keeps competing weeds at bay.
After planting, place a thin 1″ mulching of straw on top of your crop. Once crops have emerged, apply an additional 3 to 5 inches of mulch before winter sets
This will help to protect each of the crops from the harsh winter temperatures and winds. Once spring arrives, simply add a bit of fresh mulch to top of the rows, and get ready for a great early summer harvest!
If you love buying fresh veggies from the framers market probably not to crazy when you get home and realize there is still dirt on some. It’s probably not a good idea to wash them either if you are going to put them away in the frig, thank goodness Martha Stewart has your guide to washing fresh vegetables!
How to Wash Vegetables
Before washing vegetables, wash your hands. Soaking or swirling vegetables in a bowl of water is ineffective and may even spread a contaminant. Vegetables must first be scrubbed, and then rinsed off in running water. If you intend to peel the vegetables later, wash them with soap. Soap also destroys waxy coatings that bacteria enjoy sticking to. If you intend eating the vegetables with skins on, some soap residue may remain, and the FDA has no data on the effects of consuming it. And special washes marketed for fresh produce have not been evaluated for their effectiveness. If in doubt, peel before eating.
Use a clean scrubbing brush to clean your vegetables, the disinfect it in the dishwasher after. After you’re done scrubbing, rinse washed vegetables under running water. Dry thoroughly with freshly cleaned kitchen towels or paper towels.
Which Vegetables Should Be Washed?
Vegetables with skins should always be washed. These include roots and tubers like beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips, celeriac, radishes, rutabagas, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Fruits (that are often confused for vegetables) including cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and summer and winter squash also fall into this category. Luckily, they all come with handy built-in wrappers (their skin) and are the easiest to wash effectively.
You should also clean all stem vegetables. The outer stems of celery and fennel can be removed (just remember to save them for cooking), and then you’ll want to wash the rest of the vegetable.
In the flower and bud family, you’ll want to wash globe artichokes, broccolini, broccoli, and cauliflower—but these are all vegetables that are hard to wash perfectly. If you’re cooking them, there’s nothing to worry about—harmful bacteria that you missed during the washing process will cook off. If you want to enjoy the crucifers raw we recommend peeling and eating broccoli’s thick, washed stems, or the crunchy core of a cauliflower.
Beans and peas in shells should be placed in a strainer for cleaning; rub them well while rinsing under running water. Certain vegetables in the onion family do not lend themselves to washing. Case in point? Washing onions and garlic with dry skins is not practical, but do peel them and wash your knife and hands after peeling, and before chopping or slicing. Soak leeks to get rid of lurking sand, but then rinse them under running water. Ditto with scallions.
For leafy greens like cabbages and Brussels sprouts, be sure to remove their outer leaves before washing. Swiss chard, chicories, dandelions, spinach, all the Asian greens, beet greens, lettuces, and arugula are impossible to wash 100 percent effectively. In fact, washing may even spread a contaminant like E.coli around. Cooking-heat will destroy any pathogen. Cooked greens are still very healthy and are sometimes more nutritious than raw (think spinach). The bad news is that we love raw salad, and people get sick more often from eating contaminated lettuce and other salad greens because they are rarely cooked before being eaten.
Are pre-washed, bagged greens safer? No. Pathogens may have been present in their washing water, or on hands when they were bagged. The only way to eliminate any chance of foodborne illness from leaves is to cook them. But if you love salad as much as we do, you may prefer to rinse them under running water, take a deep breathe, and trust the statistics. The chances are excellent that they will do you more good than harm.
The most reliable method of destroying foodborne pathogens is heat: If you want to be certain that dangerous microbes are not present, wash, and then cook your vegetables. Experts recommend that any fresh produce, whether it’s organically grown, purchased from a supermarket or a farmers’ market, or even from your own garden, should be washed. Microscopic pathogens hide in plain sight. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites are the tiny culprits that cause foodborne illness.
Bacteria are everywhere and are essential for life (and sourdough!). A million could fit on the head of a pin. In terms of food safety, undesirable bacteria come mostly from unwashed hands. They may also be spread through dirty water (in irrigation or, ironically, triple washing), livestock or wild animal feces, coughing, sneezing, insects, rodents, or dirty utensils. Viruses are tinier than bacteria. Unlike bacteria, viruses do not reproduce in food; it only serves as their vehicle to a human host. The presence of a virus on fresh produce is usually a sign of contamination due to poor hygiene: like not washing hands thoroughly after using the toilet, or coughing, and before handling food.
Parasites are rare in vegetables (raw meat and fish are the more common vectors). But parasites can be transmitted by poor hygiene (wash hands after cleaning the litter box), or via wild foods—like mushrooms collected where animal scat is present, or watercress from streams where liver fluke occurs. When in doubt, cook vegetables thoroughly. Washing will not help.
I always love finding new uses for ordinary household items, especially when it comes to gardening because it could cost money to maintain. Epsom salt not only good for you but also has several uses in organic gardening for healthy plants.
1. IMPROVE SEED GERMINATION
Using Epsom salt as a soil amendment before seeding will give your garden a powerful boost right from the start. Magnesium aids in seed germination and helps to strengthen cell walls, leading to more and stronger seedlings.
For best results, incorporate 1 cup of Epsom salt per 100 square feet of tilled soil or mix 1 – 2 tablespoons into the soil at the bottom of each hole before dropping in seeds.
2. INCREASE NUTRIENT ABSORPTION
Many commercial fertilizers add magnesium to help plant roots take up vital nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur.) For those using all organic materials to feed their gardens, adding Epsom salt to soil will improve absorption naturally, eliminating the need for processed chemical fertilizers.
3. COUNTER TRANSPLANT SHOCK
We’ve all seen how our plants and seedlings wilt when we move them from a small pot to a larger one, from indoors to outside, or from greenhouse to ground. Try feeding transplants with Epsom salt once they’re in their new environment to help injured roots overcome transplant shock.
Remember to add a layer of soil on top of salt sprinkled in holes so roots don’t come into direct contact with these concentrated minerals right away.
4. GREEN UP FOLIAGE
Plants that aren’t getting enough magnesium can be identified by their yellowing leaves. This is because magnesium is an essential component in the production of chlorophyll. Try sprinkling Epsom salt around your plants to achieve healthier foliage.
About 1 tablespoon per 12 inches of height once a month will benefit the plants in your vegetable garden, as well as any trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses you want to green up.
5. PREVENT LEAF CURLING
Leaf curling may also be caused by magnesium-deficiency in plants. Again, add Epsom salt to the soil around the base of the sick plant.
Alternately, for faster absorption you can mix 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in a gallon of water and apply directly to the leaves.
6. DETER GARDEN PESTS
While Epsom salt won’t dehydrate slugs and snails like table salt (sodium chloride), it can still be used to deter pests. Hydrated magnesium sulfate crystals are sharp and when sprinkled around plants, they can scratch and irritate the bodies and feet of unwanted critters in much the same way as diatomaceous earth.
(Keep in mind that Epsom salt dissolves very easily in water, thus any amount of rain will likely wash them away.)
7. GROW SWEETER FRUIT
The production of fruiting bodies is the most taxing process in the life cycle of a plant. Apply Epsom salt to fruit and nut trees, bushes, and vines using the same methods and quantities stated above to boost chlorophyll levels inside the plant cells.
Increased energy means more sugar, allowing the plant to produce higher yields of sweeter, healthier fruit.
8. TASTIER TOMATOES
Tomato vines are one of a handful of common garden residents whose fruit to plant size ratio is heavier than average, leading to an even higher likelihood of magnesium-deficiency. For this reason, tomatoes should be fed Epsom salt twice as often as other plants.
Also, because tomato vines are prone to calcium-deficiency (blossom end rot), the majority of tomato fertilizers contain calcium which will compete with magnesium for root absorption. Therefore, foliar feeding is the more efficient method for delivering magnesium to these plants.
Water tomato vines with dissolved Epsom salt – 2 tablespoons per gallon of water, every 2 weeks.
9. MORE PLENTIFUL PEPPERS
Peppers are another popular garden plant with a higher-than average fruit to plant size ratio. As such, they should also be fed magnesium every two weeks to achieve higher yields of larger fruits. For hot peppers, over-watering can lead to fruit with less heat, thus the soil amendment method may be preferable in this case.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt for every foot of height around the drip line of your pepper plants once per week.
10. BEAUTIFUL, BOUNTIFUL ROSES
Not only does it help roses to produce larger blossoms in greater numbers, many successful rosarians will agree that magnesium also aids in the growth of new canes from the base of the plant. And of course, Epsom salt increases chlorophyll production meaning darker leaves. For maximum benefit, roses should at the least be fed with Epsom salt at time of planting, then again at the first sign of new growth, and once more when the flowers are in full bloom. Bare root roses may also be soaked in water containing dissolved Epsom salt before planting.
It is almost impossible to use too much Epsom salt in your garden. Magnesium sulfate is pH neutral, so it won’t harm your soil. The crystals break down into water, magnesium, and sulfur – three components which are beneficial in some way to most plants.
Epsom salt is safe, easy to apply, and works fast to correct a variety of problems and increase the overall health of your garden.
As if that weren’t enough, Epsom salt is also inexpensive making it one of the most perfect tools for the health-conscious, responsible gardener.
Thinking it’s too late to grow a home garden not if you check out homesteadingfamily.com page. They have answers for all your questions to be about growing a garden in the later months of the year.
Even if you didn’t get a spring garden planted, there is still time, late summer, to plant vegetables and harvest them before the first frost. A late summer garden means you can harvest fresh produce well into fall and sometimes even into winter. Here are 20 vegetables that grow well when planted in late summer.
What vegetables can you still plant in late summer?
Even in early spring we like to use succession planting to stagger our harvest. Because we’re planting in such large volumes, if we don’t do this we’ll be overwhelmed once harvest time rolls around.
By planting a little bit each week, this means we’re able to eat fresh all season long, and we’re also harvesting in stages so not ALL of one crop is ready at one time.
Use a Garden Planner
In order to successfully grow a late summer garden for a late fall harvest you need to know when your first average frost date is. Then, working backwards accordingly, you’ll know which crops you’ll be able to get into the ground in order to harvest before the frost hits.
We love using Clyde’s Garden Planner. If you don’t have a garden planner, pick one up as they’re an invaluable resource that’s very inexpensive (use code: HOMESTEADINGFAMILY for a discount!).
Root Vegetables to Plant Late Summer
As mentioned above, there are quite a few root crops you can plant and harvest before the ground freezes. Certain varieties even do quite well when you leave them in the ground and cover them heavily with mulch.
If you plant beets in late summer, be sure to plant them densely and harvest the leafy greens as you thin the plants out.
Certain varieties of carrots actually get sweeter if they’re left in the ground once winter hits.
Other root vegetables like radishes are pretty fast growing and you’ll have plenty of time to harvest for fresh eating throughout the remainder of the growing season.
Always check your seed packets for the growing window as well as how well the variety handles cold. Even within a specific vegetable, there will be varieties that do better growing into the winter season.
Peas & Bush Beans to Grow in Late Summer
Peas will be happy through a light frost, however beans will need to get in and harvested before a frost as they don’t handle the cold as well.
It’s also better if you plant a bush bean variety, not a pole bean.
Our kids love planting the dragon tongue beans and they’re a great variety to grow!
Brassicas You Can Plant in Late Summer
When planting brassicas you’ll want to be sure to check the length of time they need to grow to maturity.
For cauliflower, there are some quicker varieties you can grow, so choose accordingly!
For broccoli, a sprouting broccoli will be best. They won’t grow those large crowns we’re used to seeing for broccoli, but you’ll get a lot more side sprouts. These are also wonderful because they’ll die back and winter over, then it will be one of the first things you’ll see come back in the garden come springtime.
Cabbages do great when planted in late summer as they can handle the winter cold much better than other vegetables. We specifically love the Chinese cabbages and they’ve done very well for us in the past.
As always, check the seed package or the catalog for a variety that does well with colder temperatures.
Leafy greens are wonderful because they grow up so quickly and can be harvested young as microgreens if you don’t have time to let them grow to full maturity.
Some greens like kale and spinach can handle colder temperatures quite well.
But what we love about lettuces is that, when planted densely, they will grow upright and be very easy to harvest. We’ve found that leafy greens will continue to feed our family well into the winter, especially when we utilize our greenhouse to extend the growing season.
There you have it! 20 vegetables that you can still grow, even in late summer!
Do keep in mind that these are the vegetables we can grow here in the far north of Idaho. If your climate is more mild, you’ll likely have a larger list of vegetables that you’ll still have time to get in the ground and harvest before the weather turns too cold.
Have you seen those 5 min craft videos and wonder if some of the stuff they do is real? Well growing herbs in water to start a garden is, and it’s pretty easy. http://www.gardeningsoul.com has 10 healthy herbs you can grow in water to start:
Put some herb cuttings in glass bottles with plain water, and it is best to use spring water if possible, as it is high in minerals. You should not use chlorinated water, as the bleaching chemical can damage the plant tissues. You should leave some tap water to air overnight or store some rainwater.
Choose a glass bottle, a mason jar, or even a plastic bottle for the herbs. Yet, use colored bottles or warp a piece of paper around the bottle as the roots should not be exposed light.
The darkness will help you avoid algal growth on the bottle and on the root. The narrow-mouthed containers support the cuttings and keep them upright.
Yet, avoid narrow or tight-fitting ones as the mouth of the container should support a free transition of air for the roots to be able to breathe.
You should pick soft cuttings roots, and cut some 6-inch sections from the growing herbs. Put them in the containers and remove the lower leaves as they can rot in the water and spoils it.
You can change the water once a week in the case of herbs like rosemary cuttings. As soon as the roots start growing, within 2-6 weeks, you do not need to change the water.
To stimulate the rooting, place some willow branches in warm water overnight, and then use them as a soothing hormone mixture. You can use some rooting hormone powder as well.
Rosemary – The root of the semi-woody cuttings of rosemary need more time, but the new shoots in the spring grow faster. Keep the plant in a sunny spot.
Sage – You should take some sage cuttings in the spring and place them in water. Place the herb on a bright spot in a well-aerated place as it is prone to mildew.
Peppermint – This herb is high in the volatile substance menthol which provides a cooling sensation on the skin or tongue and does not change the temperature. Just put a few fresh cuttings in water, as it is the easiest herbs you can grow in water.
Tarragon – You need some spring cuttings after new growth appears, and place the herb on a warm and bright place. Tarragon can be of various types, and the French one is best for culinary purposes while the Russian is better to be used for salads.
Basil – This herb is easily grown in water. Place the cuttings in water before they start flowering and place the container in a sunny place.
Spearmint –Peppermint is a natural hybrid of spearmint and it is easily grown in this way.
Thyme – Take some newly grown, green cuttings, in the mid-spring or early summer before the thyme starts flowering, place them in water, and spray the parts which are under the water to avoid its drying. As soon as it is grown, cut the stems to boost branching.
Oregano – Place the fresh cuttings of oregano in water and pinch the growing tips as the herb grows.
Lemon balm – You should pick several cuttings in spring or fall, and place them in water in a bright spot. After 3-4 weeks, the cuttings will develop roots. Change the water often, or you can keep the plant outdoor if the weather is warm. You can prepare tea from the leaves.
Stevia – You can add stevia to some beverages and teas. Just place some stevia cuttings from actively growing branches in a container full of water, and keep it in a sunny and warm place.
Who doesn’t love to sit outside and soak up the sun for a while. If you don’t have a big back yard or a sitting area here are some ideas to get one! You don’t need much space or much money either depends on what you want to do check out http://www.gardeningsoul.com:
I love looking at all the different bird that hang out in the yard but one of my favorites is the hummingbird. They really are beautiful birds that zip around the yard all day. I decided to get a closer look so what better idea than to put out a birdfeeder. Hummingbirds have a high metabolism so to supply energy needs, hummingbirds drink nectar from flowers. I wanted to find the perfect mix to make nectar for my feeder:
Make a rich sugar solution to attract hummingbirds to your yard. The sugary sweet mixture will encourage visiting hummingbirds to stay in the area. High-energy food is also important for hummingbirds in the spring because it helps to replenish the energy reserves that hummingbirds use up during migration.
Mix a solution of 1 part white, granulated sugar, and 4 parts warm water. Stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cane sugar is sucrose that falls into the carbohydrate family. Carbs are easily digested and give the hummingbirds the immediate energy they need to keep those little wings flapping. Organic and “raw” sugars contain iron and brown sugar, agave, artificial sweeteners, honey, should not be used either.
Boil the sugar water for 1 to 2 minutes. Boiling the mixture will slow down any bacterial growth that may occur. Boiling the water will also get rid of any extra chlorine that might be in your tap water (which in turn could harm the little hummers.) It is not necessary to boil the solution if you are only making a small amount of food for immediate use.
If you do not boil the mixture, you will need to change the food every 1 to 2 days, or else bacteria may grow in the mixture that could harm the hummingbirds.
Do not add any dye to the food. Though hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, red dyes have been known to harm hummingbirds. Natural hummingbird food (nectar) is odorless and clear–there is no need to add dye to your homemade hummer food.
Store the hummingbird food until you are ready to use it. Keep the food in the refrigerator. If you make a large batch of the food, you can keep the extra amount in the fridge until your feeder is empty. This will save you time when refilling your feeder.
Pick the right feeder. Red feeders are the best because the color red attracts hummingbirds. You should hang your feeder in a shady spot if possible because the nectar will stay fresh longer when it is in the shade. Hang your feeder in your garden if you have one. Hang your feeder near a window (but far out of the reach of cats) to be able to enjoy these beautiful little birds.
Some hummingbird enthusiasts say that you should only hang a feeder near a window if you have cut-outs of birds on the glass to keep the hummingbirds from flying into the glass and potentially injuring themselves.
There are lots of places to get a great feeder and they range in price from $1 up to $$. Dollartree, Biglots, Target, Wayfair, Amazon, the list goes on. As soon as I put my feeder out the little magic birds came to enjoy!
I love finding different ways to help my garden grow, and when it comes to not spending money it’s a win – win! I also keep reminding my boys how important recycling is so bonus teachable moment at home!
Though nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are most vital for healthy growth, calcium is also essential for building healthy “bones”—the cell walls of a plant. Composed of calcium carbonate, eggshells are an excellent way to introduce this mineral into the soil. To prep the eggshells, grind with a mixer, grinder, or mortar and pestle and till them into the soil. Because it takes several months for eggshells to break down and be absorbed by a plant’s roots, it is recommended that they be tilled into the soil in fall. More shells can be mixed into your soil in the spring.
By the same token, finely crushed shells mixed with other organic matter at the bottom of a hole will help newly planted plants thrive. (Tomatoes especially love calcium.) For an exciting recycled garden cocktail, try mixing your eggshells with coffee grounds, which are rich in nitrogen.
Finally, eggshells will reduce the acidity of your soil and help to aerate it.
Next, with a nail or awl, make a hole in the bottom for drainage. Add soil and seeds according to the packaging. When sprouts appear, plant them—egg and all—right into the soil. See a complete DIY at 17 Apart.
Apparently you can also use egg’s insides to deter deer. See DIY: Homemade Deer Spray. Be aware, however, that while deer hate the smell of eggs, rodents love it. Therefore, it may not be best to use this deterrent near the house.
Many gardeners also tout the use of crushed eggshells as a snail and slug repellent. But a recent test by All About Slugs in Oregon seems to have dispelled this. If you’ve had any success with eggshells as slug repellent, we’d be curious to know.
When it comes to the inevitable face-off between you and bugs, keeping them away from your immediate vicinity is probably top priority as they thrive during the warmer months. While there are always options like pesticides and bug traps, it certainly doesn’t hurt to explore potential natural solutions before trying harsher chemicals (even though they can be necessary with serious infestations).
That’s where plants come in. There are a slew of different herbs, bushes, and flowers you can put in your garden or outdoor space that have a solid reputation for keeping bugs away. “Plants are in the business of repelling insects, because this is one of the most important ways to avoid insect damage—by feeding,” explains entomologist Roberto M. Pereira, Ph.D., an insect research scientist with the University of Florida. But, of course, plants also need insects to perform cross-pollination so they can survive. “It is an arms race between plants and insects, each trying to survive and prosper,” Pereira says.
Not sure where to start? Below, we rounded up the plants gardeners love to use to repel annoying bugs. They won’t wipe out mosquitoes, ticks, or flies for good—no plant really will—but their unique properties may send pests in another direction while simultaneously sprucing up your yard, garden space, or patio.
You’re probably most familiar with citronella candles to repel mosquitoes, but the smell comes from a plant called Cymbopogon nardus, which gives off a distinct beach grass vibe. It’s the oil from the plant that’s actually the repellent, according to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC).
But Pereira says you’d need to have a lot of them to mimic the concentrated effects of burning a citronella candle or torch, so you shouldn’t rely on plants alone to keep mosquitoes away.
If you just want one citronella plant, though, consider placing it in a pot near an outdoor seating area. “This plant gives off very little aroma—you can smell it if you crush the leaves—and so would only work if you were sitting right up close to it,” says board-certified entomologist Nancy Troyano, Ph.D., director of operations education and training for Ehrlich Pest Control.
Lemongrass is a tall, perennial grass that’s native to tropical and sub-tropical climates of Asia. It looks a lot like citronella grass, and also has similar mosquito-fighting properties, Pereira says.
One scientific literature review found that lemongrass oil offered up to 95% protection against certain types of mosquitoes for 2.5 hours, while another study found the oil can deter stable flies in a lab setting. Keep in mind, though, that it was the oil that was studied—not the plant itself. But if you’d like to add a few to your yard to see if they help, it’s a great place to start.
Many commercial bug repellents contain plant essential oils, and peppermint oil is one of the most promising when it comes to warding off mosquitoes, research suggests, as well as certain spiders. But it’s not clear why, exactly, some bugs don’t love it, Pereira says, although the strong smell may have something to do with it. And again, studies have mainly been done on mint oils, not the plants.
Another hack to consider: You can combine 10 drops each of peppermint, thyme, and rosemary essential oils mixed with water in a spray bottle. Then, spritz the solution around your garden to help repel flies, fleas, mosquitoes, aphids, ants, spiders, chiggers, and more.
Catnip is known for its ability to give your feline friends a mellow buzz, but the herb also has some bug repellent properties. One study found the essential oil from catnip can help deter houseflies and mosquitoes. Another study from Iowa State University also found catnip oil to be a more effective “spatial repellent” than DEET, the most popular ingredient in insect repellents. Same caveat, though: Catnip oil isn’t the same as actual catnip plants, but the results are promising enough to warrant adding a few to your yard if you don’t have cats to worry about.
This herb has a reputation for getting rid of ants, flies, and mosquitoes, but there isn’t a ton of science to support the claims outside of mosquitoes. Research has found that having a pot of sage around can offer up to 32% protection against certain types of mosquitoes. Since that’s 32% more protection than you’d get with no repellent, it’s not a bad idea to consider sage in the future, especially if you enjoy adding fresh sprigs to your meals.
These colorful annuals have the potential to keep away bugs like aphids, certain beetles, leafhoppers, and squash bugs. But, keep in mind that you need them to bloom to do their thing. Petunias’ potential bug-repellent properties “may only be there if flowers are present,” Pereira says.
Marigolds contain pyrethrum, an insecticidal compound that’s used in bug repellents. There isn’t a ton of research on the effects of marigolds on insects, but gardeners have long sworn by them to keep annoying pests, like mosquitoes and destructive nematodes, at bay. These annuals, while gorgeously vibrant, have an off-putting smell that many bugs (and people!) don’t seem to like. Try using them to create a pretty border around your patio, or place potted marigolds near common entryways, like doors and windows. (Just keep arrangements away from tables, where they may attract bees and wasps!)
This spiky herb, thanks to its particularly pungent scent, may help keep mosquitoes away, Troyano says. In fact, research has found that, when compared to 11 other essential oils, rosemary had the longest repellent effects on mosquitoes, and may even deter other insects like aphids and spider mites—just note that these results were all based on rosemary oil.
Research has found that lavender can be effective at repelling mosquitos and other arthropods. It’s not clear why the flowering plant can act as a repellent, though—it could just be that the smell doesn’t appeal to bugs, Pereira says. “What is pleasant to you does not have to be pleasant to other humans, other mammals, other vertebrates, or other animals including invertebrates such as mosquitoes,” he says.
A study published in the Journal of Vector Ecologyfound that basil—specifically hairy basil—knocked down and killed certain types of mosquitoes 100% of the time. Here’s the thing: This was tested in essential oil form, which is likely to be more potent at fending off mosquitoes than the actual plant. Overall, though, Pereira says the plant “produces a repellent odor” that mosquitoes don’t like.