Repel Mosquitos Naturally with a Mosquito Planter

Repel mosquitoes naturally with a mosquito planter!

I mentioned in my first container garden update that I would do a separate post detailing the plants I have in the pot I deemed my ‘Mosquito Planter’.  While we don’t get a ton of mosquitoes, we do live by a creek (damp) so we do see them around and they are not my favourite bug to live with.  In one of my Pinterest escapades, I discovered that I could create a container full of plants that mosquitoes don’t like. Namely plants of the citrus scented variety.

Not only does the scent of the plants keep mosquitoes at bay, I can even tear off a leaf and rub it on my skin if I’m finding they’re getting too close.  I may even bring a leaf or two along on any hikes we might be doing!

Here’s what I put in the pot:

  • Citronella Geranium (I would use these leaves on my skin)
  • Marigold ‘Lemon Gem’
  • Catnip
  • Lemon Thyme (can be used in cooking too!)
  • Gazanias (only because I had extra from another flower pot)

I was looking for lemon grass but I couldn’t find any before I got tired of diving to all our local nurseries.

Mosquito planter

I’m excited to see how this works as the summer goes on.  I hope it fills out nicely and that pretty flowers appear!

Have you ever done something like this?  Did it help ward off the mosquitoes?

 

Container Garden 2014: Update #1

I’ve been a little bit of a lazy container gardener this year.  I had grand plans to really use our space to grow a lot of veggies, but… I got lazy or overwhelmed.  I wanted to construct some sort of vertical gardening space that would allow me to plant herbs, radishes, lettuce and strawberries.

You see, I’m really good at deciding  that I’m going to do something, just not so good on the follow through :P  Maybe next year!

I still haven’t planted my lettuce seeds or my potatoes.  But, I was proud of the fact that I scored some free seed potatoes by putting a call out on a local Facebook Buy & Sell site!  I’ll get to planting them this week, promise. :)

Here goes for my first update.

First up, is a picture of my flower pot, mints (chocolate and apple) and tomatoes.  I hope to make delicious teas this year using those mints! (read all about apple mint here.)
mints#1

This year, I found a window box variety of Roma tomatoes and the other cherry tomato is a Sweet 100.

tomatoes#1

I’m not a huge fan of dried rosemary so I bought a rosemary plant that I hope to use fresh in my cooking.  Not pictured, is a basil plant I have at the front of the house.

rosemary#1

Last year I had beans and peas planted in this big container, but they didn’t really grow well.  So, this year, I decided to try something different and create a mosquito planter!  I’ll have more details about it in a seperate post in the near future.

mosquito planter#1

I’ll be back with another update soon because there’s been growth since I took these pictures and I’ll have more planted!

How’s your garden doing?

All About Apple Mint

Apple mint is an herb with many uses you can enjoy. Take a look at everything you need to know about apple mint and how you can grow some yourself.

You may know that many varieties of mint can be grown and enjoyed during the summer months. Spearmint, chocolate mint, and peppermint can all be grown and used in centerpieces, tea, desserts, and even in your crafting. But did you know that there is another mint often overlooked than can be just as fun and useful? Apple mint can be found at your local garden center, and it too has many uses you can enjoy. Take a look below at everything you need to know about apple mint and how you can grow some yourself.

First, let’s explore the basics of apple mint:

Apple mint has a fruity flavor and apple scent, which is not surprising since it is named after an apple, a quite popular fruit! Apple mint looks like most other mint varieties with a green stem and green foliage. What makes it a little different is that it has a light fur on it. It also produces reddish blooms in the late summer months and can be quite attractive. Apple mint likes to grow in full sun or part shade. Like other mint plants it needs well drained soil. It does like having its own space, so be sure to space each plant a good foot apart from the next. Apple mint is a perennial so it will grow back. If you plant it in pots however, you will need to plant a new plant each year.

Now that you know the basics about apple mint, here is how you can use it around the home:

1. Add leaves to your tea. Simply rinse them and add them to your cup. Allow a few minutes for the mint oils to permeate the liquid. Some people think apple mint helps with promoting relaxation and a good night’s sleep.

2. Make your own air freshener.
You can bundle stems of apple mint with a piece of string and hang it from closets. It will add freshness to the space and make it smell great.

3. Find pain relief when you soak an apple mint leaf in water and then place the wet leaf on the wound. This is perfect for bites and stings.

4. You can infuse your water by placing a few leaves in a gallon jug and filling it with water. Let is sit for 24 hours. Strain the leaves and enjoy the cool beverage!

5. Make your own marinade when you add a few apple mint leaves to vinegar and let the meat soak in the mixture for a few hours.

See what a terrific plant this can be? Grab your own apple mint and enjoy all of these uses, and more!

Tips for Growing and Using Basil & Oregano

Tips for Growing and Using Basil & Oregano

If you love cooking with fresh herbs, you will want to make space in your garden for basil and oregano. Both come in handy when making salads, marinades, infusions and more. If you are new to growing these herbs, take a peek below at some tips for growing and using basil and oregano in your own garden. They are easy to grow and practical herbs you are sure to enjoy.

Basil:

When planting basil, you will want to remember these basics:

  • This herb needs 6 to 8 hours of good sun
  • Avoid planting until after the threat of frost has passed.
  • Plant your basil plants a good 12-18 inches apart.
  • Soil should be well drained, and you may fertilize twice during the growing season.

Here are some wonderful ways you can enjoy basil at home:

  • Crumble leaves on top of your pizza, garlic bread, or other baked dishes.
  • Add a few leaves to a bottle of olive oil for some extra flavor.
  • Plant basil in your yard to help repel certain varieties of pests.
  • Blend the leaves into pesto to freeze and use later.
  • Add basil leaves to your salad, dips, and even soups.
  • Basil can even be added by the leaf to your pasta dishes.

Now, let’s explore another great herb, oregano!

Oregano:

When planting oregano, you will want to remember these basics:

  • Oregano doesn’t mind shade. Therefore a good 5-6 hours of sun is plenty.
  • Well drained soil is a must when growing this herb.
  • Cut away dead stems and foliage as the plant grows to encourage new growth.
  • Give plants a good six inches in between each to grow.
  • Oregano does not respond well to fertilizer, so just be sure to take proper care of your plants so they thrive.

Here are some wonderful ways you can enjoy oregano at home:

  • Add some crumbled oregano to your pizza and pizza sauces.
  • Add a few leaves to your pasta dishes and casseroles.
  • While your soup is simmering add a leaf or two of oregano for more flavor.
  • Infuse a bottle of olive oil with oregano leaves.

So what are you waiting for? Give these herbs a try and your table will never lack flavor!

Tips for Growing and Using Dill

Tips for growing and using dill

Most people associate the herb dill, with a jar full of dill pickles. If you love the flavor of dill, you’ll want to try growing your own so you always have it on hand. Growing your own dill is easy, just take a look below at some helpful tips to get you started. This is a fun and functional herb that is easy to enjoy and even easier to use!

How to plant and care for dill:

  • Plant dill in the early summer when temperatures have reached at least 70 degrees.
  • Plant your dill plants a good 12-18 inches apart from each other.
  • Dill pairs well when planted next to cabbage, so if you are growing cabbage they make great companion plants.
  • Water frequently, daily if the weather is especially hot and dry.
  • Remove any yellowing or dry, dead foliage as soon as it appears.
  • Take care to protect the delicate plants from strong wind or heavy foot traffic.

Once you have grown a healthy harvest of dill, you’ll want to use it! Dill can be used in a variety of ways around your home and yard. Let’s take a look at some of those ways below:

How to use dill:

  • Add some fresh dill to your fish before baking.
  • Add dill to your assorted oils and vinegars for extra flavor.
  • Pickle your own vegetables adding dill for extra zest.
  • Pep up your salads and dips when you add some fresh dill.
  • Plant dill in your flower beds to attract bugs that would eat harmful pests.
  • Add some dill to your potato salad to make it a crowd favorite.
  • Dill adds unique flavor to soups, marinades, and stews.

Dill is a fun herb that can be used and enjoyed in so many ways. Try growing your own batch of it this growing season so you have plenty on hand for all of these ideas. You will be so glad you did!

Tips for Preserving Herbs

Tips for preserving herbs

Are your herbs growing faster than you can use them? A flourishing herb plant is a good thing, however having so many that waste occurs, is not. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to preserve your herbs and get a longer life out of them. This is especially helpful if you live in an area where you can’t grow herbs year round. Take a look below at some helpful ways to preserve your herbs and have them available to you all year long.

Tips for Preserving Herbs

Freeze them.

To freeze your herbs all you need to do is break them apart while fresh and place them in ice cube trays. Add a little water, filling the tray about half way full. Freeze the tray and when you need some herbs in your cooking, all you need to do is pop a cube out and toss it in. Cool!

Press them.

You can press herbs between pieces of wax paper and store them in a cool place if you wish. While they don’t last as long this way as they would if you froze them, it will still help extend their life. This way is especially helpful if you want to use the herb in its original leafy form, such as in a salad or dip.

Dry them.

You can always take the old fashioned route and dry your herbs. Gather them into a small bouquet and tie them with string at the end. Hang them upside down in a cool and dark place until dry. This can take anywhere from 10 days to 2 weeks. To use, just crumble and toss in your favorite dish.

Add them to oil.

You can take fresh herb sprigs and toss them directly into your bottle of olive oil to create infused oil. This works especially well with basil. In no time the flavor will spread throughout the oil giving it a gourmet taste!

Infuse your beverages.

If your herbs are about to go bad and you need to use them quickly, you can infuse your beverages with them. Just clean the herbs and toss them into your teas, lemonades, and fruit drinks. They will infuse the beverage and even stay good for several days this way. See this post for 7 Infused Water Recipes.

Don’t let those herbs go to waste. Give these tips a try and prolong their life easily!

Tips for Growing Herbs Indoors

Tips for growing herbs indoors.  Armed with these tips, in no time, you will have fresh and tasty herbs right at your fingertips.

You may not have a great deal of land to plant on, or perhaps you don’t have the best soil conditions on the land you have. No worries. Did you know that you can still grow herbs indoors and enjoy the fresh taste and health benefits all year long? Growing your own herbs indoors is easy. Just take a look below at some helpful tips to get you started. In no time, you will have fresh and tasty herbs right at your fingertips.

Tips for Growing Herbs Indoors

Find a sunny spot.

You will want to place your herbs in a spot that gets a good 6 hours of sunlight a day. Take a few days to observe where the sun likes to settle in your home. That way, when your pots are ready you will have the perfect home for them. You also want to be sure the spot is away from heavy traffic or heat vents that can cause drying and damage.

Pick the perfect pots.

You can use various sized pots for your herbs, but your best bet is to keep one plant per pot. A 6-8 inch pot for each herb is perfect. Put some pebbles at the bottom of the pot for drainage and be sure your pots are placed on a saucer so catch any water drips.

Choose hardy plants.

Find plants that have strong stems, bright greenery, and are not withered or yellow. You also want to pick plants that have a moist yet tough root base. By choosing strong plants, you can make sure they are off to a strong start.

Pick easy to grow varieties.

If you are new to growing herbs indoors, try easy to grow varieties such as oregano, basil, and rosemary. All of these are quite hardy, don’t take up a great deal of space, and are easy to tend to. Chances are, they are also ones that you will use in your cooking most often!

Tend to your plants properly.

Always remove dried or spent foliage so the plant can use its energy elsewhere. Water as needed, keeping the soil moist at all times. Chances are you won’t need to weed your pots, but if you notice any weeds sprouting up be sure to grab them. You can add a few fertilizer pellets if you wish, being sure to follow package directions. To use your herbs, always take the foliage from the bottom of the plant, leaving the newer, younger greenery at the top to keep growing.

See how simple it can be to grow your own herbs indoors? Give these tips a try and you are sure to have herbs at your fingertips all year long.

Herbs to Use for Pest Repellent

Have you got some pesky pests you're dealing with in your yard? Here are 5 Herbs to use for pest repellant!

If you have children, or just want to live a more natural lifestyle, you may not be interested in using chemical filled pest repellents. Instead, why not give herbs a try? Herbs pack some serious pest repelling power and can do the job without the risk of chemicals. Take a look below at how to get started using your own herbs to keep those pests at bay.

Herbs to Use for Pest Repellent:

1. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm smells great and it is perfect for keeping bugs at bay. Plant it around your patio or keep a pot of it on your picnic table. Mosquitoes will stay clear of it and you will be protected. You can also rub the lemon balm directly onto your wrists for extra protection.

2. Basil
Flies hate basil! Plant a little basil in your flowerpots that decorate your patio or other social areas of your yard. This way, the flies will go elsewhere and let you entertain in peace.

3. Chives
Chives are not only tasty, but they repel a great deal of pests as well. Japanese beetles and aphids won’t come near them, so plant a plug or two of chives near the flowers you wish to protect from these pests.

4. Fennel
Fennel is tasty in your salads, but slugs and snails hate it. Plant a little fennel around blooms that these critters would otherwise devour. They won’t come near. It seems as though few plants repel slugs and snails, so this is one to try if these critters pose a problem in your yard.

5. Dill
You might plant some dill for your pickling needs, but it is great for pests too. Aphids and spider mites don’t stand a chance when dill is around. Tuck a plant or two in your potted plants and flower beds and never worry about them wreaking havoc on your yard.

Stop losing the battle with pests in your yard. Give these plants a try and enjoy a pest free yard the natural way!

How Much Can You Save by Growing Your Own Herbs?

how much money can you save growing herbs

Have you ever wondered how much money you can save when you grow your own herbs? The truth is, you can save a significant amount by growing your own as opposed to buying them at your local grocery store. And just think, with all of that money you save, you can buy that new patio chair you wanted, or perhaps some more flowers to beautify the yard. Take a look below at how the savings can break down for you and how much you can pocket after just one growing season.

First, let’s look at the cost of fresh herbs via your grocery store:
At my local grocery store, a small package of fresh basil is about $3. The cost of a basil plant at my local farmer’s market or greenhouse is $2. As it grows throughout the season, I can easily pick off three times that amount of leaves. So to buy 30 leaves fresh at my grocer it would be $9. Growing it on my own it costs $2.

Now, let’s look at the costs associated with growing your herbs:
To grow your herbs you will need some pots or land, soil, and fertilizer if you desire. You will also need to water regularly. While these supplies do cost money, they are not necessarily expensive and a little goes a long way. You can rest assured that growing your own herbs is inexpensive and does not take any real chunk of money out of your budget.

And remember, you only pick what you need:
When you grow your own herbs, you don’t pick them until you need them and you only pick what you need. This way, you avoid waste. If you bought a package of fresh herbs at your grocery store, you may not get to them all at once and some will certainly end up in the garbage. That’s like throwing money away! When you grow your own, you avoid this and only pick and use what you need for a particular recipe.

Over the course of a growing season, suppose you planted five herb plants at $2 each. For about $10, those five plants can easily grow $30 or more of fresh herbs. That is a wonderful investment and return on your money.

Try growing your own herbs and you will not only eat fresher, you will save money in the process.

The Best Soil for Container Gardening

The Best Soil for Container Gardening

While you may be tempted to use plain old garden soil for filling your containers, garden soil is actually not ideal (on its own) for container gardening.  It’s not ideal because having proper drainage for your container vegetables is necessary to the success of your plants.  See, garden soil is much more dense than soil made specifically for containers.  so, if you use only garden soil, water can pool around the roots of your plants, which causes them to drown because they’re lacking oxygen.  So having a lighter mix of peat moss, compost and vermiculite will allow water to drain properly, giving the roots proper oxygen.

Along with proper drainage, the main functions of a potting mix are:

  1. To hold moisture and nutrients around your plant roots.
  2. To allow enough oxygen for roots to be able to breath and not rot.
  3. To provide proper support for your plants, protecting them from the elements. You don’t want them to blow over from the wind!

If you want an easy way to give your plants the highest chance at success, you can simply head to your local garden shop and buy a bag or two of potting soil.  But if you’re looking for something that you can customize yourself, here’s a basic potting soil recipe:

Basic Potting Soil

1 part peat moss
1 part compost
1 part vermiculite

Simply mix all the ingredients together in a large bucket, wheelbarrow or tarp. Just so you don’t inhale too much dirt and dust, you should wear a mask during the mixing process.

You also might want to add some  fertilizer based on the type of plants you want to grow in the pots, which is available at your local garden store.  Speak to one of the helpful employees and they’ll be sure to recommend something that will suit your needs.

Note: if you’re growing potatoes in a container, regular garden soil should do the trick!