Sunday, July 31, 2016

Gardening and Essential Oils

Essential Oils are invaluable in the garden to protect plants against munching insects and to protect and treat the gardener against insect bites and sunburn and the like.

Because essential oils are natural molecules originating from plants, they are not going to disrupt or poison the environment.  The goal in gardening with essential oils is not to massively attack and eradicate anything perceived as "the enemy."

 The creative use of essential oils in your garden will enhance the growth and fragrance of your flowers and the great flavour of your edibles while encouraging pollinators to keep coming into your garden to do their essential work.  Here are some tips for inviting in what you want and repelling what you don't want (non-violent pest control) in your garden:

Bambi Hates Rosemary

Deer can wreak havoc in gardens, stomping on plants and eating decorative ornamentals and veggies.  It turns out that deer have an aversion to certain strong-smelling herbs like rosemary, yarrow and lavender.  Commercial repellents generally contain a synthesized version of this and sometimes include coyote urine as their chief deterrent (ewww).   You can grow rosemary, yarrow and/or lavender around the perimeter of your yard/garden, or you can boil up 6 sprigs of Rosemary in 8 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of Tabasco Sauce (or a teaspoon of cayenne with a shot of vinegar).  Spray on the plants and around the perimeter of the garden/yard.  (Yes, it is ultimately the release of the natural essential oils in the rosemary that repel the deer-- it may also repel other animals such as bunnies, cats and raccoons, not sure).

Repel Ants

\Ants "milking" Aphids
The greatest harm that ants do in my yard is to 'raise herds' of aphids, which they like to 'milk' the honeydew from for their own (and their queen's?) tasty little libations.  Growing common tansy, mint and pennyroyal plants around your affected garden plants (roses? fig tree?) or door to your home will repel them.  You can put 3 neat drops of essential oils of Spearmint and Peppermint on cottonballs and place beside your doors.  You can spray their nests and along shelves with the essential oils (diluted 8 drops of E.O in 1 gallon of water).  Garlic oil and citronella are also helpful.

  (Sweet Little) Aphids

Getting rid of ants as much as possible (see above) will probably cut back on your aphid problem, since ants are the cowboys of the insect world and aphids are their beef herds.  Other than that, just interspersing your aphid-vulnerable plants with nasturtiums, spearment, stinging nettle, garlic, potatoes, parsley, basil and horseradish will keep their numbers down.  Also, making a tea with any or all of the above (boiling the above together or putting plant matter in a pail and adding water that you will use in a few days) will make an effective spray.  Nasturtium is a good bet!  Essential oils like Spearmint, Peppermint, Cedarwood, and Hyssop work well.  For a spray, combine 4-8 drops of the Essential Oil with 1 gallon of water.

Black Fly Shoofly!

Annoying little suckers... they bite as well as being annoying in that buggy way they have.  Plant Stinging Nettle (don't laugh-- I have this planted in several places), Basil and Lavender.  Put some Lavender Essential Oil on when you are out where there are black flies.  Tangetes, Tansy or Lavender Oil can be sprayed to shoo them away!  4-8 drops of the essential oil in 1 gallon of water does the trick as a spray.  Strips of muslin hung as in a clothesline or like a line of pennants from the used car lot, and sprayed with, or soaked in, the various essential oils (4-8 drops in 1 gallon of water), should deter the flies from frequenting places in or near the cottage where people are gathered or individuals are trying to read a good summer's book.

Cut Out the Cutworms!

Where I was when I heard that John Kennedy had been assassinated-- and the first time I saw a large cutworm-- both imprinted on my mind with equal gravity.  Oakleaf and Oak Bark (as in a wood chip walkway, say, as a garden mulch) keeps away the cutworm population.  Try putting 3 drops, neat, of either Thyme or Sage Essential oil on a cotton ball and placing where you suspect the cutworms are gathering.  Spray the base of nearby plants in an area affected by cutworms with 4-8 drops of Thyme or Sage in a gallon of water.

And from Pinterest, a safe DIY Insecticidal Soap you can spray to keep the aphids at bay...

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