Pest Control Breakthrough in the Never Ending Battle around Home and Garden

Since I am not only an avid gardener, but also much concerned about the environment, I’m always looking for safe methods to grow plants including pest control in home and garden.

Think about pest control and how it works: We spray chemicals on plants or pests and the bugs die or stop reproducing because the chemicals are toxic to them. Unfortunately, many of these products are also toxic to humans and animals. Reading warning labels on pest control products makes you wonder why anybody would want to risk using them. Exposure to the fumes of these products can result in headaches, feelings of nausea and other discomfort Pesticide use can also results in chronic illness such as allergies, in miscarriages, sterility, cancer and even death.

We not only spray and fumigate in home and garden, we also apply bug killing toxins on our pets and expose them and ourselves non stop to a variety of chemicals to kill fleas, ticks and more.

Over the years, I have had some success with such Earth friendly things as vinegar, diatomaceous earth, garlic, cayenne pepper and Saver Soap in my never ending battle with bugs that invade home and garden. My quest also led me to pure essential oils which repel or kill bugs, yet are actually healthful to people and their pets.

Experimentation lead to the discovery that if the oils are used undiluted, they repel the pests, but if the oils are mixed with water, they often become “insecticides”. In other words, if you like to repel insects from entering your home, you can do that by putting a few drops of the appropriate oil on your fingers or some other applicator and then brush or spray the oil along the line of demarcation such as a windowsill, a door jamb, or other point of entry.

To kill or disable pests, mix a few drops of a specific oil with water in a spray bottle, shake frequently and aim at the pests. For example, to discourage aphids and ants from roses and other plants, generously spray infested plants with the mix. While the pests will leave or fall off, there is no harm done to the plant itself. (Best not to do that in mid day when temperatures go above 100 degrees F.)

You can keep ticks, chiggers and fleas off yourself and your pets when in the outdoors by using the appropriate oils. Either spray on exposed areas or rub on cuffs around neck, wrists and ankles. Avoid using oils near the eyes. Should you get oils in the eyes, dilute with vegetable oil – NOT with water. If an oil should be too strong for the user, experiencing a slight discomfort, apply a little vegetable oil to dilute. For your pets, you can put recommended oils around the neck, legs and along the back, but keep oils from around the eyes and other tender areas.

If an oil should be too strong for the user, apply a little vegetable oil on the area to dilute.

The following oils have been used successfully in the elimination of pests from home and garden:

ANTS: Peppermint, Spearmint

APHIDS: Cedarwood, Hyssop, Peppermint, Spearmint

BEETLES: Peppermint, Thyme

CATERPILLARS: Spearmint, Peppermint

CHIGGERS: Lavender, Lemongrass, Sage, Thyme

CUTWORM: Thyme, Sage

FLEAS: Peppermint, Lemongrass, Spearmint, Lavender

FLIES: Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage

GNATS: Patchouli, Spearmint

LICE: Cedarwood, Peppermint, Spearmint

MOSQUITOES: Lavender, Lemongrass

MOTHS: Cedarwood, Hyssop, Lavender, Peppermint, Spearmint

PLANT LICE : Peppermint, Spearmint

SLUGS: Cedarwood, Hyssop, Pine

SNAILS: Cedarwood: Pine, Patchouli

SPIDERS: Peppermint, Spearmint

TICKS: Lavender, Lemongrass, Sage, Thyme

WEEVILS: Cedarwood, Patchouli, Sandalwood

I like to add these cautions about essential oils: Not all essential oils on the market are safe. Many are diluted with harmful chemicals. Many essential oils are ineffective due to the way they are processed. Please make sure that you use safe, pure, properly distilled oils.

Copyright (c) 2007 Elisabeth Mcgill

Exotic Flowers: Luxurious and Impressive for Your Home and Garden Decor

There are several types of exotic flowers to best suit any occasion. And of course, depending on your personal taste, you will want to choose the best exotic flowers you can obtain to be the perfect flowers, the most adequate for the purpose they will be serving. For example: at someone’s funeral, you may want to choose bouquet of flowers that the deceased would have loved. Here are some other examples (after all, these flowers are for happy occasions as well as the more tragic ones.

Musas:

The Chinese Musa flower is a stunning example of the kinds of exotic flowers that are perfect for gardens or bouquets.

Calatheas:

The exotic flower called the Genus Calathea is in the Marantaceae family of plowers, however it differs from other genera. The Marantaceae family of exotic flowers, in which Maranta and Ctenanthe are included, are unbranched inflorescences cone-like clusters.

The calathea comes from tropical South America, Calathea, it has about three hundred different species. These flowers love the shade and humidity, they are virtually all grown in much of the world only indoors. These flowers require full shade from the sun. However, if they must, they can handle a small amount of morning sun. These exotic flowers need their soil to be moist but well-drained soil, the use of a fertilizer is recommended.

When, on the rare occasion that these exotic flowers are grown outside–you must be sure that they are healthy, they must be free from all pests and diseases. Some of calathea will die midwinter, but will return again midsummer.

Cymbidiums:

Cymbidiums contain approximately forty-four species they are found in the tropics of the old world. The elegant, large flowered types of cymbidiums come from the higher regions of the Himalayas, and they must be kept in cool conditions in order to bloom well.

Dendrobiums:

Dendrobiums actually have about one thousand different species in their enormous family, they have countess hybrids as well. However, there are many varied growing conditions for this type of exotic flower. It is recommended that one establish from where in the world, and at what altitude their plant is accustom to, in order to determine how to best take care of the plant.

Miltonias:

Miltonias are referred to as the Pansy Orchid sometimes. There are approximately ten different kinds of species, and miltonias are found primarily in Brazil, therefore they are warm-weather flowers, and there are many hybrids with wonderful fragrance, because the militona is such a fragrant flower to begin with. These flowers will add a wonderful sensory ambiance to their surroundings, because in addition to their scent they are extremely pleasing to the eye.

Odontoglossums:

Odontoglossums also have a wide range of species, approximately 0ne hundred and seventy-five. These exotic flowers originated in the mountains of South America, as well as in higher altitudes and are used to wet clouded forests. Thus these wonderful flowers must be tended to under cool conditions, many hybrids exist as well, so there are many types to choose from.

Oncidiums:

These are among the most popular exotic flowers and there are approximately six hundred different species in existence. They come from the tropics of the Americas, and few of them even grow in high altitudes, these also must be supervised under cooler conditions. Fortunately, the hybrids are more tolerant than the species, you will find that this is true for most plants.

Paphiopedilums:

Paphiopedilums, the root word being Paphinia–who was the greek Goddess that the Romans later named Venus. Around sixty species exist, coming from Asia India and New Guinea. There are species with mottled leaved which need to be kept in warm conditions. And the paphiopedilums that are plain leaved and single flowered require intermediate/cool conditions, and plain leaved multiflowered species have to have warm environments to survive.

Phalaenopsis:

Phalaenopsis, or the exotic flower that is often called the Moth Orchid comes from Java and the South Seas, the Philippines and Queensland Australia. Therefore, they are definitely warm weather growers, and they do prefer to be in the shade. Phalaenopsis would make the perfect houseplant, they are very free flowering and also make great gifts.

Vandas:

Vandas have approximately fifty species. Several hybrids have been derived from the tropics, Asia, and the orient–as far down as Australia. These hybrids require a warm environment that includes plenty of bright light. Many people hang them in their homes or gardens from wooden baskets.

Water Gardening:

Water Lilies and Lotuses are a beautiful touch to your pond, or waterfall etc. Major cultivars of water lilies and lotuses–almost all of which are hybridizers–explore the best landscapes in which to grow these exotic flowers.

Nymphaea and Nelumbo:

The genera Nymphaea and Nelumbo are beautiful species of exotic flowers, other genera in the waterlily family include Nuphar, Victoria, Euryale, Barclaya

Draecena:

Draecena (otherwise known as the dragon’s tree) is an exotic flower that neither requires regular watering, nor does it need much light at all. It’s a symbol of power and prosperity. These flowers may live up to one thousand years. A perfect gift for yourself or a friend or family member who does not have that much time for gardening, but would love to have a beautiful garden, however small, and something elegant and exotic to pass on for generations to come.

Anyone can add a striking touch of color to their home, or even the office with the elegant of wild exotic flowers. Exotic plants and flowers add a beautiful touch to any garden, home, patio or yard, as well as weddings, celebrations, banquets, and more solemn occasions.

How to Winterize Your Home Herb Garden

In order for your herb plants to survive harsh winter conditions you want to be sure to winterize your herb garden. This will enable your plants to come back strong in the spring to continue to provide you with a great bountiful harvest.

Winterizing your home herb garden is not rocket science. Mother Nature has her own magical way of preparing for winter and you will see, as fall approaches, a slowdown in the growth of your plants. Your herb plants will begin to lose their leaves. Don’t be alarmed if your perennial herb plants look as if they are dead. They are not dead. They are merely dormant – hibernating, so to speak, to survive the winter.

There are a several reasons you want to pay attention to the condition of your soil as winter approaches. Many herbs like their feet dry anyway because they are from the Mediterranean. Thyme, rosemary and lavender actually prefer dry soil. But you should be aware that wet soil will wick the heat away from your herb plants. Also, water freezes and can crack the roots of your plants.

“Old Man Winter” can be quite hard on your plants. Be sure to take a few extra steps to care for them for their winter protection and survival. Herbs are especially prone to root rot over the winter if they are sitting in wet soil.

Definitely do not fertilize or prune your plants at this time. You don’t want tender new growth getting nipped by the cold. You can, however, go ahead trim out dead or damaged stems and foliage.

The best protection you can give your herb plants is mulch. If winter temperatures in your area generally fall below -10 degrees Fahrenheit you will want to lay down lightweight organic mulch around your plants. Shredded leaves, pine needles or straw will do the trick. Some people even use sawdust. However, if you want your herb garden to continue to have a more manicured look, you will most likely opt for a commercial mulch mix. Stay away from whole leaves or heavier mulches as these can suffocate your plants.

I know you want to make sure your herbs see it through to another summer, so what you do throughout their growing season is vital. If you haven’t paid much attention to “lightening up” your soil throughout the summer months, please make it a priority when fall comes calling. It’s the best way to help ensure herbal survival through the winter months.

Your small annual herbs are perfect for digging up and putting them in pots to spend the winter indoors. Find a sunny windowsill or plug in the fluorescent light. This way you can continue to have fresh herbs.

Even though we all know the most fun in herb gardening is planting your seeds, watching them sprout and grow strong to provide you with wonderful herbs for cooking or other purposes, you do want to pay close attention to winterizing your herb garden. Taking the few steps to winterize your herb garden will enable your plants to come back strong next season.