Fact or Fiction? ~ Citrosa, Mosquito Plants

When strolling the isles of my outdoor gardening center around the end of June I noticed something I didn’t know existed…

Citrosa ~ The Mosquito Fighting Plant

Bug fighting plant on background

After laughing out loud all by myself I looked around to see if anyone was near by. I do that a lot I’m afraid to say, but if I find something hilarious I don’t care and I laugh…

The closer I came to this plant after squinting to read the label I grabbed two of the sad looking plants that were starving for water. Actually, by mid-June most of the plants are marked down and rarely given any water. Probably, in hopes they would all just die so they could close that section of the center.

The plants smelled just like citronella candles minus the smoke from the wick burning. I was sad to learn that these plants were annuals and not perennials because I thought it might be nice to have these come back each year.

I won’t be bringing these indoors when the frost arrives, because the aroma is very strong and they would have me choking like I do when following someone in the grocery store who sprayed half of their bottle of perfume all over their bodies.

So, I thought I would research these plants to see if the claims were any where near true. Given my detective nature I was off on yet another journey over the inter-webs…

I found out that you must crush the leaves to release the essential oils from the plant and rub this over a small section of your arm for the first time just in case you get a reaction you don’t want from the oils. They said there was a short-term mosquito repelling qualities 30 to 40 percent that of DEET.

But, there are plants with better numbers compared to DEET out there such as:

Lemon Thyme

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Crushed Lemon Thyme will give you 62 percent the protection of DEET.

Lemon Balm

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Crushed Lemon Balm offers a much greater quantity of citronella, 400 times as much as the Citrosa plant.

These two plants are less expensive and easier to grow it also stated.

Here are a number of other plants that can be beneficial for you as bug repellent and good also for your garden plants as a deterrent to those nasty bugs and slugs that eat away our growing vegetables..

Alliums

Take that you cabbage worms, carrot flies, aphids, and the dreaded slugs… I will be planting these flowers next year and they are really tall and beautiful in the garden…

Dill

Run for your life you nasty Tomato hornworms, squash bugs,cabbage loopers, spider mites, and aphids…

Basil

Get outta here! You mosquitoes and house flies!

Chives

Move on out! You Japanese beetles, aphids, and carrot flies…

Fennel

Slugs you better slime away, along with the aphids and snails…

mint

Mosquitoes don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, run for the hills!

Rosemary

Be gone! Vegetable plant bugs, mosquitoes and flies…

Petunia

This beautiful flower packs a big punch! Wham.. you asparagus beetle, tomato hornworms,squash bugs, leafhoppers, and aphids…

Parsley

oregano

Last but not least is the Oregano …

There are many more if you want to research it, but this has been a good start for me and I’ve made a nice list of new plants and old ones to grow next year and the proper placement for them in my garden to try and have a bigger harvest, instead of the bounty I’ve been feeding to the slugs, and other bugs… I want harmony in my garden and food for my belly… wink 🙂

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Until next time,

~Laura~

 

The Slug ~ Friend or Foe?

This summer has seen very little rain for our gardens, we’ve drained out every drop in our rain barrels, until just recently when the skies began to open up and shower upon us the rain we’ve needed since May.

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The slug problems for me were non-existent during this time, until just recently where the garden beds are damp from night-time showers. Luckily, my permaculture beds are draining the rain off as fast as it pours down and believe me this is a good thing.

But, and yes with me there are many of these…Slugs still march on in whether it be an army or just a few scattered here and there. One morning, while sipping my coffee I looked over at the sunflowers with 9 flower blooms on the two plants growing in harmony together ~ What did my eyes go and see?

The biggest Brown Slug I’ve ever seen and during the daylight hours too. This Friend or Foe slithered up the sunflower stalk and made its self comfortable on the pretty yellow petals of the flower. I raised my camera, closed one eye and clicked the shutter button.. I really didn’t want to get a good look at it. But, just for you I lightened up the picture in photo shop, since it turned out so dark ~ happens when you don’t wanna look at what you’re taking a picture of..

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I’m certain you’re happy this picture turned out horrible with its blurry pixels ~ I know I was…But since the slug in my garden and I have to co-exist during gardening season I thought I would find something, anything, whats so ever about these Gastropod Mollusc (Slugs or snails) that I could live with on a rainy day. I won’t ever use poison to rid these creatures in my garden because what’s the use of growing your own food if you’re going to also poison yourself in the process…

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So, after looking on the inter-webs for information that I really found hard to read, since these beasties really do creep me out. I decided to google funny images for a change of pace to lighten up my thought processes…

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After looking at these two funny pictures I could feel my mood changing away from complete frustration over these pests in my garden eating the pretty yellow petals of my sunflowers I began to actually absorb the information about this topic. I already knew from experience the slugs find hostas plants as delightful as I find a nice lobster on my dinner plate, dipped in warm creamy butter.

So, why are they here I pondered…I know every single thing on this planet has a reason for being here, whether it’s for their beauty or because they are food for another predator. Did you know chickens adore these slimy critters, as do birds, toads, frogs, snakes, raccoons, etc the list was almost endless….

I wondered if I made a visit to City Hall and tried to convince them to allow me to raise just a couple of nice looking chickens within these city limits because I needed a way to rid the slugs devouring my lettuce leaves…. Would they accommodate my needs?

So, after giggling over that thought I remembered hearing something about Diatomaceous Earth to help with the critter problems in the garden.

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Or, I could…

 go and buy some beer at the beer store and try to drown them while they are feeling woozy and perhaps flirtatious with each other or servicing themselves… Did you know they are both male and female all wrapped into one slimy package? hum… too much information….

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http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/degen.html

The link above will tell you all about Diatomaceous Earth

Perhaps, the hated slug will never become my friend and the same goes for it being a foe. These slimy creatures do play an important part and benefit us ecologically.

http://budgeting.thenest.com/ecological-benefits-slugs-31334.html

So, I’ll continue to keep all of my hostas plants far from the garden beds, hoping these creatures dine there instead, and if they do find my lettuce leaves heavenly ~ Well who am I to dictate where they will eat out….

But, for now the Diatomaceous Earth is going around my Sunflower Plants, as these are a private section for the owner of this little piece of earth for the time being that is.. we can merely just tend to the earth and then return it when we’re gone… Life is way too short for all of this frustration over slugs in my garden beds. Because I dined on home grown Beets, and Carrots this evening and not a single slug was invited…

One last thought on this slimy matter. Early on in the springtime the caravan of caterpillars marched right on in to the yard with all of their markings so pretty in the daylight. Oh there will be a butterfly and perhaps that one is going to be a Monarch, Arctic Skipper, or a Zebra Swallowtail.. Come on in and dine on all of the newly sprouted leaves on my bushes my endless legged friend, because one day very soon you’re going to magically turn into something of beauty. Here, you bright green crawling thing, take this plate of honeysuckle leaves and have some maple leaves too…

Artic Skipper

~Arctic Skipper~

When pondering the differences between how I felt about the slimy slugs, and the caterpillars I noticed something. In the Spring, granted we in the north are so happy to be out from underneath the many feet  (meters) of snow that we’re happy and almost delighted to watch the brightly colored caterpillars slowly, but with purpose crawl into our yards and gardens.

After a rain when the same occurrence happens and the slugs slide on in during the darkness of nightfall, we are ready to head outside after midnight with a mallet in one hand and a torch in the other to bang away at the shiny bits crawling around our plants. Granted these creatures are something that this old saying applies, “Only a mother could love.”

But, the animals that feast on these slugs and snails consider them to be a bounty for their palates. I can remember thinking not too long ago I wish I had snail problems instead of the shell less slug. At least I could admire the different markings on the shells of a snail, instead of being grossed out by the slugs. Hum…

Just because beauty is not the first thing you think about when looking at slugs in your garden I think if you really with both eyes looked at all of the different markings and colors on the many species you’d be almost amazed. Remember, just a few grains of salt can turn this ravenous jelly like creature into a pool of slime. We are the Ghost-busters of the slug world when we put on our holsters locked and loaded with SALT.

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Until next time

~Laura~