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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Natural Bug Patrol Part 3

Now for our final part of Natural Bug Patrol, Garden Pests!  For all of you gardners out there you know exactly what I am talking about! The things that bite holes through your leaves, the worms that will destroy your tomato plants and even the animals that come out at night to steal your corn (I know these aren't bugs but if you decide to try sweet corn, racoons are a big threat)!  Her are some or our favorite ways to keep our garden safe.

Fertilization:  Fertilizers provide nutrients and aids with healthy soil composition. In addition to protecting roots and encouraging plant growth, rich soil contains organisms that compete with pests and inhibit infestation. While most commercial fertilizers are formulated with acids that can damage these organisms, organic alternatives do not carry this risk. Think about starting a compost pile, save your grass clippings, these are both natural fertilizers that your garden will love!

Eggshells: Eggshells provide valuable nutrients to soil and are also an excellent source of calcium. Wash well, dry, and crush before adding to the soil. Eggshells are especially helpful for tomatoes because the extra calcium helps lower the chances of blossom end rot. You can also use eggshells as a pest deterrent. Crush and mix with a little sea salt. Then spread it around tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and cabbage.  The crushed egg shells acts as broken glass which hinders proper movement while the salt dehydrates slugs and snails.

Coffee Grounds: Slugs and snails, two garden foes, are no fans of coffee. Mulch with coffee grounds around plants bothered by these munching pests, and you will see a reduction in damage. It is said, that the caffeine in the grounds is absorbed by the slugs as they move over them, and it acts as a poison. Safe for you and your soil --- not so much for the slugs.
Worms love to eat coffee grounds, because of their small particle size, moisture retention, and their tendency to grow microorganisms.  And as every gardener knows, worms are very beneficial to gardens aerating the soil and working in important nutrients.  Adding coffee grounds to your soil will make it more attractive to worms, directly benefiting your plants.

Marigolds: Marigolds are a wonderful flower to plant in your vegetable garden. Their
smell will keep away rabbits, deer, and squirrels, as well as harmful types of insects. In addition, it helps attract beneficial insects to your garden as well.
 For information on other other plants that will repel pests CLICK HERE. 

Natural Pesticides:
  • Grind 3 large onions, 1 bunch of garlic and 3 hot peppers. Mix with water and leave overnight in a covered container. In the morning, strain through fine strainer or cheesecloth and add sufficient water to produce approximately one gallon (16 cups) of pesticide.
  • Soak 10-15 diced garlic cloves in a pint (2 cups) of mineral oil for 24 hours. Strain and add to a spray bottle.
Fungal Diseases: For fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, you can mix up a homemade fungicide. Fill a spray bottle with lukewarm water and add a tablespoon of baking soda, a tablespoon of dish washing liquid, and a tablespoon of cooking oil. Shake to mix well and spray.

Tomato Hornworms: To read about how to keep your garden free of these destructive worms CLICK HERE.
Radio: If the main predator of your garden are raccoons, rabbits, deer, etc, you may want to try keeping a radio on at night.  Animals do not like coming out around humans, so while you are sleeping put an all talk (this is very important) radio station on and sleep with no worries of 4 legged thieves in the night!  We tried this one year with our sweet corn after having trouble with raccoons.  It worked wonderfully until one night we chose a station that went off air in the middle of the night.  We woke up to peeled and eaten corn all over the ground.  Also, do not use a music station, only the talk stations work effectively.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Natural Bug Patrol Part 2

We are moving on to Part 2 of our Natural Bug Control.  Now we are going to look into some all natural ways to keep flying insects away from us this summer.  

1. Peppermint:  Mix two cups water and 30 drops of peppermint essential oil into a spray bottle.  Use this to spray wasps nest in the early morning or evening.  Peppermint is a natural repellent and killer of several insects and lawn pests so those trapped in the nest will die and those that come back to the nest will be repelled and move elsewhere.  You can also use a solution of two cups water and two large squirts of unscented liquid dish detergent to spray directly on the nests.  Again be sure to do so in the early morning or evening while most of them are in a restful state.

2. Homemade Traps: Using a razor blade, carefully cut a 2-liter bottle in half at the top, just above the shoulder of the bottle.  Fill the bottom part halfway with water.  Use the top part as the bait by spreading jam around the neck of the bottle.  Turning the top part upside down, fit it into the bottom part and use two pieces of tape to hold the two pieces together.   As the wasps go down the hole to get to the jam, they will find themselves stuck and will drop down into the water.  Use a little bit of dish soap in the water to make it hard for them to tread in the water. (You can also use a sweet fruit juice or koolaide in place of the water to lure them into your trap. Be sure to also add a good squirt of dish soap).
Tips: In the spring and early summer wasps are attracted to protein-based baits (raw liver or chicken), and in the later summer and into fall they are more in search of sweeter baits.
Be sure to empty the tray daily as to not let the wasps build up and become a raft for others to survive on.
Most effective if set 4’ above the ground

3. Bee and Wasp Repellent: Mix 1/2 oz. citronella oil, 1/4 oz. lavender oil, 1/8 oz. pennyroyal oil, 1/8 oz. tea tree oil and 1/8 oz. jojoba oil. Then mix the oils into 16 oz. of jojoba oil. You can apply the repellent to your skin the way that you would lotion.

1.  Essential Oils: Many essential oils are a wonderful natural repellent for mosquito if you are looking for an alternative to store bought sprays.  Here are the top used oils:
  • cinnamon oil
  • lemon eucalyptus oil
  • citronella oil
  • castor oil
*As some people are sensitive to essential oils it is best to mix these oils with a carrier oil or alcohol.  The mixture should be 10-25 drops essential oil mixed with 2 Tbsp of a carrier oils or alcohol (olive oil, sunflower oil, or other cooking oil, witch hazel or vodka).  Once mixed, you can then rub or spray the natural repellent onto your skin or clothing, be sure to avoid the eye area. 

2. Lemon:  Mosquitoes hate lemon scent.  Try mixing lemon dish soap, lemon ammonia and lemon juice in a 20 gallon sprayer and give your yard a good spray every two weeks. 

3. Lemongrass and Citronella Plants: Both these plant are natural mosquito repellents.  Put pots of either of these plants around the area you use the most to help ward off these pesky insects.

1. Homemade fly papers:  Mix 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 tablespoon white sugar and dipping strips from a brown paper bag into the mixture. Let the strips dry overnight and then hang them with a loop of string or twist tie pulled through the top.
Venus Fly Trap
2. Venus Fly Traps: Plants that eat flys! 

3. Mint: Mint is also a natural fly repellent; crush mint leaves and sprinkle them around doorways and windows where flies are entering your home.

4. Zip Lock Bag of Water: Fill a zip lock bag half way with water.  Put 4-6 pennies in the water and hang the bags in areas with high fly population.  This is a must try!  Especially since it will literally only costs you pennies!

1.  Homemade Trap: Next time you see those annoying little bugs flying around your kitchen try this trick!  In a small bowl, mix apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dish soap and put under a light in your kitchen overnight.  You will be amazed at what you find in the morning!

2. Covered Homemade Trap:  In a glass jar, pour apple cider vinegar and few drops of dish soap.  Next you have two options.  One: put plastic wrap over the top and poke 4 or 5 holes in it, big enough for fruit flies to get through.  Two: roll up a piece of paper and put in the jar making a funnel.  Whichever you decide to use, the fruit flies will be attracted to the vinegar and fly in the jar but will not be able to get out.  (Instead of vinegar, others like to use slices of banana or other sweet fruit in the jars)

Stay tuned for Part 3!  Natural Garden Control!  Do you have any natural tricks to keep the insects away? 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Natural Bug Patrol Part I

Spring is such a beautiful time of the year! But at my house it is also a hectic time of the year. Anyone else know what I’m talking about? You have been cooped up in the house all winter so the first nice day you open up all the windows to air the house out and start your spring cleaning, inside and out. While you’re cleaning, you have the kids running in and out, door opening and closing, snacks being carried from here to there and of course crumbs going everywhere inviting those pesky ants to follow the crumb trail and take residence in your home. And my least favorite part, finding spiders hiding in various places around the house. Instead of using harsh chemicals to rid your house of unwanted pests and maybe doing more harm to you and your family than your unwanted guest would, here are some all natural bug repellents to try.

1.      Keep A Clean Environment: Probably the most common sense way to keep ants away is to keep counters and floors clean of crumbs and do not leave food sitting out.  But if you have children, unless you followed them every second of the day with a broom and dust pan, this is not going to happen.  But keeping your counters as clean as possible is a great start to controlling your ant population.
2.    Cinnamon Sticks and Garlic: The aroma that comes from both cinnamon sticks and   If you find the entry source or just a common place you see them, place a cinnamon stick or a peeled garlic clove there.  We also like to keep a cinnamon stick in our pantry, the smell is welcoming when opening the doors and it keeps the ants from taking up shop in unwanted places.
garlic cloves (the first being the most pleasing) are natural repellents for ants.
3.   Vinegar or Black Pepper: These are another two natural ant repellents.  Keep white vinegar or apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle to have on hand when you see one these pesky visitors.  Black pepper is a great one to use when you see a group of ants.  And here is a tip; keep an eye out for where they run too.  They will most likely lead you to the very way they are getting in so you can load up the pepper at the entrance so they may never return!
4.      Mint: Mint is said to destroy the smelling capabilities of ants therefore preventing them from smelling the wonderful goodies hidden in your home.  To use mint as a preventive tool for ants, plant it around your home, especially near doors and close to areas where you find ant hills.  You also can place mint leaves in your window sills or around your doors to prevent ants from entering.  Or like the cinnamon stick, keep a couple leaves in your cupboards or pantry for a pleasant smell and natural repellent. (Mint tea bags work well also).
5.     Cucumber Peels:  Yes I said cucumber peels!   These help to ward off ants, bitter ones work the best.  Slices will also work, but the peels seem to work the best.
6.     Homemade Ant Trap: Mix one liter of water, one teaspoon of Borax and a cup of sugar. Soak cotton balls in the solution and place them in a small yogurt container with holes punched in the lids to allow ants access. Place container in a location where ants are present. Ants will carry the bait back to their colonies where it will eventually kill the colony. Important: use indoors only; must be kept away from pets and children.

1.    Essential Oils: Some essential oils (especially the citrus ones) make wonderful spider repellents.  Simply add up to 5 drops of essential oil and up to 5 drops of natural dish washing liquid to 1 qt of water.  Put into a spray bottle and shake well.  Spray the mixture around along your baseboards, in corners and around any area that you tend to see spiders hang out.  Reapply once a week. Best Oils to Use:

a.       Citrus (lime, lemon, lime)
b.      Tea tree
c.       Lavender
d.      Cinnamon
e.      Peppermint
f.        Citronella

2.   Citrus Juice:  Most spiders (and other insects) are repelled by the smell of citrus.  Buy a sugarless Citrus juice and mix with water.  Put in a spray bottle and use to wipe down your counters, inside of drawers and cabinents.  You can also spray around windows and doorways.   This also makes a great garden spray for your plants.  Another way to repel unwanted garden guests in to lay lemon, orange or lime peels in your garden.  If you are not a fan of citrus, try this mixture:  Add ½ cup of vinegar and 2 Tbsp of chili powder or hot chili sauce  mixed with 1 qt of water, mix well and put in spray bottle.  Spray this spicy blend on spider webs and around places that spiders like to build their webs.
3.   Chestnuts:  Chestnuts are a natural spider repellent that can be laid around your garage, basement and house.  

Stay tuned, because next we will discuss some natural repellents to get rid of those pesky flying insects!  And also our unwanted garden guests!

What natural repellents do you like to use?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Growing Healthy Kids

As a parent, I am always looking for quick and healthy ways to get veggies into my kid’s diet.  My Bowen loves eggs!  I am so thankful for that!  So lately I have been throwing his veggies right into his eggs!   This is a wonderful way to introduce new foods to your children’s diets.  Take a food they already love and add foods that you love to see them eat! Today I picked his favorite so far.  This is a very simple dish full of nutrients and best of all super quick!  

It has been so important with both of my children to constantly have them try new foods and more importantly new textures.  It is very easy to just serve foods we as parents are familiar with but in doing so we are creating little clones of ourselves and our beliefs. 

Use your child's favorite fruits in their salads!
Growing up I always heard, “the kids won’t eat that” or, “the kids don’t like salads”.  Salads were considered "grown up food", not food you would give a child.  I carried around this belief my whole life and didn’t start enjoying salads until I was older.  When Arleena was about 5 she saw me eating a salad and asked for a bite… it was a salad with avocado, tomatoes, tuna and spinach and she loved it… That broke through my belief about salads not being for kids and I started incorporating creative salads for lunch and dinner.  I use a chopper to give Bowen a finely shredded salad.  Also, when I was growing up a salad consisted of iceberg lettuce with a little cheddar cheese and ranch dressing.  Today, salads at my house are healthy and full of things my kids already love, just combined together.  This may seem like a little thing, but what foods do you not feed your kids because you don’t like them or you believe your kids will not like them?  I challenge you to try more flavors in your family so you can grow up kids that are comfortable with healthy!!!

Same thing with eggs… how often do we just add the cheese because it is what we have always done?  Look in your fridge and start shredding some veggies and trying new things with your eggs.  Your kids just might find a new favorite omelet!  And you may find yourself a new favorite way to make healthy eating easy!


1 cup spinach
4 Cherry Tomatoes
2 eggs
Olive Oil
Vegan Cheddar Cheese

Step #1: Use a chopper or knife to finely chop 1 cup of spinach and four cherry tomatoes

Step #2: Wisk up 2 eggs and add spinach and tomatoes and mix up.

Step #3: Preheat a small pan on medium high heat and spray with Olive Oil

Step #4: Add egg mixture and cover.  Once it starts bubbling on top flip over and sprinkle cheese on top and shut off heat.  Cover until cheese melts.

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