Hanging Herb Garden

I saw this on Hometalk:herb-kitchen-hanging-garden-rods-container-gardening-gardening-kitchen-design

 

The original post was on 3 Peppers. One important thing that wasn’t mentioned is lack of drainage. Clearly punching hole in the bottom of these cute pails will result in cute puddles of mud on the windowsill and floor, so I recommend not doing that. The author added rocks to the bottom of the pails “for drainage”, but RLGS readers will know that’s counter-productive.  Just be careful how much watering you do, and test the wetness of the soil by poling your finger down a few inches.

 

Mosquito Prevention–5 Things

Mosquito Prevention–5 ThingsLarson Mosquito

 

I don’t get a lot of mosquitos where I live, in fact, several of my windows don’t even have screens on them. But I hate a mosquito bite as much as the next person, so I was interested  in a recent article about mosquito-repellant plants.

Preventing an invasion, tho’, starts with knowing a bit about the little fly. For example, who knew she’s attracted to Carbon Dioxide?

Some other facts:

♣Most mosquitos breed in stagnant water, but it can be as little as the drop that remains in a leaf axil or cupped leaf.

♠In colder climates, many mosquito eggs and/or larvae can over-winter frozen, or even dried out, in a state called “diapause”, beginning to grow again with thaw or water.

♥Usually the period from egg to adult is up to 40 days, but the adult lifespan only a week or so. And contrary to popular belief, the female will only feed once (unless disturbed from getting a “full blood meal”), then rest several days while digesting the meal and making eggs. They can only do this two or three times before the end of their natural life. So that one mosquito that bugged you all night and left you with multiple bites was actually a family of mossies.

♦It appears to be a myth that if you allow the mosquito to finish supper, and remove her proboscis unmolested, you won’t feel the itch of the bite. Couldn’t find any evidence for this.

The feeding preferences of Mosquitos include those with type O blood, heavy breathers, those with a lot of skin bacteria, people with a lot of body heat, and the pregnant. (Wikipedia)

WOW! Hard to change most of those things!

5 Things

Standing Water

Periodically check around the yard for standing water. Could be in a planter tray, the tarp covering your winter tires, the edge of a pool where your hose bib drips. Have you got a container garden without drainige holes (or enough drainage holes)?

The key here is standing water–if there is movement to the water, the mosquito won’t find it a hospitable place to lay her eggs. So if you’ve been resisting installing a fish pond (with pump adequate to the its volume), or water feature of some kind, never fear–there’s way too much turbulence for a mosquito nursery.

Fish

If you do have a pond, consider stocking it with fish for those quiet areas behind rocks or plants where the water isn’t really moving.

Of course, that means you’re keeping more pets, because even tho’ they are easy to look after, they do need some looking after. Not to mention fish predation–but that’s a subject for another post…

Diversity

I’ve harped on about this many times–it’s the answer to most of your garden concerns, from disease and pests to garden delight. In this case having habitat for many different species in your yard will decrease the likelihood of mosquitos enjoying the same neighbourhood. Mayfies, damselflies, dragonflies all love mosquitos and their larvae, but won’t eat enough to keep your evening read in the garden pest free. Ditto for birds. But lots of different birds and dragonflies, and frogs and toads, and spiders, combined with other prevention methods will go  a long way toward ensuring your family’s comfort.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Plant repellants

Plants with a lot of volatile oils are apparently good mosquito repellants, so plant them near your preferred sitting area in the garden–as well as further away, so you’ll have a mosquito-free zone.

Lemon balm--my tenant "accidentally" planted it in his section of the garden--it didn't stay there!

Lemon balm–my tenant “accidentally” planted it in his section of the garden–it didn’t stay there!

 Many of our favourite herbs have offensive smells to mosquitos–basil, rosemary, lemon balm, mint, lemon thyme, lavender, probably more. Besides growing them, picking off a few stems and rubbing it on exposed skin may increase the effect. Then there’s non-herb fragrant plants: garlic, marigold, rose-scented geranium (pelargonium, the annual kind), catmint (nepeta)…

Skin Care

Some of the above herbal applications may only work for a short time–half hour or so. Barbara Pleasant at Mother Earth News suggests watching out for what the mosquitos do: initially they don’t come near, then they alight but don’t bite, then they alight and bite. During that middle phase, get up and reapply some lemon balm or lavender–maybe try a different herb than last time? Some other suggestions are not wearing perfume and having a fan nearby. Apparently they’re weak fliers, but I guess the fan should still be pretty strong!

It’s a little late in the year to initiate many of these strategies, but maybe you’ll be inspired to add “anti-mosquito garden design” to your garden to-do list for fall or next spring.

Anyone have any great suggestions that I haven’t mentioned? Please share them here.

Child Friendly Garden Design–6 Things

Child friendly Garden Design

Yesterday I was out recruiting clients and a homeowner asked me if I could design something that would be suitable for her kids.

Bien Sur! I said–easiest thing ever. All you have to do is think of the things that kids love to do, and make sure your yard has that. What do kids like? Climbing, hiding, getting wet, exploring, experimenting, and of course, critters. And my first advice was “Take out the lawn.”

Climbing

So let’s start with climbing. Of course you can nail ladder rungs to a tree, or build a play structure, or you can incorporate climbing into the garden design. If you have a slope that needs remediation, good big rocks that act as retaining walls could also be chiselled with footholds. or use other funkier materials for retaining walls.

 

As long as the rocks are big enough, or embedded deeply enough, that is one great climbing wall. The one above is I believe concrete…things. If they’re constructed like a jelly roll, they’ll probably be close to two feet long.

Hiding

This could be a little secret garden, where a small patio or grassy patch is surrounded by shrubs or small trees. With a path of course, connecting it to the next secret garden or other space. Or a teepee with a wide base with runner beans growing. Or how about a mini-meadow of tall grasses? (Which makes me think of Cary Grant hiding from James Mason in a corn field.)

Water

Nothing kids like more than making a mess in water and mud. But you can have the water without the mud and pondless-waterfall-with-girlthey’ll still love it. A pond-less waterfall has all the joy of flowing bubbling water without the risk of a toddler falling in unnoticed.

You can get it done by pond-less waterfall suppliers, or DIY with a lot of Internet research.

 

Exploring

Think of a museum, or a zoo, or a science centre, where you take a defined route, and there’s something new to see around every corner. You can create the same anticipation in your garden with paths, varying height plants, and then exciting things to find around the bend.

Experimenting

Who doesn’t want the children to have a better understanding (than we did) about food sources. We’ve all heard of the surprise that some have when they find out that the carrots that come in a bag, all shiny and tiny, actually come from the ground. Dirty! If you grow a vegetable garden with your children, they’ll love being told to go out to the veggie patch to harvest a snack. Just have a bucket of water handy for them to rinse off their snack. Great to choose plants that are quick growing to start with. Beans are quick to germinate and grow, but slow to produce a harvest. Radishes are productive in only a month and snow or snap peas are not only quick to produce, but also clean to eat. Then there’s always sunflowers: growing so large you can almost see them sprouting.

Critters

Butterflies, frogs, beetles, spiders, birds, dragonflies. You can have them all in your own garden for your children to enjoy. The main thing you need for this is diversity. Trees and tall shrubs give shelter to birds. Water –even the pond-less water feature– will draw dragonflies and possibly even frogs. And the birds will love it. Spiders and beetles don’t need much encouragement, but letting some of the garden stay a little messy will still give them habitat. And plants with tiny flowers for the butterflies.

DSCN3342 2

Annual candytuft (Iberis umbellata) that self-seeds like crazy in my garden.

Letting some of your carrots or dill or parsley or coriander go to seed is perfect.

Redesigning your garden meet the needs of the whole family isn’t rocket science. It’s work, but fun work, and imagining your children enjoying so many different experiences is the place to start.