As the outdoor season approaches, many homeowners and outdoor enthusiasts look for ways to control mosquitoes. With all the publicity about the West Nile virus, mosquito repelling products are gaining in popularity. But many commercial insect repellents contain from 5% to 25% DEET. There are concerns about the potential toxic effects of DEET, especially when used by children. Children who absorb high amounts of DEET through insect repellents have developed seizures, slurred speech, hypotension and bradycardia.
There are new DEET-free mosquito repellents on the market today which offer some relief to those venturing outdoors in mosquito season. But there are also certain plants which are easy to grow and will have some effect in repelling mosquitoes from areas of your home and garden.
Here are five of the most effective mosquito repelling plants which are easy to grow in most regions of the US:
Citronella is the most common natural ingredient used in formulating mosquito repellents. The distinctive citronella aroma is a strong smell which masks other attractants to mosquitoes, making it harder for them to find you. Although citronella is used in many forms, such as scented candles, torches and citronella ‘scented’ plants, the living plant is more effective because it has a stronger smell.
Citronella is a perennial ‘clumping’ grass which grows to a height of 5 – 6 feet. It can be grown directly in the ground in climate zones where frost does not occur. If grown in the garden or near the patio, it should be planted in the ‘background’, behind small decorative flowers and shrubs. In northern climate zones citronella can be grown in a large pot or planter, ideally with casters, so it can be rolled indoors during winter.
Gardening centers usually sell citronella as small plants in pots, ready to transplant to a larger pot or into raised garden beds on the ground. Once established, new plants can be propagated in early spring by splitting large clumps into smaller sections and replanting the new ‘starts’ in pots or other areas of the garden. Citronella plants are considered low maintenance, like most grasses, and they do best in full sun and well-drained locations. Periodic applications of nitrogen-rich fertilizers will ensure vigorous growth, but this treatment only needs to be applied once a year, preferably in early spring.
When purchasing citronella, look for the true varieties, Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus. Other plants may be sold as ‘citronella scented’, but these do not have the mosquito repelling qualities of true citronella.
Also known as Beebalm, Horsemint is an adaptable perennial plant which repels mosquitoes much the same as citronella. It gives off a strong incense-like odor which confuses mosquitoes by masking the smell of its usual hosts.
Horsemint is a fast growing, shade-tolerant and drought-resistant plant which reaches a height and width of 2 – 3 feet. It does well in dry, sandy soil and can tolerate salty conditions, which is why it is often found in coastal and beach areas. Horsemint seeds can be sown indoors in trays for later transplanting, or sown directly into the ground in late summer in colder climate zones. Midwest and Eastern growing zones are favoured for growing horsemint.
Mature horsemint plants can be divided in spring and fall by dividing into small sections and transplanting into permanent locations. Horsemint can also be planted in pots for moving indoors in cold climate zones.
Horsemint leaves can be dried and used to make herbal tea. Its flowers will also attract bees and butterflies to your garden.
Commonly grown as ornamental border plants, marigolds are hardy annual plants which have a distinctive smell which mosquitoes, and some gardeners, find particularly offensive. Marigolds contain Pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents.
Marigolds prefer full sunlight and reasonably fertile soil. Although marigolds can be planted from seed, starter plants are inexpensive and readily available at most garden centers. Although an annual, marigold will often reseed itself in favourable conditions, or the gardener can easily collect seeds for future germination. Established plants will need to be thinned, and flowers should be dead-headed to promote additional blooms.
Potted marigolds can be positioned near entrances to your home and any common mosquito entry points, such as open windows. The smell may deter mosquitoes from going past this barrier. While marigolds can be used as border plants around the patio, we do not advise putting marigolds on the patio table since the bright blooms may attract wasps.
Besides repelling mosquitoes, marigolds repel insects which prey on tomato plants, so you may want to plant a few marigolds in your tomato bed for added protection.
Also known as Flossflowers, Ageratum emits a smell which mosquitos find particularly offensive. Ageratum secretes coumarin, which is widely used in commercial mosquito repellents.
Ageratum is a low-lying annual ornamental plant which reaches heights of 8 – 18”, and is easily recognized by its blue flowers, although there are varieties with pink, white and violet blooms. This plant will thrive in full or partial sun and does not require rich soil. It is often displayed in rock gardens where low-lying plants are favoured.
The ancient practice of farming fish in rice paddies benefits both parties, a study has found.
A traditional farming technique that cultivates rice and fish side-by-side could help small farmers earn more money from their crops and reduce the impact on the environment, according to a study.
When fish were introduced into flooded paddy fields, farmers were able to grow the same amount of grain as in conventional rice monocultures — but with more than two-thirds less pesticide and a quarter less fertiliser, found a six-year long study conducted in China.
These rice-fish co-cultures could lessen the environmental impact of agricultural chemicals and help make rice farming more profitable, said the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science this week (14 November).
"In areas where land and water are limited for developing both rice and fish production, it is important to conduct RF [rice-fish co-culture]," Xin Chen, lead author of the study and a professor at Zhejiang University, China, told SciDev.Net. She added that the technique should be combined with modern techniques such as irrigation, and the use of machinery.
The fish used in the study were an indigenous carp species that is considered a delicacy, so farmers could sell them. They could also make large savings on fertilisers and pesticides, which typically represent 60–70 per cent of the total cost of rice production.
Fish significantly lower the risk of rice sheath blast disease and reduce the amount of weeds and harmful pests such as the rice planthopper. This invasive insect has the potential to devastate entire rice fields — an outbreak in Thailand last year destroyed four per cent of the country's harvest.
By regulating the amount of nitrogen in the ecosystem, the practice also minimised the need for applying fertiliser.
Rice plants also provided shade, thus keeping the water cool and allowing fish to remain active even during the hottest months. And insects attracted to the plants provided extra food for the fish.
Zainul Abedin, a farming systems specialist at the International Rice Research Institute, in the Philippines, said: "This is an extremely useful tool for poverty reduction and food security that can be used across tropical regions."
The practice can generate twice as much income compared with growing just rice, because of refinements of the thousand year-old technique, made possible by new research, he added. The findings reveal how the system works, hence making it possible to improve it.
Paul Kiepe, the Africa Rice Center's representative for East and Southern Africa told SciDev.Net: "As fish catches are becoming smaller, [this approach] will be increasingly important for ensuring that food production provides people with enough protein".
But Kiepe stressed that many farmers do not have the right knowledge and tools to make the system work yet.
“ Background: Over the last few months I have spent several precious moments agonising over resuming my gym routine which had fallen by the wayside during a particularly busy period at work. Days of absence grew into weeks and weeks into months.”
Via Brenda M. Bomgardner
Major U.S. cities all have emerging green economic sectors says activist and author Kevin Danaher, and the opportunities for innovations – and profits – are growing with them. This information intense discussion gets into details about how cities are going green, bioregionalism is changing societies, how consumers can get green profiles of any product with an app, and how new products, services and community models are emerging in response to climate change and growing scarcities.
Researchers are improving the production of the prized vanilla pod. Plants grow anywhere given the right conditions but it seems an unlikely scenario to find tropical vanilla thriving in an outer-Sydney suburb.
Sahar Van Dyk tends 10 vanilla vines (V. plantifolia) in a small shade house on the University of Western Sydney's North Richmond campus as part of her PhD research in plant physiology. The shade-house climate is like Bangkok on a warm, soupy summer day. After a short time inside, it's a relief to escape into the cooler Hawkesbury air.
She is investigating whether science can improve on traditional methods of growing and curing the fruit, commonly referred to as the pod or bean.
Plants Respond to Music Did you know that your plants respond to music the same as human beings do? It has been proven scientifically through many experiments that plants thrive on music, though there are some who do not agree with the theory. Gardeners, however, have no doubt that fading flowers get a new lease Continue Reading
Looking to design a passive solar greenhouse that works in harsh Canadian climates? This piece provides tips on how you can grow for as long as possible.
Emma Murphy's insight:
Tip #8 not on here - don't build directly on top of concrete as then you will not be able to put in a cistern underneath to capture and store rainwater, or add pipes to move warm air from greenhouse to house etc. This is a great piece, however, with a link to a free passive solar greenhouse course that I need to invesitigate at some point.
Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. As a science journalist Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half, with more than 5,000,000 copies in print worldwide in 40 languages, and has been a best seller in many countries. Apart from his books on emotional intelligence, Goleman has written books on topics including self-deception, creativity, transparency, meditation, social and emotional learning, ecoliteracy and the ecological crisis. [source: http://www.danielgoleman.info/biography/] Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., is an internationally acclaimed author, award-winning educator, and child psychiatrist. He is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he also serves as a co-investigator at the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. He is also the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational center devoted to promoting insight, compassion, and empathy in individuals, families, institutions and communities. His books include "Mindsight," "The Developing Mind," "The Mindful Brain," "The Mindful Therapist," "Parenting From the Inside Out," and "The Whole-Brain Child." He is the Founding Editor of the Norton Professional Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology which includes "Healing Trauma," "The Power of Emotion," and "Trauma and the Body." [source: http://www.amazon.com/Daniel-J.-Siegel/e/B00459LSPI]
Via Dimitris Tsantaris, Marine Locatelli
Sharing your scoops to your social media accounts is a must to distribute your curated content. Not only will it drive traffic and leads through your content, but it will help show your expertise with your followers.
How to integrate my topics' content to my website?
Integrating your curated content to your website or blog will allow you to increase your website visitors’ engagement, boost SEO and acquire new visitors. By redirecting your social media traffic to your website, Scoop.it will also help you generate more qualified traffic and leads from your curation work.
Distributing your curated content through a newsletter is a great way to nurture and engage your email subscribers will developing your traffic and visibility.
Creating engaging newsletters with your curated content is really easy.