Avoid Pantry Moths with your Freezer

If you’ve ever had pantry moths you know how horrible they are.  They infest everything in your pantry and you have to throw out a ridiculous amount of food.  We had them once and I really don’t want to get them again.

Recently I found some organic blue cornmeal at a discount grocery store.  It was only a dollar a bag.  I excitedly got two bags and when I got home, I put them both in the freezer.  Any grains or dry pantry good you plan on putting in your pantry should spend a cool two weeks in your freezer before joining your other food.  You should also store things like that in hard plastic, glass, or metal.  Bugs can eat through cardboard and plastic bags.  We have some of those plastic shoe boxes as well as a variety of re-purposed glass jars to store our food in.

Now I have to make some blue cornbread!

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Natural Fruit Fly Trap

Recently we have been plagued by fruit flies in our kitchen.  A combination of summer and our habit of composting causes this.  We wanted a way to deal with them that was cheap and didn’t use toxic chemicals so I made this trap.

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As you can see it was very effective.  Take a mason jar and pour a little bit of apple cider vinegar in.  Take a small piece of fruit, I used banana, and put it in, make sure part of it sticks out of the vinegar.  Put a drop of castile soap in to break the water tension.  I used our diluted lavender soap that we keep in the shower and it didn’t seem to cause a problem.  Then take a piece of aluminum foil and put it over the opening of the jar, poke a few holes in it with a skewer or fork and leave it near where the most fruit flies are.  It also helps to remove any other attractant, so our bananas are in the refrigerator for now.

 

Mosquitoes Love My Garden…and Me

We have a major infestation of mosquitoes in our garden.  I mean major.  While harvesting for 10 minutes, I probably killed about 20 mosquitoes trying to get at me.  I itch just thinking about it.  It is supposed to be really bad this year, probably because we have had so much rain, but this is ridiculous.Usually I spray on a bit of our homemade bug repellant, which does help, but there are a few problems with this method of dealing with the problem.  One, I (obviously) forget sometimes, and two, I would rather have multiple levels of protection.

I have heard tell of using plants such as citronella and marigold planted near where you will be outside.  Has anyone tried these plants with any success or have any other ideas of ways to keep the mosquitoes away?  Thanks!

UU Natural Bug Spray

For the summer, our Unitarian Universalist church has a program after their Sunday service called second hour where they have a variety of eco-friendly projects that people can do.  This past week they had container gardens and natural bug spray.  We chose to do the bug spray project.

They had three different recipes that were basically different mixtures of essential oils.  They each start with 2 cups of water.  We used water bottles, it’s just about measured perfectly. They each also have 20 drops of citronella essential oil.   Then you add the mixture of other two essential oils you want.  The three different recipes are lemon basil, geranium lavender, and eucalyptus lemon.

All varieties: 2 cups water and 20 drops citronella essential oil

Lemon Basil: 5 drops lemon essential oil and 10 drops basil essential oil

Geranium Lavender: 5 drops geranium essential oils and 10 drops lavender essential oil

Eucalyptus Lemon: 5 drops lemon essential oil and 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Mix everything together in a spray bottle (or water bottle and pour into smaller spray bottles).  Don’t forget to shake the bottle up before you use it each time.

Homemade Bug Repellent

The minion and I went to a dog park the other day and almost got eaten alive.  We both walked away with so many bug bites that I was spurred on to stop procrastinating and make our own bug repellent.  Then I had to put it in a comically large spray bottle because that’s all we had.

Homemade Bug Repellent

1/3 cup witch hazel

15 drops eucalyptus essential oil

20 drops citronella oil

Mix in a spray bottle and spray on clothes and hair before going out.  It is safe to spray it on the skin, but it will last longer on your hair and clothes than your skin.  Be sure to shake it up before you use each time.

I want to plant some citronella plants near our garden because we get eaten up when we’re out there too.

 

Bunnies Love Sweet Potatos

Their leaves anyways.  If you recall, I had a bit of a battle on my hands over my sweet potato plants as the bunnies who live in my backyard kept eating them.  Apparently my dad has had the same problem with his sweet potatoes.  He had them in a cage from the start but apparently his cage was too small and the bunnies were eating a neat little circle where they could get to the plant through the cage.  Here’s a photo of some of the damaged stems, they are all around the outer rim of the plant.

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Anyways, he changed to a larger cage and now the bunnies truly can’t get to them.

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Beware if you plant sweet potatoes, the bunnies are coming.

Battle of the Bunnies

They started it.  Not my younger brother and his friends, but the bunnies.  I have been battling the bunnies in my backyard over my garden.  I say battling in the most humane way possible.  One day I went to check on my newly planted garden and there was less green than the day before.  That’s not normally how gardens work, usually they get more green.  But the bunnies had been eating my leaves.  They had particularly hit one of my two elderberry bushes and my sweet potato plants.

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I put a cage that the bunnies can’t get through around the elderberry but I didn’t have a cage big enough for all six of my sweet potatoes.

My solution was threefold, first I put out hair clippings from the hero cutting his hair, me cleaning my hairbrush and the pavlovinator shedding her winter coat.  Then it rained.  The idea behind this is that the bunnies would smell a predator around and not want to come near.  So the rain washes away the smell and the effectiveness.  I don’t have that much hair cycling through my house so I also put down chili powder.  Basically the bunnies don’t like the smell and boy can you smell it.  My eyes got watery just standing over it.  This also will get washed away by the rain but my third solution is a bit more permanent.

A fence.  Now the word fence might conjure images of sturdy chain link or uniform white pickets.  Probably not this:

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But I had to use what we had and what we had was some chicken wire, a few cages, a length of lattice, and a few cinder blocks.  I started our fence with the chicken wire and cages but the hero finished it, enclosing all the plants.  I’m pretty sure all the plants have recovered fully and are doing great. (and that I need to weed them, but it’s hard getting into that fence!)

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We’ve also been mowing the lawn around clover patches to try to distract the bunnies.  Hopefully they want to eat the clover rather than my sweet potatoes!

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PS the newspaper on the ground is not litter, it is held down by rocks to help smother the oh so invasive grass that I’m sure the previous owner of our house tried feverishly to cultivate.