Thursday, June 21, 2012

DIY Natural Bug Spray & Bite Remedies

By Maria Noël Groves, Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

Bugs are an inescapable reality for those of us who love the outdoors. One way to reduce the pressure is to use your own homemade natural bug spray. Here’s one of my favorite recipes that discourages black flies, mosquitoes, and ticks. Everything except for the vodka is available at the Co-op.

4 oz metal, glass, or PET plastic spray bottle
2 oz distilled water
2 oz vodka
20 drops lavender essential oil
20 drops geranium essential oil
15 drops citronella essential oil (optional)

Lavender Flowering
Combine all your ingredients in the bottle, shake well, and spray as needed on skin and clothing. Reapply each hour.

Don’t have the time or energy to make your own? Check out all the great natural insect repellents at the Co-op. My personal favorite is Quantum Buzz Away Extreme, but you may want to try a few to find the one that works with your body’s chemistry.

Get bit? Chew up a fresh plantain leaf (a common weed, but be sure you’re 100 percent positive on your identification) and place it on the bite for immediate itch relief. Or swab it with some old-fashioned distilled witch hazel or plain undiluted lavender essential oil.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mint to Keep the Critters Away

Recently I moved into a house with an existing compost bin.  It is a simple bin, the black one that sits right on the ground.  I decided to bring it back to life and began throwing my scraps and compostable items in the bin.  Living in the city, I was worried about critters getting into the bin.  Sure enough, within a few days I went out in the morning and found that somebody was sampling my scraps.  I kept filling the holes back in, putting bricks around the bin and looking for ways to secure it to the ground so it would be more difficult for the critters to get in.

Then I read somewhere that skunks and other small animals don’t like the smell of mint.  I thought, “What an inexpensive and friendly way to keep them out!"  I bought a small spearmint plant (see photo) and planted it right next to the bin at the place where they were digging.  You can buy a mint plant at any store or garden center that sells starter plants.  So far, no further invasions have taken place in my compost bin and it’s been about five weeks!  Maybe they decided that my selections didn’t have enough variety, but I’m going to assume that the mint worked.  The mint will also proliferate and surround the bin more each year.  AND, I can use the mint for Mojitos all summer.  That’s a bonus!

Here’s a great Mojito recipe if you haven’t tried one: