Repel Insects ... Naturally

Here it is, mid-June and by now your garden is established and producing an array of colorful blossoms.  If you're like me, there's always room for more. So, try to include plants that will not only add texture and color, but a purpose.

All of your hard work in planting your garden can be all for naught if you can't enjoy it. Those pesky mosquitoes and insects can ruin an evening in the garden or patio. This is the time to consider plants that will not only look lovely, but will also be productive ... plants that will help control insects naturally.
There are several that will produce the results you want and be eye pleasing in your yard. Here are just a few herbs and flowers that can help repel insects, produce flowers to add to your home, herbs to add to your cooking and beauty to your already existing garden.

lavendar.jpg

Lavender; for centuries it's been used for its fragrance. It should be planted in the sunny areas of your yard and areas that will you wish to be pest free. When dried and made into sachets, lavender makes a wonderful repellent against moths. 

lemonbalm.jpg

Lemon Balm; another mosquito repellent, grows well in this area, can be utilized dried as tea and is a lovely leafy plant that loves the sun. Though it is from the mint family is doesn't spread by underground runners, but rather by seed. It's best to trim down a few times during the growing season to prevent it from seeding and getting out of control.

marigolds.jpg

Marigolds; beautiful and in all types of varieties. Their distinctive aroma not only repels mosquitoes, but aphids, white flies and cabbage maggots. Marigolds are often used in companion gardening for just this reason. You want plants to work for you especially if they have these extra benefits for the gardener.

Lemon Basil; this variety of basil seems to be the favorite to repel mosquitoes. There are many different varieties of basil available. It wouldn't be summer without fresh basil and tomatoes or fresh pesto. Lucky for us, pesky insects are repelled by it's wonderful aroma no matter which variety you choose.

chrysanthemum.jpg

Chrysanthemum; incredible colors and a truly hardy plant, bringing color to any flower arrangement. It produces pyrethrum which is a very effective bug repellent. Use as a companion plant to discourage aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites, ticks among others.  Tolerates high heat and early chills of fall.

index.jpg

Lemongrass;  a close cousin to Citronella. Lemongrass is a natural repellent because it has a high geraniol and citral content. It can be applied directly to the skin by crushing the base of the stalk until the inside is mushy pulp. Twist and squeeze the oils directly to the skin. Another plus, it makes a great tea.

So, this is just a few of the herbs and flowers that help repel insects. Granted, if you are being overpowered by mosquitoes there may be other problems in your garden or patio. The big one is standing water....get rid of it! Just a small cap full of standing water enables mosquitoes to bred and make your life miserable. Below, I've added a few recipes for natural insect repellent that I found on the web. It might be worth trying it out...at least you'll smell like a million bucks!

 

HOMEMADE CITRONELLA SPRAY
1/2 cup distilled water
1/8 teaspoon Epsom salt
1/2 cup witch hazel
10 drops citronella essential oil
10 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops lemongrass essential oil
5 drops tea tree essential oil
5 drops cedar wood essential oil

DIRECTIONS: Pour the water into an 8oz plastic spray bottle. Add the Epsom salt and shake until the salt is dissolved. Pour in the witch hazel. Add the essential oils. Ready to use.

 

HOMEMADE CITRONELLA LOTION
2 to 2 1/2 tbsp emulsifying wax
1/2 tsp stearic acid (a plant-based stabilizer)
1/3 cup (75ml) grapeseed oil
1/2 cup distilled water or lavender floral water
1 teaspoon (5ml) vitamin E
10 drops grapefruit seed extract
10 drops citronella essential oil
10 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops lemongrass essential oil

DIRECTIONS: Stir grapeseed oil, emulsifying wax and stearic acid in the top part of a double boiler, warming slowly over a low heat until the wax is completely melted. Remove from heat and pour in the Vitamin E. In a separate pot on the stove, gently warm the water just until lukewarm. Slowly pour the water into the oil, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until the mixture is thick, cream-colored and smooth. Let cool slightly. Stir in the essential oils and the grapefruit seed extract. Pour the homemade bug repellent lotion into a clean, sterilized 8oz (250ml) dark glass or P.E.T. plastic bottle and allow it to cool before putting the lid on. Shake the bottle occasionally as the lotion cools to prevent the ingredients from separating. Store in a cool, dark place.

 

 

New this Spring ... Playground Mulch Certification

Kansas City, when the weather can reach 80 degrees one day and snow the next. Lucky for us, spring is just around the corner and backyard playgrounds are beckoning children everywhere. Whether your backyard playground is a tire swing or a playset with all the bells and whistles, you have to ask yourself, is it safe?

Each year, according to Centers for Disease Control, emergency rooms treat more than 200,000 children for playground related injuries, many from falls. There are several factors that account for these injuries, some of which are faulty playground equipment, absence of adult supervision or lack of a proper ground cover for the play area.

When it comes to cushioning falls, playground mulch is an easy fix. Not only will it add to the visual appeal of your home's landscaping, but it's low maintenance and affordable. However, buyer beware, not all mulch is alike. This year, Lawn-Corps has designed a playground mulch with children's safety in mind. It is renewable, green, 100% natural and for a parent's peace of mind, it's certified.

We produce our playground mulch on site by using clean, virgin wood which comes directly from local saw mills. Most importantly, it meets the highest playground safety standards required by the following:

Playground Mulch, finished product ...

Playground Mulch, finished product ...

  • International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA)
  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

To ensure our products safety, Lawn-Corps playground mulch has also been rigorously tested and certified by the following standards:

  • IPEMA Certified ASTM 1292 Standard Specification for Bodily Impact
  • IPEMA Certified ASTM 2075 Metal Test and Sieve Analysis

It's important to know that Lawn-Corps is one of two companies in Missouri and Kansas that have achieved certification by meeting these standards. It's a big accomplishment for us and one that we are very proud of. It's just a first step to help ensure the safety of our most valuable resources ... our children.

Image-1.jpg

 

 

 

 

I

 

 

 

Deep Summer Tips

Summer is here, however, as I write, Kansas City will be experiencing record low temperatures, a summertime version of last winter's "Polar Vortex". When the heat does arrive, it can take a toll on your lawn and garden. So far this summer, Kansas City has been fortunate with rainfall, but we've been waiting for the other shoe to drop … and when it does, here are some helpful tips to get you through. 

  • Water … do it early in the morning. Plants will be more receptive in the coolness of the morning and there will be less evaporation. Try to avoid watering in the evening to prevent mold and fungus growth. Also, a deep, penetrating soaking is much more effective than surface watering which can create shallow root systems and can stress lawns and gardens in time of drought . A good rule of thumb is an inch of water a week.
Water deeply, early in the morning

Water deeply, early in the morning

  • Mulch … this is a great way to keep plant roots cool during the heat of the day. Mulch is also an excellent way to retain moisture in the soil. There are a variety of mulches you can use such as grass clippings or chopped leaves. Some folks even use cardboard or newspaper, but I personally find it unattractive in the garden. The decorative wood mulches provide an attractive landscape and are effective in retaining moisture and preventing weeds. Also, as mulch decomposes it will add other beneficial nutrients to your soil. 
Janice uses pine bark mulch in her garden.

Janice uses pine bark mulch in her garden.

  • Deadheading … get the most out of your flowering plants by deadheading. You will extend your plant's life and allow it to produce more flowers all summer long. So, after the blooms have died and faded, simply pinch or snip the dead blooms off the plant. If done daily, it won't take any time at all.
Pinch or snip dead and faded blooms.

Pinch or snip dead and faded blooms.

  • Mowing … raise the cutting height on you mower to its highest level, no shorter than 3-1/2". Taller grass is more drought resistant and will grow deeper roots which are able to handle stress better. Mow regularly and don't wait till your grass gets too high because the clippings can smother your grass. An industry standard is not to cut more than 1/3 of the grass blades. As you do this, don't bag them. Let the clippings fall back onto the lawn for added nutrients. Also, don't mow in the heat of the day as the heat can burn your lawn.
Raise mower blade and let clippings fall.

Raise mower blade and let clippings fall.

Well, these are just a few tips for the deep summer. If you're new to gardening, I hope this helps. If you've been gardening awhile and have any gardening tips, please, feel free to share. 

Till next time … see ya!

Compost

It's June and at Lawn-Corps, that means compost. The growing season gives us plenty of green waste coming into our Belton facility for recycling and that's just what we need to start producing our star product.

 

Compost Fields

Compost Fields

The mountain of dry leaves from last fall can finally be processed and it takes green to do it.  There are several factors to producing compost and certain chemical requirements are needed. Nitrogen, from green waste, carbon, from dried leaves, oxygen and water.

Brown and Green Waste

Brown and Green Waste

To begin the composting process, we build long windrows of brown waste (carbon) which provides microorganisms with a source of energy needed to decompose organic matter and add green waste (nitrogen), needed to accelerate composting.

Early stage of compost

Early stage of compost

The rows are turned and watered frequently. Turning the windrows adds oxygen which helps reduce odors. Watering gives life to the tiny microorganisms that break down the organic matter. When watering, we have to keep in mind that too much water will cause odors and loss of nutrients, too little water slows down the decomposition. 

Turning and watering windrows

Turning and watering windrows

The science of composting is far more detailed than what I’m talking about here. Basically, we cook our compost. It’s called thermophilic composting. A few days after combining all the browns and greens, the process slowly goes in to the thermophilic stage. Heat starts building and steam starts rising. It’s a great indicator that we’re on track when the temperature of the compost is measured between 140 - 160 degrees. The compost is rapidly decomposing and at those temperatures, killing weed seeds and disease causing organisms.

The compost is cooking!

The compost is cooking!

The entire process takes about sixty days. After the compost has cured it goes through the screener to remove any large woody items that might remain. 

Curing stage before compost enters the screener

Curing stage before compost enters the screener

It’s a beautiful product that we take great pride in. The color of the compost is deep and rich, the texture is soft and fluffy and it packs a punch in your garden!  

Finished product

Finished product

The impact it has on your garden is undeniable. Not only are you amending your soil but your plants thrive. Flowers pop with color, vegetables produce abundant crops and lawns become more lush.

Flowers grown in compost.

Flowers grown in compost.

Seeing is believing. Come visit us on the farm and see for yourself.