Monday, April 5, 2010

Citronella Plants: Grow Your Own Mosquito Repellent

citronella plant

I went outside Sunday morning and found wispy spider web strands going across some of the plants we just put out on the deck Saturday. A year ago, the thought of spiders crawling over food that I was going to eat would have grossed me out so much that I probably wouldn't have eaten it. (Seeing slugs curled up inside lettuce leaves gives me the creeps too, which is why I stopped planting lettuce.)

However, now that I'm in Year 2 of my home garden experiment, I know there's something worse than spider webs--aphids crawling on your vegetables, sucking the nutrients out of the plants and destroying the crop that you so carefully try to maintain. Now I welcome the sight of spider webs, because I know those spiders are eating the aphids and I don't have to send M. outside to crush those nasty critters with his bare hands. We don't use chemical pesticides, and we've lost some plants to various little parasites that reproduce earlier and quicker than their natural predators. I'm happy to see spiders, wasps, and anything else that wants to eat the bug and leave the fruit.

In keeping with our attempts to have a "greener" lifestyle, we also bought citronella plants, which are supposed to repel mosquitos. We'll position them around the deck, and I hope they work. I've never used citronella candles because I don't like the synthetic smell, and I don't use mosquito spray on myself near the veggies (my arms & legs suffer because of it). The citronella plants smell lemony, like the candles, but not as strong or artificial.

So now that I know the good bugs are out there eating the bad bugs, I just have to cross my fingers for a good growing season!

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