Landscaping to do list: August edition

Rum and coconut water could help to cool your lungs! Read on for recipes

August is around the corner and here in Zone 9-10 we’re gearing up for the dog days of summer, where the pool feels as warm as the air and hurricanes are the only thing that seem to move. But, the bougainvillea is flowering and the hibiscus is too, so we’ll enjoy the view as we follow these tips to get ready for August.

  • Wear your sunscreen, don’t leave your pets outside, and drink plenty!
  • Prune your trees. I know, we say it all the time, but it’s good for the trees, it’s good for your roof (flying debris is never good during hurricane season) and the neighbors will love you for it.
  • “Direct sow seeds of cucumber, onion, pepper, southern peas, pumpkin, turnips, and watermelon. Select varieties that mature early in order to produce before the temperature gets too cool. Watch for pests and provide water when needed.”¹
  • Check your citrus trees. Remove any ripe fruit and feed your trees with fertilizer (don’t let fallen fruit sit, you’ll encourage rats, raccoons and all kinds of other wildlife.)
  • Consider investing in a rain barrel. Rainy season is here and it will save you money in the long run.
  • Check your coconut trees. Remove any ripe ones. Ripe really depends on how you like them, but for the water, take one off and shake it. If there’s a sloshing, open it (slice the top with a machete). If it’s good, get the others down too. Stick a straw in them and enjoy or pour out the water for a rum concoction.

Our favorite recipe?

Coconut water, rum, and mint over crushed ice.

Other choices?

Coco water, rum, and lime over ice.

Coco water and rum over ice.

Coco water cialis prix and rum, lemon and fresh muddled basil over ice.

 

 

 

 

¹http://www.thevegetablegarden.info/garden-calendar/zones-9-10-garden-calendar?start=2

Pretty Plants that will deter mosquitoes

Mosquito Season

It’s mosquito season and I for one hate rubbing DEET all over myself, not to mention my kids. And jumping in and out of the pool, the sprays can’t stay on anyway. The other common choice, Citronella in the form of candles, is a little less gruesome because it’s not all over me, but for that same reason, it’s not as effective. But there is a third solution that isn’t stinky or greasy and is even more effective because it deters the bugs for the season not just the day. What is it? Well, the best way to ramp up your repellent is to plant it, and just because the mosquitoes hate these plants, doesn’t make them repellent to humans. In fact, there are some beautiful and useful options.

Before I get into the list, it’s worth mentioning that any standing water areas (especially stagnant water, like old fountains, old planting pots, etc.) are like the Hilton of Mosquito World. Get rid of water as much as possible before starting your planting war against bugs.

For more info on catnip, visit catnipexpert.com

1. Catnip

Catnip has been found to be ten times more repellent to the bugs than DEET! The essential oil in the catnip is the same oil that attracts cats and drives them bonkers! Luckily it’s not so potent that you’ll end up with no mosquitoes, but the whole neighborhood’s cat population in your yard! To drive the cats crazy you need to smash the leaves (store bought catnip is dried leaves crushed). Strangely, catnip is a butterfly and bumble bee attractor, so you get the best of all worlds with this plant.

Catnip is good to grow in Zones 3 and 4, so for those of us in the south, catnip will only survive if we plant it in pots and keep it somewhat shaded and watered. If you are growing from seeds, keep cats away until it’s hardy enough to withstand being rubbed!

 

Rosemary from wikimedia.org

Rosemary from wikimedia.org

2. Rosemary

Rosemary can grow into massive bushes with pretty purple flowers. It’s hardy, but doesn’t like being in cold weather or inside, which makes it perfect for summer bug season. Keep it near the barbecue and it can work double duty by seasoning your meat (Lamb and rosemary skewers anyone?) and keeping you bug bite free too!

 

 

Lemon Balm - found at plantoftheweek.org

3. Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is not quite as pretty as Rosemary (it looks kind of weedy, a little bit like mint), but it gives off a lemony scent (who’da thunk?) that is sweet and not too strong… and mosqitoes seem to hate it! There are a ton of different recipes using lemon balm so it’s just as useful as rosemary. This lavender lemonade recipe sounds so good after a day of lying in the sun or lazing by the pool.

 

Thyme - taken from home.howstuffworks.com

4. Thyme

Thyme is a Mediterranean herb, loved in Greek food and this idea alone conjurs up images of Santorini with cool breezes and tomatoes with feta cheese drenched in oil and vinegar. Nowhere in my imagining is there a mosquito biting my ankle.

Thyme does have a pretty scent which is a little stronger than the previous plants I mentioned, so you might want to use it sparingly, or plant it further away (think perimeter of your property) with the previous plants closer to your home. Yet again, thyme is a hardy plant. It likes warmer weather and full sun (all of these plants are perfect for summers, but may not last the winter in a colder climate.)

Thyme is pretty – it looks like lavender with little purple flowers.

Garlic plant. Image from thedailygreen.com

5. Garlic

Mosquitoes are vampires, vampires hate garlic therefore mosquitoes hate garlic. That’s logic right?

Garlic is not necessarily the prettiest of plants, and is probably the hardest to grow out of this list, but it has more health benefits and possibly more use than any of the others too.

 

 

Rain Barrels: The What, Where, When, Why and How?

A Rain Barrel from Plow+hearth

Image Courtesy of Plow+Hearth


What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rainwater from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams.

Usually a rain barrel is composed of a 55 gallon drum, a vinyl hose, PVC couplings, a screen grate to keep debris and insects out, and other off-the-shelf items, a rain barrel is relatively simple and inexpensive to construct and can sit conveniently under any residential gutter down spout. Put very simply, a rain barrel catches water that is usually lost so that you can use that water for plants and grass.

Why use one?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 40% of household water is used on lawn and yard watering. A rain barrel will save approximately 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months. Beyond the obvious cost savings on your water bill, a rain barrel also provides water that is better for your landscaping. According to JDNews from North Carolina, “Salt is not good for your plants. Salt will start to build up in the soil and make it harder for plants to grow and it becomes harder for the plants to take the moisture out of the soil. There is very little salt in rainwater.”  In addition, water in South Florida can contain high levels of chlorine and/ or limestone which can damage your plants and, in the case of the chlorine, damage fish and wildlife as part of the run off.

Where do I get one?

You can make one yourself quite simply. But, if you’re not feeling handy, there are many places selling them, both locally and online, including:

•      Ace Hardware: 866-290-5334

•      Gaiam produces the Great American Rain Barrel, 877-989-6321

•      Plow & Hearth: 800-494-7544

•      Rain Barrel Source: 866-912-9719

How do I install it?

The rain barrel is quite simple to install, the more important part of installation is ensuring the water has a run off spot in case the barrel fills up.

1. Place the barrel on a secure flat surface (a concrete slab rather than soil) next to your gutter run off. You may need to install or remove a piece of piping in case the spout doesn’t run off directly above the barrel. Here are instructions for doing just that: http://bit.ly/PALMbarrel

2. Make sure the spout sits directly above the barrel.

3. Finish the installation by diverting the run off away from your house. This is most important as the run off could damage your foundations if it’s a constant source of water sitting in one spot. Here is a video on how to do just that: http://bit.ly/PALMbarrel2

When should I use it?

In South Florida, we can use rain barrels almost all year round. You will need to take care that the barrel doesn’t freeze and crack in truly cold times, but this is South Florida, so that might be only one or two days a year! Considering installation is simple, cost to purchase is minimal and the fact that a rain barrel can preserve your lawn with no additional cost to you year round AND help to save our environment, a rain barrel is a worthwhile investment and one we fully recommend.

Have any questions? Our landscape experts love to show off!
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