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IN THE GARDEN: Plants for pest-free patio

lavender

Plant lavender in a pot and place it on your deck to repel moths, flies, fleas, and mosquitoes. Plenty of other nice-smelling plants can keep your outdoor sitting areas pest-free.

Bug spray is not everyone’s favorite fragrance. However, plants in containers are rather pleasing. The advantage of planting some of your garden in pots is you can move the containers to the porch or backyard. Plant herbs and flowers that attract pollinators that EAT mosquitoes as well as plants that repel the bloodsuckers. 

For instance, did you know dragonflies are often referred to as “mosquito hawks?” Numerous birds also feed on bloodsuckers and flies. Many of you are familiar with using the citronella plant to repel mosquitoes. There are more. Basil repels flies and mosquitoes. Lavender keeps away moths, fleas, flies, and mosquitoes. Lemongrass, lemon thyme, mint, and rosemary also keep away mosquitoes. And, oh, the delicious smells growing!

Birds you want as your neighbors because they eat bugs: purple martins, bluebirds, chickadees, and nighthawks.

According to Rodale organic life, nighthawks “aren’t hawks, but they are insect-eating superheroes that swoop over cities, fields, woodlands, and deserts, sucking up flying ants, flies, leaf chafers, mosquitoes, moths, and grasshoppers. Nighthawks even eat Colorado potato beetles, cucumber beetles, and squash bugs.” 

Hummingbirds devour aphids. Nuthatches, phoebes, sparrows, swallows, vireos (Bell’s vireo), woodpeckers, wrens, scissor-tailed flycatchers, summer tanagers, and many more of our avian friends feed on pests. 

Keep water in your garden for the birds to help them wash down the bugs. Gentle reminder: Dump and refill the water every other day so you aren’t harvesting more mosquitoes.

PYTHIUM BLIGHT

Mark in Cassie wrote: “When I was walking through my yard, checking to see if the soil (see I remembered) was dry enough yet to mow. I noticed a splash of grey across a section of my yard. It looks like someone tossed a greasy water bucket. What is going on?”

Mark, we’ve seen that splash. And then you realize it would have had to be a great toss. The greasy patch in your grass is most likely pythium blight. It is common after a long wet period. The cause: Too much moisture without air circulation. The good news is it will heal as it dries. Wait until your soil is dry to mow. Your mowing will assist in air circulation, and your lawn will heal.

LAWNS

To keep our lawns growing nicely during the summer, we want to promote deeper roots for our grasses. The way we do that is by cutting our lawns higher. The higher the grass blades are cut, the deeper the roots grow. Cut Bermuda grass 1 inch, Buffalo grass 2½ inches, St. Augustine 3 inches, and Zoysia 1 inch. The deeper the roots, the healthier the grass all summer. Keep in mind you never want to trim more than a third of the blade in one cutting. That will shock your lawn.

WATER

We all know to drink water and stay hydrated, especially in the upcoming months. Put a little pizzazz in your water with frozen fruit, frozen cucumbers, or mint from your garden. It is perfectly OK to combine herbs and fruits. Monday can be melon mint day. Tuesday, enjoy frozen tangerines. Wednesday, add watermelon to your water … Have fun, be refreshed, and stay hydrated.

Till next time. Keep your souls and soles in your garden! Remember the True Master Gardener: Jesus said, “I am the vine; my Father is the Gardener.” John 15:1

“In the Garden” is written by daughter-father gardening team Martelle and Bill Luedecke. If you have gardening questions, contact Martelle at 512-769-3179 or luedeckephotography@gmail.com or Bill at 512-577-1463 or bill@texasland.net.

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