How to Make All-Natural Insect Repellant

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Summer is in full-swing and the bugs are out in full force! Some of my readers have requested a recipe for an all-natural insect repellant, so I developed formula made with essential oils that works well and smells good, too!

Different essential oils repel different insects, so I used a blend of different oils to cover a wide spectrum of pests. For my recipe, I used cedar, citronella, clove, lavender, peppermint and rosemary with castor oil (which repels mosquitoes) in a witch hazel base.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces distilled water
  • 3 ounces witch hazel
  • 3.5 teaspoons of essential oils
  • 1 teaspoon glycerine (optional)

Combine well and pour into clean spray bottles.

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Shake well before each use as the water and oils will separate. Spray onto your skin or clothing, avoiding your eye area, covering as much area as possible. Wash with soap and warm water to remove once you are back indoors. Store in a cool, dark place.

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You can vary the recipe by using different essential oils, as long you keep the ratio of no more than 1 part essential oils to 10-20 parts carrier. Here are some of the best essential oils for repelling insects, along with the insects they repel:

  • cedar oil (fleas)
  • cinnamon oil (mosquitoes)
  • citronella oil (mosquitoes and biting flies)
  • clove oil (mosquitoes)
  • eucalyptus oil (mosquitoes, ticks, and lice)
  • geranium oil (ticks and lice)
  • lavender oil (ticks)
  • lemongrass oil (ticks)
  • orange oil (fleas)
  • peppermint oil (fleas)
  • rosemary oil (mosquitoes)

You can use any combination of the above listed essential oils. And instead of witch hazel and water, you can use olive oil, vodka or straight witch hazel without water.

NOTE: If you are pregnant or nursing, do not apply an insect repellent, natural or otherwise, without consulting your physician

IMG_6725This little nymph recently hitched a ride home on my leg from a hike in the woods. If only I had some of my homemade bug repellant with me, he wouldn’t have had a chance!

NOTE: If you are looking for all-natural pesticide recipes, this post on housekeeping.org has a comprehensive collection, including our neem-based recipe.

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Minted Lemonade: Recipe for a Perfect Summer Drink

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In my opinion, two of the quintessential flavors of summer are lemon and mint. And when combined, they create a harmonious flavor combination that is bright and sunny. One of my favorite summer recipes is homemade lemonade, a tasty tonic. Lemons provide us with healthful amounts of Vitamin C and potassium. And mint is, among many other things, uplifting, breath-freshening and soothing for the digestive system.

Homemade minted lemonade is simple to make, requiring just 4 ingredients! Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 4 cups of filtered water

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Combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear. Set aside to cool.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Place the lemon juice in a large pitcher with the mint leaves (you can crush some of the leaves to release a bit more mint flavor).

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Add the remaining water to the lemon and mint, then sweeten to taste with the simple syrup. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the flavors to blend.

Enjoy!

Three Tasty Trees For Your Yard

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image copyright Georgia Pecan Trees

The following is a guest post by Liz Nelson, a freelance writer based in Houston, TX.

When it comes time to plant a tree you might have your mind on things like shade, fast growth, or pretty flowers in the spring time. However there are many trees that offer edible benefits as well. Here are three trees that look great and give you something to snack on:

  1. Pecan Tree – The Pecan tree is not only a large shade tree but it also produces very tasty nuts. The Pecan tree typically produces the biggest harvest in warmer climates and does well in areas with lots of rain and sunshine. Pecan nuts form with a bright yellow-green skin over the nut. As it ripens the skin starts to pull back until the ripe nut falls out of the tree. There are several varieties of Pecan trees, some of which have larger or more flavorful pecans.
  2. Walnut Tree – Like the Pecan tree, the Walnut tree also produces tasty nuts. The Walnut tree grows better in cooler climates with less rain however so it can be a great alternative to Pecans if your area does not support them. Walnuts also form with a green skin that falls off as it ripens. The nuts are significantly tougher to shell than pecans however. There are also several varieties of Walnut trees, some of which produce bitter and inedible nuts so be aware of the variety you plant. [Editor’s Note: Dr. James Duke points out that many varieties of seeds and nuts contain tryptophan, an important amino acid that the brain converts to serotonin]
  3. Date Palm – This tropical tree grows best in hot, dry climates. Like most Palm trees, the trunk of the tree is bare and the leaves are clustered at the top. When dates form, the seeds of this plant, they hang down from the crown of the tree in large clusters. Dates are very sweet and are used in many ethnic cuisines. They are best kept and eaten when they have been dried. The sap of the Date Palm can also be used to create a syrup or sweet drink if desired.
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image copyright Better Homes and Gardens

As you can see it all depends on your growing zone but you can easily find a tree that gives you both shade and food. Fruit trees are another great option and you can choose climate appropriate ones that serve both your needs and the needs of your environment. Plant a tree and reap the rewards!

[Editor’s Note: If you are short on space, Better Homes and Gardens has a great article on growing fruit trees in pots. This is perfect for the apartment-dweller!]

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com.