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Anything I plant or attempt to grow must have a purpose, other than looking pretty. As a busy mom of two, and a side of extra farm/cattle hand, I don’t have the time or space to care for things that are just pretty. A good part of homesteading is being purposeful with your resources. Your time, your space, and in some places your water, are all valuable. Make sure you are using them the best you can.
Is that useful?
Most of my plants and herbs have come from either (a) I sure use a lot of “x” I wonder if I can grow that in Nebraska instead of buying it. Or I heard (b) could be useful for “y” I wonder if I can grow that to have on hand, so I don’t have to rely on (c) when “y” happens. I would then look to see if growing whatever it was, was possible in Nebraska and if it was annual or perennial. Remember the time part? If it can come back year after year or readily reseed itself, I’m in! If it was an annual, can I trick it by bringing it inside, or take a cut of it to start next years plant from, or are the seeds easy to collect and get started? It’s not saving me much $$ if I constantly have to buy a new plant.
I started with two main types of plants ones my family could eat or ones that repel bugs or snakes (I hate those). We spend a lot of time outside and I disliked putting bug spray on, so what plants do mosquitoes not like.
Here is what I found for the pests
Citronella – It is related to geraniums, but has a much stronger scent, that is given off whenever the leaves are rustled. I love the smell of it and the misquotes hate it. This is a perennial in tropical regions, but not in Nebraska. If I ever build my greenhouse, I could move the large pots in for the winter and they might overwinter.
The good news is you can start new plants from cuts. When the plant is in active growing stage take a cut and dip in water for 24 hours then stick in the wet soil. I have not successfully accomplished this though. The batch I had going good, my 2 ½ year old helper decided to pull them all up right before the killing frost. ☹ I will be trying again this year however, as these are the best but not very cheap to buy.
Geraniums – much softer scent, but still repels mosquitoes. These are easier to bring inside over the winter, but they need warm and plenty of sunlight.
– I love this on and the butterflies do to! This one is super easy to grow and will fill its space. I have mine in an old mineral tub. It can take the full sun and dry of forgetful watering (I have seen the leaves start curling, soaked it and it came back)! The best part is it over winters even in a large pot.
Lavender – so many uses for this! I have it right by my tack room door, not only for mosquitoes, but also its calming scent for nervous riders. This one is a perennial if you get the correct variety but will not do well in a pot overwinter.
Lemon balm – can be perennial in the warmer regions or if is in the ground. Bonus is you can also cook with this one! Use the leaves for tea or seasonings.
Lemongrass – I have this one not for mosquitoes, but for snakes! This one is also a perennial in tropical regions. You are supposed to be able to take a part of I the plant root, soak it for 24 hours the plant in soft soil, and it will restart. I did not have luck last year. A few got started with a small root, but never matured enough to plant.
– This one is a must if you want to keep bugs, mice, snakes away from an area. Grow it in a contained area though because it will take over. It will come back year after year or at least reseed itself, even in a large pot or old stock tank, if you can keep the dogs from digging it up or smothering it. We have snakes everywhere at our house and one pot of this and the snakes avoided the front porch. I’m adding 4 pots this year to surround the garage door openings. Plus you have peppermint tea!
Marigolds – Many bugs don’t like the smell of these and will avoid them. I plant them around my garden and have seen a decrease in some of the common garden pests but misquotes don’t seem to care. These also readily re-seed!
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