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Summer gardening means mosquitoes

Our recent rains certainly give credence to the saying "feast or famine." Yards seem to be either bone dry or muddy. I won't complain about daily rains because the area is in desperate need of water and my grass and plants have responded well to the drenchings.

A problem you may encounter in your yard with the rain is mosquitoes. If you spend a significant amount of time landscaping the yard in summer, then mosquito control of some sort is a necessity. If you are concerned about the chemical control of mosquitoes, there are a few natural (in other words, nonchemical) controls you may want to try.

Natural mosquito control may include plant oils: e.g., from citronella, castor bean plants or catnip plants. You may burn citronella in a candle, or apply it to the skin as topical oil. Some people have luck with certain bath oils, such as Avon's Skin So Soft. Others report no benefit. Give them a try yourself and see if they work for you.

Even what clothing you wear can influence whether you suffer mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are drawn to dark-colored clothing. So clothes that are light-colored can certainly be viewed as natural mosquito control.

Attacking the problem at the source, the mosquito larvae, may be your most effective method. Since many mosquitoes breed in standing water, reduction can be as simple as emptying water from containers around the home.

Try to eliminate any container in your yard that holds water after rain or irrigation. This may be kiddie pools, flower pots and their saucers, buckets, watering cans, or even clogged rain gutters. If you have a birdbath, make sure to change the water regularly. If you have a low spot in your yard that becomes a puddle, fill the spot or improve the drainage.

Container garden care

Now that you know how to limit the number of mosquitoes in the yard, you can get busy with the season's chores. Take a look at your container gardens. The rain may have leached the nutrients from the soil, so add a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or an 8-8-8. Some of the heavy rains may have damaged some of the more tender plant materials. Remove damaged foliage and wilted flowers. Replace those plants that aren't salvageable.

Even with all the rain, if your containers are located under eaves or on a covered lanai or porch you will still need to water. If you don't have rain barrels, simply place your watering can out in the yard and let it fill with rainwater. You can add a little water-soluble fertilizer to this rainwater and your container plants will be very happy. Make sure you use the water regularly, so it doesn't become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

If you still want to do some vegetable planting, try boniato, calabaza, chayote, cherry tomatoes, collards, cowpeas, dasheen, okra, peanuts, roselle, Seminole pumpkin, New Zealand spinach, Southern peas, squash, sweet cassava, sweet potatoes, yard-long beans and yautia.

Herbs are always a great addition to any garden; add basil, chives, dill, ginger, marjoram, mint, oregano, sage and thyme. These will not only perform well in your landscape, but will add variety in your kitchen.

Add color and bulbs

It's not too late to add color to your garden. Begonias, caladiums, cat's whiskers, celosia, coleus, cosmos, cockscomb, dianthus, gaillardia, ginger, impatiens, lantanas, marigolds, melapodium, moon vine, pentas, periwinkles, porterweed, portulaca, purslane, salvia, strawflowers, sunflowers, torenia and zinnias will brighten up that bare spot.

Some Central Florida gardeners hesitate to plant bulbs, but there are a number that will do very well here. Achimenes, African Iris, caladiums, cannas, crinums, daylilies, eucharis lily, gladioli, society garlic and zephyranthes (rain lilies) are but a few worth trying.

Summer gardening means mosquitoes 07/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 10, 2008 12:17pm]

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