In the Garden

Garden Enclosure Inspiration

Over the years since posting our family’s garden enclosure, I have received several comments and emails from readers who have been inspired by the post to create their own versions of the critter-resistant raised garden bed. One such reader, John, was kind enough to send photos of his creation – an amazing enclosure that is both beautiful and functional, including a screened top, cold frame, and a bonus planter.

I asked John to write a brief description of his building process, which he was kind enough to provide, along with these wonderful photos he has given me permission to share here at Clover and Thyme. Every time I see them I get even more antsy for spring to arrive. I hope you will find John’s fabulous enclosure as inspiring as I did.

Continue reading “Garden Enclosure Inspiration”

Around the House, Featured, That Cat of Ours

Olive Oil for Matted Cat Fur…Who Knew?

You may have already met Fluffernutter, our beloved feline. Well, Fluff’s fluff has been a bit of a challenge lately. So much so, in fact, that he has several yucky matts on his fur, making his normally shiny plush coat a bit, well, lumpy.

Matted fur, when ignored, can do more than just make kitty lumpy. It can irritate the cat’s skin over time and even cause skin infections.

We have friends that had a matted cat. They ended up shaving him once a year as a matter of course to help prevent further skin irritation. While the idea of having a shaved cat nicknamed Fluffy seemed delightfully ironic, I just could not bring myself to consider that option before exploring all the alternatives. So as is my custom, I began the obligatory web research. Most of what I read recommended the same four options: Continue reading “Olive Oil for Matted Cat Fur…Who Knew?”

Featured, In the Garden

5 Ways to Say, “Get Lost, Aphids!”

I was alarmed to find aphid honeydew (aka aphid secretions) on my spinach last week. These little creepy crawlies send me into fits. Last year, they did a number on my okra, devouring it into oblivion. It seems that an enclosed raised bed like mine is great for keeping big bugs, slugs, and animals out, but the little aphid mafia still seem to be getting inside. Not only that, the enclosure hinders benificial insects from coming in to eat them. I was able to hold off the aphids temporarily last year by blasting them with water, but that didn’t help for long. I even tried buying and releasing ladybugs in my garden enclosure, but in spite of following all the rules on the package to welcome the little spotted darlings, they quickly flew the coup, and then couldn’t get back in even if they tried (which they didn’t.)

So when I saw the aphids’ calling card this year, I decided I would have to work out some other alternatives to water blasting and ladybug coercion. After a good deal of internet research, here are the non-chemical methods I’m putting into practice this year:

Aphid Spray

    1. Vinegar Spray
      There are several different homemade sprays that can be concocted to combat aphids, including a garlic oil/soap spray (something I will consider making, but I’m holding off as I don’t like the smell of garlic,) tomato leaf spray (which I’m definitely trying once my tomatoes are mature this summer,) and what I’m currently using – vinegar diluted in water. I’m using this sparingly, since some sites say this works like a charm, and others say it’s a great herbicide (not exactly what I’m going for.) So, if you decide to use the vinegar spray, test it out in a small spot first and wait a day or so to make sure your plant tolerates it OK.
    2. Banana Peel
      Banana Peel to repel aphids
      Aphids hate bananas! Who knew? If you finely chop a banana peel and then plant the peel around the base of the affected plant, the aphids will get the hint and go away. When I read this, I quickly ran to the kitchen, enjoyed a little banana snack and started choppin’ and plantin’.

Foil Blinds Aphids

    1. Aluminum Foil
      If you’ve ever made battle with the aphid, you know that they love to hide out on the underside of leaves. If you place foil around the base of your plant, it will bounce sunlight off the foil and onto the underside of the leaf, blinding the little suckers. Yeeha!

Yellow Plastic Bowls lure aphids

  1. Yellow Plastic Bowls??
    That’s right folks, aphids looove the color yellow. apparently, if you place a yellow plastic bowl filled 1/3 with water, the little boogers will spot the bowl, crawl over, and jump into the swimming pool of death and drown. Bwahahahaha!
  2. Plant a Sacrificial Plant
    If you have had a particular veggie or flower drained of its life force by aphids before, chances are it will again. Consider including a plant you know aphids love the best a little ways away from your other plants in the hopes that the aphids will choose that plant or flower over the others. It’s a risky operation, but apparently it works. So if you’re OK with one of your babies taking one for the team, it may be worth a try. I have planted two ranunculus flowers near my spinach in the hopes that they will sing their siren song to the aphids. We’ll see if it works.

So I’ve decided to throw scientific method out the window and try all 5 of these methods at once in my garden. Sure, I’ll never really know which method worked the best, but I felt I should come out with guns blazing.

Here are some of my sources from my research:
Organic Aphid Sprays – Two Homemade Sprays For Fighting Aphids 
9 Extraordinary Uses For Bananas
Natural Aphid Pesticides: 10 Eco-Friendly Ways to Repel Aphids
Controlling Aphids

Here’s another great resource to visit:
Epic Gardening – Annoying Aphids: All About Aphididae And How To Get Rid of Them

What are your favorite methods for combating these dastardly critters? I’m always game to try out more ideas! 🙂