From the Herb Basket

paper bags mulch

Instead of using black plastic as a barrier to weeds in the garden, use newspapers or brown paper grocery bags. Lay the papers or bags around the plants and cover with 2 or 3 inches of mulch. Unlike plastic, which adds nothing to the soil, the paper will decompose slowly and add nutrients to the soil.

Trouble with ants on rose bushes? Feed them some dry grits. Just  sprinkle a handful of uncooked grits around the base of the rose bushes. The ants will eat the grits, drink water, swell up and die.

Basil makes it own natural insect repellent. Try this non-toxic tea to to deter aphids, squash bugs, cabbage loopers and cucumber beetles. Add 1 cup of chopped, fresh basil leaves to a gallon jar of water. Allow it to sit for 48 hours. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or old pantyhose, add 10 drops of Dawn dish detergent. Pour into a spray bottle, shake and spray.

Use a weak solution of tea when planting herbs. Add 5 tea bags to a gallon of hot water. Let it cool, and use this in the planting holes. Pour a cup in, place the plant in the hole and cover with soil. The tea has just the right amount of potassium and tannic acid to give the plants a much needed fertilizer boost. You can use plain tea bags or herbal, chamomile, peppermint, or Earl Grey.

Use a double layer of coffee filters on the bottom of planters, before filling with soil. The filters will allow water to drain out, keep the soil in, and prevent insects from tunneling in through the holes.

Aphids on roses? Sprinkle cinnamon on them. The cinnamon will burn their bodies. Much safer to use than an insect spray.

Don’t plant members of the mint family close together, or they will cross with each other and you’ll end up with something that is not true peppermint or spearmint. Plant them far apart from each other.

Someone asked me the other day if they could root supermarket thyme from the little plastic cases in the produce section. Most of the thyme is a month old and the stems are extremely dry. I told him to give it a try. Prepare a planter with potting soil, moisten the soil, and insert the thyme stems. You might want to use a rooting hormone if you’re going to try this. Keep the soil moist and place the planter in full sun. Some of the stems may take root.

sprouting garlicGarlic sprouting in the vegetable bin? Plant it outside. It won’t produce large bulbs, but it will produce the most delicious and tender garlic shoots for salads and stir-fry.

Much warmer days ahead. Happy Spring to our friends who come here to Mystical Magical Herbs.

~ Meadow Walker

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