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  • Edie Montreux

Death to Mosquitoes

My first attempt at gardening was when I was seven. I wanted to grow some beans in our backyard. I think we’d read “Jack and the Beanstalk,” so I wanted my own personal transport to Giantland. My grandma gave me the seed packet and I set off, watering can in hand. The backyard at our new house was still dirt where we’d dug for the walk-out basement, so I planted the seeds along the side of the hill. Unfortunately, we had a drought that year, I forgot to water them, and my beans all shriveled and died.

Fast-forward to when I was eleven or twelve. We were in the woods, cutting trees for firewood, and I saw several acorns scattered on the ground. The budding environmentalist in me picked up two pockets full of acorns and took them home. My mom gave me the top of a paper box. I filled the box-top with dirt and seeded it with acorns. I left them outside that winter, thinking they would sprout in the spring. Not a single one sprouted. I watched that box of dirt and decaying acorns all summer. Nothing.

I’ve had maybe two or three houseplants in my adult life. My mom got me a lovely plant when we first moved into our house. I killed it within three years. She’s resigned to giving me cactus and succulents now. The planter she used for my cactus had no holes in it, so I drowned half of it by leaving it outside during a downpour. She wanted me to put more soil on top of the rubber plant she gave me before it left her house for mine. Her soil is orange clay, so I almost killed it. (More on this in a moment.)

Talking with one of my neighbors got me interested in researching plants mosquitoes hate. Intrigued by my research, I bought some citronella grass, lemon balm, and pennyroyal plants on Amazon. I planted them together in a large planter two weeks ago. The grass did just fine. The pennyroyal is all but dead, and the lemon balm started to turn brown. Thursday, we went shopping for new, smaller planters and some better soil.

The only plants that still seem to be doing well are my citronella grass, which seems to survive anything I do to it, and the rubber plant. I replanted it in the large planter after I moved the others to their smaller planters and replaced the hard orange clay from my parents’ place with black dirt and topsoil. Oh, and I also bought some fertilizer for my little cactus, and it also seems to be improving.

I’m no green thumb, or elf, or tree sprite, but I’d like to think I’m improving my plant skills. My next step is to grow catnip and chrysanthemums from seeds to plant next year. Maybe if I start from scratch, I’ll have better luck.

What steps would you take to get rid of mosquitoes?

#pennyroyal #lemongrass #citronella #mosquitos #lemonbalm #chrysanthemums #catnip

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