June 15, 2015

what to do with herbs: bug spray

This week has been fairly uneventful on the farm - just a bunch of weeding and watching over things as they grow.  However, the bugs have been biting lately, especially in the shady parts of the farm in the evening, so I thought I'd make some bug spray!  So, after checking out some websites (Homemade bug spray and Make your own essential oil), I thought I'd throw together an interesting concoction of my own.

First, I threw a bunch of herbs in a pot.  I used catnip, various mints, citronella-scented geranium, thyme, sage, and just a touch of rosemary and calenula - so, basically, everything I had on hand that might repel insects - plus calendula 'cause why not?

 Next, I ran them through a chopper quickly to reduce their bulk and start bringing out the oils, and back into the pot!  The chopper didn't like the sage stems, so next time I'll have to remove them first.

I poured grape-seed oil over the herbs to cover - really, any oil should work but I happened to have grape-seed oil, plus it's very light colored and scented.  I turned the burner on low, covered the pot, and stirred occasionally for a few hours.  I think I ended up at about 4 hours but probably less would be just fine.

Eventually, the herbs started to look well-cooked and strong-scented.  I deemed the bug spray oil done, let it cool a bit, and moved onto the next step.

To strain out the plant matter, I poured the concoction into a fabric lined strainer and let it drain slowly.  Very slowly.  The oil came out a very dark shade of green and strongly, but interestingly, scented.  After some pressing down with a spoon, I ended up with a bit over a half a cup of oil. Which more than filled the bottle I had on hand, as well as the tiny sprayer I had on hand.

Next time, I intend to use fewer types of herbs, so the scent is easier to pin down.  Definitely catnip and mint will have to be on the list, as those are supposed to be quite effective.  I was intending to dilute the oil with some witch hazel and apple cider vinegar, but my bottles were full, and it seems to work well, even if it's a bit oily.

How well does it work you ask? Well, I can't be sure yet but I tried it out today and I didn't notice too many bugs trying to bite.  After a few hours with it on, I did notice some gnats being annoying so I reapplied and they certainly stopped bothering me.  So far it's a success and I hope to  try it again with different herbs and possibly some dilution.  If you try to make your own bug spray, tell me how it turns out.

No comments:

Post a Comment