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Sunday, Jul 13, 2014
South Shore News

Some interesting products make gardening more comfortable


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“Are you going to wear that outside? In the front yard?” my husband said. He wasn’t exactly charmed by my newest gardening attire. But I was.

I’ve never been much for style, but when I discovered there was a garment called the Bug Baffler, I was eager to try it. I got a large-size shirt, which covers me from the top of my head to the bottom of my torso. And not a single bug can get or bite through it.

It’s made of lightweight, olive-green, durable polyester no see-um mesh with a permanently attached black seamless hood for clearer visibility.

There’s a long zipper in the front neck seam so you can throw the hood back until you need it, soft bands at the waist and stretch knit cuffs at the wrists for added protection. I didn’t get the pants. Mosquitoes can’t bite through my jeans or heavy-fabric, long pants. But I did get the ankle guards, which I sure wish I’d had when we had fire ants.

Both the shirt and the ankle guards are easy to put on and take off and quicker and safer than harsh chemicals. Child sizes are also available.

The ankle guards cost $10 and are worth every penny, if you’ve ever had fire ants crawling up your legs, waiting for the signal to all bite at once. The shirt costs $38, but it’s also worth it if it changes your outdoor work or play from torment to pleasure. You can order both on the internet at www.bugbaffler.com or by phone at (800) 662-8411.

I’ll admit the shirt is a bit warm but ideal if you’re working in the shade. I’ve even worn it to do some chores in the evening when bugs have previously kept me indoors. Year round, the Bug Baffler will get plenty of wear. I feel like I have to be careful of the mesh, but one customer has been using it for 19 years.

Here’s another good idea. When I was visiting Nancy Pickens’ garden recently, I was amazed at the sparse population of mosquitoes – even in the shade. Then she explained that her tiki torches were burning citronella, which she lights whenever she’s working nearby, day or night. They add charm to the scene as well as repel mosquitoes and other bugs.

And they certainly don’t discourage the butterflies. They just go to the other end of the garden while the torches are lit.

Nancy also has citronella candles on the tables for when she entertains at night. Both of these products are available locally.

I also found some Itch Relief medicated patches to relieve the pain and itching of insect bites, poison ivy and minor skin irritations. The product, which is available at Walmart, Walgreens and Dollar General, comes with 18 invisible patches in a small box. It’s especially great for children. No more worry about getting anti-itch creams on clothes or the insect bites getting infected.

Today’s pick is the Plumeria pudica, sometimes called Bridal Bouquet, with its lovely white flowers. This one does not look like the rest of the plumerias because it has a completely different leaf, stem and growth habit. The plant blooms best in full sun but will tolerate partial to light shade.

I’ve been seeing and admiring these in more yards lately blooming abundantly for people who have few other plants. In my garden they refuse to bloom. I’m probably not giving them enough of the right fertilizer but I’ll soon change that.

Bloom booster can often help. It has a large middle number like 15-30-15. If anyone has any other suggestion, please email me.

These are easy to root from cuttings if you allow the surface to callous over before sticking it into the medium. Let it sit out a day or so. The plants can get seven feet tall.

Now’s the time... to look forward to even a hint of cooler weather. In the meantime, work in the shade, early in the day and don’t push too hard. We can catch up down the road a bit. Enjoy what you have. It still beats winter.

I just planted a few green beans, even if it’s a bit early. I figure a little seed is a better bet than a lottery ticket. We’ve had a wonderful summer of pineapples, avocados, mangos and bananas. There have been plenty of butterflies flying even though I’m having a hard time finding the caterpillars.

Monica Brandies is an experienced gardener, freelance writer and author of 11 gardening books. She can be reached at monicabrandies@yahoo.com. Her website is www.gardensflorida.com.

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