Natural Remedies to Get Rid of or Deter Ants

antEveryone is always looking for the safest way to keep pests from entering their home, or taking over in their garden. In some cases, old landscape practices such as using wood, or old railroad ties to construct beds is actually something these little critters are attracted to. In others, certain plants actually attract ants such as Peonies and Crab Apples.  Changes in weather and/or rain patterns can also cause ants to enter your home to take refuge, while their intention may not be to stay in your home, you can help prevent them from entering it.

The best way to keep ants out of your home and garden is to prevent them. If you have standing wood, lumber or wooden flower bed boxes, you might want to think about replacing them with stone alternatives. If you have a deck or fence you can’t replace with stone, this may be an instance where using treated wood or composite recycled wood products may be the best solution. Also, keeping well maintained firewood piles away from your home,  at the edge of your property away from buildings will help prevent insects such as ants and termites from nesting close to your home as well as rodents.

Some plants actually attract ants and in most cases the ants will not harm the plants. In either case, it may be best to plant these AWAY from your home, just like keeping a wood pile away from your home. They will eventually find them, and occupy them – so the best solution is to keep these plants away from the foundation of your home or other structures you don’t want them entering. Peonies and Crab Apple trees are the two most common plants to find ants nesting beneath or living close to. Both plants (along with some others such as Honeysuckle and Sugar Maples) have very sweet sap. The ants will chew into the plants to collect and eat the sap. Although this generally doesn’t harm the plants, they may look chewed up and be stick to touch where the ants have done this. In the case of Peonies, it is said that the ants may actually help the buds open by chewing them.

As far as ants entering your home, you may want to watch where they are coming from. Something as simple as filling a tiny crack or hole will keep them from entering. Ants send out “troops” to investigate new areas. They leave a “scent” trail for the other ants to follow if the investigation turns out to be successful. So, at first you may see only one or two ants – this is when you should NOT KILL THEM and watch where they are coming from. They will most likely lead you to a crack or tiny hole in your home. Because ants “smell” with their feet, remedies such as drawing chalk lines and using ground white pepper are often suggested. Although we are skeptical of the chalk lines actually working, we have read that the pepper does tend to work. Using soap, oil or other sticky or greasy substances may not be good in the long run, especially when used around plants.

If you already have an ant infestation and want to try to get rid of them, we have heard that using corn meal is a safe, natural alternative. The ants will pick up the corn meal as “food” and take it back to their nest. At the nest the cornmeal will be ingested and once it is ingested it will expand causing them to die. It is mentioned that instant grits may also work the same way.

Soularé Soaps

SoulareSoapsKatie Henderson’s childhood was full of people making things. Her grandmother was an ardent fiber artist, gardener and excellent cook. Her grandfather was a cabinet maker for New York Central Railroad. Her dear mother too was always working with something, refinishing and re-upholstering furniture and making her own laundry soap.

Katie never saw a box of laundry soap in her house, only large tins of hand grated soap flakes that made this phenomenal head of bubbles over her Easy washing machine. Playing with bubbles was the start of her soap passion!

In her thirties, as a registered nurse, she worked in the emergency rooms, and would plaster people with various medicines, particularly Nitro-paste to relieve angina. It worked more reliably than Nitroglycerin tablets placed under the tongue. She began to wonder just what else your skin would absorb, and since you daily use soap, slathering it over your entire body, she was determined to find out just what was in it. She has four children and with their health topmost in her mind, she set out to research soap at her local library in Twinsburg, Ohio.

She read every soap ingredient label and did not like what she saw – detergents & chemicals. She thought – this is not real soap! She then set out to make her own soap with mainly food ingredients that you are not afraid to use both inside and out.

Her goal over the past 30 years has been to create soaps, mainly out of edible, healthy, good for the body and soul items with occasional safety tested fragrances added.

This is her story and it is her dream to share her sudsy little achievements with you!

We are looking to carry their product soon! But you can shop now on her Etsy Page:

Vinegar Weed Control, Myth or Fact?

spraySo we found a lot of hype on the web about using vinegar to kill weeds, so we thought we would look into it as it seems to be a relatively safe, non-toxic approach as opposed to commercial weed killers.

But, we want to understand how the vinegar kills the weeds… Products like Round-Up attack the plants chlorophyll, preventing it from performing photosynthesis, causing the plants to dry up and “starve” to death. Other products attack dicotyledons (broad leafed plants like dandelions) as opposed to monocotyledon plants (grasses), so they kill your weeds, but not your grass. Apparently, it is the slight acidic property of vinegar which causes it to kill weeds… and there are several “recipes” or suggestions on how to use it all over the web.

First, let us point out some issues with some of the recipes we found…

  • Soap – Yes, it will help the vinegar stick to the plant, maybe even help dry it out, but too much soap if leached into the ground can also kill plants you may not want to kill. Ever throw used soapy car wash water on your lawn…? You probably saw a big brown spot a few days later!
  • Salt – Again, like soap if it reaches the soil, and builds up can prevent plants from growing or burn them out, and you should never use your tap water (softened) to water plants.
  • Water – It turns out you are not supposed to dilute the vinegar, the stronger the acidity level, the better it is to kill the weeds
  • Vinegar – It is recommended to use 5% Distilled Vinegar, as opposed to other kinds – after doing a little research we determined that the regular 5% Distilled Vinegar should be more than acidic enough to do the job, any higher percents of vinegar are NOT necessary.

What we are going to do:

  • Test plain vinegar on weeds
  • Test vinegar with our choice amount of liquid dish detergent
  • Test vinegar with an alternative to dish detergent (we will reveal it later!)
  • Test the spray both on sidewalk and gravel areas & around other plants
  • Test plants in both the sun and in the shade
  • Pour some of the solution on the ground around weeds (not spray) and see if the ingredients in the soil cause problems to the plants

We will update with pictures and results!

A couple things we do know about vinegar, you can use it to make buttermilk, and running  a 1/4 cup full in your dishwasher leaves your glasses sparkling clean!

Have you tried this before? Please feel free to comment below – we want to hear about your experience using vinegar to kill weeds: