Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mosquitos and Repellent Made from Breadfruit

I have tried organic mosquito repellents before, and I thought they were a big waste of time.  DEET, diethyl toluamide, is the usual one. DEET is a weak neurotoxin, and it numbs the noses of mosquitos, so they can't find you.

Yesterday, I was hauling bricks out of the woods, and I had DEET on my face. When I got some on my lips, I could feel them getting numb. Sometimes infants are harmed by an over-protective mother slathering DEET all over baby.

Breadfruit is a prolific crop grown in southern Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, and other tropical areas.  The flowers of the tree reputedly repel mosquitos and now researchers Maxwell and Jones at U of British Columbia have proven it.

They have separated out all the individual substances and found the three responsible ones---all fatty acids, capric acid, undeconoic acid and laurie acid that have ten to twelve carbons.  

Undecanoic acid is one of the ingredients in breadfruit blossoms.
The flowers are a good spot to find the fatty acids.  

No one thinks that C-10 to C-12 fatty acids are neurotoxins, so I wonder how it works.

My DW believes that coconut oil is a balm for all illnesses, and one that coconut oil is touted for is mosquito repellency. It is interesting coconut oil has a lot of C-6 to C-12 fatty acid, so rancid or over-processed coconut oil might work as a mosquito repellent.  Cooking up coconut oil to degrade it, especially with acid or base would make it work better. I did not find any commercial mosquito repellants like that.

There is a slightly geekier version of this on my other blog.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Vegetable Garden for '12

This year's garden got a very early start because I could work the soil back in MARCH -- global warming came though with lots of great Spring weather.

Big changes this year are: 

++ Bye-bye Strawberries. After three terrible seasons, I have torn them all out. They kept sending runners so they grew into a mat of tiny strawberries -- each one too small to make fruit. I also tore out the blueberries which have been doing NOTHING.

++ Hello EIGHT tomatoes. Last year, I nearly had CROP FAILURE when the late blight stuck. I put in twice as many this year. I am also growing a few in different ways like, some in Wall-O-Waters and some without. Some staked and some running. And five different varieties. No heirlooms either -- only blight resistant hybrids.   

++ Catnip continues to takeover more real estate. Jenny likes it though. 

++ Asparagus - despite the asparagus jinx, I have big health asparagus ferns this year. [The asparagus jinx is that I always get transferred before I get a chance to eat the asparagus. In the last house I delayed planting it because I did not want to move. Later I got cocky thinking it was just a superstition, and I planted some, and then --- I got transferred. So the healthy crop this year is making a prediction. . .]

++ Marigolds - This year I have marigolds in the old strawberry patch. They are in a bed rather than a border. Sofia French Marigolds in front and  American Marigolds in back. 

++ Miracle Grow -- This year I am a commercial for Miracle Grow. After last year generic products, I am back to name brand fertilizer. I know it is all the same, but Miracle Grow is a good product at a good price. 


Burpee's Big Boy. Vigorous and fairly self-supporting so far.

Early Girl Improved. This is the vigorous one;
The less vigorous one produced a fruit on 8-June:
Acorn squash grown from a sweet variety
we bought at the store. 

A Snack Attack Tomato. Looks good. I'll let you know how it tastes.

This is my Sweet 100. Very vigorous. I have had
two cherry tomatoes so far. Both were from flowers that set inside.

Other crops are basil, peas, eggplant, peppers (pimento), and leeks. The peas are strong, and falling all over each other.