The Happy Gardener

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It is no good creating a green garden paradise if your mosquito bites are so bad you dare not enter it. And slapping chemical insect repellent all over yourself is not the answer, considering the lengths you have gone to avoid chemicals in the rest of your garden. So have the following natural products handy before you go out into the garden to make sure you are as happy in it as all those insects.

Citronella oil

This essential oil repels mosquitoes, but smells pleasantly lemony to humans. It can be applied directly to the skin if diluted in a carrier oil, can be added to a vaporizer, or is often found added to outdoor candles. Lavender oil can also be used in this way, or you could try washing the skin in a pennyroyal or elderflower infusion.

Tea tree oil

A fantastic all-rounder for any gardener, this essential oil is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. It can soothe an insect bite, sting, cut or graze and prevent it becoming infected.

Aloe vera

This plant has a huge number of uses, but it is good for gardeners since it soothes sunburn and can also help heal cuts. Have a go at growing the plant yourself - it thrives in hot, sunny conditions so you may have more luck on an indoor window ledge - or buy an aloe vera preparation.

Homeopathic remedies

Keeping a homeopathic first-aid kit can be helpful to a gardener. Try pyrethrum tincture for bee stings, arnica or ledum tinctures for wasp stings, and a mixture of hypericum and calendula tinctures for gnat bites. For skin that has come into contact with poison ivy, bathe it with milk and take anacardium 6c every 15 minutes. Ask a registered homeopath for more information on specific remedies.

Sun protection

No one should need reminding of the dangers of prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and gardeners are especially at risk. Always cover up as much as possible (even if working in the shade), wear a hat that shades the back of your neck, and wear sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, which protects against UVA and UVB rays, and look out for those that contain certified organic ingredients or that are available through health-food stores, as they are likely to have fewer petrochemicals in them. You could also try taking 30 mg of beta carotene daily during the summer as this has been shown to give greater protection against the dangers of radiation on the skin.

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