June managed to creep in after an extreme mix of weather during the month of May, then a couple of days of sunshine brought with it the inevitable arrival of the troublesome, biting midges.

My quest for July is to try and avoid being bitten by our lowland Scottish midges, no doubt cousins of the ferocious Highland midge!

Midge trap

With the summer months come the fruit crops, the grass, the weeds and the flies, clegs and wasps! Worse still, we are plagued by midges at this time of year, so I thought that Frugaldom would be the ideal place to take part in the annual midge watch organised by APS Biocontrol Ltd.,as part of the Midge Forecast research and collaboration. 

Midge trap results

I was duly sent a kit comprising a cardboard trap, a block of something that attracts them into the trap and some sticky boards for catching them. Great! This should detract them from my caravan door, where there can be swarms of them rising from the grass along the tree line, and provide plenty of specimens for the research. That was the plan, anyway, but the midges haven't come back to the caravan in their normal droves and clouds! 

tiny baby toad at Three Lochs Holiday Park

At Three Lochs Holiday Park, next door to Frugaldom, the tadpoles have finally developed their legs and are on a mass exodus across the track from water to field. It's such a shame for all those tiny toads running the gauntlet of holiday traffic, so we help them over the road whenever possible. It's a very precarious place to walk, cycle, ride or drive at the moment!

wooden post and rail fencing at Frugaldom

Out at the Frugaldom Project itself, the decision was taken to add a third rail onto the corral fencing so we can have some ponies in to graze down the grass. With no budget for this, it had to be a DIY job. I mean, how hard can it be to saw some joints, hammer a few nails into a few rails and keep them all in a straight line? As it turned out, it wasn't that difficult with the help of a fellow frugaler with joinery skills; the most difficult part being lifting the 12' rails when they are wet and seeing to the bruises afterwards! It took us two afternoons to complete the first corral and we have enough wood left to do the other one. That's girl power for you! I think the worst part was swishing away all the flies!

Bog myrtle is also known as sweet gale or myrica gale

We have acres of bog myrtle growing at Frugaldom. Among other things, Bog Myrtle is an age-old ingredient used in making insect repellent, with the oil extracted from such plants said to be very effective. It is, however, also very expensive for those of the frugal living ilk, so I'm experimenting!

Aromatic herbs to deter midges and flies

I have a row of aromatic herbs by the caravan door that includes lemon balm, rosemary, lemon thyme, mint and the customary bunch of bog myrtle, which I pick fresh from the field every few days. Everyone suggests Avon's 'Skin so Soft', which does have the hint of bog myrtle about it, so I have also been applying some of that after receiving some in a gift. The difference it makes isn't worth my while ordering any more, in my opinion.

Myrica Gale or Sweet Gale, as Bog Myrtle is often known, is a lovely shrub. As the name suggests, it grows in boggy land and can reach a height of over a metre high. We have no shortage of it for our own use and I'd love to be able to distill the essential oil from it, but on this scale it just isn't a viable option. So, I have:

  • bog myrtle dried and infused into grape seed oil, as a skin rub
  • bog myrtle infused in shampoo, which also seems to act like a highlighter, as it goes honey coloured with its natural yellow dye.
  • bog myrtle bundled at my door
  • bog myrtle tied to my bike
  • bog myrtle 'tea' simmered as an air freshener - branches chopped and boiled in a stock pot of water
  • bog myrtle water - anyone remember making 'perfume' as a child by collecting rose petals and shaking them in a jar of water? It makes a lovely air freshener, much nicer than any chemical alternatives, and works with the bog myrtle leaves - I used boiled water.

I don't know if all of these things or even any of these things are working but what I do know is that I am currently living in an area renowned for its midges and yet we are now into mid July and I haven't been infested or eaten alive by them. In my frugaleur book of great business ideas, that is a Myrical in itself and deserves further experimentation - so here goes. The Bog Myrtle is growing well and looks almost ready to start cutting and drying, so that's what I am going to be doing next - harvesting it as something worth selling to fellow frugalers. News and updates on the progress will be linked to the appropriate section of the web project - that section has been aptly named www.myrical.co.uk

We love bog myrtle!

Published by NYK Media as part of the Frugaldom blog and Scottish Multimedia web project.

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