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Naiad Blog

My Garden Medicine Cabinet

Erin Pikor

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In San Diego we are blessed with a year round growing season which also means year round plant pests. As someone who makes and sells products using essential oils and natural ingredients, and someone who is avid about protecting my little patch of earth from harmful pesticides and herbicides, I have researched and developed various natural remedies for plant pests and infections using many of the same ingredients I use on my skin! Many of the items you can find locally near you either at the grocery store or a garden center, and for sure you can find everything you need online. I’ll post links in the case you can’t find something near you. I get most of my essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs which can be a bit more pricey, but I love the company and know their products are of the highest quality and purity, and are as sustainable as possible. 

NOTE: Just like on your skin, always test a small part of your plant before treating. It is best to treat plants in the early morning before exposure to harsh sun, as some oils can burn the leaves on plants, especially delicate and young leaves. I also have been known to treat in the evening during long summer days.

My Garden Medicine cabinet:

The following essential oils work to mask the scent of plants and deter insects with their strong concentrated scents and many also work as anti-fungals and antibacterials for a triple threat!:

- Clove or Cinnamon leaf oil

- Peppermint oil

- Rosemary oil

- Tea Tree oil

Other stuff to have around

Beer

Chili Peppers

Diatomaceous Earth

Garlic bulbs

Hydrogen peroxide 3% solution

Liquid soap (natural)

Neem oil

Tin Foil or shallow tin cans

Spray bottles -  32 oz - preferably one for each recipe to avoid cross contamination.

Glass dropper bottles for making master batches of essential oil blends

Recipes

All purpose plant spray - indoor and outdoor plants

This spray is my go-too for regular preventive garden pest management. I’ll spray this at leats weekly and more on outdoor plants if it is rainy season, to prevent large aphid, white fly and spider mite infestations on outdoor and indoor plants including the vegetable garden. It also deters leaf miners, grasshoppers and caterpillars/larvae stages of insects somewhat.

  • 1 teaspoon natural liquid soap

  • 2 teaspoons Neem oil

  • 3-5 drops each rosemary, cinnamon or clove and peppermint essential oils.

  • 30 oz of water

Combine in a 32 oz spray bottle and shake well.

To apply spray on the tops and underside of leaves, and plant stems for good measure.

powdery mildew loves the zucchini!

powdery mildew loves the zucchini!

Powdery Mildew Spray - outdoor plants

Use at first sign of powdery mildew and continue once a week throughout the growing season. Carefully remove and discard any badly damaged leaves and leaves covered with powdery mildew prior to use. Do not throw leaves in a compost bin as the mildew spores will contaminate your compost.

  • 2 teaspoons neem oil

  • 1 teaspoon dish soap

  • ½  teaspoon tea tree oil

  • 30 oz of water

Combine in a 32 oz spray bottle and shake well.

To apply spray on the tops and underside of leaves, and plant stems for good measure.

Be sure to test a small area and wait a day to make sure there is no yellowing or burning of leaves. If there is damage cut the neem oil and tea tree oils in half. This goes for all recipes with Neem oil - it tends to be the culprit.

Here is a great post on controlling powdery mildew

Garlic Spray for Caterpillar and Grasshopper control - outdoor plants

I love garlic but caterpillars and grasshoppers do not! This spray will kill caterpillars and deter grasshoppers (I have not found an effective natural way to kill grasshoppers but this spray helps. They really are the worst!)

  • 4 bulbs of garlic

  • 1 small red chili

  • 30 oz of water

  • 1 teaspoon of liquid soap

To prepare, mince garlic and chili and add to water, then let sit 24 hours. Strain and transfer to your spray bottle and add the liquid soap. To apply, spray on the tops and underside of leaves, and plant stems.

Here is a great post on grasshopper facts and control

sticky traps for fungus gnats work so well!

sticky traps for fungus gnats work so well!

Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) for fungus gnat control - indoor and outdoor potted plants

At one point in the season my house will be suddenly swarming with teeny tiny flying insects. Yellow sticky traps do wonders for catching adults, but their larvae is in the soil and they need to be eliminated! This H2O2 solution does the trick and has the added bonus of oxygenating the soil and plant roots Sometimes the soil volcanoes out of the pot so put something under plants to catch the soil if it spills over - you can put it back in and press the air out of the soil later.

  • 3 oz hydrogen peroxide

  • 27 oz water

Water plant thoroughly and let water drain completely. This is to make sure the soil is hydrated and can absorb the solution. Combine H2O2 and water in a container and water the plant again with the solution until you have water running out the drain holes. If the soil starts to bubbly up and out of the container, gently press it down until it stops trying to escape. I find that doing this once every 2 month, combined with yellow sticky traps is highly effective at controlling fungus knats!

Beer Slug Traps - outdoor plants

Get cheap beer - slugs don’t care and you certainly would not want to waste a premium drinking beer. Slugs are attracted to the yeast in beer, then they crawl in (get drunk I hope) then drown.

  • cheap beer

  • tin foil or empty shallow can like a tuna can, to use as a vessel.

Bury your container in soil near plants that you want to protect from slug damage, or at various locations in your garden so the rim is just at soil level, then fill with beer. Clean traps and refill regularly as they fill with slugs Eeeeooow!

And remember, pest and disease prevention starts with good soil and nutrients.  A plant that has a good diet has a natural defense just like people! For outdoor plants you can have your soil tested for deficiencies though I never have (fingers crossed). I always amend with a good compost before planting and side dress with the following during growing season as directed by the manufacturer: organic blood meal, bone meal, rock dust and worm castings. For indoor plants I use fish emulsion and compost tea monthly and twice a month to weekly during growing seasons - depending on the vigor of the growth.

Naiad Soap Arts is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com. I make a commission if you use a www.amazon.com link. We are not affiliated with any other company and do not get a commission from links to sites other than www.amazon.com

We're Going Greener!

Erin Pikor

Single-use plastic is being banned everywhere and I’m thrilled about it! You might be hearing about plastics invading all corners of the earth from the Pyrenees mountains to Antarctica. The EU recently banned Single-use plastics, California has banned plastic bags statewide, as well as Hawai’i and is leading the way on plastic straw regulations, and other states are watching.

our  artisan soaps  come in an eco-friendly, re-usable muslin bag!

our artisan soaps come in an eco-friendly, re-usable muslin bag!

I’ve always been a nature lover and I try to made eco-friendly a priority when making buying decisions. Being a bath and body product based business we use a lot of plastic but our goal is to get plastic out of the equation wherever possible. I do believe an eco-friendly product should be housed in eco-friendly packaging. That isn’t always the reality for body products because no ones wants broken glass in the shower! 

In May, I met with Cindy Lin, Former US EPA Southwest Regional Coordinator, and Co-Founder and CEO of Hove Social Good Intelligence, Inc. She had a wealth of information but nothing that fit within my budget at the moment. I learned a lot about sustainable packaging though, and have all of the information I need once it’s possible to make sweeping packaging changes! I decided that to start within my budget I would tackle the unsustainable shipping supplies first. Here are all of the transitions we’re making:

Biodegradable packing peanuts vs. styrofoam

  • Made from renewable starch like corn

  • Biodegradable. It literally “shrinky dinks” in water and can be thrown in the compost pile so it won’t clog landfills or the bellies of sea creatures.

  • People and pet safe just in case you accidentally ingest one. If they were orange they’d look just like Cheesy Poofs!

  • Anti-static so they won’t stick to everything.

Biodegradable Packing Tape vs traditional self stick packing tape.

  • Renewable and Biodegradable. The cellulose and natural rubber adhesive are plant based.

Corrugated Cushion and mailers vs Bubble wrap and bubble mailers

  • Made from biodegradable paper.

  • Usually made from part or all recycled paper so renewable plus plant some more trees.

Do you have any ideas to help us go more Green? Comment below!

our first plastic free shipment!

our first plastic free shipment!

Getting Back to the Art of Soap

Erin Pikor

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Inspired by Nature

Monstera Deliciosa soap, molded from a hand carved clay sculpture.

When I started Naiad Soap Arts in 2007 I used soap as a new medium to express my creativity, designing complicated compositions in soap and experimenting with new techniques. Over the years the product line and vision has evolved and most of the creativity goes into formulating or packaging, but I’ve been wanting to reincorporate that creativity and design into my process! This is the first in a series of soaps inspired by my love of nature - Monstera Deliciosa Soap

Final molded Monstera Delicious soaps. now available  here .

Final molded Monstera Delicious soaps. now available here.

I’ve always loved gardening and tinkering with the care and propagation of plants, but like all hobbies I get obsessed with, I’m beginning to have more than I can manage! The bulk of my free time currently is growing and propagating plants, trying to procure new plants, researching how to keep them pest free and happy, and when that isn’t satisfying enough I’ll paint or photograph “plant portraits”. I blame instagram for showing me all that I can have, and human nature for greedily wanting more. On watering inspection day it takes between 2-4 hours to water, prune, de-bug, and dote on my over 50 house plants, and probably 20 more succulent arrangements that I have outside, plus the herb and vegetable garden (which is pretty lacking this year due to afore mentioned house plants).

Just one shelf, in one corner , covered in plants.

Just one shelf, in one corner , covered in plants.

The darling of house plants, the Monstera Deliciosa, had eluded me every time I looked for one at my local home improvement and garden stores, and the price to buy a clipping online as always beyond my comfort zone. To satiate my longing, I created the Monstera Delicious Soap! There’s something intoxicating about the strategically tattered, green glossy leaves which nature has so carefully crafted to allow air to pass through without damaging the leaves, and the fenestrations (natures windows) to allow light to pass through and nourish leaves below. It’s pretty amazing engineering in my opinion - good job nature!

From left clockwise: stencil, soap carving, and first attempt at a clay sculpture.

From left clockwise: stencil, soap carving, and first attempt at a clay sculpture.

First I drew the stencil and tried carving it in a block of soap - that didn’t work so well! The second version which I used to create the mold is made from bakeable clay that I carved and sanded smooth. There were many rounds of sanding and molding, testing, then more sanding, molding and testing. Here is a quick overview of the molding process:

To learn how to make your own custom molds you can purchase my handout through the Nova Studio!

It was hard to get that deep vibrant green color without over saturating the soap so I compromised and did a plain white version and a “variegated” version - green gold and white are one of my favorite color palettes! White is just clean, simple and shows off the shape really well.

My new Monstera Deliciosa plant - I finally found you!

My new Monstera Deliciosa plant - I finally found you!

Mini Succulent Arrangements Project

Erin Pikor

Naiad Soap Arts is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com. I make a commission if you use a www.amazon.com link. We are not affiliated with any other company and do not get a commission from links to sites other than www.amazon.com
teenie tiny echeveria

teenie tiny echeveria

I love all tings tiny! After buying a few hundred pumice stones, that I never used in those gift sets I was going to make, I decided on a new use for them! These tiny succulents arrangements are easy to make with a few simple tools and supplies.

You can use found stones and wood bark pieces, or buy items found online or at your local craft store.

Finds on black background

Let’s get started!

You’ll need:

  • a hot glue gun and hot glue

  • baby succulents, air plants, dried preserved flowers or artificial plants/flowers of your choice.

  • a base for the arrangement such as stones, branches, or bark chips. Make sure the surface is porous or hot glue won’t stick very well.

  • sphagnum moss

  • Butter knife or something made of metal that will dig into a pumice stone. I have used old wood carving tools that were dull, or small spoons. The process will dull whatever you use, so it is best to find something that you won’t use again for food, or need to keep sharp.

Teenie tiny succulents

Optional:

  • decorative items such as preserved moss, sand, glitter, mini sea shells or starfish. Really anything you like and have around the house.

  • toothpicks or wooden sticks (chopstick, popsicle, you get the idea) to pack moss around plants delicately, and to press decorations into hot glue so it doesn’t burn your fingers!

  • rubber gloves for handling anything that has not be disinfected.

  • fishing line - it is great to tie off moss that won’t hold together by itself.

Finds on Box Top

Steps:

1) First you want to make sure your base and sphagnum moss are disinfected.

  • To disinfect stones and sphagnum moss boil in water for 15 minutes and let the water cool to a manageable temperature before removing stones or moss to avoid burns

  • To disinfect wood bark or wood branches I soak for an hour in water then bake in a preheated 250 degree oven for an hour. Always monitor anything flammable in the oven! You can also boil the wood but it will take longer depending on the thickness, as the internal temperature must reach 180 degrees fahrenheit.

2) Get those baby succulents! Here are some ideas:

  • If you have any growing in your yard or in planters check for fallen leaves that have started growing baby plants. They do that! So Cool! The baby succulents don’t need to have grown roots yet, but if you do find little pink roots shooting out from the new plant, try and keep those in tact as you remove the baby from the mother leaf. Don’t forget to ask your succulent enthusiast neighbors or friends!

  • You can take a clippings of an existing succulent that might have an offshoot growing from a stem.

  • If scavenging for them isn’t an option, then call your local plant nursery to see if they sell tiny succulents.

  • If you are having a hard time finding baby succulents, artificial plants and airplants make an excellent alternative. You can also use dried preserved plants or just make a pretty moss arrangement!

3) The rest is just a matter of gathering your items, seeing that they look nice together, and gluing! For the pumice arrangement specifically here is my method - make sure you are in a well ventilated area, or outside!

carving pumice and inserting plant
  • Decide which side is going to be face up, and slowly and gradually scrape off layers to dig a crater in the pumice stone with your butter knife, or other tool. This will create dust that you won’t want to breathe in so again be sure to do this in a well ventilated area. Make the crater gradually by scraping off many layers of stone and apply more pressure where you want the crater to be deepest. Be sure not to apply too much pressure as it can crack the pumice stone. Some stones will crack regardless so it’s good to have a few for backup!

  • Wrap the base of you clipping with damp moss. It is easiest to work with the sphagnum moss when its damp, but if you are having trouble keeping it together, here is where that fishing line comes in handy.

  • Apply hot glue liberally to the crater in your stone and push in the plant moss side down. Use a chopstick, popsicle stick - whatever you have around to push it firmly without breaking any delicate succulent leaves.

And that’s it! To care for your new mini arrangement keep it misted regularly or place in a dish with water and pebbles. They require less misting in moist environments like terrariums or at the base of any water loving house plants you might have.

 

Easy DIY Flower Gift tags!

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These pretty paper flower gift tags are inexpensive and perfect for any occasion! 

This easy project is kid friendly as well!

You'll need:

1/8 inch hole punch

Paper gift tags 3inches long or larger

Paper flowers

Brads in silver or gold

Step 1: Punch a hole about 1-1.25 inches from the end of your gift tag. I am using a 3 inch gift tag and a 1/8 inch hole punch.

step1.jpg

Step 2: Choose 3-4 paper flowers in different sizes. Starting with the smallest flower, slide onto the brad. The flowers should come with pre punched holes to make this easy! NOTE: the flowers will have a front and back, The front if the side cubed up and you will want to put the brad through the front side so the petals curve upwards.

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Step 3: put the brad through the hole in the tag and bend the legs of the brad flat. NOTE: You can cover the legs of the brad with a little white sticker or round kraft sticker!

flowergifttags_naiadsoaparts_Step3.jpg
Naiad Soap Arts is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com. I make a commission if you use a www.amazon.com link. We are not affiliated with any other company and do not get a commission from links to sites other than www.amazon.com