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Monday, January 26, 2009

Red Spider Mites

I got myself a sickly pot of tarragon a few months back. I should have known better. I have done this before, you know. I have bought sickly plants infested with bugs before, and I have not learnt my lesson. Honestly, the allure of a plant much longed for and greatly lusted after blinds me to its obvious failings. The signs are all there. The leaves are spotted yellow. Delicate filaments of webbing hang discreetly under the leaves, providing shelter and protection to little pests smaller than half a full stop on a page. To see and still be blind. That is tragedy. It is tragedy that I deserve because I am too dumb to learn my lesson.

The sickly pot of tarragon, which I convinced myself was only mildly sick, and for which I nursed great hopes of healing and growth has since been thrown away after being sucked dry by little red spider mites. If that is not all, my entire collection of mediterranean herbs is now infested. And I have to resort to drastic measures comprised of rotenone spray and quarantine. I am a fool. I am a fool. I am a fool. My beautiful rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender... ALL in danger from an infestation I introduced into their midst. It's simply awful. It's like corrupting a young person's mind and see the innocence replaced by lines of wrinkles and eyes that know too much of the world. Something in the soul of a child dies when innocence ebbs away. Except that where plants are concerned, their lives ebb away and I am left with dried stems and leaves.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tea Tree

I didn't take this picture. I got it off the internet. Here is the weblink in case anyone is interested: I don't have this plant but it won't be long now. I shall lay my hands on it soon.

My bottles of tea tree oil are my crack troops against infections of all sorts. Any incursions of bacteria and fungus are immediately dispatched with tea tree oil. Pathogens of the human body stand not a chance. Often, the results are immediate and spectacular. Pimple wannabes (i.e., those red spots that threaten to pop up) beat a hasty retreat, leaving the skin smooth and pink. Dandruff flakes run for cover. Pathogens that cause conjunctivitis concede defeat. Even mould inside our airconditioners wave little white flags and abandon the territory to me, the Warrior Queen of Tea Tree Oil.

Athletes who train regularly stay hot and sweaty in our tropical climate. Not surprisingly, some begin to develop dandruff flakes. Few people know that dandruff is caused by a type of fungus that feeds on hair oils. Mix a few drops of pure tea tree oil in a squirt of liquid baby bath and lather well into your hair. Rub the scalp vigorously with your finger pads and leave the lather in for about 5 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly. Daily applications over 3 days is enough to get rid of the dandruff if the problem is not serious.

I used to wash my red eyes with salt water 3 times a day over 3 days. It was quite effective in getting rid of conjunctivitis and styes. On one occasion, I was travelling and all that I had was tea tree oil. I dipped a cotton bud into the oil and then washed the cotton under a lot of running water to dilute the concentrated oil. Lifting up my upper eyelid, I dabbed the outer corner of the upper eyelid ever so lightly and ever so quickly. Then I closed my eyes. It was so very painful but the conjunctivitis went away in one application. This was a potentially dangerous thing to do to my eyes. Very dangerous. Over applying a too highly concentrated tea tree oil can burn skin. Even though I made sure that I ran a lot of clean water over the cotton bud, I was still afraid that I might have burnt my eye. Ouch! Thankfully, nothing untoward happened.

But the thing I like most about tea tree oil is that it cleans my airconditioners like nothing else can. After removing and rinsing the filters, I use my steam cleaner to spray hot steam into my airconditioner blower. Then, I dilute 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil with 1.5 litres of water. This, I duly spray into the blower, making sure the solution reaches every inch that matters. I leave the solution there for 10 minutes, after which I spray hot steam again to rinse away the solution. For years, my husband experienced sinusitis every time he stepped into our airconditioned bedroom. From the first time I cleaned the blower in this way 5 years ago, he has not experienced sinusitis in our airconditioned bedroom. I can only imagine the quantity of fungal spores that blew out of my aircon before I started cleaning it with tea tree oil.

I even tried applying tea tree oil on my frangipani's rust spots. The oil did get rid of the fungus, but it burnt the leaves as well! Huge black burn spots on every leaf!