I'm avoiding spreading DEET on my skin these days, at least until I get desperate. Then I'll use the DEET.
Citronella oil makes an OK bug repellent. It's in many commercial repellents and is probably what makes that Avon bath oil work as a repellent.
According to many websites, and random hippies I've run into over the years, there are many essential oils that will work as bug repellent:
basil, cedarwood, citronella, juniper, lemon, myrrh, palmarosa, pine, rose geranium and/or rosemary.
Various sites recommend putting these in a base of 190 proof grain alcohol (from the liquor store) at a ratio of 21/2 tsp of oil to 1 cup of alcohol. Others say to use a carrier oil like almond or even olive but not a heavy virgin olive oil.
Be careful, some essential oils are a bit tough on skin or people are allergic to them. Best to do some experimenting before.
Lavender oil or the crushed leaves of a plantain (the North American weed, not the gourmet banana from the fancy food store) will take away the sting. Personally I keep a bit of "Sting Stop" around the trailer.
And since I've got a friend (Hi Karin) with a GIANT case of poison ivy, here are recommendations for that:
aloe vera applied right to the rash
tea tree oil applied liberally and frequently to the rash to stop the itch and maybe stop the rash (this might also stop itching from bug bites) (tea tree oil DOES cure various minor skin fuguses too and is a good antiseptic and disinfectant) (I wonder if I can grow a tea tree here? hmmm...)
Jewelweed...I don't know what this is, but they say it works against poison ivy and stinging nettles
Rhubarb stems! A site says to break the stems up and rub the broken ends (and the juice that comes out) on the affected areas. Interesting. And you'd smell like pie!
Since Karin has a horrible case, perhaps we could put a grid pattern on her with a sharpie and try a variety of natural remedies and see which works. Sure it's cruel, but it would be interesting.
The best cure is to NOT GET INTO POISON IVY. If you see this plant:
That whole "leaves of three, let it be" seems about right.
Anyway, enough about the poison ivy.
The garden continues apace, though I'm worried as there are no tiny tomatoes on the tomato plants yet. When do those come on? And the tomatillos? The beans? I know I could look it up but it would be easier if someone just told me.
The lettuce looks OK again so I might harvest a leaf tomorrow. I was supposed to have 4 bunches but only one made it. Some of the carrot tops (not the horrifyingly crap comedian, the vegetables) are starting to come back.
I'm still spraying stank on it frequently and I fertilized it with fish emulsion after spraying on the onion stuff the other day. It STANK to high heaven. I hope I can harvest worm poop soon. I've also heard that I should save my bean water (from soaking, cooking, and even from rinsing canned beans) to put on the garden. Something about nutrients. It also seems that once I get my sprouter going again that water is good for the garden. Since I water out of a bucket, I could just bring in the bucket to get that water and bean juice. I'll try it and let you know.
If anyone has used an oil or plant or something as personal bug repellent, I'd like to know how it worked. And for the family elders out there, what did you use back in the day?