Saturday, August 10, 2013

Odors - Fragrant or Foul

Today’s  photos have nothing to do with this column, I just thought they’d be  much nicer to use  than photos of pestiferous insects.  

The day I publish this column will be my birthday.  At my age I don’t celebrate,  I just groan.  Sad to say, my memory is getting dim, my eyes are getting weak and my ears now require hearing aids.  About the only thing still in good working order is my nose, but even that isn’t as good as that of a bloodhound or even a deer.  

Good old Homo sapiens is supposed to be superior to all other animals,  but not  when it  comes to our sense of smell.  Imagine having the nose of a hound  dog who can sniff out the odor of a melt-in-your-mouth truffle. Life would be very different if our olfactory organs were that good.   One big intake of air and we’d instantly be able to detect whether the spaghetti was al dente,  the wild strawberries were ready to pick or possibly even what kind of mood our spouse was in.

Think about it.  Wouldn’t it be grand if our reading glasses contained a distinctive perfume so when we’d  misplaced them we could just sniff around from room to room until we got a whiff of them?  How handy to be able to catch the odor of burning cookies if  you’d forgotten they were baking in the oven.     


The vegetable garden is a place where a superior sense of smell would be a distinct asset.  You could draw a large drought of air into your nostrils as you opened the gate and know just which vegetables were ready to pick, which were rotting and which were riddled with disease.

Few garden pests visit  my garden, and  I think it’s because  along with my vegetables I plant a variety of flowers and herbs that insects don’t like.  Almost all the bad garden bugs dislike garlic, onions, leaks and shallots which I intersperse with lettuce and carrots.  Mint keeps pests away from members of the cabbage family.  If you plant this invasive , however, keep it in a container so it won’t be able to spread.

I have marigolds, which have a very distinctive odor,  all along the garden fence, another good deterrent. I plant parsley close to tomato plants. It also deters insects from the asparagus bed.  Thyme does wonders in protecting strawberries. And geraniums help to keep the Japanese beetles out of my raspberry bed.

With all these strong odors wafting through the garden, maybe it’s a good thing our noses can’t perform as well as those of animals or insects.  To have that many smells assail the nostrils at the same time would be overpowering, wouldn’t it?

The one pest that I suspect can’t smell much of anything is the slug.  I often find a slime of slugs in my vegetable garden.  In case you are unaware of  how to get rid of  slugs, here’s an easy solution.  Offer them saucers of beer each summer. Slugs love beer.  And they can’t swim, so they  usually drown in the saucer, probably dying drunk and happy. 


  1. Clethra are in bloom now, with a deliciously spicy fragrance...Star-gazers are many good things to smell, but we're often happy we don't have the olfactory acuity of our dogs, who smell the visiting fox, bear, odd night critter and wake us with their pacing & sniffing....Happy Birthday....

  2. Yes.Like it or not, Happy Birthday but sorry your nose is so lazy. That's my sharpest sense; not quite as handy as sight, but it's supposed to be the one we remember the longest.

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