In the course of the last month I've been spring cleaning at a somewhat irregular pace - mostly in brief, frenzied spells, whenever the weather turned hot and dry and the windows could be opened wide, and the spring cleaning rapture took me. It's a funny thing, this spring cleaning in a rural home: I store winter clothes and bedding away, wash the windows, roll up the rugs, and do all the things as one would do when spring cleaning ... but I also vacuum ceilings and walls for cobwebs, sweep up the saw dust and wood chips from beneath the firewood storage, and pick bay leaves (Laurus Nobilis). Yes, laurel for spring cleaning.
One of the things that the hot weather brings us in our rural home, in fact, is critters of all sorts. Bees and wasps, lizards and geckos, flies, beetles and ants - we (more or less) know how to deal with them. But the tiny flour moths have been a big problem. They colonize my kitchen, and spoil flours, grains, pasta and nuts. One of the best ways to prevent them, would be to keep all dry food supplies in sealed jars that moths can't access to. I don't do that, mainly because in terms of space, in my small cupboards, it's more efficient to store food in its original packaging, closing them with a clip. But pantry moths are voracious, and gnaw through the packaging. I've had to find a natural way to repel them.
This is when I discovered that bay leaves have repellent properties that keep away insects and pantry moths. Victory! (If the Romans didn't think of moths when they wore laurel wreaths as a symbol of victory, they sure should have!) The first year, we just scattered leaves inside our cupboards and wardrobes, but when these dried and crumbled, they made a mess. Nowadays, at spring cleaning time, we pick laurel boughs, and tape them upside down on the inside of the doors and on the bottom side of the shelves of our kitchen cupboards and wardrobes, where they repel moths without creating more stuff to clean. (Note: if you don't have a laurel tree nearby, store-bought dried bay leaves work fine - just make sure you replace them when the fragrance fades).
And this year, we made watercoloring part of our rural spring cleaning ritual: we first made a bay leaf botanical card to add to our growing collection, and then taped the bough to the cupboards to repel moths.