New England Garden Tour with Judith Taylor of Seeds2Plate

And why ticks no longer like her as much as they used to

Judith Taylor teaches workshops on gardening and garden planning, how to save seeds in winter and start them back up in the spring, and how to make your own tea. Lately she has gotten into mushroom hunting! In Massachusetts where Judith lives, these activities almost always involve ticks and mosquitoes, which is what makes her a fan of Insect Shield. In this video, Judith takes us on a tour of her garden, introduces us to some of the fauna there, and tells us how she keeps the tiny biting ones away.

Learn More

Avoiding Ticks While Gardening Guest post by Judith Taylor

Judith Taylor’s Website: Seeds2Plate

Mis-Adventures with Ticks! Presentation by Tick Expert Larry Dapsis on the Seeds2Plate blog

Shop Tick Repellent Clothing & Gear

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Transcript of the Interview

Mark at Insect Shield                                       

Okay, we're here today with Judith Taylor of Seeds2Plate. And we've worked with Judith for some time. She is one of our affiliates, and we have her test some of our clothing. She's a gardening expert, and she offers workshops on gardening. She's going to walk us through some of the photos of her awesome garden. And then we're going to talk about some of the ways that she's been using Insect Shield [blankets and clothes to repel ticks]. So Judith, welcome to the Insect Shield blog.

Judith Taylor

Thanks so much, Mark. I'm really happy to be here. I’ve really enjoyed talking with you and trialing your clothes. They've come in handy many times. 

Mark at Insect Shield 

Yeah, and I think actually, you wrote a blog post for us earlier in the year, which we're very happy to [talk about, and of course] to talk about your experience gardening. And you actually have contracted Lyme disease at some point, right?

Judith Taylor

That's correct. Last summer I was the lucky recipient of a tick bite which I wasn't even aware of. I didn't know I had been bitten by a tick and fortunately I got the bull's eye rash so I went to check on it and get medical help and got tested and sure enough, it was Lyme.

Mark at Insect Shield

Yeah, and so we could talk a little bit about that: your experience with Lyme, but obviously the upshot there is you really want to avoid getting that again. I can't remember. Have you gotten it – a second interaction – with Lyme?

Judith Taylor

Not that I'm aware of. I have talked to many, many people in my gardening circle here in New England, that have contracted Lyme or other tick borne diseases multiple times, which is very scary to me. I mean, you think that just getting it once is a pretty low probability but it's actually pretty high now. And to get it again, is really extra scary.

I still am not quite clear how the doctors can tell if you get it a second time because you get those antibodies in your system the first time and those tests identify the antibodies and you know, I don't know if they stay in your system or how well that works. I'm still trying to get that sorted out because it's very interesting number one, but two, you know, if I went back and got tested again, I would want to know if I did get infected again, or if those are still antibodies from the first incident.

I have a very close friend who got anaplasmosis this summer, and it was pretty serious. She was in the hospital for several days. They thought it was pneumonia, and then they determined that it was anaplasmosis, which is another tick borne disease and then there's also the babesiosis which is not much fun either. So yeah, I can't tell you how many people I've talked to when you bring up the topic of tick borne diseases they're like oh yeah, I've had it, you know, I've had it multiple times. It's really, really scary. 

Mark at Insect Shield

Right. And you've talked a little bit about the fact that you know, people you kind of expect you really have to be vigilant if you're going and hiking. You're going to be on trails or out in high grass that kind of stuff but you know your experience you think that did you get the bite while you were gardening…?

Judith Taylor

I'm sure I did. I am out in my yard every day all summer long, and fall and spring as well. You know, I do hike. I do other activities but the gardening is like 99.9% of my time outdoors. And absolutely to your point, I don't think gardeners are quite as conscious of ticks as hikers and some other folks.

You know when you're preparing to go somewhere and you're in the woods, the first thing you think about is, Oh, ticks I need to protect myself and you dress accordingly. I know when I go out my garden a lot of times I'm just going out for a few minutes to, you know, get some herbs to make something with or to go with raspberries or this or that and so I'm just out there for a few minutes and I don't think about ticks. I'm just, you know, popping out there. It's my yard, you know, Gosh darn it! You ticks shouldn't even be there.

Mark at Insect Shield

That’s right! Ticks shouldn’t even be there!

Judith Taylor

I don't want to be scared to go out in my yard. So um, so yeah, I go out all the time in, you know, shorts and a T-shirt and tennis shoes, and I just don't think about it. So it had to have been where I got it. Like I said, I never found a tick. I don't remember getting bitten. I don't know how that happened. But somehow I got it. So there was definitely a tick involved there somewhere.

Mark at Insect Shield

And you were lucky to get that bullseye rash. I mean, lucky, you know. A lot of people [don’t] those and it's really serious because you can get the long term [symptoms of the disease], the longer it goes without a diagnosis.

Judith Taylor

Absolutely, yeah, I think about 50% of people get the bullseye, is what I read. And it was painful. It was definitely you know, I watched it for a few days because I thought it was a bug bite, but I had no idea it was a tick bite. And so I watched it and it kept getting bigger and more painful. And it took quite several weeks for it to go away. But yes, I do feel very lucky that I got it because my sister-in-law contracted - I think she had Lyme. It was verified as Lyme. And she lives in the Midwest. And in the Midwest, the doctors aren't as is aware of it as they are here in New England. And so she went undiagnosed for quite a while and was having a lot of symptoms. And it took quite a few months of antibiotics from what I understand to recover from that.

Mark at Insect Shield

Yeah, wow. Well, I'm glad that you caught it, and that you've gotten treatment for it. And you know, at Insect Shield we're all about prevention. And that's a lot less expensive and debilitating. There’s no debilitation involved in prevention!

Judith Taylor

Yeah, it is serious debilitation. I mean, you're talking about joint pain and fatigue and long term chronic symptoms that don't go away. And you know, the nice thing once I found out about your clothing line, from my friend, Larry Dapsis who did a tick tock for my followers, and that's available on my website, if anybody wants to watch it. It's free, you can go there any time. He's a great entomologist, and knows a lot about ticks. And so he turned me on to Insect Shield, and the ease of being able to just throw on a T-shirt and some pants that are already treated and not have to spray myself all the time is amazing.

I really don't like to use mosquito spray and tick spray. And, you know, I think long term that it probably isn't really good for you. You know, I don't like to use chemicals and things like that in my yard, I don't want to use them on my body either. So being able to have that protection built into the clothes is my perfect solution. So it's worked out really well for me this summer.

Mark at Insect Shield

Yeah, and we, we recommend using the topical solution on skin for areas that are exposed. But you know, the point is not to have to wear that on your legs or, you know, it's not a good idea to be spraying DEET on clothing. You know, we sell a spray that you can apply yourself to clothing, and that's very low toxicity and it's quite safe. EPA registered. So that's one way but the clothing that's pretreated is really the most effective and easiest to use. Well let’s look at some of the ways that you're, you know, taking advantage of Insect Shield products and see some shots of your garden. I think you've got some other stuff going on here first, right?

Judith Taylor

[Next slide: Judith doing yoga outdoors on our insect repellent blankets]

Yep, I do. So I wanted to like set trial some of your clothing up Sorry, I went once like too much. So I tried it for outdoor yoga. This is something that is become very popular, especially in our area. I'm sure it is across the country with COVID going on. A lot of people can't do yoga indoors. And I've been a very, very devout Yogi for several years. And during COVID I kept doing it. But it was nice to be able to get outside and do it with other people.

So I tried out your blankets because I thought (the first thing that came to mind) outdoor yoga and like, Well, there's ticks out there in the grass. And now you're going to be there in the grass with the ticks doing yoga, and that's not very Zen! So I decided to try out your blankets and they work great. I put them underneath my yoga mat and went right out in the front yard and laid them out and it was great. It helped keep the ticks at bay. It helped keep [away] the other insects and bugs that tend to crawl up your legs while you're trying to be chill.

Mark at Insect Shield

Right. Yeah.

Judith Taylor

So it was great. It worked out really well.

Mark at Insect Shield

Really nice. I see the red and the blue.

Judith Taylor

Yes. And normally when I'm out my yard now I've got my Insect Shield socks, my shoes that have been treated with Insect Shield, my pants that I have on there, the T-shirt and then if it's if it's cool out I've got my long sleeve hoodie or my long sleeve T-shirt so I'm pretty much covered from head to toe other than you know maybe my hands so um so I'm protected.

This [next slide] is a new sport I just took up this year was is mushroom hunting. I just I love to forage. I think it's really fun and I love nature and I love to be outside and trying to you know understand what Mother Nature provides and all the gifts that she has by going foraging. It's just amazing what you can find and so I'm trying to learn about mushrooms, which there's so much to learn.

I don't know if you've ever done mushrooming, but there's just so many different kinds of fungus out there and I should say “fungi”. And so I joined the Boston mychological group and it's a huge organization run out of Boston but they do walks all over Massachusetts, and we go looking for mushrooms.

So the other day I went and it was a beautiful fall day and I've got my Insect Shield wear on because we weren’t just on the trail. We were off the trail going after those mushrooms, so extra protection is needed for those walks.

Mark at Insect Shield

Excellent. Glad to hear it.

Judith Taylor

[Next slide: domestic cat and wild bobcat]

Then I was going to tell you a little bit about how ticks get into my yard. So first of all, I have this 23 pound cat named Chrissy, who has long hair, long white hair, which ticks are attracted to, and she likes to just lay out in the grass. I take her out in the yard for boot camp because she's a little bit overweight. And she doesn't like to exercise. So I take her out in the yard, and then she gets…

Mark at Insect Shield

She looks fine to me! I don't see any “overweightness.”

Judith Taylor

You gotta look at her from the backside. But she she's starting to learn to hang with me when I'm out gardening, which I enjoy. And then she'll come back into the house when she's hungry. So at least she has to go for a little bit of a walk. But she does pick up ticks along the way. So I called her Uber for ticks.

And then we have a lot of other wildlife we're out in, we're actually, you know, in a suburban area, but it's very open. There's a lot of conservation land around, we have three acre lots. And so there's a lot of wildlife around like we've got turkeys and tons of deer. And this is Bob is what we call them, Robert, Robert the Bobcat, and he cruises through our yard. And sometimes he brings family with him. And this is a picture that my husband took a couple years ago and you can actually see the tick on his eye on. So this is the way the ticks kind of get a ride around our yard. They get dropped off and moved around. And then we have those little white footed mice that actually contract the disease and transmit it. 

Mark at Insect Shield

Yeah, those are the most, I guess, dangerous to have around. And that's the number one culprit there.

Judith Taylor

We've got a ton of those around. I catch those in my garden all the time.

Mark at Insect Shield

Yeah. Wow. So and I think, you know, this is kind of a thing now. People don't really realize if they're back up against the woods, the ticks can be right in their yard. And if they've got a dog, the dog will be out there cruising around. And he is another kind of I don't know what you'd call a dog in terms of Uber and Lyft. Old-style taxi, maybe?

Judith Taylor

There you go.

Mark at Insect Shield

And, they're, you know, could bring a tick in the house, even though it's just on the dog there for a bit and then you really, you know, can get a bite from that.

Judith Taylor

Yeah, and especially if they're sleeping with you. I know a lot of people who sleep with their pets. So guess what, while you're sleeping that tick’s gonna crawl off the animal and onto you. So beware.

[Next slide: mother deer and two fawns]

Now we've got mom and Bambi One and Bambi Two. These three have been hanging out in my yard all summer long, but they come through on a regular basis. And sometimes they bring friends. They are obviously [what I call] mass transit for ticks because instead of one or two, they're sometimes covered with them. And they are not even afraid of me. I go up and talk to them all the time. I had one, one of the fawns, was in one of my garden beds, and I took a picture of it. I was literally like two feet away from him - him or her. And so they're very cute. They're just adorable, but they really do like to eat my plants, which isn't always good. And they are giving a lot of ticks transportation into the yard as well.

Mark at Insect Shield

A lot. Yeah, I mean that's how the ticks spread because the mice don't have a huge footprint. They're not you know, traveling that far. But the deer obviously can have a very large kind of radius where they move around, and take ticks everywhere.

Judith Taylor

The one thing I learned from Larry, is that it the difference between the ticks and the mice is that the mice actually have the disease in their system and can transmit it where the deer do not they don't track time, they're just moving the text around. Right? So you know, there's a lot of debate about culling deer to help the tick or to help the Lyme solution situation. And so while that may help, because they don't move them around, it's actually you know, those white footed mice that are transmitting the disease. So it's important to understand the difference between the two.

[Next slide: garden with flowers and white arbor]

So I'll just take you on a quick tour of my yard, you can kind of see all the opportunities for tick habitat. And the other thing I wanted to talk about today was mosquitoes.

I know you on the West Coast have not had much rain this season, but we have gotten it all on the East Coast. And if we could just kind of tip the earth a little bit it could all run over to your side and everybody would be happy. 

Mark at Insect Shield

California? Yeah, exactly.

Judith Taylor

It won't stop raining here. We have had in July we had I think rain every single day except for one. And it just continues the pattern just continues. So every second or third day we're getting another rainstorm and we've had a couple hurricanes hit us which don't normally happen. So we have wet, damp, swampy area everywhere.

[Next slide: balcony, white arbor, and grassy field beyond]

So this is looking out the back of the house. And as I mentioned, we're in, in kind of a rural area out behind here, we have basically farm fields. And it's lovely because we've got a buffer from other homes and stuff. But this is where the deer hang out. And it's an unmowed, untended farm field. So it has lots of weeds, lots of grasses, and I'm sure it's just full of ticks. There's no way it couldn't be. So all the animals are moving through that field, and then coming right into our yard, because that's the edge of it right there at the bottom of those steps under the arbor you can see that's the edge of our property.

Mark at Insect Shield

Yeah. Very nice.

[Next slide: garden surrounded by low stone wall and field in the background]

Judith Taylor

So yeah, this is looking out to the, to the side in the back. That's the same field from a different angle. And then I've got some I do vegetable gardens as well as perennial gardens. And I have them all over the property. And lots of stone walls and it is very nice.

But as you can see the little hill here, this area to the right is that low area that's been kind of swampy all summer long. And you can only imagine how many ticks or sorry, how many mosquitoes have been breeding in that swampy environment. Right? So usually I can be out during the day and the mosquitoes don't bother me until you know the sun starts setting but this year, they've been out all day long. And in Massachusetts, we have something called Triple E, which is Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

And then we have the West Nile virus as well, which are both mosquito transmitted diseases. Both equally bad to Lyme, maybe even worse, because Eastern Equine Encephalitis causes brain swelling. And actually, there really isn't a good cure for it. A lot of people die that that contract it. So it's those numbers are probably are still lower, I believe, than tick borne diseases. But when you get it, it's, you know, major, major consequences.

Mark at Insect Shield

Yes. Can be lethal. That's right.

[Next slide: Berries! Kiwi Berry tree]

Judith Taylor                                                                         

So I like to grow lots of berries I have these are Kiwi berries up in the upper left hand corner. I don't know if you knew we could grow Kiwis in Massachusetts. But yeah, they're there. They're not exactly like New Zealand or Australian Kiwis. They don't have fuzz on the outside, so you don't have to peel them, which is really nice, that they, they're the size of a large grape, and you can just pop them in your mouth, and they're delicious. So I have those along with raspberries, and blueberries, and elderberries and honey berries, and the list goes on. So I'm constantly out picking or pruning or doing something and these are all at the edge of those grasslands and fields. And so again, tick heaven.

Mark at Insect Shield

So there's some risk involved in enjoying those fruits.

Judith Taylor                                                                         

[Next slide: Herb garden]

Gardening is a dangerous sport, especially the way I do it. I call it extreme gardening because I'm constantly you know, digging something or I'm pulling invasives out of trees and you know, swinging on the vines, and I ended up in the hospital, in the emergency room for various things. But yeah, it can be a dangerous sport if you're not really careful, right? But I also I like I have an herb garden out front. 

[Next slide: different sprouting plants in “grow bags”]

And then because I don't, I only have three acres which is not nearly enough room for enough gardens. I have to put stuff in grow bags as well. “Too many plants, too little time.”

[Next slide: pond with long grasses and porcelain frogs!]

And then we also have this lovely pond out behind our house, which I just love. We've got a big bullfrog there you can see on the right, and then on the left, I've got you can see can you see both? Yeah, they're down. That's a fake one, I put a friend. I think there's only one big one to this year, I've seen a couple little ones, but I thought the big one needed a friend. So I gave him a little ceramic friend. 

[Next slide: edge of manicured garden surrounded by field of weeds]

And then this is this is just another one of those farm fields. And you can just see the weeds. 

Mark at Insect Shield

Right. [When you are] tending [part of the garden] you're very close to the edge [where the ticks are].

Judith Taylor                                                                         

And they just don't stay where… they don't understand property lines, apparently.

[Next slide: tree in manicured part of the garden]

And so this is looking another direction and we have this thing called [?] lots in our neighborhood which means that everything has to border on a major street. And so there's all these I call it no man's land where there's strips of land that nobody tends to and so the invasives have taken it over. And so once again, it's all weeds and it's just habitat for you know all the things you don't want. Bunny rabbits really like it and they're probably carrying some of those ticks as well. So it's like every everywhere you turn, it's not safe.

Mark at Insect Shield

I feel so bad for that Bobcat. And I you know just to have and I've seen other pictures like that of dogs with ticks around the eyes and you know, you just do don't realize how many there are and how susceptible all these animals [are] and [they’re] just carrying them around so this is another thing you know, we were talking to multiple tick experts and so on and they just say like, if your yard butts up against some sort of undeveloped or you know, forest-y area, anything with high grass or moist floor bed and tree areas and such. That's all tick habitat so you’ve really got to be careful, and just putting on [insect repellent] clothing is so much easier than you know going to the hospital.

Judith Taylor                                                                         

Or spraying your whole yard. You know, there's a lot of debate going on and a lot of emotion going on, if you will, between neighbors here about spraying. So between the mosquitoes and the ticks, there's a lot of companies that will go around and spray, but some of the sprays they use kill the pollinators and we're all trying to save the pollinators.

So, you know, neighbors are literally butting heads over, you know, somebody's spraying and the next door neighbor doesn't like it because they're anti spray. So I recommend getting the treated clothing because you know, it's a great solution, you can be protected and not harm the wildlife and not kill the pollinators. So I'm hoping that more people will get that message across. Because the nice thing about the Insect Shield clothing is it's portable. So no matter where you go, whether you're in your yard, or if you're hiking or mushroom hunting or doing yoga somewhere, it goes with you so you don't have to worry about it. You can you can spray your yard but as soon as you leave your yard, you still have a problem, right?

Mark at Insect Shield

Yeah, exactly. True. Good points.

[Next slide: garden area with trees, bushes, and mulch beds]

Judith Taylor                                                                         

So I just have a couple other [slides]. Here these are. Apparently mulch also attracts ticks. So you know, all my beds are mulched. And so again, I just had to be really careful because these are all on the edge.

[Next slides: perennial beds, garden landscape with trees]        

These are just a few more lovely pictures. This is where I spend all my time. 

Mark at Insect Shield

So nice. Well, thank you so much for sharing all that. You're doing workshops, too, right? And probably not in the winter time. But coming up in the spring.

[Closing slide: Seeds2Plate]     

Judith Taylor                                                                         

I do. It depends on… I usually do seed saving classes is this time of year because now is the time to look around your garden and see where you can save some seeds. I have garden planning classes and starting classes in the spring. And then I also do tea classes on how to make your own tea.

So I don't have any of those scheduled right now but they're starting to come up and so if anybody's interested in signing up for my mailing list so you can keep up to date on any upcoming classes or things going on. Please feel free just go to seeds to plate COMM And you'll see a first to know link and you can sign up.

Mark at Insect Shield

Excellent. We'll put the links in the material below the video here. Check that out.

Judith Taylor                                                                         

Okay, thank you.

Mark at Insect Shield

Judith Taylor from Seeds2Plate. Thank you so much for sharing your photos and thoughts about insect repellent clothing today - and outdoor yoga. All really good stuff.

Judith Taylor                                                                         

Thanks, Mark. I always enjoy talking to you and I look forward to continuing to model my Insect Shield wear.

Mark at Insect Shield

Absolutely. So nice. Well thank you and we'll have you back in the spring. See what you're up to.