A Gardener’s Diary: School harvest cut short

The Intergenerational Landed Learning Program at St. James School had its garden targeted by thieves, much to everyone's disappointment

A big thank you to all who took time to visit the gardens on the People Place Garden Tour June 14. The weather was good, no rain and not too hot.

On the 17th, we wrapped-up our Intergenerational Landed Learning Program at St. James School. This program in association with the Okanagan Science Centre was moved to the school last year from the Xerindipity Garden.This was our seventh year of food growing. The program partners Grade 4 students from St. James School with community volunteers on eight occasions throughout the school year to plant, care for and prepare food from the vegetables grown in the garden. On each gardening day, local nutritionist Jan Hillis guides the children through food preparation and sampling of the food that they grow organically and harvest from the raised beds.

To our surprise this year, when we got to the garden, somebody had been there before us to the disappointment of the students and everyone involved. The potatoes had been harvested, the beets with the healthy green tops were all gone. The little carrots, too small yet to pick, had been left on the top of the soil. One of the beds had not much left in it.

It is too bad that things like this have to happen. With the end of the school, it was too late to replant most of the veggies. I added some pumpkins and other squash, tomatoes plants and herbs just to fill the space. In September, when the students are back in school, we have a day of harvest and a tasty lunch. Over the years, some of the extra food grown has been shared with the Upper Room Mission. This year, however, the extra food will not be there for the sharing during the summer.

I guess I was wrong when I mentioned that earwigs were not to be seen this year. They were just a little bit late. I see a lot of small ones now and although basil might be a mosquito repellent, it looks like the little critters like it. They have found my marigolds and had a feast. I might have to go hunting again and very soon.

A friend told me that Original Listerine works well as a spray for mosquitoes. I got some the other day and put some in a spray bottle. It evaporates fast enough on your skin but I spray it on my hat and clothes hoping that the scent will last longer. According to the internet, the active ingredient in Listerine is Eucalyptol. It is a derivative of Eucalyptus oil, which mosquitoes hate. While no scientific study has confirmed this as of 2011, the mosquitoes do seem to detect the oil in the Listerine scent. They will avoid the scent for a while. Spraying with Listerine isn’t a permanent solution to a mosquito problem, but it may deter them long enough for a person to enjoy being outside.

I have a very large mosquito plant. When I prune it in the spring, I save the leaves. I had a big bag of them. I soaked the leaves in water and added a few drops of baby oil and rubbing alcohol to make a spray. I like the scent but not being a scientist, I don’t really know the formula that would make it work longer. If I can get enough scent in the air to confuse the mosquitoes, they may stay away longer although this year they don’t seem too bad.

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Jocelyne Sewell is gardening columnist for The Morning Star, an organic gardening enthusiast and a member of the Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club. Her column appears every other Wednesday.

Vernon Morning Star