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Natural Mosquito Control

August 15, 2011

Mosquitoes are not usually as big of a problem in Nelson as they are in other parts of the Kootenays, but sometimes high water and lots of rain early in the season can contribute to a bumper crop of the blood-sucking pest.

Mosquitoes need standing water to breed, so if you are being bothered by the insects while out in your yard or garden, you may want to take a look around your property to see if you are providing them with the right conditions to set up shop. Old tires, bird baths, fountains (either not cycling water or cycling slowly), kids swimming pools, rain water barrels, and coffee cans are all things that can hold water and allow mosquitoes to breed near your home. They can breed in a surprisingly small amount of water, in a surprisingly fast time frame. If the kids were out in the pool on Saturday and didn’t dump it out, by the next weekend you could be hatching larva out of that same water.

The easiest thing you can do if you find standing water is to dump it out. That may not always be possible though, particularly if you collect rain water for your garden. There are special barrels available with covers that allow you to collect the water without the bugs, but that isn’t an option for everyone.

This year in the garden we had high numbers of mosquito larva in our own rainwater collection tubs, and no way to dump them or cover them, so we put garlic oil in the water. To make the oil, roughly chop fresh garlic cloves and put into vegetable oil. Let sit for a few days and then add to your water! In the heat of the sun the oil will disperse over the surface of the water and keep the larva from hatching, as well as keeping adults from laying fresh eggs.

Take caution when using this method as it may inhibit the larva of beneficial insects as well, so do not use it in ponds, and it will leave the surface of your water with an oily film. The water remains useful for watering the garden, and its nice to be able to enjoy the green spaces without fear of donating a pint of blood each day!


Flower Essence Workshop

July 26, 2011

On Saturday July 30th there will be a workshop on Flower Essences at 2pm in our garden!

Shama will be holding a demonstration followed by a lecture about the healing properties of flower essences, using plants growing in our Cottonwood Community Garden. The weather is supposed to be nice, and Saturdays are always a fun time in the park, so come and learn about flower essences with us!

What Kind of Plant is This?

July 19, 2011

Have you ever wondered what kind of tree that is, or what flower you see when you go on an outdoor adventrue?

 If you want some more information on how to identify these plants, check out our guide


July 13, 2011

Yarrow is a plant native to our area that has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It is a very versatile herb and can be used in hundreds of ways  – from flavoring beer to healing wounds.

First of all , take care when harvesting large amounts of yarrow if using a knife or scissors. The plant has a property that numbs pain, and if you are handling it without gloves you may numb your fingers enough to accidentally cut yourself!

Second, yarrow should be avoided during pregnancy.  Also, Rarely, some people can be sensitive to it,becoming dizzy with use. Do not overuse yarrow, persistent internal use can cause inflammation of the liver.

Yarrow as a cold and flu remedy: Immediately upon onset of cold or flu symptoms, drink 1-2 liters of strongly steeped yarrow tea. This should halt the progression of the virus entirely, but only  if you catch the virus right away. If you wait until the cold or flu has taken a firm hold, it will help to reduce your symptoms, but probably won’t  get rid of the sickness entirely. You may want to drink some yarrow tea as a preventative if others around you are sick, but do not take it for too many days, as it is a very strong herb and can be hard on your liver.

Yarrow as a mosquito repellant: Yarrow leaves added to the fire are reported to repel mosquitoes. Some native groups made smudges of yarrow by lighting them on hot coals.

Yarrow as a facial treatment: Steaming your face with yarrow can help clear problem skin. Place yarrow in a bowl of very hot water, lean your head over the bowl and place a towel over your head to make a tent, trapping the steam in. Stay this way for 10 minutes, then rinse face.

It’s That Time of Year Again!

July 8, 2011

The time when the weather warms up (finally!!) and more time gets spent outside. We are back at work in the earth matters gardens, and if you want  to get some earth on your hands but don’t have a likely spot at home, contact us at  to volunteer!

We will be bringing you updates on our events and gardens as the summer progresses, as well as some more local plant and gardening info.

Happy Gardening!

Road-side plants and making herbal tea!

August 10, 2010

Many edible and medicinal plants grow in road-sides and ditches and it is important to address the presence and usability of these plants.  Although plants and herbs are accessible from roadsides, it is recommended to not use these plants in a medicine or food capacity, because of contamination from passing vehicles, road-side herbicide sprays, and contamination from garbage, and because picking and transporting invasive species hasten their spread.

So while you’re driving along admiring the flowers and you see some Goldenrod and wish to make a tea, got a little further into the woods or walk down a nice small trail without traffic to find yourself some healthy and clean plants good for medicinal use.  You can also find Goldenrod in the Earth Matters garden!

Goldenrod has many uses and medicinal benefits

  • hot flushes
  • kidney and bladder infections
  • urinary tract infections
  • vaginal thrush
  • diarrhea
  • nasal catarrh
  • diarrhea
  • whooping cough
  • skin diseases treated internally
  • chronic mucus

The leaves and flowers are used for making the brew.

Making herbal tea

The standard way to make an infusion, unless otherwise specified, is to pour a cup of boiling water over the material to be infused, let it stand for 5 minutes, strain it, and drink it.

  • Fresh plant material
    • When the recipe refers to fresh plant material to be used, a 1/4 cup fresh material is used, following the method above.
  • Dried material
    • When the recipe refers to using dried material, use 2 teaspoons of material when making it.
  • Bark or seeds
    • Should the recipe call for bark or seeds to be used, use 2 teaspoons of seeds or 1 tablespoon of bark.
  • Sweetening your infusion
    • You could sweeten your health drink with honey, should you so require, and a dash of fresh lemon juice may also enhance the taste.

Yoga in the Garden

July 2, 2010

Leah Pantel, RYT, from Vancouver taught a beautiful class in the Earth Matters Garden on June 29th.  I can’t think of a better place to have a yoga class than in a beautiful garden where the trees are swaying in the breeze, idyllic blue skies with tufts of cloud, and a waterfall splashing in the background drowning out any city noise.  Thank you Leah for the amazing class!  Thank you to everyone who attended and thank you for your donations to the garden!

This yoga class is hopefully the first of many.  Earth Matters Garden is a community space and if you would like to host your event in this space, please contact the garden coordinator through Nelson CARES Society at .

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