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Vernon garden columnist harvests milestone

A GARDENER’S DIARY: Garlic, squash and mosquito repellent

Jocelyne Sewell

A Gardener’s Diary

I just reached #200 in my gardening column. As I write this, I am enjoying a rainy day. We needed one and many more as the ground was so dry.

What a difference with last year when we had so much rain in June.

Some of my squash seedlings have only the stems left as the earwigs have had a feast. They also visited a few cucumber plants. I dusted the other garden plants with food grade diatomaceous earth to get rid of them.

This is also good for flee beetles. Diatomaceous earth is a powder containing about 80-90 per cent silica. Diatomaceous earth is thought to kill insects by dehydrating them or drying them. You may have to reapply after the rain.

As a precaution, I use my COVID mask when I spray the plants so I don’t inhale the dust.

Some tips about garlic I was reading about.

1) To enjoy maximum health benefits of garlic, choose fresh garlic over bottled. That’s because “allicin” – the powerful immune-boosting and cancer-fighting compound in garlic – is most potent in fresh cloves.

Research out of Japan found that crushed garlic stored in water lost about half its allicin in six days, while crushed garlic stored in oil lost that much in under three hours!

2) Always cut, chop, or mash garlic for maximum health benefits (versus using the cloves whole.)

That’s because when you damage garlic’s cell walls, it enables the powerful sulfide compounds – such as allicin – to form. In fact, it may be best to let the chopped garlic stand for about 15 minutes if you’re going to cook it to fully develop the compounds before heat inactivates the enzymes involved in the process.

3) Did you know that simply smelling garlic can calm your nerves? In studies done at Chicago’s Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, it was found that the aroma and flavour of garlic can reduce your stress levels as much as 39 per cent! In short, that’s because it contains compounds that signal your nervous system to reduce production of stress hormones.

Simply slicing into garlic and inhaling can certainly help.

However, for best results, cut the garlic and simmer over medium heat for “maximum scent” and maximum stress-relief benefit.

Mosquito repellent


Making this repellent is a matter of mixing a few ingredients together. While some are common in many households – it uses coconut oil and olive oil as the carrier oil and make sure you have citronella essential oil on hand. Store this bug repellent in a dark bottle; one with a dropper makes it easy to apply when you need protection from mosquitoes.


2 tablespoons neem seed oil

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon coconut oil

10-15 drops citronella essential oil


If necessary, melt coconut oil. Mix together all ingredients and store in a small jar with an eye dropper top. To use, rub sparingly onto exposed skin.

Note :You should not use neem seed oil if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, as it is an abortifacient.

For more information: 250-558-4556; email

READ MORE: Preventing blossom end rot

READ MORE: Some Spallumcheen residents under boil water advisory


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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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