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Supplement to The Journal of the San Juans, Islands' Sounder, & Islands' Weekly



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2 • Home & Garden 2018-19

The medicine cabinet in your backyard By Regina Zwilling of Orcas Island

Springtime – That magical time when Mother Nature throws off her winter cloak and dazzles us with emerald greens, jaunty yellows, iridescent blues and purples, outrageous oranges and flamboyant reds. While we are admiring the spectacular displays of color, the less-showy plants are quietly growing their potent medicine to help us clear out the stagnant winter energy and prepare our bodies for the change of seasons. The Pacific Northwest First Nations’ people understood the powerful medicine that sprang up all around them every spring. Today we may be less connected to our natural surroundings but the plant world still offers us incredible benefits if we know what to look for and how to use them. This short guide is a starting point for some of the more common herbs (what we call weeds) that are easily found in the Pacific NW. Be

sure to look in areas as far from the road with car exhaust and gas fumes as you can. Oregon grape: Contains berberine – a strong antimicrobial – and is high in vitamin C. Treats infections, stimulates liver function, improves the flow of bile and is a blood cleanser. The bark and berries were also used to ease digestive problems. Stinging nettles: Maybe one of the original superfoods, nettles are a powerhouse of nutrition. Compared to spinach, nettles are 29 times higher in calcium, eight times higher in magnesium and three times higher in potassium. Nettles are also exceptionally high in the trace minerals silica, chromium, cobalt, zinc and manganese. Nettles support

“The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment.” - Wayne Dyer

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our liver and kidneys so they can flush waste products and function at an optimal level. Dandelions: This common weed is a nutritious food and powerful medicine. The leaves are high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and vitamins B and C. The roots are also highly nutritious, with bitter properties that stimulate digestion, support liver function and when used fresh have anti-inflammatory properties. Plantain: This lowly little weed is one of the most abundant and widely available medicine crops in the world. Plantain has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It can soothe insect bites and superficial wounds as well as prevent

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infections and accelerate healing. An active biochemical known as aucubin is mainly responsible for the antimicrobial action of the herb. Another substance allantoin in the herb helps with skin tissue regeneration. Plantains also have an astringent property that has a cleansing effect on the body. It helps dry up excess secretions in the respiratory tract and the digestive system, thus being useful in treating colds and diarrhea. The astringency is moderated by the demulcent effect of the mucilage in the herb, so this herbal remedy is much gentler than other commonly used astringents. The edible leaves of broadleaf plantain are rich in calcium and other minerals and vitamins, including Vitamin K. If you would like to learn how to harvest and use these healing plants, please visit: blog/2018/3/20/the-medicine-cabinet-inyour-backyard.

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Home & Garden 2018-19 • 3

Orcas Garden Club celebrates 60 years From the Orcas Island Garden Club

It was 1958 and 23 gardeners on Orcas Island gathered at the Parish Hall. Gladys Groper was nominated to be the first president of the new organization that would be called "Orcas Island Garden Club." They would meet every third Wednesday from September to May and discuss many aspects of gardening. Eventually, they would have monthly lectures, and in June of each year, a garden tour of five or six residential and commercial gardens on Orcas. Emily Reid, who passed away in 2017, was the Orcas Island Garden Club president from 1978-79. She loved gardening and was named "Honorary Gardener" by the club for her many years of service. She was a knowledgeable horticulturist and an accredited flower show judge. Hazel O’Brien, president from 1988-89, still lives on her 3.5-acre property off of Olga Road, which she bought in 1985. She remembers her days as a garden club member and shares that she always been passionate about gardening. "Since I was small, my mother would take me into our garden in Surrey, England, and tell me the names of all the plants we had. There was always something in bloom, no matter the season," she said. Comparing the garden club from its origin to now, Hazel commented, "It’s nice to see more men becoming involved with the club. In Britain, the garden clubs were run

Contributed photo

Former club president Hazel O’Brien

mostly by men, and in fact our own OIGC has had male presidents in the past." Today, after 60 years, the club has grown, evolved, and continues to work with the community supporting local groups who have an interest in gardening. From membership dues and ticket sales to the superpopular annual garden tour, the Orcas Island Garden Club is able to provide funding through grants for local applicants, interested in a wide variety of local gardening projects. "We are seeing an increase of new garden-

ers, farmers, families and younger people joining the club," said Vanessa Julian, current president of OIGC. "There is so much knowledge to be shared between experienced and novice gardeners who all have a love of gardening." Meetings are held at the Orcas Center the third Wednesday of every month between September and April at 10 a.m. In November and December, the meet-

ings are held the second Wednesday of the month because of the holidays. Members also enjoy special private garden tours, an annual picnic and the opportunity to serve on the board. The Islands' Sounder and The Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce Blast publish upcoming lecturer/programs at the beginning of each month.

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4 • Home & Garden 2018-19

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Home & Garden 2018-19 • 5

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6 • Home & Garden 2018-19

What’s happening to my plants?! What bug took that bite? What are those spots? Is it dead? Help!

From the San Juan County Master Gardeners

San Juan County Master Gardeners solve these problems! Master Gardeners conduct twice-monthly diagnostic clinics where dozens of plant and insect problems are assessed, culprits identified and solutions provided. Last summer we saw all kinds of interesting problems. We saw galls and blights and cankers and rust. Leaves with spots and splotches and splatters. Brown leaves, yellow leaves, curled up leaves and chomped-upon leaves. Sad lilacs and sad roses and sad rhodys. And bugs – lots of bugs. Stink bugs and scale and leaf rollers and flea beetles. Silver spotted tiger moths, pine tip moths and yellow wooly bears. And some scary-looking but helpful critters, too, like the pseudoscorpion (a spider with claws) and the Oak Treehopper nymph, who dine on bad bugs. The beautiful cinnabar moth’s larva eat tansy ragwort and groundsel, both on the Washington state noxious weed list. If you see larva on these plants, pull the flower heads off (so they can’t set

seeds) but wait to pull the plant until the larva are gone. It’s often a challenge to recognize a good bug versus an unwanted character – so let us do the work! How to bring your problem to us Collect plants just before you intend to bring them in. We like a good-sized sample, with as much “information” as possible: leaves, stems, flowers, and fruit or roots. Place the sample in a zip-lock type bag with a slightly damp paper towel, and refrigerate. Submit insects in whatever container you can get them into, and one you don’t need returned. Please print out and complete either the plant problem form or the plant/insect ID form, again with as much information as possible. Bring your form and sample to the Master Gardener tables at the farmers markets, to Driftwood Nursery on Orcas, to Sunset Builders on Lopez or to the WSU Extension office in Friday Harbor. Don’t hesitate to call if you need help or have questions: (360) 370-7663. Orcas Island • Driftwood Nursery: The last Wednesday of the month, May through August, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. • Orcas Farmers Market, Saturdays, May 5 through Sept. 29 (except May 12 & 26, June 23, Aug 11 & 18, and Sept. 1) San Juan Island • San Juan Farmers Market, Saturdays, April through September (except Aug. 18) • WSU Extension Office, 221 Weber Way, Suite LL, Friday Harbor Lopez Island • Sunset Builders: 6 Saturdays, May 26 through June 30, 10 a.m. to noon. What is a Master Gardener? The WSU Master Gardener Program is a nationally recognized program that trains volunteers to serve their communities through horticultural education and outreach.

Volunteers provide research-based, educational information on vegetable and fruit gardening, native plants, composting, plant problem diagnosis and insect identification, pest control, and much more. The next MG training session begins in early 2019. If you are interested, contact Caitie Blethen, Master Gardener Program Coordinator, at  360370-7663 or

How to avoid invasive plant species Intuition may suggest all plants that provide habitats for wildlife and produce oxygen for the atmosphere are good no matter where they are planted. However, non-native plant species that are introduced into areas across North America can pose significant threats to an ecosystem. Foreign plants can wreak havoc on native plant species and agricultural industries. Scores of plants are aggressively invading certain areas of the country. Invasive species are introduced largely due to human action, such as planting non-native plants. Plants also may be introduced through boating and fishing. Wind and rain may introduce non-native plants to a particular region, while some plants are introduced through animals. The organization says that not all non-native plants are harmful and some can be beneficial. But non-native plants that take over and cause severe damage in areas outside of their normal range are considered to be invasive, and efforts

must be made to keep invasives under control. Gaining awareness of the pathways through which invasives spread can help people avoid introducing invasive species. Some invasive plants are very attractive and they may be for sale at some garden centers, but such plants should be avoided for the benefit of local ecosystems. In addition, weeds and seeds can be hidden in potting mixes or lawn and garden products and essentially sneak their way into regions where they do not belong. Homeowners who learn to recognize invasive species can decrease their risk of introducing such plants to their properties. For more information on invasive plants in the San Juan Islands, contact Washington State University Extension Noxious Weed Program Coordinator Jason Ontjes or Field Specialist Shawn Beach at 360-376-3499 or email or shawnb@

How to conserve energy Energy bills tend to be high in summertime, when many people crank up their air conditioners in an attempt to combat the heat. For some households, higher energy bills might be stretching their budgets, while others might be looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprints. Conserving energy can help homeowners save money and help the planet at the same time. And reducing energy consumption in the summer does not require men and women to sacrifice comfort in the name of conservation. In fact, various strategies can help homeowners and apartment dwellers reduce their summertime energy consumption. • Stop cooling an empty home. A cool home might be the ultimate necessity during summer heat waves, but there’s no reason to cool a residence when no one is home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, operating thermostats more efficiently can help homeowners trim their cooling costs by as much as 10 percent. One way to be more efficient with thermostats is to keep the house warmer than normal when no one is home. Programmable thermostats can be set so air conditioning units turn on shortly before residents arrive home, ensuring the house is comfortable and no energy is wasted. • Narrow the gap between indoor and outdoor temperatures. The DOE notes that the smaller the difference between the temperature indoors and outside the lower cooling costs will be. While it may be

tempting to set thermostats to room temperature (68 F) on days when temperatures reach 90 F or above, that’s an enormous temperature gap that will result in a high energy bill. Instead, the DOE recommends setting thermostats to 78 degrees whenever possible. • Open the windows at night. Daytime temperatures, particularly during the dog days of summer, may necessitate the use of air conditioners. But men and women who live in climates where temperatures drop considerably at night can sleep with their windows open. This reduces energy consumption and saves money, and can be a great way to introduce fresh air into a home during a time of year when air can become stagnant. • Do not set air conditioner thermostats at lower than normal temperatures when turning them on. The DOE notes that setting thermostats at lower than normal temperatures when turning air conditioners on will not cool homes any faster than setting them at typical temperatures. Such a strategy will only lead to excessive energy consumption and higher energy bills. • Install ceiling fans. Ceiling fans can improve cooling efficiency in a home. According to the DOE, ceiling fans allow men and women who use air conditioners to raise the thermostats on their AC units about 4 F without adversely affecting comfort levels. Men and women who live in temperate climates may find that ceiling fans are enough to keep rooms cool without the need for air conditioners.

Home & Garden 2018-19 • 7

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8 • Home & Garden 2018-19

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Home and Garden - Home and Garden 2018  


Home and Garden - Home and Garden 2018