The rains are synonymous with mosquitoes and mosquito nets and insecticide might not be doing the job for you. How do you get rid of these pests naturally? Well, if you have a green thumb (or if you’d like to find out if you do), try growing these herbs that will also add beauty to your living space.
Rosemary tea, lamb with rosemary...there are so many possibilities with this herb but its best quality is its mosquito-repelling one. You can plant it around your house, especially below windows. It grows fast and it also catches dust.
How to grow it: It’s best grown from cuttings. Dip the cuttings in water for 2-3 weeks until you see it grow roots then transfer it to a pot. It doesn’t like much water so put it in a pot with holes. You can prune it from the top to help it grow thicker.
Sage smells great and you’ll find it in hundereds of recipes. The best way to use sage to repel mosquitoes is to dry the leaves and burn them over charcoal.
It’s great for those nyama choma nights but you can also take a dried leaf, light it and wave it around your house. You might feel a little bit like a witchdoctor but it works.
How to grow it: Before you plant it, remember it does not do well when it’s over-watered. So you need a pot with holes in it to drain water. It will do well in a partly-sunny balcony where slugs cannot reach it. Seeds are available at Nakumatt.
You’ll find basil in most delicious recipes – especially Italian ones – so you’ll be glad to have this plant in your home; it looks great in a pot! There are many types of basil that repel mosquitoes. Two definite types are lemon basil and cinnamon basil.
How to grow it: Plant the seeds in a container and lightly press the soil to make it airtight. Water the seeds and cover it with clear plastic kitchen wrap to help it stay moist. Place the container in a sunny window or balcony, remove the plastic twice daily to water the soil and wait for the seeds to sprout. Once they sprout, remove the plastic wrap and watch your plant grow.
It’s a pretty plant with purple flowers and it is a nice, calming scent – that mosquitoes hate. It can also make a delicious herbal tea.
How to grow it: It’s not easy to grow lavender from seeds so you’re better off buying it from your local plant guy or getting cuttings from a neighbour. Get a good-sized container because the ball of roots in a lavender plant is usually bigger than the roots. However, the roots prefer to be nice and tight so the container mustn’t be very large. Your plant needs lots of sun – just like it was in a garden so put it on the outside of a window ledge, a sunny balcony or steps.
The mere presence of these herbs in your house or garden may not ward off mosquitoes. However, if you’d like to spend an evening on your balcony without being attacked by the pesky insects, pluck a few peppermint leaves from the plant and rub them on your exposed skin. This will do the trick. Peppermint has a lot of medicinal and nutritional benefits. You can throw some leaves in cold drinks and fruit salads but don’t be in a hurry to throw it in your food – it might taste a little too familiar in your stew – like you’re eating a bowlful of toothpaste.
How to grow it: It is easier to grow the plant from a cutting of an existing plant but if none of your friends or neighbours have it, you can buy the seeds in the gardening sections of major supermarkets like Nakumatt and Uchumi. Plant the seeds in a pot and place the pot where your plant will get good morning light and some afternoon shade. The soil should stay moist. Harvest your mint from the top to allow it to spread sideways.
You’ll probably remember these from your mom’s or aunt’s garden. The good news is that they are very easy to grow and can grow in most types of soils. The bad news is that you might not be able to stand their strong scent in your house and so you may want to keep them on your balcony or door step (they are very pretty so your neighbours will be impressed). Actually, this is good news because it is this scent that keeps insects away.
How to grow it: You can buy the seeds from a retailer or if you spot a healthy marigold bush, ask the owner if you can cut off some of the dead blooms and harvest the seeds. Marigolds are best grown in bushes rather than pots so try planting them under windows to ward off mosquitoes.